Srila Prabhupada explains that understanding God begins by recognizing that someone’s in control of nature and us.

By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, lecture given in San Francisco on September 11, 1968

Only one person can rightfully claim to be beyond all control.

jñanam te ’ham sa-vijñanam
idam vakshyamy asheshatah
yaj jñatva neha bhuyo ’nyaj
jñatavyam avashishyate

“I shall now declare unto you in full this knowledge, both phenomenal and numinous. This being known, nothing further shall remain for you to know.” – Bhagavad-gita 7.2


Knowledge means to know how this universe is working – what is the working force, what is the energy. The scientists are searching out different energies. The earth is floating weightlessly. Such a huge mass with so many mountains, so many seas, oceans, skyscrapers, cities, towns, and countries is floating in the air just like a cotton ball. If one understands how it is floating, that is knowledge.

Krishna consciousness means to have all kinds of knowledge. Not that we Krishna conscious people are being carried away by some sentiment. No. We have got philosophy, science, theology, ethics, morality – everything required to be known in the human form of life. Krishna says here, “I’ll speak to you all about knowledge.”

This is Krishna consciousness. A Krishna conscious person should not be a fool. He can explain how these universal planets are floating and how the soul is evolving through different species of life. There are different departments of scientific knowledge – physics, botany, chemistry, astronomy, and so on. Krishna says, yaj jñatva: “If through Krishna consciousness you understand the knowledge I’m presenting, then you’ll have nothing left to know.” That means you’ll have complete knowledge. We are hankering after knowledge, but if we are in knowledge of Krishna consciousness, and if we know Krishna, then all knowledge is included. You’ll have full knowledge about the constitutional position of yourself, this material world, the spiritual world, God, our interrelationship, time, space, everything. There are many things to be known, but the principal things are God, the living entities, time, work, and the material energy. These five things are to be known.

There Is a Controller

You cannot deny God just by saying, “There is no God.” God is the controller, the supreme controller. You cannot say that you are not controlled. There is a controller. Even in regard to the state you cannot say there is no controller. There is a controller. In every street, in every house, there is government control. This store here [the storefront temple] is also under government control. You have to build a store like this in a certain way, and you cannot live there. And if your building is a residential house, then the government says, “The fire arrangement should be like this.” There is control.

Even if you walk in the street or drive your car there is control: “Keep to the right.” You cannot cross where it is written “Stop.” You have to stop. So in every way you are under control.

There is a controller. And the supreme controller is Krishna. There is one controller over another controller. If you go on searching out who is the ultimate controller, then you’ll find Krishna. The Brahma-samhita (5.1) affirms, ishvarah paramah krshnah: “The supreme controller is Krishna.” We have to get knowledge of this controller and how He is controlling.

Vijñanam, the knowledge Krishna refers to here, means to not only know the controller but to know how He is controlling, how many energies He has got. This knowledge can be understood by a person who has made a relationship with Krishna and is a surrendered soul. Without being surrendered, it is very difficult to understand the controller, His energies, and how He is controlling everything.

If you enter into any educational institution, if you don’t surrender yourself to the rules and regulation of the institution, how can you can get the advantage of the knowledge imparted by the institution? Everywhere, wherever you want to receive something, you have to be controlled, or you have to be surrendered to the rules and regulations. In our class we are imparting some lessons from the Bhagavad-gita, and if you do not follow the rules and regulations of this class, it is not possible to receive the knowledge. Similarly, full knowledge of the controller and the process of controlling can be understood when, like Arjuna, one is surrendered to Krishna. Unless one is a surrendered soul, it is not possible to understand.

Always remember that Arjuna surrendered himself to Krishna and therefore Krishna is speaking to him. Actually, these discussions of scripture are not to be done unless there is a relationship between the speaker and the audience. “Audience” means the disciples. And a disciple is one who accept the discipline. The exact Sanskrit word for disciple is shishya, which comes from the root shas, meaning “controlling.” And from shas, the word shastra comes. Sastra means books that control. From shas also comes the word shastra, weapons. When argument fails, reason fails, then there is force.

The state controls in that way. First of all they give you the laws. If you break the laws, if you don’t follow the regulation books – the “shastra” – then the next step is shastra, weapons. If you don’t follow the regulation of the government – “Keep to the right” – then there is the police baton – shastra. You have to be controlled. If you are a gentleman, then you can be controlled under the instruction of the shastra. And if you are defying, then there is the trident of Durgadevi.

You have seen the picture of Durgadevi. She is holding a trident, which represents the threefold miseries – those caused by our own body and mind, those caused by others, and those caused by nature. You cannot violate any rules and regulations of the state; similarly you cannot violate the rules of the supreme state, or Krishna. For example, there are some health rules. If you eat too much, then you will be controlled by some disease. You’ll have indigestion, and the doctor will advise you not to eat for three days.

There is control by nature. Nature means God’s law. It is automatically working. Foolish people do not see God’s law, but God’s law is there. The sun is rising just exactly on time; the moon is rising exactly on time. The first day of the year, the first of January, has come exactly on time. So there is control. But foolish people do not see it. Everything is controlled.

God and how things are working and how things are being controlled – these are to be known. We should not go simply by sentiment. Religious sentiment is good for persons who follow blindly. But at the present moment people are advanced in so-called education. Bhagavad-gita gives you full information so that you can accept God with your reason, with your arguments, with your knowledge. It is not blind following. Krishna consciousness is not a sentiment. It is backed by knowledge, or jñana, and practical knowledge, vijñana.

The process to understand this knowledge is to be a surrendered soul. Therefore one becomes a disciple, or one who accepts the discipline. Without accepting discipline, we cannot make any progress. It is not possible. If you want to be aware in any field of knowledge, any field of activity, scientifically and factually, then you should accept the controlling principle.

The Supreme Worshipable Object

Now here, in this chapter, it is explicitly explained who is the supreme worshipable object. According to our capacity we are all worshiping somebody. At least we are worshiping our boss. Suppose I work in an office or in a factory. I have to worship the boss; I have to abide by his order. So everyone is worshiping. Now in this chapter it is explained who the supreme worshipable object is – Krishna – and how He is the supreme worshipable object.

Therefore if we understand that here is the supreme controller, here is the supreme worshipable object, then the problems of our life are solved at once.

Everyone, knowing or unknowingly, is searching after the supreme. Just the other day I told you the story of a Muhammadan devotee who wanted to serve the greatest. He was serving the Nawab, the governor. Then he went to the emperor. Then he went to Haridasa, a saintly person, and from Haridasa he was promoted to worship of Krishna in Vrindavan.

We should be inquisitive, intelligent. We are serving, every one of us; at least we are serving our senses. Practically, people are not serving any boss or any master; they are serving their senses. Suppose I am serving somebody as my boss. Actually I am not serving his person; I am serving his money.

He may say, “Tomorrow you have to work for free. You are getting twenty dollars a day now. Tomorrow I have no money. You will have to work free.”

“Ah, no, no, sir. I’m not coming. Because I am not serving you; I am serving your money.”

Actually we are serving money. And why are we serving money? Because with money we can satisfy our senses. Without money we cannot satisfy these formidable senses. If I want to drink, if I want to enjoy such-and-such things, then I require money. Therefore ultimately I am serving my senses.

Krishna is called Govinda, “one who gives pleasure to the senses.” Go means senses. We ultimately want our sense satisfaction. Here is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If you serve Krishna, then your senses become satisfied. Therefore His name is Govinda. Actually, we want to serve our senses, but the real senses, the transcendental senses, are Krishna’s, Govinda’s.

Therefore bhakti, devotional service, means purifying the senses to be employed in the service of the supreme pure. The Lord is the supreme pure. In the Bhagavad-gita, in the Tenth Chapter (10.12), you’ll find that Arjuna addresses Krishna as pavitram paramam bhavan: “You are the supreme pure.”

If we want to serve the senses of the supreme pure, then we have to become pure also. Being pure means spiritual. Spiritual life means pure life, and material life means contaminated life.

We have got this material body. This is the impure body. Therefore we suffer from disease, we suffer from old age, we suffer from birth, and we suffer from death. And in our actual, pure form, our spiritual form, there is no such suffering. There is no birth, there is no death, there is no disease, and there is no old age. In the Bhagavad-gita (2.20) you have read that the soul is nitya, eternal. As soul, we are pure. We have no birth, no death, but we are simply changing bodies. Therefore we are the oldest. Although we are the oldest, we have got our new spirit. We are always fresh. That is our position.

Purifying the Senses

Krishna consciousness, or devotional service, means purifying the senses. That’s all. We haven’t got to get out of the sensual activities. No. We have simply to purify the senses. Because we are living entities, our senses are there. But at the present moment, because we are materially contaminated, our senses are not getting full enjoyment.

This is most scientific. Devotional service means purifying the senses.

tat-paratvena nirmalam
hrishikena hrishikesha-
sevanam bhaktir ucyate

Bhakti, or devotional service, means engaging all our senses in the service of the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of all the senses. When the spirit soul renders service unto the Supreme, there are two side effects. One is freed from all material designations, and one’s senses are purified simply by being employed in the service of the Lord.” (Narada Pañcharatra) Nirmalam means purification. How can you purify your senses? It is said sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam. Purification of the sense means you have to be free from all kinds of designations, or upadhis. Our life is full of designations. I am thinking, “I am Indian.” I am thinking, “I am a sannyasi.” You are thinking you are American. You are thinking “man.” You are thinking “woman.” You are thinking “white.” You are thinking “black.” So many designations.

These are all designations. Purifying the senses means to purify the designations. And Krishna consciousness means “I am neither Indian nor European nor American nor this nor that. I am eternally related with Krishna. I am part and parcel of Krishna.” When we are fully convinced that “I am part and parcel of Krishna,” that is Krishna consciousness, and that is purification of your senses.

As part and parcel of Krishna you have to serve Krishna. That is your pleasure. Now you are trying to satisfy your senses, your material senses. When you realize that you are part and parcel of Krishna, then you’ll satisfy the senses of Krishna, Govinda. And by satisfying His senses, your senses will be satisfied.

A crude example: The husband is understood as the enjoyer, and the wife is considered the enjoyed. But if the wife satisfies the senses of the husband, her senses are also satisfied. Similarly, if you have got some itching on the body and part of your body – the finger – scratches the body, the satisfaction is also felt by the finger. Not that only the particular part is feeling the sensation of satisfaction, but the whole body is feeling this satisfaction sense. Similarly, Krishna is the complete whole, so when you satisfy the senses of Krishna, Govinda, then the satisfaction of the whole universe takes place. This is the science.

Another example is that if you satisfy the stomach in your body, then the whole body is satisfied. The stomach will issue such energy by digestion of the foodstuff that it will transform into blood, it will come into the heart, from the heart it will be diffused all over the body, and all over the body the exhaustion will be satisfied.

This is the process of Krishna consciousness. This is the science of Krishna consciousness. And Krishna is explaining it personally. Yaj jñatva: if we understand the science of Krishna consciousness, then there will be nothing unknown. Everything will be known. It is such a nice thing.

Thank you very much.