These are the opening remarks by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada from a conversation between him and some of his disciples that took place in Bombay on April 17, 1977.
Srila Prabhupada: From the Vedic literature we learn that the fallen soul transmigrates from body to body. He “evolves” from lower material bodies to higher bodies – from fish to plant to insect to bird to beast. And then he gets the body of a human being. Full consciousness. That is the chance for understanding God.
But if the human beings are forced to remain in darkness like the animals, that is a dangerous civilization – denying the soul his priceless chance to become God realized and return to the spiritual world.
By knowing the science of God, you can get out of this continual evolutionary process. You can go to the anti-material world – Vaikuntha, the place of no anxiety. In that world you can actually live. Na jayate mriyate va: There you do not have to take birth, nor do you have to die. And there you can dance with Krishna. That is life. That we want. That we are seeking after.
But that life of lasting happiness is not possible here in this material world. Here you have to go through the evolutionary process again and again – body after body, birth and death, birth and death – unless you take the special human opportunity and go back to the spiritual world, back home.
If you miss this priceless opportunity, just imagine your misfortune. So this so-called modern civilization is keeping all humanity in misfortune. This civilization is cheating us out of our opportunity to understand God and surrender to Him; rather, it is keeping us trapped in the cycle of birth and death. Only in the human form of life do we get the chance to return to the spiritual world. What an opportunity! But now that opportunity is being stolen from us.
And so we are returning, lifetime after lifetime, to the miseries of birth and death: from animal to man, from man to animal – up and down. This business of dehantara-praptih – accepting new material bodies – is very dangerous. But as long as you remain in this world, you have to change your body. So stop this process. If you are really interested in science, then learn this science: how to stop changing bodies.
You may say, “Why bother? Now I have such a rich and beautiful body – an opulent, educated, American body.” Yes, but if you are so well educated, then continue in that American body forever. Why can you not? Why are you so proud of your so-called scientific education?
You are under control – in actual fact, you are under the control of God’s laws. You say you have constructed this proud skyscraper? Very good. So live here forever. Why do you have to undergo death? Why can’t you live here forever? But no, you will be kicked out.
Kicked out. But because you have got attachment for the skyscraper, nature may give you some slight concession. “Unfortunately, sir, you misused your human body; you ignored God and your own soul. You simply wanted to go on living in the skyscraper. All right. You can go on living in the skyscraper – as a cockroach.”
Who can check this natural process? Dehantara: If you stay here in this material world, you must change out of your present body and go into another body. And after all, the cockroach body is indeed a body.
So the proprietor of the skyscraper can become a cockroach in the skyscraper. Now I am a big proprietor; next life, a cockroach. Can you check this process? Say what you will. Nature will do what she will: “Yes. Very good, sir. Rather than go back to the spiritual world, you prefer your skyscraper. Now take your skyscraper. Live here as a cockroach.”
How much time the skyscraper constructor wasted! Instead of centering his life on God, no, he centered it on some huge pile of concrete. And now, though he remains in a photograph in the lobby, actually his life is in the commode. He has become a cockroach in the commode. People are worshiping his photograph in the lobby, and he is living in the commode.
This is called ignorance. What a very misleading civilization this is. So we are trying to save everyone from this misleading civilization. We are trying ourselves to be perfect, and we are trying to teach others the perfect, spiritual way of life.
In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna begins His teaching from this understanding: “You are not this material body. You have had many material bodies, but you are the inner spirit. You are a spiritual being. Now realize yourself and come back home to Me.”
This civilization gives everyone a false conception. Where is the question of spiritual knowledge? Where is the opportunity to become self-realized and go back to the spiritual world? Sometimes people may talk of spiritual life, but if they remain in this false, bodily conception, all their talk of spiritual life, spiritual realization, and spiritual liberation is useless.
First of all one has to understand, aham brahmasmi – “I am not this material body; I am a spirit.” And then, athato brahma jijnasa. If I am Brahman – if I am spiritual – then what is my real, spiritual nature? Thus far, I have led my life in the bodily conception, but in reality I am a spirit, part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit. So how should a spiritual being live? What is my real life, in this world and the next?
Therefore, we should convince people, “Read this book, Bhagavad-gita As It Is. You’ll get all information.” And actually, they will get all information.