By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Seeking shelter from the distresses of material existence, the pious worship Krsna, while the sinful look elsewhere.
“Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me.”-Bhagavad-gita 7.15
A miscreant, sinful life cannot help us in making progress. We have to refrain from sinful activities. According to shastra, or the Vedic scriptures, the pillars of sinful life are four.
“Suta Goswami said: Maharaja Parikshit, thus being petitioned by the personality of Kali, gave him permission to reside in places where gambling, drinking, prostitution, and animal slaughter were performed.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.17.38) These four kinds of sinful activity are considered the pillars of sinful life.
One of them is illicit sex. Everywhere in human society there is a system, a civilized method, for sex life: married life. Married life is like a license for sex life. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.5.11) it is said, loke vyavayamisha-madya-seva nitya hi jantor na hi tatra codana: “In this material world the conditioned soul is always inclined to sex, meat-eating, and intoxication. Therefore religious scriptures never actually encourage such activities.” For conditioned souls, eating, sleeping, mating, and defending are the necessities of the body. In the spiritual world these four things are conspicuous by their absence. There is no necessity of eating there, no sleeping, no mating, no defense. That is spiritual life.
In order to advance in spiritual life we have to voluntarily decrease these demands of the body. That is called tapasya. In our country especially, many great saintly persons, sages, even kings would voluntarily give up these demands of the body. Artificially increasing these demands of the body will not help us in spiritual life. For a man, stri-sanga, or association with a woman, is a demand of the body. Amisha, from the verse I just quoted, means nonvegetarian foods. Flesh, fish, eggs-these are called amisha. And madya means wine, liquor.
All conditioned souls have a natural inclination for sex life, intoxication, and eating meat. Even ants have all these inclinations. Expert psychologists and medical men have found that even the ant has the same propensities.
There are tamasika-puranas, or Puranas for persons in the mode of ignorance, where it is recommended that if you want to eat flesh, then you can sacrifice a goat before Goddess Kali and you can eat that. Lord Buddha’s mission was to stop animal killing. Ahimsa paramo dharmah: “Nonviolence is the highest religious principle.” Being compassionate with the poor animals, Lord Buddha appeared. There is a description of Lord Buddha’s activities by a Vaishnava poet, Jayadeva Goswami. Praying to Lord Buddha, he says:
nindasi yajna-vidher ahaha shruti-jatam
keshava dhrita-buddha-sharira jaya jagadisha hare
“O my Lord, O Personality of Godhead, all glories unto You! You compassionately appeared in the form of Lord Buddha to condemn the animal sacrifices recommended in the Vedic literature.”
Lord Buddha appeared to stop animal killing. But because in the Puranas there are sometimes regulative principles for killing animals, he had to deny the authority of the Vedas. Otherwise, those who are after killing animals would find some clue: “Here in the Vedas animal-killing is sometimes recommended.” But that animal-killing is not an instigation to go on killing animals. You can understand by a nice example. The government may open a liquor shop, but that does not mean the government is encouraging people to drink liquor. The idea is that if the government does not allow some drunkards to drink, they will create havoc. They will distill illicit liquor. To check them, the government opens liquor shops with very, very high prices. If the cost is one rupee, the government excise department charges sixty rupees.
The idea is not to encourage, but to restrict. The idea is prohibition, at least in our country. Similarly, allowances in shastras for sex life or meat-eating or drinking are not meant for instigating-“Go on with this business as much as you can.” No. Actually these allowances are meant for restriction.
Therefore, for spiritual advancement in life we need some basic knowledge. We need to know how to lead our life to make advancement in Krishna consciousness. Therefore we have these restrictions: no illicit sex life; no eating meat, fish, or eggs; no intoxication, including smoking cigarettes and drinking tea; and no gambling. These prohibitions are necessary.
Four Kinds of Pious Persons
Krishna says, catur-vidha bhajante mam janah sukritino ‘rjuna: “Four kinds of pious persons worship Me.” (Bhagavad-gita 7.16) Sukriti means those who are living pious life, and these are the basic principles of living a pious life: no illicit sex life, no meat-eating, and so on.
Sex life is required, but in the shastra it is regulated: “You can have sex with your religiously married wife, not otherwise.” Actually, married sex life is not required, but it is just a license. Similarly, there is no necessity of drinking wine, but those who are habituated, those who want to drink, for them the government opens, under so many restrictions, a liquor shop.
The Goswamis of Vrindavana were ideal saintly persons. About them it is said that they conquered the necessities of the body. Conquering sleep, conquering sex life, and conquering eating-these things are required. Pious life means gradually decreasing the unnecessary bodily demands. That is the sum and substance of the pious life. As Krishna says, catur-vidha bhajante mam . . . sukritinah: “Those who are living pious lives worship Me.” And those who are not living pious lives are called dushkritina, sinful.
By indulging in sinful life it is not possible to understand Krishna. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (7.28),
bhajante mam dridha-vratah
“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination.” Punya-karma, or pious activities, means not to indulge in illicit sex life, not to indulge in a nonvegetarian diet, not to indulge in gambling, and not to indulge in intoxicants.
The four kinds of persons who worship Krishna are the arta, the artharthi, the jnani, and the jijnasuh. I’ll explain.
Arta means distressed. We have so many distresses in this material life, generally categorized as tri-tapa, three kinds of distress-pertaining to the body, pertaining to the mind, and offered by other living entities. We are always in distress; that is a fact. But by the covering influence of maya, illusion, even in a distressed condition we think we are happy.
Artharthi means one who desires material gain. Grihasthas, or married persons, are alleged to be the arta and artharthi. And tyagis, or renunciants, are supposed to be the jnani (one who knows things as they are) and the jijnasuh (the inquisitive). The grihasthas are called bhogis, or sense enjoyers, and the brahmacharis and sannyasis are tyagis.
For the jnanis, who are searching after God, there is no question of being put into a distressed condition or in need of money. They are searching after God for God’s sake. They want to understand the nature of God. Athato brahma jijnasa: They are Inquiring about Brahman. And the jijnasuh, the inquisitive, are also within the category of the jnanis.
The jnanis and the jijnasuh are better than the arta and the artharthi. But even the arta, who are distressed, and the artharthi, who need money, approach Krishna. Krishna says bhajante mam: “They worship Me”-not any demigod.
So four kinds of men who are leading pious lives approach Krishna, because they have no alternative to approaching God for mitigating their distress. Actually our inventions or distress-mitigating instruments don’t work. For example, when a man is diseased, generally the treatment is a physician and good medicine. But shastra says that actually they are not counteracting agents, because it is found that a man suffering from a certain type of disease dies, although attended by a first-class physician and offered first-class medicine. Why? Because there is no sanction by the Supreme Lord.
Unless sanctioned by guru and God, our counteracting methods, even though very efficient, still will not be effective. There are many examples. Some years ago, perhaps you know, there was a very strong and stout ship named the Titanic. It was guaranteed that it would never sink. Many important men of America sailed on that ship’s first voyage, and it sank. In spite of all the scientific protection, in spite of all the good brains behind the manufacture of the Titanic, it sank.
Because their background is sukritina, pious activities, the arta and artharthi know that without God’s help we cannot mitigate any of our distressed or needy conditions. Therefore the arta and artharthi, whose background is pious life, approach God: “Krishna, please help me.” But that is not pure devotion.
Pure devotion is without any desire for material benefits. The chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra should not be done as a mitigating agent for our distressed condition. No pure devotee will desire any material benefit from worshiping Krishna or chanting His holy name. To desire material benefits from chanting is one of ten kinds of offense in chanting.
Purity of devotion takes time. But still, in the shastra it is recommended,
“A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire, or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.3.10) The sarva-kama, who are full of material desires, are like the arta, who are always in a distressed condition. Moksha-kama means those who desire liberation. They also demand something. And the siddhi-kamis, who desire material perfections, also demand something. But the pure devotee does not demand anything.
” When first-class devotional service develops, one must be devoid of all material desires, knowledge obtained by monistic philosophy, and fruitive action. The devotee must constantly serve Krishna favorably, as Krishna desires.” (Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu 1.1.11)
The sample of pure devotion is found amongst the inhabitants of Vrindavana. Krishna was demonstrating His transcendental pastimes in Vrindavana, and the cowherd girls and boys were the best examples of becoming pure devotees.
Krishna said, “Four kinds of pious persons worship Me,” and Arjuna said, param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan: “You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth.” (Bhagavad-gita 10.12) When Arjuna understood the Bhagavad-gita, he understood Krishna also. And he said, “Krishna, You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead; You are the supreme shelter; You are pavitram, the purest.”
Without being pavitram-without being pious and free from the contamination of material activities-nobody can approach Krishna. That’s a fact. But Krishna is so kind that He orders, “Even if you have some material desire, still you can take shelter of Me. Do not take shelter of anything else. Simply depend on Me.” Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam sharanam vraja: “You haven’t got to depend on anything else. I will give you protection.” (Bhagavad-gita 18.66)
We have to have faith in the words of Krishna and put our complete faith and devotion at His lotus feet. That will make us happy and make us progress in Krishna consciousness to achieve the highest goal of life, going back to Godhead, back home.
Founded on the Gita
This Krishna consciousness movement is based purely on the teachings of Bhagavad-gita. It is not a manufactured thing. As you have been hearing for so many days, our basic principle is the Bhagavad-gita. It is not that we have manufactured something, as there are so many manufactured processes. If we actually take Krishna consciousness seriously, as assured in the Bhagavad-gita by the Supreme Lord, Krishna, we are sure to achieve the result without any doubt. Krishna assures, ma shucah: “Don’t be doubtful. Simply surrender unto Me. I shall take care of you.”
The whole Bhagavad-gita is taught in that way. Man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru: “Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me, and offer your homage unto Me.” (18.65). Mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te: [“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.” (7.14) Aham hi sarva-yajnanam bhokta ca prabhur eva ca: “I am the only enjoyer and master of all sacrifices.” (9.24) In this way, in Bhagavad-gita we’ll find that Krishna is the Supreme Lord. Krishna is the Absolute Personality of Godhead, and His instructions are there in the Bhagavad-gita.
As far as possible we have tried to convince you during this eight-day function, and if you cooperate with us, then the result will be very quick. But if you go back home and do nothing after hearing all these instructions of Krishna’s, that will not help. Of course, any sane man will think over these points. That is recommended in the shastra. Through good association, by hearing from the devotees, one becomes purified, one becomes thoughtful about Krishna. But he who practically applies the instructions of Krishna in his life makes progress in spiritual life or towards the ultimate goal of life-to go back home, back to Godhead.
Krishna’s planet, Krishnaloka, exists. From Bhagavad-gita (8.20) you have understood that besides this material nature, there is another nature, which is called sanatana-dhama, the eternal abode. And there are innumerable spiritual planets called Vaikunthalokas, just as there are innumerable planets within this material world.
These are all facts. If you have faith in the shastra, then you have to take this path of Krishna consciousness to transfer yourself to the spiritual world. There is a spiritual world. Because we are spirit souls, without being transferred to the spiritual world we cannot have real happiness or real enjoyment. That is a fact. All this information is there very explicitly. Do not try to understand Bhagavad-gita by bad interpretation or bad commentary. Try to understand Bhagavad-gita as it is, and you will benefit. That is our request.
We are finishing this ceremony today here, but if the opportunity is there, we can continue the study of Bhagavad-gita as it is, and if Krishna gives us the opportunity, we shall try to serve you again, more and more.
Thank you very much. Hare Krishna.