Srila Prabhupada explains how and why Lord Krishna is teaching us that we are by nature immortal.
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Lecture given in London on August 25, 1973
Lord Krishna, our benevolent father, comes to teach us how to end our suffering forever.

ya enam vetti hantaram
yash chainam manyate hatam
ubhau tau na vijanito
nayam hanti na hanyate

na jayate mriyate va kadachin
nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
ajo nityah shashvato ’yam purano
na hanyate hanyamane sharire

“Neither he who thinks the living entity the slayer nor he who thinks it slain is in knowledge, for the self slays not nor is slain. For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” – Bhagavad-gita 2.19–20

In different ways Krishna is trying to convince us how the soul is immortal. Krishna says that if one thinks, “This man has killed this man” or “This man can kill this man,” this kind of knowledge is not perfect. Nobody kills anyone. Then the butchers may say, “Then why do you complain that we are killing?” They’re killing the body, but you are not allowed to kill when there is the injunction “Thou shall not kill.” That means you cannot even kill the body without sanction.

Although the soul is not killed and the body is killed, still you cannot kill the body without sanction. That is sinful. For example, suppose a man is living in some apartment. If some way or other you illegally drive him away from there, the man will go out and take shelter somewhere. That’s a fact. But because you have driven him away from his bona fide position, you are a criminal. You cannot say, “Although I have driven him away, he’ll get some place.” No. “That’s all right, but you have no right to drive him away. He was in his legal position to live in that apartment, and because you have forcibly driven him away you are a criminal, and you should be punished.”

The butchers or the animal killers or any kind of killer cannot argue, “Here Bhagavad-gita says that the soul is never killed – na hanyate hanyamane sharire – even after destroying the body. So why are you complaining that we are killing?” This is the argument. But you are not allowed to even kill the body. That is not allowed. That is sinful.

So nobody kills anybody, nor is anybody killed by others. This is one thing. Again, in a different way Krishna says, na jayate: the living entity never takes birth. Birth is of the body, and death is of the body. The living entity, the spiritual spark, is part and parcel or Krishna. As Krishna does not take birth or die. the living entity also does not take birth or die.

Krishna is aja. Aja means one who never takes birth. Similarly we, being part and parcel of Krishna, also never take birth. Birth and death are of this body, and we are so absorbed in the bodily concept of life that when there is birth or death of the body we feel the pain and pleasure. There is no pleasure, of course. Birth and death are very painful. That is already explained. The consciousness of the soul is spread all over the body. Therefore the pains and pleasures are felt on account of this body.

Krishna has already advised that such kinds of pains and pleasures are matra-sparshas – touching the skin only – and one should not be very much bothered by them. He tells Arjuna that one must tolerate them: tams titikshasva bharata.

Actual Meditation and Self-realization

In this way if we think about our position, how we are different from the body, actually this is meditation. If we think very seriously about ourselves and about the body, that is self-realization. Self-realization means to understand “I am not this body. Aham brahmasmi: I am spirit soul.” That is self-realization.

Na jayate mriyate va kadachit. Kadachit means “at any time” – past, present, and future. In the past, it has already been explained, we existed in a different body. At present we are existing, and in the future also we shall exist in a different body because after giving us this body, we have to accept another body. This is going on.

But we are without knowledge of the self, and we are being kept in ignorance. In the so-called educational system, all over the world, there is no such education. The students are kept in darkness and ignorance, and still so much money is being spent, especially in the Western countries. They have got money and big, big high schools, but what is the production? All fools and rascals. That’s all. Because they do not know. They have no idea what is the self.

Knowledge means self-realization: “I am not this body; I am spirit soul.” That is knowledge. And knowledge of how to eat, how to sleep, how to defend, how to enjoy sex life – and volumes of books on this subject matter – this is not knowledge. Eating, sleeping, sex, and defending are known even by the cats and dogs. The cats and dogs never read Freud’s philosophy, but they know how to enjoy sex life.

The Dog’s Philosophy

This dog’s philosophy will not help you. “I have got this body, so how to enjoy the bodily sex life?” This is dog philosophy. A dog knows all these things. Your philosophy should be how to refrain from sex life. That is knowledge.

This human life is meant for tapasya, to refrain from sense gratification. That is knowledge, not how to enjoy sex life or sense gratification. This is known to cats and dogs without any education, without any philosophy.

Every living entity has the propensity for sense enjoyment. Loke vyavayamisha-madya-seva nitya hi jantoh. (Bhagavatam 11.5.11) Jantuh means the living being. Nitya means always. He always has the propensity for vyavaya, amisha, and madya-seva. Vyavaya means sex life, amisha means meat-eating, and madya-seva means intoxication. These are natural instincts of all living entities. Even amongst the ants these propensities are there. The ants are very much fond of being intoxicated. Therefore they find out sugar and become intoxicated. Perhaps you all know. Liquor is made from sugar. Sugar is fermented with acid, sulfuric acid, and then it is distilled. That is liquor. Therefore too much sweet-eating is prohibited.

Loke vyavayamisha-madya-seva nitya hi jantoh. This is the propensity. Material life means every living entity has got these propensities. But they have to be restricted. They are your natural instinct, but if you can stop them, that is your excellence. That is called tapasya. We have got some naturally propensities that are not good. Not good in this sense: if we continue following those propensities, then we have to accept another material body. This is the law of nature.

Lord Rishabhadeva told His sons (Bhagavatam 5.5.4):

nunam pramattah kurute vikarma
yad indriya-pritaya aprinoti
na sadhu manye yata atmano ’yam
asann api kleshada asa dehah

Everyone is mad – mad after sense gratification. Na sadhu manye yata atmano ’yam asann api kleshada asa dehah. So long as we’ll continue this propensity of sense enjoyment, we’ll have to accept another body. That is birth and death. 

Therefore the process should be how to make zero all these propensities. That is perfection. Not to enhance them. Nunam pramattah kurute vikarma yad indriya-pritaya aprinoti. Nunam, “alas,” “indeed”; pramattah, “these madmen.” They are mad, those who are after these propensities, vyavaya amisha madya-seva: sex, intoxication, and meat-eating. They’re all madmen. Pramattah.

Nunam pramattah kurute vikarma. Vikarma means activities which are prohibited. We see that for these three things – vyavaya, amisha, madya-seva, for sex life, for meat-eating, for drinking – people are working. Not only working, but dishonestly working. How to get money, how to get money, the black market, white market, this, that, only for these three things: vyavaya amisha madya-seva – sex, meat-eating, intoxication.

In the Vedic literature these points have been studied analytically for a very, very long time. These propensities are always the living entities’ natural inclination. The creation is not new. There were many, many creations. All the records are there. It is not a new thing.

Don’t Be Misled

Therefore, nunam pramattah kurute vikarma yad indriya-pritaya aprinoti. This is the instruction of Rishabhadeva to His sons. “My dear sons, don’t be misled. These rascal fools have become mad after these things – meat-eating and intoxication and sex life.” Na sadhu manye. “It is not good at all.” Na sadhu manye. “I don’t allow. I don’t say it is very good. It is not at all good.” Na sadhu manye. “Why it is not good? We are enjoying life.” Yes, you are enjoying now, but yata atmano ’yam asann api kleshada asa dehah. So long as you will continue with these things, you’ll have to accept another body, and when you accept a body, there must be birth, there must be death, there must be disease, and there must be old age. You’ll suffer.

But your actual position is na jayate. You do not take birth, but you have conditioned yourself to take birth. Actually your position is no birth – eternal life. As Krishna is eternal, similarly every one of us is eternal, because we are part and parcel of Krishna – the same quality. Krishna is sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah. His transcendental, eternal form is full of knowledge and full of bliss. Similarly we are also of the same quality, although we are a particle.

Therefore it is said, na jayate. This rascal civilization cannot understand that “I am eternal; I am put into this condition of birth and death.” No rascal understands. So-called philosophers, scientists – all of them. Therefore they are rascals, fools. Reject them. Reject them immediately. They are working hard – nunam pramattah kurute vikarma – just as a madman works. What is the value of a madman’s work? He’s busy the whole day and night. “I am very busy.” “So what are you, sir? You are a madman. Your brain is cracked, crazy. So what is the value of your work?” But this is going on.

The Best Welfare Activity

So just imagine how important this Krishna consciousness movement is. It is the best welfare activity for human society. They are all fools and rascals, and they have no knowledge. They are ignorant of their constitutional position, and they are unnecessarily working hard day and night. Therefore they have been called mudha. Mudha means “ass.” The ass works day and night for the washerman for a little grass. Grass is available everywhere, but still he thinks, “If I do not work very hard for the washerman, I’ll not get this grass.” This is called ass.

Therefore one must become intelligent by cultivating knowledge. One becomes intelligent by and by. A boy first of all becomes a brahmachari, a celibate student who studies the scriptures under the guru. Then, if one cannot remain a brahmachari, all right, take a wife and become a grihastha, a married householder. Then later in life give that up and become a vanaprastha, retiring for dedication to spiritual life. Then take sannyasa, the stage of full renunciation. This is the process.

But the mudhas will work day and night for sense gratification. Therefore at a certain period of life a man should give up that stupidity and take sannyasa. “No. Finished.” That is sannyasa. “Now this portion of life should be completely for Krishna’s service.” That is real sannyasa.

Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (6.1):

anashritah karma-phalam
karyam karma karoti yah
sa sannyasi cha yogi cha
na niragnir na chakriyah

“One who is unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as he is obligated is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic, not he who lights no fire and performs no duty.” It is my duty to serve Krishna. I am an eternal servant of Krishna. Karyam. I must do it. I must serve Krishna. That is my position. That is sannyasa. Anashritah karma-phalam karyam karma karoti yah. The karmis, fruitive workers, are expecting some good result for sense gratification. That is the characteristic of the karmi. And the sannyasis are also working very hard, but not for sense gratification. They are working for the satisfaction of Krishna. That is sannyasa. This is the difference between a sannyasi and a karmi. The karmi works very hard – harder and harder – but all for this vyavaya-amisha-madya-seva. Only for sex life, eating meat, and intoxication. And a devotee works in the same way, hard, but for Krishna’s satisfaction. This is the difference.

And if you live one life like this – no more sense gratification, simply for Krishna – then you come to this position: na jayate, no more death, no more birth. Because your position is na jayate na mriyate, no birth or death. That is your actual position. But because you are in ignorance, pramattah, you have become mad, you have become crazy, and therefore you have taken to this process of sense gratification. Therefore you are entangled in a material body, and the body is changing. That is called birth and death.

If you want to stop this birth and death, don’t indulge in sense gratification and become entangled again.

nunam pramattah kurute vikarma
yad indriya-pritaya aprinoti
na sadhu manye yata atmano ’yam
asann api kleshada asa dehah

“All right. This body is for a few years; it will be ended.” And that’s all right. It will be ended, but you’ll have to accept another body because you desire sense gratification, and that means you must have material senses to gratify. So Krishna is merciful: “All right, this rascal wants like this. Give him this facility. All right. This rascal wants to eat stool. All right. Let him have the body of a pig.” This is going on. Nature’s law.

Well-wishing Father

This knowledge, Bhagavad-gita knowledge, is perfect for human society. And Krishna wants that this knowledge should be spread, because He’s the seed-giving father of everyone: sarva-yonishu kaunteya murtayah sambhavanti yah (Gita 14.4). He’s the seed-giving father, and the father is naturally the well-wisher of his children. “These rascals – they are suffering. Simply guided by mental speculation and assisted by the senses, they are struggling so hard. And if they come back to Me in Vrindavana, they can live so nicely, as My friend, as My lover, as My father, as My mother. So claim them. Call them.”

Therefore Krishna comes to this world. Because the whole world is running on under the false impression of sense enjoyment, He comes and advises, sarva-dharman parityajya . . . (Gita 18.66): “You rascal, give up all these engagements. Don’t be proud that you are scientifically advanced. You are all rascals. Give up this nonsense. Come to Me. I’ll give you protection.”

This is Krishna. How merciful He is! And the same business should be done by Krishna’s servant. Not to become a great yogi, magic player. No, that is not required. Simply speak what Krishna says. Then you become a spiritual master. Don’t speak anything nonsense.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also said,

yare dekha tare kaha ‘krishna’-upadesha
amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desha

“Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Sri Krishna as they are given in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land.” (Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya 7.128) Simply preach the instructions of Krishna to whomever you meet. Then you become a spiritual master. That’s all. Very simple thing.

Thank you very much.