Getting a Permanent Body

The following conversation took place in Gorakhpur, India, on February 17, 1971.

Guest: If the soul is always changing from one body to another, how is the soul liberated?

Srila Prabhupada: In this material world the soul is accepting material bodies. And when he becomes a bona fide servant of Krishna, he’ll be offered a spiritual body. As long as a person is not a soldier, he will not be awarded a uniform. But as soon as he accepts service as a soldier, he is given the uniform. So you are accepting different bodies in the material world. That is bhutva bhutva praliyate: You accept one type of body, it is vanquished, and again you have to accept another. But as soon as you become perfectly Krishna conscious, after leaving this body you do not come to the material world – tyaktva deham punar janma naiti. You are immediately transferred [to the spiritual world], and you accept a spiritual body.

Is that clear or not? You are accepting material bodies now, birth after birth. That is transmigration. Sometimes you accept a human body, sometimes a dog’s body, sometimes a king’s body, and sometimes some other kind of body.

Now when you are Krishna conscious, you haven’t got to accept a material body. You go directly to Krishna and accept a spiritual body. Then your life is eternal.

Guest: You will not again get a material body?

Srila Prabhupada: No. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti. When you are Krishna conscious, you no longer accept a material body. Krishna says, mam eti: “The soul comes to Me.” And mam eti means that whoever goes to Krishna has as good a body as Krishna. That is oneness.

Guest: Then what does it mean when Krishna tells Arjuna on the battlefield, “Never was there a time when you and I were not existing.”

Srila Prabhupada: Krishna and Arjuna are existing, and you are existing. You are eternal. You are simply changing bodies. What is the difficulty in understanding this fact? But Krishna is not changing His body. That is the difference.

Guest: The soul will not merge into Krishna’s light?

Srila Prabhupada: The soul is changing bodies. Why are you talking of merging? You are changing your body, I am changing my body, but we are individuals. I may change to a dog’s body; you may change to a demigod’s body. That is going on. According to one’s karma one is changing bodies.

Now, when you are fully Krishna conscious, a change of body will also take place. But that new body will be spiritual. As long as you get material bodies, you have to change – one after another, one after another, one after another.

For example, if you purchase something cheap, it goes wrong and you have to purchase a new thing. But if you purchase a real, nice thing, it will continue for good. Similarly, as long as you are getting a cheap body, a material body, you have to change. And as soon as you get the most valuable body, a spiritual body, there will be no more change.

One who does not know what is Krishna thinks that someone is greater than Krishna. But anyone who knows Krishna as He is gets that permanent body immediately – simply by knowing Krishna.

janma karma cha me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so ’rjuna

[“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (Gita 4.9)] So you simply have to understand Krishna. Then the whole problem is solved.

Try to understand Krishna. Krishna can be understood simply by devotional service. Krishna says, bhaktya mam abhijanati. And that begins with surrender to Krishna. Sarva-dharman parityajya: Whatever nonsense you have known, throw it away. Simply surrender to Krishna. That is the beginning of Bhagavad-gita.