By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Lecture given in New York City on December 27, 1966
Understanding the Supreme Truth is not difficult for one who accepts the words of scripture and pure souls.
naivasura-prakritayah prabhavanti boddhum
“O my Lord, those influenced by demoniac principles cannot realize You, although You are clearly the Supreme by dint of Your exalted activities, forms, character, and uncommon power, which are confirmed by all the revealed scriptures in the quality of goodness and the celebrated transcendentalists in the divine nature.” – Stotra-ratna 12, by Sri Yamunacharya, quoted as Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 3.87
Those who are of the atheistic mentality, atheistic consciousness, have decided not to believe in God, so it is very difficult for them to believe. Those who have decided in favor of the atheistic conclusion will never accept any argument for God. Otherwise, to understand the science of God is not very difficult. If one is simple, he can understand. Everything required is there. Tvam shila-rupa-charitaih parama-prakrishtaih. When God comes as an incarnation or sends His representative, they perform wonderful acts. They are not ordinary, common men. Whether God or God’s representative, they act in ways not possible for any common man. That is the particular symptom of God and God’s representative.
Parama means the highest class of superiority, which is not possible for ordinary men. People take the acts of God and His representatives as miracles, stories, or allegories. But actually they are not so. For example, when Lord Ramachandra appeared, He made a bridge between India and Ceylon. There is no history in the world that one has made a bridge over the ocean, the Indian Ocean. And how was the bridge made? Not in the present, modern way. Not by pouring concrete into the ground and then adding pillars and so on. No. The stones were floating. Ramachandra’s assistants were monkeys. What kind of engineers are they? They could order, “Bring some stones.” They had very good health, so they brought big, big stones, which began to float.
Now, one may question, “How can a stone float?” But why can’t a stone float? If this big, big lump of matter – the earth planet – and other planets are floating in the air, why can’t a stone float? If God likes, it will float. That is God desire. It is God’s plan.
Now, you can see that a ship on the ocean carrying fifty thousand tons is floating. But if you take, say, a small needle and put it on the ocean, it will sink at once. It is simply a question of arrangement. A small needle will go down immediately to the depths of the sea, and a ship with a load of fifty thousand tons will float.
If a man can make an arrangement some way or other so that he can float a fifty-thousand-ton ship, is it not possible for God to float a stone on the ocean? Is there any reason to disbelieve it? There is no reason. And we can see. By God’s energy these big, big lumps of matter, these planets, are floating in the air. That is called omnipotence. If He likes, one thing will float. If He does not like, it will go down.
There is a very nice verse in Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.9.19) where Prahlada Maharaja prays, “The parents’ care for their children is not sufficient to protect them. Medical help for a patient is not sufficient to cure a disease. And a ship on the sea is not sufficient to protect a man from drowning.” In this way he has given different examples. “Whatever counteraction we use against the impediments to our progress is not sufficient if there is no will of God. If there is no will of God, then it is not sufficient protection.”
Perhaps you know, every one of you. It happened to your country. The British manufactured a ship, the Titanic. It was considered the safest ship; it would never sink. On the first voyage, with many important men onboard, it sank. Is it not a fact? So your arrangement is not sufficient – unless God’s desire is there.
Depend on the Supreme Will
The common saying is “Man proposes, God disposes.” Therefore a devotee never depends on himself. He never considers, “I am independent.” He simply depends on the supreme will of the Lord. That is devotion. “If God desires . . .” “If Krishna desires . . .”
Whenever we used to ask our Guru Maharaja, “Is such and such going to happen?” he never said, “Yes, it is going to happen. Yes, we are going to do it.” No. “Yes, if Krishna desires, it may be.” He never said positively. He would say, “If Krishna desires.”
Actually this is the fact. If Krishna desires, if God desires, anything wonderful can be done. If He does not desire, it will never be done, however much you may try.
We are praying to Krishna, and if He desires, we’ll have a nice house. If He does not desire, we may remain here. It doesn’t matter. But we shall prosecute our business, Krishna consciousness.
There is nothing to stop our devotional service, in whatever condition we may be. Ahaituky apratihata. Devotional service is without any impediment, apratihata. Nothing can check it. That is devotional service. It continues in any circumstance. No material circumstances can check your Krishna consciousness. When you are firmly convinced and situated in that position, that is real bhakti-yoga. Nothing can disturb you. Nobody can say, “Oh, because of this condition, now I am unable to prosecute Krishna consciousness.” That means he was never in Krishna consciousness. Nothing can check Krishna consciousness.
Tvam shila-rupa-caritaih parama-prakrishtaih. When the incarnation of God comes, He performs wonderful acts. Krishna performed wonderful acts. Leaving other things aside, simply consider the Bhagavad-gita. It is such wonderful philosophy. Nobody can deliver such philosophy. There is no comparison in the history of the world. It is full of information about the science of God. And in childhood Krishna did so many wonderful things. Those who are surrendered believe, and therefore they receive the desired result.
The Authority of Scripture
And where are the activities of God and His representative described? In the shastras, or scriptures, which are books of authority. Vyasadeva had no business, Shukadeva Goswami had no business, to present some fiction, some allegory. Fools interpret the shastras – “This means this. This means that” – according to their own opinion, as if God left something unclear for some foolish commentator to clarify. For example, in the beginning of theBhagavad-gita (1.1) it is stated, dharma-kshetre kuru-kshetre samaveta yuyutsavah. Now, some eminent politician has interpreted dharma-kshetra, kuru-kshetra to be the body. There is no dictionary in the world where it is stated that kuru-kshetra means the body, but still this politician is interpreting in that way, as if Krishna left it for him – “In the future the meaning of kuru-kshetra will be disclosed by that fool.”
These things are going on. And people are captivated by nice explanations. The theory is “Everyone can interpret in his own way, everyone is free, everyone is God.” This is all nonsense.
We should give up that nonsensical way of realizing God. We should learn from the authorized scriptures. Sattvena sattvikataya prabalaish cha shastraih. In the scriptures the science of God is described. And the scriptures are to be accepted without any argument. I have given the example of cow dung. In the shastra cow dung is stated to be the purest substance. In one place it is stated, “The stool of an animal is impure. If anyone touches it, he will have to bathe and then purify himself.” But for cow dung it is stated, “If there is any impure place, just smear it with cow dung, and it will be all nice.” Now, the argument is “How can you say that the stool of an animal is impure and cow dung is pure?” But that is not a contradiction. That is actually the fact. And modern scientists have analyzed cow dung and found that it is full of antiseptic properties. It is God’s wish.
Now, consider the cow. What does the cow eat? Dry grass. And what does it produce? Milk, which is full of vitamins. Now, if you think, “Oh, since dry grass contains many vitamins, let me eat dry grass,” you will die. It is God’s arrangement. The cow can produce nutritious foodstuff by eating dry grass. It is God’s desire. The cow will eat at least twenty pounds of grass. The elephant will eat a hundred pounds of branches and twigs. Everything is God’s arrangement.
The activities of God are mentioned in the authoritative shastra, and they are practically demonstrated when God is present. Andprakhyata-daiva-paramartha-vidam mataish ca. Mata means opinion. We take the opinion of a person who is accepted. For example, you are selling Back to Godhead by using Ginsberg’s name because he is popular. Similarly, there are popular representatives, popular authors, like Vyasadeva, Narada, Asita, Devala, Kumara, Kapila, Manu. They have accepted what the shastra teaches about God. Even in the modern age, Sankaracharya accepted Lord Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And the Vaishnava acharyas naturally accept Krishna. We have to follow them.
So we have the opinions of great scholars and stalwarts, we have the authority of the shastra, and we have the practical demonstration of Krishna’s activities. These things are there. And still, those who are atheists will not accept Krishna.
The Lord’s Characteristics
Now, also quoted here is a related verse by Sri Yamunacharya (Stotra-ratna 13):
pashyanti kechid anisham tvad-ananya-bhavah
“O my Lord, everything within material nature is limited by time, space, and thought. Your characteristics, however, being unequaled and unsurpassed, are always transcendental to such limitations. You sometimes cover such characteristics by Your own energy, but nevertheless Your unalloyed devotees are always able to see You under all circumstances.” (Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi 3.89)
God may hide Himself by His yogamaya, as stated in the Bhagavad-gita (7.25): naham prakashah sarvasya yoga-maya-samavritah. In the Ishopanishad (Mantra 15) also we find that the Supreme Lord is hidden within the brahma-jyotir, His all-pervading spiritual energy: “Please remove this covering so that I can actually see You.” So within the brahma-jyotir is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Ordinarily people are amazed simply with the brahma-jyotir. They do not go deeper into the matter.
Ullanhita-trividha-sima-samatishayi. God is beyond the limitation of our thinking and philosophical speculation. Sambhavanam tava parivradhima-svabhavam: “Your very grave and confidential activities are very difficult for ordinary men to understand.” Maya-balena bhavatapi niguhyamanam pashyanty kecid anisham: “Althoughyogamaya covers all Your activities, someone can see You.” Not sometimes or accidentally, but anisham: “Continuously he can see You.” Ananya-bhavah means “those who have unflinching devotion unto You.” They can see.
There is a very good example in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. While Krishna was dancing with the Vraja gopis, the cowherd girls of Vrindavan, He all of a sudden disappeared, and all the gopis became mad after Him and began to search in the forest: “Where is Krishna?” So Krishna, at one place, situated Himself as Vishnu, with four hands. Then the gopis, in their search for Krishna, saw, “Here is Vishnu sitting.” They did not care. “Oh, He is Vishnu. We don’t want Him.”
Now see. They are seeing Vishnu sitting, but they do not care for Vishnu: “Oh, we don’t want this.” They do not care for even Vishnu. They are searching after Krishna.
And when Radharani came, Krishna could not hide Himself as Vishnu with four hands. He had to become two-handed. Radharani’s love was so forceful that Krishna could not retain His hiding in His feature of Vishnu. For other gopis He could hide Himself as Vishnu, but they did not care. They simply offered their respects. “Oh, Vishnu. All right.” But they want Krishna. But when Radharani came, Krishna could not hide Himself with His four hands. He immediately became two-handed as Krishna.
Only by the Force of Love
It is the force of love, the force of ecstasy, that will help you understand the science of Krishna, not any other way. You cannot speculate. What is your power of speculating? Your senses are limited. In the conditioned stage our power to acquire knowledge through the senses is limited. By limited senses you cannot understand the science of Krishna. It is achintya, beyond the jurisdiction of our thinking, our understanding. There is no alternative to following the opinion of the acharya, or spiritual master. Acaryopasanam. In the Bhagavad-gita (13.8) it is stated, “If you want to make progress in knowledge, then you have to worship the acharya.”
In the Veda it is said, acharyavan purusho veda. Veda means knowledge or one who knows. Who knows? “One who has an acharya to guide him.” Therefore this Vedic system gives us the injunction tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet: “To learn the truth one must go to the authority.” (Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.12)
How to become an authority? There is no question of research. In the material world one earns a doctorate by research work, but here there is no question of research. You simply have to accept what is stated in the Veda. That’s all. That makes you all right. The research is already done. There is no question of taking trouble yourself. You simply accept. Krishna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam sharanam vraja: “Give up everything and surrender unto Me.” (Gita 18.66) We cannot foolishly go on saying, “Oh, why shall I surrender?” as some so-called learned commentator suggests when he says, “Not to Krishna, but to somebody else.” Not like that.
Krishna says, “Surrender.” Surrender yourself and you will see how you are making progress. That is the thing. Krishna says, “Surrender.” You surrender. That will make you happy. There is no question of “All right. Let me research whether by surrendering to Krishna I shall be happy.”
If you want you can go on researching, but you will never be successful. In the Brahma-samhita (5.34) it is stated,
govindam adi-purushaṃ tam aham bhajami
“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, only the tips of the toes of whose lotus feet are approached by the yogis and jnanis, who travel for billions of years at the speed of the wind or mind.” If you research the Supreme at the speed of the mind or the wind for ten million years or more, still you will find that you have not reached the goal. Avichintya-tattva: still it will be inconceivable.
So the best course is to believe in Krishna by accepting the opinion of the authorities and by the evidence of His activities in His incarnations. To understand the Supreme, submit yourself, that’s all.
Thank you very much.