By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Lecture given in Vrindavan, India, on August 9, 1974
To truly benefit, we have to go beyond a superficial view of Krishna and learn how great He really is.
kashchin mam vetti tattvatah
We have to understand Krishna in truth – not superficially, but in fact. Krishna says in the beginning of this chapter,
yatha jnasyasi tach chrinu
“Now hear, O son of Pritha, how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.” (Gita 7.1) We have to understand how Krishna is truth, the Absolute Truth.
The Absolute Truth is described in three phases in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.11):
bhagavan iti shabdyate
“Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma, or Bhagavan.”
In today’s verse it is said, tattvatah – “in truth.” The Absolute Truth is called tattva. One who has complete knowledge is called tattva-vid. Knowledge of the truth is nondual, advaya-jnana. The Absolute Truth is realized in three phases of understanding, namely Brahman, or the impersonal all-pervasive spirit; Paramatma, or the localized aspect of the Supreme within the heart of all living entities; and Bhagavan, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna.
Generally, those who inquire about the Absolute Truth come to the point of brahma-jnana. Then, if one makes further advancement, he can understand paramatma-jnana, then bhagavad-jnana. Bhagavan iti shabdyate. That bhagavan is Krishna. Krishnas tu bhagavan svayam: “Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.28). Bhagavan means “opulent”:
(Vishnu Purana 6.5.47)
This verse says that Bhagavan is one who possesses complete wealth, strength, fame, beauty, knowledge, and renunciation. Nowadays there are so many so-called Bhagavans, but this is the first question: aishvaryasya samagrasya – do you possess all the wealth? Who can say so? A person is living by begging, and he’s claiming to be Bhagavan. That is not the definition of Bhagavan. Bhagavan must possess all the wealth. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita (5.29), bhoktaram yajna-tapasam sarva-loka-maheshvaram: “I am the proprietor of all the planetary systems, all the universes.” One who is begging for his livelihood and claiming “I am Bhagavan” does not know what Bhagavan is. These rascals who unnecessarily, unceremoniously claim to be Bhagavan do not know what Bhagavan is.
Krishna, the Cause of All Causes
Bhagavan is described in the Brahma-samhita (5.48):
govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami
“Maha-Vishnu, into whom all the innumerable universes enter and from whom they come forth again simply by His breathing process, is a plenary expansion of Krishna. Therefore I worship Govinda, Krishna, the cause of all causes.” This is one of the descriptions of Bhagavan, Govinda. Krishna is Govinda. Govindam adi-purusham: He’s the original, primeval Lord.
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead is Krishna, who has a body of eternity, knowledge, and bliss. He has no beginning, for He is the beginning of everything. He is the cause of all causes.” (Brahma-samhita 5.1)
Bhagavan has an unlimited number of expansions. It is stated, “Just as you cannot count how many waves are flowing in a river, similarly you cannot count how many expansions there are of Bhagavan.”
One of the expansions of Bhagavan is Maha-Vishnu. Kala-visheshah. Kala means part of the expansion – not a direct expansion, but part of the expansion. That is called kala. Amsha-kala. Amsha means direct expansion, and kala means expansion of the amsha. Maha-Vishnu is described as kala-visheshah, an expansion of the amsha, or a secondary expansion. And who is Maha-Vishnu? He is the source of millions of universes. Jagad-anda means this universe. There are millions and millions of universes. This universe that you are seeing is only one. There are millions. This information we get from the Vedic literature:
The brahma-jyotir, or brahma-jnana, is just like the rays of God. As the sunshine is the rays of the sun globe, similarly the rays of the body of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are the brahma-jyotir. And within that brahma-jyotir there are innumerable universes. We have given the picture of this on the cover of our Srimad-Bhagavatam. In each universe there are innumerable planets, and all of this is a partial exhibition of Krishna’s potency. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita (10.42):
ekamshena sthito jagat
“But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe.” All the universes are simply a partial exhibition of a partial expansion of Krishna.
Not for Superficial Study
In this way you have to study Krishna. Not that “Krishna was born in His maternal uncle’s house at Mathura, and He played with the gopis or the cowherd boys.” That is actual fact, but one should understand how great Krishna is. That is called tattvatah.
People simply superficially study Krishna. Therefore they cannot understand how great Krishna is. In the Western world they say, “God is great.” But one should understand how great He is. That is tattvatah. Otherwise, we shall be misled.
Avajananti mam mudha manushim tanum ashritam (Gita. 9.11). The rascals, fools, asses – mudhah means asses – deride Krishna. “Oh, Krishna I understand. What is that Krishna?” Not like that. Therefore Krishna says, manushyanam sahasreshu kashcid yatati siddhaye: “Out of many, many millions of persons, one may attain perfection.” First of all let someone become siddha. Siddha means perfect. Everyone is imperfect. Everyone commits mistakes, everyone becomes illusioned, everyone’s senses are imperfect, and everyone is a cheater. These are the deficiencies of the conditioned soul. One does not know what Krishna is, and he wants to become Krishna: “I am God. I am Krishna.”
This is cheating. One should understand what Krishna is. There are so many Vedic literatures to help you understand. Krishna says, vedaish ca sarvair aham eva vedyah (Gita 15.15). If you are studying the Vedas, if you are a Vedantist, then your ultimate knowledge will be that you have understood Krishna. If you do not understand Krishna, what is the use of your studying Vedanta and the Vedas? It is useless.
Those who are called sahajiyas think they have understood Krishna very easily: “Krishna was a young boy, and He was joking with the gopis and dancing with the gopis. That is Krishna. We can imitate Him. We can do what He was doing.” This kind of understanding means he’s a rascal; he’s a fool. Krishna’s dancing with the gopis is, of course, one of Krishna’s pastimes. But that is not the same as the pastime of an ordinary young boy and young girl. No. That is ananda-cinmaya-rasa, pure spiritual bliss.
We have no understanding of ananda-cinmaya-rasa. We are accustomed to taste this material ananda, sense gratification. Here, in this material world, the ananda is sexual intercourse. This is the most abominable ananda. It is not really ananda. In the Western world we have seen that even old men, seventy-five years old, eighty years old, are going to the naked dance club for sex ananda. Because in the material world there is no ananda except this. But in the Bhagavad-gita (6.21) you’ll find, sukham atyantikam yat tad buddhi-grahyam atindriyam. Real ananda you have to taste with your transcendental senses, not these blunt senses, these covered senses. There is no question of tasting ananda with these senses. Those who are transcendentalists, above this material world, are seeking ananda. That is satyananda, real ananda. There is no end of that ananda.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has described, anandambudhi-vardhanam. Ambudhi means “ocean,” and vardhanam means “increasing.” Real ananda is an ocean that is ever increasing. We have no experience that the sea or the ocean is increasing. It is decreasing. Similarly, the so-called ananda of this world is jada, dull.
This is the way of understanding Krishna. In the Chaitanya-charitamrita (Adi 2.117) it is said,
siddhanta baliya citte na kara alasa
iha haite krishne lage sudridha manasa
“To understand Krishna in truth, do not be lazy.” “Oh, now I have understood Krishna.” What have you understood? To understand Krishna in truth one has to devote time to studying the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
First of all become fit to understand Krishna. Try to understand Krishna in truth, not superficially. Of course, the ultimate goal is to understand Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavana. But first of all become siddha, perfect. Without becoming siddha you cannot understand. As long as you are asiddha, imperfect, you cannot understand Krishna. You have to associate with the siddhas. You have to understand Krishna in the association of mahatmas. And who is a mahatma? A mahatma, though apparently in this world, is not in this material world. He is in the spiritual world. And the result is that he is always engaged in the devotional service of Krishna.
Krishna says that it is not very easy to understand Him. People who think they understand Krishna very easily are called sahajiyas.
Krishna says that out of thousands of manushyas, or human beings, one may become perfect. Out of 8,400,000 forms and species, there are 400,000 species of manushya. Out of them, one who is born in India is a first-class manushya. That is a fact. Unfortunately, we Indians are missing the chance. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said,
bharata-bhumite haila manushya-janma yara
janma sarthaka kari’ kara para-upakara
“One who has taken his birth as a human being in the land of India [Bharata-varsha] should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people.” (Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi 9.41) Those who are Indians present here should know that after many pious activities one gets birth in India, bharata-bhumite. They should try to understand Krishna. There is facility for that: There are shastras, scriptures; Krishna personally speaks Bhagavad-gita; Vyasadeva speaks about Krishna in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. We are neglecting because we have become rascals and fools. This is not India’s business – to imitate economic development: “Money, money, money, money, money.” This is not India’s business. India’s business is to understand Krishna.
These Americans and Europeans have come here not to see how much you are economically developed, industrially developed. They have had enough of this, more than enough. They don’t care for it. The modern young men do not like it. They are fed up. They have come here to understand Krishna.
Therefore we are trying to construct this center. Let everyone come, from all over the world. And it is India’s business to understand Krishna and help them. That is India’s business. The Krishna consciousness movement is a very serious movement. On this platform the whole world can be united. It is not an ordinary movement. It is based only on Krishna consciousness. Try to understand Krishna.
Thank you very much.