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Rotary Club Lecture
Ahmedabad, December 5, 1972
Prabhupada: Rotarians, Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you very much for your kindly inviting me this evening to speak something on Sanatana-dharma. Sanatana means eternal, and dharma also means eternal characteristic. Just like every ingredient, element, of this world has got a certain type of characteristic. As I have been introduced, I was manager in a chemical factory. So you know... (aside:) That sound may be stopped... that every chemical has got a certain characteristic—its color, its taste, its granules. In pharmacology and pharmaceutical formulas, each and every chemical is tested according to that characteristic. That characteristic is called dharma in Sanskrit word. Dharma is not a type of faith, as it is explained in English dictionary, "kind of faith." Faith you can change. Today you are Hindu: you can become Christian next day. Or today you are Christian; you can become a Muhammadan next day. So political field also, changing faiths. So dharma does not exactly mean a kind of faith. It is characteristic. Just like sugar is sweet. That is the characteristic of sugar. If sugar becomes pungent, then that is not sugar. That is something else. It may be some other chemical. When you go to purchase chili, you must test it, whether it is very strongly pungent. You do not expect chili should be sweet; then it is not very first quality chili. Similarly, we have got characteristic, we living entities... We are individual living entities. We have got characteristics. That characteristic is service. Our, the all the ladies and gentlemen who are sitting here, if we ask you what is your characteristic, you'll come to the conclusion that "My characteristic is to serve." Somebody is serving in the office. Somebody's serving in the government office. Somebody's serving as minister. Somebody's serving as governor. It is supposed to be that he is master, but actually he's serving. In family also, the head of the family, he's thinking that he's master, but he's servant. He's servant of his wife, of his children, even of his paid servant. Because he has to satisfy everyone. Not only one, but so many members of the family, he has to keep them satisfied; otherwise, they may not be very much happy. So the nature of living entity is to satisfy others. Paraspara. And that business of satisfying others, serving for others' well-being, that must be sanatana, eternal. Our characteristic, service, is eternal, and that should be eternally engagement. Here, in this material existence, I am serving, but my service is not eternal, because I am changing the body or I changing my profession. Sometimes I am serving this party, sometimes I am serving that party.
So the conclusion should be that sanatana-dharma means that the living entity is eternal, he must seek out his eternal service. That is called sanatana-dharma. Sanatana-dharma does not mean that having a great big tuft, and tilaka, or dressing in a certain manner, or... Then everything are changing. That is not sanatana-dharma. Whatever is changeable, that is not sanatana-dharma. Sanatana, try to understand sanatana. Sanatana means eternal, and the living entity, being eternal, he must have some eternal engagement. That is called sanatana-dharma. Here, in the Bhagavad-gita, the word sanatana has come in many places. In one place, Second Chapter, twenty-fourth verse, it is said,
Nitya, nityah sarva-gatah sthanur acalo 'yam sanatanah. There are many other symptoms of the living entity. They are described in the Bhagavad-gita very nicely, positively and negatively. In some of the verses, the definition is being given in negation: "It is not this." Because with our blunt material eyes, we cannot find out where is the soul in this body; therefore Krsna is describing the characteristic of the soul in a negative way in several verses. And you know that sometimes it is required, according to logic, that definition by negation: "It is not this." I cannot express for the time being a thing, what it is, but I can distinguish what it is not. So similarly, at the present moment, everyone is under ignorance. He does not know what is the soul. That is the basic principle of missing point of this material civilization. I talked with many big, big professors in Europe. Most of them, they do not know what is the soul. (aside:) That sound cannot be stopped for the time being? When I was in Moscow, I had the opportunity of talking with some professors. One of them was very interested, Professor Kotovsky. So he said, "Swamiji, after death everything is finished." So I was simply surprised that a responsible professor, teaching staff, he's completely in ignorance about the existence of soul. So that is the defect of the modern civilization. One who is not perfect in knowledge, he is as a teacher, he's passing on as a teacher. Andha yathandair upaniyamanas te 'pisa-tantryam uru-damni baddhah. Andhah means blind. One blind man, he is trying to help other blind man. So what is the use of such advancement of education? If the teacher himself is blind, then what is the use of taking knowledge from him? That is going on.
So defect of the modern civilization is andha yathandair upaniyamanah. Very few men know what is the ultimate goal of life, what is soul, what is God, what is our relationship with God, how we have to lead our life, to achieve the ultimate goal of life. These things are very missing. We are trying to follow the same principles of animals. Animals, they are concerned with eating, sleeping, sexual intercourse and defending. Ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam ca samanyam etat pasubhih naranam. So they have got these propensities, animals, and we have got the same propensities. Samanyam. We are similar to the animals in the matters of eating, sleeping, mating and defending. But what... Then where is the distinction...? Just like animal eating on the floor. We are eating on the chair and table our nicely prepared foodstuff. But you are eating. So at the present moment, we are thinking that because we are eating on tables and chairs, we advance. That is our mistake. That is no advance. Eating... The benefit of eating, whatever you eat or the animal eats, it is the same. Eating means to maintain the body and soul together. So by advancing in the modes of eating, that does not mean advancement of civilization. Advancement in the modes of sleeping, that does not mean advancement of civilization. Similarly, advancement in the modes of sexual intercourse, it does not mean the advancement of civilization. Or advancement in defending, discovering atomic bombs for killing my enemy, that is also not advancement of civilization. Advancement of civilization means how much you have advanced to know the soul and the ultimate goal of the soul, how the soul is transmigrating from one body to another.
dehino 'smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantaram praptir
dhiras tatra na muhyati
The... We living entities... We are all souls, living entities; similarly, God is also a living entity. Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam (Katha Upanisad 2.2.13). He's the supreme living entity. Just like we have got leader—in every society, in every country. Just like in our country we have got the president, the chief Indian. Or in America, Mr. Nixon, the chief Indian, uh, chief American. Similarly, there must be one chief, leader of the whole creation, and that is Krsna. There must be. By logical conclusion, there must be a leader. That is... That indication we get from Bhagavad, yes, Vedas, Kathopanisad: nityo nityanam. Who is God? God means the chief of all living entities. It is not very difficult to understand. Just like in order to manage the whole government, we require a chief man. In order to manage a big establishment, we require a chief man. So why not this cosmic manifestation, the whole cosmic, cosmology. Why not a chief person? That we do not know. Still, we are passing on as advancement of education. That we do not know, who is the chief. But we can understand from Bhagavad-gita:
We are... Big, big scientists, philosophers, we are trying to understand the activities of the material nature. We cannot go beyond that. That is also very imperfect. Our understanding of this material nature, how it is working, how things are happening in a systematic way, how the sun is rising exactly in due course, due time, how it is setting—there are so many things we do not know. Just like we are trying to go the moon planet, but why we are becoming failure, at least, up to date? They say that there is no living entity in the moon planet, but here we find in the Bhagavad-gita, nityah sarva-gatah. The living entity is everywhere. At least, we find on this planet, even in deserted place, there are a certain type of vegetable. That is living entity. Sometimes some microbes. Sometimes insect. So the statement of Bhagavad-gita is sarva-gatah: "Living entities everywhere." We practically see in our experience. We find living entities, the aquatics, in the water. We find living entities within the earth. There are so many insects. We find living entities in the air. We find living entities on the land, in the sky, and so many places. So this is confirmed: sarva-gatah. Nityah. The living entity is eternal and he is everywhere. Sarva-gatah. Sthanur acalo 'yam sanatanah. Sanatanah. Concluding sanatanah.
So the sanatana-dharma means that to find out the eternal engagement of the living entity. At the present moment, the living entity is changing the position. As we change our position even during this life—sometimes I am working in this office, sometimes working in that office, sometimes in this way, sometimes that way—similarly, we are changing eternally. We are creating our desires within the mind, thinking, feeling and willing, and according to the thinking, feeling and willing, we are getting a certain type of body, one after another. This is the process. Dehino 'smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara, tatha dehantaram praptir [Bg. 2.13]. Just like in this span of life, I was a child. Everyone was. Everyone remembers. Then I became a boy. I was playing. I can remember what I was doing in my childhood, boyhood. Then I became a young man. That also I remember. But those things have passed as dream. Now I am a different condition of life as old man. But I, the spirit soul, I remember that I was a child, I was a baby, I was a boy, I was a young man. Now I am old man. So the conclusion should be that although I have changed my bodies, I remember all these things. So the body and the remembering capacity, mean the subtle body, thinking, feeling and willing... That is called subtle body. We are now encaged in two types of body. Just like you are encaged with shirt and coat, similarly, I or you, living entity, is encaged in two types of body. The subtle body is mind, intelligence and ego, and the gross body is made of five elements: fire, earth, water, air, fire, and ether. These are very nicely explained in the Bhagavad-gita.
So actually my position is that I can go everywhere. Just like we are trying. Because I have got the desire to go the moon planet, to the Venus planet, or any other planet, and they are trying with our, scientific knowledge. But because it is gross material, we are not yet successful. But the point is that I have got the desire to go this planet, to that planet. Just like we make tour, even on this planet. We want to go this place, that place, that place. So this is natural. Therefore here in the Bhagavad-gita it is said, sarva-gatah. You can go anywhere, everywhere. There are innumerable universes, and there are innumerable planets of different nature. And you can go. Sarva-gatah, sthanur acalo 'yam. So according to the different features, we get... Just like the aquatics. They have got a different type of body. They can very easily and very pleasingly, they can live within the water. But if you are pushed within the water, you'll die. You'll suffocate. So by nature's way, there are different types of body. They are going to the moon planet, but to live in the moon planet, you require a different type of body. That we get information from Vedic literature. In Bhagavad-gita also, we get,
yanti deva-vrata devan
pitrn yanti pitr-vratah
bhutejya yanti bhutani
mad-yajino 'pi yanti mam
If you want to go to the planets of the demigods... The moon planet is also one of the planets of the demigods, according to the Vedic knowledge. So we get information from Bhagavata, anyone who is promoted in the moon planet, he gets duration of life for ten thousands of years. Similarly, if you become, if you be able to go to the highest planet of this universe, which is called Brahmaloka, then you get your duration of life... That is described in the Bhagavad-gita: sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmano viduh [Bg. 8.17]. Sahasra-yuga means... One yuga, combination of this yuga, Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali, it, forty-three hundred thousands of years. And multiply it by one thousand—that is the duration of one day in the Brahmaloka.
So in different planets you have got different standard of living, you have different standard of duration of life. Just like there is so many distinctions even on this planet. Our standard of living and the standard of living of Europeans and Americans are different. Practically, a common man, when he goes to the Western country, from the materialistic point of view, one sees, "Oh, this is heaven. So many nice motorcars, so many nice roads, so many nice skyscraper building, standard of living so nice, earning money, facility, material happiness." So it may be taken as heaven, although it is a, the same planet. So we can very easily imagine that, from the description of the sastra, that there are different types of planets and different types of standard of living, different types of knowledge, not different types, advancement of knowledge. In this way, the, you go higher and higher. There are higher planetary systems. This is called Bhurloka. Above this, there is Bhuvarloka. Above that, there is Svargaloka. Above that, there is Janaloka. Above that, there is Mahar, Maharloka, Satyaloka, and Brahmaloka. Similarly, down, there are different planetary systems. But we living entities, we are traveling according to our desires, according to our plan. God is (in) everyone's heart. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese arjuna tisthati [Bg. 18.61]. God is staying, He's there as Paramatma. He is so friendly to the living entity. That is, that information we get from Vedic literature, that God and the living entity, both of them are sitting on the same tree. The same tree is this body. So within this body, within the heart, I am sitting there, and God is sitting there also. So God is simply observing what I am doing, what I am desiring, and He's giving me opportunity, "All right, you want to do this? Do it, and take experience." And the living entity is enjoying. It is compared with the tree because the living entity's enjoying the fruit of the tree, and the other living entity, Supreme, Paramatma, He's simply witnessing. Witnessing, and giving you the result of your fruitive activities. That is called karma.
So these things are very subtle matters, and we have got very, very scientific, authorized information of these matters. But people have become so degraded. They do not want to take any information of the soul, of the transmigration of the soul, of God, our relationship with God, what is the ultimate goal of life, why we are put into this miserable condition of life. Janma... You may say that "I am very happy." I may say, "I am very happy." But actually, there is no happiness. How there can be happy? Janma happiness? Janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarsanam [Bg. 13.9]. Actually who is in knowledge, he should know, "Where is happiness? I do not wish to die; I am dying. I do not wish to be diseased; I am diseased. I do not wish to become old; I am becoming old. So where is my happiness?" This is called maya. There is no happiness, but still, he's thinking that he is in happiness. This is called illusion. Daivi hy esa gunamayi mama maya duratyaya [Bg. 7.14]. So this is... Just like the animal is in illusion. A hog is eating stool, but he's thinking that "I am enjoying, very nice." He's becoming fat. This is called illusion. You are not happy. Nobody's happy in this material world. Therefore the inquiry should be... That is the Brahma-sutra. That is the Vedanta-sutra: athato brahma jijnasa. Athato brahma-jijnasa. This human life is for understanding Brahman. What is that Brahman, Absolute Truth? That is required. If you are simply engaged, animal-like, eating, sleeping, mating, then where is the distinction between animal and us? There is no such distinction. So this Krsna consciousness movement is very, very important movement. We are trying to educate people to understand his self, self-realization, God realization, the duty, the aim of life, what is the aim of life. This is not aim of life—simply we forget, we forget, forgetful of our self, and we are thinking..., big, big professors, they are thinking, "Oh, after finishing this body, everything is finished." No, that is not the fact. Therefore it is stated that sanatana. Sanatana means eternal, and God is also eternal. And there is a place also, which is eternal. This place is not eternal. Just like your body is temporary, similarly, the whole material creation which you have got experience... We haven't got full experience. Whatever little experience we have got, that is also temporary. That is not sanatana. This whole material world is not sanatana, eternal. It is temporary. This body is also temporary. So our knowledge about this body and this world—insufficient knowledge. Therefore because we are eternal, we must find out an eternal and we must serve the eternal Supreme. That is called sanatana-dharma. This is sanatana-dharma. So we are teaching that sanatana-dharma.
So I am very pleased to meet you. You are all selected, respectable ladies and gentlemen of this city. So try to understand this movement very seriously and be benefited.
Indian man: ...in the same way...
Prabhupada: Same way, we, because we like this, to enjoy this material world; therefore we have to accept a material body.
Indian man: No, no. But you said that we have to search after that soul and that is a group service you are undertaking. But what's the way to do it?
Prabhupada: What... That we are teaching. You become our student. You'll learn. (laughter)
Indian man: Teach us what is the actually ultimate object of life...
Indian man: ...peace or knowledge? Is knowledge sufficient to cause peace, or we must find out some matter first some way? Anyway, without knowledge, whether peace can be had, without knowledge?
Prabhupada: Yes, if you have got right knowledge, then you have peace. And because you do not have right knowledge, you do not have peace. Peace is dependent on right knowledge. The right knowledge is, as described in the Bhagavad-gita,
jnatva mam santim rcchati
This is the process of attaining peace, santi. What is that? To understand that God is the proprietor of everything. But that we do not know. We are thinking, "I am the proprietor of everything." This is not knowledge. Bhoktaram yajna-tapasam. He is the supreme proprietor and enjoyer, but mistakenly, we are thinking, every one of us thinking, that "I am the enjoyer." And then other point is: bhoktaram yajna-tapasam sarva-loka-mahesvaram. God is the proprietor of places, all planets, all... But we are thinking, "I am, we, Americans, we are proprietor of this portion," "Indians, we are proprietor of this portion." But actually, we are not proprietor. I, I said to Americans several times that "That hundred years ago you were not proprietor of this land. You came, immigrated from Europe. And now, who can say, after two hundred years, who will remain the proprietor? But the land is there." So this temporary proprietorship is also ignorance. Bhoktaram yajna-tapasam sarva-loka-mahesvaram, suhrdam sarva-bhutanam. God is the supreme friend of everyone. He is sitting within the heart. He's trying to advise me, "My dear living entity, you do like this." In the Bhagavad-gita it is said, sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto: [Bg. 15.15] "I am sitting in everyone's heart." Mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca: "Due to My presence, one can remember, one can forget." Forget also. That is due to the Supersoul. Vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyam. By knowledge—Veda means knowledge—by advancement of knowledge, one should know what is God. That is perfect knowledge. Otherwise, eating, sleeping, mating knowledge is there in the animals. This is not knowledge. You must have perfect knowledge. Then you'll be happy. Then you'll be peace. And if you are misguided, bewildered, mad, then how you can be happy? So this knowledge is obtained, as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, bahunam janmanam ante: after struggling many, many, birth after birth. Bahunam. Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan. "One who is actually in knowledge, one who is wise, mam prapadyate: he surrenders unto Me." Vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah [Bg. 7.19]. When he understands, "Oh, Vasudeva, Krsna is everything." That mahatma is very rare. So if you get perfect knowledge, if you surrender to God, then you'll be happy. Otherwise, there is no possibility. You go on, struggling.
Indian man: But then, uh, where is that last thing that...
Prabhupada: You have asked already. Let him.
Indian man (2): Is there any sort of call (?) to contact self?
Prabhupada: What is that?
Indian man (2): Is there any subject matter to contact atma, or self, what we call?
Prabhupada: Yes. Atma is there.
Indian man (2): Any matter of contacting him?
Prabhupada: Yes. Therefore your material method is imperfect to detect where is the soul. The soul is there, and the dimension is also there: one ten-thousandth part of the tip of your hair. So you have no eyes to see. But soul is there; that is evident. But as soon as the soul is gone, this body—is beautiful body—is a dead lump of matter only. That distinction is there. Therefore we have to hear from the authority what is that soul. Therefore Krsna is describing... First of all, He said that there is soul within this body. Dehino 'smin yatha deham dehi, deha. Dehino 'smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam... [Bg. 2.13]. Because the soul is there, therefore we are changing different types of body. Just like because you are living, therefore there is coat and shirt. But if you are not living, what is the use of this coat and shirt? There is no question of coat and shirt. Similarly, because the soul is there, therefore the body has developed, according to the desire of the soul. But it is very, very minute. With our, these blunt eyes and blunt senses, we cannot capture. But there is. We have to conceive it from the authoritative statement of higher knowledge, knowledgeable person. Just like we are trying to learn from the Bhagavad-gita as it is. It is being taught by Krsna. So things which are beyond your perception, you have to know it from authority. Just like the example: Who is my father? We cannot make any experiment. We cannot apply experimental knowledge to find out who is my father. That is not possible. But how we can know? The know it, I can know from the authority of the mother. The mother says, "This gentleman is your father," we have to accept. There is no other experimental... Similarly, the soul, which is beyond the perception of your material senses, you cannot make an experiment. You have no means. But you try to perceive that what is that thing, missing, that now the body is dead. Now, there is something. What is that something? That you have to learn from the authority, Krsna. Dehino 'smin yatha dehe [Bg. 2.13]. There is a dehi, there is a proprietor of this body, and he's changing from one body to another. This you have to understand from the authority. From experimental, you have not learned it, never you'll be able to learn it, not the scientists can discover. If they could discover, then no man would die. The medical science, if it could discover... So there are so many anomalies. Therefore you have to learn it only from the authority, and there is no other way. Sruti-pramanam. Sruti-pramana means evidence from the Vedic knowledge. There is no other way.
Indian man: Sir, you said surrender, manasa vaca karmana mam ekam saranam vraja. Now, does it mean that the initiative from the human being is completely surrendered to the almighty God? And if you surrender, is that, is there any initiative left for the human being?
Prabhupada: Yes. Because without we..., our present position is to defy the existence of God. This is our present position in material life. "There is no God. God is dead. I am God. You are God." This is defying the authority of God. Therefore to understand God, you have to surrender; otherwise it is not possible. You cannot defy and at the same time understand God. That is not possible. Naham prakasah sarvasya yogamaya-samavrtah [Bg. 7.25]. You cannot understand God by challenging. Why God? Suppose we, we go to the president of our country. If I challenge, "Mr. President, what is your value? Can you tell me what you are?" you cannot know him. No. You have to surrender. You have to become friendly and serve him, please him. Then he'll understand. Sevonmukhe hi jivhadau svayam eva sphuraty adhah. You cannot challenge. Just like the sun is not visible at night. If you challenge, "O sun, can you show me where you are?" No. You have to wait for his mercy. In the morning, you'll see. This is the process.
Indian man: Sir, my question still remains unanswered. I said when human being surrenders completely, as I said, manasa vaca karmana...
Indian man: Now the initiative is completely taken away from the human being.
Indian man: How is a human being going to continue in this world if it has to exist, and if the initiative is not left to the human being, as you say that God is there and God has to be accepted? But my father, his father, his great-godfather, everyone say that God exists. I'll be also telling my son, and his son, and his son. This is, this is passing on the very existence of God from mouth to mouth. And now, because there is a word like "God," do we blindly surrender to Him, an identity which human being has not seen...
Prabhupada: No, no.
Indian man: No one in the world has seen that there is God? And...
Prabhupada: You cannot say that no one has seen. You have not seen.
Indian man: I have not seen.
Prabhupada: Yes, that's all. (laughter)
Indian man: Yes, but there may be...
Prabhupada: You cannot say others.
Indian man: ...that I take your word, and I...
Prabhupada: No, no. First of all, you should withdraw. You have not seen. But you cannot say others have not seen.
Indian man: I have not seen. That's why I...
Prabhupada: That's all right. So you have to learn how to see. Then you have to learn how to see. You cannot see; you remain ignorant, fool, and you want to see God. You have to learn how to see God.
Indian man: But then, sir, so we, do we...?
Prabhupada: First of all, you take this, that you do not know what is God. Now, you want to see God. Therefore you have to learn how to see God.
Indian man: Sir, I, I presumed right from the beginning that some human being surrenders to God...
Prabhupada: That is the first principle.
Indian man: That is surrender.
Prabhupada: That is the first principle.
Indian man: How is the initiative left to the human being? I, I...
Prabhupada: That we are teaching. We are teaching, this Krsna consciousness movement, is that you surrender to Krsna. Just like Krsna says, "You surrender unto Me." That is Krsna's version. Our version is, "You surrender to Krsna." Therefore there is no difference between the versions.
Indian man (3): But he says that why should that surrender should be, when we know that we are..., God right within ourselves...?
Prabhupada: Because you are... Because you are becoming old and you do not want to become old; therefore to save yourself, not to become old, you have to surrender.
Indian man: When we have the right knowledge, we have peace, and we have to maintain. That's all.
Indian woman: Excuse me, what do you or the Krsna consciousness movement have to say to me that is different from the essence of any of the major religions of the world, say, Christianity?
Prabhupada: Every religion will say that you surrender unto God, either Krsna consciousness or Christianity, or Muhammadan... The word is the same, but we are teaching the same thing, but in a very easiest process. That is our credit.
Indian man: But how long we have to surrender?
Prabhupada: So long you do not die.
Indian man: We have got the knowledge now...
Prabhupada: Then you are asking questions.
Indian man: ...we have got the knowledge now and...
Prabhupada: If you have got the knowledge, then why you are asking?
Indian man: (indistinct)
Indian man (4): I think I'm not in the least. I do believe. Many of the physical and chemical phenomenas are being displayed by science these days. Even mere, mere existence of life can be reproduced in a test tube. The cells multiply...
Prabhupada: What is that? What is that?
Indian man (4): The cells... The mere...
Prabhupada: So have you produced any life?
Indian man (4): Pardon?
Prabhupada: Have you produced any life?
Indian man (4): A protein can be made...
Prabhupada: No, no. First of all say...
Indian man (4): Yes.
Prabhupada: ...have you produced any life?
Indian man (4): They claim that a protein...
Prabhupada: They claim. They claim.
Indian man (4): No, my question is...
Prabhupada: My challenge is you cannot produce life. My challenge, you cannot produce life. That is false. You first of all produce life. Then come to me. (end)
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