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Lecture with Allen Ginsberg
at Ohio State University
Columbus, May 12, 1969
Allen Ginsberg: The amazing thing was that everybody was able to shake their own ass and get up and dance after..., a long time, and not knowing what to do. When ancient rhythms were floating through, everybody thought and certainly everybody desired to dance and sing rather than be frozen. But such is the nature of our condition, in this, which is called the Kali-yuga, according to Hindu fairy tale, Hindu mythology, Hindu religion, Hindu belief, Hindu metaphysics, Hindu cosmography, probably corresponding to what in our Western tradition we know as the gnostic tradition, through Pallet Harichosis(?), Yaka Burma(?), and William Blake. This is an Orient version of what may be the same tradition, suppressed in the West when the CIA took over religion in 313 A.D., (laughter and applause), when Constantine, Caesar, made a deal with the church to suppress all alien thoughts and heresies and to formulate a square Western version of heaven and hell. The Kali-yuga concept is one that you can, in a sense, interpret ecologically. If you've been following the scientifical pronouncements of doom possibility coming over television, radio, and slick magazines, as well as from the underground press, you will notice that there's increasing attention to the fact that our own fecal material, the waste products of our robots, have now so polluted Lake Erie that it's a great lake of green goo slime, biologically dead; that our atmosphere, the planetary atmosphere, is increasingly polluted with carbon wastes; and that we are so sunk in our attachment to automobile exhaust fumes, to sulphur wastes from great steel factories producing metals that can be sent flying to explode on the other side of the planet with the collaboration of the science faculties in such universities as this, (applause) so that we find ourselves increasingly sunk into what is called a materialistic habit, like a junky stuck on his junk.
People are hooked on matter and on their own identity in matter, taking their own identity from their faces, nose, bodies, and immediate physical city-complex around them, and not realizing another, sweeter, deeper but wilder or "transcendental" identity than the identity of the one-dimensional man that Marcuse has talked out. So what we are proposing here is a modern-minded view, or some indications of a modern Western, i.e., gnostic, Marcuse view of Kali-yuga, as applying to our own situation, rather than being an oriental fairy tale. As it stands, I read in the paper today, the prognosis for our... According to U Thant in today's paper, according to the head of the U.N., mankind has only ten years to reverse the political, social, moral, emotional, bhakti course of the planet, and alter our technology, alter our consciousness radically enough to preserve human existence on the planet. (applause) So this is not only the official U.N. pronouncement; it's also the pronouncement of most of the ecologists, biologists, and ecosystemic students of the planet that are presently considering the ecological disruption that we have caused through our greed and destructiveness.
The oriental tale, or analysis, has it, however, that we have a good deal more time. The Kali-yuga, or age of heavy metal entanglement, iron age, lasts 432,000 years, and we're only five thousand years into it. So there is 428..., 427,000 years to go. In a conversation with Swami Bhaktivedanta today, I was inquiring more about the details of the mythology, which are found in a book called the Bhagavata Purana. He explained that according to Hindu analysis we are five thousand years into the descent from a lighter age, the age of brass, the disappearance of Lord Krsna, an aspect of the Hindu Deity Visnu, preserver, or perhaps the supreme form of the preserver aspect of the universe, of ourselves, or of Visnu. The disappearance of Krsna, mythologically or historically, is five thousand years ago. We're five thousand years into the age of iron, and we have ten thousand years in which to chant Hare Krsna, which is to say, repeating the name of the aspect of the preservation, hope, that particular vibration of dancing joy transcending our cosmopolitical words. We have ten thousand for that play before there is a total descent into one-foot-tall monsters who eat each other up for meat because all the vegetables have disappeared, because DDT has completely geared out any biological life form except mammals who go around eating each other at that point.
For... I've known Swami Bhaktivedanta for about three years, since he settled in the Lower East Side in New York, which was my territory and my neighborhood... (applause) It seemed to me like a stroke of great intelligence for him to come, not as an uptown swami (laughter) but a real down-home street swami, and make it on the street in the Lower East Side, as also opening a branch on Frederick Street in San Francisco, right in the center of Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, so that people who were tripping in Haight-Ashbury several years ago, coming down, wanting some, quote, "permanent—eternal reassurance," formula, ritual, magic, hope, feel, one truth, if you wish, zeroed in on the Frederick Street rugged, performed, incensed, ashram, where chanting would be heard at dawn as they were coming down off a trip all night. A great many people who were hung on acid or other varieties of chemical psychedelics found it much more stable to practice a prolonged ritual or sadhana following the instructions of Swami Bhaktivedanta, which are old, classical, Indian-style instructions for both ritual, daily living, diet, sexuality, thought consciousness, apparel, hand gestures—in other words, a very complicated ritualized yoga, a very ancient one also. I thought Swami Bhaktivedanta made a great move in coming to the Lower East Side and to Haight-Ashbury. And then, naturally, because people dig chanting, centers formed in other parts of the United States, so that there are small street-level houses or storefront centers in Vancouver, or in L.A., in Montreal, up in Buffalo, down in... There's some Buffalo chanters here. And "chant" comes from the word enchant, which means to make oneself into, to make a magical spell about oneself. So there are Santa Fe centers also.
In other words, the indigenous, the importation of a very strange oriental form, almost a hard-shelled Baptist oriental form, in the sense of its traditionality and its fundamentalism, its reliance on ancient texts and interpretation of ancient texts by long tradition of teachers—it's strange it's so far-out and ritualized an Indian form should take root in the United States a little more naturally than the more Protestant Vedanta Society or the extremely rigorous Zen groups that have taken root. I think partly it's due to the magnanimity or generosity or the old-age charm, wisdom, cheerfulness of Swami Bhaktivedanta, his openness of heart, his willingness to come down on to the street, and his sense of his own divinity and the divinity of others around that it's been possible for the bhakti-yoga cult of India to be planted very firmly here in America so that now there are communes, or ashrams, functioning on the basis of the Krsna rituals, which are, in some respect, a model for all those anarchists and political people who are interested in establishing indigenous American communes. The regulations on food, on sexual relations, which generally cause much confusion in mutual-living health pads, the regulations on sleep and thinking process, are like an interesting model to study for those who are interested in forming affinity groups or large family communes. I will have my turn at language tomorrow because I'm giving a poetry reading at the student union somewhere—I'm not sure where—which is my regular thing, which is why I was invited here by the student activities committee. So I will cut myself off now and be brief and leave the rest of the evening to Swami Bhaktivedanta, who will give a language explanation, or whatever he wants to say, of the cultural, or metaphysical or religious roots in... Pardon me?
Student: What time?
Allen Ginsberg: I don't know. The time now...
Hayagriva: Mention we'll have more chanting.
Allen Ginsberg: Yes, I will. So the rest of the evening will be, Swami Bhaktivedanta will explain his divine self. Then we will continue chanting. Swamiji. (applause)
[I offer my respectful obeisances unto my spiritual master, who with the torchlight of knowledge has opened my eyes, which were blinded by the darkness of ignorance.]
My dear boys and girls, I thank you very much for your coming here and participating with this sankirtana function. The sankirtana function, or... It is called sankirtana-yajna, sacrifice. There is a statement in Srimad-Bhagavatam that sankirtanair yajnaih prayair yajanti hi su-medhasah [SB 11.5.32]. In this age... As poet Ginsberg has explained to you, this is called Kali-yuga, or very degraded age. From the spiritual point of view, from material point of view also, people are reducing their duration of life and their merciful tendency, their strength, their stature. If you study scrutinizingly, you will see that your stature is reducing, your memory is reducing, your duration of life is also reducing in this Kali-yuga. There are many symptoms. So Bhagavata recommends, "For self-realization in this age, simply by performing this sacrifice of sankirtana..." The sankirtana-yajna is so nice that at once you get transcendental ecstasy, and from spiritual consciousness, you try to join. Even a child desires like that. This is the effect of the sankirtana-yajna. And Lord Caitanya, the inaugurator of this movement five hundred years ago, He says that if you chant this mantra, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, then the first installment of your gain will be that all the dirty things in your heart will be cleansed. Ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. And when we are in clean heart, then the next stage will be bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam: "The problems of material existence will be solved." And when you are spiritually steady on the platform of sankirtana-yajna, then your original consciousness, Krsna consciousness, and its concomitant joyfulness begins.
This thing also is explained in the Bhagavad-gita:
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
It is said there that "When one comes on the platform of spiritual consciousness or Krsna consciousness, at that time he becomes completely joyful." Brahma-bhutah prasannatma. Prasanna means joyful; atma means soul. And the symptom is na socati na kanksati. He does not lament, neither hanker. In the material existence we have got two diseases: hankering for things which we do not possess, and lamenting for things which we have lost. But actually we don't possess anything; everything belongs to God. That is the Vedic injunction. Isavasyam idam sarvam [Iso mantra 1]. Whatever we see, that is the property of the Supreme Lord. And this claiming that "This is my property. This is my body. This is my country. This is my home. This is my..., this is my...," this is called illusion. Actually we do not possess anything. So when you actually come on the spiritual consciousness, you understand that nothing belongs to you. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati [Bg. 18.54]. Kanksati means hankering, and socati means lament.
Then the next stage is samah sarvesu bhutesu. Then you can see everything, or every living entity, on the equal status. People are trying to come to that platform of oneness, but that is only possible when you come to the spiritual platform, or Krsna consciousness. In the material platform it is not possible. Practically we see the United Nations, they are trying to come to oneness of all nations, but they failed. Simply the flags are increasing. Instead of being united, we are increasing our flags. So if you want actually oneness, then you have (to) come to that platform of brahma-bhutah prasannatma [Bg. 18.54]—prasannatma, joyfulness. Everyone is hankering after joyfulness. How that joyfulness can be attained? That is explained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Srimad-Bhagavatam says,
Atma means soul, your self. We are, every one of us, hankering after that peace and tranquillity. How it is possible? Bhagavata says, yayatma suprasidati. Suprasidati means completely becomes satisfied. How it is possible? Now, sa vai pumsam paro dharmah: "That is the first-class occupational duty by which you develop your love of God." That is first class. The test of religion... Every religion has got some conception of God. That's all right. But if by following the principles of that religion, if you see that you are developing your love for God, then that is first class. Otherwise, Bhagavata says, it is simply wasting time laboring.
dharmah svanusthitah pumsam
notpadayed ratim yadi
srama eva hi kevalam
The Bhagavata says that "You are very nice man. You are very honest to your occupational duty. That is all right. But if by discharging your occupational duty you do not develop your eagerness to understand what is God and what is love of God," then, Bhagavata says, "it is simply laboring and wasting time." That is the test. And why we should try to increase our love of God? That is also explained: ahaituky apratihata yayatma suprasidati. Ahaituki, without any cause. We should love God without any cause. Just like we go to temple, church, with a motive. We go there: "O God, give us our daily bread. I have come to You for my bread." That is not love of God. That is love of bread. (applause)
So Caitanya Mahaprabhu has given nice sample of love. He is playing the part of Radharani. Radharani is the conjugal consort of Krsna. Our Krsna consciousness is not dry. You'll see the picture, Radha and Krsna. Krsna is a boy, sixteen years old, and Radharani, a young girl, a little younger than Krsna. They are enjoying, Radha-Krsna. Radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini saktir asmat. There are different potencies of God. Parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate [Cc. Madhya 13.65, purport]. In the Vedic literature you'll find, Vedas, "God has many energies." Parasya saktih. Sakti means energy, power. Vividhaiva, multi, various. Parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate svabhava... Parasya saktir vividhaiva, na tat-samas cabhyadhikas ca drsyate. This is the injunction of Vedas. "You cannot find anyone equal or greater than God. Nobody can be equal with God; nobody can be greater than God." Then he is not God. Na tat-samas cabhyadhikas ca. Sama means equal; adhika means greater. Na tat-samas cabhyadhikas ca drsyate. They have analyzed who is God. The great sages, the liberated sages, they are not fools, rascals, that they will accept anyone God. No. They will test. This is the test. If you find somebody, that he is neither lower than anyone, neither equal to anyone, then he is God. There are other, many definitions of God. Aisvaryasya samagrasya viryasya yasasah sriyah (Visnu Purana 6.5.47). Analytical study. Try to understand God. This is the business of human form of life, not that simply eating, sleeping and mating and defending. These are animal business. The animal knows how to eat, how to sleep, how to mate, and how to defend in its own way. So that is common formula for human being or animal. But there is one speciality in human society or human being—he can understand God, what is God. If I explain to a human being, however illiterate, uneducated, he may be, if he has simply these two ears, he will understand what is God. Therefore the Vedic information is called sruti. Just try to hear. You haven't got to be educated or literate. God has given you these two ears and you can learn. Simply you have to learn from the authorized sources. Then you will understand God. And when you understand God, then you develop love of God. And when you develop love of God without any motive and without any impediment, then you find, "Oh," svamin krtartho 'smi varam na yace [Cc. Madhya 22.42], "I have no more any demand. I am completely satisfied." Try to come to this platform, transcendental stage. You cannot be happy simply by material advancement. That is not possible.
That is explained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Parabhavas tavad abodha-jatah. Every one of us are rascals, born ignorant. But we have got the capacity to take the message of God from authorized information. That we have got. So Bhagavata says, parabhavas tavad abodha-jatah: "All living entities who are born ignorant, whatever they are doing for advancement of society, culture, education, civilization, all such activities are defeat only if he does not inquire what he is." Parabhavas tavad abodha-jato yavan na jijnasata atma-tattvam. Atma-tattvam. So long one does not inquire, "What I am? What is God? What is this material nature? What are these activities? What are our relationships?"—if these inquiries are not there, then all our activities are simply defeat. Parabhavas tavad abodha-jato yavan na jijnasata atma-tattvam. Yavan na pritir mayi vasudeve: "So long one does not develop his dormant love of God," na mucyate deha-yogena tavat, "so long he will not be able to get out of this repeated birth and death and transmigration of the soul." This transmigration of soul, repeated birth and death, is a diseased condition of the spirit soul. That we do not know. Neither in our education system there is any department of knowledge teaching what is the soul, what is after death, what was before birth. There is no science. It is very lamentable. Education in the name of simply eating, sleeping, and mating, this is not education. If my bodily conception continues... The Bhagavata says, yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke: [SB 10.84.13] "Anyone who is thinking that this body of flesh and bone is self, he is an ass." (laughter) Sa eva go-kharah. Go-kharah. Khara means ass. Yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke sva-dhih kalatradisu bhauma ijya-dhih. And by his conceiving this body as self... They have no even common reason that "This bag of flesh, bone, urine, stool and secretion—can it be soul? Can it be self?" But they are finding out by exercising this body to find out the soul. The soul is there, but you cannot see it by material instrument. It is very fine. It is one ten-thousandth part of the tip of your hair. These are explained in the Vedic literature. So how you can find with your material eyes? You cannot see it. And because you cannot see it, you are concluding there is no soul. That is the ignorance. There is. There is soul, and this body has developed on the platform of that soul, and that soul is migrating from one body to another. That is called evolution. And that evolutional process is going on, 8,400,000's of species of life, aquatics, birds, beasts, plants, and so many species of life. And we have got now this developed consciousness, human form of life. We should properly utilize it. That is our Krsna consciousness movement. We simply educating people, "Don't waste your valuable life, the human form of life. If you are missing this chance, you are committing suicide." That is our propaganda. Don't commit suicide. Take to this Krsna consciousness.
And the process is very simple. You haven't got to take difficult processes like yoga system or philosophical, speculative system. That is not possible in this age. That is... I am not speaking from my own experience, but I am taking the experience of big acaryas and big stalwart sages. They say that kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha. If you want to realize yourself, if you want to know what is your next life, if you want to know what is God, if you want to know what is your relationship with God, all these things will be revealed to you—this is real knowledge—by simply chanting this mantra, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. It is practical. We are not charging anything. We are not bluffing you that "I shall give you some something, secret mantra, and charge you fifty dollars." No. It is open for everyone. Please take it. That is our request. We are begging you, "Don't spoil your life. Please take this mantra. Chant wherever you like." It has no hard and fast rules you have to follow. Whenever you like, wherever you like, any condition of life... Just like we chanted half an hour before. Any condition, you felt ecstasy. Similarly, you can continue this. Chant this Hare Krsna mantra. It is given to you free. But if you want to know what is this Hare Krsna mantra through philosophy, through knowledge, through logic, we have got volumes of books. Don't think that we are simply sentimentally dancing. No, we have got background. So try to understand this Krsna consciousness movement. I have especially come to your country to deliver you this good message, because if you accept this, if you can understand this science of Krsna consciousness, other part of the world will also follow, and the face of the world will be changed. That is a fact.
So therefore I request you that you take this chanting, Hare Krsna mantra, with you, and wherever you live, in whatever condition you are, you don't require to change. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has recommended that, sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhih prayasa ajita jito 'py asi tais tri-lokyam. Caitanya Mahaprabhu discussed about spiritual realization with one of his great devotees called Ramananda Raya. And Ramananda Raya placed before Him many theories expounded in the Vedic literature. And at last, when Ramananda Raya placed this verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam, that jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva... Don't be foolishly try to speculate to understand the unlimited. It is not possible. By your tiny senses you cannot understand the unlimited. It is not possible. Therefore the first recommendation is that jnane prayasam udapasya. Don't try to be a dry speculator to understand the ultimate truth. Namanta. Just become meek and humble. Namanta eva san-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam. And try to receive the message from authorized sources. Then sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhih: in whatever condition you are, you don't require to change. You simply hear. Then a day will come when you will be able to conquer the Supreme Lord, who is unconquerable. God is great, nobody can conquer, but if you simply follow this process, then—in whatever condition you are, simply try to hear about God from authorized sources—then one day you will be able to conquer God within your hand. This is also confirmed in the Brahma-samhita:
advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam
adyam purana-purusam nava-yauvanam ca
vedesu durlabham adurlabham atma-bhaktau...
You cannot find out, simply you find out searching in the Vedas or scripture where is God. You have to conquer Him by your love. He will reveal to yourself. That is also explained in the Bhagavad-gita:
Everything is clearly explained there. Please try to read this Bhagavad-gita As It Is. It is science of God. You will understand... You will realize. And chant this Hare Krsna mantra. This Hare Krsna mantra will cleanse your heart. And after cleansing your heart, if you read one chapter of Bhagavad-gita, you will understand gradually what is God, what you are, what is your relationship with God. And when you understand all these things and you develop your love of God, you become perfectly happy.
So we want to see you all happy. That is our program. Sarve sukhino bhavantu. Every one of you become happy. But you must take the path how you can be happy. This is the path, Krsna consciousness. Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Thank you very much. (applause) (end)
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