Who Is Krsna?
August 1973, at Bhaktivedanta Manor, in the countryside near London. Several thousand guests (including the Indian High Commissioner) listen to Srila Prabhupada speak about the confidential identity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is revealed in India’s timeless Vedic scriptures to be not an old man with a long white beard but a sublimely attractive and eternal youth.
Your Excellency the High Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you very much for your coming here and participating in this ceremony—Janmastami, the advent of Lord Krsna. In the Bhagavad-gita [4.9] Krsna says,
“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.”
It is a fact that we can stop our repeated births and deaths and achieve the state of immortality. But the modern civilization—our great philosophers, great politicians, and great scientists—they have no idea that it is possible to attain the stage of amrtatvam, immortality. We are all amrta, deathless, immortal. In the Bhagavad-gita [2.20] it is said, na jayate mriyate va kadacit: We living entities—we never die and never take birth. Ajo nityah sasvato ’yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sarire. Every one of us—we are primeval and eternal, without beginning and without end. And after the annihilation of this body, we do not die. But when the body is finished, we will have to accept another body:
“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” [Bhagavad-gita 2.13]
At the present moment, all over the world people are lacking knowledge of this simple thing: that all of us living entities are part and parcel of Lord Krsna—that like Krsna, we are eternal, we are blissful, and we are cognizant. Krsna is described in the Vedic literatures:
“Krsna, who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of all, but He has no origin, for He is the prime cause of all causes.” [Brahma-samhita 5.1]
When I say Krsna, that means “God.” It is sometimes said, “God has no name.” That’s a fact. But God’s name is given by His activities. For instance, Krsna accepted sonship to Maharaja Nanda and Yasodamayi and also to Vasudeva and Devaki. Of course, no one is actually the father or mother of Krsna, because Krsna is the original father of everyone. But when Krsna comes here, when He makes His advent, He accepts certain exalted devotees as His father, as His mother.
Still, Krsna is adi-purusam, the original person. Then must Krsna be very old? No. Nava-yauvanam ca: Always a fresh youth. That is Krsna. When Krsna was on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, He was just like a boy of twenty years or, at most, twenty-four years. But at that time He had great-grandchildren. So Krsna is always a youth. These are the statements of the Vedic literatures.
But if we simply read the Vedic literatures as a formality, it will be very difficult to understand what Krsna is—although all the Vedas are meant for understanding Krsna. In the Bhagavad-gita [15.15] Krsna says, vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah: “By all the Vedas it is I who am to be known.” What is the use of studying the Vedas if you do not understand Krsna? The ultimate goal of education is to understand the Supreme Lord, the supreme father, the supreme cause. As it is said in the Vedanta-sutra, athato brahma jijnasa: “Now—in the human form of life—is the time to discuss the Supreme Absolute Truth, Brahman.”
And what is this Brahman? Janmady asya yatah [SB 1.1.1]. Brahman is the one from whom everything emanates. So science and philosophy mean finding out the ultimate cause of everything. And this we are getting from the Vedic literature—that Krsna is sarva-karana-karanam [Bs. 5.1], the cause of all causes.
Just try to understand. For instance, I am caused by my father; my father is caused by his father; he is caused by his father, who is caused by his father... In this way, if you go on searching, then you’ll ultimately come to someone who is the cause that has no cause. Anadir adir govindah: [Bs. 5.1] The cause that has no cause is Govinda—Krsna. I may be the cause of my son, but at the same time I am the result of another cause (my father). But the Vedic literatures say that Krsna is the original person; He has no cause. That is Krsna.
Therefore Krsna says, “Just try to learn about the transcendental nature of My advent and activities.” The advent of Krsna—it is a very important thing. We should try to understand Krsna, why He makes His advent, why He comes down to this material world, what His business is, what His activities are. If we simply try to understand Krsna, then what will be the result? The result will be tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so ’rjuna: [Bg. 4.9] we will get immortality.
The aim of life is amrtatvaya kalpate, to achieve immortality. So today, on the advent of Krsna, we shall try to understand the philosophy of Krsna.
His Excellency was speaking of peace. The peace formula is there in the Bhagavad-gita—spoken by Krsna. What is that?
“A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries.” [Bhagavad-gita 5.29] The politicians and diplomats are trying to establish peace in the world. We have the United Nations and many other organizations. They are working to establish real peace and tranquillity, to eliminate misunderstanding between man and man and nation and nation. But that is not happening. The defect is that the root is wrong. Everyone is thinking, “It is my country,” “It is my family,” “It is my society,” “It is my property.” This “my” is illusion. In the Vedic literatures it is said, janasya moho ’yam aham mameti: [SB 5.5.8] This “I-and-my” philosophy is maya—illusion.
So if you want to get out of this maya, this illusion, then you have to accept Krsna’s formula. Mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te: [Bg. 7.14] Whoever surrenders to Krsna can easily cross beyond all illusion. Everything is there in the Bhagavad-gita, for our guidance. If we accept the philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita—as it is—everything is there. Peace is there, prosperity is there.
Unfortunately, we do not accept it, or we misinterpret it. This is our misfortune. In the Bhagavad-gita [9.34] Krsna says, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru: “Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me, and offer obeisances unto Me.” Is it a very difficult task? Here is Krsna’s Deity. If you think of this Deity, is it very difficult? You come into the temple, and just as a devotee would do, you offer your respect to the Deity. As far as possible, try to worship the Deity.
Krsna does not want your property. Krsna is open to the poorest man for being worshiped. What is He asking? He says, patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati: “With devotion, if a person offers Me a little leaf, a little fruit, a little water, I accept it.” [Bhagavad-gita 9.26] Krsna is not hungry, but Krsna wants to make you a devotee. That is the main point. Yo me bhaktya prayacchati: “Offer something to Me—with devotion.” That is the main principle. Offer Krsna some little thing. Krsna is not hungry; Krsna is providing food for everyone. But Krsna wants your love, your devotion. Therefore He is begging a little water or fruit or a flower. In this way, man-mana bhava mad-bhakta: you can think of Krsna and become His devotee.
There is no difficulty in understanding Krsna and accepting Krsna consciousness. But we’ll not do it—that is our disease. Otherwise, it is not difficult at all. And as soon as we become a devotee of Krsna, we understand the whole universal situation. Our bhagavata philosophy, our God conscious philosophy, is also a kind of spiritual communism, because we regard Krsna as the supreme father and all living entities as sons of Krsna. And Krsna says, sarva-loka-mahesvaram: He is the proprietor of all planets. Therefore whatever there is, either in the sky or in the water or on the land, it is all Krsna’s property. And because we are all sons of Krsna, every one of us has the right to use our father’s property. But we should not encroach upon others. This is the formula for peace. Isavasyam idam sarvam... ma grdhah kasya svid dhanam: “Everything belongs to God, and since you are sons of God, you have the right to use your father’s property. But do not take more than you need. This is punishable.” [Isopanisad 1] If anyone takes more than he needs, then he’s a thief. Yajnarthat karmano ’nyatra loko ’yam karma-bandhanah [Bhagavad-gita 3.9]: Whatever we do, we should do it for the satisfaction of Krsna. We should act for Krsna; we should do everything for Krsna.
That is what we are teaching here. In this temple we are all residing happily—Americans, Indians, Englishmen, Canadians, Africans—people from all different parts of the world. You know that. It is like that not only in this temple, but wherever people are Krsna conscious, throughout the world. Krsna makes His advent to teach this lesson.
When we forget this philosophy—that Krsna is the supreme father, Krsna is the supreme proprietor, Krsna is the supreme enjoyer, and Krsna is the supreme friend of everyone—when we forget this, then we come into this material world and struggle for existence, fight with one another. This is material life.
Nor can we get any relief through our politicians, diplomats, philosophers. They have tried so much, but actually nothing they have tried has become fruitful. Take the United Nations. It was organized after the second great war, and they wanted, “We shall now settle everything peacefully.” But there is no such thing. The fighting is going on, between Pakistan and India or between Vietnam and America or this and that. Mundane politics and diplomacy and philosophy—this is not the process. The process is Krsna consciousness. Everyone has to understand this point, that we are not proprietors. The actual proprietor is Krsna. That’s a fact. Take America, for example. Say two hundred years ago, the European immigrants were not the proprietors. Somebody else was the proprietor, and before that somebody else was the proprietor, or it was vacant land. But the actual proprietor is Krsna. Artificially we are claiming, “It is my property.” This is called maya, illusion. So Krsna makes His advent to give us this lesson. Krsna says, yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata: “My dear Arjuna, I come when there are discrepancies in the process of religious life.” [Bhagavad-gita 4.7]
And what is real dharma, real religious life? The simple definition of dharma is dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam: “Real religious life is that which is enunciated directly by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” [Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.3.19] For instance, what do you mean by “civil law”? Civil law means the word given by the state. You cannot make civil law at home. That is not possible. Whatever the government gives you—“You should act like this”—that is law. Similarly dharma, religious life, means the direction given by God. That is dharma. Simple definition. If you create some dharma or I create some dharma or another man creates another dharma, these are not dharma.
Therefore Krsna ends the Bhagavad-gita by saying, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: “Just give up all your concocted ideas about dharma and surrender to Me.” [Bhagavad-gita 18.66] This is dharma—surrender to Krsna. Any other “dharma” is not dharma. Otherwise why does Krsna ask, sarva-dharman parityajya—“Give it all up”? He has already said, “In every age I make My advent to establish the principles of religion.” And at last He says that we should give up all the so-called religious principles that we have manufactured. All these man-made principles are not actually religious principles. Real dharma, real religious life, means what is given by God. But we have no understanding of what God is and what His word is. That is modern civilization’s defect.
But the order is there, God is there—it is simply that we won’t accept. So where is the possibility of peace? Everything is there, ready-made. But we won’t accept. So what is the remedy for our disease? We are searching after peace, but we won’t accept the very thing that will actually give us peace. This is our disease. Therefore, this Krsna consciousness movement is trying to awaken the dormant Krsna consciousness in everyone’s heart. Just consider: four or five years ago, these Europeans and Americans had never even heard of Krsna—so how are they now taking Krsna consciousness so seriously? Krsna consciousness is already there in everyone’s heart. It simply has to be awakened. And this awakening process is described in the Caitanya-caritamrta [Madhya 22.107]:
Love for Krsna, devotion for Krsna, is within everyone’s heart, but we have forgotten. So this Krsna consciousness movement is simply meant for awakening that dormant love, by giving everyone the chance to hear about Krsna. This is the process.
For instance, when you are sleeping, I have to call you loudly. “Mr. Such-and-such! Such-and-such! Get up! You have to tend to this business.” No other senses will act when you are sleeping. But the ear will act. Therefore in this age, when people are so fallen that they will not listen to anything, if we chant this Hare Krsna maha-mantra they’ll be awakened to Krsna consciousness. This is practical. So if we are actually anxious for peace and tranquillity in society, then we must be very serious about understanding Krsna. That is my request. Don’t take the Krsna consciousness movement lightly.
This movement can solve all the problems of life, all the problems in the world. Social, political, philosophical, religious, economic—everything can be solved by Krsna consciousness. Therefore, we request those who are leaders—like His Excellency, who is present here—to try to understand this Krsna consciousness movement. It is very scientific and authorized. It is not a mental concoction or a sentimental movement. It is a most scientific movement. So we are inviting all leaders from all countries to try to understand. If you are sober, if you are actually reasonable, you’ll understand that this Krsna consciousness movement is the most sublime movement for the welfare of the whole human society.
Anyone may come—we are prepared to discuss this subject matter. The ultimate goal of human life is to achieve immortality. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti [Bg. 4.9]. This is our mission, but we have forgotten this. We are simply leading the life of cats and dogs, without any knowledge that we can achieve that perfection of life where there will be no more birth, no more death. We do not even understand that there is the possibility of amrtatvam, immortality. But it is totally possible. Nobody wants to die. Nobody wants to become an old man. Nobody wants to become diseased. This is our natural inclination. Why? Because originally, in our spiritual form, there is no birth, no death, no old age, no disease. So after moving through the evolutionary process, up through the aquatics, plants, trees, birds, when at last we come to this human form of body—then we should know what the goal of life is. The goal of life is amrtatvam, to become immortal.
Immortal you can become, simply by becoming Krsna conscious. Krsna says it. It is a fact. We simply have to understand. Janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah [Bg. 4.9]. If you try to understand Krsna in truth, then tyaktva deham punar janma naiti: [Bg. 4.9] After giving up this body, you won’t have to accept any more material bodies. And as soon as you don’t accept any more material bodies, that means you have become immortal. The thing is, by nature we are immortal. And Krsna comes here to teach us this lesson:
“You are immortal by nature. As spirit soul, you are part and parcel of Me. I am immortal, and so you are also immortal. Unnecessarily, you are trying to be happy in this material world.” [Bhagavad-gita 15.7]
You have already tried and tried to find happiness in sensuous life, through so many bodies—as cats, as dogs, as demigods, as trees, as plants, as insects. So now that you have a human body, with its higher intelligence, don’t be captivated by sensuous life. Just try to understand Krsna. That is the verdict of the Vedic literatures. Nayam deho deha-bhajam nrloke kastan kaman arhate vid-bhujam ye [Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.1]: To work very hard like dogs and hogs for sense gratification is not the proper ambition of human life; human life is meant for a little austerity. Tapo divyam putraka yena sattvam suddhyet: We have to purify our existence; that is the mission of human life. Why should we purify our existence? Brahma-saukhyam tv anantam: Because then we will get spiritual realization, the unlimited, endless pleasure and happiness. That is real pleasure, real happiness:
“The mystics derive unlimited transcendental pleasures from the Absolute Truth, and therefore the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, is also known as Rama.” [Padma Purana]
All the great saintly persons of India have cultivated this spiritual knowledge so nicely and fully. Formerly, people used to go to India to find out about spiritual life. Even Jesus Christ went there. And yet we are not taking advantage of it. It is not that these literatures and directions are meant only for the Indians or for the Hindus or for the brahmanas. No. They are meant for everyone, because Krsna claims, aham bija-pradah pita: “I am everyone’s father.” Therefore, He is very anxious to make us peaceful and happy. Just as an ordinary father wants to see that his son is well situated and happy, similarly Krsna wants to see every one of us well situated and happy. Therefore He comes sometimes. This is the purpose of Krsna’s advent. Thank you very much.
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