A talk given in December 1966
at the Hare Krsna temple in New York City.
yanti deva-vrata devan
pitrn yanti pitr-vratah
bhutani yanti bhutejya
yanti mad-yajino 'pi mam
"Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods, those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings, and those who worship Me will live with Me" (Bhagavad-gita, 9.25).
Some people argue that you can worship the Supreme in whatever form you please and still achieve perfection. This is the mayavada theory: God is actually impersonal, but because we cannot worship or meditate upon something impersonal, let us imagine some form of God and meditate upon that. The impersonalistic yogis have a similar idea: they put a circular design in front of themselves and concentrate upon that.
So here Krsna refutes that theory. The impersonal conception of the Supreme, imagining some form of God these are not the ways of approaching God. He says clearly, "Those who are worshiping the demigods will go to the demigods." The demigods have their various places in this material world. There are seven higher planetary systems and seven lower planetary systems. We are living on earth, in the planetary system called Bhurloka, and there are many planets in this system. And above Bhurloka are Bhuvarloka, Svarga-loka, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka, Brahmaloka there are so many planets, with various kinds of living entities and various kinds of comforts. On some of these planets there are very highly intelligent beings, much more intelligent than human beings, who are called demigods ("those who are almost God").
So here Krsna says that those who are worshiping the demigods will go to the planets of the demigods. Then He says, pitrn yanti pitr-vratah. There is a process of worshiping the forefathers, and there is a particular planet where the worshipers of the forefathers go. And bhutani yanti bhutejya: those who worship earthly beings or earthly things will remain on the earthly platform. But, Krsna says, yanti mad-yajino 'pi mam: "Those who worship Me will come to Me." This is very clear.
Now, suppose you have purchased a train ticket for an intermediate station between New York and San Francisco. You will have to get out at that station. How can you expect that if you have purchased a ticket for an intermediate station you can go to San Francisco? If you want to go to San Francisco, you have to purchase a ticket for San Francisco. Similarly, if you worship the demigods you can go to a demigod's planet, but no higher. In the creation of God there are various arrangements for worship. You have freedom of action, and God awards you the result whatever you want. But if you want to go to the planet where Krsna lives, which is called Krsnaloka or Goloka Vrndavana, then you have to worship Krsna. That is not unreasonable.
What is the difference between going to Krsna's planet and going to other planets? That is explained in a different part of Bhagavad-gita [15.6]: yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama. The supreme planet is that place from which nobody returns to this material world. yad gatva na nivartante. Na nivartante means "does not return." We have already discussed that even if you go to the highest planets within this material world the moon planet, the sun planet, the heavenly planets after exhausting the results of your pious activities you have to come back to earth again. Punar avartinah. So we are sometimes going up and sometimes coming down. Sometimes we might have an Indian body, sometimes we might have an American body, sometimes we may get the body of a hog or a dog, and sometimes we may get the body of a demigod. These changes of bodily dress are going on in the cycle of birth and death, as the soul transmigrates from one form of life to another.
So, this going up and coming down should be stopped. That is the business of an intelligent person. We should try to go to that planet from which there is no more coming back (yad gatva na nivartante). That planet is Krsnaloka. Paras tasmat tu bhavo 'nyah. Beyond this material sky there is the spiritual sky, Vaikuntha, where there are spiritual planets. And Krsnaloka is there.
Krsna says, yanti mad-yajino 'pi mam. "Just as others are trying to go to various planets, those who are in Krsna consciousness, those who are exclusively worshiping Me they will come to Me." In another place [Bg. 8.15] Krsna says, mam upetya punar janma duhkhalayam asasvatam napnuvanti: "Those who once attain to me will never come again to this place of misery [the material world]."
If we always remain in Krsna consciousness, then our transference to the Krsnaloka planet is guaranteed. Yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajaty ante kalevaram. We are going to get a body in our next life according to our mental condition at the time of our death. So if we are constantly engaged in transcendental loving service to Krsna, absorbed in Krsna consciousness, then naturally we shall be thinking of Krsna at the time of death. Then we shall attain a spiritual body and go to join Krsna in Krsnaloka. This is the practice of Krsna consciousness.
Unless you practice you cannot achieve success. Suppose you want to perform on the stage. So you have to practice for many years. Or if you want to pass some examination, then you have to prepare yourself for the sort of questions you may be asked. Similarly, if we at all want to transfer ourselves to the Krsnaloka planet, then we have to practice. We have to practice Krsna consciousness in this life. The human form of life is meant for this practice. "My disciples are just like apprentices, but here even apprentices are already liberated. In Krsna consciousness the student who is preparing himself nicely he has already passed the test. In other words, he's preparing himself in such a nice way that his passing of the examination is guaranteed. So if we take the trouble to become always Krsna conscious, then our transference to Krsna's planet is guaranteed.
Now, the next question is, How do we perform Krsna consciousness? That is explained by the Lord in the next verse [Bg. 9.26]:
patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it." You have to make friends with Krsna. If you want to see somebody very great, somehow or other you have to make some connection with him. You have to introduce yourself in a friendly way, in a loving manner, and then it is possible to make a connection with a great personality. So, if we want to transfer ourselves to that supreme planet, Krsnaloka, then we have to prepare ourselves by learning how to love Krsna, God. If we are intimately in touch with God by love. He will take us back to His supreme planet. But we cannot conquer Him by force. Unless we are in love with God, we cannot claim any favor from Him.
So, there are six principles of loving exchange. What are they?
guhyam akhyati prcchati
bhunkte bhojayate caiva
How can one person understand that another person loves him? By these six kinds of exchange, or reciprocation. First are dadati pratigrhnati: you must give something to the one whom you love, and you must accept something from him. Then guhyam akhyati prcchati: you must disclose your mind, and you must also hear him. If your beloved is in some difficulty, you must listen when he discloses his mind. And finally, bhunkte bhojayate: you must give your beloved something to eat, and you must accept what he gives you to eat. So, we have to deal with God in this way.
Now, the beginning is offering something. We must offer something to Krsna. But suppose a poor man wants to offer something to God. What has he to offer? Here is a description, given by the Lord Himself, of things that can be offered even by the poorest man. Patram puspam phalam toyam: a small tulasi leaf (or any leaf), a little flower, a small fruit, and a little water. Now, these four things are available universally. Nobody is so poor that he cannot collect a leaf or a small fruit or a small flower or a little water. They are universal; they are not expensive. So anyone, in any country, in any place, can offer Krsna these four things. There is no bar. A small leaf you can get anywhere there are so many trees. Even if you are forbidden, when you say, "I am going to offer this leaf to God," anyone will allow you to have it.
So the Lord says, "If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it." The real thing is the love. When one brings these four things with love and devotion, then. God says, tad aham . . . asnami: "I eat the offering." God is purnam, full in Himself. We should not think, "Oh, God is depending upon my little flower and fruit. He is very hungry, and when I offer Him this fruit He'll feel satisfied," No. He's purnam. So our offering should be made with love and devotion; that is its only qualification. That He accepts your devotional love.
Anybody can worship Krsna with these four things: a leaf, a flower, fruit, and water. But we should not think, "Oh, Krsna wants only patram puspam phalam toyam, so let Him have this patram puspam phalam toyam, and for myself let me eat very sumptuously, the best thing." That is cheating. Krsna can understand. This patram puspam phalam toyam is for the poorest man, but if you have very nice things to offer Krsna, you must offer them. If you love Krsna you should offer Him the nicest, the choicest, the best things, because everything belongs to Him. So when you offer Krsna the best and the choicest, that is proof of your love.
Suppose you offer a fruit to Krsna. Can you manufacture the fruit? No, it is manufactured by Krsna; it is God's gift. But if you place before Him some choice fruit, some choice flower, then that is a token of your love. This process is already going on within the material world. Suppose there is a nice rose flower. Somebody picks it and thinks, "Oh, it is a very nice rose flower. I shall offer it to my girlfriend." That is sense gratification. But if you take the same flower and think, "Oh, it is a very nice flower; I shall offer it to Krsna," that is your service to the Lord. In either case the flower is there, you are there, and the offering is there. You simply have to change your consciousness. That's all. You have to change your consciousness to Krsna consciousness. If you utilize things for sense gratification, then you go to the darkest region of this material atmosphere, but if you take the same things and offer them to Krsna, you go to Krsnaloka, the spiritual world.
Now, when you offer something to Krsna, Krsna does not take it away. He leaves the remnants of the offering, and then we can partake of the prasadam ["the Lord's mercy," i.e., spiritual food]. The whole process becomes spiritual the preparation, the offering, and the partaking. In this way we can spiritualize the whole world, simply by changing our consciousness.
We're anxious for peace. This is the process for attaining peace: change your consciousness to Krsna consciousness; don't accept anything for your sense gratification. Everything is supplied by the Supreme Lord, and therefore everything is the property of the Supreme Lord. You are falsely claiming that you are the proprietor. How can you be the proprietor? Suppose you have taken your birth in America. Before your birth the land was there, and after your death the land will be there. Therefore the land is God's property. Why do you claim that this is your land? The earth belongs to God. Everything belongs to God.
This consciousness should be adopted if you at all want peace. If you encroach upon God's property and take it as your own and try to use it for your sense gratification, you cannot expect any peace. Suppose you have stolen something from somebody and you want to enjoy it. You are always in anxiety, because you know that the police will search for you and that as soon as you are caught you will be in trouble. Similarly, nature is God's police agent. As soon as you want to gratify your senses by utilizing God's property, you're in trouble. Nature will inflict misery upon you. This is the law of nature.
Krsna clearly states in (Bhagavad-gita 7.14),
daivi hy esa guna-mayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te
This material nature is guna-mayi, a combination of the three modes of nature the mode of goodness, the mode of passion, and the mode of ignorance. So Krsna says this material nature is duratyaya, most difficult to overcome. You cannot surpass the stringent laws of material nature. That is not in your power.
You are just like a prisoner. However stout and strong you are, when you are under police custody no amount of strength will help you. You'll be offered all kinds of tribulations. Similarly, nature is very strong. As long as we go on utilizing God's property illegally, encroaching upon His possessions, there cannot be any peace. If you want peace at all, you have to accept that everything belongs to God. We can use things, but only after offering them to Him. We should think, "I understand that this belongs to You, God. You have sent me all these things for my subsistence. So first of all You taste this food; then I shall take Your prasadam." This is Krsna consciousness.
The Lord is supplying you everything you need. He'll not take away what He has given you. It is for you. But you must simply acknowledge, "God, you have given us such nice things for eating. Please, You take first." A small child is provided with everything by his father. But while eating, the child may offer the father something: "My dear father, this is a very nice thing. You take it." How pleased the father will be! Just imagine. The father knows that he has supplied everything to his child, but if the child offers something to the father, the father says, "Oh, it is very nice? All right. I shall eat it." This is love.
So, here Krsna is explaining how you can offer your love to Him. Patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati. And if God accepts your things and eats them, then what more do you want? He becomes your most intimate friend. If you can make God your intimate friend, then there is nothing else wanted (yam labdhva caparam labham manyate nadhikam tatah). Also, you will remain undisturbed, even in the greatest difficulty (yasmin sthito na duhkhena gurunapi vicalyate).
When we become convinced that Krsna is our intimate friend and protector, how happy and peaceful we will be! So just be in love with Krsna. Then you will see how much tranquility you feel, how you are protected by Krsna, how you avoid insufficiency, how you become pure, and how you make progress in spiritual life. Thank you very much.