A lecture in London, England, on August 28, 1973
avyakto 'yam acintyo 'yam
avikaryo 'yam ucyate
tasmad evam viditvainam
"It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body." (Bhagavad-gita 2.25)
Lord Krsna began His teachings to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita by saying asocyan anvasocas tvam prajna-vadams ca bhasase: "You are talking like a learned scholar, but you are lamenting for the body, which is not at all important [Bg. 2.11]. Here He says the same thing: nanusocitum arhasi. "Do not take this body very seriously. The soul is the real subject matter to be considered."
The modern civilization is concerned only with the body just the opposite of what Krsna says. We should understand the principle that the soul is immortal and the body is temporary. The real factor is the soul. We have to take care of the soul, not the body. So far as the body is concerned, there are pains and pleasures, which come and go like climatic changes. They are not permanent. So you have to learn how to tolerate these bodily pains and pleasures (tams titiksasva) and take care of the soul. But in the modern civilization people have no knowledge of the soul, what to speak of how to take care of it. Like animals, they are absorbed in the bodily concept of life, taking much care of the body but forgetting the soul. This is the lamentable condition of the modern civilization. Simply an animal civilization. The animals simply take care of the body but have no information of the soul. So this civilization is an animal civilization, full of mudhas. Mudha means "ass."
Now, if we say this to the people in general, they'll be angry at us. But this is the actual situation. The Bhagavatam says, yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke … sa eva go-kharah: "One who takes his body to be his self is no better than a cow or an ass." What is this body? Nothing but a bag of kapha, pitta, and vayu mucus, bile, and air and their by-products.
Everything in this material world is like that a combination of material elements. Take this house, for example. What is this house? Tejo-vari-mrdam: a combination of fire, water, and earth. You take some earth, you add water, and you mix them. Then you take the mixture and put it into a fire, and it becomes brick. If you powder it, it becomes cement. Then you combine the bricks and cement and it becomes a skyscraper building.
So, everything in this material world is simply a combination of five ingredients: fire, water, and earth, plus air and sky for drying. Similarly, the body is also a combination of five elements. There is no essential difference. Because in the big skyscraper building there is no soul, it stands in one place. But the body has a soul, and therefore it moves. That is the difference. So the soul is the important thing.
In an airplane there is no soul. but the pilot becomes the "soul." He operates the controls, and therefore it moves. Without the pilot the plane would not move. Similarly, without the presence of the soul, nothing can move. Either the thing must have a soul, or some other soul must control it. Then it will move.
Therefore, the important thing is the soul, not this material body. So anyone who's accepting this material body as very important is fool number one. For example, the other day some rascals came here demanding food. They were very eager to feed the body. The said they were "starving." They didn't know that there is spiritual starvation. Physical starvation may be there, but actually that is not a problem, because there is sufficient arrangement for maintaining this material body. Real starvation is starvation of the soul. The soul is not getting spiritual food.
This meeting is meant forgiving food to the starving spirit soul. And as soon as we get some spiritual food, we become happy (yayatma suprasidati). Unless we get spiritual food, we cannot be really satisfied. Suppose you have a bird within a cage, and you simply clean the cage very nicely and cover it and paint it, while the bird within the cage is crying out of starvation. Is that very intelligent? Similarly, as spirit souls we are encaged within this body, and although we are taking great care of the bodily cage, we are starving for lack of spiritual food. We are not happy being encaged in this body, and so our natural aspiration is to get free from this encagement, as much as the bird struggles to get free from its cage.
Yesterday we learned from Bhagavad-gita that the soul sarva-gatah, "able logo anywhere." It has that freedom. Those w ho are advanced in yogic power can also move anywhere they like. There are still yogis in India who early in the morning take a bath in four holy places Hardwar, Jagannatha Puri, Ramesvaram, and Dwaraka. Within one hour they bathe in these four places. They dip into the water in one place, and by a yogic process they come out a few minutes later a thousand miles away in another holy body of water. It's as if you were to take a dip in the Thames River here in London, and when you came out you were in the Ganges at Calcutta. This is sarva-gatah. "going everywhere." The soul has so much freedom that he can go anywhere he likes.
It is only our body that is an impediment checking our freedom. But if you get rid of this material body and are situated in your spiritual body, you can go anywhere you like. For example, Narada Muni can move anywhere. Sometimes he goes to Vaikunthaloka. the spiritual world, and sometimes he comes to this material world. Because he has a spiritual body, he's free to move anywhere.
Now the scientists are trying to travel into outer space by machine. But there is no need of a machine. As a spirit soul you have your own power. You can move anywhere very fast. Unfortunately, now this power is being checked by the material body.
Therefore, one should be very much concerned about getting the soul out of this encagement of the material body. That should be our first concern. Those who are simply concerned with this body are no better than animals. So this so-called modern civilization, having no information of the soul, is simply a pack of animals. That's all.
Modern people do not care about the results of their activities; they do not care whether they perform pious or vicious activities. That is demonic civilization. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita (16.7), pravrttim ca nivrttim ca jana na vidur asurah. The asuras are atheists, fools and rascals who do not know what is pravrtti and what is nivrtti. Pravrtti means "subject matter we should take interest in." and nivrtti means "subject matter we should not take interest in." The asuras do not know the difference.
Every living entity has two natures. spiritual and material. Materially, the inclination is toward sex enjoyment, meat-eating, and intoxication (loke vyavayamisa-madya-seva;). And the Bhagavatam says, nitya hi jantoh: These are always the tendencies for the living entity in the material world. When one is in the material world he is called jantu, "animal." Although one is constitutionally a living entity, or jiva soul, he's not called "jiva soul" when he's in the material concept of life. He's called jantu, Anyone devoid of spiritual knowledge jantu, or "animal." This is the scriptural injunction.
So as long as we continue to change from one material body to another, we remain animals. And like any animal, we are forced to tolerate so much suffering. For example, a bullock yoked to a cart must undergo so much whipping. He has to tolerate it: he cannot get out of it. Similarly, when the cows are taken to the slaughterhouse to be killed, they have to tolerate it. There is no way out. This is the position of the jantu.
Anyone who has surrendered to the material nature has to suffer. There is no way out. As soon as you accept a material body, you must suffer (klesada asa dehah). This material body means suffering. But people do not know this. They make so many arrangements and plans to become happy, to become peaceful without any miserable condition, but the rascals do not know that so long as you have a material body whether a king's body or an ant's body you must suffer.
Therefore Krsna says here. "Take care of the soul. Just try to understand how important the soul is. Don't lament for the body. In this body you will get so much suffering, so much comfort; it is already settled up."
Now, one may ask. "Why does one living entity get a king's body and another get a pig's body? There are so many different types of bodies. Why this variety?" Krsna explains this variety in the Bhagavad-gita[13.22]: karanam guna-sango 'sya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu. "Because the living entity associates with different kinds of material qualities, he gets different types of bodies."
Therefore our business should be not to associate with the material qualities, even the quality of goodness, sattva-guna. One who is conducted by sattva-guna has brahminical qualities self-control, tolerance. and so on but devotional service to Krsna makes one transcendental even to these good qualities. Even if somehow or other a person takes birth in a brahmana family and strictly executes his brahminical duties, he's still conditioned under the laws of material nature. And what to speak of others, those in the modes of passion and ignorance. Their position is most abominable. As Krsna says. jaghanya-guna-vrtti-stha adho gacchanti tamasah: "Those in the mode of ignorance sink down to a very abominable condition."
In this age of Kali almost everyone is in the mode of ignorance. In other words, almost everyone is a sudra (kalau sudra-sambhavah) This means they have no spiritual knowledge. One who knows, "I am a spirit soul: I am not this body" is a brahmana, and one who does not know this is a sudra.
Here in our Krsna consciousness movement the students are trying to understand what spiritual life is, and if somehow or other one of them understands at least that he's a spirit soul, then he becomes a brahmana.But one who does not understand this is a krpana. Krpana means "miser." Why is he a miser? Because he is wasting his valuable human form of life. These are the sastric injunctions.
So, first of all we have to become brahmanas. A brahmana knows, aham brahmasmi. "I am a spirit soul" And by such knowledge one is relieved of all anxiety (brahma-bhutah prasannatrma) If there is a burden on your head and it is taken away, you feel relieved. Similarly, the ignorance of thinking that "I am this body" is a great burden, and when we get rid of this burden, we feel relieved.
When one understands that he is not this body but rather a spirit soul, he naturally asks. "Why am I working so hard to maintain this lump of matter? Let me try for my real necessity, spiritual life." That is a great relief. Then there is no more lamenting or hankering (na socati na kanksati). This is the brahma-bhuta platform.
So, our actual business is to come to the brahma-bhuta platform. Then we will not be disturbed by bodily pains and pleasures. Actually, there is no pleasure. Simply pain. On the bodily platform pleasure means a little absence of pain. For example, suppose you have a boil. So, it is painful. But if by some medical application the pain is a little relieved, you think, "Now I am feeling happiness." But the boil is still there, so how can you be happy? We think we have discovered so many counteractions to disease medical science, pharmaceuticals but none of these can let you live perpetually. No, you'll have to die, sir. The "boil" is there: death.
So there is really no happiness at all in the material world. As Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita [13.9], janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarsanam: "Why are you feeling happy? You have to die, after all, and you also have to accept birth, old age, and disease. As a spirit soul you are eternal, but in the material world you have to accept these sufferings."
Therefore our real problem is to get free from birth, old age, disease, and death. But these rascal modern philosophers do not know this. They think, "Death is natural, and after death everything is finished. Now, so long as I am not dying, let me enjoy." As an Indian philosopher named Carvaka Muni wrote, rnam krtva ghrtam pibet yavaj jivet sukham jivet: "As long as one lives, be happy by eating lots of ghee." According to our Indian system, enjoyment comes not from eating meat, as in the Western countries, but from eating foods cooked in ghee [clarified butter]. So Carvaka Muni recommended. "Eat foods cooked in ghee, like kacaurisand samosas, and enjoy life." One may say, "I have no money, sir. Where shall I get ghee?" Carvaka answers, rnam krtva, "Beg, borrow, or steal, but get ghee somehow or other. Black market, white market, any way get money and buy ghee, that's all. Eat as much ghee as possible. And in this way, as long as you live, live merrily."
That is also the theory of many European philosophers: "Live merrily." But at the end of his life the philosopher becomes paralyzed. Then his merriness is finished. These philosophers do not understand that there is a supreme controller. You may theorize in so many ways about how to make life happy, but you cannot be happy, sir, so long as you have a material body. Why? Because you must suffer birth, old age, disease, and death.
Therefore intelligent persons should realize that our problem is not how to achieve material happiness but how to be reestablished on our eternal, spiritual platform. As spirit souls we are eternal, but somehow or other we have fallen into this material world. Therefore we have to accept birth and death. So our problem is how to again become eternal.
But the rascal atheists do not know that there is a possibility of becoming eternal, that simply by trying to understand Krsna one can become immortal. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita [4.9] janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti-tattvatah / tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so 'rjuna. Even if you don't serve Krsna, if you simply understand the transcendental nature of Krsna's birth and activities, you become liberated. In other words, you become immortal.
But no, the rascals will not try to philosophically understand Krsna's position. They'll say, "We accept Krsna as a great man, but we don't accept Him as God." All right, if you accept Krsna as a great personality, why don't you accept His teachings? If you actually accept Krsna as a great personality, at least you must try to follow His instructions. But no, that they'll not do.
In Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, "You are eternal. Your business is how to achieve that eternal position. So far as the body is concerned, it is destructible. So you should not take the body very seriously." This understanding is the distinction between Vedic and modern civilization. The modern civilization is based on the bodily concept of life, and Vedic civilization is based on the spiritual concept of life how to make spiritual advancement That is real civilization.
Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.