The young students living in mutual cooperation in the ISKCON temples around the world are understanding that the goal of life is to render loving devotional service to the Supreme Lord Krsna. During the course of the day you may see some of these devoted souls of Krsna consciousness dancing in the main streets of your city, chanting Vedic mantras and hymns, and playing drums and cymbals. The most important and popularly known mantra or chant to be heard is the Hare Krsna mantra, which consists of sixteen words: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. "Mantra" refers to a transcendental chant that can deliver the mind from the material platform of life to the all-blissful spiritual platform. ('Man" means mind, and "tra" means deliverance.) When sincerely chanted, the Hare, Krsna mantra cleanses one's heart of all the collected sin that has accumulated there for years together.
The devotees of ISKCON who chant this Hare Krsna mantrahave now realized the potency of the Vedic scriptures and are sincerely trying to regulate their lives accordingly. All honor and full respect must be given to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada for coming to the West to deliver this method of truth, thus saving these disciples from the sinful activities of intoxication, meat eating, illicit sex and gambling in which they would otherwise surely have been engaged. These four major sinful activities not only bind one to the material conception of life but also send one down to the lower regions of the material creation, As a genuine spiritual master, His Divine Grace is telling his disciples that engaging in the service of the Lord will free them from all reactions of material life. In Bhagavad-gita the Supreme Lord confirms this when He declares, "Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear." (Bg. 18.66)
The primary activities of the materialistic person are to eat, sleep, mate and defend. In the animal kingdom these are the only natural activities because an animal has limited intelligence. However, we must try to understand that the human form of life is not meant for living like animals. Some people think that by creating a policy of free indulgence in sex, intoxication and general wanton living they can bring about an end to suffering in the material world. Of course, this path of unrestricted sense gratification is completely unjustifiable, for in no way will it solve life's problems. To give people a chance to experience happiness, one must become pure in his own activities and be situated in his natural position as spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna. The human form is the highest form of body in the material world. The Vedas say that to attain this form the spirit soul has transmigrated through 8,400,000 different species of life. This human form is likened to a boat which can sail the spirit soul over the ocean of nescience to the eternal abode of the Lord. Our spiritual master therefore says that the activities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending must go on, but they must be regulated so as to advance our cultivation of God consciousness.
Some people believe that to live a spiritual way of life and achieve perfection one must negate activity, for they think that the cause of all suffering is the personality or ego and that reality will be attained when this ego is negated. But, referring to scripture, we find that Krsna instructs His disciple Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, "Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be." (Bg. 2.12) From this verse we can understand that the living being has an eternal personality. Trying to negate this ego through a painstaking mechanical process will not bring about the desired goal of happiness. The Vedic authorities inform us that while the living being is living in the material world he is covered by a material body which is made up of material elements—namely, earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and a false ego which illusions him to believe that this false material body is his real self. It is this false concept that the material body is the true self that we have to negate. When we achieve this result we will experience the full nectar for which everyone in the material world is anxious. Our true, self-illumined, ever-existing spiritual form-which is sac-cid-ananda-vigraha, an eternal form full of knowledge and bliss-will then be uncovered. In this natural constitutional position, the soul becomes eligible to enjoy transcendental pastimes with the reservoir of all bliss, Sri Krsna.
For millions of years Krsna has been calling us back home, back to Godhead, but we are so persistent in trying some way or other to enjoy this material world that to most of us God consciousness seems just a myth. Therefore we must now wake up, listen and try to understand that this material world was not created for us to try to live in eternally and enjoy, for life here is temporary whereas the real life that exists beyond this world is eternal.
Krsna's representatives have appeared on earth time and time again to urge us to come back to Godhead. Five thousand years ago, Krsna came personally to this material world in His original spiritual form specifically to reestablish religious principles and give pleasure to His devotees. In other words, the Supreme Personality of Godhead was here on earth just 5,000 years ago! Krsna says inBhagavad-gita, "In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, I advent Myself millennium after millennium." (Bg. 4.8)
To many people who read Bhagavad-gita the conception that Krsna is a person is very difficult to understand. In fact, Krsna tells His disciple Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita, "Only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding." (Bg. 11.54) Some people actually belittle the idea of devoting oneself to Krsna, who seems to them to be just an ordinary man, and therefore Krsna also says, "Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be." (Bg. 9.11)
Fortunately, Bhagavad-gita has now been translated and explained by a bona fide representative of Krsna, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, simply so that we may understand it as it was spoken to Arjuna. Please inquire into this profound scripture. There must be so many questions we ask ourselves from time to time for which we can't find solutions or answers, but all of our questions can be answered if we take shelter of the knowledge of Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
Regardless of the religious conception we follow whether Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, or any other faith-the study ofBhagavad-gita will in no way hinder us or deter us from our path; it can only increase the depth of our understanding. Factually the Truth is one, not many. Bhagavad-gita is a profound treatise that will bring one who studies it nearer to understanding himself, his life and his eternal relationship with Krsna.
When devotees are performing chanting on the street, people often approach and ask why they don't get jobs and do something for society. "What will this dancing, chanting and clashing of cymbals do to help people?" they ask. "Surely making contributions to rehabilitation programs and social welfare societies would be a greater asset to bringing about peace." However, this is not the case. Yes, these activities are very praiseworthy and would help people, but the Society for Krishna Consciousness prefers to go to the root cause of suffering, which is forgetfulness of Krsna, because it is due to this forgetfulness that one comes to accept a material body, and it is this body which is the breeding ground of all miseries.
Performing pious or charitable activities will only bring temporary relief from suffering. Please understand that our position in the material world is like that of a prisoner who must experience great suffering and unhappiness. A prisoner cannot be made happy in his cell, for it is a man's nature to want freedom. Similarly, as eternal spiritual living beings, we cannot be happy in temporary material bodies in a temporary material world. It is up to each individual person to use his intelligence to ask himself if he is really satisfied with temporary and limited freedom. This is the beginning on the path back to real and unlimited freedom, which one can achieve by going back home, back to Godhead.
Next time you see the smiling, happy devotees of the Hare Krsna Movement, please stop and inquire from them further about this Krsna consciousness philosophy. There is no charge. Just put forward your questions. All that you need is an attentive ear with which to listen. And, most importantly, please try chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. This is all that we ask. Simply by hearing and chanting, one can understand the science of Krsna consciousness.