The advances of a godless civilization are no better than . . .
Decorations For A Dead Body

A lecture in Los Angeles on December 1, 1973

tvam atmanatmanam avehy amogha-drk
parasya pumsah paramatmanah kalam
ajam prajatam jagatah sivaya tan
mahanubhavabhyudayo 'dhiganyata

"I have the very same Gandiva bow, the same arrows, the same chariot drawn by the same horses, and I use them as the same Arjuna to whom all the kings offered their due respects. But in the absence of Lord Krsna, all of them, at a moment's notice, have become null and void. It is exactly like offering clarified butter on ashes, accumulating money with a magic wand, or sowing seeds on barren land." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.15.21)

Decorations For A Dead Body

This important verse explains that everything is null and void when there is no God. The modern civilization has everything except God consciousness. Therefore at any moment this godless civilization can be finished. At any moment. As soon as there is a declaration of war, America will drop the atom bomb on Russia, and Russia will drop the atom bomb on America. Nobody will be victorious, because both of them are ready. America will be finished, and Russia will be finished. That is the situation.

So, you may make advancement of civilization scientific improvements, economic development but if it is godless, at any moment it can be finished. Ravana and Hiranyakasipu are good examples. They were godless demons. Ravana was a very learned scholar in Vedic knowledge and very powerful materially. He constructed his capital of gold all the buildings and everything.

It is stated in the Ramayana that Havana's brother was the king on the other side of the globe from Ravana's kingdom and that Ravana dug a tunnel through the earth. Ravana was in Ceylon, and the other side of the globe from there is Brazil. Brazil has many gold mines. Taking all this into consideration, we can suppose that Ravana imported large quantities of gold from Brazil (this is my suggestion; I do not say there is any scientific proof) and used it in constructing big, big buildings. So, Ravana was so powerful that he built his capital out of gold. This was very wonderful.

Similarly, we can create very wonderful things, but we have to see the example of Ravana. Ravana was very advanced materially and had vast Vedic knowledge. He was the son of a brahmana. He had everything. His only fault was that he did not care about Lord Rama. That was his only fault. "Oh, who is this Rama? I don't care for Him. There is no need to perform sacrifices and rituals to be promoted to the heavenly kingdom. I shall construct a staircase up to the moon planet." This was how Ravana thought.

Similarly, like Ravana, the people of the modern civilization are trying to enjoy all kinds of material facilities without caring for God. But they should take lessons from Ravana, whose godlessness doomed him. He lost everything when he was annihilated by Rama.

Here in this verse we see that Arjuna was defeated by some cowherd men. Arjuna is lamenting, "I have the same bow and arrows with which I fought on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra. I was victorious because Krsna was sitting on my chariot. That was the only reason. But now there is no Krsna, so my weapons are useless." The lesson is that without God, without spirit, this material gorgeousness has no value.

Yesterday on our morning walk I gave the example of the well-known scientist Albert Einstein. He was a big, big scientist, but when the small sparklike soul was gone from his body, his brain was useless. And before his death he could not discover any implement or medicine to rejuvenate himself. He could not instruct his students, "My dear students, when I am on the point of death, please inject me with this medicine, and then I shall again have a nice youthful body." No, he could not discover that medicine.

It was expected that, as a scientist, Einstein could do something wonderful. But even though he might have discovered so many wonderful things, he could not discover anything to solve the real problems of his life birth, old age, disease, and death. I challenge the scientists: "Discover something by which there will be no death. You are discovering such nice medicines. The drug shop is full of various types of medicine, but none of the medicines is able to save a man from death or prevent all disease. That is not possible."

So, the advancement of materialistic civilization without God is like the decorations on a dead body. That is stated in the Vedic literature:

jatih sastram japas tapah
apranasyeva dehasya
mandanam loka-ranjanam

"Without devotional service to Krsna, all your good fortune from being born in a very high family, your mantra chanting, your Vedic studies, and your austerities are useless like decorations on a dead body."

For example, you American people have a big nation, and your activities are very big compared to those in other parts of the world. You have made America so nice by tapasya, austerity. It has not come about automatically; you have labored hard. But unless you engage your big activities in the service of Krsna, they are all useless.

Similarly, scientific discoveries are very popular, but what kind of popularity is that? It is like the appreciation of simple people for the decorations on a dead body. The body may be dressed in nice clothes and decorated with flowers, and this may be very pleasing to the people in general, but after all, the body is dead. It is not enjoying. You may be complacent and think, "Oh, the body of my father is decorated so nicely." But if you study scrutinizingly, what is the actual benefit of this decoration? There is no benefit.

Actually, this so-called living body is also dead. That's a fact. This body is dead from the very beginning because it is matter. Matter is always dead. So, this external body made of matter earth, water, fire, air is dead, but it seems to be alive on account of the small spark of spirit that is present within it. That we understand from the Bhagavad-gita: dehino 'smin yatha dehe. "There is a small spiritual spark within the body." This is the first understanding of spiritual knowledge.

When Krsna taught the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna, Arjuna was lamenting for the body. So when Arjuna accepted Krsna as his spiritual master, Krsna advised him, "You are talking like a very learned scholar, but actually what you are saying is foolishess"(asocyan anvasocas tvam prajna-vadams ca bhasase).

Our so-called scientists are also like that. They speak as if they know everything, but the real thing they do not know. What spirit is, they do not know. They are thinking this body is everything. And according to Vedic knowledge, if one identifies himself with the body, he is an animal. He may be an M.A., B.A., or a Ph.D., but he is an animal because he does not know how the body is moving.

Because the scientists do not accept the existence of the soul, they cannot discover the difference between a living body and a dead body. When the soul is present within the body, the body moves. And when the soul leaves the body, the body no longer moves, just as when the petrol is gone, the motorcar stops. Now there is a crisis a shortage of petrol so how will their motorcars move? The petrol is the life of the movement of the motorcar. Similarly the spirit soul is the "petrol" of this body. Without knowledge of the soul, one is just like a cat or a dog. Cats and dogs cannot understand how they are moving, and if a human being does not understand how this body is moving, he is no better than an animal.

So, without knowledge of the soul, all your so-called education is simply decoration on a dead body. What is the profit thereof? If you do not know what the real living force within this body is, and if you simply decorate the body, you may get some applause from ordinary men, but it has no value.

We living entities are part and parcel of God, and this body is beautiful because we are within it. You may be a big scientist, philosopher, or politician, but without the soul, your body is useless. A dead body. You can give it all the titles you want M.A., B.A., Ph.D. but they are all useless. Suppose a man is dead, and from Oxford University somebody comes to give him a title: "Now you are a Ph.D." What is the use of such a title? Or, suppose there is a beautiful woman attractive to many people. Now, when she is dead, if she is offered to you "Now take this body; you can use it as you like" you will not like it. Why? The same beautiful body is lying there. Why don't you take it now? No, it is no longer attractive.

There is a story in this connection. Once a beautiful woman was being pursued by a man. He was wooing and canvassing, but she was a chaste lady. She did not agree to his proposals. But that man kept after her. So one day she said, "All right, come to me after three days. I will accept you."

Now, the next morning she began taking very strong purgatives and laxatives, and she vomited and passed stool the whole day and night. She kept all the stool and vomit in a bucket. On the third day, when the man came, he couldn't recognize her; she had become ugly from all that vomiting and passing of stool. He asked her, "Where is that woman?"

She replied, "I am the same woman. You don't recognize me?"

"No, no, you are not. She was so beautiful, and you are ugly."

"No, no, I am the same girl."

"Then why do you look so ugly?"

"Because I have separated my beauty."

"You have separated your beauty?"

"Yes, I will show you. Come here."

Then she showed him all the stool and vomit in the bucket. She said, "So, here is my beauty. Now add it to me, and then I shall again be beautiful."

This is a very good lesson. As Sankaracarya said, etam mamsa-vasadi vikaram. He is teaching renunciation: "Why are you attracted to this beautiful woman? What is her beauty? It is simply a combination of stool, urine, flesh, and bone. That's all." This is actual knowledge.

So, people are after something false maya. Maya means "that which is not actually a fact." This so-called advanced civilization is maya. It can be finished at any second. But people do not know this. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, mrtyuh sarva-haras caham: "As death I take away everything." You may be a philosopher, a scientist, or a rich man, but as soon as death comes, you lose everything. A good example is Hiranyakasipu. He was very powerful, but as soon as Lord Nrsimhadeva appeared everything finished. Now Hiranyakasipu had to die.

So, people do not understand that without Krsna, without God, without Krsna consciousness, they are simply wasting their time searching after false things. At the time of death everything we have accumulated in this life will be useless. Today or tomorrow or the day after, it will all be useless. But we do not care for the real thing, the spirit soul.

Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita, na hanyate hanyamane sarire: "The soul is never vanquished, even after the annihilation of the body." Still, people are so ignorant, so foolish, that they do not care to know about the soul. This is a civilization of ignorance. Therefore people are committing so many sinful acts for the satisfaction of the tongue. They are killing so many animals. Why? There are so many nice foodstuffs vegetables, fruits, milk products so why are people committing these sins?

The answer is that today people do not know what activities are sinful and what activities are pious. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita: pravrttim ca nivrttim ca jana na vidur asurah. We have an inclination to accept some things and to reject other things. But the demons do not know what should be accepted and what should be rejected. Only the devotees of Krsna know these things. For example, we are advising our students to reject illicit sex, intoxication, gambling, and meat-eating and to accept the chanting of Hare Krsna.

If we accept this path, we are going to be liberated. What is liberation? Liberation means to get out of the bondage of the material body. 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

"If one understands My transcendental appearance and disappearance and pastimes, he is liberated he does not take another material body but comes to Me in the spiritual world." This knowledge is lacking in today's civilization. There are so many universities, educational institutions, big, big professors, scientists all rascals. You can declare it: They are all rascals. Let them come and argue with us. As it is said in the Srimad-Bhagavatam: harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna. "Where are the good qualities of the atheists?" Here Arjuna is giving a practical example. He says, "I have the same arrows, the same bow, the same chariot, the same horses, and I am the same Arjuna who was being honored by many kings. But now nobody cares for me. All my qualifications are useless because Krsna is no longer here."

Therefore, your advanced civilization will be perfect when it is properly combined with God consciousness. Otherwise, it is all useless. Don't be misled by the so-called leaders. Prahlada Maharaja has declared them to be andha-yathandhair upaniyamanah: "the blind leading the blind." The people of the modern civilization are such rascals that they expect material advancement to make them happy. Recently a doctor from Sweden told me that on the average the people there are the richest in the world, but they also have the greatest percentage of suicides.

So, material wealth will not help you. We have practical experience that every nation is dissatisfied, although they may have advanced so much materially. In America, why have many of the young people become hippies? University students are becoming hippies. Why? Frustration. They think, "What is this life? Even if I become educated, what is my future? There is no future."

People do not know the actual aim of life: na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum. These rascals do not know that the aim of life is God realization. How can we realize God? You are given everything in the sastras [scriptures]: "There is God, His name is Krsna, His address is Vaikuntha, He has many friends. He has many lovers." But still the rascals will not understand. We are giving God's name, address, activities everything and inviting everyone to go to Him, but they will not listen. This is their misfortune. Krsna Himself is coming and canvassing sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Give up all your nonsense and surrender to Me" but still they are researching God. God is canvassing, and they are researching. Somebody says "There is no God." Somebody else says "God is dead; He is finished. Now we are God." These things are going on.

Why? Because everyone is trying to become happy in this material existence. That is their fault. In a library in Delhi I presented my book Easy Journey to Other Planets to one gentleman. "Oh," he said, "you have written this book called Easy Journey to Other Planets'!"


"Then I shall go and come back."

"No, the book teaches one how to go to the supreme planet, the kingdom of God. Why should you come back?"

"No, no, then I don't want to go." The rascal wants to go to Krsna's planet and then come back.

Now the scientists are sending people to the so-called moon and bringing them back. When the first astronaut from Russia was far, far above the earth, he was looking down to find Moscow: "Where is my Moscow?" You see? This is his intelligence simply absorbed in material existence. Another example is the vulture. Vultures have very good eyesight. From several miles above the earth they can see a carcass. So, although they have good eyesight, they are only searching after a carcass. That is their business. Similarly, the so-called scientists and philosophers are very advanced, but their only business is how to become happy on this planet. That's all. Their minds are not very broad; their minds are crippled.

People are hoping against hope to enjoy this world. But they are simply decorating a dead body: "This is my apartment, this is my house, this is my country, this is my skyscraper building." And one day, mrtyuh sarva-harah: Krsna comes as death and takes everything. Hiranyakasipu is a good example. He challenged his son Prahlada, "Where is your God?" So God came as Nrsimhadeva and finished him. "Ah, here is God!"

God appears to everyone. The godless see God at death, and after seeing Him they are finished. He takes away all their possessions, all their scientific knowledge, their bank balance, their skyscraper buildings. Then they understand what God is, as Hiranyakasipu did.

But why don't you try to understand God before that moment comes? Chant Hare Krsna, see the Radha-Krsna Deities, eat prasadam live nicely. That is real intelligence. In the Caitanya-caritamrta it is said that unless one has first-class intelligence, he cannot take to Krsna consciousness. The last-class fools and rogues cannot take it up. So by the grace of Krsna you have first-class intelligence and have taken to Krsna consciousness. Now try to continue it. Don't give it up. Don't be foolish. Continue. Then you will be happy, and all the problems of your life will be solved.

Thank you very much.