Do modern achievements spell success to the eyes of the enlightened?

A lecture in Stockholm on September 10, 1973 

parabhavas tavad abodha-jato
yavan na jijnasata atma-tattvam
yavat kriyas tavad idam mano vai
karmatmakam yena sarira-bandhah

"As long as one does not inquire about the spiritual values of life, one is defeated and subjected to miseries arising from ignorance. Be it sinful or pious, karma has its resultant actions. If a person is engaged in any kind of karma, his mind is calledkarmatmaka, colored with fruitive activity. As long as the mind is impure, consciousness is unclear, and as long as one is absorbed in fruitive activity, he has to accept a material body." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.5)

Srila Prabhupada

In the previous verse, Rsabhadeva has said that madness after sense gratification and doing all kinds of sinful activity are not good. Those who are atheists may say, "Suppose we get a material body, and it's a little miserable. What is wrong with that? It will be finished. Then there will be no more pains and pleasures." That is also the Buddhist theory, that the body is a combination of matter, and there are pains and pleasures. So make this body zero. Then there will be no more pains and pleasures.

So Rsabhadeva answers this point: "No, this body will be finished, and you'll have to accept another body. And as long as you continue to accept one body after another, the miserable condition of material existence will continue."

In the beginning, Rsabhadeva said that this human body is not to be misused simply for sense gratification like the dogs and hogs. So now he says, parabhavas tavad abodha-jato yavan na jijnasata atma-tattvam: "These rascals do not know that for want of knowledge of the soul (atma-tattvam) in the bodily concept of life whatever they are doing is defeat." They are thinking, "Now, by scientific advancement, we are able to go to the moon planet. This is our achievement." Of course, I do not know whether they can go. But at least they are attempting. But Rsabhadeva says, "That is not your achievement That is your defeat" Why? Because they cannot go to the moon planet or sun planet or any other planet like that They are simply wasting their time.

Just try to understand. Suppose you want to go to some foreign country, can you enter by force? Just like in England, some foreigners come by smuggling. So that is not allowed. Similarly, from the sastra [scripture] we understand that nobody can go to the moon planet or any other planet unless he's fit It is said in the Bhagavad-gita, yanti deva-vrata devan. These are the higher planetary systems. The demigods live there. So unless you are fit to live with the demigods, you cannot go there.

Similarly, unless you make yourself fit to enter into Krsnaloka, you cannot go there by force. That is not possible. To enter a foreign country, you have to have a visa, you have to have a passport, meet immigration requirements then you'll be allowed to enter.

So even if you go to another planet, you'll be driven away. What is the use of such an attempt? You cannot stay there. Nor will you be allowed to enter. So this endeavor to go there by so-called scientific advancement is simply defeat. What have they achieved by these excursions? Nothing. No tangible achievement. But Russia and America have spent billions of dollars to go to the moon.

Even if you go there, you'll still have to die you'll have to give up this body and you do not know where you'll be placed after death. That is under nature's hand. You cannot dictate "After death, I shall go to that planet or this planet." No. You are completely under nature's control.

Everyone is ambitious, but simply by becoming ambitious can one become a very rich man or a very respectable man? That is not possible. One must qualify himself. So these are futile attempts. You have to act according to the higher laws. But they do not believe that there is higher authority, that there is judgment. They blindly think they can do whatever they like. That is not good. Parabhava. This is called defeat.Parabhavas tavad abodha-jatah. And as long as one is not inquisitive to understand what he is (yavan na jijnasata), that is defeat.

This is the condition. Nobody is interested to know his identity. This is the instruction we get from Sanatana Gosvami. When he first approached Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, his question was: 'ke ami', 'kene amaya jare tapa-traya.' This is a very nice question: "Kindly tell me what I am and why I am subjected to the threefold miseries of material existence. I do not want all these miserable conditions of life, but I am forced to accept them. Therefore, what is my position? Why am I forced to accept them?"

This is called atma-tattva jijnasa, inquiry: "What am I?" Nobody knows what he is. Everyone thinks, "I'm this body." Therefore he's abodha-jatah: from the very birth he's a rascal. He does not know his identity. Someone's thinking, "I'm American." Someone's thinking, "I'm an Indian." Someone's thinking, "I'm a Russian." All these identifications are doggish identifications.

The dog is thinking, "I am this body." The cat is thinking, "I am this body." Similarly, if a human being thinks like that, then he remains in ignorance. And if you remain in ignorance, whatever you believe to be to your credit is not an achievement: it is defeat. This is to be understood.

One should be inquisitive. Sanatana Gosvami has set the example. He went to Caitanya Mahaprabhu and asked, "Sir, let me know what I am. In ordinary behavior, people say that I am a very learned man. They say, 'Panditji.' " The brahmana is addressed in India as "Panditji." Panditji means "very learned." So Sanatana Gosvami submitted. "The general people say I am very learned, but actually I do not know what I am." He admitted this.

Ask any so-called scholar, doctor, Ph.D if he knows what he is. Professor Kotovsky in Moscow said, "After finishing the body, everything is finished." He does not know what he is. This is the position. Therefore, the so-called scholars, learned men, whatever they are doing, they're being defeated because they do not know their identity. Unless you know your identity, then how can you work for the goal of your life? If your identity is mistaken, then whatever you are doing, that is your defeat.

Yavat kriyas tavad idam mano vai karmatmakam yena sarira-bandhah.Everyone has a different type of mentality. Karmatmakam refers to the general mentality that "I shall work very nicely, I shall get money, and I shall enjoy life." Those who are followers of Vedic ritualistic ceremonies are trying to enjoy in the next life also by punya karya, or "pious activities." But pious activities are also karmic activities. Therefore, according to our philosophy, not only are we uninterested in impious activities, we are not even interested in pious activities. This is our position.

By pious activities you can get birth in a very aristocratic or rich family. You can become a very learned scholar. You can become beautiful. You American or Western people are supposed to be very learned, advanced in material science. You are also good-looking and richer than other countries. This is due to your past pious activities.

Suppose you have received these opportunities for your pious activities, and somebody has taken birth in Greenland, where there is always snow and there are so many inconveniences. Or someone has taken birth somewhere in Africa where there are no facilities as you have. From the spiritual point of view, both these kinds of facility or inconvenience are one. In any birth, you have to enter within the womb of a mother to stay nine months in a packed-up condition. And nowadays they are killing the child within the womb. You cannot even come out. Before your coming out from the womb of your mother, you might be killed by your very mother or father. So either you are in the womb of a very rich mother or a poor mother, or in the womb of a black mother or white mother, or a learned mother or a foolish mother, the pains of staying within the mother are the same.

And as soon as you accept some material body, you'll have to suffer the bodily pains and pleasures. Then, at the time of death, the same painful condition is there for everyone. So it doesn't matter whether one is rich or poor, the material condition will cause one to suffer.

If you continue to absorb your mind in fruitive activities, and if you do not fulfill your desires, then nature will give you another body in your next life to fulfill those desires. This is going on. Therefore it is parabhava, defeat. Your business is to know that you are not this body; you are spirit soul, part and parcel of God, Krsna. Your real business is to become Krsna conscious, fully, and go back home, back to Godhead, to finish this business of repetition of birth and death. But who will understand this? Therefore it is said: krsna ye bhaje se bada catura. One who has understood the meaning of the Krsna consciousness movement must be very intelligent Without being intelligent, nobody can understand the basic principle of this movement.

The basic principle of this movement is to understand Krsna. And if you understand Krsna, then after giving up this body, you go to Krsna. This devotional service worshiping Krsna in the temple, dressing Him, and so on all these occupational duties will help you understand Krsna. Although it is very difficult to understand Krsna, if you engage yourself in Krsna's service as prescribed in thesastras or by the spiritual master, then Krsna will reveal to you what He is. And that is wanted. That is the perfection of your life. As soon as you understand Krsna, then you become fit to go back home, back to Godhead and finish this business of repeated birth and death.

People do not know this secret of success. Nor can they understand. They're not fortunate enough. But it is our duty to push on this movement by superior order. Anyone who will take advantage of this movement will be saved from the repetition of birth and death.

Rsabhadeva says that as long as one's mind is absorbed in the conception that "I shall work, and I shall enjoy," then one is defeated. As people are doing here industry, trade, so many things. The real purpose is to gratify their senses. But without understanding Krsna consciousness, without being Krsna conscious, if one simply wastes his time for these fruitive activities, then he is defeated. Parabhavas tavad abodha-jatah.

In the next verse. Lord Rsabhadeva says:

evam manah karma-vasam prayunkte
avidyayatmany upadhiyamane
pritir na yavan mayi vasudeve
na mucyate deha-yogena tavat

"When the living entity is covered by the mode of ignorance, he does not understand the individual living being and the supreme living being, and his mind is subjugated to fruitive activity. Therefore, until one has love for Lord Vasudeva, who is none other than Myself, he is certainly not delivered from having to accept a material body again and again." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.6)

So everyone is under this impression, this wrong conception of life. But he can be saved if he somehow or other becomes a devotee of Vasudeva, Krsna. Pritir na yavan mayi vasudeve. Rsabhadeva is an incarnation of Vasudeva. In this entanglement of birth and death, if someone comes in contact with a devotee and gets the seed of devotional service, that is the beginning of his being saved from the repetition of birth and death. We are giving opportunities to the people in general. We are opening centers in different parts of the world. What is the purpose? The purpose is to give the chance for everyone to become a devotee of Vasudeva, Krsna. Then he will be saved.

People are struggling, working hard and getting the result for sense gratification and the repetition of birth and death. In this struggle for existence, if somehow or other one gets the seed of devotional service to Vasudeva, then he's saved. Unless one becomes Krsna conscious, his repetition of birth and death contacting one body after another will continue. This understanding is the basic principle of Krsna consciousness.

Do not misunderstand that Krsna consciousness is a kind of religious faith. It is a science: how to get release from the repetition of birth and death. This is the science. It is not a system of religion, as people accept some type of religion. Somebody's a Hindu; somebody's a Muslim; somebody's a Christian. It is not that. It is a science. We are teaching. "Somehow or other, enhance your love for God. Then you are saved." And how do we enhance that love of Godhead? By our activities: rising early in the morning, offering mangala-arati, dressing the Deity, offering Him nice foodstuff, observing festivals, writing books, distributing them. These activities in devotional service will save us from the repetition of birth and death. Otherwise, we are doomed. We'll have to continue this repetition of birth and death.

This is avidya. By avidya. ignorance, sometimes we are human beings, sometimes cats, sometimes dogs, sometimes demigods. This is going on. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says: brahmanda bhramite. We are wandering throughout the universe from one body to another, one planet to another. But if somebody comes in contact with this Krsna consciousness movement and tries to understand Krsna consciousness, he's fortunate, because hell be saved from the repetition of birth and death.

Therefore Krsna personally comes, and He says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. That is for your interest. Krsna says, "Surrender unto Me." It is not Krsna's interest. If you don't surrender. Krsna does not lose anything. He's omnipotent. He can create millions of devotees like you by His desire. He's not canvassing: "You become My devotee, and I shall be very rich." No. It is for your interest. If you become a devotee of Vasudeva, then you are saved from the repetition of birth and death.

It is Krsna's interest in this way: because we are part and parcel of Krsna, we are His sons. The rich father does not like to see his son become a crazy fellow loitering in the street. But if his son does not come home, there is no loss for the father. And if the son comes back to the home of his rich father, it is in the son's interest.

So Krsna is canvassing: "Surrender unto Me." Those who are fortunate will accept this offer of Krsna's. And when we actually love Krsna, that is called priti.We love our beloved our child or husband or wife but that is not real love. That is a temporary sentiment. Actual love is possible only with Krsna. Once you love Krsna. that love cannot be broken at any time. Therefore, somehow or other we have to engage ourselves in loving Krsna. That is the success of life.

Thank you very much.