New York City April 9, 1969
Lord Krsna Himself sets up the system by which His teachings find their way to us.
kaumara acaret prajno
dharman bhagavatan iha
durlabham manusam janma
tad apy adhruvam arthadam
Prahlada Maharaja said: One who is sufficiently intelligent should use the human form of body from the very beginning of life in other words, from the tender age of childhood to practice the activities of devotional service, giving up all other engagements. The human body is most rarely achieved, and although temporary like other bodies, it is meaningful because in human life one can perform devotional service. Even a slight amount of sincere devotional service can give one complete perfection. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.6.1)
Today I shall explain the importance of Krsna consciousness as it was conceived by one of the greatest devotees in this disciplic succession. You know we are under disciplic succession. We do not manufacture anything by mental concoction. We do not approve that method. We receive knowledge from the authorities, and out of many such acaryas, or authorities, who have appeared and disappeared, Prahlada Maharaja is one.
We don't say "born" and "died," but "appear" and "disappear." This is the explanation: None of us, neither Krsna nor we living entities, are born or die; we appear and disappear. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna says on the battlefield, "My dear Arjuna, don't think that you or Me or all the kings and soldiers who have assembled on this battlefield did not exist in the past and will not exist in the future." That means they existed in the past and they're existing at present and they would exist also in the future. That means we are all eternal.
The body is changing, and the final change, when you transmigrate from one body to another, is called death. But actually, there is no death. Na jayate na mriyate va kadacit [Bg. 2.20]. In the Bhagavad-gita you'll find that the living entity is never born and never dies. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire. One may say, "I see that he is dying." But he is not dying; he is finishing this present body.
An example is given: vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya [Bg. 2.22]. Just as one changes his dress, when the present body is unworkable he changes to a new body. When the eyes cannot see, there is blindness. Similarly, when the hand cannot work, the leg cannot work, the tongue cannot work because at the last stage these mechanical arrangements of this body will stop functioning that is called death. Try to understand: If I cannot see, that does not mean I am dead. Similarly, when the senses of the body cannot function, that also does not mean that I am dead. This is to be understood with a little intelligence and a cool head.
Prahlada Maharaja, a great devotee, is in the line of disciplic succession. He's considered one of the great acaryas, authorities. Who is an acarya? An acarya is one who knows the intricacies of Vedic knowledge, behaves in terms of that knowledge, and teaches his disciple in terms of that knowledge. The word acarya means a person whose behavior is to be followed we don't just follow someone according to our taste and that acarya comes in the standard disciplic succession.
Twelve Great Authorities
We are discussing the instructions of Prahlada Maharaja because he happens to be one of the stalwart acaryas. The names of such authorized acaryas are mentioned in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Who are they? Svayambhur naradahsambhuh . . . [Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.3.20]. Svayambhuh means Brahma. Brahma is born without any material father and mother. Therefore he is called svayambhuh, "self-manifested." He is the only living creature within this universe born without a father and mother. That means without a material father and mother. But he has his father. His father is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana. Brahma is born out of the lotus flower grown from the abdomen of Narayana. Therefore he's called svayambhuh. Before him there was no existence of material creation.
Next is Narada. Narada is born from Brahma. Then Sambhu, who is also born of Brahma. Sambhu is Lord Siva. He is also one of the acaryas.
Next are the Kumaras, who are also sons of Brahma. The word kumara means brahmacari, celibate. When they were born, Brahma wanted to create living entities to fill the universe, so he wanted many sons and grandsons.
Brahma requested his four Kumara sons, "My dear boys, get yourself married and increase the population."
But the Kumaras said, "My dear father, we are not going to marry. We are not going to be entangled in this material way of life. We shall remain as brahmacaris and cultivate Krsna consciousness."
Oh, the father was very angry.
"Oh, you are refusing my order?"
From his anger Lord Siva was born. Lord Siva's name is also Rudra because he was crying (rudra) from the very beginning of his birth. He too is one of the authorities.
Kapila, another acarya, is the son of Devahuti, and He's considered an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Next is Manu, the father of the mankind. From manuh, the word "man" is derived.
Now Prahlada's name comes. Then Janaka, the great king whose daughter, Sita, was married to Lord Ramacandra. Therefore, Sitas name is also Janaki, "the daughter of Maharaja Janaka." He is also a great authority.
Then Bhisma. You have heard the name of Bhisma, the grandfather of Arjuna. He is also one of the authorities.
Then Maharaja Bali, a king. He was a grandson of Prahlada Maharaja. All these persons became authorities by their exemplary character for advancing in Krsna consciousness. Therefore they are considered authorities.
Next is vaiyasakih, which means "the son of Vyasadeva," or Sukadeva Gosvami. He's also an authority. And the verse ends with the word vayam, "we," meaning Yamaraja, the controller of sinful activities and the speaker of the verse. He is like the superintendent of police, appointed by Krsna. He is also one of the authorities. How can you deny the superintendent of police as an authority? As the superintendent of police is an authority in the state, so Yamaraja is an authority.
An Atheist's Saintly Son
Today we are speaking about the instructions of one of the authorities, Prahlada Maharaja. What is the history of Prahlada Maharaja? He was born in the family of a great atheist. His father was a great atheist, Hiranyakasipu. Hiranya means gold, andkasipu means enjoyment in soft bedding. He was concerned with two things: money and sense enjoyment. That was his business, and he wanted to train his boy in that way. But fortunately, the boy happened to be a great devotee by the instruction of Narada. He was born in the family of atheists his father was a great atheist. But because he was blessed by a great devotee, Narada, he became a great devotee.
Now, Prahlada took the opportunity of spreading Krsna consciousness. Where? In his school. He was a five-year-old boy, and as soon as he would get the opportunity, he would spread Krsna consciousness to his classmates. That was his business.
And so, many times Prahlada Maharaja's father called in the teachers: "What education are you giving to my child? Why he is chanting Hare Krsna? [Laughter.] Why are you spoiling my boy?" [Laughter.]
You see? So don't think that I am spoiling these boys and girls by teaching them Hare Krsna.
So the teacher said, "My dear sir, I teach your son very nicely about politics, economics, and, as you want, to become a very clever man in the material world. But unfortunately I do not know wherefrom your son has learned this Hare Krsna. So please excuse me. I am trying to make your son forget this nonsense Hare Krsna, but I do not know how. By nature, he chants Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, and not only is he spoiling himself, but he's spoiling my whole school. [Laughter.] Because as soon as he chants Hare Krsna, all the boys join with him, and they clap and they dance. So this is going on."
The Gaudiya Vaisnava Succession
Now, this edition of the Srimad-Bhagavatam here on the table is a great, grand edition. Each verse contains eight commentaries by great stalwart devotees. They represent different disciplic successions of devotees. There are four authorized disciplic successions. As I have already mentioned, Brahma is one of the authorities. He has a disciplic succession: from Brahma to Narada, from Narada to Vyasadeva, from Vyasadeva to Madhvacarya, from Madhvacarya to I am making a shortcut Madhavendra Puri, from Madhavendra Puri to Isvara Puri, from Isvara Puri to Lord Caitanya, from Lord Caitanya to Svarupa Damodara, from Svarupa Damodara to the six Gosvamis, from the six Gosvamis to Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, the author ofCaitanya-caritamrta, and from him to Narottama Dasa Thakura, from Narottama Dasa Thakura to Visvanatha Cakravarti, from Visvanatha CakravartiThakura to Jagannatha Dasa Babaji, from Jagannatha Dasa Babaji to Bhaktivinoda Thakura, from Bhaktivinoda Thakura to Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji Maharaja, and from Gaurakisora Dasa Babaji to my spiritual master. And then we are descended.
In this way, the disciplic succession is coming. What is the significance of the disciplic succession? If you receive knowledge from the descendants of these authorities, then you get perfect knowledge. Perfect knowledge is imparted by the supreme perfect, God, and it is received by Brahma. And the same knowledge is handed over to Na-rada. Narada hands it over to Vyasadeva, Vyasadeva hands it over to Madhvacarya, and so on. If a ripe fruit on the top of the tree falls down all of a sudden, it is destroyed. But if it is handed over from up to down, down, down, then it comes as it is, and you can enjoy the undamaged fruit. Similarly, when knowledge is handed down by disciplic succession, then you can enjoy the reality.
That is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita. In the fourth chapter you'll find that Krsna says, imam vivasvate yogam proktavan aham avyayam [Bg. 4.1]. "First of all, I spoke this yoga system to Vivasvan." Vivasvan is the name of the controlling deity in the sun planet. As we have got many presidents, each higher planet has a president. According to Vedic language, they are known as the moon-god or the sun-god or Varuna, and so on. You also can occupy such posts if you become qualified. Just as you can become the President, you can also occupy the predominating post in the sun planet, in the moon planet, and in all the other planets. That is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita [7.23]: devan deva-yajo yanti. Anyone who aspires to be elevated to the planetary system inhabited by the demigods can go there.
So Krsna says, "First of all, I narrated this yoga system to Vivasvan." Vivasvan is the predominating deity of the sun. He was taught the Bhagavad-gita. And Krsna says, vivasvan manave praha: "And Vivasvan, this gentleman, spoke the truth aboutBhagavad-gita to Manu." I have already mentioned the name of Manu. Manu means the father of mankind. That means that from the sun planet, the message of Bhagavad-gita was handed down to the chief man of this planet, the father of mankind, Manu. And Manu handed over this knowledge to his son named Iksvaku.
Iksvaku is a great king. He happens to be the original king in the family in which Lord Ramacandra appeared. It is called surya-vamsa, the descendants from the sun. There are two classes of ksatriyas, or rulers. One is coming from the sun planet, and the other is coming down from the moon planet. According to the Mahabharata, those of Indo-European stock also belong to the ksatriya family.
Krsna says in the next verse, evam parampara-praptam imam rajarsayo viduh [Bg. 4.2]. In this way, this knowledge was received by disciplic succession of rajarsis. Rajarsi means a monarch who is just like a sage. In the history given in theMahabharata there were many kings who were like sages. In name they were monarchs, but they were always thinking of the welfare of the citizens. Maharaja Yudhisthira is an example.
Then Krsna says, sa kaleneha . . . yogo nastah parantapa [Bg. 4.2]: "Now this parampara system, or disciplic succession, has been broken by the influence of time." Just imagine. It was coming down from the sun planet, so there is every possibility of that occurring. Suppose I hand over some knowledge to you and you hand over to some other person, in succession. There is the possibility that there may be some deviation from the exact knowledge I delivered at the beginning. That is called the breakage of the parampara system. Krsna says, "That parampara system, by the force of time, is now broken; therefore I again begin that parampara system with you, Arjuna."
Therefore if we understand the Bhagavad-gita as it was understood by Arjuna, then we get real knowledge. That is the way to understand parampara. Although we are not present before Krsna, if the message of Krsna is received through theparampara system as it was understood by Arjuna, then we get the message from Krsna directly. This is the system. But if I interpret in my own way, then the parampara system is broken.
I gave an account of our parampara system from Lord Caitanya. We do not manufacture any knowledge by our fertile brain. We accept knowledge as it is coming down from the supreme authority. That is perfect knowledge. For example, we receive knowledge from our parents: "This is called a lamp, this is called a table, this is called a book." If you protest, "Why shall I call it a book? I may call it something else"you can do that, but that is a deviation from the knowledge.
The parampara system is considered the perfect system of knowledge. I may be imperfect or my disciple may be imperfect, but if we stick to the knowledge coming down from the parampara system, then we are perfect.
This is such a simple, nice thing. The parent teaches the child, "This is called a watch or a timepiece." If he accepts it, he hasn't got to make any research "Why is it called a timepiece?" It is a very easy system. "My father has told me this is a timepiece. I accept it as a timepiece," and everyone will understand that this is a timepiece. But if I manufacture some name out of my fertile brain "This is this"oh, people will call me crazy. "What are you saying?" So the parampara system is very nice.
Take the phrase "Man is mortal." You have learned from your parents or teachers that man is mortal. Now, if you want to research whether or not man is mortal, it will take a long, long time. But if you accept it from the authorities "Man is mortal"your knowledge is perfect.
The parampara system of knowledge is given in the Vedas. This system of knowledge is followed by the great acaryas, and Prahlada Maharaja is one of the great acaryas.
Try to accept what Prahlada Maharaja is advising to his classmates. What is he advising? Kaumara acaret prajno dharman bhagavatan iha [Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.6.1]: "My dear friends, Krsna consciousness should be practiced from childhood." Why childhood? Because if one is intelligent he can understand, "There is no certainty whether this is my childhood or my old age."
Generally we think that we die when we are old. But who can say that I'm not old enough to die in the next moment? If I have to gain something supernatural which will give me the ultimate benefit of my life, then why shall I wait for old age? Immediately let me begin. If Krsna consciousness is a very nice thing, and if it will give me the highest benediction of life, then if I am intelligent I must begin it immediately, without any delay. But generally people think that childhood or youth should be enjoyed.
In one verse, Sankaracarya laments that boys, youths, and old man are very happy in their materialistic way of life. A spiritualist like Sankaracarya, or Lord Jesus Christ, is unhappy, "Oh, what foolish things are they doing." That is the thankless task of persons who are spiritually enlightened. They can see plainly how others are spoiling their valuable life simply for sense gratification.
Prahlada Maharaja is teaching the same thing. He says that one should practice dharman bhagavatan from the beginning of life. Dharma means occupational duty. "Religion" is not a perfect translation of the Sanskrit word dharma. Religion is a kind of faith. That we can change. But dharma means your occupational duty, which you cannot change. You have to execute it. What is our dharma? What is our compulsory duty? I have several times analyzed this fact. Our compulsory duty is to serve. Every one of us is serving, and all the boys and girls present here can know it. Nobody can deny that he or she is serving. Everyone is serving. That is our compulsory duty. I may change myself to become a Mohammedan or a Christian or a Hindu, but my real occupational duty is to render service to others. That cannot be changed. That is the real enunciation of "religion."
Therefore in the Vedic system it is called sanatana-dharma, the eternal occupational duty you cannot cease. Prahlada Maharaja is advising, dharman bhagavatan. Bhagavata means "pertaining to Bhagavan." And Bhagavan means the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Bhagavata is the adjective form of the noun Bhagavan. The real form of the word is bhagavat. Vat means possessing, and bhaga means opulences. One who possess all the opulences is called bhagavat. And from bhagavat this word has come: bhagavata.
So bhagavata means pertaining to God and His devotees. This book is called Bhagavata because it deals only with the subject of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, nothing more. And you'll find described in this book the dealings between Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His devotees. There are two kinds of bhagavatam: the devotee bhagavatam and the book Bhagavatam. Prahlada Maharaja advises that from childhood, if one is very intelligent, then his duty isdharman bhagavatan he should engage himself in the execution of the occupational duties in relationship with devotees and the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Thank you very much.