Srila Prabhupada

Paris – June 11, 1974:

Overwhelmed by useless information, we fail to hear about life's most important topic.

srotavyadini rajendra
nrnam santi sahasrasah
apasyatam atma-tattvam
grhesu grha-medhinam

"Those persons who are materially engrossed, being blind to the knowledge of ultimate truth, have many subject matters for hearing in human society, O Emperor." Srimad-Bhagavatam 2.1.2

ABOUT SIXTY, SEVENTY years ago a big politician of India came to see my Guru Maharaja, inquiring about our activities. He was informed, among other things, that my Guru Maharaja was publishing papers monthly in English, Bengali, Hindi, Oriya, and Assamese, and a Bengali daily, Nadiya Prakash. The politician was surprised.

"Oh, you are publishing every day a Bengali paper?"

"Yes. Why are you surprised?"

He was surprised. He was a politician, and he was thinking, "What can one speak of God, or Krsna, daily in a paper?" He was surprised because people generally think, "Sometimes we go to the temple and pray 'God, give us our daily bread,' " and then their business with God is finished.

My Guru Maharaja replied, "Why are you surprised? This Calcutta city is a most insignificant part of the universe, and it is producing so many papers."

Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, "The whole material world is situated in one part of My energy." Ekamsena sthito jagat. When Arjuna asked about the opulence of Krsna, Krsna described some of the material world. Then He summarized:

atha va bahunaitena
kim jnatena tavarjuna
visabhyaham idam krtsnam
ekamsena sthito jagat

"How much shall I go on speaking to you? Just try to understand My potency: This whole material world is sustained by one part of My energy." [Bhagavad-gita 10.42] The spiritual world is the three-fourths part. Suppose one unit of Krsna's energy is acting. So out of that one-fourth unit is exhibited the material world. What is that material world?

yasya prabha prabhavato jagad-anda- koti-
koisv asesa-vasudhadi-vibhuti-bhinnam
tad brahma niskalam anantam asesa-bhutam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami 

[Brahma-samhita 5.40]

In some corner of the Brahman effulgence is mahat-tattva, material energy. And that material energy is described in another place:

yasyaika-nisvasita-kalam athavalambya
jivanti loma-vilaja jagad-anda-nathah
visnur mahan sa iha yasya kala-viseso 
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
[Brahma-samhita 5.48]

The material world means the innumerable universes coming out through the breathing of Maha-Visnu. Innumerable universes. We cannot account for the one universe in which we live, and there are innumerable planets. Everyone has experience in seeing the stars and planets. This is one universe. And such universes are coming out millions through the breathing of Maha-Visnu. When He exhales they come out; when He inhales they go within. That accounts for the states of creation and non-creation.

The material world is only a manifestation, an exhibition, of one-fourth of the energy of Krsna. Within the material world there are so many universes, and within each universe there are so many planets. We are living on one of those planets. And on this planet there are so many cities Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Delhi, Paris, London, and so many hundreds and thousands of others. In every city there are newspapers. And each newspaper is publishing three, four editions daily. This is the most insignificant planet, and still there is so much news to hear.

Therefore it is said here, srotavyadini rajendra nrnam santi sahasrasah: "There are millions and millions of subjects for hearing." That is a fact. Every paper is publishing three, four editions daily, especially in the Western countries. So if they have got so much news in the material world on this insignificant planet, just imagine how much news is there in the three-fourths manifestation of God's energy.

So my Guru Maharaja said, "You are surprised, sir, that we are publishing a paper daily. But we can publish a paper every minute. Unfortunately, there are no customers."

They have customers for their newspapers, but for our news we have to canvass, "Will you kindly take this? Will you kindly take this?"

They are not interested. They're interested in material news radio, paper, magazine, edition after edition. They have no time to read the little news we are giving about God in Back to Godhead.Why? Apasyatam atma-tattvam. They do not know what is atma, the active principle of all these activities. They do not know. na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum durasaya ye bahir-artha-maninah [Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.31]. Durasaya means that they have so much news to hear with the hope that they will be able to exist here and be happy. Durasaya means "useless hope."

Take, for example, your Napoleon Arch. Napoleon was conquering all over Europe, and he thought he would be able to enjoy his conquests. But where is Napoleon? The arch is there, that's all. This is the position. But he worked so hard. Not only he everyone is working. The arch will remain, because it's a stone, but he's finished. He's finished.

This is called apasyatam atma-tattvam. People do not know what is reality. They are simply after so-called reality. It is a very important point. Try to understand. Atma-tattvam. One who does not know what is atma what is soul, the nature of soul does not know what is reality.

Arjuna's First Lesson

Therefore, in the Bhagavad-gita Krsna begins by explaining the constitution of the atma, or spirit soul. When He began to teach Arjuna Bhagavad-gita, the A-B-C-D lesson was to convince him about the soul within the body. That is called atma-tattvam. Nobody knows about this. Therefore, bahir-artha-maninah: they are accepting the external feature. We can understand very easily that the body is the external feature. The real "I" is within. As soon as I go away from this body, the external feature becomes as good as garbage in the street. People do not understand that. They are busy piling garbage. "Bring more garbage, more garbage." They think, "This garbage will save me."

On the other hand, atma-tattvam means to think, "I am now within this garbage for the present. And after leaving this garbage, I pile up so many other garbages. And in this way, working uselessly my whole life, then I transmigrate from this body to another garbage body."

Apasyatam atma-tattvam refers to those who do not know this. Apasyatam means "not seeing." A means "not," and pasyatam means "seeing," or "one who sees." He's seeing in this way: "This garbage is everything." He does not see atma-tattvam.

Apasyatam atma-tattvam grhesu. Grha means "home." You can take the body as home, because we are living within the body. And we are living on this planet and within this universe. These are also home. Or I may have a little home, an apartment, ten feet square, that's all. That is also home. We have attachment for this home, ten feet by ten feet or millions of feet by millions of feet.

Doglike "Freedom"

We living entities are within this home. The whole universe is home because we're living here. And we are moving from this place to that place. From Bombay I have come to Paris. This is all within the home within the universe or within this planet. We see that people are very busy, driving cars at seventy miles per hour. But within Paris they may go seventy miles or eighty miles, but they cannot go beyond. One of our countrymen, the poet Rabindranath Tagore, was in London, and he saw that people walk very fast. So he remarked, "These people are walking very fast. But this is a very small country. They'll fall into the sea."

You see? This is going on. [Laughs.] A dog in the park is jumping and running. But as soon as the master says, "Come on. Come on," the dog must obey: "Yes, sir."

"Give me your neck."

"Yes, sir."

The dog is thinking he's free, but as soon as the master calls he has to submit. That is our position. We are very busy, but the master is the material nature. Daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya. [Bhagavad-gita 7.14] The fact is that we are under the stringent laws of material nature. We have no freedom. That we do not know. We are struggling so much. War has been waged all over the world, especially in Europe, for freedom. You have that freedom statue. And in America, also, there is freedom. But where is the freedom, sir? That they do not know.

Why? Apasyatam atma-tattvam. They do not know what freedom is. Therefore they have created so many newspapers for freedom, so-called freedom. But there is no freedom. Even big, big leaders have no freedom, so what to speak of us.

Therefore Krsna points out in the Bhagavad-gita [13.9] that real freedom is when you get freedom from four problems: janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarsanam. If you get freedom from these four things birth, death, old age, and disease that is freedom. But where is that freedom? The so-called scientists, big, big scientists, have very scientifically advanced, but they have no freedom from death. They have to die on a fixed date. Professor Einstein or any other big scientist could not manufacture any scientific instrument and keep it in the custody of his student: "As soon as I die, just apply this machine. I shall come alive again." Where is that freedom?

So-called scientific improvement, advancement in civilization, is just like the jumping of a dog. That's all. It has no value. Real value is to understand atma-tattvam: "What am I? Why is death imposed upon me? I do not wish to die. Why is old age imposed upon me? I do not wish to become an old man or an old woman. I wish to remain beautiful, young."

"No, sir, that is not possible."

Then where is your freedom? Why are you jumping so much? As soon as the master will call, then: "Yes, sir. Bind me."

You are completely under nature's control. Nature is pulling you by the ear.

"Come here."

"Yes, sir."

"Come here."

"Yes, sir."

And you're thinking you are free. You are completely under the control of the modes of material nature.

prakrteh kriyamanani
gunaih karmani sarvasah
kartaham iti manyate

"The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of material nature." [Bhagavad-gita 3.27] This is called false egotism: "I am something." "I am Napoleon Bonaparte." "I am Mussolini." "I am Hitler." This is ahankara-vimudhatma. Fools and rascals think like that.

"No freedom, sir. No freedom."

Being puffed-up with false prestige, a person is thinking, "I am something. I can do something." This is the disease. So for such persons these newspapers are very useful. But for one who is fixed up inatma-tattvam, there is no need of this so-called news.

Accessible Krsna

"I am Brahman. I am not anything of this material world." Persons who know this should try to understand Krsna. That is the only business. There is no other business. And how will you understand Krsna? By service. Krsna has agreed: "I'll accept your service." Therefore He has come as the deity in the temple. You cannot serve Krsna in His universal form. You have limited potency, but Krsna has agreed to come in a such way that you can touch Him. You can touch His lotus feet. You can make clothing for Krsna with devotion. You can dress Krsna. You can prepare food according to your capacity. You can offer the preparations to Krsna, and Krsna will eat. He says,

patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
asnami prayatatmanah

"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, I will accept it." [Bhagavad-gita 9.26]. Krsna is so kind that although He is all-pervading, universal, He has agreed to accept your service just to give you liberation from this misunderstanding, this lack of atma-tattvam. The Krsna consciousness movement is meant to help everyone serve Krsna.

Krsna, God, is great. How great He is you cannot imagine. But still He has agreed to accept your service, becoming small. That is greatness. In the material world something very big cannot become small. The elephant is a very big animal.

You ask the elephant, "Please become like an ant."

"Oh, that is not possible, sir. That is not possible."

But God is so great that although He's universal, He can enter into the atom. Anor aniyan mahato mahiyan: "Greater than the greatest, smaller than the smallest." That is God. In the Brahma-samhita(5.35) it is said,

eko 'py asau racayitum jagad-anda kotim 
yac-chaktir asti jagad-anda-caya yad-antah
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami

Just to create this material world, one portion of Krsna, Paramatma, has entered into the mahat-tattva as Maha-Visnu and into the universe as Garbhodakasayi-Visnu. He has entered everyone's heart as Supersoul, Ksirodakasayi-Visnu, and He has entered into the atom although He is so great.

It is Krsna's mercy that He can become smaller than the smallest and greater than the greatest. We cannot capture the one who is greater than the greatest. That is not possible. Therefore it is His kindness that He has become just suitable to be handled by you. The deity in the temple is called arca-murti or arca-vigraha. Deity worship is arcanam. It is one of the nine items of devotional service. You can hear about Krsna, chant about Krsna, remember Krsna, worship the deity of Krsna, offer prayers to Krsna. There are nine different ways. Just try to understand Krsna by these nine processes, by some of the processes, or by even one of them. Krsna will agree. Krsna is so kind. And as soon as you understand Krsna's nature, then you become liberated. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so 'rjuna. [Bhagavad-gita 4.9] That is the process.

The real problem is how to get out of material existence. If we remain attached to material existence whether to the body or the society or the nation that is our bondage. One should be careful to understand the position of the soul and how to go back home, back to Godhead, to again meet the Supersoul, Krsna, and live there permanently with a blissful life, full of knowledge. That is wanted.

Thank you very much.