In the snowy December of 1969, in a little house in the suburbs of Boston, Srila Prabhupada met with the disciples he had chosen to be the first editors of his Back to Godhead magazine. What should the magazine be about? Here are some of the instructions he gave.
THE KRSNA CONSCIOUSNESS MOVEMENT is composed of four different stages. The first stage is to understand one's relationship with the Godhead, or Krsna. Because at the present moment the conditioned souls have forgotten themselves, they have forgotten their relationship with Krsna. Actually, the relationship is there eternally, but under the influence of mayaeveryone is thinking, "I'm something of this material world" and identifying himself with his body. So we have to awaken them from that illusory existence, [in which they identify with that] which they are not.
This identification with the body is the whole mistake of the modern status of life. I don't say "of modern civilization," because this mistake is coming up since the creation of this material world. Sometimes it is in greater degree and sometimes in lesser degree. In Satya-yuga [the Age of Goodness] the same condition was present, but in lesser degree. But in Kali-yuga [the present Age of Quarrel] the condition is in greater degree.
So the first business is to awaken the conditioned souls from their illusory position, in which they're thinking, "I am this body, and everything in relationship with this body is very important." (Janasya moho 'yam aham mameti.)
This idea is illusion: "I am this body, and anything in relation with this body is mine." I have a special relationship with a certain woman, so I think, "She is my wife; I cannot do without her." Or another woman, from whom I have taken birth: "She is my mother." Similarly, my father, my sons. In this way I think of country, society, at the most humanity. But all these things are illusion because they are based on bodily relationships. Yasyatma-buddhih kunapetri-dhatuke … sa eva go-kharah: those who are living according to this illusory condition of life they are compared to the cows and asses.
So our first business is to wake up the general mass of people from this illusory condition of life. Back to Godhead is especially meant for that purpose. We are pushing forward Back to Godhead so that people can come to the first status of enlightenment.
Then there will be those who are more enlightened, who are coming forward. "Swamiji," they may say, "please make me a member of your society. Please initiate me."
When one comes forward, understanding his position, he is in the second stage training in how to awaken one's dormant love of God. That is another stage training.
Then, when one actually has love of Godhead, he can understand the higher status of loving exchanges between Radha and Krsna and the residents of Vrndavana. This is the third stage. And the fourth stage is theparamahamsa stage, when one is always enjoying. Premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santah sadaiva hrdayesu vilokayanti: when one is completely merged in the ocean of love of Godhead, he'll relish in any condition of life, because Krsna is present. "Krsna is present" means that Krsna's name is present, His form is present, His lila are present, His paraphernalia are present everything is present. Krsna is not alone. We are not impersonalists. As soon as we say "Krsna," that means Krsna is there with His name, fame, opulence, entourage, pastimes, and so on.
So Back to Godhead generally deals with the first two stages of understanding: to awaken the relationship and to train people.
Of course, our aim is to come to the highest platform of loving exchange, but generally our propaganda should be how to convince people by reasoning, by philosophy, by science, and by argument that they're in an illusory state.
These politicians, these scientists, these philosophers they have no advanced knowledge. Their ultimate goal is reached if they can do some humanitarian work, some welfare work. V , A [here Srila Prabhupada mentions some well-known Indian spiritual leaders] and so many others are doing this welfare work. And the yogis they are trying to be self-satisfied by meditation.
But nobody is concerned with God, or Krsna. Nobody is concerned. This is the position of the world.
So under the circumstances our first business is to awaken people from this illusory condition. They are thinking that "I am this body," and that the greatest well-being is taking care of that body or bodily relationships. So we have to take them out of that illusory condition. That should be the editorial policy of our Back to Godhead.
And as far as the editors are concerned, they are supposed to know all these conclusions.
It is a very important thing, Back to Godhead. If our movement is going to be recognized as a scientific God conscious movement, then this magazine will be referred to as authorized scripture. Therefore, we have to prepare it in an authorized way. Nothing nonconclusive can be introduced in Back to Godhead. That should be our policy.