Material life means struggling to find happiness,
but people don't know where to look.
A lecture given in Los Angeles, on September 28, 1972
This issue of Back to Godhead coincides with Janmastami, the anniversary of Lord Krsna's appearance, so we've selected a lecture in which Srila Prabhupada discusses Lord Krsna's appearance and activities. All Hare Krsna centers hold a special celebration on Janmastami. Call a center near you for the exact date in your area and a schedule of events.
ekonavimse vimsatime vrsnisu prapya janmani
rama-krsnav iti bhuvo bhagavan aharad bharam
"In the nineteenth and twentieth incarnations, the Lord descended as Lord Balarama and Lord Krsna in the family of Vrsni, or the Yadu dynasty, and by so doing He removed the burden of the world." Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.23
Krsna can appear from anywhere. But He chooses to appear in the dynasty of Vrsni. Balarama appeared first, and then Krsna appeared, in the family of Vrsni, the Vrsni dynasty. One of Krsna's names is Varsneya because He appeared in the Vrsni family, just as sandalwood is known as "Malayan sandalwood" because it was formerly grown in large quantities in Malaysia.
Janma karma me divyam. Krsna's birth, or appearance, and work are not ordinary. Divyam they are transcendental. Yo janati tattvatah. If one understands Krsna tattvatah, "in truth," then the result is tyaktva deham punar janma naiti: after giving up this body one does not take another material body. Krsna says, mam eti: "He comes to Me." That is the success of life. If you simply try to understand Krsna His transcendental appearance, disappearance, activities then your life is successful.
The purpose of the Krsna consciousness movement is to try to make people understand Krsna. Simply by understanding Krsna one will become liberated from material bondage. Every one of us is trying to get out of some kind of bondage. We feel, "I am bound up by certain circumstances, so I must get out." Ending this bondage is called atyantika-duhkha-nivrtti.
Duhkha-nivrtti means avoiding painful situations. Everyone is trying to avoid painful situations. That's a fact. We are struggling. I have got some income, say two hundred dollars, but that is not sufficient for me. So I struggle hard to get five hundred dollars, to avoid the painful situation. When I have five hundred dollars I feel another pain, so I try for one thousand dollars. In this way I go on increasing, and the painful situation is never mitigated. It will continue. Otherwise, why are millionaires committing suicide? They have money. But they do not know that no amount of material comforts will make them happy. That is not possible.
India is advertised as a very poor country. But still the majority of the people in India are happy. People elsewhere do not know that. Materially, Indians, especially the villagers, haven't got many possessions may-be only one or two pieces of clothing. But still they follow the Vedic principles, bathe early in the morning, go to their business, and eat whatever they get. And they are happy. People say, "Primitive." But, after all, you want happiness. Primitive or advanced what is that? If in an advanced civilization you commit suicide, why not be primitive?
People do not know what is actual happiness. Therefore the struggle is going on. Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum: The rascals do not know that real happiness is Visnu, God. Our happiness is Krsna. For Krsna we are working day and night. Thekarmis, the nondevotees, are also working day and night, but they are not happy. We are happy. That they do not know. We are also doing the same things they are doing. We are not lazy. We are not sleeping. Every one of us is busy. Someone is writing, someone is typing, someone is selling books, someone is preparing prasadam [food offered to Krsna], someone is cleaning, someone is going to sankirtana [spreading Krsna consciousness]. Not a single moment are we lazy. But because we are working for Krsna, there is happiness. Here nobody is paid a single farthing. Rather, you bring money. But still you are happy. But the karmis are getting money, and still they are not happy. Why? This is practical.
We sometimes have to tell someone that he cannot live with us. So he leaves, but he cannot stay away. Unless there is happiness, why is he sticking to Krsna consciousness? Those who leave and then come back could not find any happiness outside Krsna consciousness. People may say, "These are foolish people, working under some idea." But those in Krsna consciousness are happy. They must be happy. But others do not know this. Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum. Nondevotees do not know how happiness can be attained.
Happiness can be attained when you come to God, because you are part and parcel of God. Take this example: A little child is crying, and no one can pacify him. But as soon as the child is put on the breast of the mother, he is at once happy, because the child is part and parcel of the mother and immediately he understands, "Now I have come to safety, my mother."
Similarly, we are all part and parcel of God, Visnu. So unless we come to Krsna or Visnu Krsna is Visnu there is no happiness. It is not possible. But the rascals do not know this. They are trying to become happy by so-called scientific advancement.
The Platform of No Distress
The aim of life is to come to the platform of happiness, where there is no distress at all, simply happiness (anandamayo 'bhyasat). That is our aim.
You see so many pictures of Krsna Krsna is playing with the cowherd boys, Krsna is dancing with His girlfriends, Krsna is stealing butter. Krsna is doing so many things, and they are all simply happiness. You won't find Krsna morose or sitting and crying. Even if He kills some demon He does it very laughingly, as an easy job. You see? Whether He is killing or dancing, He is happy.
We are giving this information of happiness, the topmost happiness without any unhappiness Anandamayo 'bhyasat. The Vedanta-sutra says that the nature of the individual soul and the Supersoul is to become happy. Anandamaya "happy." Spiritual life means happiness. That happiness can be attained in cooperation with the Supreme.
We are like sparks of fire. Sometimes the sparks looks very beautiful. But if a spark falls from the fire, the fiery quality of the spark is at once extinguished. Our material condition is like that. We gave up the company of Krsna, and we wanted to be happy in this material world; therefore we are suffering.
If you put the spark, the particle of carbon, back into the fire, it will again become fire and red-hot. In the Krsna consciousness movement we are trying to pick up the sparks that by chance have fallen from the fire and put them back into the fire. That return to the fire is real happiness.
The Test for God
In today's verse it is said, rama-krsnav iti: God appeared as Rama and Krsna. There must be symptoms of Rama and Krsna. What is the test? The test is bhagavan aharad bharam: God can remove the burden of the world. When Krsna and Rama appeared, Balarama killed so many demons to make the world peaceful. From birth Krsna killed Putana, Aghasura, Bakasura, the Kesi demon, and so many other asuras, or demons. Every day Krsna and Balarama used to go to the forest, and some asurawould come to disturb Them, to kill Them, and Krsna would finish him. And Krsna's friends would come home and narrate the story to their mothers: "Mother, Krsna is so wonderful. Such a big demon came, and Krsna killed him at once in this way and that way." That is Krsna. Not that because one has some so-called meditation one becomes Krsna without any test. What is the proof that someone is Rama or Krsna? Foolish people do not take the proof. They simply pose a bogus man as Rama or Krsna.
Balarama and Krsna are Bhagavan. They are actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and They proved it. They are not the "Rama" or "Krsna" dying of cancer. We are not after such a Rama or Krsna. When there is a real Rama and a real Krsna, why should I go to the imitation Rama or Krsna?
We should be intelligent enough not to be bluffed. Krsna yei bhaje sei bada catura: Without being intelligent, nobody surrenders to Krsna.
bahunam janmanam ante
jnanavan mam prapadyate
vasudevah sarvam iti
sa mahatma su-durlabhah
Anyone who has surrendered to Krsna is the most intelligent (jnanavan). Krsna says that one who is fully wise after many, many births surrenders unto Him.
We Can't Be Cheated
Everyone is trying to put forward a competitor to Krsna. "Oh, why that Krsna? Here is another Krsna with a big beard." That kind of "Krsna" is for the foolish man, and those presenting him as Krsna are also foolish.
Lord Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita,
catur-vidha bhajante mam
janah sukrtino 'rjuna
arto jijnasur artharthi
jnani ca bharatarsabha
Four classes of men, if they are pious, come to God: the wise, the distressed, the inquisitive, and those in need of money. Generally, if an ordinary person is pious he prays to God, "My dear Lord, I am in distress. Kindly save me." Or if somebody needs money, he also approaches God: "My dear Lord, for want of money I am suffering. Kindly give me some money." The jnani approaches Godfor knowledge. He wants to know the constitutional position of God. And the inquisitive person is inquiring, "What is God?"
These four classes try to understand or approach God. Out of these four, two classes those in distress and those in want of money forget God as soon as they get money or their distress is over. But the inquisitive and the wise continue to search out God. Out of these two classes, when one understands what is God he is perfect. That becomes possible after many, many births: bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan. What kind of knowledge does one get? Vasudevah sarvam iti: "Krsna is everything, Vasudeva." One of Krsna's names is Vasudeva.
Sa mahatma su-durlabhah: that type of great soul who accepts Krsna as everything is very rare. Those who have taken Krsna as everything are the greatest souls, the topmost souls within the world. They cannot be misled by an imitation Krsna. They are interested in the real Krsna: Vasudeva Krsna, the son of Vasudeva.
Krsna appeared in the Vrsni family, and our business is to understand Krsna. We cannot understand Krsna fully. He is unlimited. But still, by following in the footsteps of mahajanas, great devotees, we can understand to some extent what is Krsna.
Our real aim is to love Krsna. The gopis, Krsna's cowherd girlfriends, did not know that Krsna is God. The cowherd boys did not know. Even His mother, Yasoda, did not know that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But their love for Krsna was spontaneous. They did not know anything beyond Krsna. If you come to that stage, that is perfection.
Not that we want to know God. What will we know? What knowledge have we got that we can understand God? But we can see by God's activities. When Krsna appeared, all His activities were uncommon. He was not a human being, but He played as a human being. The human being marries, so Krsna married. But His marrying is wonderful. He married 16,108 wives. That is uncommon. Nobody can marry like that. Muslim nawabs used to marry many wives. One nawab married 160 wives, but he could not reach all the wives every day or every night. That was not possible. But Krsna is not like that. Krsna expanded Himself into sixteen thousand forms and personally accompanied each wife.
So this incarnation of Krsna-Balarama is described in detail in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Their symptoms, the father's name, the mother's name, the place, the activities everything is being described. We cannot be cheated by a false incarnation of God. That is not possible. Those who want to be cheated are cheated. But we don't want to be cheated. We want real God. Therefore nobody can cheat us.
Thank you very much.