St. Pascal's Franciscan Seminary Melbourne, June 28, 1974
A famous inter-faith lecture given by Srila Prabhupada to members of a Christian seminary
sa vai pumsam paro dharma
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
"The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely satisfy the self." – Srimad-bhagavatam 1.2.6
Father Greene and all other Fathers, and ladies and gentlemen, I thank you very much for your kindly participating in this movement. I will try to explain some verses from Srimad-bhagavatam. Srimad-bhagavatam is considered the essence of Vedic literature. Vedic literature means the four Vedas-Sama, Yajur, Rg, Atharva-then 108 Upanisads, 18 Puranas, Ramayana, and Mahabharata. It is an immense treasure- house of literature. Srimad-bhagavatam is one of the eighteen Puranas, and in the Srimad-bhagavatam there are eighteen thousand verses. I am just trying to explain one or two verses.
In his introduction, Father Greene hinted about the common platform of religion. That common platform is not very difficult to understand because religion means to know God and abide by the orders of God. That is religion. In the Srimad-bhagavatam it is stated, dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam. The true religious system cannot be manufactured by man. No. Man-made religion is not religion. Religion means God-made religion. That is religion, just as law means the orders enunciated by the government.
You cannot manufacture law at home. That is not law. Similarly, religion means the orders given by God. This is a simple definition of religion. We must know God, we must know his order, and we must abide by that order. That is religion. Take any type of religion, and these three things are there: we must try to know God, we must try to know what he desires, and we must try to know how to fulfill it.
Therefore in the Bhagavatam [1.2.6J it is said,
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
This describes the first-class religious system. It does not say Hinduism, Islam, or Christianity. It says,"The supreme religious system is that which teaches the follower how to love God." That is the supreme religion. It does not matter whether you learn to love God through Christianity or Hinduism or Islam, but the result should be that you have advanced in the art of loving God.
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje. The Sanskrit word bhakti is used. Bhakti means devotion. To render service to God is bhakti. We are rendering service to so many things. That is not bhakti. Bhakti means to render service to God.
The word for God used here is adhoksaja. There is much terminology for understanding God, but here in the Srimad-bhagavatam God is mentioned as adhoksaja. Adhoksaja means beyond our sense perception. Another phrase that is used is avan-manasa gocarah: "beyond the expression of mind and words."
The word adhoksaja can be broken into three words: adha, aksa, and ja. Adha means "subdued." In the Sanskrit alphabet the first letter is a, and the last is ksa. So aksa means "from a to ksa" and refers to whatever we can understand by the combination of words. And ja means "born of." So if you combine many words but something is still beyond expression, that thing is called adhoksaja, "beyond everything describable from a to ksa." It is not by vocabulary that we can understand the nature of God. God is beyond our material sense perception.
It is said in the Vedic literature, atah sri-Krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih. Krsna is a name of God. It is said that we cannot understand Krsna, or God-his name, his form, his attributes, his pastimes-by our blunt material senses. Then how it he to be understood?
THE BUSINESS OF HUMAN LIFE
Human life is meant for understanding God. That is the only business of human life. Material nature gives us the opportunity to have the human form of life. The facility of this form of life is given to us just to understand God. There are 8,400,000 forms of life. In other forms it is not possible to understand God. If we call all the dogs of your country – "Come here. We shall talk about God"there is no possibility of their understanding. But in the human form of life there is the possibility. It doesn't matter whether one is in India or America or Australia. Any human being, if he tries and if he reads the scriptures-never mind, Bible, Bhagavad-gita, Bhagavata-then he will understand God.
Therefore the human form of life is meant only for understanding God. If we divert our attention to any other business, we are spoiling our energy. Because what are the other activities? Everyone is active for sleeping, eating, having sexual intercourse, and defending. These things are present even for cats and dogs. They also eat, they also sleep, they also have the propensity for sexual intercourse, and they also defend in their own way. If your human life is a lso spoiled only on these activities, then you are missing the chance.
Human activity should be for understanding God, or the Absolute Truth. That is Vedanta philosophy. Athato brahma jijnasa. Veda means knowledge, and anta means ultimate. We are acquiring knowledge in so many departments, but the ultimate knowledge is to know God. Therefore Vedanta says, athato brahma jijnasa:"Now, in this life, inquire into the Absolute Truth."
In the morning the birds are inquiring: "Where shall we go this morning to get some fruits, some eatables?" They ask these questions. And there is some talking: "ki-chi mihi." Human life is not meant simply for that kind of question. The questions for human beings are "What is God? Who am I? What is my relationship with God? What is the ultimate goal of life?" These questions and answers should be found in human society. These questions must arise: "What is God? What is material nature? Who has created it? How was it created? How is it going on?" So many things.
Naturally, if we are philosophically minded we inquire, "How was this world created? Who created it?" And there are many ways of answering. But the Vedanta-sutra answers that the creator of whatever we are seeing-the cosmic manifestation-is God, Brahman.
God, or the Supreme Truth, the Absolute Truth, is that from which everything has come. That is stated in the beginning of the Srimad-bhagavatam. Janmady asya yatah: "The Absolute Truth is that from which everything has come into existence."
RELIGION IS NOT FAITH
The common platform of religion, therefore, is to try to understand the Supreme Soul and turn our loving propensities to that Supreme Soul. In the dictionary it is said that religion is a kind of faith. No. It is a permanent arrangement. It is not faith. Faith we can change. Today I am Hindu; I can become a Christian tomorrow. You are a Christian; you can change your faith tomorrow. In Sanskrit the word for religion does not mean faith; it means the original characteristic of a thing. That is called religion. "Original characteristic" means that which cannot be changed. That quality, that characteristic, is always with us.
The Vedic version is that the living entity is an eternal servant of God. When he forgets this relationship- that he is an eternal servant of God-he begins his material existence. In material existence nobody is prepared to become a servant. Everyone is prepared to become the master. That is the struggle for existence. Everyone is trying to become the master. Even in the dogs' society you will find that one dog is trying to predominate by barking "I am better than you."
This is called the struggle for existence. Everyone-individual to individual nation to nation, society to society, so-called religion to so-called religion-everyone is trying to become the master. Nobody is trying to become the servant. But the real position is that we living entities are eternal servants of God. As soon as we forget this formula, we are in material existence. And as soon as we revive our original consciousness, that is the spiritual platform. Therefore we are propagating Krsna consciousness, or God consciousness, so that people can come to the point of understanding that we are eternal servants of God.
As I was saying, in the Srimad-bhagavatam it is enunciated, "That is a first -class religious system which teaches its followers how to again become servants of God." That is first-class religion. So how to become the servant of God? In the Bhagavad-gita many types of instruction are there: karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, dhyana-yoga, bhaktiyoga. But Krsna's ultimate instruction to Arjuna is sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bhagavad-glta 18.661: "Your only business is to surrender unto me,because you are my eternal servant. You rebelled against serving me. You wanted to live independently in the material world, artificially trying to become the master. Give up this propensity. Surrender unto me. Then you will be happy." And Krsna assures, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami: "And when you have surrendered, I will excuse you from all reactions of sinful life."
Why has he said "sinful life"? Because in the material world every activity is sinful because the main principle is how to become the master. To become the master everyone is prepared to do anything, never mind whether sinful or pious. Another meaning of "sinful" is anything against the order of God. In the Bible there are so many commandments- "You shall not do this." A sinful man cannot approach God. That is the verdict of Vedic literature.
yesam tv anta-gatam Papam
bhajante mam dadha-vratah
One who is completely free from the reactions of sinful life can completely devote himself to the service of the Lord.
SYMPTOMS OF PURE LOVE OF GOD
The common platform is there. God is neither Hindu nor Muslim. The method of approaching God may be different, but the ultimate end is how to love God or how to serve God. One cannot serve anybody without love. In the material world one serves another for money, for a reward. But serving God is not like that. In the verse I quoted from the Srimad-bhagavatam it is stated, ahaituki apratihata. Service to God must be without motive. Here in the material world we serve somebody with a motive, for some material gain. But in the spiritual world, to serve God means "It is my duty. I love him. I want to serve Him." Because a mother loves her child, she is not like the maidservant who is paid. The mother loves her child spontaneously. She loves to serve the child. Similarly, real love of God is spontaneous, without any motive, and without impediment.
Love of God cannot be checked by any material condition. It is not that because a man is poor he cannot love God. No. Or because a man is very rich he cannot love God. No. Ahaituki apratihata. Whatever you may be, you can learn how to love God without any impediment. And if we come to that stage of life-here it is said, yayatma suprasidati -then you will be fully satisfied and pleased. If you are engaged in the service of the Lord without any motive and without being impeded-spontaneously loving-then you will feel complete satisfaction.
There are many instances of devotees of the Lord who displayed this. One was Dhruva Maharaja, a five-year-old boy. There was some family dissension. He was insulted by his stepmother, and he wanted to retaliate. So he inquired from his mother, "How can I do it?" His mother advised, "Take shelter of God. He can help you." So he went to the forest and meditated for six months. When he saw God, he said, "My Lord, I am now fully satisfied. I don't want any benediction from you." Svamin katartho 'smi varam na yace.
That is the actual realization of God. God realization means there is no more want. All demands, all wants, are finished. Therefore it is said, yayatma suprasidati. Because we want something, there is a demand. As long as there are demands, we will never be satisfied. When there are no demands when we are fully satisfied-that is God realization. Yayatma suprasidati.
Again, the common platform is there. At the present moment people are suffering. Not at the present moment-always. Anyone in the material world is full of anxieties, because material wants cannot be satisfied at any time. They will simply increase. Unless one comes to God consciousness there is no possibility of satisfaction. Yayatma suprasidati. Prasidati means fully satisfied, no more want. In the Bhagavad-gita [6.22] it is said, yasmin sthito na duhkhena guru"api vicalyate: "If you are situated in that position, then the most dangerous type of unhappiness cannot agitate you." If you are fixed up in God consciousness, then nothing of these material disturbances can agitate you. yasmin sthito na duhkhena guru"api vicalyate.
BHAKTI-YOGA FOR PERFECTION
People should try to attain that perfect transcendental position so that they become fully satisfied, no more want. The process to attain that position is called bhakti-yoga, and we are teaching and propagating bhakti-yoga. People are disturbed in so many ways in this age, known as the Age of Kali. To give them real satisfaction of life requires awakening them to the platform of God consciousness. The simple method is chanting the holy name of God. We are chanting Hare Krsna. Hare Krsna means addressing God with his energy, Hara. Fire is with its energy, heat and light; similarly, God has energies, many energies. The principal energies are the spir itual energy and the material energy. We are under the material energy at the present moment. We have to transfer ourselves to the spiritual energy, because we are spirit. If you put a fish on land, however you try to make him comfortable he will never be comfortable, because land is not the place for the fish. Throw him May 2007 into the water, and he will be comfortable. Simila rly, we are spirit. We are now encaged within the material body. Dehino 'smin yatha de he kaumdram yauvanam jara. [Bhagavad-gita 2.13] Our business should be how to get out of the material energy and put ourselves under the spiritual energy. Then our life will be fully satisfied.
In human life this is a prerogative: to get out of the material energy and put ourselves again into the spiritual energy. To put ourselves again into the spiritual energy, we have to get free from designations. What are the designations? "I am Hindu," "I am Muslim," "I am Christian," "I am American,'' "I am Indian," "I am this,'' "I am that." These are designations. And to become free from designations means "I do not belong to any of these categories. I am an eternal servant of God." If you come to that position, then that is the common platform. Let everyone perceive that he is an eternal servant of God. Then all problems will be solved.
That is the purpose of our Krsna consciousness movement. We are chanting the holy name of God, and we are recommending that others chant the holy name of God. God must have some name. In the Bible it is said, "Hallowed be thy name." So there is a name. God's name is there. God's name is Christ or Kristo or Krsna. So we can chant together. Where is the difficulty? Those who are professing Christianity, you have got the name of God. Otherwise why did Jesus recommended, "Glorify the name of God"? That is chanting. So let us jointly glorify the name of God. That is the common platform.
Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.