The person who is in full Krsna consciousness knows nothing but Krsna. Whatever he perceives sensuously, mentally, intellectually, emotionally, or psychically is the Absolute Himself, for his consciousness is steeped in knowledge of the Absolute. One so situated in consciousness of the Divine is neither in want nor afraid of anything. He neither desires heavenly planets nor flees hellish ones. He is with Krsna, and so he thinks that every place is as good as the forests of Vrndavana where Krsna eternally sports. In fact, wherever he remains is Vrndavana, just as wherever there are atoms there is the Paramatma, the Supersoul. The Supersoul lives in the hearts of all beings, and yet He is not subjected to their pleasures and pains. In the same way, a person in Krsna consciousness is always transcendental to the modes of material nature. But in this age of Kali, this Iron Age, an age of spiritual drought, of thunder without rain, persons who are in full Krsna consciousness are very rare. Today, there are three billion people on this one planet, and yet out of all these millions and millions it is very difficult to find one person who is actually Krsna conscious or even peaceful. It is very seldom that we find one who is peaceful, for without being established in Krsna consciousness it is not possible to be peaceful.

Love Given Freely

Seeing the pitiable condition of men in the present day, the compassionate Lord Caitanya, who embodies the Absolute Truth and His internal pleasure potency, freely distributes the means whereby man can be established in Krsna consciousness. He is giving a free and easy access to this consciousness: love of Godhead. But because it is being given freely and because it is so easy, people are reluctant to take it. His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati used to say that if you take langera mangoes, which are the best quality mangoes in India, very costly and very sweet, and go from door to door to distribute them freely, people will ask, "Why has this man brought these mangoes? Why is he giving them away? There must be some motive behind it." In this way they will be suspicious and reluctant to accept them. In the same way Lord Caitanya is distributing Krsna prema, pure love for Krsna, which is priceless and very sweet. Yet most people's reactions tend to be skeptical. They say, "Oh he's simply chanting Hare Krsna. What's there to that? This must be for the foolish who cannot cogitate or speculate or meditate or hyperventilate. Surely this is meant for the feeble-minded." But in Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, "Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth. " (Bg. 7.3) Therefore the seed of Krsna consciousness is a very precious seed, very rare and very valuable. Out of over eight million species of life, only one species here and there has the spiritual fortune to realize the position of the Absolute. Krsna says, "I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My eternal creative potency maya. And so the deluded world knows Me not who am unborn and infallible." (Bg. 7.25)

Release From Samsara

With a little vision we can quickly see that the mass of living entities are wandering aimlessly in these millions of species of life. Lord Krsna proclaims, "All living entities are born into delusion overcome by the dualities of desire and hate." (Bg. 7.27) Desire and hate delude the soul into thinking that he is this body and that he can gratify the sensual desires of this body. However, the human life is unique in that it offers an opportunity to the conditioned soul to hurdle himself out of the wheel of samsara, the wheel of birth and death. The spiritual master helps the conditioned soul just as a track coach helps a runner jump hurdles. He gives so many instructions, so many rules and regulations just to train the conditioned soul to become godly. The instructions may appear superstitious or superfluous to the conditioned soul due to his limited range of vision, yet when he is hurdled out of his conditioning he can see how they helped him. The human being is intended to be trained to be godly. Actually he is part and parcel of God, but due to material contamination he has forgotten. In India, for thousands of years, various methods have been utilized by which the soul's memory can be awakened to the soul's divinity. Lord Caitanya enjoins that the fortunate person with some spiritual assets due to past deeds will seek the association of a pure devotee who knows the methods of awakening and will instruct the conditioned soul in Krsna consciousness. The seed of Krsna consciousness is received by the mercy of the guru or the spiritual master and by the mercy of Krsna. This mercy is combined: by the grace of Krsna, the soul gets guru, and by the grace of guru, the soul gets Krsna.

"When will the day come when I will be established at last in Krsna consciousness?" This is an urge felt deep in the soul of all entities. Krsna and guru survey all beings, and when they will the God consciousness of the individual jiva will develop and fructify. All creatures have spiritual eyes within themselves, but these eyes are closed. By the will and mercy of the spiritual master and Krsna they can be opened in a twinkling. They are opened by sabda, the transcendental sound incarnation of the Supreme Lord, which pierces the material coverings of all living entities, vibrates into their souls and opens their sleeping spiritual eyes. It is called mantra, which means "mind releasing," for it releases the mind from its material shackles. Krsna says, "I am seated in everyone's heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge, and forgetfulness." (Bg. 15.15) Krsna is the Supersoul within all, and as soon as He sees that one is sincerely seeking the answers to important spiritual questions, then he sends a bona fide guruto deliver the mantra and teach the jiva the process of surrender.

Watering The Seed

The seed of Krsna consciousness is within the heart of all living entities, and it is delivered by Krsna and the spiritual master. What is the duty of one who has the seeds of a very beautiful flower? His duty is not to lock them up in a vault or in a bank, but to sow them in the ground. The seed of Krsna consciousness is not sown in the earth, but in the heart, within the self. And once the seed is sown it must be nourished by a little water. That watering process is known as sravanam kirtanam, namely hearing the transcendental words of guru and Krsna and chanting the mantra. If the seed is watered in this way, then it will surely grow. One should never stop watering this plant but should nourish it continually, for if one stops watering any plant it will cease to bear fruit and will die. Even if one is highly elevated in Krsna consciousness he cannot stop this process. Therefore it is recommended that one chant the holy names and read the words of Krsna both morning and evening so that the soul's precious plant will not dry up. Maya, forgetfulness, delusion, are so strong that as soon as they see the opportunity, they will say, "Ah, let's send a drought. Now he will surely dry up." Therefore the watering should always be there so that the plant will always grow.

Ordinarily there is a limit to the growth of all plants. A plant or vine will reach a certain height or breadth or length and then stop. But the plant of Krsna consciousness grows in such a way that it does not rest on any part of this universe. The creepers and branches of this holy plant never lie dormant, never take shelter, never stop within this material world, for this plant is not satisfied with any facility afforded by any planet in any part of this material universe. If it is constantly watered, its branches will extend beyond sensuality, fruitive action and mental speculation and will pierce the covering of the material universe and burst into the effulgent light of the spiritual sky. In that realm it will pass beyond the self-luminous spheres of opulence, beyond the glorious planets of the salvationists, beyond the galactic potentates, blue, regal Narayanas, on up, up, up to the ultimate huge whorl of lotus that is the planet of Vrndavana. Then the plant will enter that lotus planet and seek shelter under the lotus feet of Krsna, and it is there that it will stop to drink the nectar flowing from that Supreme Person, and having drunk that nectar it will issue forth redolent flowers of love, multifarious flowers, eternal flowers, and they will shower the three worlds with their fragrance and petals, and their stamens will pollinate the worlds of men, and their seeds will spread to all corners, and in countless planets new flowers will spring up, and they too, nourished by the waters of the holy name, will foliate that universal path to the nectarean feet of Krsna.

So this growth is enabled by the sabda, the sound incarnation which is the life force of the soul. It is the chanting of the holy names of Krsna that enables the plant of the soul to penetrate the tenfold coverings of this universe and enter into Viraja, the causal ocean. Attainment of this causal ocean is called sama, which is the Buddhist's philosophical perfection. This is the realm of nirvana, the extinction of all material existence. Beyond this causal ocean is the Brahmaloka, the paravyoma, which is the spiritual sky, and the plant of Krsna consciousness, penetrating there, passes all Vaikuntha planets en route to the lotus feet of Krsna. His feet are the soul's shelter. We have all seen ordinary plants grow and grow and grow, and then, when they reach some shelter, suddenly branch out, expand and bear fruit. In this way, once the plant of Krsna consciousness captures Krsna's lotus feet, it takes shelter, saying, "Now I have finished my journey. Let me flourish here. Let me expand here and issue joyous leaves and flowers." It is there that the soul is satisfied, for it is there that he enjoys Krsna's association. It is only when he attains the feet of Krsna that he will rest.

How It Grows

If one pursues the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra and reads or hears the transcendental words of Krsna, the plant of his soul will surely grow and reach Krsna's lotus feet and relish them. It is not that Krsna is far, far away and we cannot enjoy Him until passing beyond the ten coverings of the material universe, the causal ocean, the brahmajyoti and all the Vaikuntha planets. No. Actually we can relish Krsna on the journey itself. Otherwise, how did the Gosvamis manage to enjoy their devotional life? They were living beneath different trees every night and eating just a few dry scraps of bread, and sometimes they weren't even eating that. And yet they were all joyfully engaged twenty-four hours in Krsna consciousness, sometimes dancing and chanting and sometimes reading and writing. Eating, sleeping, defending and mating were of no concern to them. So this is spiritual life. When one is actually elevated in spiritual life, he sees all material things as insignificant. It is said that a man in Krsna consciousness sees all the possessions of men as mere garbage in the street, all women as his mother, and all living entities as his very self. It is also said that he sees all the manifold material universes to be of no more significance than rainwater contained in the hoofprint of a cow. This is because one in Krsna consciousness is beyond the material conception of the body. He has realized aham brahmasmi. "I am not this body, I am spirit soul." Krsna says, "Those with the vision of eternity can see that the soul is transcendental, eternal and beyond the modes of nature. In spite of his contact with the material body, O Arjuna, he is neither doing anything nor is he entangled. The sky, on account of its subtle nature, does not mix with anything, although all-pervading. So the soul situated in Brahman vision does not mix with the body though situated in that body. As the sun alone illuminates all this universe, so does the living entity, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness." (Bg. 13.31-33)

Pleasure Of The Soul

If the soul in Krsna consciousness has no material activity, then what does he do? He is simply engaged in watering the plant that is in his heart. Krsna says, "Those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible. They are always engaged in chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination. Offering homage unto Me, they worship Me with devotion." (Bg. 9.13-14) Once one has the lotus feet of Krsna indelibly imprinted in his soul, once the eye of the soul has seen His feet and the ears of the soul have heard His voice and the nostrils of the soul have smelled His fragrance and the tongue of the soul has tasted the nectar of His names and the hands of the soul have touched His transcendental body, then all material engagements cease and Krsna becomes his all in all. It is at this point that the soul understands that Krsna is the supreme pleasure principle and that the pleasures of the soul can be obtained through Him only. Under illusion we think that we are enjoying material nature, but what kind of enjoyment is there? It is temporary; it is fraught with danger; it is incomplete. When one becomes elevated in Krsna consciousness, then he forgets all these material engagements.

Anyone can come to this stage by the chanting of the holy names of Krsna. The word "Krsna" means all-attractive, and when this word vibrates off the tongue, the sleeping soul is jolted wide awake. The word "Hare" refers to the energy of the all-attractive Krsna. It is by Mother Hare, Srimati Radharani, the energy of Krsna, that we attain Krsna Himself. This is the force that propels the sleeping soul out of the entanglement of material nature. The word "Rama" means enjoyer. When this word vibrates off the tongue, one actually participates in enjoyment which is beyond human conception and is eternal. Together, in the combination called the mahamantra, chanted by the great saint Srila Haridas Thakur, "Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare," they elevate the soul to the highest ecstasy of love for Krsna. Lord Caitanya, in His Siksastaka, spoke of the powers of Hari-kirtana or chanting the names of Krsna, the mahamantra, in this way:

The sound of Krsna's names is ever triumphant,
Polishing bright the mirror of the mind,
Restoring the heart, quenching the great fire
Of worldly life and freely scattering
The moonbeams that nourish the pure lily
Of devotion. As we chant His names, we wake
The bride of knowledge and inspire the sea
Of bliss to toss its nectar to all shores
And bathe all souls with love for the Supreme.
O tell me, Lord, when will that time come?
When will my eyes stream tears, my voice tremble,
My skin bristle with ecstatic joy,
My heart swell with bliss to chant
Thy names?
Give me the wealth of love for Thee, O Lord.
O give it to me! Make me Thy servant,
And as wages give me only love for Thee!

This reciprocal love with Krsna, as expressed by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is the highest expression of spiritual consciousness. The life of Caitanya was devoted to Hari-kirtana, the celebration of Krsna by chanting His names, and He recommended this method for all men as the most efficient way for the watering of the soul in this dry age. Then let us sound the thunder of kirtana drums and send torrents of His names showering on the heads of all. The thunder rattles our windowpanes now! Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.