Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Boston – May 5, 1968
The Krsna consciousness movement
teaches a science missing from the classrooms
of even the world's best universities.
caksur unmilitam yena
tasmai sri-gurave namah
"I offer my respectful obeisances unto my spiritual master, who with the torchlight of knowledge has opened my eyes, which were blinded by the darkness of ignorance."
This Prayer Is Offering respectful obeisances to the spiritual master. Why? Because the spiritual master is the person who opens our eyes, complicated in ignorance, with the torch of transcendental knowledge.Timirandhasya. Every one of us is born ignorant, and we require specific education and training for seeing things as they are.
Today I am very glad to meet you. You are all students of technology. This Krsna consciousness movement is another technology. In the modern state of civilization there are different depart-ments of knowledge. There is a department for teaching medical science, there is a department for teaching engineering so many other departments of knowledge. Unfortunately, there is no department for distributing knowledge of the science of the soul. But that is the most important thing, because the soul is the mainstay, the background of all our movements.
In the Bhagavad-gita [3.42] there is a nice verse:
indriyani parany ahur
indriyebhyah param manah
manasas tu para buddhir
yo buddheh paratas tu sah
The idea is that in the present consciousness I am thinking that I am the body, although actually I am not the body. This is ignorance. "Body" means the senses. When I am talking, I am using my tongue for vibration. So these bodily activities are sensual activities.
If you go deep into the matter, you'll find that the senses can act only when the mind is sound. A crazy man, or a madman, cannot use his senses properly. Therefore the technology of the mind is a higher science. First of all there is the technology of the senses, and then a higher technology of the mind, which is known as psychology and studies thinking, feeling, willing. Psychologists are trying to understand how these are working.
Above the mind, or mental science, is the science of intelligence. And above the science of intelligence, the background is the soul. Unfortunately, we have technology for the bodily senses, we have technology for psychology, but we have no technology for intelligence or the science of the soul. The Krsna consciousness movement is the technology of the science of soul.
The Boatman And The Student
There is a nice story. You'll appreciate it. In India, especially in Bengal, there are many rivers. One student of technology was going home, and he was on the boat.
The student asked the boatman, "Do you know what the stars are?"
The boatman said, "Sir, I'm an ordinary boatman. What do I know about these stars?"
"Oh. Then fifty percent of your life is wasted, useless."
Then he asked, "Do you know about these trees? Do you know any science of botany?"
The boatman said, "Sir, I'm an ordinary laborer. What do I know about botany?"
"Oh. Then seventy-five percent of your life is useless."
In this way the student of technology was asking the boatman, "Do you know this? Do you know that?" And the boatman was replying, "I'm an ordinary man. What do I know of all these things?"
Then all of a sudden there was a black cloud, and there was a storm, and the river began to well, and the boatman said, "My dear sir, do you know how to swim?"
"Oh," the student said, "no."
"Then your knowledge is a hundred percent spoiled. Now you have to go down into the river. Your life is finished."
They dropped into the river, and the technology student, because he did not know how to swim, was grabbed by the waves in the storm.
The idea is that we are making progress, certainly, in technology, in economics, in so many other departments of human necessities, but Bhagavad-gita points out the real problem of this world, or the real problem of our life. It is said in the Gita [13.9], janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarsanam. If you are intelligent enough, then you should see that the real problem is birth, death, old age, and disease. Janma means "birth," mrtyu means "death," jara means "old age," and vyadhi means "disease."
Our actual material problem is this: janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi. We have forgotten the precarious condition we were in while living in the abdomen of our mother. We can know from the descriptions of medical science how the child is packed up there and how much suffering is there. The worms bite the child, and he cannot express himself; he suffers. The mother eats something, and the pungent taste gives him suffering. These descriptions are there in the sastras, the scriptures and authentic Vedic literature, telling how the child suffers within the abdomen of mother.
These are the sufferings of birth. A child has to remain in that condition at least for ten [lunar] months. Now just imagine if you are put into that air-packed condition for three minutes now you will immediately die. But actually, we had that experience of remaining in the mother's womb in that air-packed condition for ten months. The suffering was there, but the child was incapable of expressing himself or his consciousness was not so elevated. He could not cry, but the suffering was there.
Similarly, at the time of death there is suffering. And there is suffering in old age. Because I am an old man, I have so many bodily complaints. The anatomical or physiological condition is deteriorating. The stomach is not digesting food as nicely as when I was young. So the sufferings are there.
And there is the suffering of disease. Who wants disease?
Solution To The Real Problems
Modern technology has no remedy for birth, death, old age, and disease. These are the real problems. But because these problems cannot be solved by modern scientific advancement of knowledge, they have practically been set aside.
But there is a solution. That solution is stated in the Bhagavad-gita [8.15]:
mam upetya punar janma
samsiddhim paramam gatah
"My dear Arjuna, if somebody comes to Me . . ." ("Me" means the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna.) "If somebody comes to Me, then he hasn't got to take birth again in this miserable material condition."
Duhkhalayam means "the place of miseries." We are thinking that we have made a paradise, but actually the place is miserable, because the threefold miseries are there. Either in America or in India or in any other country or any other planet, the material miseries are of three kinds: adhyatmika, adhibhautika, and adhidaivika.
Adhyatmika means miseries pertaining to the body and the mind. Sometimes we are feeling headaches; sometimes we are feeling some other pains. For anything pertaining to the body and mind there is some pain. These pains are called adhyatmika.
Similarly, there are pains inflicted by other living entities. They are called adhibhautika.
And there are pains offered by nature. All of a sudden there is an earthquake, or all of a sudden there is famine or something else we have no control over.
These three kinds of miseries are always there. But under the spell of illusion we are thinking we are happy. The material energy is so illusory that however abominable a condition a living entity may be in, he thinks he is happy.
You take any animal. Just take the hog that life is a most filthy life. Of course, you have no experience of seeing hogs here in the city. In India there are many hogs in the city, and they live in filthy places. They eat stool and live a most abominable life. But if you were to ask a hog, "You are living in such an abominable condition. Let me do something good for you," he'd refuse to accept. If you give him some nice preparation as we have got in India, halava he'll not accept it. He will accept stool, because his body is meant for that purpose and he will not like any palatable food. He will like that stool. This is the spell of maya, illusion.
The Right Question
Krsna consciousness teaches that if we are actually educated, then we must question, "Why am I suffering?" This is called brahma-jijnasa. In the Vedanta-sutra the first aphorism is athato brahma jijnasa: We should inquire about our existence as soul, not as body or as mind, because we are neither body nor mind. Atha atah means that this is the time this human form of life, with developed consciousness and greater intelligence than the animals when one should inquire about his spiritual existence. That is real technology.
Srimad-Bhagavatam [5.5.5] says, parabhavas tavad abodha-jato yavan na jijnasata atma-tattvam. As long as one does not inquire about his spiritual existence, he is defeated in his real mission of life. Every one of us is born ignorant because we do not know our real identity. Generally, we accept that "I am this body," but actually we are not the body.
This can be understood very easily. Suppose you have been seeing a friend all along. All of a sudden he dies, and you say, "My friend is gone." Well, your friend is lying there with all the body hands, legs, everything. He's lying there. Why do you say that your friend is gone? Because you have never seen your friend. You have seen only his bodily structure, that's all.
Similarly, at the present moment humanitarian work is going on, but we do not know the basic principle of humanitarian work. The Bhagavatam [10.84.13] answers this: yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke sva-dhih kalatradisu bhauma-ijya-dhih . . . sa eva go-kharah. If a person thinks, "I am this body, my kinsmen will protect me, and the land where the body has grown is worshipable," then he is considered to be like an animal.
These instructions are there. Unfortunately, we have no time or desire to understand actually what I am, why I am suffering, what is this world, what is my relationship with this world, what is God, what is my relationship with God. These questions are very important, and there is technology to understand them. And the Srimad Bhagavad- gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Vedanta-sutra all these literatures are there. If we look to these literatures, we'll find the solution of the problems of life. But we are not interested. That is the difficulty. We are thinking we are happy, we have no problem, although there are so many problems and we are not happy.
That is called maya. Maya means what is not. Ma means "not." Ya means "this." We are thinking we are happy, but actually we are not happy. And even if we are happy, how long are we happy? Take, for example, you Americans, the richest nation of the world. Your material comforts and standard of living are greater than other countries'. But just try to think how long you can remain as Americans. Say, for fifty years or a hundred years at most.
We do not know what is going to happen in our next life, because we do not believe in the next life. But actually there is a next life.
We don't take care for our next life and irresponsibly waste our valuable human form of life like ordinary animals. Ordinary animals demand something to eat, they want to sleep, they want to defend, and they want to mate. So similarly, if a human being is also busy with the four principles of bodily demands, namely eating, sleeping, mating, and defending, then, according to Vedic literature, he is not a human being. Dharmena hina pasubhih samanah. If the human being does not understand his real spiritual identity and is simply busy with the four demands of bodily necessities, then pasubhih samanah he's equal to lower animals, cats and dogs.
Bhagavad-gita gives you the clue. It is not very difficult to understand this science. The Bhagavad-gita gives you the information of the spirit soul very simply. The Bhagavad-gita [2.13] says,
dehino 'smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
dhiras tatra na muhyati
When you were a child you were within this body not exactly this body, but another body, which was so small. Now where is that body? That body is gone. You have another body. Dehinah means the soul, the spirit soul, who is within this body. He is changing bodies from moment to moment. It is a fact, a medical fact, that you are changing your body every moment. The last change is called death. And then we have to accept another body. But we do not know what sort of body we are going to accept. That technology is wanting in modern civilization.
There are 8,400,000 different bodies, and after leaving this body you may enter any of such bodies. After leaving this body, you can become an American or you can become an Indian or you can become Chinaman. Or you can become a god in the moon planet or some other planet. Or you can become a dog, you can become hog, you can become a serpent anything. That is under the control of material nature. That is not under your control.
But if you take to Krsna consciousness, it will be under your control. How is it possible? The Bhagavad-gita [9.25] answers:
yanti deva-vrata devan
pitrn yanti pitr-vratah
bhutani yanti bhutejya
yanti mad-yajino 'pi mam
"Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship the ancestors will go to the ancestors; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; and those who worship Me will live with Me."
There are innumerable planets. The ultimate, highest planet is called Brahmaloka. The advantage of going to Brahmaloka is stated in the Bhagavad-gita [8.17]: sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmano viduh. You can live there for millions and millions of years. But still, there is death and there is birth and there is old age and there is disease. But if somebody is transferred to the planet called Krsnaloka, Goloka Vrndavana, or Vaikuntha, then he hasn't got to come back to this temporary existence.
This information is there, and it is very scientific. It is not dogmatic. If you accept it with reason and argument and with human consciousness, the solutions are there.
Not Bogus Propaganda
The Krsna consciousness movement is not a new movement. This movement has been current at least since five hundred years ago. Lord Caitanya started this movement in the fifteenth century. This movement is current everywhere in India, but in your country, of course, it is new. But our request is that you kindly take this movement a little seriously. We do not ask you to stop your technological advance. You do it. There is a nice proverb in Bengal that says that a woman who is busy in household work also takes care to dress herself nicely. Similarly, you may be busy with all kinds of technology. That is not forbidden. But at the same time, try to understand this technology, the science of the soul. That is there. It is not bogus propaganda. It is factual. It is science.
As science is not bogus propaganda, this Krsna consciousness is also not bogus propaganda. As science means two plus two equals four, Krsna consciousness means mitigating all the problems of life. And the process is very easy. Lord Caitanya recommends that for self-realization in this age, one must simply chant the names of God. He says that in this age, our life is very short, we are not very enlightened in spiritual matters, we are very lazy, and we are unfortunate. Under these conditions people are recommended simply to chant Hare Krsna. Harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam.
The Missing Technology
Now, you may say, "This 'Krsna' is an Indian name or a Hindu name. Why should we chant 'Krsna'?"
But if you have any name of God, you can chant that also. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that God has millions and billions of names. So any name of God is as good as "Krsna." It doesn't matter.
Then why do we chant Hare Krsna? Because we are following the footsteps of Lord Caitanya, and He chanted this holy name.
So we request you most humbly: There is no loss on your part, but the gain is immense. If you take to chanting Hare Krsna, then gradually your misconception of this life will be cleared off. You will understand your real identity, and you will act in that way. And the technology is so nice that you may remain in your business. That doesn't matter. You simply have to chant Hare Krsna. Suppose you are walking on the street. If you chant Hare Krsna, nobody will tax you, nobody will bother you. But if by chanting Hare Krsna you derive some benefit, why do you neglect it? That is our submission.
This movement is for solving the problems of life, and it can be easily done. Anyone can accept it. It doesn't matter whether one is Indian or American or Hindu or Muslim or Christian. It doesn't matter. Simply chant this vibration: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
I shall thank you if you join us in kirtana and at least for a few minutes chant this Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna.
Thank you very much.