Delivered at a Catholic monastery in Melbourne, Australia – April 6, 1972:
The nonsectarian definition of true religion found in the
Vedic scriptures encourages people of all faiths.
Respectable Fathers, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you very much for kindly giving me a chance to speak about the Krsna consciousness movement, which is going on all over the world, especially with the assistance of my American and European disciples.
About five thousand years ago a meeting was held at Naimisharanya, a place in India still existing near Lucknow, in the northern India provinces. It is a very nice, sanctified place. People still go there and find peace for spiritual meditation. From time immemorial Naimisharanya was especially recognized as a suitable place for spiritual meetings. So once there was a meeting of great saintly persons, and Suta Gosvami, one of the disciples of Sukadeva Gosvami, was selected as the president of the assembly, to speak on Krsna consciousness.
The saintly persons there asked him many questions, such as "After the departure of Krsna, who is entrusted with dharma and jnana?"
Dharma means "religion," and jnana means "knowledge." When Krsna appeared on this planet, He said,
vinasaya ca duskrtam
sambhavami yuge yuge
"To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium." According to the Vedas, Krsna appears on this planet in each day of Brahma. Brahma's duration of life is described in the Bhagavad-gita. It is a very, very long period. Brahma's daytime twelve hours, from morning to evening is described: sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmano viduh. Yuga means "age." According to Vedic culture, the present age is called Kali-yuga. There are four yugas (ages): Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga, and Kali-yuga. So the aggregate of all these yugas is about 4.3 million years. And if you multiply that by one thousand, the total is the length of Brahma's twelve hours. He lives for one hundred years by such a calculation.
Krsna appears once in each day of Brahma. That we learn from Vedic literature. Krsna explains His mission in coming here. Krsna is God. He does not have to come here, but He comes to serve some purpose. If God wants to come, no one can check Him.
Why God Comes
Sometimes people question, "Why should God come?"
Our answer is, "Why should God not come?"
If God is all-powerful, who can check Him from coming here? If we say that God cannot come, that means God would come under our rules and regulations.
According to Vedic scripture, God comes, and He says why He comes: yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati. Whenever there is a discrepancy in the prosecution of religious principles, He comes. Yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati . . . abhyutthanam adharmasya. Whenever there are discrepancies in religious procedure, irreligious activities increase. That is natural. Whenever there is a lenient government, the rogues and thieves will increase. And if the government is very strict, then rogues and thieves cannot become very prominent. So when Krsna comes, He has two businesses: paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam to give protection to the devotees, the faithful, and to kill the demons.
When Krsna was present He exhibited these two things. Perhaps you have seen our picture of Narayana, or Visnu. Visnu has four hands. In two hands He has a lotus and a conch shell, and in the other two hands He has a club and a disc. The disc and club are meant for vinasaya ca duskrtam for killing the demons and the miscreants. And the conch shell and the lotus are meant for giving benedictions and blessings to the devotees.
We understand about Krsna from the Bhagavad-gita. Bhagavad-gita is a well-read book all over the world. In any country you will find an edition of Bhagavad-gita in the language of that country. In the Bhagavad-gita we find that Krsna is giving instructions about dharma, religion. And at the end of His instruction He says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Give up other types of so-called religious principles. Simply surrender unto Me."
In another place, in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is said, dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam: "Religion means the codes of God." The codes of religion are like state laws. The state gives us rules and regulations to live by, and one who follows the rules and regulations, or the laws, of the state is called a good citizen. Those who do not follow are called outlaws or rogues.
Similarly, religion is a simple thing: to accept the orders of God. That's all. It doesn't matter what religion you follow. You may be a Christian, I may be a Hindu, someone may be a Muhammadan, but the test of religion is how one has developed his God consciousness. That is the definition given in Srimad-Bhagavatam: sa vai pumsam paro dharmah. There are different types of religion. Para means "superior," "the best." Sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje. Adhoksaja is a description of God. It means "where material senses cannot reach." Direct experimental knowledge cannot know God.
In the Bhagavad-gita it is said,
kascid yatati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam
kascin mam vetti tattvatah
"Out of many millions of persons, one is interested to make his life successful. And out of millions of successful persons, one very rare person can understand God." That is the statement in the Bhagavad-gita. Actually, we find that people are generally interested in economic development and sense gratification. That's all. I am traveling all over the world; I see that people are very busy searching for food and shelter. But according to Vedic scripture, food and shelter are already there, given by God. There are 8,400,000 species of life. Out of them, human beings are very few 400,000 human species in different planets. And out of them, the civilized men are very, very few. But God gives food to everyone.
The Vedas state, nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman: "God is the supreme living being amongst all living beings, and He's the supreme eternal amongst all the eternals." We are also eternal. Because we are part of God, we have all the qualities of God, but because we are minute parts of God, all the qualities of God are there in minute portion. The example is the ocean. All the chemical ingredients in the ocean are also found in a drop of ocean water. The difference is of quantity. In the drop of water there is salt, and in the vast mass of water in the ocean there is also salt. But the salt in the ocean water is a much, much bigger quantity than the salt in the drop of water.
Another example can be given, that of a fire and the sparks of the fire. These are Vedic examples. We have seen that when there is a fire, there is some sound phut! and immediately hundreds and thousands of sparks come out. Now, these sparks are also fire, but they are not as big as the original fire. Therefore our philosophy we who follow in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is called acintya bhedabheda-tattva: we living beings are simultaneously one with God and different from God. We are one in quality. God is spirit; we are also spirit. He is the Supersoul; we are individual souls. But God is great, and we are minute fragments. That is difference.
Therefore, simultaneously we are one and different, one in quality but different in quantity. You accept also, "God is great." And we say that nobody can be greater than God, nor can anyone be equal to God. That is our philosophy.
No one can be equal to God. That is not possible. God is one. You may have some understanding that in the Vedic literature there is mention of many demigods. But the demigods are also living entities, a little more powerful than the human beings. That's all. Here on earth we also find that someone is more powerful than others. But that does not mean he is God. God is supreme, all-powerful. Here you may be a little more powerful then I am, but another person may be found who is more powerful than you, and another more powerful than him. In this way go on. There is no limit. Take anyone, and you will find someone lower than him and someone higher than him. But no one can say, "I am the supreme." No one can say that. That is not possible.
According to our Vedic literature, Brahma, the creator of this universe, is considered the highest creature within the universe, but he is not God. That is stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam: tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye muhyanti yat surayah. God instructed him to create. Adi-kavi: he is the original creature within the material world. Someone may question, "If he is the original creature, than how did he get his knowledge for creating?" That is explained. Tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye. Hrda means "heart." God instructed Brahma from within the heart.
Three Features of God
God is situated in everyone's heart. That form of God is called Paramatma. God has three features: Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan. Brahman is His impersonal feature, Paramatma the localized feature, and Bhagavan the personal feature.
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
bhagavan iti sabdyate
The Absolute Truth is one, advaya-jnana, without any duality, but according to our capacity, we realize the Absolute Truth from three different angles of vision. One of them is realization of God in His impersonal Brahman feature. Generally, the jnanis philosophers, speculators by dint of their own knowledge realize the Absolute Truth in His impersonal Brahman feature. The yogis realize God, the Supreme Lord, as Paramatma within the heart. And the devotees realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the Supreme Person. But Paramatma, impersonal Brahman, and the person God are all the same thing.
This example is given: the sunshine, the sun planet, and within the sun planet, the sun-god. According to the Vedic conception, every planet contains living entities. That is natural to conclude, because within the material world everything is made of five gross elements: earth, water, fire, air, and sky. And the subtle elements are mind, intelligence, and ego. So in some planets, earth is prominent, in some planets, water is prominent, and in some planets, fire is prominent.
Every planet in the material world is made of these five gross elements. Here we experience that some living entities are living in the water very peacefully. But if you are put into the water, you will not be comfortable. Perhaps you will die. Similarly, if the fish are taken from the water, they will die on the land. Here we can see that some living entities can live comfortably within water, some can live comfortably on land, some in the air. Similarly, why not some of them in fire? Because after all, fire is also one of the material elements.
According to Vedic scripture there is life in the sun planet also. The living entities there have fiery bodies. That's all. That is the difference. Just as the fish here have bodies suitable for the water, one may also have a fiery body. Logically we cannot deny that.
There is a predominating deity or president or god whatever you call him known as the sun-god, and his name is mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita: Vivasvan. Krsna says, imam vivasvate yogam proktavan aham avyayam: "This instruction bhakti-yoga, the instruction of the Bhagavad-gita was first imparted by Me to the sun-god, Vivasvan."
Now, it is a question of believing it or not believing it. We believe. We accept it. Because Krsna said it, we accept it. And we apply our reason also. We don't accept it blindly. I see that on this planet there is a president. Formerly, there was only one king, and he ruled the whole planet. Gradually, people divided their interests and became different nations. From Vedic history we can see that. Somebody was telling me that in Australia there is a Siva temple. Archaeological investigations in many places have found relics of Vedic civilization. In the Vedic literature we find mention of all seven islands: Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Australia, and Oceania. These were mentioned in the Vedic literature.
So it is not that the world was not known to Vedic culture. It was fully known. And one king, Maharaja Prthu, was the ruler for the whole world. He ruled over the seven islands, although his residential quarters were in Brahmavarta, the land between the rivers Yamuna and Ganges. That tract of land is still considered very sanctified. Practically all the Vedic culture is there still.
The king is supposed to be God's representative. God gives power to someone to look after the interest of the inhabitants of that particular planet. Similarly, there is a king in the sun planet. We may call him the sun-god or something like that, but there is a predominating personality. He has his personal effulgence. Just as fire has effulgence heat and light the sun-god is a fiery person, and his effulgence is spread all over the universe.
In the Brahma-samhita it is said,
yac-caksur esa savita sakalagrahanam
raja samasta-sura-murtir asesa-tejah
yasyajnaya bhramati sambhrta-kala-cakro
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
That is the description of the sun planet. The sun planet is described as the eyes of all other planets. Yac-caksur esa savita sakala-grahanam. That's a fact. Unless there is sunrise, we cannot see. We may be very proud of our seeing "Oh, I want to see" but we do not know that our seeing power is limited and conditioned. Unless there is sunrise these eyes are useless. Now it is night, so we cannot see even four yards. So what is the value of these eyes? Our seeing is conditional. If there is sunrise, then we can see. That condition is made by God. Therefore in the Upanisads it is said, "When God sees, you can see. When God walks, you can walk."
Practically, that is the fact. We are completely helpless, simply dependent upon God. The saying that "Not a single blade of grass moves without the sanction of God" is a fact. In the Bhagavad-gita also, it is said, sarvasya caham hrdi sannivistah: "I am living in everyone's heart." Sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca: "From Me come remembrance and forgetfulness." We sometimes forget and sometimes remember. That is by God's grace.
The Science of God
There are so many things to be understood about God. We are preaching God consciousness throughout the world just to encourage people to study the science of God. Please do not take us as sectarian. A person who wants to learn advanced science or mathematics will go wherever the knowledge is available. A teacher will also go anywhere to teach these subjects. Similarly, we are traveling around the world to enlighten people about the science of God. That is our business.
Our test for evaluating a religion is to see whether by following it people develop God consciousness, or love of God. Throughout the world people are rejecting God. You also know this very well. In England many, many churches are vacant. The Parliament passed a law saying that these redundant churches can be sold for other purposes.
It doesn't matter whether one is a Christian, a Hindu, or a Muslim. Our simple request is that whatever you may be, cultivate God consciousness. That is our program. Scientifically try to understand what God is. And if you consult Vedic literature, you'll get very accurate, scientific, authentic information.
If anyone is serious about understanding God, we do not object. For example, a person serious to understand some particular science might go to a university in another country. That does not mean he is fallen. No. He is searching after that particular scientific knowledge. Similarly, we invite everyone. There is a great necessity of God consciousness at the present moment throughout the world. Without God consciousness, all other qualifications are useless. That is a Vedic verse: apranasyaiva dehasya mandanam loka-ranjanam. The body is valuable because of the presence of the soul, the minute particle of God. One is "Sir such-and-such" or "Lord such-and-such" or a big scientist or a big philosopher. Why? Because the spark of God is there.
As soon as that particle is gone, the body is useless. It may be a body of "Sir such-and-such" or "Lord such-and-such," but it is useless. It is simply a lump of matter. But people are giving more importance to the body than the soul. They have no better information.
I have traveled to many countries and been to many universities. There is not a single institution where there is a department giving scientific knowledge of God or the soul. That is not a very good sign for human civilization. Human civilization is especially meant for understanding God. Therefore in any civilized human society there is a system of religion.
Religion means, as I have already explained, to abide by the orders of God. The details of the religion may be a little different from one country to another, just as ordinary laws may differ from country to country. But obedience to the state is everywhere. The constitution may be a little different from one country to another, but obedience to the state is an absolute necessity. Similarly, religion may be different according to time, country, position, or understanding, but there must be obedience to God. Otherwise it is not human civilization.
This is our program for the Krsna consciousness movement: We invite all learned scholars, priests, and philosophers to combine and save the world from this falldown lack of God consciousness. That is our request. I think you respectable Fathers will kindly help me in this mission, and I shall be very much obliged to you.
Thank you very much.