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A Short Introduction to the Culture of Krishna Consciousness

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Sunday, September 9, 1979
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Following is a class given by H.H. Jayapataka Swami Maharaja on September 9th, 1979 in Los Angeles, California.

It is a great honor for me to be present here in New Dwaraka, Los Angeles branch of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness. Ten years ago, this is the last place, which I visited and from here I got the order from His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to go India.

Basically, the purpose of going was that in Vrindavan and in Sri Mayapur; Vrindavan is the birth place of Krsna, Krsna’s pastimes and Sri Mayapur is the birthplace of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, whose Deities are here on the left. So there was no guest house owned by our own society there although there are hundreds and thousands, actually thousands of temples by sister organizations, but we had no place of our own. So Srila Prabhupada said that we required to have a wonderful guest house and temple and community, so that devotees from all over the world can visit with very nice arrangements and facilities, these most holy places of India.

Actually, this Krsna conscious movement is very widely practiced in eastern India as it is seen here. Especially in the states of Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Tripura, Manipur and by the Hindu population of East Bengal or Bangladesh. They chant this Hare Krsna mahamantra and worship Radha Krsna deities exactly, but possibly with not so much grandeur as we are seeing here. So when we first came from the west to India, the people saw how the western people are taking to their culture. They became very proud and very happy to know that the greatness of the culture of the Vedas is being appreciated by people all over the world.

Actually, our founder Ācārya Srila Prabhupada told them that “ All of you should come out, and preach this culture all over the world. Spread the great culture of Krsna Consciousness. Don’t be enamored by the western civilizations so-called progress, thinking that that alone will be enough to make you fully satisfied. Because at any moment, if the petroleum runs out, this civilization will be topsy-turvy. And at any moment if the atomic bombs are thrown at the Russia, America whatever, nuclear nations there are, then the civilization as we know it today will no longer exist.” So you should go deeper into yourselves saying that the western culture does not give all the answers. Many of the newly educated Indian youth are very much enamoured. I see long lines of Indians, because I had to also wait outside recently the American consulate to get my visa, so there was a long line. But I am only coming as a tourist so I got an immediate visa. But for those, they want resident permit to stay in the west. That’s all right, no harm. But the point is that this will not satisfy anyone.

As we see that all over the world people are looking for a more natural way of life. They are hankering for a purpose to their life. So the vast population of India, 80% are living in the rural communities. Their lifestyle have not changed much over thousands of years. And everywhere we go we get such a wonderful reception. We get such wonderful reception! At our recent Ratha Yatra festival in Calcutta, the All India Radio announced that, according to their estimate, three million people attended. The government gave a holiday in the afternoon so everyone could go for the chariot festival of Lord Jagannath. We had an eight-day festival. Every night at least 50,000 people were attending the program.

So when we have our yearly Mayapur festival, from all over the world devotees visit Sri Mayapur. At that time, our Indian devotees about 700,000 people visit over a period of 3 days to participate in this great ceremony, the birth of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was born 500 years ago. He appeared reviving the ancient message of the Vedas. that predicted in the Kali Yuga, this Hare Krsna mahamantra is the only method to counteract the trend of this Iron age or age of Kali. The Kali Santarana Upanishad gives this ‘Hare Krsna’ mahamantra. This shastra, scripture was written about 5000 years ago. This shloka goes: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. iti shodashakam namnam, kali-kalmasha-nashanam, natah parataropayah, sarva-vedeshu drishyate. That means, iti means the aforesaid; shodhashakam, shoda means or16, namnam 16 names. The above mentioned 16 names, if one counts Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, there's 16. The names mentioned above counteract all the bad qualities of the Kali Yuga.

Technically we are in the Iron Age now. This is known as Kali Yuga in Sanskrit. There is no other alternative to counteract in the Kali Yuga and this is confirmed by all of the Vedic literatures, sarva-vedeshu drishyate. In Narada Pancharatrika written by Narada Muni, the great sage of the demigods, he says that all of the Vedic mantras, mantra means, man means mind and tra comes from the word trana or delivering. So mantra means to deliver one’s mind from materialistic thoughts to the transcendental ecstatic realization of one self and Krsna, the Supreme Being.

So mantra, the supreme or mahamantra for this Kaliyuga, is this 8 word, according to Narayana Pancharatrika, all the mantras' combined potency has been put in the 8 words of Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, the first 8 words the first ‘Hare Krsna.’ Although this is widely practiced in eastern India, actually in Vrindavan, all over India, this mahamantra is chanted. And the people in other parts of India, may worship Ramchandra, another incarnation of Krsna, or may worship Krsna in different forms. But this mahamantra is the unifying factor.

At the Kumbha Mela where 33 million people attended, the year before last the Hare Krsna mahamantra could be heard throughout the whole camp grounds. As well as the chanting of, “Jay Jagadisha Hare!’' Glories to Lord Jagannath who was being worshiped here. So the thing which Srila Prabhupada tried to impress, was that just like a railway runs on two tracks, the ideal life cannot be one sided materialism or spiritualism, but has to be the combined, spiritual and practical life together.

Therefore he has given a practical life of Krsna consciousness. Actually we have a program were thousands of our friends and devotees are worshipping Krsna in their home. They have an altar or a picture or murti established in their house, of Krsna and they open their heart to Krsna. They offer their love to Krsna. They prepare the food in their house very nicely and purely and offer that to Krsna. And they sit down with the whole family, wife, husband, and children for half hour, they chant Hare Krsna together. This creates a wonderful united mood. This creates a spiritual awakening. This is known as our Krsna consciousness house hold program. So this is very popular. And this is practiced practically by all the house holders throughout India. It should be taken advantage of.

While here in America, we can live here so long as this body lasts. When this body is finished, then we again have to take rebirth. We may not take rebirth in America. Where we will take rebirth, that is a very important question. According to the Bhagavad Gita anyone who is born, he must die. Anyone who dies, he again must be born. So according to our consciousness, according to how we awaken ourselves spiritually, Krsna consciously, God-consciously, that will dictate that after this body what future birth we will obtain.

So, along with trying to lead a happy life in this life, which is naturally our birth right, everyone has the right to enjoy happiness to the fullest extent without causing any harm to others or inflicting pain on oneself. Everyone has that birthright. But one should prepare himself for the next birth. Someone may work so hard to be the President or Prime Minister whether of India or United States. But in his next birth he may become the bed bug in the chair of that President. He is so attached to the seat, he may become one of the bugs in that seat and have his heart’s desire fulfilled, he wants to remain in that seat always. So he may stay in there as a bug in the upholstery. According to one famous astrologer, one of the Prime ministers of India took his next birth as a white dog in Sweden where he was kept by a very wealthy industrialist who gave him very wonderful food stuff and accommodation. Now no one can say, it could be. How can we say that after this birth where is the next birth?

Recently in a big scientific conference attended by the Bhaktivedanta Institute among 78 or 90 different nations’ representatives at Rome on the Modern Science in lieu of Theistic Understanding, there were so many different supporting evidences for reincarnation. One man had taken some type of killing photography at the time of death, some ephemeral form leaving the body. Then there was one man who documented, he was an American scientist. He has a research crew of about 300 working under him. So his research was to document and try to find scientific proof to substantiate reincarnation. So he would use hypnotism, he would take his patients back into time. Say that there was one 40 year old lady, he kept taking her back saying now you are 28 years, now your 27, now you are 26, now you are 20, now you are 18, now you are 10, now you are 5, now you are baby, now you are 1, now you are just 1 week old. Now you are in the womb and take her right into the womb, then before that what were you? Then again they go back and in this way he gave one with slides and everything (one movie), on how he took one patient back.

She was having disturbance in her mind. So he took her back, in 1812, two births before, she had her heart broken, by being deserted by her husband. So the name of the husband, where they live, birth certificate. First of all they got the name, the address, everything they got what she said under hypnotism. Then they went to that place. Looked up in the old birth records, found that the names tallied, marriage record, photographed the place she described. What the street looked like in 1812, what the house looked like, they got old pictures of that time or drawings. In this way they were able to substantiate. Definitely, this is not our first birth. We have been born many times before. These are very qualified scientists connected with various universities and foundations and so many people have different proofs.

Of course, the evidence doesn’t have to be found out in such a long drawn out process. One can easily find out in the Bhagavad Gita, which is the principle text of India. I was invited as the representative of International Society for Krsna Consciousness, at the World conference of the World Viswa Hindu Parishad, The World Hindu Parishad at Allahabad last winter. This is held every 12 years. So at that conference people were very interested to hear how their Sanatana dharma, this Krsna consciousness is being accepted throughout the world. They were very interested and very pleased to know how the Western people were appreciating and there were 200,000 delegates present from different nations and all over India. They were very pleased to hear this, I must admit. So at that time, the whole assembly recommended that every Hindu should read the Bhagavad Gita and they should worship Tulasi in their home.

You will find that every day, every Krsna conscious family and every Krsna conscious temple is busily engaged in reading and preaching the tenets of the Bhagavad Gita. And Tulasi is being worshipped daily. I was very pleased to see how here the western hemisphere, even in the cold places Tulasi is being worshipped. Tulasi is a tropical plant sacred to all Krsna devotees, which comes from a part of India. This is a spiritual plant. So this has been established all over the world. And this is very encouraging.

Actually this is nothing unexpected for us, because this was predicted by Caitanya Mahaprabhu 500 years ago. He predicted, pritivite ache yata nagaradi grama, sarvatra pracara haibe mora nama. That as many, cities and villages all over the world that exist, each one of them will have the chanting of Lord Caitanya’s message. So it simply took some time for the Lord’s desire to fructify. Very shortly, we can expect a change in the trend of the people. Already, there has been a very great revival in different parts of the world.

The country of Bangladesh is 85% Muslim and 15% Hindu. All of the 15% means about... (because there are 80 million) how much will that come up to? About 12 million Hindus. All of them are Vaishnavas. All of them are chanting this Hare Krsna mahamantra. When we went there, we had a very big public program in a town called Maiman Singh, which is in the northern part of Bangladesh. And when I was greeted at the train station, the devotees of Krsna came and said, “Welcome from the minority group.” They are very much limited in being allowed to practice in that country. They are a little bit oppressed by the majority group being separated from the majority of followers in India. So we had a meeting, and that evening at 6 o’clock, the meeting was scheduled, I arrived about 4 in the afternoon.

Within about two hours, they was no publicity except word of mouth. 12,000 people gathered and they were very eager; they told me that they had been told that the whole world, America, England everywhere had become followers of Islam and that Christianity as well as Hindu religion have practically become extinct. Simply few people in India follow the Krsna conscious movement, otherwise the rest of this world is all following Islam. So they said that they were feeling very much intimidated and they felt a great sense of anxiety, thinking that their original culture had, according to the propaganda, had died out. Of course that's not the fact. When we told them how all over the world people are practicing then and everyone in the world are not following Islam, so then they were very happy that they didn’t have to grow those beards (devotees laugh) and that they could freely practice.

After this meeting the local authorities all came because, a week before that the President of that nation had held a program in Maiman Singh town but only 5000 people attended. So they wanted to know who was the person who had twice as big a crowd as the President of the country. So I had to explain. They thought I was trying to do some type of revival. So I had to explain to them. So in some parts of the world other than India, people practice this Sanatana Dharma.

Actually, they are not given a full chance. And in countries like America, where freedom of religion is there, in England, different places of course, they have the freedom to practice this. Definitely, everyone should take advantage.

There are many countries of the world where one doesn’t have the freedom to openly practice the spiritual development, the process of self-realization, the religion of his choice the way he wants to. So it’s a great feeling to be back in a country which allows people to practice the religion of their choice freely and is protected by the law. People should try to take advantage. This does not exist in the communist countries. Does not exist in many countries, because if a person knows who he is, if he knows who is God, he gets such a deep strength that this type of ideologies don’t like that strength to grow.

By people being very morally strong, very spiritually strong, they become empowered by God to do great things. Generally, the opposite trend is people simply try to know their bodies and what happens is that they become the slave of these bodies. It is like having six wives. We have six senses; taste, smell, hearing seeing, feeling and our mind. So if a man comes home from work and he is treated by his six wives, each one grabbing, one the leg, one the arm, one the other arm, one the other leg, one the waist, everyone grabbing, ‘Come with me. Come with me! Come with me!’ A big dilemma ‘Which way to go?’ (devotees laugh) Like that, each sense ‘Eat this! Hear this! Smell this! See this! Touch this! Think this!’ The whole world we think for our enjoyment. Everything simply for us to enjoy. This is not the actual fact. Everything was actually created for Krsna to enjoy. We can only enjoy these objects if we give true homage. So what happens is instead of becoming the controller of our senses, we are controlled by the senses, we are dragged here and there.

Unfortunately, each sense has got such an appetite. But it has got only a limited capacity. I was recently visiting H.D.G. Jayatirtha Maharaja’s temple in London and he served me such a wonderful feast. And my tongue was anxious to go on taking this Prasad. (devotees laugh) But I found that the capacity of my stomach was limited. So after just paying due respects, I had to ultimately stop, you see. We have, I saw in Dallas, excuse me in St Louis, there was a restaurant, “All you can eat Prasad.” But you see all you can eat is limited. No one can eat so much. But the tongue, our sense, has got unlimited appetite. We can go on feeling, we can go on tasting, we can go on seeing, you see. But actually what happens is that we become bored. The appetite may be there, but the eyes will become tired. The senses will become tired, there's the capacity. The appetite is great, but the senses are all limited because we are dealing with limited material instruments.

So Krsna consciousness awakens this spiritual taste, where one develops his spiritual senses and if he sees spiritual, realization, spiritual bliss. That is obtained by pleasing Krsna’s transcendental senses. Just like the devotees, they are chanting Hare Krsna! And while they are chanting they feel so joyous. They start to dance and raise their hands and sometimes they are just shouting “Hare Krsna! Hare Krsna!” Not caring what anyone thinks because they are feeling great joy from within. This is natural, this is not artificial. So our principle is that everyone should chant Hare Krsna, here with us, in their home, on the street, on the bus, in the car, in the plane, anywhere, in the closet (devotees laugh), in the field, no restriction. Anytime, day, night, morning, noon and after chanting like today, come and take a feast.

Eat plenty of Krsna Prasad, this spiritual food stuff, supernatural food stuff. This is a very natural process. And if one is very philosophical, if he wants to go deep into the subject matter “What is this universe? Who am I? What have I come here for? Where am I going?” Then read these books. Study from H.D.G. Srila Rameswar Swami Maharaja, the Ācārya here in Los Angeles. He will give you deep insights into these teachings, how to fulfill one life fully? Actually I come here simply to get his association and some advanced teachings from him.

Audience: Haribol!! (with applause)

So everyone that has come here, they are very fortunate. Don’t think that you have come here by accident. You have come here as ordained by Krsna due to some deep spiritual heritage possibly from previous births or from this birth. Krsna has attracted all of those people present here. Now, they can try to get the greatest wealth. That is available here. Take advantage.

Everyone who has come here they should try to understand what is the best thing I can get from coming to this Krsna conscious temple? The thing I noticed when I was on the airplane, (I am a little afraid, to tell you frankly when I get on an airplane) Not that I am afraid of the flight. But I have been in India for 20 years there the people are little bit gentle. Here I find that the American public are very beautiful, very strong .But I find them very unhappy, long faced. So I feel uneasy with them. But when I come to the more awakened, the devotees here and the guests who are here, I see smiling faces. I see effulgent, illuminated faces. And I feel fully at home. I see that, the absence of fear.

Everyone in this world is fearful, because no one is protecting him. But every devotee is fearless because Krsna is protecting the devotee and the devotee feels that protection. Some may say, “What is this protection? How can I believe in all this?” If one chants Hare Krsna, he will be saved from the greatest dangers. And by chanting one will feel that protection. All the obstacles in his life are removed by chanting this Hare Krsna mahamantra.

Whether one decides to live here in the community or whether he is just practicing in his home in his spare time, as much as he takes shelter of this Holy name, this powerful sound vibration, the names of Krsna, so much he will be protected in his life and he will become fearless and happy.

That I see as soon as I came, how happy everyone looks. Those who are the guests, just look at the devotees, don’t they look happy? How was it that they get so happy? Each one of you should ask yourself, you should study in yourself. What is the secret of Happiness? Will I get happy from external things or from my internal mind? What makes me happy? We should study. Obviously, our mind makes us happy. Our inner thoughts from inside comes happiness. Just like now it is very warm here. A cold shower is happy, makes one feel good. In the winter when I was in Germany, it was quite cold. There the cold shower was not pleasant, but the same water temperature is there. One place I am happy and one place I am sad in the sense of material happiness and pleasure and distress.

Ultimately that is a very superficial example of course. Ultimately happiness comes from within. We are looking for happiness from without. Therefore we are frustrated. Therefore although we are dragged here and there by our very willing servants, our senses, we are not satisfied. So the devotees who completely take shelter of Krsna’s names, who dedicate their every bit of intelligence in serving him with their bodies, mind and words, they get the full nectar. And as much as one takes shelter, so much he will get the taste. This is guaranteed. Anyone can try this. No charge to chant Hare Krsna. No secret that one has to pay to get. It is an open secret. But only the most intelligent, open-minded, broad-minded person can understand.

When I was in St Louis, there they had a restaurant. They are charging now 1 dollar and 1 rupee...I am conditioned! 1 dollar and 50 cents, all you can eat. They come in. When they said free no one would come because everyone was afraid that if something is free, it must not be any good. So they put a price tag $1.50, ‘What a bargain!’ (devotees laugh) All you can eat for a dollar and a half! When it was free, there was no bargain. But when it was $1.50 it was a real bargain. So if you put a price tag 200 dollars, you sit down and chant, Hare Krsna. Then everyone will say, “Oh! This is very good for mental peace and mental strength.” But our principle is we can’t take money for giving this Hare Krsna mantra. So then people say, “Free? Must not be very good.” But sometimes the best things are priceless. So , this Hare Krsna mantra is something priceless. So I think that there are other programs? Everyone must be hungry? (devotees laugh). We ask questions in this time? Are they any questions?

Devotee: How can one tax his mind in performing service for the Guru?

Jayapataka Maharaja: How can he attach his mind? Tax his mind? Income tax?

Everything that comes in the mind that has to be employed. If it is for the service of Guru then we accept. And if it’s against the principle of pleasing Guru and Krsna then we reject.

I don’t find... taxing one’s mind to please the Spiritual Master is not the same as taxing one’s mind in the ordinary sense. That is a burden of love. If one loves someone then he will think very deeply how to please that person? If one appreciates what someone has done for him, then he loves him.

If one sees the good qualities in someone, that appreciation can take the form of love. So the spiritual master, even if he gives one teaching, one syllable, according to the Vedas that means the disciple is eternally, indebted.

No amount of repayment can repay that debt. So the disciple seeing how the spiritual master has taken him from the very dangerous position of suffering in this material world, of being in a fearful position, of being subjected to repeated birth and death and reincarnation, that is he has given him his eternal happiness, his eternal consciousness, his eternal knowledge, has given him his new lease on his eternal life. So naturally, he will think that this person has done so much for me, what can I do for him?

It is only fair; it is only an honest expression. When someone is taking care of all of one’s needs, that person is truly grateful. If he is an honest and sincere person, he must be grateful and think what can I do in repayment of the great gift my spiritual master has done for me? If someone is not thinking to repay that debt, then he is an ingrate and he is little bit foolish. Then he is not been able to understand the value of the gift he has received from the Guru. So therefore one should try to understand what is that thing which is given by my Guru? How is that more valuable than anything else? If one can appreciate that valuable gift, naturally he will think that what can I give? What humble offering can I make? So that thinking if you want to call it taxing…you see?

That expression of reciprocation of one’s deep intense love, that is the natural expression which one will feel when he is grateful for the great gift he has received from the spiritual master or Guru. So God’s law, that is the real religion. So, If we are following God’s law, then we are following principles of religion. But if I just say that I will do this or that, that we cannot except as real religion even if I do it with a very devotional mood. It has to be followed by the quotes of the scriptures.

So most religions naturally have some scripture and we find that the basic tenets of every scripture is in the Bhagavad Gita in a very scientific and concise form. So by following the tenets of Bhagavad Gita Krsna guarantees that one will not have to take birth again in this material world. In this Kaliyuga, one has to chant a bona fide name of God. Now whether one chants Krsna, Rama, Govinda, Madhusudana, Hari or whatever, there are millions and millions of names of God which are authorized by the bona fide scriptures. So if one very diligently chants those names, he will awaken his God consciousness.

But ultimately to get complete liberation or freedom from this material world one has to find a bona fide spiritual master and accept training from him. If one can study and learn everything about being a doctor, but if he doesn’t go to the school and enroll in the course, take his internship, he won’t get his MD. He won’t get his practicing certificate. In the same way, one can study or he can do a little bit that will help him in some way. But if he is serious about finishing up in this life then he has to go to an expert. He has to go to qualified spiritual master and accept training from him. He should first of all, he doesn’t even have to initially commit himself, he should just take the training for some period of time. When he is thoroughly convinced, then he should make a commitment and go deep into it. Once one gets initiated by a bona fide spiritual master, then he is guaranteed that in a very short time this whole material cycle of birth and death is finished.

Without a bona fide instructor or spiritual master, there is no hope to get out of this material world. One may make some advancement along the path. Ultimately one has to find a bona fide teacher who is acting as a pure representative of God.

This is confirmed by all the scriptures. And that teacher will give him the suitable service, suitable method whereby he can purify himself from his anarthas, his unwanted material contamination and give him true spiritual wisdom. To try on one’s own by hit and miss, it is a very dangerous and very painful way. And to take the shelter of a bona fide spiritual master is sure, easy and very quick.

One can immediately feel, in a very short time, the change in his consciousness upon getting the shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and following his instructions explicitly. Just like if we cook, today you are going to have a feast, the way it is prepared, they put in the water, they put in the spice one after another, there is a method. If one follows the method then it tastes very nice. If one puts too much fire it will get burnt. If he puts too much salt it won’t taste well or taste good. So this is system. In the same way one has to learn this system of becoming free from this material world from the expert spiritual master. If one tries on his own, even in cooking one might succeed. But in this science one cannot succeed. In cooking you burn your food, you have to eat a lot of burnt food. If you get instructions from a qualified cook it is very easy. So you should find out someone who knows this science. When there are so many names of God, what’s wrong in chanting Hare Krsna? Is there anything wrong with chanting Hare Krsna?

God is the same. There is only one Supreme. So Krsna means ‘All attractive, the most beautiful person.’ Is there a better description, nicer name to call God? The person who has got the essence of all attractiveness, of all pleasure. Everything nice we see in this world, everything beautiful we see in our friends, in our fellow people in the world, everything the nice, the essence, the sweet taste of water, the light in the moon and stars, the beauty in women, the strength in men, every good quality you see, all the attractive qualities are present in God. So the name Krsna means that person who is “all attractive, reservoir of all pleasure”. What a wonderful name! Who else can fit that description except for God, except for the Supreme Being?

Devotee: I have never heard the name Krsna before, how can I get liberation by chanting that name?

Jayapataka Maharaja: Well, there are five different kinds of liberation. In this Kali Yuga, one has to chant the name of Krsna.

In previous ages there were different names of Krsna which were chanted. And there were different processes of Yoga. One can get impersonal liberation by practicing mental speculation of Vedas, which is known as jnana.

It is possible that one can understand impersonal liberation, which is known as sayujya mukti. But that is not considered as real mukti or real liberation by the devotees, because one can fall down from that position. The real liberation is one’s individual, spiritual identity remains intact and he sees himself and the Supreme Spirit always.

So that perfection of liberation cannot be achieved without surrender to the Supreme Person, Krsna. I repeat, anyone of the million names could be chanted, unlimited names can be chanted, doesn’t have to be the word Krsna. But Krsna is recommended for this age. We chant ‘Jai Govinda Jaya Jaya Gopala Jaya Jaya’ We chant so many different names. So in other previous ages they chant ‘Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya!’ “Vasudeva” is the name for Krsna. But that was the mantra in the previous age. At that time people could also chant Hare Krsna. But the recommended name was “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.”

In this way, every age has a particular name which is recommended. This Hare Krsna mahamantra is the most powerful, because people in this age are the most sinful, fallen therefore this name is recommended.

Transcribed by: Ramani Vishaka Devi Dasi, 26 June 2013.