Speaking in Boston before the International Student Society,
Srila Prabhupada provides a practical, simple, yet profound
solution for world peace and harmony. Noting the increasing
number of flags at the United Nations building in New York, he
states that inter-nationalism is failing because "your
international feeling and my inter-national feeling are
overlapping and conflicting. We have to find the proper center
for our loving feelings.... That center is Krsna."
Thank you very much for participating with us in this Krsna
consciousness movement. I understand that this society is known
as the International Student Society. There are many other
international societies, such as the United Nations. So the idea
of an international society is very nice, but we must try to
understand what the central idea of an international society
If you throw a stone into the middle of a pool of water, a
circle will expand to the limit of the bank. Similarly, radio
waves expand in a circle, and when you capture the waves with
your radio you can hear the message. In the same way, our loving
feeling can also expand.
At the beginning of our life, we simply want to eat. Whatever a
small child grabs, he wants to eat. He has only personal
interest. Then, when the child grows a little, he tries to
participate with his brothers and sisters: "All right. You also
take a little." This is an increase in the feeling of
fellowship. Then, as he grows up, he begins to feel some love
for his parents, then for his community, then for his country,
and at last for all nations. But unless the center is right,
that expansion of feeling--even if it is national or
international--is not perfect.
For example, the meaning of the word national is "one who has
taken birth in a particular country." You feel for other
Americans because they are born in this country. You may even
sacrifice your life for your countrymen. But there is a defect:
If the definition of national is "one who is born in a
particular country," then why are the animals born in America
not considered Americans? The problem is that we are not
expanding our feelings beyond the human society. Because we
don't think animals are our countrymen, we send them to the
So the center of our national feeling or our international
feeling is not fixed on the proper object. If the center is
right, then you can draw any number of circles around that
center and they'll never overlap. They'll simply keep growing,
growing, growing. They'll not intersect with one another if the
center is all right. Unfortunately, although everyone is feeling
nationally or internationally, the center is missing. Therefore
your inter-national feeling and my international feeling, your
national feeling and my national feeling, are overlapping and
conflicting. So we have to find the proper center for our loving
feelings. Then you can expand your circle of feelings and it
will not overlap or conflict with others'.
That center is Krsna.
Our society, the International Society for Krishna
Consciousness, is teaching the people of all countries that the
center of their affection should be Krsna. In other words, we
are teaching people to be mahatmas. You may have heard this word
mahatma before. It is a Sanskrit word that is applied to a
person whose mind is expanded, whose circle of feelings is very
much expanded. This is a mahatma. Maha means "big" or "great,"
and atma means "soul." So he who has expanded his soul very wide
is called a mahatma.
The Bhagavad-gita (7.19) gives a description of the person who
has expanded his feelings very wide:
bahunam janmanam ante
jnanavan mam prapadyate
vasudevah sarvam iti
sa mahatma su-durlabhah
The first idea in this verse is that one can become a mahatma
only after many, many births (bahunam janmanam ante). The soul
is transmigrating through many bodies, one after another. There
are 8,400,000 different species of life, and we evolve through
them until at last we come to the human form of life. Only then
can we become a mahatma. This is why Krsna says bahunam janmanam
ante: "After many, many births one may become a mahatma."
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam there is a similar verse. Labdhva
su-durlabham idam bahu-sambhavante: "After many, many births you
have achieved a human body, which is very difficult to get."
This human form of life is not cheap. The bodies of cats and
dogs and other animals are cheap, but this human form is not.
After being born in at least 8,000,000 different species, we get
this human form. So the Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-gita say the
same thing. All Vedic literatures corroborate one another, and
the person who can understand them doesn't find any
So the human form of life is obtained after many, many births in
other-than-human forms of life. But even in this human form of
life, many, many births are required for one who is cultivating
knowledge of the central point of existence. If one is actually
cultivating spiritual knowledge--not in one life but in many,
many lives--one eventually comes to the highest platform of
knowledge and is called jnanavan, "the possessor of true
knowledge." Then, Krsna says, mam prapadyate: "He surrenders
unto Me, Krsna, or God." (When I say "Krsna" I mean the Supreme
Lord, the all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead.)
Now, why does a man in knowledge surrender to Krsna? Vasudevah
sarvam iti: Because he knows that Vasudeva, Krsna, is
everything--that He is the central point of all loving feelings.
Then, sa mahatma su-durlabhah. Here the word mahatma is used.
After cultivating knowledge for many, many births, a person who
expands his consciousness up to the point of loving God--he is a
mahatma, a great soul. God is great, and His devotee is also
great. But, Krsna says, sa mahatma su-durlabhah: That sort of
great soul is very rarely to be seen. This is the description of
a mahatma we get from the Bhagavad-gita.
Now we have expanded our feelings of love to various objects. We
may love our country, we may love our community, we may love our
family, we may love our cats and dogs. In any case, we have
love, and we expand it according to our knowledge. And when our
knowledge is perfect, we come to the point of loving Krsna. That
is perfection. Love of Krsna is the aim of all activities, the
aim of life.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.8) confirms that the goal of life is
dharmah svanusthitah pumsam
notpadayed yadi ratim
srama eva hi kevalam
The first words in this verse are dharmah svanusthitah pumsam.
This means that everyone is doing his duty according to his
position. A householder has some duty, a sannyasi [renunciant]
has some duty, a brahmacari [celibate student] has some duty.
There are different types of duties according to different
occupations or professions. But, the Bhagavatam says, if by
performing your duties very nicely you still do not come to the
understanding of Krsna, then whatever you have done is simply
useless labor (srama eva hi kevalam). So if you want to come to
the point of perfection, you should try to understand and love
Krsna. Then your national or international feelings of love will
actually expand to their limit.
Now, suppose a man says, "Yes, I have expanded my feelings of
love very widely." That is all right, but he must show the
symptoms of how his feelings of love are expanded. As Krsna says
in the Bhagavad-gita (5.18):
brahmane gavi hastini
suni caiva svapake ca
If one is actually a pandita, someone who is elevated to the
stage of perfect wisdom, then he must see everyone on an equal
platform (sama-darsinah). Because the vision of a pandita is no
longer absorbed simply with the body, he sees a learned brahmana
as a spirit soul, he sees a dog as a spirit soul, he sees an
elephant as a spirit soul, and he also sees a lowborn man as a
spirit soul. From the highborn brahmana down to the candala
[outcaste], there are many social classes in human society, but
if a man is really learned he sees everyone, every living
entity, on the same level. That is the stage of true learning.
We are trying to expand our feeling socially, communally,
nationally, internationally, or universally. That is our natural
function--to expand our consciousness. But my point is that if
we actually want to expand our consciousness to the utmost, we
must find out the real center of existence. That center is
Krsna, or God. How do we know Krsna is God? Krsna declares
Himself to be God in the Bhagavad-gita. Please always remember
that the Krsna consciousness movement is based on understanding
Bhagavad-gita as it is. Whatever I am speaking is in the
Bhagavad-gita. Unfortunately, the Bhagavad-gita has been
misinterpreted by so many commentators that people have
misunderstood it. Actually, the purport of the Bhagavad-gita is
to develop Krsna consciousness, love of Krsna, and we are trying
to teach that.
In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna has given several descriptions of a
mahatma. He says, mahatmanas tu mam partha daivim prakrtim
asritah: "A mahatma, one who is actually wise and broad-minded,
is under the shelter of My spiritual energy." He is no longer
under the spell of the material energy.
Whatever we see is made up of various energies of God. In the
Upanisads it is said, parasya-saktir vividhaiva sruyate: "The
Supreme Absolute Truth has many varieties of energies." And
these energies are acting so nicely that it appears they are
working automatically (svabhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca). For
example, we have all seen a blooming flower. We may think that
it has automatically blossomed and become so beautiful. But no,
the material energy of God is acting.
Similarly, Krsna has a spiritual energy. And a mahatma, one who
is broad-minded, is under the protection of that spiritual
energy; he is not under the spell of the material energy. These
things are all explained in the Bhagavad-gita. There are many
verses in the Bhagavad-gita that describe how Krsna's energies
are working, and our mission is to present Bhagavad-gita as it
is, without any nonsensical commentary. There is no need of
nonsensical commentary. Bhagavad-gita is as clear as the
sunlight. Just as you don't require a lamp to see the sun, you
don't require the commentary of an ignorant, common man to study
the Bhagavad-gita. You should study the Bhagavad-gita as it is.
Then you will get all spiritual knowledge. You will become wise
and will understand Krsna. Then you will surrender to Him and
become a mahatma.
Now, what are the activities of a mahatma? A mahatma is under
the protection of Krsna's spiritual energy, but what is the
symptom of that protection? Krsna says, mam... bhajanty
ananya-manasah: "A mahatma is always engaged in devotional
service to Me." That is the main symptom of a mahatma: he is
always serving Krsna. Does he engage in this devotional service
blindly? No. Krsna says, jnatva bhutadim avyayam: "He knows
perfectly that I am the source of everything."
So Krsna explains everything in the Bhagavad-gita. And our
purpose in the Krsna consciousness movement is to spread the
knowledge contained in the Bhagavad-gita without adding any
nonsensical commentary. Then the human society will profit from
this knowledge. Now society is not in a sound condition, but if
people understand the Bhagavad-gita, and if they actually
broaden their outlook, all social, national, and international
problems will be solved automatically. There will be no
difficulty. But if we don't find out what the center of
existence is, if we manufacture our own ways to expand our
loving feelings, there will be only conflict--not only between
individual persons but between the different nations of the
world. The nations are trying to be united; in your country
there is the United Nations. Unfortunately, instead of the
nations becoming united, the flags are increasing. Similarly,
India was once one country, Hindustan. Now there is also
Pakistan. And some time in the future there will be Sikhistan
and then some other "stan."
Instead of becoming united we are becoming disunited, because we
are missing the center. Therefore, my request, since you are all
international students, is that you please try to find out the
real center of your international movement. Real international
feeling will be possible when you understand that the center is
Krsna. Then your international movement will be perfect.
In the Fourteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita (14.4), Lord Krsna
murtayah sambhavanti yah
tasam brahma mahad yonir
aham bija-pradah pita
Here Krsna says, "I am the father of all forms of life. The
material nature is the mother, and I am the seed-giving father."
Without a father and mother, nobody can be born. The father
gives the seed, and the mother supplies the body. In this
material world the mother of every one of us--from Lord Brahma
down to the ant--is the material nature. Our body is matter;
therefore it is a gift of the material nature, our mother. But
I, the spirit soul, am part and parcel of the supreme father,
Krsna. Krsna says, mamaivamso... jiva-bhutah: "All these living
entities are part and parcel of Me."
So if you want to broaden your feelings of fellowship to the
utmost limit, please try to understand the Bhagavad-gita. You'll
get enlightenment; you'll become a real mahatma. You will feel
affection even for the cats and dogs and reptiles. In the
Seventh Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam you'll find a statement
by Narada Muni that if there is a snake in your house, you
should give it something to eat. Just see how your feelings can
expand! You'll care even for a snake, what to speak of other
animals and human beings.
So we cannot become enlightened unless we come to the point of
understanding God, or Krsna. Therefore we are preaching Krsna
consciousness all over the world. The Krsna consciousness
movement is not new. As I told you, it is based on the
principles of the Bhagavad-gita, and the Bhagavad-gita is an
ancient scripture. From the historical point of view it is five
thousand years old. And from a prehistorical point of view it is
millions of years old. Krsna says in the Fourth Chapter, imam
vivasvate yogam proktavan aham avyayam: "I first spoke this
ancient science of yoga to the sun-god." That means Krsna first
spoke the Bhagavad-gita some millions of years ago. But simply
from a historical point of view, Bhagavad-gita has existed since
the days of the Battle of Kuruksetra, which was fought five
thousand years ago. So it is older than any other scripture in
Try to understand Bhagavad-gita as it is, without any
unnecessary commentary. The words of the Bhagavad-gita are
sufficient to give you enlightenment, but unfortunately people
have taken advantage of the popularity of the Bhagavad-gita and
have tried to express their own philosophy under the shelter of
the Bhagavad-gita. That is useless. Try to understand the
Bhagavad-gita as it is. Then you will get enlightenment; you
will understand that Krsna is the center of all activities. And
if you become Krsna conscious, everything will be perfect and
all problems will be solved.
Thank you very much. Are there any questions?
Indian student: I don't know the exact Sanskrit from the Gita,
but somewhere Krsna says, "All roads lead to Me. No matter what
one does, no matter what one thinks, no matter what one is
involved with, eventually he will evolve toward Me." So is
enlightenment a natural evolution?
Srila Prabhupada: No, Krsna never says that whatever you do,
whatever you think, you will naturally evolve toward Him. To
become enlightened in Krsna consciousness is not natural for the
conditioned soul. You require instruction from a spiritual
master. Otherwise, why did Krsna instruct Arjuna? You have to
get knowledge from a superior person and follow his
Arjuna was perplexed. He could not understand whether he should
fight or not. Similarly, everyone in the material world is
perplexed. So we require guidance from Krsna or his bona fide
representative. Then we can become enlightened.
Evolution is natural up through the animal species. But when we
come to the human form of life, we can use our own discretion.
As you like, you make your choice of which path to follow. If
you like Krsna, you can go to Krsna; if you like something else,
you can go there. That depends on your discretion.
Everyone has a little bit of independence. At the end of the
Bhagavad-gita (18.66) Krsna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam
ekam saranam vraja: "Just give up everything and surrender unto
Me." If this surrender is natural, why would Krsna say, "You
should do this"? No. Surrendering to Krsna is not natural in our
materially conditioned state. We have to learn it. Therefore we
must hear from a bona fide spiritual master--Krsna or His
authorized representative--and follow his instructions. This
will bring us to the stage of full enlightenment in Krsna