(The following lecture was Srila Prabhupada's first public address in England, delivered at London's Town Hall on September 15, 1969.)
Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you very much for your coming to this meeting. This sankirtana movement is very authorized, according to the Vedic literature. Most of you are well acquainted with the studies of Bhagavad-gita, and in the Bhagavad-gita you will find that Lord Krishna says, "After many births, the man of wisdom seeks refuge in Me, knowing that Vasudeva is everything." After many, many births. Of course at the present moment they do not believe that there is birth after death, but it is not a question of whether you believe or do not believe. The truth is there. So there is birth after death. You do not die after finishing this body; you simply accept another body. That you can experience daily. In your childhood you can remember that you had a body just like a child's. Now you are grown up, and so where is that body? That body is gone. Now you have a new body, but you know that you once had a childhood body. Actually transmigration of the soul is a very simple subject. Any sensible man can understand it. And in the Bhagavad-gita, in the very beginning of the instruction, Krishna says that those who are sober and intelligent are not bewildered when a living entity changes his body. Change of body is going on at every moment, at every second, imperceptively. Medical science also accepts that at every second our bodies are changing. That is a fact. Our bodies are changing every moment, and the final change is called death. But actually there is no death. You simply accept another body.
Thus Krishna says that after many, many births of struggle or attempts to acquire knowledge, when one comes to the summit point of understanding, he understands that the Origin of everything is Vasudeva, Krishna. And the first aphorism of the Vedanta-sutra says that this human form of life is meant for inquiring about Brahman. And the Vedas say aham brahmasmi: "I am Brahman. I am not this body. I am spirit soul." And when one understands that he is spirit soul, he at once becomes joyful. That is the sign of brahma-bhuta. As soon as one realizes that he is Brahman, that he has nothing to do with this material world, then all anxieties immediately leave. Finished. And in the Vedanta-sutra you will also find that the spirit soul and the Supreme Soul are both ananda, blissful. By nature they are blissful, always wanting to enjoy. That is the nature of spirit. But at the present moment, because we have forgotten that we are spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, and have identified ourselves with something else, something which is transitory, we are suffering.
Actually we are not products of this material world, but we are thinking, "I am American, I am Indian. I am Englishman. I am German. I am Chinaman. I'm Russian, or I am a cat or dog." There are so many. These are all designations. But by realizing "I am Brahman," I am part and parcel of the Supreme Brahman, qualitatively I become one with God, just as a particle of gold is also gold. So qualitatively I am one with God or Krishna.
When I speak of Krishna, please understand I mean God, because Krishna means all attractive. Without being all attractive, one cannot be God. God must be all attractive, all opulent, all merciful, all luminous, all renounced, all beautiful. These are the qualifications of God.
Cultivation of knowledge is not easy for everyone. That is also stated in the Bhagavad-gita. Out of many millions of human beings, one may be interested to know what is the aim of life, one may ask, "Why am I suffering?" Everyone is suffering. That is a fact. In this material world nobody can be happy. If one is thinking he is happy materially, he is a fool. Nobody can be happy here, for this is the place for distress. It is certified by the scriptural law: This place is for misery. And we also learn that it is temporary. Even if we accept that although this is just a miserable place, we shall stay here, nonetheless, we shall not be allowed to stay. One day death will come and immediately kick us out. We have seen that the great President of the United States, Mr. Kennedy, who was supposed to be the happiest man in the world, was kicked out within a second. In our country, Mahatma Gandhi was a very popular leader, but in a second he was removed from the field. So we do not know when we shall be removed immediately by the freaks of nature. Therefore, the intelligent man should try to know his constitutional position. "I want to stay, but some super power kicks me out of this place. Why?" This is the question. The Vedanta-sutra instructs that human beings should not remain ignorant. You should question why you are suffering these threefold miseries. "I do not want death. Why does death overcome me?" An intelligent man should always keep before him the four principles of misery: birth, death, old age and disease. These are the instructions of the Bhagavad-gita. One who is making progress in knowledge must keep before him these four problems. You may be very much proud of your scientific advancement of knowledge, but here is the real science. If you overcome birth, death, old age, and disease, then you are advancing.
The Bhagavatam says, that after properly executing your duty as Indian or American or Englishman or scientist or businessman or father or mother, if you do not develop your anxiety to inquire about Brahman, then you have wasted your life This is the beginning of the Vedanta-sutra. People are interested in studying Vedanta, but Vedanta is not a matter of speculation. It is to be studied from the authorities. So if after executing your duties very properly, you do not develop your consciousness to know about yourself or the Supreme Self, then whatever you have done is simply a waste of time.
This message of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, this Hare Krishna movement, is to warn you, "Don't spoil this opportunity, this human form of life. Don't spoil it." Eating, sleeping, mating and defending are common to the animals and the human beings. You eat; the animals eat. You sleep; the animals sleep. You mate; the animals mate. You are afraid of your enemy; animals are also afraid of their enemy. So by discovering very palatable dishes to eat, or fashionable dresses for sex life or atom bombs for defending, by advancing in these principles only, you are no better than the animals. You are only as good as animals.
According to Sanskrit, dharma means constitutional position which you cannot change. For instance, sugar is sweet. If you say, "Oh, this sugar is salty," it is not sugar. So sweetness is the dharma of sugar. That is real dharma. Not that today I accept Hinduism, the next day I accept Christianity, or the next day I accept Mohammedanism. These are not dharma. Real dharma you cannot change. It is not possible to change. And what is that dharma? Krishna says, "You give up all speculative nonsense. Just surrender unto Me." To surrender unto the Supreme Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is real religion. And all sects and faiths are rituals to lead one to that point. Real religion is surrendering unto the Supreme Lord. Therefore Krishna says that after many, many births, when man is actually intelligent, he surrenders unto the Supreme Lord. Then he is mahatma. And what are the symptoms of mahatma? Those who are mahatmas are not under the control of this material nature. They are under the control of the spiritual nature. And what are the symptoms of one under the control of the spiritual nature? That is also explained in the Bhagavad-gita. He is fully surrendered unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead and always engaged in glorifying His activities. The mahatma is also always very careful about executing devotional service. He is always offering obeisances. In this way he enjoys and is satisfied. These are the signs of mahatma. There are so many theories on how to become liberated, how to become a mahatma how to become a religionist, how to become a philosopher, but real success in life is to become broadminded. Mahatma means broad-mind. They do not think "I am this, or I am that, I am Hindu; I am Muslim; I am Christian; I am Indian I am German; I am Englishman." No. The mahatma is freed from all designations. When I think "I am Englishman, or I am Indian," this is only my designation, because as soon as I change this body and accept another body, then all of this is immediately finished. Just like President Kennedy. President Kennedy and his philosophy are all finished. Now you do not know where Mr. Kennedy is and what he is doing. But he has a body; that is a fact. That I have already explained. But now you do not know where he is, nor does he know that he was President, or this or that. This is called illusion, maya.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, "My dear friends, my dear brothers, why are you being washed away by the waves of this illusion? You've been thrown into the ocean and are being washed away by the waves." Similarly, by the waves of this material nature we are being washed from one body to another, but actually we do not want this. Actually, every one of us wants a permanent body, a permanent position, a permanent life, a blissful life, a life of knowledge. But you do not know how to get it because you do not care to know. Everything is here. You don't have to study many books; just study Bhagavad-gita As It Is. We have therefore published this Bhagavad-gita As It Is without any nonsensical interpretations. As it is. When you attain this knowledge, you'll know what you are meant for.
This movement is meant to revive your original consciousness. Original consciousness is Krishna consciousness. And the other consciousness which you have now acquired is superficial, temporary. "I am Indian, I am this, I am that." These are all superficial. Real consciousness is aham brahmasmi. Lord Caitanya, who started this movement 500 years ago in Bengal, India, immediately informs you that your real identity, your real constitutional position, is that of being part and parcel of Krishna or God. From this you can understand what your duty is. This hand is part and parcel of your body. What is the duty of this hand? To serve the body. That's all. The hand cannot enjoy independently. It is not possible. If you cut off this hand from this body and throw it into the street, nobody will care for it. It becomes ugly and useless. But so long as it is attached to this body, it is worth millions and trillions of dollars. If there is any trouble with it, you will spend any amount to save it, but when this hand is detached from this body, you don't care if it is trampled upon by any man. So this is our position. We are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. If we remain attached to the Supreme, then we have value. Otherwise we have no value. Therefore Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, "Just be attached to Me. Then your all problems are solved."
This Krishna consciousness is there. You can see that there are now twenty branches in Europe and America and the boys and girls are neither Hindu nor Indian. In the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, I am the only Indian. How is it others are taking it? Because it is there. It is in you. It is in me, in everyone. We simply have to invoke it, that's all. And that invoking process is this sankirtana movement. If you chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, your heart will become cleared and you will understand that Krishna is everything.
This movement is neither manufactured, nor bogus, nor bluff. It is genuine and authorized. Try to understand this philosophy. We are teaching no new philosophy. Bhagavad-gita as it is, that's all. Bhagavad-gita is read all over the world, but unfortunately there are many rascal interpreters who are poisoning the whole thing. But just try to understand Bhagavad-gita as it is, and the goods will be immediately delivered.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam, in describing the condition of this age of Kali, Sukadeva Gosvami said that at the end of this age the condition will be very horrible. So after explaining the difficulties of this age, Kali-yuga (of which 5,000 years we have already passed and of which 427,000 years are still remaining), Sukadeva Gosvami says, "My dear King, I have explained to you the difficulty and resultive condition of this age, Kali-yuga, but there is a great opportunity in this age. And what is that? Simply by chanting this Hare Krishna mantra, one can become freed from all contamination and be eligible for promotion to the spiritual kingdom which is beyond this dark region." This material world is darkness. For instance, there is no sun now. It is dark, so we have to illuminate by electric light, by moonlight, by so many things. Actually, the nature of this world is darkness. Therefore the basic injunction is, "Don't remain in this darkness. Go to that effulgent region." The Bhagavad-gita says the same thing. Everything is there in the Bhagavad-gita. So our request is that you read the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. That is my request. I am not charging anything; I am not making a profession. This sankirtan movement is free. Not that it is a secret thing and if you pay me something then I shall give you some mantra. It is an open secret. If you chant Hare Krishna, there is no loss, but there is great gain. You can try it. We are freely distributing it by chanting. Join with us and try to understand this philosophy. We have a monthly magazine, Back to Godhead, and many publications, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Teachings of Lord Caitanya. If you want to understand this movement through philosophy, science, argument, we are prepared. But if you simply chant, there is no need of education nor philosophizing. Chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, and you will gain everything. Thank you.
(Srila Prabhupada lecture, London Town Hall, September 15, 1969)
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