|The Appearance of Lord Caitanya|
Only five hundred years ago Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, a great saint and mystic, prophesied that the Hare Krsna mantra would resound throughout every town and village in the world. At a time when Western man was directing his exploratory spirit toward studying the physical universe and circumnavigating the globe, in India Sri Caitanya was inaugurating and masterminding a revolution directed inward. His movement swept the subcontinent, gained millions of followers, and profoundly influenced the future of religious and philosophical thinking, both in India and the West. In the following talk, presented in November 1969 at London's Conway Hall, Srila Prabhupada describes the divine appearance of Sri Caitanya.
namne gaura-tvise namah
"My dear Lord, You are the most munificent of all the incarnations." Why? Krsna-prema-pradaya te: "You are directly giving love of God. You have no other purpose. Your process is so nice that one can immediately learn to love God. Therefore You are the most munificent of all incarnations. And it is not possible for any personality other than Krsna Himself to deliver this benediction; therefore I say that You are Krsna." Krsnaya krsna-caitanya-namne: "You are Krsna, but You have assumed the name Krsna Caitanya. I surrender unto You."
So this is the process. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krsna Himself, and He is teaching how to develop love of God by a very simple method. He says simply to chant Hare Krsna.
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
"In this age, simply go on chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. There is no other alternative." People are embarrassed by so many methods of realization. They cannot take to the actual ritualistic processes of meditation or yoga; it is not possible. Therefore Lord Caitanya says that if one takes up this process of chanting, then immediately he can reach the platform of realization.
The chanting process offered by Lord Caitanya for achieving love of God is called sankirtana. Sankirtana is a Sanskrit word. Sam means samyak--"complete." And kirtana means "glorifying" or "describing." So complete description means complete glorification of the Supreme, or the Supreme Complete Whole. It is not that one can describe anything or glorify anything and that will be kirtana. From the grammatical point of view that may be kirtana, but according to the Vedic system, kirtana means describing the supreme authority, the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is called kirtana.
This devotional service begins with the method of sravana. Sravana means "hearing," and kirtana means "describing." One should describe, and another should hear. Or the same man himself can both describe and hear. He does not need anyone else's help. When we chant Hare Krsna, we chant and hear. This is complete. This is a complete method. But what is that chanting and hearing? One must chant and hear about Visnu, Krsna. Not of anything else. Sravanam kirtanam visnoh: one can understand Visnu, the all-pervading Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by the method of hearing.
We have to hear; if one simply hears, that is the beginning. One does not need any education or development of material knowledge. Just like a child: as soon as he hears, immediately he can respond and dance. So by nature God has given us these nice instruments--ears--so that we can hear. But we must hear from the right source. That is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. One must hear from those who are devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are called satam. If one hears from the right source, from a realized soul, then it will act. And these words of God, or Krsna, are very relishable. If one is intelligent enough, he will listen to what is spoken by the realized soul. Then very soon he will be released from material entanglements.
This human life is meant for advancing on the path of liberation. That is called apavarga, freedom from entanglement. We are all entangled. Our acceptance of this material body means that we are already entangled. But we should not progress in the process of entanglement. That process is called karma. As long as the mind is absorbed in karma, we will have to accept a material body. At the time of death, our mind may be thinking, "Oh, I could not complete this work. Oh, I am dying! I have to do this. I have to do that." This means that Krsna will give us another chance to do it, and so we will have to accept another body. He will give us the chance: "All right. You could not do it. Now do it. Take this body." Therefore the Srimad-Bhagavatam says, "These rascals have become madly intoxicated; because of intoxication they are doing something they should not have done." What are they doing? Maharaja Dhrtarastra is a very good example. Maharaja Dhrtarastra was cunningly planning to kill the Pandavas in order to favor his own sons, so Krsna sent His uncle, Akrura, to advise him not to do that. Dhrtarastra understood Akrura's instructions, but he said, "My dear Akrura, what you are saying is quite right, but it does not stand in my heart, so I cannot change my policy. I have to follow this policy and let whatever happens take place."
So when men want to satisfy their senses, they become mad, and in this madness they'll do anything and everything. For example, there have been many instances in material life where someone has become mad after something and has committed a criminal act such as murder. The person could not check himself. Similarly, we are accustomed to sense gratification. We are mad, and therefore our minds are fully absorbed in karma. This is very unfortunate, because our body, although temporary, is the reservoir of all misfortunes and miseries; it is always giving us trouble. These matters are to be studied. We should not be mad. Human life is not meant for that. The defect of the present civilization is that people are mad after sense gratification. That is all. They do not know the real value of life, and therefore they are neglecting the most valuable form of life, this human form.
When this body is finished there is no guarantee what kind of body one will take next. Suppose in my next life I by chance get the body of a tree. For thousands of years I will have to stand up. But people are not very serious. They even say, "What is that? Even if I have to stand up, I shall forget." The lower species of life are situated in forgetfulness. If a tree were not forgetful it would be impossible for it to live. Suppose we were told, "You stand up for three days here!" Because we are not forgetful, we would become mad. So, by nature's law, all these lower species of life are forgetful. Their consciousness is not developed. A tree has life, but even if someone cuts it, because its consciousness is not developed, it does not respond. So we should be very careful to utilize this human form of life properly. The Krsna consciousness movement is meant for achieving perfection in life. It is not a bluff or exploitation, but unfortunately people are accustomed to being bluffed. There is a verse by an Indian poet: "If one speaks nice things, people will quarrel with him: 'Oh, what nonsense you are speaking.' But if he bluffs them and cheats them, they will be very glad." So if a bluffer says, "Just do this, give me my fee, and within six months you will become God," then they will agree: "Yes, take this fee, and I shall become God within six months." No. These cheating processes will not solve our problem. If one actually wants to solve the problems of life in this age, then he has to take to this process of kirtana. That is the recommended process.
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
In this age, Kali-yuga, one cannot execute any process of self-realization or perfection of life other than kirtana. Kirtana is essential in this age.
In all Vedic literatures it is confirmed that one must meditate on the Supreme Absolute Truth, Visnu, not on anything else. But there are different processes of meditation recommended for different ages. The process of mystic yogic meditation was possible in Satya-yuga, when men lived for many thousands of years. Now people will not believe this, but in a previous age there were people who lived for one hundred thousand years. That age was called Satya-yuga, and the meditation of mystic yoga was possible at that time. In that age the great yogi Valmiki Muni meditated for sixty thousand years. So that is a long-term process, which is not possible to execute in this age. If one wishes to conduct a farce, that is another matter. But if one actually wants to practice such meditation, it takes an extremely long time to perfect. In the next age, Treta-yuga, the process of realization was to perform the various ritualistic sacrifices recommended in the Vedas. In the next age, Dvapara-yuga, the process was temple worship. In this present age the same result can be achieved by the process of hari-kirtana, glorification of Hari, Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
No other kirtana is recommended. This hari-kirtana was started five hundred years ago in Bengal by Lord Caitanya. In Bengal there is competition between the Vaisnavas and the saktas. The saktas have introduced a certain type of kirtana called kali-kirtana. But in the Vedic scriptures there is no recommendation of kali-kirtana. Kirtana means hari-kirtana. One cannot say, "Oh, you are Vaisnava. You can perform hari-kirtana. I shall perform siva-kirtana or devi-kirtana or ganesa-kirtana." No. The Vedic scriptures do not authorize any kirtana other than hari-kirtana. Kirtana means hari-kirtana, the glorification of Krsna.
So this process of hari-kirtana is very simple: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Actually there are only three words: Hare, Krsna, and Rama. But they are very nicely arranged for chanting so that everyone can take the mantra and chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Since we have started this movement in the Western countries, Europeans, Americans, Africans, Egyptians, and Japanese are all chanting. There is no difficulty. They are chanting very gladly, and they are getting the results. What is the difficulty? We are distributing this chanting free of charge, and it is very simple. Simply by chanting, one can have self-realization, God realization, and when there is God realization, then nature realization is included also. For example, if one learns one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and zero, then he has studied the entirety of mathematics, because mathematics means simply changing the places of these ten figures. That's all. Similarly, if one simply studies Krsna, then all his knowledge is perfect. And Krsna is easily understood simply by chanting this mantra, Hare Krsna. So why not take this opportunity?
Take this opportunity that is being offered to human society. It is very ancient and scientific. It is not that it is a concoction that will last for only three or four years. No. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna Himself says, "This philosophy is inexhaustible and indestructible. It is never lost or destroyed." It may be covered for the time being, but it is never destroyed. Therefore it is called avyayam. Vyaya means "exhaustion." For example, one may have a hundred dollars, and if they are spent one after another, the next day it will come to zero. That is vyaya, exhaustible. But Krsna consciousness is not like that. If you cultivate this knowledge of Krsna consciousness, then it will increase. That is certified by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Anandambudhi-vardhanam. Ananda means "pleasure," "transcendental bliss," and ambudhi means "ocean." In the material world we see that the ocean does not increase. But if one cultivates Krsna consciousness, then his transcendental bliss will simply increase. Anandambudhi-vardhanam. And I shall always remind everyone that the process is very simple. Anyone can chant, anywhere, without taxation or loss, but the gain is very great.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has explained this kirtana movement in His Siksastaka. Siksa means "instruction," and astaka means "eight." He has given us eight verses to help us understand this Krsna consciousness movement, and I shall explain the first of these instructions. The Lord says, ceto-darpana-marjanam: one should cleanse the heart. I have explained this several times, but it does not become monotonous. It is just like the chanting of Hare Krsna; it does not become tiresome. Our students can chant the Hare Krsna mantra twenty-four hours a day, and they will never get tired. They will continue to dance and chant. And anyone can try it; because it is not material, one will never get tired of chanting Hare Krsna. In the material world, if one chants anything, any favorite name, for three, four, or ten times, he will get tired of it. That is a fact. But because Hare Krsna is not material, if one chants this mantra, he will never get tired. The more one chants, the more his heart will be cleansed of material dirt and the more the problems of his life within this material world will be solved.
What is the problem of our lives? That we do not know. Modern education never gives enlightenment about the real problem of life. That is indicated in the Bhagavad-gita. Those who are educated and are advancing in knowledge should know what is the problem of life. This problem is stated in the Bhagavad-gita: one should always see the inconveniences of birth, death, old age, and disease. Unfortunately no one pays attention to these problems. When a man is diseased he thinks, "All right. Let me go to the doctor. He will give me some medicine, and I will be cured." But he does not consider the problem very seriously. "I did not want this disease. Why is there disease? Is it not possible to become free from disease?" He never thinks that way. This is because his intelligence is very low-grade, just like that of an animal. An animal suffers, but it has no sense. If an animal is brought to a slaughterhouse and sees that the animal before him is being slaughtered, he will still stand there contentedly eating the grass. This is animal life. He does not know that next time it will be his turn and he will be slaughtered. I have seen it. In a Kali temple I have seen that a goat was standing there ready to be sacrificed and another goat was very happily eating the grass.
Similarly, Maharaja Yudhisthira was asked by Yamaraja, "What is the most wonderful thing in this world? Can you explain?" So Maharaja Yudhisthira answered, "Yes. The most wonderful thing is that at every moment one can see that his friends, his fathers, and his relatives have died, but he is thinking, 'I shall live forever.'" He never thinks that he will die, just as an animal never thinks that at the next moment he may be slaughtered. He is satisfied with the grass, that's all. He is satisfied with the sense gratification. He does not know that he is also going to die.
My father has died, my mother has died, he has died, she has died. So I will also have to die. Then what is after death? I do not know. This is the problem. People do not take this problem seriously, but the Bhagavad-gita indicates that that is real education. Real education is to inquire why, although we do not want to die, death comes. That is real inquiry. We do not want to become old men. Why does old age come upon us? We have many problems, but this is the sum and substance of all of them.
In order to solve this problem, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu prescribes the chanting of Hare Krsna. As soon as our heart is cleansed by chanting this Hare Krsna mantra, the blazing fire of our problematic material existence is extinguished. How is it extinguished? When we cleanse our heart we will realize that we do not belong to this material world. Because people are identifying with this material world, they are thinking, "I am an Indian, I am an Englishman, I am this, I am that." But if one chants the Hare Krsna mantra, he will realize that he is not this material body. "I do not belong to this material body or this material world. I am a spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme. I am eternally related with Him, and I have nothing to do with the material world." This is called liberation, knowledge. If I don't have anything to do with this material world, then I am liberated. And that knowledge is called brahma-bhuta.
A person with this realization has no duty to perform. Because we are now identifying our existence with this material world, we have so many duties. The Srimad-Bhagavatam says that as long as there is no self-realization, we have so many duties and debts. We are indebted to the demigods. The demigods are not merely fictitious. They are real. There are demigods controlling the sun, the moon, and the air. Just as there are directors of government departments, so for the heating department there is the sun-god, for the air department there is Varuna, and similarly there are other departmental demigods. In the Vedas they are described as controlling deities, so we cannot neglect them. Also, there are great sages and philosophers who have given us knowledge, and we are indebted to them. So as soon as we take birth we are indebted to so many living entities, but it is impossible to liquidate all these debts. Therefore the Vedic literature recommends that one take shelter of the lotus feet of Krsna. And Krsna says, "If one takes shelter of Me, then he doesn't have to take shelter of anyone else."
Therefore those who are Krsna conscious devotees have taken shelter of Krsna, and the beginning is hearing and chanting. Sravanam kirtanam visnoh. So our fervent, humble request to everyone is to please accept this chanting. This movement of Krsna consciousness was introduced by Lord Caitanya five hundred years ago in Bengal, and now all over India and especially in Bengal there are millions of followers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Now this movement is starting in the Western countries, so just be very serious in understanding it. We do not criticize any other religion. Don't take it in that way. We have no business criticizing any other process of religion. Krsna consciousness is giving people the most sublime religion--love of God. That's all. We are teaching to love God. Everyone is already loving, but that love is misplaced. We love this boy or this girl or this country or that society or even the cats and dogs, but we are not satisfied. So we must place our love in God. If one places one's love in God, he will be happy.
Don't think that this Krsna consciousness movement is a new type of religion. Where is the religion which does not recognize God? One may call God "Allah" or "Krsna" or something else, but where is that religion which does not recognize God? We are teaching that one should simply try to love God. We are attracted by so many things, but if our love is reposed in God, then we will be happy. We don't have to learn to love anything else; everything else is automatically included. Just try to love God. Don't try to love just trees or plants or insects. This will never satisfy. Learn to love God. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mission; that is our mission.