Philosophy of Krishna Consciousness
If relationships with Krishna are so wonderful, why would anyone want to leave Him and come to the material world?
Krishna doesn't force us to love Him. True love without free will has no meaning. It's true He is the most wonderful, loving, supreme person, and it's also true that relationships with Him are the most satisfying experience any of us could hope to have. But we have the tendency to be greedy. We may think we've got it good, but we could have it better somewhere else. That's called unwise, imprudent use of our free will.
Krishna doesn't coerce us into staying in His company if we're determined to look elsewhere for a good time. But while we're in the material world, He stays with us at every moment as the Supersoul, Paramatma in our heart, directing us from within according to our desires to enjoy.
Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that anyone who finally realizes the error they've made—by trying to find perfect happiness in this place of repeated birth and death, disappointment and misery—and decides to again come back to Krishna, never leaves Him again, having learned their lesson. From then on, we know what our options are, and freely prefer to remain where we are.
We have to remember, when we read about spiritual relationships, that they're spiritual. In other words, they're not based on the body. Right now, we're so convinced that we are this body that it's nearly impossible for us to understand spiritual relationships at all. We tend to apply our ideas about material relationships to our imagination of what spiritual relationships might be like, and end up in a big misunderstanding.
Whenever Srila Prabhupada discussed Krishna's pastimes with His cowherd girlfriends, the gopis, he would always remind us that they are not like the so-called loving affairs within this material world, and that it's impossible for us to understand such relationships if we're still in the bodily concept of life.
We may now be in male material bodies or female material bodies, but that has little or nothing to do with our eternal spiritual identity. Material bodies are costumes, and we've worn countless millions and trillions of them. We've likely been through every species of life at least once. Whatever material bodily costume we may be wearing at present affects the way we think and what we think we want. Illusioned spirit souls in male bodies generally think they want to enjoy illusioned spirit souls in female bodies and vice versa. But such attachment is itself a product of our illusion. We are not these bodies.
But Krishna is His body. And we are our spiritual bodies. Right now, we don't know who we really are, or what our true, eternal spiritual form is. All that is revealed gradually when we're following the bhakti-yoga process. Our natural service relationship with Krishna also gradually manifests itself. And whatever that is, that's the perfection of our life. It's useless to speculate about it, really, while we're still thinking we're the body. We'll arrive at a wrong idea. We may think we don't want to be blades of grass in the spiritual world, for example, thinking it's a lowly occupation, but the fact is that everyone there is fully Krishna conscious and therefore ecstatic whoever they are, doing whatever they're doing. Those blades of grass, for example, may be experiencing more intense bliss waiting to cushion Krishna's lotus feet than any of us could ever imagine.
During the time of Lord Ramachandra, there were some forest-dwelling sages who saw Him while He was living there during His exile from Ayodhya. These sages were all in male bodies, but they were so attracted to Rama that He gave them the benediction that they would be able to openly exhibit their amorous feelings for Him when He appeared on earth again as Krishna. The sages did not attempt to approach Rama for conjugal union while they were in the bodies of sages, because that would have been improper. But during Krishna's advent, those same spirit souls grew up with Him in the villages around Vrindavan, and had the chance to continue meditating on Him to their hearts' content.
Generally, those who have developed an understanding of their spiritual relationship with Krishna keep it to themselves, while continuing to carry out their normal duties, according to the nature of whatever material body they may be in.
Whether Sanskrit (or any other language) can conclusively be said to be the "mother tongue of all languages of earth" is the subject of a never-ending and often heated debate. Lacking the ability to travel back in time, we're left with the choice of whose version of the truth to accept. This holds true for determining the antiquity of the Sanskrit language as well as the validity of Vedic teachings themselves.
Many scholars propose that all languages of the world can be traced to a common ancestor tongue they call Proto-Indo-European, or PIE. PIE is a reconstructed, theoretical language meant to reflect and explain the many similarities between the major Indo-European languages. PIE is widely accepted in academic communities and is taught in schools. Although there is no written evidence of PIE, its popularity rests on the belief that its proponents—including some of the most world's respected linguists since the late eighteenth century—have thoroughly done their homework, which they certainly have.
Our aim is not go enter into lengthy discussion on PIE here, nor are we qualified to do so. Anything we might say to a true PIE believer would likely not be taken seriously anyway. We would like to point out, however, that theories, inference and research—no matter how academically qualified the researcher—are at best an unreliable means of gaining conclusive proof.
Our process of obtaining knowledge is "descending" rather than "ascending." In other words, receiving knowledge from a qualified source is a more quick and effective means of learning than inference or speculation. This is the essence of the parampara system, which has always been the means of transmitting Vedic wisdom. Srila Prabhupada often compared this system to asking our mother who our father is, rather than attempting to determine our parentage through costly and time-consuming DNA research which may prove inconclusive anyway.
Sanskrit is the language of the Vedas, which we accept as timeless knowledge. Vedic sages would say that the Vedas are eternal, without origin, like the soul and God. The soul, atma, always exists as a minute expansion of the spiritual energy of Krishna, who also always exists. And Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that He Himself is the compiler of the Vedas and that the whole point of the Vedas is to know Him (Bg. 15.15). So for Krishna's statements to be true, the Vedas would have to be eternal.
It may be unfashionable to accept axiomatic truth these days, considering the current overwhelming proliferation of lies and hype. But Vedic truth has remained constant throughout the millennia, and its spiritual wisdom can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, anytime, with guaranteed positive results. Whereas even the most well-researched and brilliantly postulated theories are bound to fall out of fashion and be replaced someday. Our aim in accepting Vedic knowledge is to be happy, rather than to congratulate ourselves that we're smarter than everybody else.
". . . the system of receiving Vedic knowledge is called avaroha-pantha, or the process of receiving transcendental knowledge through bona fide disciplic succession. For advancement of material knowledge there is a need for personal ability and researching aptitude, but in the case of spiritual knowledge, all progress depends more or less on the mercy of the spiritual master. The spiritual master must be satisfied with the disciple; only then is knowledge automatically manifest before the student of spiritual science."
"Pramana means proof. Vaishnava philosophers condense all the different types of pramanas into three: pratyaksha, anumana, and shabda.
Pratyaksha means direct evidence by the senses. But since the senses are imperfect, pratyaksha often has to be corrected by higher knowledge. Anumana refers to deductive and inductive logic, which depends on the validity of its premises and reasons, and so cannot prove anything with final certainty. Shabda means receiving knowledge from authoritative sources. Vedic knowledge is shabda-pramana. This is particularly applicable to transcendental subject matter, which cannot be understood by the empirical and theorizing methods. Even in ordinary affairs, there are many things we have to accept on authority. We can learn the identity of our father from our mother, the only foolproof authority. Aside from the mother there is no way to know for sure who our father is.
When the source of information is perfect, as in Vedic knowledge, then shabda-pramana, or shabda-brahma, becomes the ultimate proof. As Srila Prabhupada states, "As far as the soul's existence is concerned, no one can establish his existence experimentally beyond the proof of shruti, or Vedic wisdom" ( Bg. 2.25, purport)."
We all go through periods of adversity, just as we all go through periods of happiness. Nobody wants distress, but it comes anyway. And happiness also comes in its own time. We can't demand to be happy or mechanically stop distress from arriving on our doorstep.
What we can do is try to rise above it all by making some endeavor in Krishna consciousness. A Krishna conscious person can be happy, no matter what the external circumstances, because his happiness isn't dependent on karmic enjoyment.
The goal is the same—love of God—so in essence the answer is no. If the Christianity you're following teaches you how to love God, it's as good as Krishna consciousness. The only real difference is that Christianity doesn't teach who the Supreme Person is. Jesus speaks of God the Father, but Krishna consciousness has specific information about the identity of God the Father that isn't found in the Bible or in Christianity.
"One will find in the Bhagavad-gita all that is contained in other scriptures, but the reader will also find things which are not to be found elsewhere. That is the specific standard of the Gita. It is the perfect theistic science because it is directly spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna."
—Bhagavad-gita As It Is, 1.1, Purport
Yes and no. Our present dictionary app defines cult in various ways:
A. "a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object."
Yes. Krishna consciousness is a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward Krishna.
B. "a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister."
Yes, in those places where Krishna consciousness is not yet well-established as a major religion, it has often been seen in this way. But in India, where Krishna has been worshiped since before recorded history, Krishna consciousness is increasingly understood more as the essence of all spirituality than as anything strange or sinister.
C. "a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing."
We think it makes perfect sense to admire Krishna—an eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, all-attractive personality—and that the general public's admiration for musicians, sports figures, movie stars, and political leaders who are here today and gone tomorrow is really excessive and misplaced.
The scriptures and saintly persons within the tradition of Krishna consciousness also describe the existence of a spiritual world, which is always existing and infinitely greater in size than this material world. From that point of view, this entire material world is a cult—a strange, sinister, small group of people with misplaced admiration for themselves.
The modern theory of evolution became popular in the 1800s as a result of the work of Charles Darwin and others to understand the diversity of species on earth. Evolution has become the standard way to explain how all life came into existence and gradually evolved from simple to complex forms.
The Vedas, the world's earliest collection of scientific writings, also contain detailed explanations of how evolution takes place, describing the gradual development—from subtle to gross—of the material elements, the planets, the bodies of all living creatures, and how conscious beings (atmas, or souls) enter the material world to inhabit the specific material bodies suited to their particular consciousness.
"Although Westerners accept that Darwin first expounded the doctrine of evolution, the science of anthropology is not new. The development of the evolutionary process was known long before from the Bhagavatam, which was written five thousand years ago. There are records of the statements of Kapila Muni, who was present almost in the beginning of the creation. This knowledge has existed since the Vedic time, and all these sequences are disclosed in Vedic literature; the theory of gradual evolution or anthropology is not new to the Vedas." ( Srimad-Bhagavatam, 3.29.29, Purport)
There are some significant differences between the Vedic view and today's many variations on evolutionary theory. One is that the Vedas take consciousness into account as the basis of all varieties of bodily forms. Every material body is animated by a spiritual spark—atma—who is placed into a particular type of body according to his qualification, or karma. The atma gradually evolves, or transmigrates from less conscious to more conscious species through a succession of bodily changes—births and deaths—on the way to eventual emancipation from the cycle of rebirth.
The Vedas also say the whole evolutionary process happens neither blindly nor by chance nor by a random series of events originating in chaos. Rather, everything occurs intentionally. Instead of postulating that the universe and everything within it sprang forth from a void (or a void containing an inexplicably handy assortment of organic chemicals), Vedic literature again and again ascribes the creation and development of the cosmos and all its inhabitants to a profoundly intelligent consciousness. This is described either as brahman, the all-pervading spiritual energy which is the basis of all conscious life, Paramatma, the Supersoul within each material body who guides the atma up the evolutionary ladder, or Bhagavan, the Supreme Being ultimately behind all the workings of all material and spiritual creation .
Whatever version of evolution we ultimately choose to accept will be based on a certain amount of faith. This is true of all events occurring outside our direct experience. Modern theories of evolution and of the origin of life, while certainly the products of many years of study by relatively well-informed and brilliant men of considerable intellect, are still theories after all. Just as previous theories fell out of favor, it is the nature of all theories to be cast aside over time.
The Vedas are described as apauruseya, "not created by man." The Vedic tradition teaches that perfect knowledge can only come from a perfect source, and the Vedas have the same source as the cosmos itself (which, of course, we can either believe or not). Since the time of universal manifestation, perfect knowledge of how and why it came into being has been passed down from teacher to student. That system is known as parampara, "one after another," and even considering such a system's potential for error, it is considered the most reliable of all methods of acquiring knowledge.
You are correct that Vishnu, Siva and Durga are divine persons. They are energies of the Lord and eternally manifest. Siva is his own tattva, or category of existence. He exists eternally and is not of the material energy. When the material world is annihilated, Siva and Vishnu remain. Durga Devi is an expansion of Krishna's internal energy. In order to manage the material energy, she is manifest as Durga Devi. She is the eternal consort of Lord Siva.
Brahma, on the other hand, is a position occupied by a jiva soul, in other words, a soul like you or me. We're also spiritual energy, but very small. We can become covered by the material energy. When the material energy is unmanifest, Brahma is also unmanifest. Also, there are many Brahmas who manage the various universes within the material world. So there are many positions available. Very advanced devotees who earn that post take up those positions.
I hope this is helpful.
It sounds like you're asking one question in several different ways.
By calling jivas "B grade creations of the Lord," you're basically saying, "why doesn't Krishna make everyone A grade?" Isn't it? That would mean that everyone was one. The idea that everyone is one with God is called Mayavadi philosophy.
"According to Madhvacharya, there are two tattvas, or factors. One is independent, and the other is dependent. The first tattva is the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, and the second is the jiva-tattva. Lakshmidevi, being dependent on Lord Vishnu, is sometimes counted among the jivas. The Gaudiya Vaishnavas, however, describe Lakshmidevi in accordance with the following two verses from the Prameya-ratnavali of Baladeva Vidyabhushana. The first verse is a quotation from the Vishnu Purana:
'O best of the brahmanas, Lakshmiji is the constant companion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu, and therefore she is called anapayini. She is the mother of all creation. As Lord Vishnu is all-pervading, His spiritual potency, mother Lakshmi, is also all-pervading.'
Lord Vishnu has three principal potencies—internal, external and marginal. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has accepted para-shakti, the spiritual energy of the Lord, as being identical with the Lord. Thus she is also included in the independent vishnu-tattva."
So there are only two tattvas (truths)—Vishnu-tattva and jiva-tattva. If jiva-tattva is eliminated, then all becomes "one." But Lord Krishna is a person—a supreme, eternal, blissful person—and He has loving relationships with everyone, even those who have forgotten their love for Him. These are the persons (us) who are looking for love in the material world.
Krishna is so kind that He offers each of us jivas the opportunity to try to find the love we want within the material world. This is so we can realize—come to our own conclusion—that the love we want is ONLY available in loving exchange with Krishna!
Lakshmi never has that illusion. She's always in love with Krishna, (Vishnu). She's always absorbed in His service. She's always thinking, "if my Lord is pleased, then I will be pleased." You're asking, "Why hasn't the Lord given us that position?" But first we must have the qualifications of Sri Lakshmi. It's because we have some personal desire that we're not qualified for that position.
You should understand that there's always opportunity for you to achieve that position. But to do so you'll have to do the work required to achieve the level of realization necessary to come to the loving relationship that the residents of the spiritual world, Vaikuntha, have with the Lord.
It's the nature of those of us in the material world to want something for nothing—to "win the lottery," so to speak—but in this case that's not possible. We must first become qualified, and THEN, when Krishna/Vishnu sees we're doing our part, He will reciprocate and bring us closer and closer to Him.
Actually, Vishnu wants us to come back to Him more than we want to go. He wants everyone to come back to Vaikuntha, but He wants our love. Love is voluntary or it isn't love at all. Love can't be forced; it has to be reciprocal. That means we have to come to the point of selfless love for Krishna. Then we'll be able to enter into that place of no anxiety— Vaikuntha—where there are only loving relationships with God.
Please enlighten me on this statement from the Bhagavad-gita: "According to Chanakya Pandita, women are generally not very intelligent and therefore not trustworthy." (Bhagavad-gita 1.40, Purport)
Since I am a woman I will make some effort to answer, please forgive me if I'm unable ;-)
These types of statements appear here and there in various books. Often after a long discussion on the topic Srila Prabhupada will say something like:
"But these women are not ordinary women. They are preachers. They are preachers. They are Vaishnava. By their association, one becomes a Vaishnava." (Morning walk, Bombay 1974)
Hrdayananda : Even some of these women, they're not married but they are serving Krishna.
Prabhupada: Yes. Striyo vaishyas tatha shudras [ Bg. 9.32]. This striya, generally they take it, "Even she is prostitute," striya. Te 'pi yanti param gatim: "They can also go back to home, back to Godhead." Mam hi partha... If he takes Krishna very seriously, then everything is possible. No impediment. Ahaituky apratihata. Krishna's devotional service is so strong that it cannot be checked by any material impediments. The smartas, they are thinking like that, "How these mlecchas and yavanas can become a brahmana?" But they do not know that by Krishna consciousness one can jump over.
Mayam etam taranti te. Daivi hy esa gunamayi mama maya duratyaya [ Bg. 7.14]. Maya is very strong. Therefore there are gradual process. Varnasrarama-dharma, karma-tyaga, this, that, so many things, pious activities, rituals. But this is the process, step by step, to cross over maya. But Krishna said, mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te. Anyone who surrenders to Krishna sincerely, immediately he crosses over. As Krishna says in another place, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokshayishyami: [ Bg. 18.66] "I'll do immediately." So maya means papa. Unless one is sinful, he cannot be in maya. So if one surrenders, then he, means, immediately crosses over maya. So these smarta brahmanas, they consider this thing. They are thinking, "How a person born in other families, they can become brahmana?" (Morning walk, 1976, Mayapur).
"In Kali-yuga, everyone is unintelligent—both men and women: Kalau sudra-sambhavah: in the age of Kali, everyone is a sudra. Because the whole population of the world consists only of sudras, there is a decline of spiritual knowledge, and people are unhappy." ( Srimad-Bhagavatam, 4.12.48, Purport)
People aren't very intelligent because they're thinking they are this body. This is the problem. And generally, women are more "into" their bodies; they worry about their hair, makeup, dress, etc. very much. They're valued for their beauty and consider themselves worthy only if they are beautiful, by one standard or another. Very few really escape this misconception. This is less intelligent. So, to the degree a woman or a man thinks like this he/she is less intelligent. This thinking is more common in women—at least it has been in the past—but men are catching up :-).
On the spiritual path, however—once someone has begun to take Krishna's service seriously and is strictly following the prescribed vows and rules—then Krishna is equally available to everyone, regardless of their karmic qualification. We get our bodies, intelligence, wealth, beauty, etc, due to previous karma and so having a women's body can often be problematic. Problematic also is having a stupid body, ailing body, ugly body, etc. etc. These things can make it difficult for us to progress outside of the material consciousness.
Being born in Kali Yuga is a difficulty in itself as people are "lazy, misguided, unintelligent and prone to quarrel over nothing" ( Srimad-Bhagavatam 1:1:10). However, this difficulty may also inspire us to leave this unfavorable material situation and get serious about looking for something better. Furthermore, by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's mercy, spiritual life in Kali-yuga is made easier for everyone by offering the opportunity to chant Hare Krishna and serve the Lord in simple devotional activities.
I hope this is helpful.