Wednesday, 24 April 2013

                      Bhagavad Gita: Why Read It?

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna flatly asserts to Arjuna that the most sacred, most important information of the entire sacred text is revealed in Chapter 15. He refers to this chapter as the greatest secret:

Iti guhyatamam sastram idam uktam mayanagha, etad buddhva buddhiman syat krita-krityas cha bharata (15.20):

Our common English translation of the sentence above follows:

“It is not an ordinary secret, it is not a great secret, but it is the greatest secret that I have told you. Really you will be wise after having known the import of this teaching; and you have done what you wanted to do, you have known what is to be known, and you have obtained what is to be obtained.”

So, Krishna told Arjuna that simply being completely versed in this one simple Chapter would answer the totality of the Great Mystery, succinctly and clearly. 

Shankara said that, in the 15th chapter, the meaning of not only the entire Gita, but also all that is known in the entirety of the Vedas, is presented briefly and completely.

This greatest secret of all is veiled in the very best hiding place: the seeker himself. 

The process of negation (neti, neti) eventually reveals what the secret truly is. What the seeker who continues the search for Truth, for Bhagavan, discovers, is ‘that which seeks’ is ‘that which is sought’. It does not matter whether we search inside or out, God remains hidden because he is in the very seeker that seeks. The shruti bluntly puts it to the seeker: “You are the Sought.”

In truth, the “cosmic tree” unfolded in Chapter 15 of the Bhagavad Gita represents nama-rupa, name and form; there is no tree at all. This is true of all objects.There is only the one consciousness, Caitanya. So, it is important to note that the entire tree is mythia, sometimes defined as “illusion”, “apparent reality" or “dependent reality” or “seemingly real”.

In Chapter 9 of the Bhagavad Gita, mythia is described thus: the world rests in Brahman (Consciousness) but, Brahman does not rest in the world. The second part of this statement underscores the absolute position, denying the presence of the world in Brahman; in this way, it reveals that the world is just an appearance of Consciousness. Without Consciousness, there is no world possible to appear. Thus, Consciousness is all.

The one who has uncovered  the mystery of the tree of samsara along with it’s root, Brahman, Consciousness, knows that the entirety of samsara is mythia and it’s root is satya, or absolute Truth. He knows the ultimate Truth, the karana, the instrumental cause.

Shankara described samsara as dreamlike or mirage water; independent of knowledge, it appears to be real, but, when closely investigated it is seen that it has no reality of it’s own, it has no being. At the same time, it is not correct to say it is without roots, as it’s root alone is Consciousness, or Truth. Everything else is a superimposition on it.

Every name and form, every phenomenon, whether gross or subtle, arises from this one construct, Brahman, and resolves upon inquiry back into it revealing the object as nothing other than projection. All name and form, including the sense of agency ( a “me” who witnesses) are superimpositions on Consciousness itself, not two, due to ignorance, the “ignoring” of what is. 

What we refer to as samsara, then, is nothing more than projected differentiation of knower, the instruments of knowledge (senses, etc), and known. The Svetasvatara Upanishad recants even the attribution of “knower” to Brahman. Brahman only remains  the knower with the instruments of knowledge (the senses); without the instruments of knowledge, it never becomes the known. Without the known, Braham is released from it’s designation even as knower. 

Now an important point: the empirical view that the world and it’s laws, karma, cause and effect, knowledge, waking, dream, deep sleep and all other phenomenon are real and binding is simply not true. It is simply the view possible from the tree of samsara using an empirical lens. From the absolute Reality, from Truth itself, it simply does not exist. Consciousness alone is. As Gaudapada said in the Mandukya Upanishad,

“That which did not exist before and that which will not exist later, does not exist now.”

Or as the famous Gita quote 2:16 states, ”That which is, never ceases to be; that which is not, never comes into being.”

Here is the point: To mistake a rope for a snake, there first must be a rope. The rope is true; the snake is not. But, how is this differentiated? First, it must be seen that the rope is more real than the snake.  Once the rope is seen to be real, the snake eventually evaporates entirely.

Such is the dissolution of ignorance. First, it is seen that Consciousness, the changeless element, is more real than that which it perceives. From this initial clarity, the house of cards begins to collapse. 

Objects are seen as having no reality independent of Consciousness. Then, it is realized that no boundary can be found for Consciousness -- it is not contained. Not being contained, the sense of agency, the “me”, loses it’s individuality, it’s limits, it’s locatability and it’s authority. The notion of separate self slowly resigns it’s leadership role. No longer having any roots, conditioned beliefs rise only to meander briefly and, without sustenance, die. In this dissolution, what remains is best described as Self-Knowing Beingness. It carries with it a distinct aroma of the Perfume of Silence.

How can samsara be negated for once and for all? What is needed, says Krishna, is the axe of detachment, a deep inquiry distinguishing between subject and object until identification with the physical body, senses, and mind are severed. This process -- not this, not that, (neti neti) – is pursued with single-minded determination, to it’s logical end. Anything less than complete and intricate inspection of sensory perception, bodily sensation, thoughts, beliefs and feelings, bears no fruit until “seeing” occurs; it is the inquiry into what is and is not self. This is how the tree of samsara is felled.

My teacher once told me, “Until there is nothing of this world, nothing of this body, and nothing of this mind that will ever satisfy you, you will never be free.” 

For this journey, desire for truth must become burning and singular. The deeper the investigation, the more provocative and disorienting the questions become: what made me think that the sensation in the hand belonged to a Chris while the sound of the fan across the room did not? Were they not both experienced in the same spaceless space -- by the same Awareness that I am? These type of questions beg final answers. Lip service does not do.

Detachment, asanga, is necessary. The old adage says that whatever you want more than enlightenment, you will get. Each time we run away from fear, we turn our back on Grace. Each time we resist criticism or adversity, we decline an invitation specifically designed to lead us Home. Everything we encounter, then, is all prasad; particularly those events we wish to resist. 

Attraction and aversion pull us back towards objects, or repel us from them; in either case, fear and desire both reinforce our attachment to Maya. They incite  behavior that is selfish and exclusive, or cause us to avoid events altogether, which, otherwise, might disintegrate the blockade to our successful return Home. 

As opposed to an unflinching stand in equanimity, all resistance and attraction demonstrate belief in duality. As such, these hidden beliefs perpetuate suffering. Our rightness comes at the highest price; our smug resistance denies the fruition of our highest wish: returning Home.

Looking into oneself, detachment is gained.  Our attachments and aversions are nothing more than thoughts with a “me” attached to them. Even our agitation concerning "external" objects -- people, jobs, families, illness, etc -- all reduce to perceptions occurring only in mind. And, what perceives the contents we call mind?

In the Birhad-arayaka Upanishad (4.5.6) Yajnavalkya states:

“Everything becomes dear for it’s own sake.”

 This is a simple restatement of fact: The Self is the same in all bodies and it is the same Self that is shining in all bodies, in all persons, in all beings. And, it is this Self, in actuality that we adore, not the object. Our quest is to know this Self in all bodies.

The inquiry must be firm, repetitive and consistent.  The Bhagavad Gita, points to proper inquiry, parimargana. The reference to “pari” means with the help of the shastra, or scripture and a qualified teacher to equate the cause of creation to the Self. Later, we will discuss the importance of the karana guru, and why, in most cases, he is essential to the ultimate re-discovery.

Shankara says that firmness in inquiry is required due to the human pursuit; living in samsara, you cannot release yourself from samsara. Hopefully, the aspirant develops a desire for moksha, liberation. But, this desire, in itself, is not enough, either; desire for liberation must fructify into the desire to know. This desire drives the inquiry, "What am I? What is the Self and what in not the Self?" No single blow can fell the Tree of Samsara. Repetitive attempts, abhyasa, are required. Sadly, many who begin the inquiry abandon it before the axe of inquiry accomplishes it’s goal.

This persistent critical observation results in a loosening of the sense of ownership, mamakara, and, closely behind this, the sense of “I” itself, called ahankara. It is this transition and eventual disappearance of the “I"  that is so beautifully described in the previous article, The Tree of Samsara, which details the profound experience of my teacher.

What are the qualifications of those who gain that from which there is no return? Here, Krishna succinctly answers: Nirmanamohas, those that are free from manas and mohas.

Manas is simply our desire to be respected and admired by others.  In other words, manas are our demands for approval from others. It is the sense of lack born of ignorance, the sense of inadequacy and low self worth which permeates our behavior. Clamoring for approval from "others" maintains the spell of separation. Perhaps, manas is better known as pride.

By mohas, we refer to our expectation that objects have value that they do not possess. It is our incessant superimposing of qualities onto the objects we see and desire: attaching love to an object like a relationship, or happiness to a thing acquired -- like a career, money, food, sex, health, cars, a belief, etc. This process of projection keeps us looking to objects to complete us, thus relieving our deeply rooted sense of lack.  Moha is literally nondiscrimination. This aggressive, and confident pursuit of objects is meant to heal our sense of lack. This lack is, once again, born of the belief in separation.

Manas and mohas, when taken together, are the fuel of likes and dislikes, attraction and repulsion, fear and desire. They are the chains with which we bind ourselves. The release from these faults of association is called jita-sanga-dosah. Any object without which we feel incomplete is one to which you have sanga: attachment. Jita means conquered, in this case, through inquiry and self knowledge. 

Free of pride and nondiscrimination, Love finds it’s mark and Grace can enter. The path becomes clean, clear and complete.

Consciousness requires no light to illuminate itself; it is self-luminescent. Every other “thing”, subtle or gross, requires the presence of awareness; thinking, sensing, and perceiving all derive their substance from it.  In a well known verse, shared also in the Katha Upanishad, it states: 

“There the sun, moon and stars do not shine. The lightning does not shine. What can we say about fire?”

Illumination by "sun" light may be the universal source for the eyes; but, what of perception of an object by the mind itself? The eyes can observe an object in the mind by light, as a thought form, vritti in sanskrit;  but, what enlightens mind? 

It’s source is fundamental, unique: thus, we refer to it as Atman, the eternal Presence of Awareness. It is self-effulgent: it lights itself, it is not dependent on anything.

“As rivers, flowing down, become indistinguishable on reaching the sea by giving up their names and forms, so also the illumined soul, having become freed from name and form, reaches the self-effulgent, Supreme Self.” – Mundaka Upanishad

Ignorance fails to recognize the boundless, formless reality which supports all perception.  It validates the belief in agency, a “me”, an experiencer, rather than identifying as the substrata, Consciousness.  It is a creation made up out of whole cloth.  It mistakes the wave for the Ocean.

We resist this conclusion. In this "seeing” rests the extermination of our self-created images as individual and unique, as any “thing” at all. 

“There is no such thing as an enlightened human being.”

As Atmananda Krishna Menon so eloquently put it, regarding the sanskrit term, Jivan Mukta:

“This is a misnomer, because jiva (personality) is perceptible to the external senses alone and mukta (that which is free) to the internal eye alone. The two are on entirely separate planes, and as such, can never meet. So, if someone is a jiva (a person), he cannot at the same time be a mukta (one who is free); vise versa. Therefore, the term “jivan-mukta” (free person) is a misnomer.”

Belief in separation permits the apparent independent existence of the mind, body, and world.  Self-ignorance births the agent, karta in sanskrit, and the experiencer, bhokta, in a unique body-mind. The agent is merely a notion. a thought, which can only exist through  mind and ignorance. Coming and going, appearance and disappearance are it’s fruits. Consciousness is never opposed to ignorance; it is the very substratum of it. A hand is never thought of as an object other than ourselves.

The space contained within a pot is not truly limited or separate from the totality of space. The pot is “uphadi”, a superimposition -- an external disguise for true reality. The fundamental understanding comes when the space is seen for what it is, in it’s Eternity, apart from the apparent limitation placed on it by the pot. One never returns from this understanding.

There is no-thing. No-thing has no boundary. No thoughts or beliefs are owned by a “me”, no thought, sensation or perception belong to any thing other than Experiencing itself. 

Preference is impossible, as is resistance. Issues of like and dislike are Maya’s  gifts, enabling us to see the truth of our own delusion: our preferences point to our belief in separation.

This is not to say that the body, mind and world do not exist; a more mature understanding is that they have no existence independent of Consciousness, apart from the awareness that births them. 

Only a limited entity can form an association with an object. Being born of the same level, association is possible, but, being limited in time, disassociation is inevitable.  

Ignorance is different. In the case of belief in separation, two different orders of reality are established: one is real (unchanging and independent) and the other, dependent ,or less than real. The body, mind, and world have no independent existence; Consciousness does.

Thus, Paramatma, the core of the “individual” jiva. 

As the Atma eats the fruits, karma, Paramatman is the silent observer of it all.  The jiva, with it’s sense of agency is only an apparent reality; it has no real existence outside of Consciousness. Paramatma is self-evident behind every sensory and mental appearance; it is not uncovered due to lack of discrimination caused by the overwhelming love for the seen and unseen decoys of fear and desire.  If the mission of  human life is awakening, it is our love affair with enjoyments, binding likes and dislikes, that keep us from uncovering the obvious.

It is both the presence of pain and our ability for discrimination which sets the stage for liberation. The subject-object discrimination, the sorting of what is “not I”, births the false belief of  being human, the recurring belief in agency and the addicted role of  the enjoyer. This investigation uncovers the reality of the “I” sense as nothing other than Consciousness itself, never contained, never identified, assuming fictional roles as form. 

Just as  the driver of a car might say that, “I was going 80 miles per hour," while knowing that he,h imself, did no such thing, so is the discrimination between body-mind and the “I” principle. I may claim that I did this or that; in fact, it is known that nothing could be further from the case; I am not the agent.

The world is comprised of the manifest, ksara, the destructible, the world -- the temporal and the unmanifest, aksara -- the eternal. Both are terms describing Maya, in it’s manifest form as jagat and it’s unmanifest as the causal body.  Both have no independance; they are superimpositions of the uttama purusa, the ultimate Self, Paramatman, Consciousness itself.

Saturday, 20 April 2013


You have probably noticed “Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!” at the end of my letters. And some may be skeptical that simply chanting: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare will produce happiness. However happiness is one of the very first symptoms that becomes manifest in a person advancing in Krishna consciousness. And this is my practical, personal experience. Ever since I started chanting the Hare Krishna mantra it has given me a sense of great transcendental happiness.
Not being happy is a sign of not being Krishna conscious. Because Krishna consciousness is a self-manifested joyful condition. Why is that? It is because by nature every living entity is joyful and is in Krishna consciousness. The only reason we are not joyful here in the material world is because our original Krishna consciousness is covered by maya. This chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra has the power to uncover our original consciousness and when our original Krishna consciousness is uncovered we will be in our eternal natural constitutional position of ever-increasing happiness, full knowledge and we will realize that we are eternally youthful spiritual living entities who’s only purpose is to serve Krishna.
This process of ‘cleansing the mirror of the heart’ [ceto darpana marjanam] is described by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in one of the only eight verses that He wrote. These eight verses written by Lord Caitanya very perfectly summarize Krishna consciousness and one of the verses is:
ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam
sreyah-kairava-candrika-vitaranam vidya-vadhu-jivanam
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam
Glory to the Sri Krishna sankirtana which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life of repeated birth and death. Thissankirtana movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss and enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.
Lord Caitanya says if you chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra all the dirty things which have accumulated in your heart due to material contamination will be cleared off. He gives the example that the heart is just like a mirror. If on the mirror there is heaps of dust accumulated one can not see his real face by the reflection of the mirror, therefore it should be cleansed. In our present conditional life our hearts are so overloaded with so much dust due to our material association from time immemorial, if we chant this Hare Krishna mantra then the dust will be removed. It will begin to be removed immediately and as soon as the heart is cleansed of all dust we can see our face, what we really are. Seeing our face means knowing our real identification.
By chanting Hare Krishna mantra we will understand we are not the body. This is our misconception. The dust means this misconception, accepting this body or the mind as self. Actually, we are not this body or the mind. We are spirit soul. So as soon as we can understand that we are not these bodies, immediately the blazing fire of material conditions, or the blazing fire of material miseries, becomes dissipated. No more misery. Ahambrahmasmi.
As it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, brahma-bhutaḥ prasannatma. Immediately one understands his real identification as spirit soul, he becomes joyful. In the material world we are not joyful. Due to our material contact, we are always full of anxieties. By chanting Hare Krishna mantra, we shall immediately come to the stage of joyful life. This is called liberation. When one becomes joyful, free from all anxieties, that stage is actual liberation because every living creature, the spirit soul, is by nature joyful. The whole struggle for existence is that he is searching after that joyful stage of life, but he missing the point. Therefore, every time we try for a joyful life we are being defeated. This constant defeat can be overcome immediately by chanting this Hare Krishna mantra. That is the effect of this transcendental vibration.
The spiritual pleasure that we enjoy from chanting the Hare Krishna mantra is not like material so-called pleasure. For example we may be hungry but as soon as we get food, with every mouthful we take the pleasure we receive from eating that food decreases. Until after we have eaten a few mouthfuls and our hunger is satisfied we do not like to take any more of that food. This means here in the material world whatever pleasure we can experience, it will decrease. But spiritual pleasure is different. Lord Caitanya says: anandambudhi-vardhanam, the spiritual pleasure is just like the ocean. Here in the material world we have the experience that the ocean does not increase, the ocean always remains within its limit. But the ocean of spiritual pleasure increases. Anandambudhi-vardhanam. Sreyah-kairava-candrika-vitaranam. How does that spiritual pleasure increase? Lord Caitanya gives the example of the moon. On the first night after the new moon the moon is a very thin curved line in the sky only. But on the second day, third day, the moon increases, gradually it increases. Similarly in spiritual life the spiritual pleasure increases day after day after day until it reaches the full moon night. And then our lives become full of knowledge because spiritual life means eternal life, full of bliss and full of knowledge
So we increase our pleasure because proportionately we increase the volume of our knowledge. It is just like the ocean, but still it increases. It is so nice that once situated in this state of life, one thinks that “I am fully satisfied.” Just like if one takes bath dipping into the water, he feels refreshed immediately. Similarly, in spiritual life the increasing joy day after day makes one feel that he is fully satisfied.
One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me. (Bhagavad Gita 18.54)
A materialist who is working very hard for sense gratification is miserable but for a devotee, who does not work for his own sense gratification but works for the gratification of Krishna’s senses, there is no misery. The devotee has nothing to lament or desire, because he has no desire except the desire to serve his spiritual master and Krishna. Because the devotee is serving God and God is full and completely satisfied in every way the devotee engaged in the service of Krishna also becomes full and completely satisfied in every way.  He becomes just like a river cleansed of all the dirty water.
Because the pure devotee has no thought other than Krishna he is naturally always joyful. He is not at all disturbed by material loss or gain because he is fully engaged in the service of the Lord. The pure devotee has no desire for any type of material enjoyment because he knows that every living entity is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord and therefore eternally a servant. The devotee’s peace and happiness comes from this realization that he is eternally a servant of Krishna and the only purpose of his life is to serve Krishna. He is attached to nothing except being engaged in the service of his spiritual master and Krishna. This is the real, natural and eternal constitutional position of every living entity: nitya krsna dasa, “every living entity is eternally a servant of Krishna.” As soon as we realize we are servants of Krishna and give up all personal desires and aspirations and simply work for the pleasure of Krishna under the direction of Krishna’s pure devotee, the bona fide spiritual master, we will at once be relieved of all the sources of anxiety and distress in the material world and at once we will relish transcendental happiness on the spiritual platform.
The world is miserable for the materially infected person, but for a devotee the entire world is as good as Vaikuntha, or the spiritual sky. The highest personality in this material universe is no more significant than an ant for a devotee. Such a stage can be achieved by the mercy of Lord Caitanya, who preached pure devotional service in this age.
The stage of perfection is called trance, or samadhi, when one’s mind is completely restrained from material mental activities by practice of yoga. This is characterized by one’s ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self. In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness and enjoys himself through transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of greatest difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from material contact. (Bhagavad Gita 6.20-23)
This is from the Sixth Chapter of Bhagavad Gita which we have been discussing for some weeks now. By practice of yoga one becomes gradually detached from material concepts. This is the primary characteristic of the yoga principle. And after this, one becomes situated in trance, or samadhi, which means that the yogi realizes the Supersoul through transcendental mind and intelligence, without any of the misgivings of identifying the self with the Superself. In this verse transcendental pleasure–realized through transcendental senses–is accepted.
When the yogi is once situated in the transcendental position, he is never shaken from it. Unless the yogi is able to reach this position, he is unsuccessful. Today’s so-called yogapractice, which involves various sense pleasures, is contradictory. A yogi indulging in sex and intoxication is a mockery. Even those yogis who are attracted by the siddhis (perfections) in the process of yoga are not perfectly situated. If the yogis are attracted by the by-products ofyoga, then they cannot attain the stage of perfection, as is stated in this verse. Persons, therefore, indulging in the make-show practice of gymnastic feats or siddhis should know that the aim of yoga is lost in that way.
The best practice of yoga in this age is Krishna consciousness, which is not baffling. A Krishna conscious person is so happy in his occupation that he does not aspire after any other happiness. There are many impediments, especially in this age of hypocrisy, to practicinghatha-yoga, dhyana-yoga and jnana-yoga, but there is no such problem in executing karma-yoga or bhakti-yoga.
As long as the material body exists, one has to meet the demands of the body, namely eating, sleeping, defending and mating. But a person who is in pure bhakti-yoga or in Krishna consciousness does not arouse the senses while meeting the demands of the body. Rather, he accepts the bare necessities of life, making the best use of a bad bargain, and enjoys transcendental happiness in Krishna consciousness. He is callous toward incidental occurrences–such as accidents, disease, scarcity and even the death of a most dear relative–but he is always alert to execute his duties in Krishna consciousness or bhakti-yoga.Accidents never deviate him from his duty. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita, agamapayino ‘nityas tams titiksasva bharata. He endures all such incidental occurrences because he knows that they come and go and do not affect his duties. In this way he achieves the highest perfection in yoga practice.
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

 Modern man's concepts of God are many and varied. Children tend to imagine an old man with a white beard. Many adults regard God as an invisible force or a mental concept or as all humanity, the universe, or even oneself. In this lecture, Srila Prabhupada describes in detail the Krsna consciousness concept--a surprisingly intimate view of God. So wherever you go whatever you do just add God, it brings an extra element to whatever you believe in God...Have faith in God.........

nitya-siddha krsna-prema 'sadhya' kabhu nayasravanadi-suddha-citte karaye udaya

 Krsna consciousness is dormant in everyone's heart, and when one comes in contact with devotees, it is awakened. Krsna consciousness is not artificial. Just as a young boy awakens his natural attraction for a young girl in her association, similarly, if one hears about Krsna in the association of devotees, he awakens his dormant Krsna consciousness.

 sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
 ahaituky apratihata
 yayatma suprasidati
   First-class religion teaches one how to love God without any motive. If I serve God for some profit, that is business--not love. Real love of God is ahaituky apratihata: it cannot be checked by any material cause. It is unconditional. If one actually wants to love God, there is no impediment. One can love Him whether one is poor or rich, young or old, black or white.

aisvaryasya samagrasya
                                              viryasya yasasah sriyah
                                             jnana-vairagyayos caiva
                                             sannam bhaga itingana
                                             (Visnu Purana 6.5.47)
   Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is thus defined by Parasara Muni as one who is full in six opulences--who has full strength, fame, wealth, knowledge, beauty, and renunciation.
   Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the proprietor of all riches. There are many rich men in the world, but no one can claim that he possesses all the wealth. Nor can anyone claim that no one is richer than he. We understand from the Srimad-Bhagavatam, however, that when Krsna was present on this earth He had 16,108 wives, and each wife lived in a palace made of marble and bedecked with jewels. The rooms were filled with furniture made of ivory and gold, and there was great opulence everywhere. These descriptions are all given vividly in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. In the history of human society we cannot find anyone who had sixteen thousand wives or sixteen thousand palaces. Nor did Krsna go to one wife one day and another wife another day. No, He was personally present in every palace at the same time. This means that He expanded Himself in 16,108 forms. This is impossible for an ordinary man, but it is not very difficult for God. If God is unlimited, He can expand Himself in unlimited forms, otherwise there is no meaning to the word unlimited. God is omnipotent; He can maintain not only sixteen thousand wives but sixteen million and still encounter no difficulty, otherwise there is no meaning to the word omnipotent.
   These are all attractive features. We experience in this material world that if a man is very rich, he is attractive. In America, for instance, Rockefeller and Ford are very attractive because of their riches. They are attractive even though they do not possess all the wealth of the world. How much more attractive, then, is God, who is the possessor of all riches.
   Similarly, Krsna has unlimited strength. His strength was present from the moment of His birth. When Krsna was only three months old, the Putana demon attempted to kill Him, but instead she was killed by Krsna. That is God. God is God from the beginning. He does not become God by some meditation or mystic power. Krsna is not that type of God. Krsna was God from the very beginning of His appearance.
   Krsna also has unlimited fame. Of course, we are devotees of Krsna and know of Him and glorify Him, but apart from us, many millions in the world are aware of the fame of the Bhagavad-gita. In all countries all over the world the Bhagavad-gita is read by philosophers, psychologists, and religionists. We are also finding very good sales with our Bhagavad-gita As It Is. This is because the commodity is pure gold. There are many editions of the Bhagavad-gita, but they are not pure. Ours is selling more because we are presenting the Bhagavad-gita as it is. The fame of the Bhagavad-gita is Krsna's fame.
   Beauty, another opulence, is possessed unlimitedly by Krsna. Krsna Himself is very beautiful, as are all His associates. Those who were pious in a previous life receive an opportunity in this material world to take birth in good families and good nations. The American people are very rich and beautiful, and these opulences are a result of pious activities. All over the world people are attracted to the Americans because they are advanced in scientific knowledge, riches, beauty, and so on. This planet is an insignificant planet within the universe, yet within this planet, one country--America--has so many attractive features. We can just imagine, then, how many attractive features must be possessed by God, who is the creator of the entire cosmic manifestation. How beautiful He must be--He who has created all beauty.
   A person is attractive not only because of his beauty, but also because of his knowledge. A scientist or philosopher may be attractive because of his knowledge, but what knowledge is more sublime than that given by Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita? There is no comparison in the world to such knowledge. At the same time, Krsna possesses full renunciation (vairagya). So many things are working under Krsna's direction in this material world, but actually Krsna is not present here. A big factory may continue to work, although the owner may not be present. Similarly, Krsna's potencies are working under the direction of His assistants, the demigods. Thus Krsna Himself is aloof from the material world. This is all described in the revealed scriptures.
   God, therefore, has many names according to His activities, but because He possesses so many opulences, and because with these opulences He attracts everyone, He is called Krsna. The Vedic literature asserts that God has many names, but "Krsna" is the principal name.
   The purpose of this Krsna consciousness movement is to propagate God's name, God's glories, God's activities, God's beauty, and God's love. There are many things within this material world, and all of them are within Krsna. The most prominent feature of this material world is sex, and that also is present in Krsna. We are worshiping Radha and Krsna, and attraction exists between them, but material attraction and spiritual attraction are not the same. In Krsna, sex is real, but here in the material world it is unreal. Everything we deal with here is present in the spiritual world, but here it has no real value. It is only a reflection. In store windows we see many mannequins, but no one cares about them, because everyone knows they are false. A mannequin may be very beautiful, but still it is false. When people see a beautiful woman, however, they are attracted because they think she is real. In actuality, the so-called living are also dead, because this body is simply a lump of matter; as soon as the soul leaves the body, no one would care to see the so-called beautiful body of the woman. The real factor, the real attracting force, is the spiritual soul.

In the material world everything is made of dead matter; therefore it is simply an imitation. The reality of things exists in the spiritual world. Those who have read the Bhagavad-gita can understand what the spiritual world is like, for there it is described:
                                      paras tasmat tu bhavo 'nyo
                                       'vyakto 'vyaktat sanatanah
                                        yah sa sarvesu bhutesu
                                        nasyatsu na vinasyati
   "Yet there is another nature, which is eternal and is transcendental to this manifested and unmanifested matter. It is supreme and is never annihilated. When all in this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is." (Bhagavad-gita 8.20)
   Scientists are attempting to calculate the length and breadth of this material world, but they cannot begin. It will take them thousands of years simply to travel to the nearest star. And what to speak of the spiritual world? Since we cannot know the material world, how can we know what is beyond it? The point is that we must know from authoritative sources.
   The most authoritative source is Krsna, for He is the reservoir of all knowledge. No one is wiser or more knowledgeable than Krsna. Krsna informs us that beyond this material world is a spiritual sky, which is filled with innumerable planets. That sky is far, far greater than material space, which constitutes only one fourth of the entire creation. Similarly, the living entities within the material world are but a small portion of the living entities throughout the creation. This material world is compared to a prison, and just as prisoners represent only a small percentage of the total population, so the living entities within the material world constitute but a fragmental portion of all living entities.
   Those who have revolted against God--who are criminal--are placed in this material world. Sometimes criminals say that they don't care for the government, but nonetheless they are arrested and punished. Similarly, living entities who declare their defiance of God are placed in the material world.

Prabhupad says: