by Hansadutta das
Ecumenical Seminar on Krishna Consciousness, 14 October 1978,
Columbo, Sri Lanka
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is based on authority of Vedic literature. We have not manufactured the
philosophy. It is the same philosophy which was spoken by Krishna on
the battlefield of Kurukshetra 5,000 years ago.
Whatever I or any disciple of Krishna consciousness may speak is what
we have heard and realized from the lips of our spiritual master, His
Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. This is the basic
principle of disseminating Krishna consciousness. It is the basic
principle of the Vedic religion, called guru parampara. It
means that we do not manufacture anything out of our own, but we hear
from the authorities such as the Puranas,
Upanishads, Vedanta Sutra, and of course Bhagavad-gita
through the spiritual master. Vedic knowledge comes through the chain
of guru parampara, or the disciplic succession of spiritual
masters, which traces back to the original speaker of Vedic knowledge,
One great American statesman has said, “There are two kinds of
knowledge: we either know a thing ourselves or we know where we can get
knowledge upon it.” And another great personality has said that knowing
that one is ignorant of the facts is a great step towards knowledge.
The Vedic literatures explain that there are three ways to understand
something, or there are three types of knowledge:
- knowledge which we get by direct perception. I see
something or I touch it, I smell it. That is called pratyaksa.
- And then there is a second kind, which is called anumana,
inductive. We may hypothesize, “It may be like this, perhaps it was
like that.” Like Darwin’s theory, for example. That is called anumana,
- And the third type of knowledge is called sabda brahman,
or sabda brahma, Vedic knowledge, knowledge which we receive
from higher authorities. For example, we accept a radio guide as
authoritative. We don’t have to speculate what is playing on the radio;
we consult the radio guide. Or the TV guide.
Similarly, if we want to take information about God and our eternal
relationship with Him, then we have to approach a higher authority,
because the subject matter of God is beyond the purview of our limited
senses. A conditioned soul is imperfect by four defects. 1) He is
working with imperfect senses. For example, I cannot see what is going
on beyond this wall. I cannot hear what is going on beyond this room.
My senses are imperfect in so many ways. That is the first defect. 2)
The second defect of the conditioned soul is that he makes mistakes.
Even great personalities make mistakes. Mahatma Gandhi, for example, he
went to a meeting, and at that meeting he was killed, although he was
warned not to go. So to err is human. Everyone makes mistakes. And 3)
every conditioned soul is illusioned. At night, for example, we sleep
and we dream something, and we think that we are awake that that we are
acting, but in fact we are sleeping and forgetting our real position.
That is called illusion. And when we are awake, we identify ourselves
with the material body, although we are not this body; we are something
else. We are the living force within the body. So this is illusion. 4)
And the fourth defect of the illusioned soul is that he has a
propensity to cheat. Everyone has a cheating propensity. A man may be
in illusion—he does not know what he is—but he will write books,
expounding philosophy, although he does not actually know the subject
matter. This is called cheating. Therefore perfect knowledge cannot be
accepted from any conditioned soul. Perfect knowledge has to be
received from a perfect source.
In the shastras, especially the Bhagavat Purana
or Srimad Bhagavatam, it begins with the verse janmady
asya yatah: the origin of everything is the Absolute Truth, the
Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is no use in challenging the
statements of the shastras, because it is a system or a
process of understanding. If we want to understand the Absolute Truth,
the source of everything, then we have to accept that process. And if
we are not interested (someone will say, “I don’t believe in God”),
that’s all right, you may not believe, but there is no use in arguing.
There is no room for argument. It is a matter of accepting on authority.
The teacher says, “Two plus two is equal to four.” You may not believe
it. There is no place for argument. So the whole Vedic literature aims
at understanding the Supreme Absolute Truth. It begins with that
premise: janmady asya yatah, the origin of everything is
the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. In Bhagavad-gita
(7.7) also it is said, “I am the source of material and spiritual
worlds. The wise, knowing this, worship Me with all their hearts. There
is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are
strung on a thread.”
If someone is interested in understanding the Absolute Truth and his
relationship with Him, then the next step is one has to approach a bona
fide spiritual master. It is also explained in Bhagavad-gita
upadekshyanti te jnanam
“Just try to approach a spiritual master, inquire from him
submissively. Render him all kinds of service. The self-realized soul
can impart knowledge unto you, because he has seen the Truth.”
This is the
process of Vedic understanding. One has to approach the authority of
the spiritual master, who has heard and realized perfectly about the
Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, Krishna, from his spiritual
master, who has in turn heard it from his spiritual master. The
original spiritual master is Krishna Himself.
The spiritual master does not manufacture his own ideas or opinions or
give a new system of religion. No. Dharmam hi
saksat-bhagavat-pranitam. In the Srimad Bhagavatam
(6.3.19) it is said, “Religion means the orders given by God.” An
ordinary man cannot manufacture religion. Sometimes people ask us, “Why
are there so many religions? Hindu religion, Christian religion,
Buddhist religion, Mohammedan religion.” And we have to reply that, in
fact, there is only one religion. There cannot be many religions
because God is one, therefore His orders are one.Therefore religion is
one. What is that religion? It is one principle—just as mathematics,
either in Colombo, in Delhi, in London, in New York, or in San
Francisco, two plus two is equal to four. The principle is one and the
same. Similarly, either one follows the teachings of Christ, or one
follows the teachings of Krishna, or Mohammed. The principles of
religion are the same.
What are those principles? They are nonviolence, ahimsa, no
killing of animals. Therefore this movement… everyone who is a member
of this movement follows four principles: no meat, fish or eggs, no
intoxication; no illicit sex; no gambling. These are the four
principles of religion: mercifulness, cleanliness, truthfulness,
austerity. And the four principles of irreligion are animal killing,
intoxication, illicit sex, and gambling.
According to Vedic culture, it is the duty of the government to protect
the religious principles. Formerly, the government leaders were not
elected, but they were appointed on the basis of their character and
spiritual strength. Not by popular votes—that is a new thing, and that
is not working very well. It was the duty of the king to protect the
principles of religion. Unfortunately, in this age we see that the
leaders, the presidents, prime ministers, they do not protect religious
principles. They do the opposite. They support irreligious principles.
At least, in Western countries we will find it is the government that
is supporting the liquor industry. It is the government that is
supporting the gambling casinos. It is the government that is
supporting illicit sex in the form of night clubs, hotels, cinemas. So,
the whole world is now steeped in irreligion, although people claim, "I
am a Hindu", "I am a Christian", "I am a Buddhist", "I am a
Mohammedan". In fact, they do not follow their religion, they are
rubber-stamp Christians, rubber-stamp Buddhists, rubber-stamp Hindus,
but on principle there is no observance of religious principles.
It doesn’t matter. Either you follow the teachings of Christ or you
follow the teachings of Krishna or you follow the teachings of Buddha.
It doesn’t matter. All of them are teaching the same principles. It may
be higher or lower philosophy. That is another thing. Just like in
school. In the grade school we learn two plus two is equal to four,
adding, subtracting, dividing—simple arithmetic. But in the university
we learn physics, algebra, geometry, trigonometry. It is the same
mathematics, but it is in a higher form. But two plus two is equal to
four even in physics. So either a Buddhist or a Christian or a Hindu or
a Mohammedan, whatever you may be, it doesn’t matter. But follow the
principles: no eating meat, fish eggs, no intoxication, no illicit sex,
no gambling. And then: yat karosi yad asnasi, jaj juhosi dadasi
yat. Krishna says, “Whatever you do as work, whatever you eat,
whatever you give away in charity or perform as penance, that should be
done as an offering unto Me. By this principle of work you will be
freed from all sinful reactions and come to Me.” (Bhagavad-gita
This world is not the property of any man. It is not created by any
scientist, politician, philosopher or whatever. The world is the
creation of God. Therefore in Bhagavad-gita (5.29) it is
said: sarva-loka-maheshvaram. God is the proprietor of
all the planets and all living beings thereon. Therefore whatever we
living beings, living on the land or property of God produce, that
belongs to God. Just like a big estate owner, whatever the servants
grow or utilize on his estate, that is the property of the master. So
we are all servants, every one of us, servants of God, and we are
living on His property and by His grace. He supplies material nature,
sunshine, water, air, earth, sea. We are producing so many
things—fruits, vegetables, wood, iron—but all these things are the
property of the Lord. Therefore whatever we create by combining wood,
metal, glass, stone or other ingredients, that also belongs to God.
This is called ishavasya idam sarvam (Ishopanishad
Text 1), a God-centered society. There must be a revival of God
consciousness practically, not just lip service—“I’m a Hindu,” “I’m a
Christian,” “I’m a Buddhist,” “I’m this,” “I’m that.” That will not do.
That is useless.
This Krishna consciousness movement is not a movement which is
competing with other religious communities. No. But it is a movement
which is simply reminding people all over the world to take the tenets
of their religious teachers and leaders such as Jesus Christ or
Mohammed or Krishna Chaitanya or Lord Buddha seriously and live
peacefully and happily in Krishna consciousness.
As far as we are concerned, we follow these four principles: no meat
eating, no intoxication, no illicit sex, no gambling, and we chant the
holy name of the Lord: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna,
Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, and we accept Bhagavad-gita
and other Vedic literatures as Absolute Truth. We live by them. We
preach all over the world, and people can join this movement, but it is
not necessary. If you feel that you are following the teachings of
Christ, this is very good. There is no objection, but you have to
follow the teachings. The Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill,” but
Christians are killing the animals and eating them. That is sinful. And
Lord Buddha came to teach ahimsa. We also worship Lord Buddha,
because in Bhagavat Purana and Agni Purana
the name of Lord Buddha is mentioned as a Vishnu avatar, that
he would descend on this earthly planet in this age to stop animal
killing. Lord Buddha came because people were killing animals in the
name of Vedic sacrifice. Lord Buddha then preached against the Vedic
religion and said, “If you allow animal killing, then I don’t care for
your religion. I have my own religion.” In this way, because he was a
great logician, a great scholarly logician, by word jugglery he got the
people to follow him and to stop animal killing. His basic principle
was ahimsa, nonviolence, and he introduced an eight-fold path:
right thinking, right action and so forth. Lord Buddha made the people
good, although he never taught anything about the soul, and he never
taught about God. But he never taught against, either. He simply did
not teach [on that subject], because people were not prepared to
understand it. The teachings of Lord Jesus Christ were also very
simple. He said, “I have many things to teach you, but you cannot bear
to hear it.” And Lord Buddha, when he was sitting under the Bo tree one
day, a leaf fell down from the tree, and he picked it up and said, “The
knowledge I am giving you is like this leaf in comparison to the tree
We have to understand religion on principle, not just external rituals
and customs, but on principle. If we understand things on principle,
then every religious community is good. We also know that of course
before the introduction of Christian religion, Mohammedan religion,
Buddhist religion, Zoroastrian religion, the original religion of the
world was Vedic religion. Vedic literatures are at least historically
known to date back 5,000 years, and if we accept the authority of the
Vedic literatures, we can understand that formerly, as little as 5,000
years ago, the whole world was under one culture and one religion, and
that has deteriorated over time, and now what is left of the Vedic
culture is just a small tract of land, which is now known as India. But
formerly, India, which was the seat of Vedic religion—
especially Hastinapura, which is now New Delhi—ruled the world. Ceylon
or Sri Lanka was part of India. Burma was part of India. Thailand was
part of India. Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan… all these countries were
part of what is called Bharata-varsha. Bharata-varsha is now just that
small portion, India, but formerly the entire planet was known as
It has been predicted by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who appeared in
India 500 years ago, and who according to
Srimad Bhagavatam is Lord Krishna in this age, that this
movement of chanting Hare Krishna would spread all over the world. It
is a very simple movement, based on Bhagavad-gita and the
simple process of chanting the holy name of the Lord: Hare Krishna,
Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama
Rama, Hare Hare. The chanting is an authorized process, an effective
process of meditation by sound vibration, vibrating the holy name of
the Lord: Krishna and Rama. It doesn’t matter if you have another name
for God, such as Allah or Jehovah or ... I think even the Buddhists
chant the name of Buddha. So this is a very simple, universal practice,
and you can adopt it anywhere, either at home or in the street or at
work or in your business, or you can come to the temple and chant this
mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, and you’ll make your life
We have also published a number of books, not less than 60 big volumes:
Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, Chaitanya-charitamrita,
Upanishads, and we are distributing our books all
over the world. In this way we maintain and expand our movement by
translating and publishing books. Those books you may see at the rear
of the auditorium at the end of the program. We have distributed over
70 million books within the last six years.
People in America and Europe are very interested in Vedic religion
because they have reached the pinnacle of material advancement. They
have every material facility, but still they have found that they are
not happy. Something is missing. This Krishna consciousness movement is
bringing the missing point: Krishna, God. Unless one understands God,
his life is nothing more than a polished animal life, because the
material necessities of both the human being and the animals are the
same. The animal eats, and I eat. The animal sleeps, and I also sleep.
An animal indulges in sex; a man indulges in sex. An animal fights for
territorial possessions, and the human beings fight for territorial
possession. We may be very sophisticated in our eating, sleeping,
defending and sex, but nevertheless in principle there is no difference
between the animal and the human being. The thing which distinguishes a
human being from an animal is religion, and religion means to abide by
the orders of God. It cannot be manufactured by any ordinary person.
Religion is one thing in principle.
So in brief, I have tried to present some of the ideas and philosophy
of this great movement. Now if any of you Ladies and Gentlemen have any
questions, I will be glad to answer them for you. Thank you very much.
Christian Priest: [He speaks at some length about how
Christianity is becoming ritualistic and how it must be more “society
conscious.” He concludes:] It is wrong to stress the fact that we
worship somebody. Actually it is useless worshiping Christ or
worshiping God if I am not society conscious. [He says further that we
must liberate the human being.]
Hansadutta: What are you going to liberate the human being
Christian Priest: From their sufferings.
Hansadutta: How will you do that? Suffering means birth,
death, old age and disease. Can you stop birth, death, old age and
Christian Priest: No.
Hansadutta: Then how do you propose to liberate the
suffering human being? Vedic religion and also Christian religion...
The very word Christ is a title. That was never the name of
Lord Jesus. That was his title, Lord Jesus the Christ. Do you
know the meaning of the name Christ? It comes from the Greek
language, christos, and it means “the anointed one”, “the lover
of God.” And this word christos in the Greek language comes
from the Sanskrit word Krishna. So in fact Christ was a lover
of Krishna. That is his title. It was not his name. Just like
Jayewarene the President. “The President” is not the name,
but his title. Similarly, Christ means “one who loves Krishna.”
When Christ was asked, “What is the first and foremost commandment?” he
answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with
all thy mind, with all thy soul. And the second is like unto it: love
thy neighbor as thyself.” You speak of society consciousness, but God
consciousness is above society consciousness, because when you learn to
become conscious of God, God being the reservoir of all things and all
beings, you automatically become society conscious. If you put your
water on the root of a tree, automatically every leaf, flower, fruit
and branch will get the water. But if you try to put water on every
leaf and branch and flower, that will be of no use. This is the
You are supposed to be a priest, a Christian priest, and you say... you
specifically said, “It is useless worshiping Christ or worshiping God.”
How can you say such a thing and still maintain your position as a
priest? A priest means a person who loves God with all his heart and
with all his soul. He will lay down his life for God because he knows
that God is everything.
In Bhagavad-gita (10.8) it is said, aham sarvasya
prabhavo: “I am the source of all material and spiritual
worlds.” If you love God, automatically you love your neighbor and
everyone else. There is no question of not loving a human being or an
animal or an insect or a bird or even a plant. A person who is truly
God conscious will see God in everything. In Bhagavad-gita
(6.30) Krishna says, “For one who sees me everywhere and sees
everything in Me, I am never lost to him, and he is never lost to Me.”
So in fact God consciousness means to be conscious of everything, and
if one says, “It is useless worshiping God, it is useless worshiping
Christ, then we have become less than animals. Even the animals have
respect for something great and wonderful like thunder or lightning.
But if a human being announces, “It is useless worshiping God, it is
useless worshiping Christ, but we should become society conscious,”
then this is less than animal consciousness. Society consciousness
exists in the society of cats and dogs. They also have a consciousness
of society. The bees who gather honey also have a consciousness of
society, but it doesn’t mean that they are more than human beings. A
human being automatically becomes a gentleman or civilized man when he
becomes God conscious. It was God consciousness or the teachings of the
Christian monks coming to Europe that made European people into
gentlemen out of barbarians. And it was because they learned how to
worship the central figure, Christ. You cannot be a Christian priest
and say that it is useless worshiping Christ, it is useless worshiping
God. Then what is the use of being a priest? What distinguishes a
priest from an ordinary man? Simply that he is wearing a robe and
reading the Bible? That is not the difference. The difference is that
he abides by the orders of God. And the first and foremost order of the
Lord in any scripture, whether it is the Bible or the Bhagavad-gita
or the Torah or the Koran is that one has to learn to love God. Without
love of God, there cannot be love of any other thing, because
everything, even the flowers, are a creation of God.
[The Christian priest then re-phrases the question. He says that the
religions of the world are “flourishing in every sense of the word” but
something still seems to be lacking. There are so many problems in
society. How can adding more religion, Krishna consciousness, help?]
Hansadutta: The problem is that nobody follows the
principles. I was here last August when the rioting was going on.
Christian Priest: You don’t know what we went through.
There was human consciousness, there was fear consciousness. What I
want to say is that it is not enough to be God conscious, but we must
also be community conscious. The question I want to ask is will Krishna
consciousness help with these social problems and not stop at God
Hansadutta: Thank you. What the Reverend has said is very
nice. I just want to make a short comment on what he spoke. Although
all four major religions of the world are represented in this country,
unfortunately no one follows their religion. No one is following. Just
rubber-stamped, and they will speak so many things, but practically
speaking, no one is following, and this is the problem. Any religion,
whether Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, any religion is very good. But
people do not follow the teachings of their religious leaders. They do
not follow Lord Buddha, they do not follow Lord Krishna, they do not
follow Lord Jesus. Buddha taught ahimsa, don’t kill anything,
not even a mosquito. Lord Jesus Christ also taught, “Thou shalt not
kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery.” No one is
obeying this. They kill the animals and eat. This is the problem. Thank
Mr. Abhishekar: Although there appears to be much religion
in the country, actually it is superficial. We have to develop our
divine consciousness or Krishna consciousness or God consciousness,
call it what you will, and then automatically society consciousness
will come out.
Guest 2: Why you are asking people to renounce the
material values of the western world and become God conscious through a
system of renunciation? [He speaks also of scientology and working for
peace, love and brotherhood.]
Hansadutta: This is a very intelligent question. This is a
general misunderstanding that people have, not only about our
community, but about religious monks in general. They think that one
has to abandon everything and become a beggar in the street. This is a
misunderstanding about spiritual life. In fact, Krishna never taught
Arjuna in the
Bhagavad-gita to give up his responsibilities. Arjuna was a
warrior. He was a statesman, a politician, a family man, and Arjuna
himself wanted to give it up. But Krishna said, “No, you have to
perform your prescribed duty. But at the same time you should think of
Me.” In the Bhagavad-gita (9.27) Krishna says, yat
karosi yad asnasi, yaj juhosi dadasi yat: “Whatever you do as
work should be done as an offering unto Me. By this principle of work
you will be freed from all sinful reaction and come to Me.” It is a
misunderstanding to think that to be a Krishna conscious person or
Christ conscious or whatever means to give up everything. It doesn’t
mean that. It means that everything should be utilized for the service
of the Lord. That is genuine renunciation. Krishna says, “You are
entitled to perform your work, but you are not entitled to the fruit of
the work.” (Bhagavad-gita 2.47) So we must learn how to
work for the satisfaction of Krishna. That is practical, and that is
called varnashrama dharma in a society which is organized by
dividing the human society into four occupational divisions and four
spiritual divisions. It is a cooperative society, where everyone
contributes his particular intelligence or talent for work. Not that we
will have a society of loafers, simply sitting in a monastery, living
at the expense of others. Krishna did not advocate this. That is not
If you have seen the book which we are passing around, you will see
that we are very active in every field of endeavor, whether it is
business, architecture, publishing, music or art or education. Our
people are very active. They are not sit-down-do-nothings. No. No, we
don’t advocate that. That is the answer to one of your questions.
The answer to the question about scientology is of course what we are
trying to achieve is the same thing they try to achieve. In fact,
everyone is trying to achieve the noble principles of peace and love
and brotherhood. There is no doubt of it. But unfortunately if we try
to achieve peace, love and brotherhood but we do not know the process,
we are liable to achieve the opposite result. Just like a child who
wants to enjoy everything. He wants to have some fun in everything. But
because he does not know how to do it, he will take matches and by
playing with them he will burn the house down. He doesn’t mean to do
that, but that is the result because the child is in ignorance.
In the Bhagavad-gita (7.27) it is explained, iccha-dvesa
samutthena, dvandva-mohena bharata: “Every living being is born
into ignorance, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate.” We are
born ignorant, therefore we send our children to school to be educated
in reading, writing, arithmetic and so forth. But there are two kinds
of education. One education is material, which is required for eating,
sleeping, defending and so on. But there is another education that is
described in Bhagavad-gita (9.2): raja-vidya
raja-guhyam, pavitram idam uttamam. There it is said, “This
education is the king of knowledge.” Raja means king. Vidya
Raja-vidya raja-guhyam: it is the king of education. So we also
have to learn this education, and we have to learn it from the shastras
and from the spiritual master. We cannot speculate. Just as I tell my
son, “This is a watch, this is a microphone, this is a glass, this is a
fan.” He learns to distinguish between a watch and spectacles. He only
hears from his father what it is, and he repeats it, and his knowledge
is quite perfect. Similarly, if we want to understand God
consciousness, Krishna consciousness, or the science of the soul, we
should take knowledge from the
shastras and from the spiritual master. Then it is very easy and
perfect. It doesn’t matter, either you follow the Bible or you follow Bhagavad-gita
or Koran, but you should accept the knowledge given there as perfect.
If we interpret and give our own fashionable meaning, that will spoil
the whole thing. Just as in your country there are laws. If I interpret
the laws to suit my particular whims, that will not be accepted. I have
to accept the laws of the government as they are given. If the law says
that I must drive my auto on the left side, I have to do it. I can’t
say, “Well, in America they drive on the right side; why do you want us
to drive on the left side? It is just as good”, this, that and the
other thing. No. The government makes the laws, and the citizens have
to obey them. That is material law. Above that there is God’s law, or
nature’s law or religion. Religion, God’s law, nature’s law are the
same thing. And civil law in fact is nothing but an extension of
natural law, God’s law: “Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal,
thou shalt not commit adultery.” These are God’s laws. So we cannot
speculate and add our fashionable interpretations. That will spoil
Just as today there are so many so-called religions, as you were nicely
pointing out. There is Buddhism, Christianism, Hinduism, Mohammedism,
Zoroasterism—so many isms. But if we look in the shastras, we
never find that Christ was a Catholic or Episcopalean or Lutheran or
anything else. We never find the word “Hindu” in any Vedic literature.
We never find that Mohammed was a Mohammedan. He was servant of Allah. Allah
means "the Great", "God". These designations are not found in the
scriptures. They are manufactured words. We have to understand things
on principle. As this gentleman was pointing out, you have to search
your heart. It is a matter of becoming a servant of the Supreme. It is
not a matter of external rituals or this thing or that thing. We have
to see on principle.
Just like gold. If I go to the market to purchase gold, I have to know
what gold is. I have to know the characteristics. Otherwise the man
will sell me brass, and I’ll be cheated. If I say, “Oh yes, I believe
it’s gold,” that’s not enough. It is not enough to say, “Yes, I believe
in God. I believe in Christ. I believe in Mohammed. I believe in
Krishna.” That is not enough. One must actually know what is Krishna,
what is Mohammed, what is God, and what is my relationship with Him.
There must be actual understanding, philosophy and practical
application. That is called jnana and vijnana: theory
and application. In the university we get theory. Hydrogen and oxygen
combine to produce water, H2O. Everyone knows it. But then the student
must go into the laboratory and he must combine the two substances,
hydrogen and oxygen, and when he sees water produced, then his
knowledge is perfect. It is not enough to simply claim, “I am a
Christian”, “I am this”, “I am that”, “I believe in this”, “I believe
in that”. Belief is not enough. One must actually have realization,
knowledge. How do we get that? Vasudeve bhagavati, bhakti-yoga
prayojitah. Bhagavatam (1.2.7) says as soon as you
render service to the Supreme Lord, automatically causeless knowledge
and detachment from the world follows.
Detachment doesn’t mean that I will simply leave my family, leave my
business, leave everything and become a beggar. No. Detachment means I
will accept everything for use in the service of the Lord. Just as I am
using this microphone, so microphone is good, because I am using it to
serve the Lord. I am using an airplane to come here, so airplane is all
right if you can use it in the service of the Lord. If you give me some
money, I will use it in the service of the Lord. To use everything in
the service of the Lord is real detachment. Thank you.
Muslim Imam: Our problem here in the East is that we have
too many religions.
Hansadutta: Religion is too much only if it is bogus.
Muslim Imam: What I mean to say is that here in the East
people are very much steeped in God.
Hansadutta: I don’t find that to be true. Just as the
Reverend pointed out, last August there were communal riots here in Sri
Lanka. People were going mad, just like animals. How can you say they
are steeped in religion?
Muslim Imam: And in the West, people are steeped in
Hansadutta: In Sri Lanka also they are steeped in
materialism. Whatever we have in the West they want in the East. People
in the West are materialistic and irreligious, but unfortunately, in
the East they are becoming mad after becoming westernization, and they
are abandoning religion.
Muslim Imam: Has Christianity failed you?
Hansadutta: Christianity has not failed, if you follow it.
But people don’t follow it.
Muslim Imam: Now you are giving up meat eating, illicit
sex, gambling and intoxication. I see your movement as a reaction to
your own country’s failings.
Hansadutta: No. These are the principles of religion. They
are not a reaction. Of course, it may seem like that because in our
country the standard life for everyone is to eat meat three times a
day, drink liquor from 8 o’clock in the morning until 8 o’clock at
night, smoke cigarettes, have illicit sex. We know that. But these four
principles are the standard of any religion, whatever it may be—Islam,
Vedic religion, Christian religion. Every religious teacher instructs
us not to kill. Nonviolence, ahimsa. They teach not to commit
adultery, not to gamble. These are standard teachings for every
religious community. You cannot deny it. These teachings are not a
reaction to the cultures of the East and West. In fact, we are all one
family. If God is one, and He is the creator of everything, then there
is no difference between me and you.
Muslim Imam: What I am trying to say is that religion can
lead us to love of God. And materialism can lead us to proper life.
Hansadutta: Yes, I agree. I think we agree in principle.
But unfortunately people do not follow the principles. This is my
point. Nor does society consciousness lead to God consciousness. I’ll
give you an example. In Germany, during the years 1922 to 1941, there
was the most intense society consciousness that was ever known on the
face of the Earth. But it did not lead to God consciousness. It led to
the opposite. It led to material consciousness, demonic consciousness.
Practically it led to the destruction of the world. And the same thing
is happening now in the form of communism. Communism is a very intense
form of social consciousness, but it does not lead to God
consciousness. It will lead to just the opposite. The opposite is
demonic consciousness, just eating, sleeping, having sex. God
consciousness begins by following the orders of God. It is as simple as
that. So God has said very simply, “Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not
steal.” The first thing we should do is abide by these four principles:
we should give up animal slaughter, intoxication of all kinds
(including tea, coffee and cigarettes), illicit sex and gambling. As
soon as you give up these four things, you will see that people will
become good. They will at least become good, if nothing else. And then,
if you add to that the chanting of the Lord’s name, just as in Islam
you chant the name of Allah, that is a very effective process for
keeping the mind pure. Thank you.
Muslim Imam: The most important thing in Islam is
submission to God. We must submit five times a day.
Hansadutta: No. All day. Why five times? All day long, not
only five times. Real Islam means all day. Just like Mohammed. All day
and all night, he was submissive to God.
Muslim Imam: No, but he fought also.
Hansadutta: He was fighting for God. What is the meaning
of Allah? It means “The Greatest”, doesn’t it? Krishna
means the same, it means “all attractive”. In fact, God has no name,
but according to His attributes He is known. Just like Vishnu. What is
the meaning of Vishnu? Vishnu means “one who lives everywhere”.
So it is not exactly a name, but He is called according to His
We do not worship just anyone as God. We worship Krishna, or Allah. We
worship also Lord Jesus, and we also worship Lord Buddha, because Lord
Buddha is also a Vishnu avatar. We worship even an ant, because
Lord Chaitanya said one should give respect to all living creatures.
Muslim Imam: But you worship an ant? Which one?
Hansadutta: At least we give respect. We don’t kill
anyone. We give everyone respect.
Muslim Imam: As a Muslim, I don’t think I could join this
movement because of the first principle “don’t kill animals”. We have
to kill animals to eat. Sometimes there is nothing else to eat.
Hansadutta: Are you living in the North Pole? First answer
this. Are you living in the North Pole? It is practical. If you are
living in the North Pole, then we will see. But now you are living
here, so don’t kill animals.
Muslim Imam: We must take care of ourselves first. But we
don’t believe in doing anything in excess.
Hansadutta: Not doing it in excess means that if there is
no need to kill, don’t kill. You don’t need to kill any animal because
there I enough fruit, vegetable, enough rice, enough milk, enough of
everything. You don’t have to kill. Therefore your scripture also says
not to kill.
Muslim Imam: No, you are misquoting.
Hansadutta: I am not misquoting. When your shastra
says not to take anything in excess, this is the meaning. If there is
no need to kill an animal, don’t do it. If a man is living, for
example, in a desert where there is nothing to eat, and he is going to
starve, naturally he will kill some animal and eat it. But we are not
living in the desert. We are not living in the North Pole. We are
living in Sri Lanka, where you can produce every fruit, vegetable,
grain, sugar and milk in abundance and live very peacefully and happily
and healthily. Why do you want to kill these poor animals?
Muslim Imam: So your religion is only for certain areas?
Hansadutta: No, this religion is for everyone. If you are
starving to death, then of course you have to eat an animal. But who is
starving to death? Therefore Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill”, Buddha
said, “Ahimsa”, and your religion says, “Do not take anything in
excess.” Every religion says don’t kill. Every. It is a universal
principle. How can God allow killing?
Christian Priest: We can accept your point that the
principles are essentially the same in all religions, although the
language may differ. But all these religions have so far failed to
solve the problems of the world. Why is this?
Hansadutta: The reason is because people don’t follow.
Christian Priest: That is one reason. But another reason
is that there are so many religious movements. They are also competing
and trying to force their ideas on the people.
Hansadutta: Yes, you are correct. Therefore it is an
individual matter, as this gentleman, Mr. Abhishekar, pointed out so
nicely. It is an individual matter. You have to examine yourself, and
you also have to examine the authority which you are going to accept.
Now, everyone works under some authority, but we should not work
blindly. We should use our intelligence. Therefore we are having this
seminar. I am speaking something, so I am posing as an authority. And
it is your duty to place relevant questions before an authority and
examine his behavior to see whether his precept and his practice are
one and the same thing. So we should not take religious life as
something mechanical, like “Oh, simply because he is doing something,
let me do it.” No. That is foolishness. When the animals are sent to
the slaughter house, if one goat goes in, then all the others will also
go. That is foolishness. We should hear about religion and philosophy
from some authority, but we should also formulate questions and clear
the way, and see whether the behavior of the person who is speaking is
actually harmonious with his teaching. It is your duty to do that.
Christian Priest: One thing I would like to know is why
all these authorities have failed.
Hansadutta: No, they have not failed. People have not
followed. Just like mathematics. If you get cheated by a businessman,
it doesn’t mean that mathematics is not good. It means that you have
not applied it very well.
Christian Priest: If you examine the life of Christ or of
Krishna, you can see that they were able to achieve some success
because they were able to see the suffering of the people in the
society at that time.
Hansadutta: Well, if you examine the life of Christ, what
did he achieve? He was killed. The people killed him. They were so
barbaric. His achievement is that he himself personally set the highest
example, the highest standard of behavior, and he taught it also to the
public. But as far as achieving something, what did Christ achieve?
After all, he was crucified at the age of 36 or 39. He did not live a
very long time. He didn’t build a skyscraper. He didn’t introduce any
economic development. But he himself behaved on he highest standard of
spiritual understanding. That is his achievement.
As far as we are concerned, we cannot be compared with Lord Jesus
Christ. We don’t propose to present ourselves like that. But at least
our behavior… we can pattern our behavior after the behavior of such
great personalities. And we can abide by the principles of religion. We
may not be very learned or very powerful, but at least we can live an
exemplary life of Krishna consciousness. It is not difficult to do that.
And that is the only solution to the problems of the world today. All
over the world people are suffering due to Godlessness, because they
are trying to exploit the resources of material nature for their
personal sense gratification. As soon as we understand and see that
everything is the property of the Lord, then automatically we become
society conscious, as Mr. Abhishekar pointed out. There is no
difference between society consciousness, God consciousness, Krishna
consciousness, Christ consciousness or Islam consciousness. If that
consciousness is genuinely there, genuine philosophical and scientific
understanding of God, then there is no problem about society
consciousness. There is no separation. It is one and the same thing.
Observer: Didn’t Krishna ask Arjuna to fight? Why was he
allowed to kill? You are saying, “Do not kill.”
Hansadutta: Yes, don’t kill anything. But for protection,
if you have to protect yourself, if you have to protect the society,
then fighting may be employed also. Just like Mohammed, he had to
fight. And Krishna was sometimes fighting. Even Lord Jesus was taking a
stick and beating the money-lenders out of the temple. So he was also
fighting. Fighting for the right cause is all right. Anyway, I can come
to you as docile, in the service of the Lord, but there must be a class
of men who give protection to the people, and if necessary they will
fight. And there must be a class of men who will be learned and who
will speak. That is also required. There must be a class of men who
produce food and trade. And there must be a class of men who labor and
work. Everything is useful when it is applied to the service of the
Lord. That is called varnashrama dharma. This is the original
system of government, and it is described in Vedic literature.
Observer: There are so many sects of religion, and the
number is increasing all the time. And there are also the scientists,
who explain things differently.
Hansadutta: Yes. I can explain this phenomenon. As I
explained earlier, religion must be understood on principle. If there
is no principle, then there is no religion. If you examine any of these
so-called religions which are flourishing in western countries, you
will find that none of them follow any principles. They do not abstain
from meat, fish and eggs; they do not abstain from alcohol or smoking
or drugs; they do not abstain from illicit sex; and they do not abstain
from gambling. So where is the question of religion? It is simply some
manufactured club. If I make up some name, naturally I will get some
followers, but that doesn’t mean that it has become religion. Just like
gold. Gold is understood by its characteristics, which make it distinct
from other metals. If I come to India and I see that everyone is
wearing brass earrings and I have no idea what gold is, I might say
everyone is wearing gold. No. Gold means it must have certain
characteristics. So religion means there must be certain principles. If
there is no principle, then there is no religion. In America and in
Europe, there are many societies with so many names—Mormons,
Episcopaleans, Lutherans, Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists. But
practically they don’t follow any principles, so what is the basis of
their organization? What is the basis of their society? It is nothing;
it is simply superfluous.
Christian Priest: If all religions are one in principle,
what is the need to change from Christianity to Hare Krishna?
Hansadutta: There is no need whatsoever. But we were
unable to find a real Christian. Therefore we had to accept this
Krishna consciousness, because we found in our spiritual master, A.C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a person who actually exemplified the
principles of religion, so we accepted him. Not that we thought, “Now
we are going to become Hindus.” No, we are not interested in Hindu
religion. We are interested in the principle of spiritual life.
Observer: Then it is all right for us to follow Christ?
Hansadutta: Yes. That I have said all along. Follow him
and be a good Christian.
Observer: You say you are not interested in Hindu, but you
follow Krishna and Bhagavad-gita. That is a contradiction.
Hansadutta: Yes, we follow Krishna and Bhagavad-gita,
but Bhagavad-gita is not Hindu. You will never find the
word “Hindu” in Bhagavad-gita.
Observer: It is all right to follow Hare Krishna if you
can read English, but here in Ceylon many people do not speak English.
For them to go out of the Muslim religion…
Hansadutta: It is all right. If you follow the order of
Mohammed, it is perfect. If you follow the order of Christ, it is
perfect. If you follow the order of Krishna, it is perfect. And you
will find that none of them contradict one another. They are all in
agreement. Thank you very much. Hare Krishna.