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[Posted February 26, 2006]

To War or Not?

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 2.6, London, August 6, 1973

map of IranThe New Yorker, Monday, April 10, 2006--by SEYMOUR M. HERSH--The Iran Plans: Would President Bush go  to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?

There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has challenged the reality of the Holocaust and said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” Bush and others in the White House view him as a potential Adolf Hitler, a former senior intelligence official said. “That’s the name they’re using. They say, ‘Will Iran get a strategic weapon and threaten another world war?’”


A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”


Bhagavad-gita 2.6—London, August 6, 1973

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Pradyumna: [leads chanting]

na chaitad vidmah kataran no gariyo
yad va jayema yadi va no jayeyuh
yan eva hatva na jijivishamas
te 'vasthitah pramukhe dhartarashtrah
[Bhagavad-gita 2.6]

Translation: "Nor do we know which is better-conquering them or being conquered by them. The sons of Dhritarashtra, whom if we killed we should not care to live, are now standing before us on this battlefield."

Prabhupada: So these two groups of cousin-brothers... Maharaja Prithu had five sons and Dhritarashtra had one hundred sons. So it is family, the same family, and it was understanding between them that when others beyond the family would come to attack them, they would join, 105 brothers, and fight. But when there was fight amongst themselves—one side, hundred brothers; one side, five brothers. Because a kshatriya family, it is to be understood they must go on fighting. Even in their marriage there would be fighting. Without fighting, no marriage takes place in kshatriya family. Krishna had 16,108 wives, and almost in each time He had to fight, to gain the wife. It was a sporting. For kshatriya to fight, it was a sporting. So he is perplexed whether this kind of fighting he should encourage or not.

There is a proverb in Bengal, khabo ki khabo na yadi khao tu paushe. "When you are perplexed, Whether I shall eat or not eat,' better not eat." Sometimes we come to this point, "I am not very hungry, whether I shall eat or not eat?" The best course is not eat, not that you eat. But if you eat, then you can eat in the month of December, Pausha. Why? It is ... In Bengal... Bengal is tropical climate, but when it is winter season, it is advised that "If you eat it is not so harmful because it will be digested." The night is very long, or the cold season, the digestive power, is nice. So when we are confused, "to do or not to do," jabo ki jabo na yadi jao tu shauche: "When you think, 'Whether I shall go or not?' better don't go. But when it is a question of answering the call of nature, you must go." Jabo ki jabo na yadi jau tu shauche, khabo ki khabo na yadi khao tu paushe. These are very common sense. Similarly, Arjuna is now perplexed, "Whether I shall fight or not fight?" That is also everywhere. When there is declaration of war between the modern politicians, they consider... Just like in the last Second World War, when Hitler was preparing for war... Everyone knew that Hitler was going to retaliate because in the first war they became defeated. So Hitler was again preparing. One, my God-brother, German, he came in 1933 in India. So at that time he informed that "There must be war. Hitler is preparing heavy preparations. War must be there." So at that time, I think, in your country the Prime Minister was Mr. Chamberlain. And he went to see Hitler to stop the war. But he would not. So similarly, in this fight, to the last point, Krishna tried to avoid the war. He proposed to Duryodhana that "They are kshatriyas, your cousin-brothers. You have usurped their kingdom. Never mind, you have taken some way or other. But they are kshatriyas. They must have some means of livelihood. So give them, five brothers, five villages. Out of the whole world empire, you give them five villages." So he ... "No, I am not going to part with even an inch of land without fight." Therefore, under such condition, the fight must be there.

So there is no question of Arjuna's considering whether he would fight or not. It is sanctioned by Krishna; so fight must be there. Just like when we were walking, the question was raised that "Why war takes place?" That is not a very difficult subject to understand because everyone of us has got a fighting spirit. Even children fight, cats and dogs fight, birds fight, ants fight. We have seen it. So why not human beings? The fighting spirit is there. That is one of the symptoms of living condition. Fighting. So when that fighting should take place? Of course, at the present moment, by the ambitious politicians, they fight. But fighting, according to Vedic civilization, fighting means dharma-yuddha. On religious principles. Not by whims of political ideas, ism. Just like now fighting is going on on two political groups, the communist and the capitalist. They are trying to avoid only fight, but the fighting is going on. As soon as America is in some field, immediately Russia is also there. In the last fighting between India and Pakistan, as soon as President Nixon sent their Seventh Fleet on the India Ocean, Bay of Bengal, almost in front of India... This was illegal. But very puffed-up, America. So sent the Seventh Fleet, maybe to show sympathy to the Pakistan. But immediately our Russian friend also appeared there. And therefore, America had to come back. Otherwise, I think, America would have attacked on behalf of Pakistan.

So this is going on. Fighting you cannot stop. Many people, they are thinking how to stop war. That is impossible. It is nonsense proposal. It cannot be. Because the fighting spirit is there in everyone. That is a symptom of living entity. Even children, who has no politics, no enmity, they fight for five minutes; again they are friends. So the fighting spirit is there. Now, how it should be utilized? Our Krishna consciousness movement is there. We say, consciousness. We don't say, "Stop fight" or "Do this, do that, do that," no. Everything should be done in Krishna consciousness. That is our propaganda. Nirbandha-krishna-sambandhe. Whatever you do, it must have some relationship with the satisfaction of Krishna. If Krishna is satisfied, then you act. That is Krishna consciousness. Krishnendriya tripti vancha tara nama prema [Chaitanya-charitamrita Adi 4.165]. This is love. Just like you love somebody; for the sake of your beloved, you can do anything, and we do sometimes. Similarly, the same thing should be transferred to Krishna. That's all. Try to educate yourself how to love Krishna and act for Krishna only. This is the perfection of life. Sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhokshaje [Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.6]. Bhakti means service, bhaja-sevayam. The bhaj-dhatu, it is used for the purpose of rendering service, bhaja. And bhaja, there is Sanskrit grammar, kti-pratyaya, to make it noun. This is verb. So there are pratyayas, kti pratyaya, ti pratyaya, many pratyayas. So bhaj-dhatu kti, equal to bhakti. So bhakti means to satisfy Krishna. Bhakti cannot be applied to anyone else. If somebody says that "I am a great devotee of Kali, goddess Kali," that is not bhakti; that is business. Because any demigod you worship, there is some purpose behind that. Generally, people take to become a devotee of goddess Kali for eating meat. That is their purpose. In the Vedic culture, those who are meat-eaters, they have been advised that "Don't eat meat purchased from the slaughterhouse or from the market." Actually, this system was never current anywhere, all over the world, that to maintain slaughterhouse. This is latest invention. We talk with sometimes with Christian gentlemen, and when we inquire that "Lord Christ says 'Thou shalt not kill'; why you are killing?" they give evidence that "Christ also ate meat sometimes." Sometimes Christ ate meat, that's all right, but did Christ say that "You maintain big, big slaughterhouse and go on eating meat?" There is no common sense even. Christ might have eaten. Sometimes he... If there was no, nothing available for eating, what could you do? That is another question. In great necessity, when there is no other food except taking meat... That time is coming. In this age, Kali-yuga, gradually food grains will be reduced. It is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Twelfth Canto. No rice, no wheat, no milk, no sugar will be available. One has to eat meat. This will be the condition. And maybe to eat the human flesh also. This sinful life is degrading so much so that they will become more and more sinful. Tan aham dvishatah kruran kshipamy ajasram andhe-yonishu [Bhagavad-gita 16.19]. Those who are demons, those who are sinful, nature's law is to place him in such condition that he will become more and more a demon so that he will never be able to understand what is God. This is nature's law. If you want to forget God, then God will put you in such a condition that you can never understand what is God. That is demonic life. That time is also coming. At the present moment, still a few men are interested, what is God. Arto artharti jijnasu jnani [Chaitanya-charitamrita Madhya 24.95]. But time is coming ahead when there will be no sense to understand God. That is the last stage of Kali-yuga, and at that time Kalki avatara, Kalki avatara will come. At that time there is no preaching of God consciousness, simply killing, simply killing. Kalki avatara with His sword will simply massacre. Then again Satya-yuga will come. Again golden age will come.

So this problem of fighting... We have to understand that fighting spirit is there in everyone. You cannot check it, you cannot stop it. We do not say stop. The Mayavadi philosopher says that "You stop this thing," but that is not possible. You cannot stop. Because you are living entity, you have got all these propensities. How you can stop it? But it should be utilized properly. That's all. You have got the fighting spirit. How to utilize it? Yes. Narottama dasa Thakura recommends, krodha bhakta-dveshi-jane: "Those who are envious of God or God's devotee, you can utilize your anger upon them." You can utilize. The anger you cannot give up. Our business is how to utilize it. That is Krishna consciousness. Everything has to be utilized. We do not say that "You stop this, stop that." No. Krishna says, yat karoshi, yaj juhosi, yad ashnasi, yat tapasyasi kurushva tad mad-arpanam [Bhagavad-gita 9.27]. Yat karoshi. Krishna does not say that "You do this, you do that." He says, "Whatever you do, but the result should come to Me." So here the position is that Arjuna is to fight not for himself, but he is only thinking in terms of himself. He says, te avasthitah pramukhe dhartarashtrah, yan eva hatva na jijivishmas: [Bhagavad-gita 2.6] "They are my brothers, relatives. If they die... We do not wish to die. Now they are in my front. I have to kill them?" So still he is thinking in terms of his own satisfaction. He is preparing the background—how materialistic persons, they think in the terms of personal satisfaction. So that has to be given up. Not personal satisfaction, Krishna's satisfaction. That is Krishna consciousness. Whatever you do, it doesn't matter. You have to test it, whether you are doing it for Krishna. That is your perfection. Not only perfection, that is the perfection of your mission of human life. This human life is meant for that purpose. Because less than human form, the animal life, they are trained, perfection of sense gratification, personal satisfaction. They have no such feeling that "Other animals also..." When there is some eatable, one dog, he will think "How I can get it?" He will never think how other dogs also will be able to take it. This is not animal nature. Animal nature means their own satisfaction. There is no question of "My friend, my family members." Even, they do not share even with their own children. You might have seen. If there is some foodstuff, the dog and the dog's children, everyone is trying to take in his own side. This is animal. So when this thing is changed for Krishna, that is human life. That is the distinction between animal life. So that is very difficult also. Therefore the whole education is there, Bhagavad -gita, how to teach people, "Act for Krishna, act for God, not for your personal interest. Then you'll be entangled." Yajnarthat karmanah anyatra loko 'yam karma-bandhanah [Bhagavad-gita 3.9]. Anything you do, it will produce some reaction, and you have to enjoy or suffer that reaction. Anything you do. But if you do for Krishna, there is no more reaction. That is your freedom. Yogah karmasu kaushalam [Bhagavad-gita 2.50]. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita. Yoga, when you are in contact with Krishna, that is the secret of success in this material world, working. Otherwise whatever you are doing, whatever you are working, it will produce some reaction and you will have to enjoy or suffer.

So here again, the same thing. Arjuna is thinking in terms, na chaitad vidmah kataran no gariyo [Bhagavad- gita 2.6]. So he is perplexed, "Which one, which side will be glorious? I shall stop fighting or not fighting?" In the next verses it will be seen... When you are in such perplexity, "what to do and what not to do," so in order to get right direction, you must approach the spiritual master. That will be done in the next verse. Arjuna will say that "I do not know. I am now perplexed. Although I know it is my duty as kshatriya to fight, still I am hesitating. I am hesitating in my duty. So therefore I am perplexed. So Krishna, therefore I submit to You." Formerly he was talking just like friend. Now he will be prepared to take lesson from Krishna.

So our the whole instruction of Bhagavad-gita is that: You should not act for yourself; you should simply act for Krishna. So even fighting for Krishna, or even doing something still abominable for Krishna... Just like the gopis. The gopis were captivated by Krishna. Krishna was a young boy, very beautiful, and the gopis were young girls. That is the superficial... Actually, the gopis are eternal associates of Krishna. Ananda-chinmaya-rasa -pratibhavitabhih [Brahma-samhita 5.37]. They are expansions of Krishna, Krishna's pleasure potency expansion. They are meant for Krishna's pleasure. They are not ordinary women. But superficially, just to teach us how to love Krishna at the risk of anything... Therefore gopis, when they were attracted by Krishna at midnight... Krishna was playing flute, and they became attracted and they left home. Some of them were locked up. They gave up their life even. They were so much attracted. Now this kind of behavior, if youngs girls... According to Vedic civilization, they cannot go out from the protection of father, husband or brother. No, they cannot go. Especially at midnight. So this was against Vedic principle. It is openly a kind of prostitution. But because it was done for Krishna, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, He recommends, ramya kachid upasana vraja-vadhubhih kalpita: "There is no more better type of worship than it was conceived by the vraja gopis. Vraja-vadhu. The most abominable. For a young girl to leave the care of husband, father, and go to another young boy, according to Vedic culture, it is the most abominable. So still, because, it was, the center was Krishna, it is accepted as the highest type of worship. That is Krishna consciousness. We have to learn how to act only for Krishna, how to love only Krishna. Then our life is successful. And the human life... Because we have also come down from Vaikuntha some millions and millions of years ago. Anadi karama-phale. Anadi means before the creation. We living entities, we are eternal. Even the creation is annihilated after millions and trillions of years, the living entities, they are not annihilated. Na hanyate hanyamane sharire [Bhagavad-gita 2.20]. They remain. So when this whole cosmic manifestation will be annihilated, the living entities will remain in the body of Vishnu. Then when again another creation will take place, they will come out again to fulfill their desires. The real desire is how to go to home, back to Godhead.

So this chance is given. So if this chance is misused, this life, human form of life, it is very, very risky. Again we will have to accept the cycle of birth and death. And not only that, if we do not fulfill the mission of life, then again there will be annihilation of the whole creation and we will have to stay within the body of Vishnu for millions and trillions of years. Again we will have to come. So therefore it is called anadi karama-phale. Anadi means "before the creation." This is going on. And to teach the befooled living entities, Krishna personally comes. Krishna is very much anxious to take us back to home, back to Godhead. Because we are part and parcel of Krishna. Suppose if your son is loitering in the street, are you not anxious, "Oh, there may be some accident, and the poor boy will be killed." So you go, try to find out. Similarly, Krishna's position is like that. We are in this material world simply suffering life after life. Duhkhalayam ashashvatam [Bhagavad-gita 8.15]. This place is miserable. But maya's illusion, we are taking this miserable condition of life as happiness. This is called maya. There is no happiness in this material world. Everything miserable. The sooner we understand that everything is miserable in this material world and the sooner we prepare ourself to leave this material world and go back to home, back to...[Godhead], that is our sense. Otherwise, whatever we are doing, we are simply being defeated. Because we are missing the aim. Na te viduh svartha- gatim hi vishnum [Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.31]. Durashaya. We are, by hope against hope—it will never be fulfilled—we are trying to adjust things here to become happy without God consciousness. It will never be accomplished ... Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi vishnum durashaya. Durashaya means "the hope which will never be fulfilled."

So all these materialistic persons, they are so fools, rascals, miscreants, they are increasing these material activities. They are thinking by this increasing material activities they will be happy. No. That is not possible. Durashaya ye ... And their leaders... Andha yathandhair upaniyamanas te 'pisha-tantryam uru-damni baddhah [Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.31]. All of us are tied very tight, hands and legs, and we are thinking we are free, independent. By the laws of material nature... Still, we are thinking that we are independent. The scientist is trying to avoid God, independent by science. That is not possible. We are under the grip of the material nature. Material nature means the agent of Krishna. Mayadhyakshena prakritih suyate sa-characharam [Bhagavad-gita 9.10]. Prakriteh kriyamanani gunair karmani sarvashah [Bhagavad-gita 3.27]. So we are always in perplexity like Arjuna, what to do, what not to do. But if we take this principle, that "We must do for Krishna..." So take direction from Krishna and take direction from Krishna's representative and you do it; then there is no karma-bandhanah. Karmani nirdaheti kintu cha bhakti-bhajam [Brahma-samhita 5.54]. Otherwise, we are bound up by the reaction of every act. We cannot get out. So this perplexity, "Whether I shall fight or not fight," that will be explained that "Yes, you must fight for Krishna. Then it is all right." Kamah krishna-karmarpane. Just like Hanuman. He fought for Lord Ramachandra. He did not fight for himself. Similarly, Arjuna also, his flag is kapi-dhvaja, his flag is marked with Hanuman. He knew that. So Hanuman, a great fighter, fought with Ravana, not for his personal interest. The interest was how to get out Sitaji from the hands of Ravana, kill the whole family, and get out and let her sit down on the side of Ramachandra. This is the policy of Hanuman, devotees. And the Ravana policy is "Take away Sita from the clutches of Rama and enjoy it." This is Ravana policy. And the Hanuman policy is: "Take out Sita from the hands of Ravana and get her seated by the side of Rama." The same Sita. Sita means Lakshmi. So Lakshmi means Narayana's property, God's property.

So we should learn the policy that all these materialistic persons, Ravanas, they are trying to enjoy God's property. So some way or other... Of course we cannot fight with Ravana class man. We are not so strong. Therefore we have taken the policy of becoming a beggar: "Sir, you are so nice man. Please give us something. Give us something. Because you are spoiling your life by keeping God's property, you are going to hell. So some way or other, if you become a member, so you will be saved. You will be saved." That is our policy. We are not beggar. But it is a policy. Now we are not very strong to fight with the Ravanas; otherwise, we would have taken all the money by fighting. But that is not possible. We are not so strong. Therefore we have taken the policy of beggar.

Thank you very much. Hare Krishna.

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