Malaysia, March 1998
Volumes of books have been written since time immemorial by philosophers and thinkers to understand: What I am? Where did I come from? What am I doing here? Why do I have to suffer? So many books, but only in the authorized books of knowledge, shastras, we can get the answer, the truth—Bible, Koran, Bhagavad-gita.
We have accepted the Bhagavad-gita, the words of Krishna, God Himself, Bhagavan Sri Krishna. Bhagavat means from Bhagavan, or of Bhagavan, spoken by Krishna. God Himself is speaking. God Himself is teaching us what we are, what to do, what not to do, how to come back: “Bow down to Me, worship Me, give your love to Me. Surely you will come to Me.” (Bhagavad-gita 9.34) Krishna Himself is personally teaching how to get out of the temporary, miserable existence of material life.
All the [other] books of the world… if they are burned, nothing will be lost, because it is all just deception.
On the way, we were remembering a short story we had heard about truth and falsehood. Truth and Falsehood went to the river and took a bath. They left their clothing on the shore. When they were finished, Falsehood came out of the water first and put on the clothing of Truth. When Truth came and saw his clothing was gone and only Falsehood’s clothing was there, he decided not to wear any clothing, and he went naked. From this, supposedly, comes the saying “the naked truth.”
Truth is very obvious. And because falsehood is so prominent, truth is always shocking. Truth is shocking or outrageous and difficult to bear, because we live in a world of illusion. We have accepted ignorance and deception as truth. When truth appears, or when we hear truth, we find it difficult to accommodate ourselves to it, because our whole life is a life of deception or falsehood, illusion and ignorance.
Bhagavad-gita is the book of truth, book of knowledge. There is nothing mysterious in Bhagavad-gita. Therefore Prabhupada called it Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
Bhagavad-gita existed in many translations and commentaries—more than 600 in English alone. But he said that no one ever became a devotee of Krishna, although Bhagavad-gita was existing in over 600 editions. Emerson read Bhagavad-gita. Einstein read Bhagavad-gita. Tolstoy read Bhagavad-gita. Goethe read Bhagavad-gita. All great thinkers have read Bhagavad-gita. Why did they not become devotees of Krishna? Because they were reading a Bhagavad-gita which was unauthorized. It was covered by the speculation of non-devotees. Therefore they could not enter into the truth of Bhagavad-gita.
We must receive Krishna’s words from Krishna’s devotees. This is the secret of Krishna consciousness. That is called guru-parampara. We are receiving the words of Krishna from Krishna’s confidential, pure devotee. Then there will be no deception. There will be no illusion. There will be no cheating.
Because Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, naturally if I place my name, or if I place my commentary on Krishna’s word, I also become prominent. Krishna is the most prominent. But that is motivated. That is a materially motivated undertaking… just to get some prestige. Mahatma Gandhi also carried Bhagavad-gita everywhere, but he was not a devotee of Krishna. Therefore his program failed. His political program never succeeded. He wanted to unite India—Muslims and Hindus—but it was divided. He wanted people should become self-sufficient, produce their own food and cloth, go back to the village. But he got the opposite. They went to the cities for industry. On and on, like that. And ultimately, he was assassinated. He wanted peace, but he got the opposite. We cannot use Bhagavad-gita for material gain, be it political or economic or whatever.
Bhagavad-gita has only one purpose, which is to know Krishna and to worship Krishna and go back to Krishna. Krishna says, “Give up all other responsibilities, all other duties.” Sarva-dharmam parityajya mam ekam sharanam vraja. “Give up all dharma, and just surrender to Me. I will protect you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” (Bhagavad-gita 18.66) This is the purpose, the whole purpose of the Bhagavad-gita. And anything less than that, the whole thing is spoiled.
It is very difficult to prevail in truth, because it is naked. And it is folly to be wise where ignorance is bliss. Sometimes devotees feel awkward because everything is contrary to Bhagavad-gita. So they feel intimidated, because they are practically as if naked in a world where everyone is clothed in deception or falsehood. But Krishna promises us, “I will protect you from all reaction, sinful reaction. Do not fear. Do not fear. Don’t be afraid.” Don’t be afraid, but be faithful to Krishna, to Krishna’s words and the words of His devotee. Chant hare Krishna and be happy. Do not be intimidated by falsehood, by illusion, by deception because it is so grand. Deception must be grand, because that’s what it is. It’s an artificial show to deceive us, like a magician dresses, speaks and moves in a very impressive, sensational way, because he’s going to deceive us. Truth has no necessity for all this grandeur and elaboration and deception. It is naked truth. It’s obvious. It’s obvious truth. And if you chant the holy name of Krishna…. Krishna is like the sun, like the light of the sun. And wherever there is sun, or wherever there is light, there cannot be darkness. It’s as simple as that. If you want to know what is true and false, chant Hare Krishna and you will see it. As soon as you feel intimidated, fearful and that checks your chanting, you know that you are in the presence of falsehood. That’s how you know. It’s the test, the acid test. So go on chanting and don’t be deceived. Hare Krishna. Thank you very much.