On my way to speaking at Ohio State University (OSU) last night, I visited Hitchcock Hall, where Srila Prabhupada and Allen Ginsberg had presented a program. And I reread the account of the event in BTG, which began, “On the night of May 12, 1969, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and poet Allen Ginsberg filled a campus auditorium at Ohio State University in Columbus to twice its capacity. About two thousand students flooded the stage and aisles, and soon after His Divine Grace led the chanting, students jumped from their seats, crowded the stage, and danced and chanted ecstatically to a mantra most of them had never heard before. His Divine Grace jumped up and down on the dais and threw flowers from his garland at the students, who scrambled for them and then joined arms to dance. Poet Ginsberg was surprised at the student response and afterwards said that he had never before seen so many students ‘burst out their skins’ to chant and dance so vigorously. The night was testimony to the immediate power of the mantra one can feel its power without being acquainted with the philosophy and without even previously hearing the mantra or even knowing what the words mean. The following two speeches were delivered to the students immediately after the chanting.” The article continued with Allen Ginsberg’s and Srila Prabhupada’s talks (below). Chanting japa and remembering Srila Prabhupada’s activities there some fifty years earlier, I felt sanctified and enlivened.
Allen Ginsberg’s Talk
The amazing thing was that everybody was able to get up and dance after sitting frozen, not knowing quite what to do. When ancient rhythms are flowing through everybody’s body, then certainly everybody desires to dance and sing rather than be frozen. But such is the nature of our conditioning in this which is called the Kali Yuga according to Hindu theology, Hindu religion, Hindu belief, Hindu metaphysics, Hindu cosmography . . . probably corresponding to what in our Western tradition we know as the Gnostic tradition through Paraceleus, Jacob Boehme and William Blake.
This is an Orient version of what may be the same tradition, suppressed in the West when the CIA took over religion in 313 A.D. [laughter and applause] when Constantine, Caesar, made a deal with the church to suppress all alien thoughts and heresy and to formulate a square version of heaven and hell.
The Kali Yuga concept is one that you can now in a sense interpret ecologically. If you have been following the scientifical pronouncements of doom possibility coming over television, radio and slick magazine lately, as well as from the underground press, you’ll notice that there’s increasing attention to the fact that our own fecal materials, the waste products of our robots, have now so polluted Lake Erie that it’s now a great lake of green-blue slime, biologically dead, that our atmosphere, the planetary atmosphere, is increasingly polluted with carbon wastes, and that we are so sunk in our attachment to automobile exhaust fumes, to sulphur wastes from great steel factories producing metals that can be sent flying to explode on the other side of the planet with the collaboration of the science faculties of such universities as this, [applause and laughter] that we find ourselves increasingly sunk into what is called the materialistic habit like the junkie stuck on his junk, people hooked on matter and on their own identity in matter, taking their own identity from their faces, noses, bodies and immediate physical city complex around them, not realizing another sweeter, deeper but wilder or “transcendental” identity than the identity of the one-dimensional man that Marcuse has talked about. So what we are proposing here is a modern-minded view, or some indications of a modern Western, i.e. Gnostic-Marcuse view of Kali Yuga as applying to our own situation.
As it stands, I read in the paper today, the prognosis (according to U Thant, the head of the U.N.) is that mankind has almost ten years to reverse the political, social, moral, emotional course of the planet and alter our technology, alter our consciousness radically enough to preserve human existence on the planet. [applause] This is not only official U.N. pronouncement, but it’s also the pronouncement of most of the ecologists, biologists and ecosysthenic students of the planet who are presently considering the ecological disruption that we have caused through our greed and destructiveness.
The Oriental analysis has it, however, that we have a good deal more time. The Kali Yuga or the age of heavy metal entanglement, Iron Age, lasts 432,000 years, and we are only 5,000 years into it. So there is 427,000 years to go. In a conversation with Swami Bhaktivedanta today I was enquiring more about the details of the theology which I found in a book called the Bhagavata Purana. He explained that according to Hindu analysis we are 5,000 years into the descent from a lighter age, the Age of Brass, the disappearance of Lord Krishna, the Preserver, or the Supreme Form of the Preserver aspect of the universe, of ourselves or of Vishnu. The disappearance of Krishna historically is 5,000 years ago. We are 5,000 years into the Age of Iron, and we have 10,000 years in which to chant Hare Krishna, which is to say repeating the Name of the aspect of preservation, hope, that particular vibration of dancing joy, transcending our cosmo-political worries. We have 10,000 years for that play, before there is a total descent into one-foot-tall monsters who will eat each other up for meat because all the vegetables have disappeared because the DDT has completely cleared out any biological life form except mammals who go around eating each other at that point.
I have known Swami Bhaktivedanta for about three years, since he settled in the Lower East Side New York, which is my territory or my neighborhood. It seemed to me like a stroke of great intelligence of him to come, not as an uptown swami, but as a real down home street swami [laughter], and make it on the street in the Lower East Side and also opening a branch on Frederick Street in San Francisco, right in the center of Haight Ashbury neighborhood. The people who were tripping in Haight Ashbury several years ago, coming down, wanting some more permanent eternal reassurance, formula, ritual, magic, hope, feel, or truth, zeroed in on the Frederick Street rug-laden, perfumed, incensed ashram where chanting would be heard at dawn, as they were coming down off a trip all night. A great many people who were hung on acid or other varieties of chemical psychedelics found it much more stable to practice a prolonged ritual, or sadhana, following the instructions of Swami Bhaktivedanta, which are old classical Indian instructions for rituals, daily living, diet, sexuality, book-consciousness, apparel, hand gestures a very complicated, ritualized yoga, and a very ancient one also.
I thought Swami Bhaktivedanta made a great move in coming to the Lower East Side and to Haight Ashbury and then, naturally, because people dig chanting, centers formed in other parts of the United States, so there are small street-level houses or storefront centers in Vancouver, in L.A., in Montreal, up in Buffalo, down in there are some Buffalo chanters here. “Chant,” incidentally, comes from the word “enchant,” by the way, which means to make a magical spell about oneself. There’s a Santa Fe center also. In other words, the importation of a very strange Oriental form, almost a hard-shelled Baptist Oriental form in the sense of its traditionality and its fundamentalism, its reliance on ancient texts and interpretation of ancient texts by a long tradition of teachers . . . it’s strange that so far out and ritualized an Indian form should take root in the United States a little more naturally than the more protestant Vedanta Society or the extremely rigorous Zen groups that have taken root. I think partly it’s due to the magnanimity or generosity by the old age charm, wisdom, cheerfulness of Swami Bhaktivedanta, his openness of heart, his willingness to come down onto the street and his sense of his own divinity and the divinity of others around him that it’s been possible for the bhakti-yoga cult of India to be planted very firmly here in America so that now there are communes or ashrams functioning on the basis of the Krishna rituals, which are in some respects a model for all those anarchists and political people who are interested in establishing indigenous American communes. The regulations on food, on sexual relations, which generally cause much confusion in mutually held pads, the regulations on sleep and thinking process are an interesting model to study for those who are interested in forming affinity groups or large family communes.
I will have my turn at language tomorrow because I am giving a poetry reading at the student union. So, I will cut myself off now and be brief and leave the rest of the evening to Swami Bhaktivedanta who will give a language explanation or whatever he wants to say, of the cultural or metaphysical or religious roots. So the rest of this evening Swami Bhaktivedanta will explain his divine self and then we will continue chanting.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s Talk
Om ajnana timarandhasya jnananjnana salakaya chaksurumilitamyena tasmai sri gurave namah. My dear boys and girls, I thank you very much for your coming here and participating in this sankirtana function, or, as it is called, sankirtana yajna, sacrifice. There is a statement in Srimad-Bhagavatam: Yajnaih sankirtana-prayair yajanti hi sumedhasah. In this age, as poet Ginsberg has explained to you, in this age which is called Kali Yuga, a very degraded age from the spiritual point of view and from the material point of view also, people are reduced in their duration of life, in their merciful tendency, in their strength and in their stature. If you study it scrutinizingly, you will see that your stature is reducing, your memory is reducing and your duration of life is reducing in this Kali Yuga. There are many symptoms. So Bhagavata recommends performing this sacrifice, sankirtana, for self-realization in this age. The sankirtana-yajna is so nice that at once you get transcendental ecstasy, and from spiritual consciousness you’ll try to join. Even a child desires like that. This is the effect of the sankirtana-yajna. Lord Chaitanya, the inaugurator of this movement five hundred years ago, says that if you chant this mantra, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/HareRama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, then the first installment of your gain will be that all the dirty things in your heart will be cleansed, ceto-darpana-marjanam. Then when we are in clean heart, the next stage will be bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam. The problems of material existence will be solved, and when we are spiritually steady on this platform of sankirtana-yajna, then our original consciousness, Krishna consciousness and its concomitant joyfulness begin. This is also explained in Bhagavad-gita: brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati samah sarvesu bhutesu mad-bhaktim labhate param. It is said there that when one comes to the platform of pure spiritual consciousness, or Krishna consciousness, he becomes completely joyful brahma-bhuta prasannatma. Prasanna means joyful; atma means soul. And the symptom is na socati na kanksati: he neither laments nor hankers.
In material existence we have two diseases: hankering for things which we do not possess and lamenting for things which are lost. But actually we do not possess anything. Everything belongs to God. That is the Vedic injunction: isavasyam idam sarvam. Whatever we see is the property of the Supreme Lord, and this claiming that “This is my property, and this is my body, this is my country, this is my home, this is mine, this is mine,” is called illusion. Actually we do not possess anything. So when you actually come to spiritual consciousness, you understand that nothing belongs to you. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati. Kanksati means hankering and socati means lamenting.
Then the next stage is samah sarvesu bhutesu. Then you can see everything or every living entity on an equal status. People are trying to come to that platform of oneness, but that is only possible when you come to the spiritual platform or Krishna Consciousness. On the material platform it is not possible. Practically we see that the United Nations is trying to come to oneness of all nations, but they have failed. Simply the flags are increasing. Instead of being united, we are increasing our flags. So, if you actually want oneness then you must come to that platform of brahma-bhutah prasannatma joyfulness.
Everyone is hankering after joyfulness, but how can that joyfulness be obtained? That is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam:
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
Atma means soul, your self. Here we are all hankering after peace and tranquility. How is this possible? Bhagavata says, yayatma suprasidati. Suprasidati means “completely satisfied.” How is this possible? Sa vai pumsam paro dharmo. That is the first-class occupational duty by which you develop your love of God. That is first class, the test of religion. Every religion has some conception of God. That’s all right. But if by following the principles of that religion you see that you are developing your love for God, then that is first class. Otherwise, Bhagavata says it is simply wasting time laboring:
dharmah svanusthitah pumsam
notpadayed yadi ratim
srama eva hi kevalam
The Bhagavata says that if you are a very nice man, very honest in your occupational duty, that is all right. But if by discharging your occupational duty you do not develop your eagerness to understand what is God and what is love of God, then Bhagavata says that it is simply laboring and wasting time.
And why should we try to increase our love of God? That is also explained. Ahaituky apratihata yayatma suprasidati. We should love God without cause, without any cause. But we go to the temple and chant with a motive. We go there and pray, “God, give us our daily bread. I have come to You for my bread.” This is not love of God. This is love of bread. [applause and laughter]
So, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has given a nice example of love. He’s playing the part of Radharani. Radharani is the conjugal consort of Krishna. Our Krishna consciousness is not dry. You see the picture of Radha and Krishna. Krishna is a boy sixteen years old, and Radharani a young girl, a little younger than Krishna. They are enjoying. Radha krsna-pranaya-vikrtir hladini saktir asmad. There are different potencies of God. Parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate. In the Vedic literatures you will find that God has many energies, parasya sakti. Sakti means energy, power. Vividha multifarious. Na tat-samas cabhyadikas ca drsyate this is the injunction of the Vedas: You cannot find anyone equal to or greater than God. Nobody can be equal to God; nobody can be greater than God. Then it is not God. Na tat-samas cabhyadikas ca. Samah means equal. Abhyadikah means greater. They have analyzed who is God. The great sages, the liberated sages, are not fools and rascals who will accept anyone as God. No. They will test. And this is the test. If you find somebody who is neither lower than anyone nor equal to anyone, then he is God. There are many other definitions of God, analytical studies.
So, try to understand God. This is the only business of the human form of life not that we have simply to eat, sleep, mate, and defend. That is animal business. The animal knows how to eat, how to sleep, how to mate, and how to defend, in its own way. So that is common formula for human beings or animals. But there is one other facility in the human society, or in the human being. He can understand God, what is God. If I explain to a human being, however illiterate or uneducated he may be, if he simply has these two ears, he will understand what God is. Therefore the Vedic information is called Sruti. Just try to hear. You don’t have to be educated or literate. God has given you these two ears, and you can learn. You simply have to learn from the authorized sources and then you will understand God. And when you understand God, then you develop love of God, and when you develop love of God without any motives and without any impediments, then you will find, svamin krtartho ’smi varam na yace: I have no more demands; I am completely satisfied.
Try to come to this platform, the transcendental stage. You cannot be happy simply by material advancement. That is not possible. That is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam: Parabhavas tavad abodha-jato. Everyone of us are rascals, born ignorant, but we have the capacity to take the message of God from authorized sources. That we have. So Bhagavata says, Parabhavas tavad abodha-jato. All living entities are born ignorant, and whatever they are doing for the advancement of society, culture, education is only for their ultimate defeat if they do not enquire about what they are. Parabhavas tavad abodha-jato yavan na jijnasata atma-tattvam. Atma-tattvam means so long as we do not enquire, “What am I? What is God? What is this material nature? What are these activities? What is our relationship?” if these enquiries are not there, then all our activities are simply defeat. Parabhavas tavad abodha-jato yavan na jijnasata atma-tattvam. As long as one does not develop his dormant love of God namnechyate deha yogenatavat he will not be able to get out of these repeated births and deaths, the transmigration of the soul.
This transmigration of the soul, these repeated births and deaths, is a diseased condition of the spirit soul. That you do not know. And in our educational system there is no department of knowledge teaching what the soul is, what is after death or what was before birth. There is no science. It is very lamentable. Education in the name of simply eating, sleeping and mating is not education. Not if my bodily conception continues. The Bhagavata says, Yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke. Anyone who is thinking that his body of flesh and bones is self he is an ass. [applause and laughter] Kharah means ass. And because they conceive this body to be the self, they don’t even have common reason. This bag of flesh, bone, blood, urine, stool, and secretion can this be soul? Can this be self? Yet they are exercising this body to try to find out the soul. The soul is there, but you cannot see it by material instruments. It is very fine. It is one ten-thousandth part of the tip of your hair. This is explained in the Vedic literature. So, how can you find it with your material eyes? You cannot see it, and because you cannot see it you are concluding that there is no soul. That is ignorance. There is soul, and this body has developed on the platform that there is soul, and that soul is migrating from one body to another. That is called evolution, and that evolutionary process is going on through 8,400,000 species of life. There are aquatics, birds, bees, plants and so many species of life, and now we have this developed consciousness, this human form of life. We should properly utilize it. That is our Krishna consciousness movement. We’re simply educating people, “Don’t waste your valuable life, this human form of life. If you are missing this chance, you are committing suicide.” This is our propaganda.
So don’t commit suicide. Take to this Krishna consciousness. The process is very simple. You don’t have to take difficult processes like the yoga system or the philosophical speculative systems. Those are not possible in this age. I am not simply speaking from my own experience, but I am taking the experience of the acharyas and stalwart sages. They say, Harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam, kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha. If you want to realize yourself, if you want to know what your next life will be, if you want to know what God is, if you want to know what your relationship with God is, then all these things will be revealed to you, this real knowledge will be revealed by your simply chanting this mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. It is practical. We are not charging anything. We are not bluffing you, saying, “I shall give you some secret mantra and charge you fifty dollars.” No. It is open for anyone. Please take it. That is our request. We are begging you, Don’t spoil your life. Please take this mantra and chant it wherever you like. There is no hard and fast rules you have to follow. Wherever you like, whenever you like, in any condition of life, just like we chanted one half hour before. Chant in any condition and you will feel ecstasy.
So, continue chanting this Hare Krishna mantra. It is given to you free. But if you want to know what this Hare Krishna mantra is, through philosophy, through knowledge, through logic, then we have volumes of books. Don’t think that we are simply dancing sentimentalists. No. We have background. So try to understand this Krishna consciousness movement. I have come especially to your country to deliver you this good message, because if you accept this, if you can understand this science of Krishna consciousness, then other parts of the world will also follow and the face of the world will be changed. That is a fact. Therefore I request that you take this Hare Krishna mantra with you and chant wherever you live, in whatever condition you are in. You don’t have to change.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has recommended, sthane sthithah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhir. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu discussed spiritual realization with one of His great devotees, Ramananda Raya, and Ramananda placed before Him many theories expounded in the Vedic literature, and at last Ramananda gave this verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam: jnane prayasam udapasya namata eva. “Don’t foolishly try to speculate to understand the Unlimited. It is not possible.” By your tiny senses you cannot understand the Unlimited. It is not possible. Therefore the first recommendation is jnane prayasam udapasya: don’t try to be a speculator to understand the Ultimate Truth. Namanta just become meek and humble. San-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam and try to receive the message from the authorized sources. sthane sthithah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhir in whatever condition you work, you don’t have to change. You simply hear. Then a day will come when you will be able to conquer the Supreme Lord, who is unconquerable. God is great. Nobody can conquer Him. But if you simply follow this process in whatever condition you are in, if you simply try to hear about God from authorized sources, then one day you will be able to conquer God within your hand.
This is also confirmed in the Brahma-samhita: Advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam, vedesu durlabham adurlabham atma-bhaktau. You cannot find where God is simply by searching the Vedas or the scriptures. You have to conquer Him by your love. He’ll reveal Himself to you. That is also explained in the Bhagavad-gita: Tesam satata-yuktanam bhajatam priti-purvakam dadami buddhi-yogam tat yena mam upayanti te. Everything is clearly explained there. Please try to read this Bhagavad-gita As It Is. It is the science of God. You will understand and you will realize. And chant this Hare Krishna mantra. This mantra will cleanse your heart, and after your heart is cleansed, if you read one chapter of Bhagavad-gita, you will gradually understand what is God, what you are, and what your relationship with God is, and when you understand all these things and develop your love of God, then you will become perfectly happy. We want to see you all happy. That is our program. Sarve sukhino bhavantu. Every one of you become happy. But you must take the path of happiness. This is the path: Krishna consciousness. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.