By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhuapada.
Lecture given on Nov. 17, 1966, in New York City
From the Bhagavad-gita we learn about the spiritual world and the means to go there.
mam upetya punar janma
samsiddhim paramam gatah
“After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.”—Bhagavad-gita 8.15
Krishna says, “Anyone who comes to Me . . .” Krishna is everywhere, but still, He has His abode. The difference between Krishna and the ordinary living being is that we can be at one place only but Krishna can be in all places.
Krishna’s abode in the transcendental kingdom is called Goloka Vrindavana. The city in India named Vrindavan, where I have come from, is called Bhauma Vrindavan, which means the same Goloka Vrindavana descended to earth. Just as Krishna descends to earth out of His own internal potency, His dhama, or His abode—Vrindavana dhama—also descends. In other words, when Krishna descends to earth He manifests Himself in that particular land. Therefore that land, Vrindavan, is sacred.
Krishna has His own abode in the spiritual world. And Krishna says, “Anyone who comes to My abode is not born again in the material world, which is full of threefold miseries.” Such a person is called a mahatma. Perhaps you have heard this word. Our leader Gandhi was known as Mahatma, but mahatma is not the title of a politician. Mahatma means the first-class Krishna conscious person who is eligible to enter the abode of Krishna. He is called a mahatma.
We should use all the facilities we have as human beings to become a mahatma, or become eligible to enter the kingdom of Krishna. Because if we can do that, then for us there will be no more birth in the material world, which is full of threefold miseries. We have several times discussed what these threefold miseries are, but every one of you knows that, some way or other, we are in a miserable condition, either pertaining to the mind, the body, some natural disturbance, or from friends or animals. There is always some kind of misery inflicted upon us. That is the situation of the material world.
Krishna says that this world is a place where you cannot avoid these miseries. It is meant for that. Unless the miseries are there, you cannot come to Krishna consciousness. They are an impetus and help to elevate you to Krishna consciousness. An intelligent person thinks, “I do not want miseries, but the miseries are inflicted upon me by force.” Nobody wants miseries. Then he should ask, “Why are these miseries inflicted upon me by force?” Unfortunately, the modern civilization sets this question aside: “Oh, let me suffer. Let me cover suffering by intoxication.” You see? But as soon as the intoxication is over, again I am at the same point. That is not the solution.
You cannot solve the misery of your life by artificial intoxication. You have to solve it by Krishna consciousness. If you always remain in Krishna consciousness, then gradually you’ll develop spiritually and you will be able to quit your material body in Krishna consciousness. Then immediately you’ll be transferred to the planet where Krishna is. That is the process. And if you can attain that situation, that is perfection. That is the highest perfection of life, samsiddhim paramam.
The Desire for Other Planets
People may inquire, “Well, you say that to enter the planet of Krishna is the highest perfection, but we are trying to enter the moon. Is that not perfection?”
The tendency to enter the higher planets is always there in the human mind. The living entity is called sarva-ga—he wants to travel everywhere. That is his nature. Sometimes you Americans go to India or Europe. You cannot stay stagnant at a place. So the tendency to try to enter the moon is not a new thing. Whether by yoga or some other process, everyone is trying to enter the higher planets.
The universe is divided into fourteen planetary systems, fourteen divisions. We are in a middle planetary system. Lord Krishna says, abrahma-bhuvanal lokah . . . : “What to speak of the moon or the sun or Venus, if you even enter into the highest planet, Brahmaloka, still the repetition of birth and death is there.” Now, say I’ll live eighty years. Now I am seventy-one. So after nine years I’ll have to change this body. No one can stay here by some scientific process. That is not allowed. You have to change your body. Just as you change your old dress, you have to change your old body and enter a new body.
We have information from the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic literature that all planets are full of living entities. Don’t think that we are here on the earth and all other planets are vacant. From your experience you can see that no place on earth is vacant, without living entities. Even if you dig into the earth, you’ll find some worms. Go deep into the water, and you’ll find some living entities. In the air you’ll find so many living entities. So how can you conclude that other planets are without living entities? They are all full of living entities.
Krishna says, “My dear Arjuna, if you enter even the highest planet, still you’ll have to accept the repetition of birth and death. You cannot get rid of it.” But He also says, “If you reach My planet, then you haven’t got to come back to this miserable material world. There will be no rebirth. You’ll get your eternal life.”
The Duty of Human Life
We should be very serious about this problem—how to get our eternal life, full of bliss and knowledge. That is the duty of human life. People have forgotten the aim of life. They do not know that their self-interest is to get eternal, blissful life in the spiritual planets. Why have they forgotten? They have been entrapped by the material attraction of skyscrapers and big factories and political activities. Such persons should know, “However many skyscrapers I may make, I’ll not be allowed to live here. I’ll have to leave, and I do not know where I am going.”
We should not spoil our energy to build skyscrapers. We should employ our energy to elevate ourselves to Krishna consciousness so that after leaving the material body we can enter the spiritual planets.
Krishna consciousness is the necessity of life. It is not a religious formula or some spiritual recreation. No. It is the most important thing we should imbibe in our life. Krishna is stressing this point again and again.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam describes other planets. Many yogis and philosophers aim at being elevated to the higher planets by their yogic process. Why? Because the facilities of life in the higher planets are better than on this planet. The duration of life, the enjoyment, the amenities—everything is better, thousands of times better. So people think, “I shall go to the heavenly planets, or to this or that planet.”
The Bhagavad-gita gives a nice description of the highest planet of this universe, Brahmaloka, the planet of Lord Brahma. Twelve hours there equal 4.3 billion of our years. Lord Brahma lives one hundred years of that time scale—trillions of our years. But even there, after living trillions of years, you’ll have to die. Death is there. Unless you go to the spiritual planets, there is no escape from death.
When each of Brahma days is finished, the lower planetary systems become covered in water. There is devastation. And when Brahma wakes up, then creation begins again. That is the law of creation. During Brahma’s daytime of twelve hours, this material manifestation of planets is seen. But when there is nighttime, all these planetary systems become submerged in a devastation of water. That is the nature of the material world. When the planetary systems become submerged in water, all living entities die.
Three fourths of this planet is covered with water. One day there will be no water, simply land. Lord Krishna says, “But, My dear Arjuna, beyond this place of ‘sometimes appearing, sometimes disappearing’ is another nature.”
The Source for Spiritual Information
Just take this information from Bhagavad-gita. We cannot calculate the length and breadth of this universe, but there are millions and millions of universes like this within the material world. Above the material world is another sky, called the spiritual sky. In that sky the planets are all eternal. And there life is eternal also.
This material manifestation is only one fourth of the whole manifestation, both spiritual and material. You’ll find in the Bhagavad-gita (10.42), ekamshena sthito jagat. Ekamsha means one fourth. This material manifestation is one fourth of the total. The three-fourths part is beyond this material sky. The material manifestation has a ball-like covering. After penetrating that covering millions and millions of miles away, you can enter the spiritual sky.
You have experience of the material nature. Similarly, there is another, spiritual nature. Here also you have experience of the material nature and the spiritual nature. How is that? You yourself are a combination of matter and spirit. You are yourself spirit, and as long as you are within the body, within matter, it is moving. As soon as you are out of the body, it is as good as stone. So you can perceive here, within yourself, what is matter and what is spirit.
There is a spiritual world. There are two natures, the material nature and the spiritual nature. The spiritual nature is called the superior nature, and the material nature is called the inferior nature. Beyond the material nature, there is spirit, the superior nature. We get this information from the Bhagavad-gita, Seventh Chapter.
Now, it is not possible to understand these things by experiments. With telescopes you can see millions and millions of stars, but you cannot approach them. Your senses are so insufficient that you cannot approach them. Just try to understand how incapable you are. Don’t try to understand God and God’s kingdom by experiments. That is foolishness. It is not possible. You have to understand by hearing Bhagavad-gita. There is no other way. For example, you cannot understand who is your father by experimental knowledge. You have to simply believe your mother. Similarly, you have to believe the Bhagavad-gita. Then you can get all this information.
There is no possibility of getting this knowledge by experiment. But if you become advanced in Krishna consciousness, you’ll realize it. I am firmly convinced about what I am speaking. I am not blindly speaking. This knowledge will be revealed to you. If you stick to Krishna consciousness, you’ll actually understand this knowledge: “Yes, there is God. There is a spiritual kingdom, and I have to go there. I must prepare myself to go there.”
These are all practical things. If you take up Krishna consciousness, you’ll understand all these practical things, and the whole problem of your life will be solved.
Thank you very much.