by Srila Prabhupada
can be fascinating, but the
real goal of understanding reincarnation is to become
from the painful cycle of birth in death. Srila Prabhupada
This is not a very good business – to die and
take birth again. We know that when we die we’ll
to enter again into the womb of a mother–and nowadays
are killing the children within the womb.
kaumaram yauvanam jara
dhiras tatra na muhyati
“As the embodied
soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood
to youth, and then to old age, the soul similarly passes
into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered
by such a change.” (Bhagavad-gita 2.13)
people cannot understand this simple verse. Therefore,
Krishna says, dhiras tatra na muhyati: “Only a
sober man can understand.” But what is the difficulty?
How plainly Krsna has explained things! There are three
stages of life. The first, kaumaram, lasts until one
is fifteen years old. Then, from the sixteenth year,
one begins youthful life, yauvanam. Then, after the
fortieth or fiftieth year, one becomes an old man, jara.
So those who are dhira–sober-headed, cool-headed–they
can understand: “I have changed my body. I remember
how I was playing and jumping when I was a boy. Then
I became a young man, and I was enjoying my life with
friends and family. Now I am an old man, and when this
body dies I shall again enter a new body.”
In the previous verse Krsna
said to Arjuna, “All of us–you, Me, and
all the soldiers and kings who are present here–we
existed in the past, we are existing now, and we shall
continue to exist in the future.” This is Krsna’s
statement. But rascals will say, “How was I existing
in the past? I was born only in such-and-such a year.
Before that I was not existing. At the present time
I am existing. That’s all right. But as soon as
I die, I’ll not exist.” But Krsna says,
“You, I, all of us–we were existing, we
are still existing, and we shall continue to exist.”
Is that wrong? No, it is a fact. Before our birth we
were existing, in a different body; and after our death
we shall continue to exist, in a different body. This
is to be understood.
For example, seventy years
ago I was a boy, then I became a young man, and now
I have become an old man. My body has changed, but I,
the proprietor of the body, am existing unchanged. So
where is the difficulty in understanding? Dehino ‘smin
yatha dehe. Dehinah means “the proprietor of the
body,” and dehe means “in the body.”
The body is changing, but the soul, the proprietor of
the body, remains unchanged.
Anyone can understand that
his body has changed. So in the next life the body will
also change. But we may not remember; that is another
thing. In my last life, what was my body? I do not remember.
So forgetfulness is our nature, but our forgetting something
does not mean that it did not take place. No. In my
childhood I did so many things I do not remember, but
my father and mother remember. So, forgetting does not
mean that things did not take place.
Similarly, death simply means
I have forgotten what I was in my past life. That is
death. Otherwise I, as spirit soul, have no death. Suppose
I change my clothes. In my boyhood I wore certain clothes,
in my youth I wore different clothes. Now, in my old
age, as a sannyasi [a renunciant], I am wearing different
clothes. The clothes may change, but that does not mean
that the owner of the clothes is dead and gone. No.
This is a simple explanation
of transmigration of the soul.
Also, all of us are individuals.
There is no question of merging together. Every one
of us is an individual. God is an individual, and we
are also individuals. Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam:
“Of all the eternal, conscious, individual persons,
one is supreme.” The difference is that God never
changes His body, but we change our bodies in the material
world. When we go to the spiritual world, there is no
more change of body. Just as Krsna has His sac-cid-ananda-vigraha,
an eternal form of bliss and knowledge, so when you
go back home, back to Godhead, you will also get a similar
body. The difference is that even when Krsna comes to
the material world, He does not change His body. Therefore
one of His names is Acyuta, “He who never falls.”
Krsna never changes. He never
falls down, because He is the controller of maya, the
material energy. We are controlled by the material energy,
and Krsna is the controller of the material energy.
That is the difference between Krsna and us. And not
only does He control the material energy, but He controls
the spiritual energy also–all energies. Everything
that we see, everything manifested–that is Krsna’s
energy. Just as heat and light are the energies of the
sun, everything manifested is made up of the energies
There are many energies, but
they have been divided into three principal ones: the
external energy, the internal energy, and the marginal
energy. We living entities are the marginal energy.
Marginal means that we may remain under the influence
of the external energy or we may remain under the influence
of the internal energy, as we like. The independence
is there. After speaking Bhagavad-gita Krsna says to
Arjuna, yathecchasi tatha kuru: “Whatever you
like, you can do.” Krsna gives this independence
to Arjuna. He does not force one to surrender. That
is not good. Something forced will not stand. For example,
we advise our students, “Rise early in the morning.”
This is our advice. We do not force anyone. Of course,
we may force someone once or twice, but if he does not
practice it, force will be useless.
Similarly, Krsna does not force
anyone to leave this material world. All conditioned
souls are under the influence of the external, or material,
energy. Krsna comes here to deliver us from the clutches
of the material energy. Because we are part and parcel
of Krsna, we are all directly Krsna’s sons. And
if a son is in difficulty, the father suffers also,
indirectly. Suppose the son has become a madman–or,
nowadays, a hippy. The father is very sorry: “Oh,
my son is living like a wretch.” So, the father
is not happy. Similarly, the conditioned souls in this
material world are suffering so much, living like wretches
and rascals. So Krsna is not happy. Therefore He comes
personally to teach us how to return to Him. (Yada yada
hi dharmasya glanir bhavati… tad-atmanam srjamy
When Krsna comes, He comes
in His original form. But unfortunately we understand
Krsna to be one of us. In one sense He is one of us,
since He is the father and we are His sons. But He’s
the chief: nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam. He’s
more powerful than us. He’s the most powerful,
the supreme powerful. We have a little power, but Krsna
has infinite power. That is the difference between Krsna
and us. We cannot be equal to God. Nobody can be equal
to Krsna or greater than Him. Everyone is under Krsna.
Ekale isvara krsna, ara saba bhrtya: Everyone is the
servant of Krsna; Krsna is the only master. Bhoktaram
yajna-tapasam sarva-loka-mahesvaram: “I am the
only enjoyer; I am the proprietor,” Krsna says.
And that is a fact.
So, we are changing our body,
but Krsna does not change His. We should understand
this. The proof is that Krsna remembers past, present,
and future. In the Fourth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita you’ll
find that Krsna says He spoke the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita
to the sun-god some 120,000,000 years ago. How does
Krsna remember? Because He does not change His body.
We forget things because we are changing our body at
every moment. That is a medical fact. The corpuscles
of our blood are changing at every second. But the body
is changing imperceptibly. That is why the father and
mother of a growing child do not notice how his body
is changing. A third person, if he comes after some
time and sees that the child has grown, says, “Oh,
the child has grown so big.” But the father and
mother have not noticed that he has grown so big, because
they are always seeing him and the changes are taking
place imperceptibly, at every moment. So our body is
always changing, but I, the soul, the proprietor of
the body, am not changing. This is to be understood.
We are all individual souls,
and we are eternal, but because our body is changing
we are suffering birth, death, old age, and disease.
The Krsna consciousness movement is meant to get us
out of this changing condition. “Since I am eternal,
how can I come to the permanent position?” That
should be our question. Everyone wants to live eternally;
nobody wants to die. If I come before you with a revolver
and say, “I am going to kill you,” you will
immediately cry out, because you do not want to die.
This is not a very good business–to die and take
birth again. It is very troublesome. This we all know
subconsciously. We know that when we die we’ll
have to enter again into the womb of a mother–and
nowadays mothers are killing the children within the
womb. Then again another mother… The process of
accepting another body again and again is very long
and very troublesome. In our subconscious we remember
all this trouble, and therefore we do not want to die.
So our question should be this:
“I am eternal, so why have I been put into this
temporary life?” This is an intelligent question.
And this is our real problem. But rascals set aside
this real problem. They are thinking of how to eat,
how to sleep, how to have sex, how to defend. Even if
you eat nicely and sleep nicely, ultimately you have
to die. The problem of death is there. But they don’t
care about this real problem. They are very much alert
to solve the temporary problems, which are not actually
problems at all. The birds and beasts also eat, sleep,
have sexual intercourse, and defend themselves. They
know how to do all these things, even without the human
beings’ education and so-called civilization.
So these things are not our real problems. The real
problem is that we do not want to die but death takes
place. This is our real problem.
But the rascals do not know
it. They are always busy with temporary problems. For
example, suppose there is severe cold. This is a problem.
We have to search out a nice coat or a fireplace, and
if these are not available we are in distress. So severe
cold is a problem. But it is a temporary problem. Severe
cold, winter, has come, and it will go. It is not a
permanent problem. My permanent problem is that because
of ignorance I am taking birth, I am accepting disease,
I am accepting old age, and I am accepting death. These
are my real problems. Therefore Krsna says, janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarsanam:
Those who are actually in knowledge see these four problems–birth,
death, old age, and disease.
Now, Krsna says, dhiras tatra
na muhyati: “A sober man is not perplexed at the
time of death.” If you prepare yourself for death,
why should you be perplexed? For example, if in your
childhood and boyhood you prepare yourself nicely, if
you become educated, then you will get a nice job, a
nice situation, and be happy. Similarly, if you prepare
yourself in this life for going back home, back to Godhead,
then where is your perplexity at the time of death?
There is no perplexity. You’ll know, “I
am going to Krsna. I am going back home, back to Godhead.
Now I’ll not have to change material bodies; I’ll
have my spiritual body. Now I shall play with Krsna
and dance with Krsna and eat with Krsna.” This
is Krsna consciousness–to prepare yourself for
the next life.
Sometimes a dying man cries
out, because according to karma those who are very,
very sinful see horrible scenes at the time of death.
The sinful man knows he is going to accept some abominable
type of body. But those who are pious, the devotees,
die without any anxiety. Foolish people say, “You
devotees are dying, and the nondevotees are also dying,
so what is the difference?” There is a difference.
A cat catches her kitten in its mouth, and it also catches
the mouse in its mouth. Superficially we may see that
the cat has caught both the mouse and the kitten in
the same way. But there are differences of catching.
The kitten is feeling pleasure: “Oh, my mother
is carrying me.” And the mouse is feeling death:
“Oh, now I’m going to die.” This is
the difference. So, although both devotees and nondevotees
die, there is a difference of feeling at the time of
death–just like the kitten and the mouse. Don’t
think that both of them are dying in the same way. The
bodily process may be the same, but the mental situation
In Bhagavad-gita (4.11) Krsna
janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so ‘rjuna
If you simply try to understand
Krsna, you can go to Him at the time of death. Everything
about Krsna is divine, transcendental. Krsna’s
activities, Krsna’s appearance, Krsna’s
worship, Krsna’s temple, Krsna’s glories–everything
is transcendental. So if one understands these things,
or even tries to understand, then one becomes liberated
from the process of birth and death. This is what Krsna
says. So become very serious to understand Krsna, and
remain in Krsna consciousness. Then these problems–birth,
death, old age, and disease–will be solved automatically,
A dhira, a sober man, will
think, “I want to live eternally. Why does death
take place? I want to live a very healthy life. Why
does disease come? I don’t want to become an old
man. Why does old age come?” Janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi.
These are real problems. One can solve these problems
simply by taking to Krsna consciousness, simply by understanding
Krsna. And for understanding Krsna, the Bhagavad-gita
is there, very nicely explained. So make your life successful.
Understand that you are not the body. You are embodied
within the body, but you are not the body. For example,
a bird may be within a cage, but the cage is not the
bird. Foolish persons take care of the cage, not the
bird, and the bird suffers starvation. So we are suffering
spiritual starvation. Therefore nobody is happy in the
material world. Spiritual starvation. That is why you
see that in an opulent country like America–enough
food, enough residences, enough material enjoyment–still
they are becoming hippies. The young people are not
satisfied, because of spiritual starvation. Materially
you may be very opulent, but if you starve spiritually
you cannot be happy.
A spiritual rejuvenation is
required. You must realize, aham brahmasmi: “I
am not this body; I am brahman, spiritual soul.”
Then you’ll be happy. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma
na socati na kanksati samah sarvesu bhutesu. Then there
will be equality, fraternity, brotherhood. Otherwise
it is all bogus–simply high-sounding words. There
cannot be equality, fraternity, and so on without Krsna
consciousness. Come to the spiritual platform; then
you will see everyone equally. Otherwise you will think,
“I am a human being with hands and legs, and the
cow has no hands and legs. So let me kill the cow and
eat it.” Why? What right do you have to kill an
animal? You have no vision of equality, for want of
Krsna consciousness. Therefore, in this material world,
so-called education, culture, fraternity–all these
are bogus. Krsna consciousness is the right subject
matter to be studied. Then society will be happy. Otherwise
not. Thank you very much.
[From “The Journey of
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta