God must be a Person, and we must serve Him

The following is an excerpt from a lecture by H.D.G Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The original lecture was recorded on 17th August 1971. and was given on the Srimad Bhagavatam 1:1:2. in London, England) Used with the courtesy of http://www.vedabase.com/ 
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Prabhupäda: A sane man will say, “There must be somebody, the origin of everything.” Janmädy asya yataù [SB 1.1.1]. That is the Bhägavatam. Janmädy asya [SB 1.1.1]. First aphorism in the Vedänta-sütra is that “What is the Absolute Truth?” Athäto brahma jijïäsä. “Let us discuss about the Supreme Truth, Absolute Truth.” The answer is that Brahman, the Supreme, is that from whom everything comes out. He is the origin of everything. Very simple description. Janmädy asya yataù [SB 1.1.1].

So dharma, religion, actually means to understand that origin, Absolute Truth. That is dharma. So that dharma, principles of religion, is there in every human society, either in Europe or America or Africa or... There is some. That is the significance of human being. If it is a human being society, there must be some principles of religion. Without religion... It doesn’t matter what type of religion it is, there must be some religion. If there is no religion, then it is animal society. Try to understand. And what is the purpose of religion? The purpose of religion is, if religion is the code given by God, then we must know. Just like a child. A child is abiding by the laws, but he does not know who is the law-giver, how the street is managed, what are the laws. He’s to be considered as in ignorance. Just like in our schools and colleges, the state constitution, laws, lawyers, they study. So one may not know, but that is not very good position. But one who knows, his position is better. So simply to know: “There may be somebody, God. He has given us some laws. All right, let us abide by the laws,” just like ordinary man doing. But to know, that inquisitiveness is called brahma-jijïäsä. That is required. Human society, human being must be interested in knowing that, the Supreme Absolute Truth, who has given us these codes and laws.

So that is explained in the Bhagavad-gétä, that these laws, these material laws of nature, they are very strong. They are enacted by the Supreme Lord, as we understand from the Bhagavad-gétä, mayädhyakñeëa prakåtiù süyate sa-caräcaram [Bg. 9.10]. Mayädhyakñeëa, “Under My superintendence.” The laws... Just like laws are there; at the same time, the government has got a department which is called law and order department. The laws are going on nicely, the law and order department examines. So that examiner, departmental, may be, but the original examiner is the Supreme Lord, Kåñëa. Therefore Kåñëa says, mayä adhyakñeëa: “Under My superintendence.” Just like in our institution, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, although I am the head, still, I have got so many assistants, the GBC members. They are assisting me, departmental. Somebody is here, somebody is there. Similarly, God has departmental management, and because it is such a huge affair, there are... What is a koöi? Koöi means ten million? Huh? Ten millions multiplied by thirty-three. How many it comes?

Devotees: 330,000,000.
Prabhupäda: So there are 330,000,000’s officers of Kåñëa. Must be. Such a huge affair. If for managing a small shop, we have got so many things... This is manager, this is assistant manager, this is... In such a huge universal affair, there Kåñëa has got assistants. And 330,000,000 assistants within one universe, and there are innumerable universes. And each and every universe, there must be similarly 330,000,000’s or like that. They are called demigods. Demigods means exactly under the position of God. Just like here there is governor. Immediately under him there are secretaries. Similarly these demigods, they are different officers, secretaries, directors under God. We don’t deny the existence of demigod, but we don’t worship that he is God. We worship, we give him all respect. Just like if the queen’s secretary comes here, we shall give him all respect because he’s queen’s secretary. But we’ll never accept that he is king. No. That is not possible. That is sane. It is not that... We Vaiñëavas, we are prepared to offer respect even to the ant, and why not to the secretary? When we offer to a big officer, it is not that we are flattering. It is the etiquette, it is the duty, to offer respect to the respectable persons.

So we give all honor to the demigods, but we don’t accept the demigods as the Supreme. That is Vaiñëava philosophy. There may be 330,000,000’s or 330,000,000’s of secretaries, but we say... Just like it is stated in the Caitanya-caritämåta: ekale éçvara kåñëa. Éçvaraù paramaù kåñëaù [Bs. 5.1]. The only master, or controller, is Kåñëa. Ära saba bhåtya. And all other demigods... Just like Lord Brahmä, Çiva, so many others. Indra, Candra, Varuëa. 330,000,000’s, how many we can remember? It is not possible. But there are. So they are all servants.

ekale éçvara kåñëa, ära saba bhåtya
yäre yaiche näcäya, se taiche kare nåtya
 [Cc. Ädi 5.142]

He is pulling the wire. Just like the doll dancing, there is a man pulling the wire. These are the descriptions in the çästras, or Vedic literatures. So we should not equalize or we should not place the demigods on the same level with God. That is offense. The Mäyävädés, because they think that “God is formless, impersonal, but I cannot meditate upon anything which is formless. So let me imagine something.” That is their theory. They say, “Let me imagine a form of God.” Sädhakänäà hitärthäya brahmaëo rüpa-kalpanaù. Kalpana, “imagine.” The Mäyävädé philosophy is that, that “You imagine a form of God. Actually, there is no form of God.” That is then theory. And we say, “No. Éçvaraù paramaù kåñëaù sac-cid-änanda-vigrahaù [Bs.  5.1]. He has got form, but not a form like me.” That we know. It is a different type of form. Different material. Or we don’t say material: different ingredient, spirit, complete spirit.

So that is our philosophy. God is a person like you and me. As we are sitting together; you are seeing me, I am seeing you. Similarly, if you become elevated to the perfection of devotional service, you’ll go to God and you’ll see Him as you are seeing me, I am seeing you. You’ll see Kåñëa. Try to understand. Therefore there are so many religious systems which say, “God has no form. There is no God. Let us imagine.” These are, this kind of religion is cheating religion. Therefore it is said here, dharmaù projjhita-kaitavo ’tra [SB 1.1.2]. Cheating. Because there is no real information. Real information is éçvaraù paramaù kåñëaù [Bs. 5.1], the Supreme Lord has got His spiritual body, and He is... In the Christian Bible also, it is said, “Man is made after God.” Is it not? So unless God has got form, two hands, two legs, like that, how man has got two hands, two legs? If we are imitation of God, then God must be person. This is natural conclusion.

So impersonal concept of God is imperfect conception of God. That is not perfect. They are puzzled because Kåñëa, God, is sac-cid-änanda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1]. They cannot imagine that a form of sac-cid-änanda can be possible. That is their lack of knowledge. But we learn from Vedic literature that God has got form, complete form, like us. Just like Kåñëa, you see, He has got also two hands, He is also playing flute, with consort, Rädhäräëé. He has also got two hands, nice face, nice head.

Everything is there. Only the ingredients are different. These ingredients, at the present moment... I have also got form, spiritual form. You have also spiritual form. Now that spiritual form is covered by material dress. Just like my body is covered by this shirt. You cannot see the actual body. Similarly, the spiritual body is now covered by this material body; therefore we cannot see. Besides that, our present eyes, that is also material. So with material eyes, we cannot see God. But God has got form. That’s a fact. Now we are unable to see. Therefore the process is that we have to purify our eyes, our legs, our hands, and everything, so that we may be able to serve God.

So this arcana-paddhati, the devotional service, although we have got this material body, under the direction of çästra, under the direction of spiritual master, we are working, we are trying to serve God, Kåñëa. So that service is as good as the service in the spiritual world. There is no difference. Just like... The example is: just like you have got a green mango. Green mango. So the green mango is not so tasteful, but when it is ripe, it is tasteful. The mango is not different. The same mango. You wait. You wait for the time when it is ripened, you will taste it, nice. Similarly, in the beginning, in the neophyte stage, when we say, “You must rise early in the morning, you offer maìgala-ärati, you do this, you take your bath,” these things, because we are not ripened, in the neophyte stage, these things appear to be botheration, not tasteful. But you have to do it under the order of the spiritual master and the order of the çästras. Because unless you practice, how you can... But when it is ripened by practicing, practicing, when one is accustomed... Say by practicing he develops love for God. Then, when he’s in love for God, he cannot do without it. Automatically he will rise early in the morning, automatically he’ll do everything. It is simply the question of time to arrive to that ripened stage.

So this is the process. That we are serving here Kåñëa. Kåñëa is also very kind. Because if Kåñëa in His spiritual form, He is present... Of course, there is no difference. For Kåñëa, there is no difference, material and spiritual, because everything is spiritual ultimately. But still, taking it accepted that we cannot see spiritual form at the present moment. Ataù çré-kåñëa-nämädi na bhaved grähyam indriyaiù [Brs. 1.2.234]. Because our senses are not blunt, we cannot see the spiritual form of Kåñëa at the present moment. Therefore because we cannot see Kåñëa with your present eyes, because we cannot serve Kåñëa with our present hand, therefore Kåñëa appears in a way so that we can see, we can touch. That is Kåñëa. Kåñëa can appear in any way. He is all-powerful. So when He appears just like a stone statue, that does not mean Kåñëa is stone or statue. Kåñëa is the same Kåñëa, but He appears before me just like stone statue because I cannot touch anything beyond this stone. I cannot see beyond this stone. So it is His mercy. Therefore it is called arcä-avatära, incarnation of worshipable Deity. So we should never think that “Kåñëa is not seeing. If I commit some offense, or..., Kåñëa is in Vaikuëöha. Here I can do whatever I like.” (laughter) Don’t do that. That is a great offense. Therefore there are... We should always think, “Oh, Kåñëa is here.” We should be respectful just exactly as Kåñëa is here. Don’t make differentiation, that “This Kåñëa is stone statue.”


Therefore the çästra injunction is arcye çilä-dhér guruñu nara-matiù. To think of the Deity as made of stone, to think of the spiritual master as ordinary man, arcye çilä-dhér guruñu nara-matir vaiñëave jäti-buddhiù, to accept a Vaiñëava as belonging to some caste and creed... Just like in India there are many so-called brähmaëas. They think that “These Europeans, they are coming from low-grade family. How we can accept them as brähmaëas?” No. Vaiñëave jäti-buddhiù. When one has taken the Vaiñëava initiation and properly discharging duties, he should be not be considered belonging to such caste. A spiritual master should not be counted amongst ordinary human beings. Similarly, this Deity, although we know that we have made it from tone, He’s not stone. He is stone to the stone-hearted. If one is stone-hearted, then Kåñëa will stand as stone forever. But if one is soften-hearted by chanting Hare Kåñëa mantra, then he’ll talk with Kåñëa. That is the difference. Kåñëa is always present.

Therefore it is said here... Any religion which does not teach about God, which does not know what is God, that is cheating religion. That’s all. Dharmaù projjhita-kaitavo ’tra [SB 1.1.2]. Cheating, religion. And the Våndävana däsa Öhäkura has said, påthivéte yähä kichu dharma-näme cale, bhagavat prahe tähäì paripürëa chale. “In the all over the world, what is going on...” It is a strong criticism. In the name of religion, the Bhägavata says, “They’re all cheating.” That’s all. Because they have no idea what is God. Neither in their principles there is service of God, there is dedication to God. Simply official in the so-called religion. Therefore Våndävana däsa Öhäkura said, “These are all cheating religions.” Religion means when one accepts some religion, he must know, “What is God, what I am, what is my relationship with God, what are the laws of God, how I am to act.” So many things you have to learn. That is religion. Simply stamping myself with some rubber stamp that “I belong to this religion, I belong to that religion,” that will not help. That is cheating. You are cheating yourself.

Another point is that it doesn’t matter. I don’t say that your religion is cheating or my religion is bona fide. I don’t say that. We have no right to say that. I want to see... “I” means, we are Bhägavata. We are representative of bhägavata-dharma. Or Bhägavata wants to see. Any religion you may profess—it doesn’t matter—I want to see whether you have got the result of religion. The result of religion is you will love God. That is result of religion. If you have become actually lover of God, then your religion—it doesn’t matter whatever religion you profess—that is perfect. But if instead of developing your love for God, you have developed love for so many nonsense things, then you have simply wasted your time. That is the verdict of Çrémad-Bhägavatam.

dharmaù svanuñöhitaù puàsäà
viñvaksena-kathäsu yaù
notpädayed yadi ratià
çrama eva hi kevalam
 [SB 1.2.8]

Dharmaù svanuñöhitaù. Not that anyone who is not following strictly the religious principles. Even if he is following strictly the religious principle... Svanuñöhitaù puàsäm, dharmaù svanuñöhitaù puàsäm. But the result should be that he should be a lover of God. Viñvaksena-kathäsu yaù. Unless one becomes lover of God, he is not interested to hear about God. Here you are sitting, a few boys and girls. There are millions of people. Because you have little love for Kåñëa, therefore you are sitting. Therefore you are sitting. So without development of love for God, nobody is interested to hear about God.

So by following any system of religion, if we do not develop our dormant love for God, then following such religious principle means simply waste of time. That’s all. Because it has no effect. Effect should be by following religious principle you must develop love of Godhead. That is our bhägavata-dharma. What is time now?

Çyämasundara: Eight o’clock almost.
Prabhupäda: All right. Have little kértana. (end)

(H.D.G Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. 17th August 1971. Srimad Bhagavatam 1:1:2. lecture excerpt. London, England)