Krishna Consciousness: A Path to Spiritual Enlightenment

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I will try to explain the concept of Krishna consciousness through a conversation so that you can understand more clearly what Krishna consciousness is. This conversation is an interview conducted by freelance reporter Sandy Nixon with Srila Prabhupada in July 1975.

Krishna Consciousness
Krishna Consciousness

The following interview with freelance reporter Sandy Nixon took place in July 1975, in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s quarters at the Krşņa center in Philadelphia. This discussion serves as a superb introduction to Krsna consciousness and covers such basic topics as the Hare Krsna mantra, the relationship between the spiritual master and God, the difference between genuine and fake gurus, the role of women in Krşņa consciousness, the Indian caste system and the relationship between Christ consciousness and Krsna consciousness.

Ms. Nixon: My first question is very basic. What is Krsna consciousness?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Krşņa means God. We are all intimately connected with Him because He is our original father. But we have forgotten this connection. When we become interested in knowing, “What is my connection with God? What is the aim of life?” then we are called Krsna conscious.

Ms. Nixon: How does Krsna consciousness develop in the practitioner?


Śrīla Prabhupāda: Krşņa consciousness is already there in the core of everyone’s heart. But because of our materially conditioned life, we have forgotten it. The process of chanting the Hare Krşņa mahā-mantra-Hare Krşņa, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare-revives the Krşņa consciousness we already have.

    For example, a few months ago these American and European boys and girls did not know about Krşņa, but just yesterday we saw how they were chanting Hare Krşņa and dancing in ecstasy throughout the whole Ratha-yātrā procession [an annual festival sponsored by the Krsna consciousness movement in cities around the world]. Do you think that was artificial? No. Artificially, nobody can chant and dance for hours together. They have actually awakened their Krşņa consciousness by following a bona fide process. This is explained in the Caitanya-caritamita (Madhya 22. 107): nitya-siddha krsna-prema ‘sādhya’ kabhu naya śravanādi-śuddha-citte karaye udaya

Krsna consciousness is dormant in everyone’s heart and when one comes in contact with devotees, it is awakened. Krsen consciousness is not artificial, Just as a young boy awakens his natural attraction for a young girl in her association, similarlys if one hears about Krsna in the association of devotees, he awakens his dormant Krşņa consciousness.

Ms. Nixon: What is the difference between Krsna consciousness and Christ consciousness?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Christ consciousness is also Krsna consciousness, but because at present people do not follow the rules and regulations of Christianity – the commandments of Jesus Christ-they do not come to the standard of God consciousness.

Ms. Nixon: What is unique about Krsna consciousness among all religions?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Primarily, religion means to know God and to love Him. That is religion. Nowadays, because of a lack of training, nobody knows God, what to speak of loving Him. People are satisfied simply going to church and praying, “O God, give us our daily bread.” In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam this is called a cheating religion, because the aim is not to know and love God but to gain some personal profit. In other words, if I profess to follow some religion but I do not know who God is or how to love Him, I am practicing a cheating religion.

As far as the Christian religion is concerned, ample opportunity is given to understand God, but no one is taking it. For example, the Bible contains the commandment “Thou shall not kill”, but Christians have built the world’s best slaughterhouses. How can they become God conscious if they disobey the commandments of Lord Jesus Christ? And this is going on not just in the Christian religion, but in every religion. The title “Hindu”, “Muslim” or “Christian” is simply a rubber stamp. None of them knows who God is and how to love Him.

Ms. Nixon: How can one tell a bona fide spiritual master from a fake?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Whoever teaches how to know God and how to love Him-he is a spiritual master. Sometimes bogus rascals mislead people. “I am God”, they claim and people who do not know what God is believe them. You must be a serious student to understand who God is and how to love Him. Otherwise, you will simply waste your time. So the difference between others and us is that we are the only movement that can actually teach one how to know God and how to love Him.

We are presenting the science of how one can know Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by practicing the teachings of the Bhagavad-gītā and the Śrīmad-Bhagavatam. They teach us that our only business is to love God. Our business is not to ask God for our necessities. God gives necessities to everyone – even to one who has no religion. For example, cats and dogs have no religion, yet Krşņa supplies them with the necessities of life. So why should we bother Krşņa for our daily bread? He is already supplying it. Real religion means to learn how to love Him. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.6) says,

sa vai puṁsām paro dharmo

yato bhaktir adhokşaje

ahaituky apratihatā

yayātmā suprasīdati

First-class religion teaches one how to love God without any motive. If I serve God for some profit, that is business-not love. Real love of God is ahaituky apratihatā: it cannot be checked by any material cause. It is unconditional. If one actually wants to love God, there is no impediment. One can love Him whether one is poor or rich, young or old, black or white.

Ms. Nixon: Do all paths lead to the same end?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: No. There are four classes of men -the karmis, the jñānīs, the yogīs and the bhaktas-and each achieves a different goal. The karmīs work for some material profit. For example, in the city, many people work hard day and night and their purpose is to get some money. Thus, they




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