I sincerely offer my gratitude to all of you for coming this evening. It is my great pleasure and fortune to be amongst you. The youth is the future of the world. At this stage in your lives, man choices will appear before you; and the choices you make will determine the road you travel on in your life. The choices you make will have a very serious effect on the society ofIndiaand the world. Human life is a life of responsibility. Those great souls in the past, who have taken seriously their responsibilities, have done such incredible service to human society. Today I was asked to speak ” Power of Habit”. This is a very important subject, especially for the youth of the world. Srila Prabhupada has said that one must be clean in heart and habit, in order to understand the spiritual truth. Man is a creature of habit and we can change our habits with practice. Thirty-three years ago, I first came toIndia. I was about 19 years old. I am just now remembering my first day in this great country. In the evening I was walking down a streets of OldDelhi– chandani chowk area; and one very polite gentleman approached me on the street and asked, “Where are you from?” ” Why you have come toIndia?” “What is your educational qualification?” . Then he asked me, ” Have you had any food?” So he brought me to a restaurant. As we were waited, he ordered for me because I did not know anything about India. Just a few foot away from me, there was an open restaurant; there was a mother cow and her baby – calf. I had never been so close to a cow in my whole, because in the United States of America, closest a normal person comes to a cow, seeing them in the pasture grazing, some distance, you driving down the highway.

The cow was so beautiful; her eyes were shining, so big, really like lotus petals. So graceful, and her little calf, was one of the most beautiful people I have ever seen in her my life. So innocent, so life loving. The calf was playing and the mother was so very carefully and lovingly – was taking care of her little calf. Feeding her milk, licking her. Really, it was a relationship of love. I was thinking, this love between the mother cow and her little calf is as intimate as and is real as any human mother and her baby. May be not with the same intellectual capacity. But from the heart that mother would do anything to protect and satisfy the calf and that calf was completely dependent on the shelter of the mother. I was really enjoying this wonderful experience and the food came and I was still looking at the calf and the cow. My host asked me “would you like to know what these preparations are?” I said, “Yes” He said, ” this is bread, we call roti, and this is sabji, vegetable, and this is soup dal, and this is rice, and what is on the rice, is meat”. For the first time in my life I made a connection to eat this meat means a cow like this and /or a calf like this, that love their lives, loves their children as much as I love my mother perhaps, they are killed. I was shocked. I was twenty years old. I never made the connection before. I began to cry. I couldn’t eat. My host looked at me, like I was crazy. He said, ” What is wrong?” I was speechless. I began to reflect this in the power of habits. Good people, caring people are indulging in activities that are causing the life shed, murder, killing, pain to innocent, life loving animals who are people also. Why? Because of habit!!!

Years later when I came back toAmerica. I was explaining to people, my relatives, friends, ” Don’t you see the connection?” they could see the connection, they could understand it. It is just common sense. You love your dog, practically as much as, and more than any family members. If a dog, inAmerica, dies, or a cat, they weep and cry for days in separation. A person they love is dead. Can you see that that the cow and that calf is a mother and child, who love their life and love their family as much as you and me, they could understand. There is a common sense. But due to a habit they just would not sink in. They have been conditioned from birth to this eating meat. I was listening to a radio show, and this lady from anti cruelty for animals, was boasting how she saw that someone tied the dog too close to a post and the dog could not have space to move. She called the police and that person actually got fined. And then there was a column for questions to this lady. They asked, ” What did you eat for lunch today?” She said, ” Hamburger”. The person on the radio said, ” You are so concerned about the dog just being tied too close to a post, don’t you see that for you to eat that hamburger, a cow had to have its throat slit, her blood flowed and died, can’t you see the connection? See could not see the connection due to conditioning. We first make our habits and then habit make us. Habit is an act, repeated again and again and again until it becomes our fixed behavior, a fixed way of thinking, a fixed way of evaluating and reacting to situations.

Everyone is conditioned, conditioned by our activities and experiences in previous lives, conditioned by an environment around us, socially and culturally and conditioned by few choices we make every moment, everyday. In this process, we create our conception of reality. According to the Sanskrit language, the word ‘swabhava’ means one’s second nature. We create a particular consciousness of how we view the world and how we respond to the situations of this world. Those are habits. According to the ‘hitopadesh’, there is nice story that a dog was made the king. He was put on a throne, wearing garments and actually given a beautiful golden throne to sit on. As he was sitting on the throne, he happened to see a shoe. So he jumped off the throne and started chewing and licking the shoe …

Hare Krishna.

Conditioned nature. Our Guru Maharaj used to give an example that if give a pig or a hog nice halwa to eat — one plate, and human stool on another plate. What do you think the hog will choose to eat? Prabhupada said, ” I don’t want halwa, give the stool.” conditioning – we could learn from life of that conditioning if a serpents. They have no choice. There is no family of venomous serpents, they by nature are envious. They will strike and kill an innocent persons without provocation, this is due to the souls being influenced by the three modes of material nature– The mode of goodness, the mode of passion and the mode of ignorance. According to our choices, of what and who we associate with we become conditioned by that experience and that becomes our second nature. Srila Prabhupada told a story about a thief. This thief was stealing for so many years. It was his second nature to steal. So one time, he went on pilgrimage to a very holy place. And all the pilgrims were in one room. They went to sleep at night. He had such an uncontrolled urge to steal from everybody. There was a perfect opportunity, the belongings were open, they all sound to be asleep, and it was dark. So actually went to start stealing. But then he thought, ” I am in a holy place and these pilgrims, this is a religious experience. I can’t steal from them.” At the same time his intelligence was saying, ” I can’t steal from them” His mind was saying, ” You must steal.” There was an irresistible urge. So somehow or the other he compromised with himself, and he dovetailed his propensity and he took everyone’s bags and moved to another place in the room. Just to cause anxiety, he moved one bag here and one bag thee, one bag here. But he didn’t take anything from anyone. And in the morning, everyone woke up and they were all in tremendous anxiety –where is my bag? Where is my bag? There was commotion; and the thief stood up and loudly proclaimed, “Please hear from me, I am a thief, I am habituated to take people’s property. I can’t stop, but it’s a holy place. So I moved all your bags. That is a least I can do. Please know that everything is in your bags. That is how strong the characteristic of habits is. There was a king – Edward the VII. Have you heard of him? He was kleptomaniac. From his previous births, perhaps, he must have been a thief. Here he was a king. He’d incredible wealth. Incredible power, he’d amassed treasuries. But still he couldn’t curb his inclination to steal from anybody he could possibly steal from. This was a very, very serious situation, for the queen especially, and for the ministers.

Habit, the power of habit, it actually made no sense, he was in no need, but out conditioning are so very strong. Today people use their free will to condition themselves to such dangerous habits. They are not only illegal, but they are orderly, socially acceptable. Even thought they are so dangerous, to the mind, body and soul. Let us take smoking cigarettes for instance. First of all, just a couple of years ago there was an investigation in the biggest Cigarette companies ofAmerica. And they found that their advertisements and promotion was especially targeting to the teenagers. They won’t target adults. They were targeting the young people between 12 and 19; because in their own reports, which were written by psychologists and psychologists — If a teenager becomes hooked on cigarette– addicted, then they will be giving us their money until they the day they die. Cigarette smoking, millions and millions, that every packet of cigarette, the government is telling you that it is dangerous, it may cause your death. Cigarette is the single most preventable cause of premature death inAmerica. These are statistics 400 thousand men die every year due to smoking cigarettes in America.276 Thousand men and 142 thousand women every year die due to smoking. One out of five deaths in theUnited Statesis smoking related, and yet they are smoking. These statistics are not secret, and I am not revealing or uncovering mystery, they are published, they are know. Why? Why people are killing themselves. And if once they become addicted, it is so very, very hard to give it up. It’s unnatural. I don’t think there has ever been a person or a life who lights the first cigarette, they smoke. It is horrible. Due to social pressure, they tried and start coughing, it tastes miserable. The body is having violent reactions to it. But they just keep doing it, doing it and doing it until they become used to it and ultimately addicted to it. When I was a young man one of the most famous movie actors always had a cigarette hanging from his mouth -always. And everyone wanted to be like him.

So the adults, the teenagers and even sometimes children they had cigarettes smoking, had cigarettes hanging from their mouths in the same fashion. And some years later, he died of cancer of the lip and the lung. But by the time he died, everyone was so addicted that they couldn’t give it up. The power of habit completely covers over our logic, our intelligence and our pursuit of well-being and happiness; cancer is a horrible miserable cause of death. Alcohol – 40 million Americans are alcoholics, seriously abused alcoholics. 53% of men and women in Americans have claimed that at least one of their close relatives has a severe alcoholic problem. 53%, someone who is a close relative has a serious alcoholic problem. 185 billion dollars are spent every year in theUnited Stateson alcoholism related problems. In the year 2002, 32% of all deaths due to automobile crashes would be caused of abused of alcohol, amongst one of the drivers. That means 17970 people were killed due to automobile crashes under the influence of alcohol. 275 thousand were injured — that means every two minutes somebody is seriously injured due to drunken driving. Why? There have been movies about alcoholics. Have you ever seen alcoholic people? They are never happy people. They are frustrated. A vast percentage of violent crimes are done due to anger being provoked by the influence of alcohol. But yet, it is socially so acceptable. No one ever plans to be an alcoholic when he first starts drinking. But there is a problem. Human beings by nature need shelter. If you are not take shelter of positive, you’ll take shelter of something destructive.

Gambling it is an addiction. It’s a habit. People become consumed by the intoxicating effect of gambling. When it gets into your blood, you can’t stop. I know a boy fromBombay. He visitedLas Vegas. Just for a holiday to see what’s happening there as he saw in movies here, and he read about it. He just decided, ” I am going to try gambling.” It became such an infatuation, that within one hour he lost Twenty Five thousand dollars, everything he had. He didn’t even have a paise to take a taxi to go back to his hotel. It’s intoxicating. It is infatuating. 250 billion dollars are spent in gambling in theUnited Statesalone. And please listen – 93 million people a year inAmericago to gamble in legalized Casinos. And everybody knows that the worst thing you can do is winning. If you always loose you don’t get addicted to it. But once you win, you get that rush. Do you know what rush is? That sensation, that sensation of winning is so overwhelming that you become addicted to it. You have to feel that again. And of course, the odds are so much against you, that’s the way it is designed. The Casino owners, they hope you win. They are not sad when you win, they are ecstatic when you win because they know that if you win, you are hooked, and once you are hooked you cant stop and then you loose so much more.

Meat eating— it is not natural for a human being to eat meat. If we explain it logically to people it makes sense. The carnivours have a intestinal track three times the size of their torso and the vegetarian animals, all of them, they have a intestinal track twelve times bigger than their torso. Now a human being happens to have a intestinal track twelve times bigger than his torso, why? Because when we eat meat, it decomposes. It becomes poisonous. So the meat eating animals, they have small intestines so that they can quickly pass stool. We have teeth like the vegetarian animals, the movement of our jaws is like the vegetarian animals, the carnivours, they lick the water, the vegetarian animals suck the water just like us. The carnivores, they perspire through their tongue when they are breathing, vegetarian animals they breath through their perspiration as a human being does. According to the ‘HYTT’ Foundation of theUnited States, 30% of all cancer can be prevented if people eat adequate grains, fruits and vegetables. Heart disease, the single most factor according to medicine – the single most cause of heart disease is high animal fat ingestion. Why? Out of Habit. Breast cancer kills a vast portion of the women population and countries where there is less meat eating, according to how much less meat eating there is percentage wise, that much how less breast Cancer there is, the Statistics are there. People ignore them, because they are habituated, they are conditioned. They have been eating meat all their lives so it must be right. Everyone else is doing it around! There is so much to be said about all of these topics. Sex – every civilized culture that has some spiritual moral fibre teaches one of the great virtues of life is chastity; it is the ability to tolerate the sex drive. InIndia, hardly one or two decades back, the divorcee was very, very rare because the culture taught the people to understand these values. The whole system of ‘varnasrama’ – bramachari, grihasta, vanaprasta and sannyas, are different ways according to different persons propensities by which they deal with this sexual drive. The more we engage in it, the more we become addicted to it. The more we tolerate it the more we can go on with our lives and engage in beneficial positive activities in … According to statistics every year, three million teenagers in Americaare infected with sexually transmitted diseases, of which, they are incurable. HIV – sexually transmitted disease, is the seventh largest cause of death for people between 15 and 24. This is a very sad statistics I am going to read for you. It is coming from the NEKC Foundation 1999 – Before the age of 20 , 30% of teenage girls inAmerica become pregnant.

The teenage pregnancy costs the American people 7 billion dollars per year. How to deal with it? In 9 out of 10 prisoners between the age of 15 and 19 years old, who have created violent crimes in human jails –nine out of ten are born out of mothers when they are adolescent teenagers. It is a big problem. When you go to the movies and you see all these anamous affairs or watch your television, it is a big problem and the more you watch it the more you think about it, the more you indulge in it, the more you become habituated to it. We become a slave of the habit. People are addicted to watching television. Just two month ago, I was inChicago, there was a massive rainstorm with lightening and thunder; it was likeBombaymonsoon. I felt very much at home. But what happened is that some lightening struck the cable network facilities and millions of people, their cable network was not working. This was a major disaster. This is serious matter. They had electricity, they had running water, their refrigerators were working their stoves were working, all shops were open. The only thing they didn’t have was ‘Television’; people didn’t know what to do with their lives,  they were going crazy. People are addicted to watching television. It is explained that by the age of 18, a child has sat in front of the television watching more hours than the accumulation of all the hours he is been sitting in the class rooms in school learning. Hare Krishna.

An average 18 year old boy has watched television more times that sitting in one classes learning. By the time the are 18, 200,000 violence acts, they have seen. A child of ten, average, inAmericawatching television sees 9000 murders and 1000 acts of sex, sexual passion. How does that affect their consciousness? And people are addicted to these things. These addictions can enslave us, imprison us, and everyone knows it’s not helping, people become helpless. There was a famous book of Frankenstein, how many have you have heard about Frankenstein? There was also a famous movie with Boris Carlov, a very famous person. This Frankenstein was about a very intelligent scientist who wanted to create life from a dead man. And he did all kinds of things and created, he actually brought a dead man back to life. Which was the goal of his career. But there was a problem. Due to some technical mistake he made, putting a wrong type of brain in that person, that person became a monster, violent person who was killing children, he even came to kill the man who created him. Hare Krishna!!! Now, during introduction to this movie, before it starts, somebody comes on stage and says, “This is a story about what happens when a man meddles with the Laws of God.” We create monsters, we see in the world today, we created a monstor civilization that ecologically destroying the God given gifts on the earth; endangering all of our life, but individually, everything we do, everything we engage in, we condition ourselves, we habituate ourselves to those things and eventually we create monsters within our mind of habits that enslave us. Either you conquer your bad habits or your bad habits will conquer you.

One of my gurumaharaj’s god brothers was in London and… who was a very, very distinguished Aristocrat, who really had a tremendous amount of affection for Vedic Culture, he asked this great sannyasi, “Can you make me a brahman?” and this great swami replied, ” Yes, I can make you a brahman, but there four rules you have to follow – No illicit sex, no intoxication, no gambling and no meat eating.” The man was shocked. The only thing he could say in response was, “that is impossible”. Impossible, even though he wanted that type of purification. He wanted that type of spiritual realization. It was impossible to give up the vices that he had imprisoned himself within. That is the power of habits. My dear friends, I have seen intelligent young men of your age; top of the classes in the Universities; wonderful loving families, the whole world with open arms is waiting for them to succeed. But due to bad association they smoke cigarettes, they get into alcohol or drugs, they become addicted, their life is ruined. There is no way out. They didn’t intend that — it’s a nature of habits. What is that saying? — ‘The chain of a bad habits is very soft, you feel it when its too late to get out’.I remember, when I was young, people were smoking marijuana. I believe 70% of seniors in high schools have smoked marijuana within the last month, in the 2002 survey. And parents would tell us, it might not be so bad, but at least other drugs, once you become addicted, enslaved to this, then it becomes very easy to go to Cocaine, to go morphine, and then your life is ruined. But nobody believes, nobody believes their parents inAmerica. That is taboo to listen to your parents. In the year 1960, there was a babo- cry amongst the young people — “Never trust anyone over thirty” but now all these people they didn’t think that someday they will be 50; which they are now. But because they saw their parents drinking alcohol all the time. They would think this is our way. And I can tell you personally— innocent people from good families, I saw with my own eyes, imperceptibly they become drug addicts and their lives were ruined. Nobody wants to believe warnings until it happens to you, and then my friends, it is very difficult, almost too late to give up.

In the sixth canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, Maharaj Pariksit, he is speaking to Sukadev Goswami, ‘Bad Habit of committing sinful activities is so strong, because the laws of Karma, when you engage in sinful activities there will be reaction, you have to suffer. Just as, when you engage in pious activities, you gain happiness.” Pariksit Maharaj explained that when one becomes sinful, that intoxicating addiction to sinful activities is so strongly rooted in your heart, even if they took ‘prayaschita’ or atonement for their sins, since still that propensity in the heart drives them to do it again and again and again. We have seen, a thief hears that if he gets caught stealing he will be put into jail and then he is caught stealing and he is put in Jail. And then when he gets out what does he do? He does it again. The vast percentage of criminals whenever they are released, they are the most likely persons to get back to jail because the justice system punishes you but does not change the quality of your consciousness, does not change your heart. People are addicted to crime due to bad associate on. Srila Rupa Goswami quotes from the Padma Puran exactly how scientifically this is taking place. Would you like to hear? ” Haribol”

It is explained that when one engages in sinful act, there is essentially reaction called ‘aprarabydha’ which means an unmanifested sinful reaction. That means the reaction hasn’t yet fructified, hasn’t come yet. The reaction remains within your heart – ‘aprarabydha’ that sinful activity that you create, that you have performed creates what is called ‘kudham’ – ‘kudham’ — means the psychological disposition to perform the act again. The inclination, the proclivity deepens in the field of your heart every time you commit a sinful activity. Then that sinful inclination evolves into ‘bijam’, which means specific desire for sinful activities. Arjuna askedKrishnain the Bhagavad Gita, “Why even a person who is realized to control the mind and senses, it seems that they are forced, forced to involve in unethical things?”

Krishnaexplains -kamaesa, krodha esarajo guna samudh bhava…

It is this conditioned passion, thiskamain our heart that becomes a ‘bijam’ becomes a specific desire, and that desire when it is in the mind it drives the senses, it pushes the senses to act and then what happens? And again sinful reactions and aprarabdhya and kudam, the seeds can get deeper and deeper and deeper. The inclination become more and more a habit and the desires become more and more abundant. Sukadev Goswami explains to Maharaj Pariksit that bhakti yoga or devotional service is so powerful it is like blazing fire that burns to ashes the manifested reactions to our sins, the unmanifested, the ‘kudam’ and the ‘bijam’ – the inclinations and the desires, they are all burnt due to the process of bhakti. “Why?” why these people have inclinations to do immoral unethical things and develop bad habits? According to the scriptures, the word ‘dharma’ means ones constitutional nature. The dharma of sugar is that it is sweet. The dharma of chilly pepper is that it is hot, the dharma of water is that it is liquid. In an artificial situation, we can make the water solid, but actually, as soon as it is put in natural environment, it melts. Because its nature is liquid. So what is the dharma of every living being? To serve — everyone is always engage in some type of service to someone. Either we are serving our employer, serving our employees, serving our husband, serving our wife or our parents or our children, serving when we pay taxes, serving the government. When we have business, we are serving the customers and everyone is serving the dictations of their minds and their senses. Now what is Sanatan dharma? — Sanatan dharma means the original nature, which is the origin of this propensity to serve. The nature of the soul that it is a part and parcel of the Supreme souls and as a part ‘jivera svarupa haya krishnera nitya das’; our nature is to serve God, our nature is to love God.

‘ananda mayobhyasat’ — in that love, there is ecstasy, there is fullness, there is richness, there is happiness. But when we have forgotten that love within ourselves, when we have forgotten the art of living in the service of the Lord, then we have to fulfill that need for pleasure that we need for shelter somewhere, in something, so people take shelter of gross and subtle forms of gratification and they become addicted to it. InAmerica, and to some extent inIndianow there are so many anonymous organizations, because practically every life…because people cant just give it up, they have taken shelter of it, they find pleasure in it, they become addicted to it. There is alcoholics anonymous, there is narcotics anonymous, there is gamblers’ anonymous. I know many, many people inAmericawho cant live properly unless they go to regular meeting of sex anonymous. I know people who regularly, in order to control their minds, they go to anger anonymous There is gamblers anonymous.

Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita,” When you have these desires and they are not fulfilled then you becomes anger. There has recently been a scientific investigation about the effects of anger. They would take a person who becomes quit angry, very angry and they test the condensation of his breath and in the condensation of the breath that comes out the mouth, it is enough poison to kill a … Ginny pig. That is the psychological reaction to anger, it creates poison and that poison is just circulating throughout your brain and your whole body. It’s dangerous. Anger anonymous, how they control it? And all these anonymoses, they are very, very effective ways for addicts. They teach that you are helpless; you can’t do yourself, you have to take the shelter of the superior power of God. For so many people in the secular world, it is the only way they could possibly deal with addictions. As they realise their helplessness and turn to the supreme power of God through prayer, through dependence. These addictions are very deep, they are like weeds. If you cut a weed it just grows right back. If you cut it again, it grows back. The more you cut it, the more it grows. And if you don’t cut it, it will strangle the flower of your consciousness, it will strangle it. The only way to properly deal with the weed is to take it out by its root. And we have seen the second nature of habits, even saintly people who are on the path of morality, ethics and spirituality, they really, sincerely want to do the right thing, but still often times they are haunted by their previous conditioned habits because since time immemorial we have been taking shelter of these alternatives to God. It is very difficult, very, very difficult. We must be determined. We must have proper discrimination and where do we get that strength? It is from association, the quality of the engagement of the mind; which is the pivot for all sensual organs, must be changed. If we change the quality of our engagement of the mind, that means thinking, feeling and willing; then naturally our behavior, our actions will change. Therefore the Bhagavad Gita speaks on the subject of “How to control the mid?” Today all over the world, one of the most popular types of classes is ‘Stress Management’. People cannot control their minds. Their minds are habituated to take shelter of anxieties. A vast portion of the wealthiest people in America take sleeping pills to go to sleep and one of the greatest dangers is that the first time it helps you to go to sleep, the second time it helps to go to sleep; but after some time you become addicted to it. And it is impossible to sleep without them and soon you need higher and higher doses. In some of the most famous people in the world have died of over doses of sleeping pills. Because they just, at the beginning, one will do, then two, then three, then four, then five, then they cant sleep, then they take a whole bottle of pills and they die. That’s probably what they want, they never want to wake. Until they don’t wake up in some other womb of some species of life. Suicide is no solutions; we have to reap the sin of such a heinous act in our next life. That is how much people are in anxiety due to conditioning of the bad habits. Unfortunately good habits are much easier to give up than bad habits. That is the nature of the world. The essential disease is that the mind identifying with this body as the self. The essential disease is we have forgotten our true spiritual nature. We are eternal, we are full of knowledge, we are full of bliss. It is our nature to be happy. Sat-cid-ananda. We must have that happiness somewhere.

The only real way to give up bad habits is to replace them with good habits. In order to have the determination and the strength to do that it is necessary that we have association that will enliven us and protect us. What you associate with we become like that – that is the law of nature. Srila Prabhupada gave a simple example. If you put an iron rod in fire, after some time, in association with fire, it becomes red and hot like fire. If you put the same iron rod in ice, it becomes ice cold after some time. Every parent, their greatest concern, if they love their children their greatest concern is who and what they associate with. If the child is associating with a prostitute, drug addicts then the child is going to become addicted to sex and drugs. It’s inevitable. If the child is associating with saintly people then there is every chance, there is every facility for the child to become happy and saintly. One can change ones habits. One can change a bad habit into a good due to good association, and one can also change a good habit into a bad due to association. Bhakti yoga is the detailed science of how to transform our consciousness through association. What we are talking about is transformation; you cannot negate your desires, you cannot negate, simply negate your addictions, they must be transformed, transformed into something positive. In the Srimad Bhagavatam there is a story of Narada Muni. He was just, simply a boy due to association with transcendentalists, saintly people, his ordinary life became so strong to realize and know God. There is the story of Dhruva. Dhruva, he was overwhelmed with anger and anxiety due to behavior of his stepmother and father. He wanted revenge. But in seeking revenge, he happened to meet Narada Muni. And by Narada Muni’s association. Narada Muni, because he associated with the saintly persons, he became saintly; because Dhruva associated with Narada Muni, he became saintly, he became purified, transformation.

Srila Prabhupada explains that if we really want to deal with the true problems of life within us, we must clean our hearts, when we clean our hearts, we naturally clean our habits. But also as we try to clean our habits, that help clean our hearts. Culture really means invoking certain habitual life styles in people’s existence. Does it not? Association, who and what we associate with is the important decision that we can make in our lives; because we will be influenced and affected by that and our future will depend upon that.

ceto darpna marjanam bhava maha davagni nirvapanam…

In association of spiritually minded people, there is great the determination to overcome the propensity for vice. Just as alcoholic’s anonomous, gambler’s anomenous, sex anonomus, anger anonumous, narcotic anominous and so many other anonimouses, they depend on each other for support. In a similar way, we must have the association of devotees who give us the support to actually uproot the weeds of selfishness, of lust, anger, greed, pride and illusion. These are weeds that keep coming and pushing into nefarious activities, or even pious activities, so called, that simply waste our lives. People are addicted to wasting their lives with these frivolous things. If you want to understand real treasure, the real goal, then we must cleanse our hearts.

ceto darpna marjanam bhava maha davagni nirvapanam …

The chanting of the holy names is the most powerful medicine for purifying the heart. The chanting of the holy names of the Lord, when we habituate ourselves to that, it becomes such a glorious benediction that it literally transforms lust into love, greed, it transforms our propensity for greed into service to others. It transforms our inclination of pride into humility. Mental imbalance into steadfast determination for the highest virtues. Our beloved spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, he went to America with only fourty rupees on a cargo ship called ‘Jaladuta’ across the Arabian Sea on the Atlantic ocean; the lower east side of New York, the Hyatt Asbury District of San Francisco – these were the places of the hippies. Do you know what a hippy is? Sociologically, most of the hippies come from the middle class or upper middle class families. There were very few hippies from the low-income families. They were most wealthy people. They saw their parents were so successful, they had money, they had nice cars, they had good furniture, nice houses, telephones, record players, televisions – everything. But they saw emptiness. They saw a culture of just habituation to materialism and selfishness. And they didn’t want that, so they rejected it. They rejected the habits, the morals, the ethics of their parents, but there was nothing to replace it with. That is what a hippy is. You replace conventional society , but you don’t really have anything to replace it with.. so they were searching through drugs, through various types of spiritual pursuits, through free sex, through all the different types of rebellious ways to go against the society of their parents. It was these people that Srila Prabhupada met. Can you believe it? A 70-year-old man who is living for years in Vrindavan, living by highest spiritual, brahmanical principles. He never tasted meat in his life, never took an intoxicant in his life. He was a very responsible, chaste and faithful husband and father of his children in his earlier life. He was living in the holiest of all holy places – Vrindavan. At his age what a cultural shock that must have been for him! The young boys and girls were having relations without marriage. There was not even the consideration, it was just a style, it was the fashion. By taking drugs LSD, Marijuana, things like STPA, Cocain. regular. It was the fashion. Eating meat, drinking alcohol, al these things. No conception of God. By association with Srila Prabhupada, he performed a miracle. One lieutenant of the police force came to meet Srila Prabhupada atChicago. The government in the newspapers and magazines, Srila Prabhupada wrote, they were spending tens and millions of dollars tying to save the young people from drug addiction, alcoholism and all types of very, very detrimental imprisonments and they were failing. Tens and millions of dollars but nobody was being saved by the government’s projects. And here thousands, thousands of those young people addicted, they were giving up illicit sex, intoxication, gambling and meat eating; and they weren’t miserable, they wanted just, they were giving up smoking cigarettes, which was so very, very difficult to do. And they were dancing on the streets beaming. People were thinking these are the happiest people, we’ve never seen why they are so bright faced? They could not understand, how it is possible? Our dear godbrother, Shyamsundar, he is an example of how bhakti can transform a heart, to help us give up a very difficult habits. In 1967, Srila Prabhupada asked him to carve the deities of Lord Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra from the little model that they had. He was working in his room, very, very hard. He was a devotee. One day Srila Prabhupada came into the room to examine how the deities were and he saw in the room, according to Malati, it was on Baldev’s head, there was a pack of cigarettes. He was smoking cigarettes as he was carving the deity of Jagannath. He didn’t want to, he knew it was wrong, but he just couldn’t give it up. So Prabhupada looked at the cigarette and he smiled.

He said, ” What is this?” there was cigarette came down on the floor and Prabhupada just kicked away the pack of cigarettes and he said, ” Do you want one little stick of tobacco to stand between you andKrishna, God?” Prabhupada had such compassion? He took the name of God, he prayed to God, he  followed the process of bhakti. And from the Padma Puran, Rupa Goswami explains – the power of bhakti actually pulls out the root of the weed of sinful desires, removes the cause of these addictions and fills our heart with loving service to the Lord. Within a matter of a week, Shyamsundar gave up the smoking of cigarettes. Something that was so difficult became so easy. Why? Because he replaced it with something higher -‘param dristva nivartate’ this is the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita. Unless you experience a higher taste, it is very difficult to continue and be able to give up our lower conditional habits. Krishna says we must conquer lower self with higher self. So in association, proper association, we learn how to replace bad habits with good habits. Srila Prabhupada gives the example of Maharaj Pariksit. When he was in the womb of his mother, he sawKrishnawho came to save him. And because he sawKrishna, at such an early age, he was habituated toKrishna, it was such a habit that after he came out of his mother’s womb. He was looking forKrishnaeverywhere and in everyone. Srila Jiva Goswami explains if a parent gives the child the proper impression ofKrishnathen the child will naturally be like Maharaj Pariksit; will naturally loveKrishna, will naturally be able to overcome these vices. If they are raised in proper environment and even if they have some difficulties, they will have the inner impression that will help to overcome it. We have two examples here. Gauranga Kishor Prabhu and Vishvambhar Prabhu, please stand up. These two boys were born devotees inAmerica. Their parents are wonderful devotees. They imbibed within them a real impression of Krishnain their hearts. But due to association with American society and school they became quiet crazy. Yes, Last time, I saw Vishvambhar, he had long matted hair. He was like a wireman. And Gauranga Kishor also, they were experimenting with so many things, yes. But because that impression was given to them in their youth as soon as they came in proper association with Lokanath Goswami and other  devotees, naturally attraction to the holy name, attraction to a pure life. So what is the main responsibility of the parents? To give their children spiritual habits, so there is not this vacuum to sill it with materialistic habits. How one becomes habituated to positive spiritual activities? There are so many examples. There was a young boy, his name was Gopal, he was living in Jagannath Puri at the time of Lord Caitanya. There was one man he saw, that man was so deeply immersed in chanting the holy names; he was habituated to chanting the holy names, his tongue just wouldn’t stop chanting. He would constantly chanting:

Hare Krishna …

Always chanting, he was tasting such nectar, he just couldn’t stop. He was addicted to the nectar of love of God that was coming from chanting of the Holy names. So when he had to go to respond to the call of nature, he was thinking, “I shouldn’t chant God’s names when I am performing these types of duties, responding to callings of the body. So he was holding his lota in one hand, in his left hand and with his right hand he was holding his tongue, because as soon as he let go : Hare Krishna Hare Krishna….

So little Gopal saw him, ” what are you doing?” “You can’t stop chanting” ” Its habit, I chant, but I am going to pass stool, when I am chanting? …Krishnain that situation.Krishnais non different from his name. Hare Krishna. And gopal said, ” Don’t you know the teaching of Lord Caitanya? — nama nama akari bahuda nija sarva shakti…?”

In the verse Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu says thatKrishnais present personally in His name with all of His opulences, with all of His powers; and there are no hard and fast rule for chanting the holy names. So you can chant the names anywhere and there is no offence. You can chant the names of God anywhere, in any situation and it is all-auspicious. Hare Krishna.. and be happy. Lord Caitanya happened to see him say that and he was so happy with the way he preached, he had such a faith in the holy name, that Lord Caitanya named that little boy ‘Gopal guru’ and he became one of the greatest acharyas of our Sampradaya. If we do good for others, if we do the service of the Lord for the welfare of humanity, it becomes our nature. There is a story about a sage who sitting on the river bank and a bye passer happened to see him. A scorpion falling in the water and he picked it up. And it stung him.. ahh! It stung and fell out of his hand and he picked it up again from the water ahh!, it dropped, picked it up again ahh! The person said are you crazy? what are you doing? Are you crazy? Because the scorpion keeps on… you, let it drown. The man said, “It is the nature of the saintly person to show compassion to those who are suffering.” Now I am not telling you that we should pick up scorpions. We cannot artificially imitate. But we can condition ourselves that our second nature is to live for the welfare of others, to glorify God in everything we do, in everything we speak, and all our thoughts, that is our nature.

Srila Prabhupada explained that this chanting of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna …

Is not an artificial impression of mind. This chanting of Hare Krishna awakens our original, natural consciousness. Krishna Consciousness is our nature.

nitya siddha krishna prema …

It is everyone’s nature to love God. But we have created so many conditionings that we have been bereft of that great treasure that is within our own hearts. We must invoke that original spiritual consciousness through developing good habits in good association. Someone asked Srila Prabhupada, “Can you show me a miracle?”. He wanted to see creating some ashes or creating some gold, or reading his mind or telling him who is mother was or when his mother died. These are miracles. Many mystics demonstrate to the world but Srila Prabhupada explained that “My miracle is I’ve transformed hippies into ‘happies’ by inspiring them with the association ofKrishna, His name, His beautiful form. These people who were addicted to all kinds of materialistic activities who were malice and rebellious are now well behaved, gentle and blissful. They are lovers of God. The only solution to the real problems of the world is to awaken our natural love forKrishna. Without that we have to fill the emptiness of our hearts with so many artificial impositions. We have to, why not fill our hearts with what the heart is thirsting and longing for? The nectar of love…

I’ve seen devotees, it’s their habit, as soon as they wake up in the morning, they offer, they bow down to the Lord and pray to Him. Its just, they do the thing, they get up in the morning and bow down immediately. Have you seen? It is a habit. They start their day surrendering their lives to God and offering Him prayers. Of course, within that habit, the habit is the form in which it is facilitated the spirit of our prayer, the spirit of our devotion, the spirit of our ideals. Srila Prabhupada told us that he had shed hundreds of tons of blood to bring one person to Krishna Consciousness. That is the spirit of his compassion and wasn’t something artificial, it was his nature that is the nature of one who loves Krishna. When we have that pure consciousness, when we have that pure love, we can naturally overcome all our habits and then we can express our love in everything we do, in our business, in our family. Krishna Consciousness is not the art of obligation; it is the art of transformation. Transform your family life into an offering to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Transform your occupational endeavor to that which is an expression of your love of Godhead. Every aspect of our life becomes spiritualized naturally when our heart is pure. So, please, I beg you all with all earnestness from my heart, take these words very seriously. The world is in desperate need of purification of heart, even in the name of religion, there is hatred, terrorism, sectarianism and envy what to speak of secular society? There is pollution all over, as an expression of pollution within the people’s minds. So whether you are engineers, or doctors, or business people, or students or whether politicians; whatever field of profession you may go into; try to work for salvation of humanity. If you are not a part of the solution, then you are a part of the problem. Every spirit soul, every person is such a valuable significant child of God.

Lord Caitanya explained that all the wealth in all creation in not as valuable to him as one person. That is God’s feeling and as a servant of God, we want to offer all respect and offer proper example, which will elevate and enlighten society. We cannot estimate how powerful good example is. The youth ofIndiais so close toKrishna, but running in an opposite direction. Please seriously consider what really is valuable in life. Don’t subject yourself to succumb to degrading habits of this world, cultivate auspicious, good, spiritual habits. Purify the heart. Learn to love God and learn to love every living being in the service of God and make a real significant difference in the world today.

I thank you very much.

Hare Krishna


Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.