Unity is Strength
Hare Krishna. My gratitude to our honored chief guest, Sheriff and his good wife, for so kindly coming this evening. I welcome all our special guests. Everyone is special guest. Thank you very much for coming.
Tonight’s topic has been pondered, reflected, and pursued since time immemorial—how to create unity within this world? One of the greatest powers in all fields of life is unity. But there is a fundamental problem, that there are so many diversified distinctions between living beings. Everyone has their own conception of their identity, and this creates a natural conflict amongst those who look different, think different, or act different. There has always been conflict between the castes, not only in India but all over the world, it may go by different names. There is the educational class, there is the administrative class, there is the working class, there is the class of trade and agriculture. There has always been distinctions and conflict between nationalities, between races, between religions, between generations of people’s ages, between sexes, between philosophers. On practically every level of the world, there is reason for conflict. Even with a family, there’s the older brother and the younger brother, that creates conflict because everyone has their separate, independent interests. There is an example: if you throw a stone in a clear pond of water, wherever that stone falls it will create a circle and that circle will expand, expand, expand. If you put another stone and throw it into another part of that water, it will create another center, and from that center more and more the circle will get bigger and bigger. However many different places you put stones, there will be different circles, and they will all collide and create a tumultuous situation in the water. However, if you put every stone or throw every stone in the same place, because there is the same center, there is no conflict.
How to create a center that we agree on in a world of such immense ego, competition, and diversity? This is a great challenge. Because wherever there is unity, there is great power and strength to create a peaceful situation in society. Let us examine from a very relative, practical viewpoint how unity creates strength. Maharaja, Haribol! Bhakti Vishrambha Madhava Maharaja, we are very happy that you have come. In the United States of America, on December 7th in the 1940’s which happens to be my birthday, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, which was the largest naval base in America. Most of the American navy was destroyed by surprise. Now before that, Churchill in England and everyone else in the European continent was begging, pleading with America to get involved in World War II because the Germans were conquering one nation after another after another after another and Hitler was teaching tremendous racism, but America did not want to get involved, that’s the other side of the ocean. In fact, they were still suffering from a major depression where practically the entire nation was in poverty. But when the bombs came to their own backyard, they realized, “We have to fight this. Whether we like it or not, we are in the world war. It’s not a matter of choice. It is a matter of emergency.” Actually, sometimes emergencies bring people together like nothing else. Why? Because there’s a higher purpose involved. At that time, every newspaper, every magazine, billboards all over America, there was one slogan: United we stand, divided we fall. It was a matter or life or death—United we stand, divided we fall. So what did the people do? Hundreds and thousands of men volunteered for the military. The ladies went into different industrial complexes to work. In fact, during the years of World War II you will see there were no automobiles manufactured. All the automobile plants, all the steel plants, practically every industrial plant in America was simply working for the interest of the nation. They weren’t concerned so much with their own personal private profits. They were working together making military machinery to fight, to build battleships, to build airplanes, to build ammunition, to make the uniforms of the soldiers, to provide food. Because of that unity, they won the war. That is the strength of unity.
And here in India, Mahatma Gandhi, one man, he unified the nation in such an incredible way. One little old man who had a vow of ahimsa, nonviolence, what could he do to the British Empire? The British Empire at that time was the most widespread, powerful force on earth practically, but this one small, old personality had the power to unify millions and millions and millions of people and brought the British Empire to their knees. United we stand, divided we fall. These are simple examples of the strength of unity.
In industry, there was a man named Henry Ford. The great grandson of Henry Ford, Ambarisa Prabhu, was sitting right here just a few weeks ago giving a lecture to our audience. He revolutionized the industrial world. How? By creating unity. There were other people who were making cars or automobiles, but he created the assembly line. Now, it’s a simple concept, but it was revolutionary. What is the assembly line? Where everybody is just working completely in unity with one another, everyone is like one part of the machine working in harmony, and that was producing cars so radically fast that he became a multi-multimillionaire and everyone else followed his way. Through unity, he gave great strength to the whole industrial world.
In sports, recently a person who was the most popular and famous athlete in the United States, he spoke something which was very interesting to hear. He was a basketball star. His name is Michael Jordan. Have you heard of him? Has anybody in India heard of this person, Michael Jordan? He was in a game and there were seconds left. If he scored, and the game was tied, yes? There were seconds left till the end, and he was in a position where he could easily throw the ball, and if he made that score, he would have earned or established a world record in the history of basketball for making points in a game, and everybody was so excited because he was so close and he could now make that point and there was only seconds remaining, and to everyone’s great surprise, he passed the ball to one of his teammates who was closer to the basket and that person made the point and they won the game. The newspapers asked him, “Why did you do that? You could have gone down in history.” And he said, “I am not concerned with that. When I’m playing, I’m only concerned with the team. If you want a strong team, every team player has to think in term of the team first and one’s individual interest last; otherwise, the team cannot be a champion team.” He said, “That other teammate, even though it was an easy shot for me, it was an easier shot for him, so by giving it to him, we would have more chance of winning the game. That is more important than me going down in history.” That is why that team won almost every championship, world championship in that decade. That is the strength of unity.
Actually, when things are unified, they’re beautiful. What makes music beautiful? Harmony. And what is harmony? Unity. It’s not that the violin is playing one thing and then the flute playing whatever they want and the drums are playing whatever they want and the guitar is playing whatever he wants, organ is playing whatever…[chuckles]. When there’s harmony, when all the voices are trying to make one voice. Not that ‘I’m heard’ but ‘we’re all heard.’ When all the instruments are trying to combine together unified to make one sound, then that harmony creates such beauty, such musical talent.
In food, what makes nice taste, especially here in India, is someone who knows how to blend spices in a very unified way, yes Mataji? [Laughs]. Sometimes we go to houses where people just, “Let’s throw this in and let’s throw this in and aaah…” [Laughter]. But when somebody knows, “Oh! This spice will compliment this spice and this spice will compliment…” to make one flavor, then the food is delicious, it’s pleasing to the heart and to the taste.
Similarly in architecture, when there’s harmony, when there’s balance in the design and in the structure, we understand…if you go in the next room, you’ll see what’s happening [Laughs]. When there’s structural construction, every beam is depending on every other beam for its strength, that’s unity. In a machine, if every part of the machine is not working together in harmony with every other part of the machine, there’s a breakdown. And in the family, without unity between the husband and wife, then how will there be unity amongst the children. In the west, 70% divorce rate within 3 years of marriage in America. Why? And 98% of juvenile delinquency are people from divorce homes who are in prison, young people. How much destruction disunity creates, and how much power unity can give us to overcome all obstacles.
Nature within this world, although it works in such perfect harmony and unity, it is by nature especially in this age of kali in the process of destroying unity. It is a law of nature; the law of gravity is to push everything down. Yes? What goes up must come down. Simple demonstration, now I push it up and it goes down. Everything by nature is going in a downward motion. We have to actually fight against this law to find peace, to find sanctity, to find organization, and to find unity in this world. It is a fact. Time disintegrates everything. That is the law of nature. And in this age of kali, which is an age of quarrel and hypocrisy as we have said before, there are so many different types of egos, and every ego thinks in terms of ‘my own interest’, ‘my own purpose.’ Sociologists and psychologists have called the world today the ‘I society’ where everyone is thinking of ‘I, me, and mine.’ So many different interests, so much conflict, and as our honorable Sheriff has explained, so much tension [chuckles]. And for people to be happy, they have to be free from these tensions created by disunity.
What is the meaning of yoga? Yoga means unity. What is the meaning of religion? Religion comes from the Greek word religio, which means to bind back, to be in harmony, to be in unity. Every living being has a body, has a mind, and has a consciousness, and the consciousness is the energy emanating from the soul or the atma. So to harmonize the body, the mind, and the soul is the art of yoga. If we don’t have unity within ourselves, then is it possible for us to create unity in the world around us? No! You can’t give something you don’t have, even if you have all good intentions. If you have no money and you poor people and you want to help them, then you have to get a job and make money so you can help them. Otherwise, of course you could pray for them, which is…but unless you have spiritual sanctification there will be no potency even to your prayer. If we have unity, we can create unity. If our mind is in conflict, if our mind is not balanced with our body and with the needs of the soul, then there is a fundamental disunity in our life. And when there’s so many dysfunctional people—they may be simple people in the streets, they may be big, big politicians, big, big industrialists—but if they are not in harmony with their own consciousness, if their mind, body, and soul are not one in interest, in purpose, if they are not unified, then there’s problems. There could be no real peace, there could no real happiness, there can be no real love. That is what yoga means, simply to unite. To unite the body with nature, that is hatha-yoga. To create unity within the mind and the body, that is pranayama. To create unity with the mind and the atma, that is jnana. To create unity between the soul and God, that is bhakti. That is the complete yoga system—unity. And in that unified condition, we can actually express that natural innate love that we have found in our own life in everything we do in the world.
One such great personality was Maharaja Yudhisthira. In Mahabharata there is a famous story. Duryodhana was such a crooked politician and Yudhisthira was such a good politician. See, politician doesn’t mean good or bad, politician means [chuckles] according to your heart. Yudhisthira was a king who was ‘Dharmaraja,’ who was the very embodiment of dharma or compassion, love, and self control, and Duryodhana was an embodiment of greed and envy and anger. So Duryodhana banished Yudhisthira and his brothers to live in the forest as hermits. He literally stole away all their property, and they had beautiful palace in Indraprastha, so much incredible wealth; he took everything away and cast them into the forest for 12 years. And to make things worse, he wanted to go there and flaunt his opulence and power just to humiliate them, but on the way, Duryodhana was caught in a fight with a gandharva and Duryodhana’s people, Karna and others, they were defeated, they had to actually run away. At that time, one of Duryodhana’s people came running to the Pandavas and said, “Help us! Help us!” And Bhima said, “Help them? Let them reap the results of their own sins,” but Yudhisthira Maharaja said, “No! We will go and we will fight. We will give our lives to fight to protect him.” “Aaah! The man has cheated you! The man has humiliated you, and you wanna fight for him?” Yudhisthira Maharaja said, “We are all Kurus. The Kurus are now divided into the Pandavas and the Kurus but we’re all descendents of Kuru.” He said, “When we’re fighting amongst ourselves, there is a 100 of them and there are 5 of us, but when any outside force comes to attack any of us, then we become a 105.” Unity is strength.
On the battlefield, every soldier is completely dependent on all of his comrades. When there’s thousands of people shooting guns and bombs at you, singlehandedly, what can you do? Your life, your survival is dependent on all the others around you. Yes? It’s not that you look at your other comrades who are fighting along with you and think, “I don’t like the color of your skin” or “I don’t like the things you eat” or “I don’t like the way your eyebrow goes up and down” or “I don’t like the way you smell” or “I don’t like what your wife said to me 2 years ago.” No! You understand that “I need you and you need me or we perish,” that’s what war is about. In the front lines, everyone is dependent on everyone else. This world is a place where war is always going on—the battle of good and evil, the battle of sin and piety, of religiosity and irreligiosity, of love and sectarian hatred. We need each other.
In Bombay, there are so many chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous. In the world there is Drugs Anonymous, there is Sex Anonymous, there is gambling anonymous, and actually these organizations have been very, very successful in saving, salvaging people’s lives. And what is their power? Their power is 2 things: (1) Having the association of each other and (2) Learning together to depend on the power of God which is beyond our own. The unified power of all of us coming together, we can help each other to access a power beyond our own to actually overcome these very great problems.
In the Christian religion, Lord Jesus Christ has said, “A house that is divided against itself is a house that cannot stand.” In fact, Lord Jesus, by his own example wanted to prove this as one as his last lesson to his disciples. At the last dinner that they were taking together, Lord Jesus went to each and every one of his disciples to wash their feet with his own hands and then dry them with his own cloth. And the first of them, Peter, he said, “Master, I can’t let you wash my feet. I’m your servant!” And Lord Jesus said, “No, you must! I must teach all of you a lesson. If this is how I treat each of you, then how should you treat each other?” Jesus washed the feet of every one of his followers and dried it with his cloth that he was wearing to teach them if this is how I honor and respect each of you, how should you honor and respect each other?
Our beloved godbrother Sridhar Swami Maharaja would like to tell a special story in regard to this principle that a Christian church was having very difficult times. They were just losing members, they weren’t growing, it was just going down. So they approached a very saintly person and said, “Can you tell us how to build the church up again?” And this person replied, “I cannot tell you how to build up your church, but I can tell you one thing for sure, that the messiah has appeared as one of the members of your church—that I know for sure. But I can’t tell you who it is.” So when they heard that, each one of them thought that all the others could be the messiah. So they overlooked their faults because after all, he could be our savior, and they respected each other and they honored each other and they served each other and they loved each other and the church grew and grew and grew and flourished because there was such internal unity amongst them. But this is difficult because maya, the illusory energy, kali, the influence of quarrel and hypocrisy literally is terrorizing the world and shackling it to greed, ego, lust, envy, anger, pride. It is so easy to find faults with others. We become unified when we see, despite all of our diversity we agree on a higher principle.
Our beloved parama guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, he often used a very, very interesting technique to resolve differences in his disciples because even in a spiritual organization there are different opinions and there may still be different types of ego, and because of that we find faults with one another. And when we find faults with one another we offend each other and then there’s actions and reactions and actions and reactions and one little thing could just develop into so many serious conflicts. So when he saw two people did not like each other, they were fighting, he would bring them in a room. He was the guru. And he would order one, “I want to hear the good qualities of that devotee.” This is very difficult [Laughter] because you are accustomed to find faults. When you are in the fault-finding mentality, you don’t see the good. He used to say that finding a fault with a spiritual person is like looking at the pock marks on the moon. The moon is generating volumes and volumes and volumes of light, so beautiful, “Look at that mark in the moon!” You can’t see the goodness because you’re not looking. So that person would have to tax his brain and find some good quality. He’d say, “Another good quality, another good quality,” and soon he was speaking so many good qualities, after some time he would think, “Actually his faults are insignificant!” And when they would both think about the good qualities of each other, they would realize how actually insignificant the other’s faults were. Then there’s unity. Unity in a higher principle.
Our beloved gurudeva, Srila Prabhupada, taught us a very, very simple but deep message. He said, “You will show your love for me by how you cooperate with one another.” He gave an example of a father who had two sons and the sons were in conflict with each other. So the father asked the two sons to massage him, and they were both doing the best possible massage on either side to get the father’s attention. But then, one of them had a good idea. He reached over to the other son’s side secretly and scratched his father [Laughter], and then the other reached over to the other son’s side and pinched the father and the other one poked the father, and the other one…in this way the father was suffering [Laughter]. That is actually the case.
The Lord, according to the fourth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, he told the sons of Pracinabarhisat that “because you have friendly and loving relationships with one another I am very pleased and I will bestow upon you all benedictions.” In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says ahaà béja-pradaù pitä. This is a universal principle. Whether you read the Quran or the Bible, Old testament, New testament, Bhagavad-gita, there is one God, ahaà béja-pradaù pitä, and that one God is the father of all living entities, the mother of all living entities. We are all children. That is reality. And we must show our love for our father by how we treat our brothers and sisters. No matter how many gifts you give to your father and mother, if you punch your brother in the face, are they gonna be pleased with your gifts? No! They’re gonna be pleased not only by the gifts that you…the gifts that you offer them will be meaningful when they’re offered with love, and that love is expressed by understanding the heart of the mother and the father. They love all their children, and there’s nothing greater to a mother and father than seeing the children love each other. I’m a sannyasi, so I don’t have children like that but mothers and fathers, is that the truth? Which is greater pleasure to you? Winning the lottery and making a crore of rupees if your children hate each other, are fighting each other and are going to fight in the courts over what you won in the lottery? [Laughter]. Or does it please you when you find unity and love and trust amongst those you love? That is natural.
Ahaà béja-pradaù pitä, Krishna is the seed-giving father of all living beings, that is Gita. And what does Gita say a mahatma is? A mahatma is a person who has broad mind.
brähmaëe gavi hastini
çuni caiva çva-päke ca
This is the definition of pandita according to Gita. Pandita doesn’t mean how many slokas you can recite, pandita doesn’t mean how many yajnas you can perform. A real pandita is not somebody who just dresses a certain way with a certain hairstyle, wears a tilaka, and can quote scriptures. A pandita is a person who sees everyone with equal vision, paëòitäù sama-darçinaù. One who sees a learned brahmana, a simple mendicant, a street-sweeper, a cow, an elephant, a dog, a candala, one who sees them all with equal vision and treats them all with respect, that is a pandita.
We see so much diversity, but how to actually find the oneness in all the diversities in this world? The United Nations have tried. They began after World War I with The League of Nations but then there was World War II, so they made the United Nations, and still there’s so much conflict in this world. Although these various social and political efforts are necessary within society to keep order and try to create some unity, essentially, it can only really be done on the level of truth on the spiritual platform. If we are going to see unity in diversity, we have to understand how we are all unified, how we are all one despite all the apparent differences.
Krishna explains in Gita, mamaiväàço jéva-loke jéva-bhütaù sanätanaù, that all living entities, wherever there is life, that is the presence of the soul. Consciousness is the symptom of the presence of the soul. Now, what is the nature of that consciousness, what is the nature of every living entity? That we are all part and parcel of the Supreme, we are all children of the same source, janmädy asya yataù. The Absolute Truth is from whom everything emanates. We are all spiritual. We’re all part of God. We’re all brothers and sisters. If your sister has a disease, do you hate your sister or you hate the disease? If the disease is there, you hate the disease but you feel compassion, which is a symptom of love for your sister. So yes, there are people acting in very crazy, violent, and unethical ways, but deep within their heart is the atma, is the soul, which is pure, which is part of God, which is our brother and sister. In a person who understands the self, there can be ego, there can be no hatred toward anyone. There can only be love, and for those who are unfortunate, there is compassion. That is knowledge of the truth. We are all part of God, and when we develop our own inner awareness of our own relationship with the Supreme, then naturally we see every living entity in connection to that relationship. That is the inner unity extending to create unity within the world.
We find according to the Bhagavata Purana, the greatest power of those who are learned and realized is the power of love and the power of forgiveness. We take so many little things so seriously, we take all of our differences so seriously because we are not aware of our oneness. It is not that oneness means we are all just one homogeneous, impersonal substance. Our oneness is in our common relationship with the supreme object of all love or God or Krishna. To realize that oneness, to understand that oneness can create unity in diversity.
The communists tried to just create oneness, one class, yes? But all over the world they failed in so many ways because you can’t force oneness. There are people who think differently, there are people with different natures, with different inclinations. There is unlimited diversity and variety in this world. We cannot artificially try to make everything one, but we can understand and realize within ourselves through inner purification how there is a oneness underlying all the variety and cultivate and develop that. The scripture explains when you put water in the root of the tree every part of the tree grows—the leaves, the branches, the twigs, the flowers. And what is the root of all the trees? Ahaà sarvasya prabhavo mattaù sarvaà pravartate, to cultivate our own inner awareness of the Supreme and understand what Krishna or what God wants of us and to actively and dynamically live in this world, work in this world with that basic foundational experience in our heart. What was the difference between Arjuna and Duryodhana? Duryodhana was a warrior and Arjuna was a warrior. Duryodhana fought and ruled out of greed and envy, and Arjuna fought and ruled out of compassion and love. One created dharma and the other created adharma. And although Duryodhana appeared for sometime to prosper in his sinful ways, in the end, he crashed down and lost everything. And although the Pandavas appeared to be losing everything, because they were representing and holding on to their dharma, in the end, they gained the world.
There is an inner disunity within all of our hearts. The mind is the battlefield. The dualities of life are always competing with one another. From the spiritual platform, while working in this world to do good, we must simultaneously actually realize the art of love, the art of yoga, to be united body, mind, and soul, and soul with God. And then whether we are business people or students or industrialists or architects or teachers or farmers or politicians, whatever we may be, or soldiers, we express that inner knowledge, that inner love, that inner compassion in everything we do. Is there anything that is greater needed in the world than that mentality within human beings? Technology is good provided it’s in the right hands. If it’s in the wrong hands, knowledge and technology could be the most destructive force on earth, and if it’s in the right hands, it can do so much good for so many people. So just creating people who can earn, just creating people who can invent, that’s not gonna help the world in itself unless people become holistic, unless people become united with their own inner spiritual nature and act with dynamic compassion in this world on that basis.
Srila Prabhupada quoted from Aesop’s Fables. He said, “There was a father, and the father had children that were always fighting [laughs].” Do you have that experience? “So, he gave them a very nice lesson. He took many sticks, put them together and tied them up. When they were bound together, he gave them to each son and said, “I wanna see you break these sticks,” and they were trying, they couldn’t break it, that bunch of sticks. None of the sons could break a single stick. And he untied it and took out one stick at a time and each of them was easily broke. United we stand, divided we fall. Our strength is in our unity. Not only as nations, not only as races, not only as families but even within religion, and the greater the service we can do to society, the larger we expand this principle of compassion. There’s nationalism, then there’s humanitarianism—that means for all human beings—but that’s limited too. The greatest compassion is for every living entity, even for the animals and the fish and the birds in the sky, to see the unity we have with all of them, even our unity with the trees and the plants. We’re all part of God. We can show our love for God by how we respect, how we serve, how we honor, and how we love each other. That is the greatest necessity to create a very, very deep form of real unity, and that unity—the unity of inner compassion born of unity between the soul and God is the greatest strength on earth.
Srila Prabhupada, he had that unity, the unity of his own consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness, with Krishna. Out of compassion to the world, he went to America. He had 7 dollars, 40 rupees. In 1965, no one wanted rupees in America, he couldn’t exchange it. In other words, he went to America with nothing on a cargo ship. And on that cargo ship across the Arabian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean he had several heart attacks, and he was 70 years old and he didn’t know anyone, and no one from India had any faith that he could possibly succeed in spreading pure sanatana dharma in the west, so he had no contributions, no help. But he had one thing, he had a sense of inner unity with Krishna or with God within his heart. His mind was at peace. Pure love of God is the nature of every living being. Pure love for all living beings is everyone’s nature. He had that compassion, he had that love, and there is no greater strength, there is no greater power than love—the love of the soul. Beyond the emotional love of the mind and the senses is the love of the soul for God. This is beyond all sectarian ideologies, this is the essence, sanatana dharma. The eternal occupation of all living beings is to express their inner love for God in whatever they speak, whatever they do, and whatever they think, that is our nature. This 70-year-old man who had nothing, within a few short years, printed millions of Vedic literatures that were published and distributed tens of millions, opened hundreds of centers, had hundreds and thousands of followers. What was his strength? Simply his unity.
This inner unity with God, that is yoga. Each and every one of us within our own hearts had unlimited tremendous spiritual power. The process of yoga or the real, true process of religion is not just to perform some rituals and have some social identity in which you protect yourself from other people with a different religious or social identity. The essence of real religion or yoga is to access that incredible spiritual power and to express it in every aspect of our life. Then with a pure heart we can overcome so many obstacles that seem so impossible.
On such a fundamental level as marriage, people divorce, in the west, 70% within 3 years and India it’s growing, growing, growing. How to protect from that? I remember when I was a little child, I was about 8 or something, and my parents had an argument and they were disturbed. And I heard my mother saying, she said, “Your father is very nice and everyone likes him and everyone likes me but somehow we don’t like each other. I don’t know if our marriage will last.” And I was just a little boy sitting on her bed. I remember, she was putting some pencil on her eyebrows in the mirror while she was talking to me [laughs]. I started to cry. I didn’t say anything, I just cried. When my father came home, she told, “You know, our son, when I said that we may separate, he cried.” I heard them say, “For the rest of our lives, we will never separate for the sake of our child.” My mother left this world in December of last year married to my father for 58 years because they united on a higher principle than their own conflict. And the strength of that unity kept them together and actually I saw that such incredible, deep affection they had for each other through the sacrifice of staying together. Now, I’m a sannyasi, so obviously I wasn’t so influenced by that [Laughter] but I was on another level because it’s a universal principle. In marriage, there you may unify on the principle of romance or you’re beautiful and I’m beautiful but the bodies change. Don’t have faith that you’ll remain attracted to the beauty of a woman or a man. And the minds change because two egos will have so many differences. That’s why according to religious principles, you take a vow, so you have to stay together no matter what because you have made a vow. You have a responsibility to each other, you have a responsibility to God, you have a responsibility to your children if there is, and through that sacrifice of somehow or other tolerating each other and forgiving each other, you actually learn to really love each other much deeper than the love of the glances and the touches or the words.
And that holds true with spiritual organizations. I have often told the story that there were people who I was working with in the spiritual path that I am following now who I had nothing in common with. In fact, I really did not like them, I couldn’t tolerate them, and they couldn’t tolerate me either [laughs], the kind of people that I would never have anything to do with in my previous life, the kind of people we just…myself and my friends wouldn’t even look in the direction of such people, and here I am working hand in hand with them! We didn’t get along, but on the basis of spiritual principle we understood we have so many differences—differences of opinions, differences of ways—we didn’t agree on anything except one thing—that the goal of life is to love God and in order for us to love God we have to love each other. That person became my very best friend after a couple years, such honor, such respect, such spontaneous affection earned through sacrifice. The strength of unity, when it is founded within the heart on the spiritual level is the greatest power on earth, a power that can heal, a power that can remove tension [chuckles]. Unless we remove the tension within ourself, how are we going to remove it in other people’s lives? Ceto-darpaëa-märjanaà bhava-mahä-dävägni-nirväpaëaà.
Therefore, there is a simple universal principle in which we can eradicate envy within ourselves, envy for God, and envy for all other living beings because it is really this principle of ego and envy that is the problem. When a mirror is covered with dirt, when you look at the mirror, what do you see? Dirt. The mirror is supposed to reflect yourself. We must clean that mirror so that we can see our own true self, which is eternal, full of knowledge, and full of bliss, which is part of God, which loves God, and extends that love to all beings. That is the nature of the heart. The simple process of cleaning the heart is chanting the names of the Lord, nämnäm akäri bahudhä nija sarva çaktis, because all the various names of God revealed through the holy scriptures in this world have the power and potency to clean our hearts if they are chanted with a proper state of mind. Therefore, paraà vijayate çré-kåñëa-saëkértanam, the prime benediction for all humanity which can create peace and unity, on a spiritual level that extends to every other level of the world, is the congregational chanting of God’s names. Why congregational? Because when we chant together, we unify one another, we unify our consciousness, our minds, our hearts in the oneness of our love for God. It is a beautiful experience. There are many mantras, but the Kali-santarana Upanisad explains there is a maha-mantra, which has a very powerful effect of cleaning the heart. This is not a sectarian idea; this is a universal principle—cleaning the heart and realizing our own inner love. And it is for this reason that we chant the holy names [Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare].
Lord Caitanya taught the teachings of acintya-bhedabheda tattva, that we are all inconceivably, simultaneously one and different from God, the soul and God. We are one in quality with God, we are sat-cit-ananda and God is sat-cit-ananda, but we are a fragmental particle and God is the Supreme Whole. The oneness between the soul and God is in oneness of love, and acintya-bhedabheda tattva, we are all inconceivably, simultaneously one with one another. We are of the same quality, we are of the same origin, we are all brothers and sisters on the spiritual platform, but we have forgotten that due to the anarthas of ego and pride and lust and anger and envy, greed, and illusion. So there must be a cleansing of these anartha, these unwanted things so that we could realize the actual oneness despite all the diversity amongst ourselves and be well wishers, humble, and forgiving.
Lord Caitanya told the principle in which we should live and chant the names of God:
tåëäd api sunécena
taror api sahiñëunä
kértanéyaù sadä hariù
That one should be humble like a blade of grass. You can step on the grass but the grass will just get right up and render service again, and even if a grass is lying on the street we can step on it. We should be more humble than the blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree. The tree will stand in the summer heat and give you shade. The tree will stand in the cold winter and give its wood to keep you warm, more tolerant than the tree. And then the Lord said, “We should offer all respects to others and expect no respect for oneself.” That is the mood of service. Love means sacrifice. Love means service. As long as we have an individual, personal, egoistic desire to enjoy, there is going to be conflict. As long as we think, “I am the enjoyer and I am the proprietor,” that conception will create so much potential conflict with any other living being, even our own family members. How many family members divorce, how many family members are fighting in courts over property, who is mine, what is mine. Bhoktäraà yajïa-tapasäà sarva-loka-maheçvaram, Bhagavad-gita teaches the unifying peace principle—to understand that God is the proprietor of everything and Krishna is the enjoyer of everything, and we are all meant to work together for that purpose.
So yes, if we really want to make a significant difference in this world, then we must be united on the basis of truth. Krishna explains in Gita what is truth—to know that all living beings are in me, are of me, and are mine. To understand the unity on the spiritual level that we all have which is not just a mental exercise because that only goes so far, it must be realized from within. That is the peace formula, to realize the truth within ourselves, and for all classes of men and women of all occupations to live by that truth, to express that truth, which is revealed in the heart through sanctification of the chanting of the holy names [Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare].
When Lord Caitanya was going through the Jharikhanda forest in Madhya Pradesh, he was chanting in such a way that his compassion was transforming people’s hearts. Now in the forest, the tigers and the deer are historically enemies. Why? Because tiger’s favorite food is deer, yes? So the tiger sees the deer as something to kill and eat and the deer sees the tiger as death personified, so there’s no relationship except hatred and fear. When Lord Caitanya turned to the tigers and deer and invoked them to hear and chant the holy names, the tigers and the deer were embracing each other in love with tears of ecstatic joy in their eyes chanting the holy names [Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare]. He unified all the animals in the forest to become lovers of one another, and there is a verse in the Bhagavatam that he remembered: In Vrndavana, where everyone is in love with Radha and Krishna, even the most inimical beings of the jungles love each other because they have a common unifying principle in their lives—their inner love for God. So yes, our Gurudeva used to say that Lord Caitanya could make the tigers and the deer and the elephants embrace each other with love. If we try to do that…we should not imitate [laughs], we may not survive. He would pick up venomous serpents and say, “Chant harinama,” and the serpent would just, “Hare Kṛishna” and cry in ecstatic love and never hurt anyone because the serpent became ahimsa, nonviolent, compassionate toward all living beings. Now we may not have that power, but at least we can try to create unity, peace, and love amongst human beings by living according to these principles. The art of loving creates the unity which has unlimited spiritual strength, and that is the greatest need in the world today, and each and every one of us can make such a difference if we become humble, if we develop a service attitude rather than an exploitative attitude, if we develop the broad mind to see the oneness and to learn to love all living beings. What a difference each and every one of us could make, and what a difference we could make if we were united on that principle. We can help the Sheriff to make Bombay tension free [laughs] and we could make the world into Vaikuntha, the place where there is no anxieties. I thank you very much. Shyamsunder Prabhu, would you like to speak a few words?
H.G. Shyamsunder Prabhu: By the way, that was one of the most miraculous lectures I’ve ever heard you give. It was wonderful! I just had one small question. Maybe it’s opening a subject that’s too big to cover in a few words, but ultimately, we die alone, we are alone with God, our relationship with God is individual relationship, unique to this particular soul. How does being the member of a spiritual society or a united society of devotees enable one to reach that potential individual relationship or perfection of love for God?
H.H. Radhanath Swami: Thank you. Actually you know better than me, but as a matter of etiquette you are asking. Yes, ultimately, at the time of death, we have to turn to God ourselves, but just like if you’re a pilot, ultimately you have to fly your own plane, but you need help in learning how to fly, so you go to school, yes? And you learn and then you can actually do it yourself. Similarly, spiritually, oà ajïäna-timirändhasya jïänäïjana-çaläkayä. Since time immemorial we are in darkness; therefore, we need association, association that will protect us from the forces of temptation because we are what we associate with. In the self-realized state, we are atmarama, we are finding the inner satisfaction of love of God within our hearts, but until we attain that state, we’re very much influenced by our environment. So if we create an environment around us that encourages and inspires us to do the right thing, an environment around us that gives us strength to overcome our weaknesses, then we can easily cross all obstacles. Because the society there’s so much bombardment of various temptations in various ways to forget our true identity, forget our service attitude, yes? So therefore when we have a society of people around us, whether it be a family or whether it be a temple or whether it just be amongst friends, when we have a society around us that is helping us to remain on the straight path of dharma, then it becomes easy. Actually spiritual life is enjoyable, it’s fun, it’s wonderful. It’s not just tapasya. Spiritual life is the greatest excitement, the most dynamic, enjoyable, blissful lifestyle to live. You know that. Shyamsunder Prabhu went to London and made George Harrison and the Beatles Hare Krishna Devotees. They saw they had millions of dollars and fame and everything but they were thinking, “I want what this man has, he’s happy!” And you’re asking me this question [laughs]. When spiritual life is practiced with like-minded people it’s wonderful miracle. That unity gives us the strength to continue on with integrity. That is very important. Is there any other questions?
Question : Namaste Swamiji. We are really thankful for this wonderful presentation that you have given. I have got one question. As you said, we should always associate with good people and that is very critical. Then how we should interact with the bad people. As you said, you should always love with those people also as they are part of God and they are like us only. So if we are surrounded by the bad people, then how we should act because we need good people to avoid the temptations. So in this situation how we should react?
Maharaj : By being a good example. Of course, if it is possible, if people open their minds and hearts for us to speak to them about higher virtues and higher truths in life, then that is our service to them—to offer them that higher ideal, a higher philosophy, which is based on truth. A preacher is not a person who is egoistically thinking, “I know more than you.” A real preacher is one who is humbly serving all living beings by sharing a message that will enlighten them and bring them joy in life, relieve them of suffering. So as far as possible, if we learn the philosophy and the truth nicely ourselves, then we can present it in a way that can help convince others as a service. If people are not willing to hear, then just by our example, if they see that we are dynamic and successful in whatever we do as far as possible and at the same time we do it without greed and without anger but we’re doing it as an expression of love, we’re actually good, we’re spiritual, that will have a tremendous impact on people. So we could try to speak to them, we could try to give them books, we could try to give them prasada, but all of these things will have a much more powerful effect when they see that we live by our ideals because it is a world where people have very difficult time trusting one another because we’re exposed to so much hypocrisy. People say one thing and do another. It is an age, kali means quarrel and hypocrisy. Due to so much hypocrisy, it’s very difficult for people to actually put their faith in each other because “he may be saying this to me or she may be saying like this but what is their hidden agenda, what do they really want, what is the bottomline?” But when we act in a spirit of selfless service, which comes by cleaning our own hearts through chanting the names of God and living a service-oriented life, then people will see, people they will feel the radiation of your spiritual energy and they’ll be able to trust you. They’ll say that this person actually has a simple and innocent heart and I can trust him or her. And when people trust you, then you can do so much good in their lives by your example, by your words. So we should not hate people that are bad. We should feel compassion for them, and we should live in such a way that we can somehow reach their hearts and help them, and if nothing else, we can pray for them. You may not be able to change the world but you could change yourself [chuckles], that you have the power to do, and when you access that spiritual potency, you could do your part, we can all do our parts in making the world a better place.
In building the bridge across the Indian Ocean from Ramesvaram to Srilanka, Hanuman was lifting mountain peaks and putting them in the water, and there was a little spider kicking grains of sand with his little legs. Hanuman told the spider, “Move aside!” and Rama said to Hanuman, “No! You move aside! That spider is doing as much as you. In helping me in my mission of ridding the Ravana of lust and anger and pride and ego from this world, he is doing as much as he can. That spider’s capacity is to kick one grain of sand at a time, you’re capacity is to rip off mountain peaks and put them, but you’re each doing what you can do; therefore, you are both equally perfect in my eyes. So let us be happy just doing our part, whether it’s big or small, and try our best to clean our own hearts to love God and to do actual good in the world. Does that answer your question?
Devotee : Thank you very much.
H.H. Radhanath Swami: Thank you.
Question : Hare Krishna. I have a habit of using Hare Krishna naam in public like with my close friends and my relatives. So sometimes what happened, one of my close friends, I asked them, stop criticizing and giving bad words instead you can be calm and start using harinaam like whenever you feel, you just take harinaam. And they started telling me, “You’re trying to show off. You’re not a devotee, you’re just trying to show off, you’re not what you are,” and that kind of negativity was coming out of them. So what should I do?
Answer : They are accusing you of not being what you are. Haribol! You should not make a show, perhaps you are [laughs]. Therefore, we should cultivate humility, we should cultivate a service attitude, and the more you become genuine, the more people will actually recognize that genuineness in you. So yes, your enthusiasm to share the great gift that you’ve been given, you should continue to have that enthusiasm, that is a wonderful thing. And people may criticize you. That is not important. People will criticize you whatever you do, so you might as well do the right thing [laughs]. There is the story of the man who had a donkey, mule and he was riding on the mule and his son, was walking. So the people criticized, “Why this man is on the mule and making his son walk?” So then he put the son on the mule and he walked. The next day, people said, “Why is the son on the mule and the man has to walk?” So then they both got on the mule [Laughter], and then people say, “Why are these people so cruel to the mule that two people are putting such a burden on it?” So then they came to town and they were both walking along with the mule, and the people said, “Why are they so stupid, they have a mule and they’re both walking?” [Laughter and clapping].
So one great statesman said, “You can please some of the people some of the time but you can never please all the people all the time.” But if we please Krishna our life is perfect. So we should be enthusiastic to do the right thing with the right intention and then let people say what they want to say but we know that God in our heart is pleased, but the more genuine we become, the more that genuineness will also be recognized and influence others.
Question : Hare Krishna, Maharaja! Maharaja, now that we have a Chitrakoot yatra, so I’d like to know as to how this attending yatra, how it will enhance our spirituality and how other ways it will help us. Please enlighten us in this.
Answer : In so many ways it will help you. One of the most sacred traditions of all religions is pilgrimage. In our Vedic religion, there is Vrndavana, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri Gangotri, and there is Tirupati, Ramesvaram, Chitrakoot, Ayodhya, Dwarka, Pandharpur, Kolhapur, Udupi, Varanasi Kashi, so many places, Mayapur, Jagannatha Puri. And for the followers of Islamic faith, their Hajj, they go to Mecca. And for the Jews and the Christians, they go to Jerusalem or Assisi. So every religion, for the Buddhists, they go to Bodhgaya, to Lumbini, to Sarnath, yes? To the Jains, they go to Mount Abu. So for every religion there is their holy places of pilgrimage and it is a very essential element of all paths of spirituality, this idea of pilgrimage. And really, what is pilgrimage? When you go to Chitrakoot, which is very holy place of Lord Sri Rama, Sita, and Laksmana, you will be in a very sanctified place. Not only has the Lord performed his lila there, and on a spiritual level, the Lord is eternally performing his lila there. Such sanctity! But since the time of Sri Rama, great saints, sadhus, rsis, babas, and pilgrims have gone there to perform their worship, to invest the energy of their love and devotion in that place, and that place is radiating the vibrations of the Lord and all the saints who have done their bhajana there. And we’re going leaving behind, at least for the time being, all of our domestic, occupational, or student pressures. We’ll come back to that but we’re putting it on a shelf for now, and we’re going to exclusively dedicate one week of our time to go deep into our spirituality in the association of like-minded saintly persons. It has tremendous power to rejuvenate our spirituality, tremendous power. As some devotees say, it ‘charges their batteries,’ spiritual batteries. All of the anxieties and all of the dualities that we have to deal with every day and try to be spiritual doing, for 7 days we just leave that behind and exclusively put our entire consciousness on hearing the glories of the Lord, praying to the Lord, associating with the devotees of the Lord, worshipping the holy places, and chanting God’s names [Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare]. Day and night, for 7 days, exclusive devotional service away from the cinemas and the televisions and the hoardings of Bollywood and being in sanctified, holy place with people whose one-pointed interest is spiritual sanctification—that experience has a tremendous impact to reinforce our faith and to give us a genuine experience of what we long to achieve in life. Does that answer your question?
Question : Hare Krishna Maharaja! My question, Maharaja, as you’ve given us a very good lecture on this topic “Unity is Strength,” it will really help us. My question is that since you have told the importance of unity in life, but in the age of kali as you have said, the maya empowers in different ways like lust, greed, anger, envy. But if we’ll see in these lust, greed, anger and enviousness, among them there is so much of unity. There is unity among them, they come just together [Laughter]. So as you have said that unity always builds up and makes good of our life and it helps us, only it helps us, it doesn’t take us down, but how this united lust, greed, anger is taking us down and down? Please explain us.
Answer : How the unity of lust, anger, greed, pride, illusion is bringing us down? It’s quite obvious [laughs]. It is a fact that to be good in this world, to be God conscious in this world means to fight a war against illusion, maya. As soon as we want to do something good, as soon as we want to be spiritual, we’re on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. That’s why Gita was spoken on battlefield because to become a devotee of the Lord in this world means you have to fight a battle, and the fact is that the forces of illusion, the forces of lust, envy, anger, pride, greed, and illusion, these enemies are so united, not only united but they have huge forces, yes? And that’s what we have to fight against. That is why we need the power of our own unity. And when that unity is born of the strength of the power of God, then yes, we can overcome all obstacles. The more we understand the power of illusion, maya and how united she has her armies within this world, the more we realize, ayi nanda-tanuja kiìkaraà, daivé hy eñä guëa-mayé mama mäyä duratyayä, that we have to truly humble ourself, we have to truly pray to the Lord: “Let me just be a particle of dust on your lotus feet, then nothing can overcome me.” We have to be so humble and so united in order to truly take shelter of the higher power because only that power can save us from the massive onslaught of the united forces of sin, illusion, and pride, yes? We have to surrender, we have to take shelter with humility, and then all the power of God is there to protect us, but in order to do that we need association, we need to be unified together.
Devotee: So we should only try to defeat this big enemy by being in unity?
H.H. Radhanath Swami: Thank you.
man-manä bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yäjé mäà namaskuru
mäm evaiñyasi satyaà te
pratijäne priyo ‘si me
It is Krishna’s promise. He declares in Gita, “Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me, offer your homage unto Me. In this way you will come to Me. You will win the war against maya. Of this, there is no doubt. This is my promise.” It is not a matter of our intellectual capacity, it is not a matter of how much money or influence we have, maya will conquer us. But if we take shelter of the Lord, we can easily overcome all the onslaughts of maya, that is the Lord’s promise. And that has been witnessed and demonstrated throughout the ages. Whether we’re a simple housewife, whether we’re a farmer, or whether we’re a king, that makes no difference. How we take shelter of the Lord with humility in our hearts, and how sincerely we can chant his holy names [Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare].
I thank you very much.