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The following is based on A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's book Krsna Consciousness, the Matchless Gift (1974). Poignant points from the book's six chapters are rearranged and paraphrased. The focus here is on the Self, which Prabhupada says is Krishna (Bhagavan) inside oneself. That is one way of looking at it.

There is reason to discern between three self-sides: the individual self (jiva); the Self (as Atman); and the Supreme Self (Brahman, Spirit of all). There is ample reference to these three sides to Essence in Indian scriptures. As for individuality, it pertains at bottom to the Atman-Brahman. Also, there is a person-side to the Supreme Self, namely Bhagavan, variously translated into Blessed Lord, Blessed One, or God.

1. Spiritual Knowledge Through Self

A good father and mother never cheat when their son inquires from them; they give exact and correct information.

We are originally pure spirit soul, part and parcel of the Self.

Bhagavad-gita is given by the Supreme primeval person, the Supreme personality of Godhead (Bhagavan). The Bhagavad-gita says: "The living entities in this conditional world are My fragmental parts, and they are eternal. But due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind." (Bg. 15.7)

The treasure house of knowledge is contained in the Vedas, and their author, Vyasadeva, accepts the Supreme personality of Godhead.

The minute particles of the Self's body are therefore qualitatively as good as the Self.

All living entities are part and parcel of the Self. In our uncontaminated condition, we are of a form as good as God's.

The purpose of a Self movement is to bring man back to his original consciousness, which is Self consciousness, clear consciousness. The aim of a Self consciousness movement is to bring all living entities back to their original consciousness.


This material world is manipulated by the external material energy of the Self.

Automatically actually is not that - there is a driver, someone in control, although we sometimes cannot see the controller. A tape recorder works, but it works according to the plans and under the direction of a living entity.

This cosmic manifestation which we call nature is a great machine and behind this machine there is God, Self. The Supreme Self says: "This material nature is working under My direction, . . . producing all the moving and unmoving beings, and by its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again." (Bg. 9.10)

There are two kinds of entities - the moving (such as human beings, animals and insects) and nonmoving (such as trees and mountains). The Self says that material nature, which controls both kinds of entities, is acting under His direction. Thus behind everything there is a supreme controller.

Two knowledge takes

The process of induction, by which, reasoning from particular facts or individual cases, one can arrive at a general conclusion, is never a perfect process. Because we are limited and our experience is limited, it will always remain imperfect.

The Bhagavad-gita recommends this process of knowledge: "This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way." (Bg. 4.2)

2. Getting Out the Material Mire

Dhruva and Prahlada were householders, but they trained themselves in such a way that even as householders they were not faced with interruptions in their service. Therefore Prahlada said, "I have learned the art of always remaining in Self consciousness."

Any people who are God conscious or Self conscious - are compassionate. The Self is the supreme witness.

If we want Self, He will give us a chance to have Him, and if we don't want Self, He will give us a chance to forget Him. After advising Arjuna, Bhagavan simply said, "Now I have explained everything to you. Whatever you desire, you can do."

In Bhagavad-gita Self says that a soul has no birth (na jayate) and that it has no death (mriyate). "For the soul there is never birth or death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain." (Bg. 2.20)

Various realms taught

We try to create a very comfortable situation, but we only succeed in creating another uncomfortable situation. This is the way of the material world.

"I am simply anxious for those who have created a type of civilization in which they are always busy working hard." Prahlada [further:] "here are many saintly persons and sages who are very interested in their own liberation. They think, "Better let me save myself." (Bhag. 7.9.44)

By accepting the chain of birth and death, the soul accepts a diseased condition.

According to the law of karma, or the law governing activities, if we act properly and perform pious activities, we are awarded by good fortune, and if we act sinfully we have to suffer.

"I want to live very happily and peacefully. Is there a chance for this? What is the method or science by which this can be achieved?" One who is intelligent should be eager to solve these four principal problems - birth, death, old age and disease. Where is the solution to these four?

But there is more:

In the Fifth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, the universal realm systems are very fully explained. Within the universe there are lower, middle and higher realm systems. Actually, not only the Bhagavatam but all religious scriptures contain descriptions of hellish or lower realm systems and heavenly or higher systems. After hearing a description of such realms from Sukadeva, Pariksit said: "I have heard from you about the hellish realms. Men who are very sinful are sent to those realms." (Bhag. 6.1.6)

Sukadeva: "Yes, I have already described various hellish conditions typical of a severe and painful life. The point is that one has to counteract such a life." (Bhag. 6.1.7)

3. The Living Entity

Self consciousness is an excellent medicine.

Everyone is God's creature, although in different bodies or dresses.

The dimension of the spirit soul is very minute . . .. The soul is nonetheless within the body, and as soon as it departs, it takes another body according to its work.

Generally the living entity does not know how the spirit soul transmigrates from one body to another.

In ordinary material procreation the father gives the seed and the mother develops the body by supplying the necessary blood to the embryo. Similarly, the living entities, parts and parcels of the supreme father, are impregnated by the Lord in material nature.

In the Manu-samhita the concept of a life for a life is sanctioned. Similarly, there are other laws which state that one cannot even kill an ant without being responsible.

A soul

We are spirit soul (aham brahmasmi). Our engagements should be eternal because we are eternal. By comparison, the finger is part and parcel of the total body, and its eternal function is to serve the body.

Human life is meant for victory over the laws of material nature.

Those who try to deny Self and live outside of any relationship to Him are actually leading a messy life.

A devotee may suffer for all but a particular devotee's disciples should not take advantage of this facility and continue to commit sins he should stop committing sins.

Human animals

(The Hitopadesa): One may seat a dog on a royal throne, but as soon as he sees a shoe, he will immediately jump down and run after it simply because he is a dog.

Animals are not educated - they are not technicians, and they have no university degrees. Real education enables us to understand what we are.

One difficulty in this material world is that we take more than we need and thus create our own problems. Problems are created by men, led by the so-called politicians.

If we do not follow sensible regulations, we easily lapse into animalism (brutish fares).

God realization is not possible for animals or for persons who are almost animals, or for animals in the shape of human beings.

In New York City, great hordes of people travel from one island to another by ferry boat or wait for subways in order to go to the office for the purpose of finding food. How is this an advancement over animal life?

Real civilization is not concerned simply with man's animal needs.

In Bhagavad-gita the peace formula is clearly given, and a style of life in which everything is done for Self, promotes the development of the Self consciousness.

According to Ayur Veda, the material body is composed of three elements, kapha-pitta- vataih - mucus, bile and air.

Hindu Atonements

One can go on experimenting by atoning, but the diseases of the soul will remain unless one comes to the platform, which is Self-attunement by and large.

In Hinduism there are different atonements for different sinful activities.

We will have to suffer the effects of our sins . . .

One may kill an animal to enjoy eating it, but he will be bound by such an action.

4. Learning Tapasya, Self-Control

In the Bhagavatam Sukadeva declares that real atonement necessitates thoughtfulness, sobriety and meditation.

Sukadeva said that merely counteracting karma, fruitive activities, by other activities cannot bring one's miseries to a final end. For example, the United Nations is attempting to establish peace in the world, but they cannot stop war. War breaks out again and again.

Sukadeva said that one kind of war causes a disturbance, and another kind of war stops it for some time, but that is not the ultimate solution to the problem. Sukadeva states that these troubles happen due to ignorance: "lack of knowledge." Real atonement is performed in knowledge.

Sukadeva says: If one wants to actually stop diseased life, he must follow a regulative principle. If one does not think or act wisely how can he stop the problems of life? It is suggested therefore that one elevate himself to the platform of knowledge (divine attunement).

In Europe or in America self-indulgence is the way of life from the very beginning. Indian gentlemen often come to the West to learn these indulgences, and they think themselves to be thus advancing.

Kripana means "miser" and brahmana refers to a liberal, broad-minded person: "One who knows the supreme, the Absolute Truth, is a brahmana, but one who does not know is an animal."

We should not waste time.

The Spirit of All (Supreme Self, Parabrahman) is not in want of money.

Spiritual life is not a question of vegetarianism but of understanding higher knowledge. Milk, for example, is an animal product. Man should simply take the milk and let the cows live, and thus following nature's law, man will be happy.

Actually we do not make distinctions between carnivores and vegetarians, for the grass has life just as the cow or the lamb. "Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept those things necessary for himself." (Isopanisad, Mantra 1)

5. Learning Steadiness in Self Consciousness

Fog disappears as soon as the sun rises, and Self rises with the brilliance of thousands of suns.

Self consciousness is meant for the very fortunate. Money will automatically come. Happiness will come. There is no need to endeavor for these things separately.

The world contains those engaged in bhoga (enjoyment) and those engaged in tyaga (abandoning attachments, including attachment to renunciation too). Tyaga, renunciation of what never belonged to us, is a form of lunacy. We will not be fully happy by following either of these paths, for it is not our proper position to either enjoy or renounce (we can do both).

Someone sent a young prostitute to disturb Haridas, and on hearing her appeals for intercourse, Haridasa Thakura said, "Yes, your proposal is very nice. Please sit down and let me finish my chanting, and then we shall enjoy." Morning came and the prostitute became impatient, but Haridas replied, "I'm very sorry. I could not finish my chanting. Come tonight again." The prostitute came for three nights, and on the third night she fell down at his feet, confessed her intentions, and pleaded with him, "I was induced to perform this act by a man who is your enemy. Kindly excuse me." Haridas then replied, "I know all about that, but I allowed you to come here for three days so that you could be converted and become a devotee."

6. Transcending Designations and Problems

According to Bhagavad-gita: "Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth." (Bg. 7.3)

The purpose of this Self consciousness movement is not to make Christians into Hindus or the other way round. We all have to go for Selfhood inside.

Canakya says that one must catch what is right from any source. If one finds gold in a filthy place, he should take it.

Those who are intelligent and fortunate take to this: to go for Self and adhere to one's inner Self-directions too.


Krishna consciousness, Self, Atman, Brahman, Srila Bhaktivedanta, Literature  

Bhaktivedanta, A. C. Krsna Consciousness, the Matchless Gift. Los Angeles, CA: The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1974.

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