The word dharma translated into English as religion is not perfect. The exact meaning of dharma is characteristic. The living entity is constitutionally part and parcel of supreme personality of Godhead, Mamaivamso jiva-loke jiva bhutah sanatanah. . .(Bg. 15.17) as such, the characteristics of the Supreme personality of Godhead are present in the living entity as natural sequence. But the Supreme Personality of Godhead is vibhu or great, whereas the living entities are anu or the minute part. Therefore the characteristics of the living entities and the Lord, although qualitatively one, they are quantitatively different.
The characteristics of the Lord are present in unlimited quantity, where as the same are present in the living entity in very very minute quantity. In this connection, the example of the vast ocean water and a drop of it can be given. The taste of ocean water is salty. In the drop of ocean water this salt is present in minute quantity, whereas the amount of salt in the vast ocean is of unlimited quantity.
In English, religion means a kind of faith, but dharma does not mean a kind of faith, but it is a fact. A faith may be changed if the follower so desires, but dharma cannot be changed. When it is changed artificially, it becomes troublesome. therefore we learn from Srimad Bhagavatam that dharma is given to the living entities, especially the human being by God himself, and any other kind of dharma which is not given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead is rejected. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, 6th Canto, 3rd Chapter verses 19-22, it is said,
dharmam tu saksad bhagavat pranitam na vai vidur rsayo napi devah na siddha-mukhya asura manusyah kuto nu vidyadhara-caranadayah (19) svayambhur naradah sambhuh kumarah kapilo manuh prahlado janako bhismo balirvaiyasakirvayam (20) dvadasaiye vijanimo dharmam bhagavatam bhutah guhyam visuddham durbodham yam jnatva-mrtam asnute (21) etavan eva loke’smin pumsam dharmah parah smrtaha bhakti-yogo bhagavati tan-nama-grahanadibhih (22)
So dharma for the human society cannot be manufactured by any great saintly persons or the demigods or the sidhas or the asuras or the human beings and what to speak of others. The word “Hindu dharma” is not exactly derived from Vedic version, actually the dharma practised by the followers of the Vedas is called Varnasrama dharma.
Later on this Varnasrama dharma, as it was practised in India, was given the name “Hindu dharma” most probably by our neighboring Mohamedan countries. It is said that the people living on the other side of the river Sindhu, now flowing in Pakistan, were called hindus. So we cannot exactly follow what is the meaning of “Hindu dharma", but we can understand what is Varnasrama dharma. But this Varnasrama dharma can be applicable anywhere throughout the universe.
The whole universe or the material cosmic manifestations under the influence of the three gunas or material modes, as such the Supreme Personality of Godhead has given us the system of four Varnas-catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah (Bg 4.13) Therefore according to Visnu purana, every living entity or human being especially, has to follow this Varnasrama dharma. In the Varnasrama dharma, the principles are in terms of associating with the different modes of material nature. This is also confirmed in the Bhagavad Gita, how a living entity gets a particular type of body by associating with the modes of material nature. As it is already described, every living entity being part and parcel of God, the Supreme Personality of Godhead (Krishna), is the original father of all living entities. It is confirmed in the Bhagavad gita as follows
sarva yonisu kaunteya
murtaya sambhavanti yah
tasam brahma mahad yonir
aham bija pradah pita
The Lord says, ”My dear son of Kunti, all species of life in different forms are all my sons.” Now, here it is clearly stated that forms of the living entities (murtayah) are the sons of the Lord. The Lord also must have His transcendental form as it is described in the Brahma Samhita. Without the Supreme Father being the form, how can He have sons with forms?
isvarah paramah Krsnah
anadir adir govindah
sava karana karanam
So the original Father, (isvarah paramah krsnah) has His original form. His form is, however, different from the forms of His innumerable sons in the material condition. In the material conditions, the spiritual sparks, namely, the living entities, are differently presented in different material forms, but none of them are sac-cid ananda vigrahah. In other words, the living entities are begotten by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as the supreme Father, and the seeds discharged within the womb of material nature and at the time of creation they come out in different forms of material bodies and then they are divided in different species of life. In the Bg. it is clearly stated that these living entities have different types of bodies and the cause is the living entities’ association with the different modes of material nature, karanam guan sango’sya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu. (Bg 13.22) It is also stated in the Bg.:
The conclusion is that we are all sons of God, it doesn’t matter in what forms we are existing in at present. Our present existentional position is material concept of life. This material concept of life, namely thinking that I am not this body, is sheer ignorance or to remain in the modes of darkness. The whole world is now covered with darkness on account of this ignorance that I am this body. Anyone who is under such a concept of life that I am this body is called an animal.
yasyatma buddhir gunapetri dhatuke
sva dhih kalatradisu bhauma ijyadhih
yat tirtha buddhih salile na karhicij
janesv abhijnesu sa eva gokharah
Go means cow and khara means ass. So this go-khara civilization thinking the body as the self, is very much strong at the present moment. Therefore combinedly, all intelligent persons throughout the world must try to awaken the real dharma or characteristic of all human beings. Everyone is under the bodily concept of live and is thinking that he is Indian, American, European, Hindu, Moslem, brahmana, ksatriya, or in greater conception, I am a human being, I am an animal, I am a bird, I am a beast, I am a tree, etc. Factually the living entities being in contact with material nature and born in different species of life, from the very beginning of creation, they are differently situated in different forms. Darwins theory of evolution is simply speculation and is therefore not correct. He has taken the idea from Vedic literature, but on account of his poor fund of knowledge, he could not explain the matter perfectly. He wanted to become a co-called scientist, independent of Vedic literature, and therefore he has missed the point and has misled the whole human society especially the Western world in the grossest way of material existence. The real evolutionary science is described in the Vedic literature, namely Brahma-Vaivarta Purana:
asitim caturas caiva laksan tan jiva jatisu
brahmadbhih purusaih prapyam manusyam janma paryayat
tad apy aphalatam jatam tesam atmabhimaninam
varakanam anasritya govinda carana dvayam
In the Padma Purana also, we get information that there are 8400000 different forms of life. Janma-paryaya means transmigration of the soul. The fact is that there are three material qualities, sattva, rajas and tamas, and when these three qualities are multiplied by three, they become nine qualities, and similarly nine multiplied by nine become a mixture of eighty-one qualities exactly like a color combination.
Originally there are three colors, red, blue and yellow,and if you mix them together, they become green, orange, pink and so many other colors. Similarly the combination of three qualities of material nature, sattva, rajas, and tamas, has created so many forms of living entities. Bg 14.5, it is clearly explained, sattvam rajas tama iti gunah prakriti sambhavah, the material nature consists of three modes, goodness, passion and ignorance.
When the living entity comes into contact with material nature he comes out in different forms of body. These forms of body are just like dream or likened to the forms of body in a dream. Sometimes the question is put forward as to when the living entity first contacted the material nature. There is no need of tracing the history of such contact as much as there is no need as tracing the history of dream. The SB says:
atma-mayam rte rajan
na ghatetartha sambandahah
svapna drastur ivanjasa
So this atma maya means conditioned life. As soon as one forgets his constitutional position, he becomes illusioned by his own action, or in other words, as soon as the living entity forgets that he is part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His son, he is supposed to be in a dream. Therefore real propagation of religion or dharma should be how to get out the pure soul or living being from the cluthes of maya or illusion. The whole world is suffering under this illusion and therefore the most important task before the human society is to educate every human being that he is not this body but he is spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All living entities are entrapped by this illusion and by the evolutionary process, namely by transmigration of the soul from one body to another. When the living entity comes to the status of the human being, it is the opportunity for his becoming free from this continued birth and death and again going back to home, back to Godhead. The matter is simplified in the statement of Bg.:
daivi hy esa gunamayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te
That is to say, that the modes of material nature, known as gunamayi maya are very strong and it is very difficult to get out of the entanglement. But the Lord gives the remedy at the same time that anyone who surrenders to Him, mameva ye prapadyante, or anyone who surrenders voluntarily unto Krsna (isvarah paramah Krsnah), he becomes out of the clutches of the material entanglement. The surrendering process is actually the human civilization and that is real dharma of the human society and that is the basic principle of the Vedic culture as it is confirmed by the statement of the Lord.
Vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo (Bg. 15.15) This Vedic culture is now being propagated under the name of the Krsna consciousness movement. It is scientific, authorised and practical. We have got practical experience of this fact. Four or five years ago in the material world, nobody knew what is Krsna. Since many hundred of years, Bg. was known to the Western countries and almost all scholars and religionists are interested in reading the great book of knowledge Bhagavad Gita. But such Knowledge, being presented by the Mayavad School, Krsna as never been appriciated. At the Present movement, we are presenting Bhagavad Gita As it is, without any so called scholarly mal interpretation. And in all parts of the world, this movement is being accepted, especially by the younger generation, which means that this movement has a great future for been accepted by everyone. In the Bhagvatam it is recommended that dharma in its confidential and essential form should be preached as follows:
etavan eva loke’smin pumsam
dharmah parah smrtah
This is the first class way of preaching dharma, namely, bhaktiyogo bhagavati, which begins by chanting His holy name, tannama-grahanadibhih. The same thing is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita,
satatam kirtayanto mam
yatantas ca drdha-vratah
namasyantas ca mam bhaktya
So we are preaching the essence of dharma, namely chanting the holy names of the Lord, the mahamantra, ”Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.”
This movement is now known generally all over the world as the Hare Krsna movement. This is confirmed in the Brhan-Naradiya Purana:
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
So anyone who is serious to preach real this movement. It is being accepted in America, Europe, Japan, Australia, Africa, South America and even in Russia. If India wants to be glorified, she must take to her original spiritual culture, namely to know the goal of life. They are thinking that they can be happy by material adjustment. But it has been proved that they have never been happy in the past by such attempts and therefore it is to be concluded that they will never been happy in the future by such attempts. We are attempting to spread this Krsna Consciousness in our humble way and if one conditioned soul is delivered from the clutches of Maya, we shall think our movement is successful. We think therefore that all religious communities from all over the world should take part in this movement. If not easily, they can take advantage of our dozens of voluminous books, such as :
1.Bhagavad-gita As It Is
3.Teachings of Lord Caitanya
4.Nectar of Devotion (Bhaktirasamrta-sindhu)
5.Krsna, the supreme Peronality of Godhead
7.Easy Journey to Other Planets
8.Krsna Consciousness: The Topmost Yoga System,
But our only request to all religious communities is to understand this movement and take part in it.
[This Appeared in Dharmaprakash, a Madhva Magazine Published in Madras]
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Founder-Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness