An excerpt from a lecture by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, given on December 4th 1968, in Los Angeles.
One has to become freed from all designations. Freed from all designation. What is the designation? “I am American,” “I am Indian,” “I am brahmana,” “I am ksatriya,” “I am this,” “I am that.” These are all designations. Actually, I am spirit soul. I have got this designation on account of my accepting this material body, but I am not this body. This is the first instruction in the Bhagavad-gita. Spiritual instruction begins from this platform, that “I am not this body.” Because bodily concept of life is animal life. The dog thinks that “I am this body”; the cat thinks, “I am this body.” But if a human being thinks that “I am this body,” then what is the difference between cats and dogs? Human being must try to understand, “What I am?” This is called knowledge. And when he comes to the understanding aham brahmasmi, “I am spirit soul, oh, I am spirit soul…” Just like Socrates, he realized. When he was asked by the judge, “Mr. Socrates, how you want to be entombed?” he answered, “First of all, capture me; then you entomb me. You are seeing my body. You have no vision that I am soul.” This is right vision.
Bhagavad-gita says, therefore, panditah sama-darsinah.vidya-vinaya-sampanne brahmane gavi hastini suni caiva sva-pake ca panditah sama-darsinah [Bhagavad-gita 5.18]
Panditah means one who is learned. He sees everything equally, because he does not see the body. He sees the spirit soul. He sees the spirit soul, both in human being… The different kinds of human being… Somebody may be very high, or somebody may be very, very low, or animal, or… But panditah, one who is learned, he sees the spirit soul. Panditah sama-darsinah. He knows that this is only dress. Suppose a gentleman has come in this meeting. If he is not properly dressed, that does not mean he should be hated. Similarly, one who is pandita, learned, he does not discriminate between man and animal because they have got different dress. No.
The animal life and human life, so far maintenance of the body is concerned, it is equal. The animal eats, the man eats. The animal sleeps, the man sleeps. The animal mates, the man also mates. The quality or degree of mating or eating may be different, but the eating is there, sleeping is there, mating is there, and defending is there. But what is the difference between man and animal? Man knows, at least, he should try to know, “What I am? What is God? What is this world? What is our interrelation?” This is man’s business. This is called athato brahma jijnasa. In the Vedanta-sutra, the first sutra, aphorism, is atha atah brahma-jijnasa: “This human form of life is meant for inquiry about the spirit, Supreme Spirit, Brahman.” That is the beginning of spiritual education.
So spiritual education — first to understand “What I am,” then “What is God,” “What is this world.” “What is our interrelation,” then “What is God’s position,” “What is my position,” “How I shall deal with God” — these things are spiritual education, and human life is meant for that purpose. The nature gives chance to the living entity, this developed consciousness of human being, in order to understand these things. And if he is fortunate enough to understand that he is spirit soul, he is Brahman, then the Bhagavad-gita gives definition of such man that brahma-bhutah prasannatma: as soon as he comes to the understanding of spiritual platform, then he becomes joyful, immediately — freed from all anxieties.
Joyfulness means freed from all anxiety. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati. He has no more any hankering and no more lamentation. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati, samah sarvesu bhutesu… And he sees everyone on the spiritual platform, equally. And then the life of devotion, service to the Lord, begins.
So this is the process. This is the process of understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the process is recommended that one should become freed from the designation. Because designation, accepting the designation, means ignorance. That is ignorance. So we have to transcend this position of designation. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam. And by reviving our lost relationship with the Supreme Lord, we become cleansed. That is brahminical stage.Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam. Nirmalam means cleansed, and hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam. When your consciousness is cleansed, then you can only render service to the Lord. Otherwise not. So long our consciousness is not clean, consciousness is polluted, there is no possibility of rendering service to the Lord. Hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam. Hrsika, hrsikameans senses purified by being freed from designation. When it is purified in connection with activities of Krishna, or God, then he can render service to the Lord, Hrsikena.
That is called bhakti. This is bhakti. Bhakti is nothing artificial. It is the activity of healthy stage. Just like a man, when he is diseased, his activities are differing from the man who is cured and healthy. To become healthy does not mean to kill the patient. To kill…, not to kill him, but to cure him from the disease, that is real treatment. The whole treatment of the human society should be like that: to cure him from the disease of forgetfulness his relationship with God. Then when he is cured, when he is in healthy state, then there will be no more trouble in the world. Peace and prosperity can be established when people are no more in the designated stage, when he is free. So it is not expected, however, that cent percent population of the world will be such free from all contamination. But even a certain percentage only, even most insignificant, one percent or less than that, millions in one, then the face of the world will change.
So this Krishna consciousness movement is just trying to turn the face of the people towards the Supreme Lord and by practical application of the knowledge in life, brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha, sannyasa… This is the process. So it is not sectarian process. Just like students can be picked up from any society, similarly, person inclined to understand the science of God can be picked up from any society. There is no question of designation. It is not that it is meant for the Hindu or meant for the Christian, meant for the Buddhist. Anyone who is interested in the science of God, they are welcome in this movement, Krishna consciousness.