Q. Dear Prabhu, Dandavats. I never thought on this point but when we see in the sky we see so many stars. Are they different planets or higher planets or something else?
A. According to the Bhagavatam, whatever stars and other heavenly bodies we can see with or without any aid are all within this universe. The sun and the moon are the only source of light within this universe. There are unlimited number of universes in this material creation and our particular universe is one of the smallest.
Q. As we are part and parcel of Krishna, we were already there in different bodies maybe spiritual or material bodies depending upon our karma and wandering between the universes, What exactly does Lord Brahmaji create at the inception of the universe? Is it the new spirit, or new body or new form?
A. Lord Brahma creates the material bodies of all the different species of life out of the total material ingredients. Before creation the living entities are lying dormant in the body of Maha Visnu. The material ingredients are present in an undifferentiated, aggregate form, called pradhana. Maha Visnu is the original creator, and by His glancing over the material energy the living entities are impregnated into the material energy, or pradhana. Also, from the body of Maha Visnu, the universes are generated. Brahmaji is the secondary creator and he simply executes the details of sub-creation, by following the ‘blue print’ supplied to him by the Purusa Avatar Garbhodaksayi Visnu. Brahma then creates the various planetary systems within the universe and the various species of life; in turn the living entities take are awarded their respective life forms, according to their karma and their previous association with the modes of nature.
Q. What are the three Planetary systems and how do they work ?
A. There are three planetary systems, triloki: the higher planetary system, the middle planetary system, and the lower planetary system.
Bhagavad gita 14.18 :
Those situated in the mode of goodness gradually go upward to the higher planets; those in the mode of passion live on the earthly planets; and those in the abominable mode of ignorance go down to the hellish worlds,there is an upper planetary system, consisting of the heavenly planets, where everyone is highly elevated. According to the degree of development of the mode of goodness, the living entity can be transferred to various planets in this system.
The mode of passion is mixed. It is in the middle, between the modes of goodness and ignorance. A person is not always pure, but even if he should be purely in the mode of passion, he will simply remain on this earth(MIDDLE PLANETARY SYSTEM) as a king or a rich man. But because there are mixtures, one can also go down. People on this earth, in the mode of passion or ignorance, cannot forcibly approach the higher planets by machine. In the mode of passion, there is also the chance of becoming mad in the next life.
The lowest quality, the mode of ignorance, is described here as abominable. The result of developing ignorance is very, very risky. It is the lowest quality in material nature. Beneath the human level there are eight million species of life—birds, beasts, reptiles, trees, etc.—and according to the development of the mode of ignorance, people are brought down to these abominable conditions. Or they will go to hellish planets (LOWER PLANETARY SYSTEMS)
There is an opportunity for men in the modes of ignorance and passion to be elevated to the mode of goodness and also beyond the three modes, and that system is called Krishna consciousness. But one who does not take advantage of this opportunity will certainly continue in the lower modes.
Q. I am concerned that with so much emphasis in your teachings on leaving the material world and our bodies to get to the spiritual world with Krishna, this philosophy is creating an ethic that disregards the earth we live on. Why isn’t nature revered and loved just as much as Krishna? Is not the world, our environment, Krishna too? How can ISKCON join forces with the environmental movement to heal the relationship between people and land?
A. You’re right in saying that as devotees of Krishna we should respect His creation and Srila Prabhupada always taught that. (See Divine Nature, by Mukunda Goswami and Drutakarmä Dasa, available from our Hare Krishna Bazaar http://www.krishna.com) Prabhupada himself showed respect for everything because he knew that everything is connected toKrishna.
Still, we don’t equate Krishna and His nature. We accept the philosophy of “simultaneous oneness and difference”—Krishna is one with His creation and different from it at the same time. So although we respect nature as Krishna’s energy, we don’t elevate it to the status of God.
You shouldn’t get any argument from devotees about the sanctity of nature. What you might find is debate about how much of our energy should go into conservation. Prabhupada taught us to try to live simply and most of us could improve in that area. But Prabhupada never told us, for example, to go out and raise money for environmental causes.
Still, Prabhupäda did encourage us to spend money to set up Krishna conscious rural communities based on farming and cow protection, activities that improve the environment. He also liked nice gardens at his temples and he argued against needless killing of animals, needless cutting of forests and so on. He set goals that require us to collect and spend money in ways beneficial to creating a cleaner environment, one more hospitable to the practice of Krishna consciousness.
Ultimately, Prabhupada taught that Krishna consciousness solves all problems. So our mission is to give people Krishna. Environmental problems are only one of hundreds of problems that concern people. There are so many causes we could take up. But Prabhupada taught that trying to solve problems one by one is like trying to water a tree by watering its leaves and branches rather than its root.
Again, we agree that devotees could improve in their respect for the environment. And they will—as they advance in Krishna consciousness and learn more and more how to use the energy of Krishna in His service.
Q. Why does the Lord influence the living entity to forgetfulness of original identity and allows to suffer in this material world?
A. In Srimad Bhagavatam, second canto —– Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport of first verse of ninth chapter (SB 2.9.1)………….
The spirit soul is distinct from the material conception of his life but he is absorbed in such a material conception because of being influenced by the external energy of the Lord, called atma-maya. The external energy is controlled by the Lord and the living entities are controlled by the external energy—by the will of the Lord. Therefore, although the living entity is purely conscious in his pure state, he is subordinate to the will of the Lord in being influenced by the external energy of the Lord. In the Bhagavad-gita (15.15) also the same thing is confirmed; the Lord is present within the heart of every living entity and all the living entity’s consciousness and forgetfulness are influenced by the Lord.
Lord clearly wishes that every living entity be in his pure consciousness as a part and parcel of the Lord and thus be engaged in the loving service of the Lord as he is constitutionally made; but because the living entity is partially independent also, he may not be willing to serve the Lord but may try to become as independent as the Lord is.
All the nondevotee living entities are desirous of becoming equally as powerful as the Lord, although they are not fit to become so. The living entities are illusioned by the will of the Lord because they wanted to become like Him. Like a person who thinks of becoming a king without possessing the necessary qualification, when the living entity desires to become the Lord Himself, he is put in a condition of dreaming that he is a king.
Therefore the first sinful will of the living entity is to become the Lord and the consequent will of the Lord is that the living entity forgets his factual life and thus dreams of the land of utopia where he may become one like the Lord.
The child cries to have the moon from the mother and the mother gives the child a mirror to satisfy the crying and disturbing child with the reflection of the moon. Similarly, the crying child of the Lord is given over to the reflection, the material world, to lord it over as karmi and to give this up in frustration to become one with the Lord. Both these stages are dreaming illusions only.
There is no necessity of tracing out the history of when the living entity desired this. But the fact is that as soon as he desired it, he was put under the control of atma-maya by the direction of the Lord. Therefore the living entity in his material condition is dreaming falsely that this is “mine” and this is “I.” The dream is that the conditioned soul thinks of his material body as “I” or falsely thinks that he is the Lord and that everything in connection with that material body is “mine.” Thus only in dream does the misconception of “I” and “mine” persist life after life. This continues life after life, as long as the living entity is not purely conscious of his identity as the subordinate part and parcel of the Lord.
Q. What is the difference between MAHAT-TATTVA and FALSE EGO?
A. Mahat-tattva is the sum total of all cosmic manifestation, the sum total of the material world. It is the germinating place of all creation. It is created by Maha-Visnu, a plenary portion of Lord Krishna.
Regarding false ego and other material elements, you may refer to Srila Prabhupada’s purport in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.2.28). A section of that purport is given below:
“Srila Sridhara Svami confirms that a part of the material nature, after being initiated by the Lord, is known as the mahat-tattva. A fractional portion of the mahat-tattva is called the false ego. A portion of the ego is the vibration of sound, and a portion of sound is atmospheric air. A portion of the airy atmosphere is turned into forms, and the forms constitute the power of electricity or heat. Heat produces the smell of the aroma of the earth, and the gross earth is produced by such aroma. And all these combined together constitute the cosmic phenomenon.”
Q. I read in the Srimad Bhagvatam that Lord Krishna is the creator of everything that exists including demigods. However how did Krishna come into existence. I know that He always existed before but yet there should be a time when He also got into creation. Kindly explain.
A. It is explained in Katha Upanishad,”nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam….” which means that there are 2 eternals, one is the eternal living entity and the other is eternal Supreme Lord.In the material world we do not have experience of any object which does not have origin. Every object in the material world has beginning, middle and an end.
However spiritual objects are opposite to material objects in the sense that they do not have beginning and an end. They exist eternally. Therefore when we explain God has no beginning that means we can not put a particular date at which He came into existence.
By definition He is the beginning of everything, “ishvarah paramah krishnah,sac-cid-ananda vigrahah,anadir adir govindah,sarva karanam karanam“. He is the cause of all causes. If He had some cause, then that cause would have been the superior to Him. This is little difficult to understand in the beginning, however it is possible to understand it by performing devotional service to Lord Krishna.