The Hands of Man

A man who works with his hands is a laborer.

A man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman.

A man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.

-Louis Nizer

My wife shared this quote with me she saw on Facebook. I have spent the morning thinking about it and drawing inspiration from it. It has aslo reminded me that the Supreme Artist is God (Krishna). The following is a lecture by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada given at an art gallery in Auckland in 1972

Srila Prabhupada Lectures

Lecture at Art Gallery

Auckland April 16, 1972

Prabhupāda: Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you very much for your coming here and giving us a chance to speak about the Absolute Artist. Kṛṣṇa’s name is Naṭavara. Naṭavara. Naṭavara means the greatest dramatic dancer. And another His name is naṭo nāṭyadharo yathā (SB 1.8.19). He is dancing in such a nice way that He is attracting everyone.

So in the Vedas it is said about Kṛṣṇa how great artist He is. Na tasya kāryaṁ kāraṇaṁ ca vidyate (CC Madhya 13.65, purport). The Absolute Personality of Godhead, He has nothing to do personally. Na tasya kāryaṁ kāraṇaṁ ca vidyate. Kāryam means work. He hasn’t got to perform any work, although He is the greatest worker. Na tasya kāryaṁ kāraṇaṁ ca vidyate na tasya samaḥ adhikaś ca dṛśyate. And nobody is found greater than Him or equal to Him.

In this world every one of us, we know that, “Somebody is lower than me, somebody is greater than me and somebody is equal to me.” That is our experience. We cannot say that I am or you are absolute. Nobody is absolute. However you may be great in the estimation of others, you will find somebody is greater than you, and somebody is lower than you, and somebody is equal to you. But so far the greatest Absolute Personality of Godhead is concerned, na tasya samaḥ adhikaś ca dṛśyate.

By experimental study, by research work by great saintly persons, sages, they have concluded, na tasya samaḥ adhikaś ca dṛśyate: “Nobody is found . . .” samaḥ means “equal to Him or adhikaḥ,” adhikaḥ means “greater.” That is the experience. And still, He has nothing to do. Na tasya kāryaṁ kāraṇaṁ ca vidyate. Parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate (CC Madhya 13.65, purport). “His energies are multi, multifarious, various kinds of energy.” And the energies are working so nicely as if, svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca, natural gift, knowledge, art, svā bala-kriyā, and strength. Svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā.

Just like you are artist. You are painting one picture, one flower, very nice flower. You have to take your brush, the color and the plate, so many things, and you are taxing your brain how to make it beautiful. But you see one rose flower in the garden—not only one rose flower; many millions of rose flowers—they are coming out very artistically painted. But when we ask, the answer is that, “It is nature.” But if we go deep into the matter, what is this nature? Nature means a working instrument, that’s all, an energy. That is nature.

There is energy, or śakti, energy, power. There is power. Without power, how the rose flower is coming to beautiful shape from the bud? There is power. That power is Kṛṣṇa’s power. But that is so subtle and working so nicely that overnight we see that a beautiful flower has come out. But there is working, there is brain. But they are working so swiftly and subtly, we cannot see how it is being worked.

Just like when you paint one picture, I can see, everyone can see that you are working. But this painting or this working of the actual rose flower, that is also being worked out by several energies. Don’t think that is has coming out automatically. No. Nothing comes out automatically. It is coming out of the energy of the Supreme Lord, but the energies are so subtle, nice and artistic that all of a sudden you see a nice flower. So He is the greatest artist.

Just like nowadays, the electronic age, the artist or the scientist just pushing on one button and it is working so nicely. Nowadays it is very easy to understand. In the aeroplane the pilot is simply pushing on button, and such a huge machine, just like a small city, it is flying in the sky, and the wings are working, the machine is working. But we see that a person is simply pushing some button. As it is materially possible, that a man of this world can work so wonderfully simply by pushing some button, so how much great is God, or Kṛṣṇa—”God is great”—how His brain is fertile, how energies are fine, that simply by His desire, “Let there be creation,” immediately everything is there. So that is the greatest artist.

Simply we have to understand. If we take things very insignificantly, “Ah, by nature,” but you cannot explain what is nature. In the garden you see different flowers are coming out. The same ground, the same water, but different flowers are coming out, different flavor, different color, all different, varieties. So the answer is bījo ‘haṁ sarva-bhūtāni (BG 7.10). He is the seed. He is the seed. You have seen the banyan tree, a small seed. But this small seed has got so potency that if you sow it in a nice place and water it, one day it will come a big banyan tree. Now, what are the potencies, what are the artistic arrangement, scientific arrangement, within that small seed that it grows a big banyan tree? Not only a big banyan tree, but also many millions of big fruits, and within each fruit there are millions of seeds, and each seed contains the potency of another tree.

So where is your science in that way? Where is that artist within this material world? Where is that pleasure of that artistic work? These things should be enquired. Athā . . . it is called athāto brahma jijñāsā. In the Vedānta-sūtra this is the first aphorism that, “In the human form of life these enquiries should be made. These studies should be made.” This is a fact. You cannot manufacture such machine that automatically a rose flower is coming out. You cannot make a chemical combination or a tablet which contains a big banyan tree automatically will come out.

So don’t you think there is need of artistic brain and scientific brain? If you simply say: “It is nature,” that is not good explanation. But the Vedas gives us information, “No.” Janmādy asya yataḥ (SB 1.1.1): “The Absolute Truth is He from whom everything is being generated.” First aphorism is athāto brahma jijñāsā. Greater thing. We are engaged in smaller thing. We become amazed when we see a small Sputnik is flying in the sky, and it is trying to go to the moon planet, and we are giving all credit to the scientist, and scientist is challenging, “What is God? Science is everything.”

But if you are cool brain, then you will see that now, in comparison to the Sputnik, there are millions and trillions of planets and stars, big, big planets like sun planet, which is fourteen hundred thousand times bigger than this earth. Apart from sun planet, if we take this teeny planet, earthly planet, on which we are living, there are so many oceans, so many mountains, skyscraper building. But if you go above this planet a few thousand miles, oh, you will see just like a spot, this big planet. You will see just like a spot. Not only spot, this one planet, but there are millions of planets. They are floating in the sky like swabs of cotton.

So if we give so much credit to the artist who has manufactured this Sputnik, how much credit we shall give to the person who has manufactured this arrangement. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness, to appreciate the greatest artist. We are all artist, but when we appreciate the greatest artist, Kṛṣṇa, then our life is successful. Otherwise, whatever we are doing, it is said that we are being defeated unless we come to the point to appreciate the greatest artist who has created all this arrangement.

That appreciation we find in the prayers of Brahmā, Brahmā, who is the creator of this universe. So he is writing in appreciation of Govinda. Now, so far this universe is concerned, it is said:yasya prabhā prabhavato jagad-aṇḍa-koṭikoṭiṣv aśeṣa-vasudhādi vibhūti-bhinnamtad brahma niṣkalam anantam aśeṣa-bhūtaṁgovindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi(Bs. 5.40)

Now, we are trying to understand the planetary system by our scientific method, but we could not finish even studying one nearest planet, the moon planet, and what to speak of other millions and millions of planets? You see?

But we get this knowledge directly from Brahmā-saṁhitā. What is that? Yasya prabhā prabhavato jagad-aṇḍa-koṭi. By the effulgence, glaring effulgence of the rays of the body of Kṛṣṇa, yasya prabhā prabhavato, there are innumerable universes. We cannot study even one universal position, but we get information from this Brahmā-saṁhitā that there are innumerable universes. And in each and every universes there are innumerable planets.Yasya prabhā prabhavato jagad-aṇḍa-koṭiJagad-aṇḍa means universe, and koṭi means hundreds and thousands. One hundred times of one hundred thousand; that means innumerable. There are innumerable universes—innumerable suns, innumerable moons, innumerable planets. So this is being possible in the effulgence, brahma-jyoti, of Kṛṣṇa.

Kṛṣṇa’s bodily effulgence is called brahma-jyoti. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, brāhmaṇaḥ ahaṁ pratiṣṭhā. The brahma-jyoti . . . those who are jñānīs, those who are trying to approach the Absolute Truth by mental speculation, by dint of our teeny knowledge, they can, utmost, approach to this brahma-jyoti. But that brahma-jyoti is only emanation of the bodily effulgence of Kṛṣṇa. Yasya prabhā prabhavato (Bs. 5.40). Just like the light and the illumination is coming from the light, from that localized bulb, similarly, the brahma-jyoti is coming out.

Just like the sunshine, the best example, the sunshine, illumination of the sunlight, sunshine, is coming from the sun planet. The sun planet is localized. We can see it. And the effulgence, and the bodily effulgence of the sun planet is distributed all over the universe. Similarly, sun planet is one of the material creation of Kṛṣṇa. But as the moon planet reflects the sun planet, similarly the sun planet also reflects brahma-jyoti, and the brahma-jyoticomes out of the bodily effulgence of Kṛṣṇa. This information we get from Brahmā-saṁhitā:yasya prabhā prabhavato jagad-aṇḍa-koṭikoṭiṣv aśeṣa-vasudhādi vibhūti-bhinnamtad brahma niṣkalam anantam aśeṣa-bhūtaṁgovindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi(Bs. 5.40)

So therefore the greatest art is to understand Kṛṣṇa. Greatest art. If we actually want to be artist, then we shall try to understand or try to be intimately associated with the greatest artist, Kṛṣṇa. For this purpose, this Society is established. This Society’s name is International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The members of this Society are trained to see in everything the display of Kṛṣṇa’s artistic sense. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In everything the devotee sees the artistic hand of Kṛṣṇa. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

And actually that is so. Ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate (BG 10.8). Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā that, “Whatever you see, everything is emanation from Me.” Ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate. “Everything comes out of My energy.” Mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate. Everything. Iti matvā: one who understands this fact that Kṛṣṇa is the origin of everything, sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam . . .īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥsac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥanādir ādir govindaḥsarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam(Bs. 5.1)

The īśvara . . . Kṛṣṇa is īśvara, supreme controller. Just like in your Institute there is a director who gives you direction, similarly, the supreme director, artist, is Kṛṣṇa. Īśvaraḥ paramaḥ. He is giving direction. Īśvara, controlling everything. Here in this material world we have got experience of a controller. Every one of us is a controller. You are controller, I am a controller. But above me there is another controller. And above that controller there is another controller, another, another controller. You go on searching out controller after controller. When you come to the supreme controller, that He is not controlled by everyone but He controls everyone, that is Kṛṣṇa. That is Kṛṣṇa. Īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ (Bs. 5.1). This is our definition of God. God means controller.

So everyone is controller. In that sense everyone is God. But everyone is not supreme God, er, supreme controller. Suppose I am controlling some of my students. But I am being controlled by somebody else. Similarly, he is also controlled by somebody else. That is our practical experience. But the supreme controller means who is not controlled by anyone, but He is controller of everyone. That is God. Nowadays it has become a cheap business, to see so many Gods. But you test this, whether he is controlled by anyone. If he is controlled by somebody, then he is not God. If He is simply controller, then you can accept Him as God. That is the definition of God, a very simple definition.īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥsac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥanādir ādir govindaḥsarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam(Bs. 5.1)

So sac-cid-ānanda . . . there is . . . in the Vedānta-sūtra there is another aphorism, that ānandamayo ‘bhyāsāt (Vedānta-sūtra 1.1.12): “By nature the Supreme Absolute Person is ānandamaya.” The artistic sense . . . you are engaged in artistic work just to have a pleasure, ānanda. Ānandamayo ‘bhyāsāt. That pleasure, rasa, a mellow . . . by painting one picture, you enjoy some rasa, or mellow; otherwise why you are working so hard? There is a pleasure.

So Kṛṣṇa is raso vai saḥ. Raso vai saḥ: “He is the reservoir of all pleasure.” Sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ (Bs. 5.1). These words are used: sat, cit, ānanda. Ānanda means pleasure. His pleasure potency is Rādhārāṇī. You have seen the picture of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. So Rādhārāṇī is the manifestation of Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure potency. He has got, as I have already explained, parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.8, CC Madhya 13.65, purport). He has got multi-energies, and one of the energy is pleasure potency. That is Rādhārāṇī.

Kṛṣṇa is addressed in the Bhagavad-gītā, paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān (BG 10.12). So parabrahma. Now, Brahman means biggest. So for Brahman happiness . . . that you have got experience within this world, that for achieving brahma sukha, or the greatest pleasure, ananta, unlimited pleasure . . .ramante yoginaḥ anantesatyānande cid-ātmaniiti rāma-padenāsauparaṁ brahma ity abhidhīyate(CC Madhya 9.29)

What is the meaning of Rāma, Rāma-Kṛṣṇa? So Rāma means ramante, enjoys, rāma. So who enjoys? Yoginaḥ, big, big yogīsRāmante yoginaḥ. The greatest of all yogīs is the bhakta-yogī.yoginām api sarveṣāṁmad-gata āntarātmanāśraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁsa me yuktatamo mataḥ(BG 6.47)

These are the Vedic versions, that highest yogī . . . there are many kinds of yogīs. The topmost yogī is he who . . . yoginām api sarveṣāṁ mad-gata āntarātmanā. The yogīs, they try to find out by samādhi the Supreme Person within the heart. Dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā paśyanti yaṁ yoginaḥ (SB 12.13.1). Yogī’s, yogī’s business is dhyānāvasthita, in meditation, in full samādhi, he is seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, four-handed Nārāyaṇa. Viṣṇu-devānandaĀnanda. They are taking pleasure by seeing Viṣṇu within the heart. Viṣṇu is within your heart. Īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe arjuna tiṣṭhati (BG 18.61). The Supreme Person in His Paramātmā feature, localized feature, He is existing in everyone’s heart.

So yogī, the ultimate yogī, ultimate yoga process is to be situated in samādhi. Samādhi. Samādhi means forgetting everything external, simply concentrating on the form of Viṣṇu. Therefore this is said:yaṁ brahmā varuṇendra-rudra-marutaḥ stunvanti divyaiḥ stavairvedaiḥ sāṅga-pada-kramopaniṣadair gāyanti yaṁ sāma-gāḥdhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasa paśyanti yaṁ yoginaḥ(SB 12.13.1)

Dhyānāvasthita, in full samādhi, in meditation, the yogīs, they see the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the yogī. And out of all those yogīs, the Kṛṣṇa form . . . Kṛṣṇa has got many forms. Advaita acyuta anādi ananta-rūpam ādyaṁ purāṇa-puruṣaṁ nava-yauvanaṁ ca (Bs. 5.33). Ādyaṁ purāṇa-puruṣam. Kṛṣṇa has multiforms. He is the Yogeśvara.

The yogīs, they can also sometimes expand to many-fold forms. There is only one instance in the śāstra. There was a Saubhari Muni. He was a great yogī. He expanded himself to eight forms. So yogīs, they can. But if a yogīcan expand himself into eight or, say, several forms, how much potency is there in the yogeśvara. Kṛṣṇa is called yoge . . . yatra yogeśvaro hariḥ. Yogeśvara (BG 18.78). He is the master of all mystic powers, Yogeśvara. So He can expand Himself in many forms, multiforms. That is explained. Advaita acyuta anādi ananta-rūpam. Ananta-rūpam. Ādyam: but He is the original person. Purāṇa-puruṣam: the oldest person, because He is the original.Nava-yauvanaṁ ca: but still young man.

You have seen the picture of Kṛṣṇa. You will never see Kṛṣṇa as old man. When Kṛṣṇa was in the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra . . . you have seen the picture: Kṛṣṇa is driving the chariot of Arjuna. At that time His age was not less than hundred years. He had great-grandchildren. But you have seen the picture. He was looking like a boy of sixteen to twenty years. Therefore Kṛṣṇa is described in the Vedic literatures as nava-yauvanaṁ ca. Kṛṣṇa’s body . . . therefore His body is spiritual body. The spiritual . . . when you get your spiritual body, you also get nava-yauvanam. Those who are associating with Kṛṣṇa in the Kṛṣṇa planet or those who are associating with Nārāyaṇa in the Vaikuṇṭha planets, they are also ever-young. Their bodily features are exactly like Nārāyaṇa. It is called sārūpya-mukti.

So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is a great science of understanding what is God. Simply with vague idea, “There is God,” that is not sufficient. That is good, simply to understand, “There is God.” Generally, they do not believe that there is God. But if somebody says: “Yes, there is God, but I have no business with Him,” no. You should know God, actually what is His name, what does He do, where is His residence, what is His business. You should know this. And these things are possible to understand in this human form of life.

We go to the human society to speak of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We do not go to the society of animals, because they have no capacity to understand. Their body does not permit to understand what is God. But the human society . . . it doesn’t matter whether he is born in India or Czechoslovakia or Russia. I have been in Russia also. It is not that, that they are godless. The population is as good as in other country, but the government is suppressing. So that is another chapter. We have some devotees in Russia, very young men. They are very much interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and they are chanting, although silently, so that government may not hear; there will be danger.

So Kṛṣṇa consciousness is so nice, and it is a great science. Unfortunately, there is no arrangement in any university, in any educational institution or any arts or science college, “What is God?” There is no such arrangement. This is the most regrettable condition of the present society.

So without understanding of God’s science, kṛṣṇa-tattva, or the science of Kṛṣṇa, the life is simply animal life, because animals, they do not understand what is science of Kṛṣṇa, or God. Therefore human society without God consciousness, without any knowledge of the science of God, it is animal society. Actually it is happening. The world is now full with so many problems, so many difficulties, because the chance of human life is being misused.

The intelligence of . . . higher intelligence. We have got higher intelligence than the animals. The animals also live on this land, but they cannot utilize their intelligence for constructing a nice building, nice garden or industry or trade or car, because they have no brain. But the human being has got higher brain, higher brain capacity. That should be utilized not only for bodily comforts . . . bodily comforts, the animals, they are also trying. Bodily comforts means to eat, sleep, to have sense gratification and to defend. So that is being (done) by the animals also, in their own way. So if we simply devote our time for these animal necessities of our life, then we are no better than animals.

The higher intelligence should be utilized to know God or Kṛṣṇa. When we say: “Kṛṣṇa,” Kṛṣṇa means God. Simply, generally to say God, but we give “Kṛṣṇa,” the actual name of God, the actual residence of God, the actual activities of God, actual form of God, actual associates of . . . so many things we give. So simply to know God . . . just like to simply to know one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, mathematic. Mathematic means nothing but one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. That’s all. Now you can exchange in different ways—it becomes different number. But actually it is one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.

So simply to know one, two, three, four, five, six, just like your daughter chants “One, two, three, four, five, six, nineteen, eighteen,” so that is not sufficient. You must know higher mathematics, how to adjust this one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine. That is higher mathematics. Higher mathematics does not mean that some other figures are brought in. The same one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. But you must know how to adjust these nine figures—one, two, three—and that is science of God.

Simply to know, that is very good. Those who are atheists, they are declining to accept the existence of God. They are less than animals. Less than animals. The animals also, they are afraid of some higher authority. But these atheists, they are not afraid of higher authorities. Although they are being kicked by the laws of material nature in every moment, still, they are proud, “No, there is no God. There is no God.”

So that is a very abominable condition of life, less than animals. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, na māṁ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ prapadyante narādhamāḥ (BG 7.15). The atheist class men are described as the lowest of the mankind, duṣkṛtinaḥ. Why? Narādhamāḥ, na duṣkṛtinaḥ: always engaged in sinful activities, that na māṁ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ, and rascals. Prapadyante narādhamāḥ, and lowest of the mankind. So “They are very educated.”Māyayāpahṛta-jñānā: “Their knowledge has been taken away by the illusory energy.” Why? Āsuri-bhāvam āśritāḥ: “Because they have taken to the philosophy of atheism.” So their position . . .

Of course, we approach everyone to preach this science of God consciousness, but it is very difficult. Those who have taken to this atheistic view, āsuri-bhāvam āśritāḥ . . . Āsuri . . . just like we have got examples in our Vedic science, Vedic knowledge. There were many atheistic person like Kaṁsa, Rāvaṇa, Hiraṇyakaśipu, Dantavakra, they never accepted existence of God. But they had to accept the existence of God at the time of death. Therefore in the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś ca aham (BG 10.34), that “Death, which takes away everything from everyone, that is . . . that death I am.”

So if we don’t try to see God during our lifetime, then there will be an incidence which is sure—”As sure as death.” That death is God. So to the atheistic person, death is God. And to the theistic person, they can see,premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti (Bs. 5.38). Those who have developed love of God, oh, they are enjoying the transcendental pleasure in every moment by seeing the artistic work of Kṛṣṇa. So that is the position of a devotee.

So we request everyone to become devotee and Kṛṣṇa conscious so that you will find everywhere the artistic work of Kṛṣṇa. Everywhere. Sarvatra sphuraya tāra iṣṭa-deva-mūrti, sthāvara-jaṅgama dekhe nā dekhe tāra mūrti (CC Madhya 8.274). Just like if you are drinking water . . . these things are very nicely described in the Bhagavad-gītā. So you are thirsty, you require water. And when you drink water, you feel so much pleasure. Sa vai. Kṛṣṇa is the reservoir of pleasure, all pleasure. So raso vai saḥ. So that pleasure, by drinking water, that pleasure is Kṛṣṇa. That is stated, raso ‘ham apsu kaunteya (BG 7.8). For ordinary person who cannot appreciate Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa is giving instruction that “When you drink water, the taste which quench your thirst and you feel relief, that is Kṛṣṇa.” Raso ‘ham apsu kaunteya. (break) . . . in day and night. So if you simply try to understand that this taste is Kṛṣṇa, or God, you become God conscious. You become Kṛṣṇa conscious.

So it is not very difficult to become Kṛṣṇa conscious. Simply you require little training. And if you read Bhagavad-gītā as it is, without any rascaldom, I mean to say, interpretation—as it is, the way it is stated—raso ‘ham apsu kaunteya, if you take this, you become God conscious. You become Kṛṣṇa conscious. And if you become Kṛṣṇa conscious, then your life is successful. Tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti (BG 4.9). It is very easy and no loss, but the gain is very great.

Therefore we request you all who are present, try to become Kṛṣṇa conscious. Read Bhagavad-gītā as it is, and you will find all information how to become Kṛṣṇa conscious. Or if you don’t like to read Bhagavad-gītā, please chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. You will be Kṛṣṇa conscious.

Thank you very much. Hare Kṛṣṇa. 

Text pasted from; Vanisource