“…from any stage of life, or from the time of understanding its urgency, one can begin regulating the senses in Krishna consciousness, devotional service of the Lord, and turn the lust into love of Godhead—the highest perfectional stage of human life.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 3.41 Purport)
Drug addiction is a major problem not only in America, but throughout the world. Intoxication is a means of escaping the senses and feeling a false sense of bliss. This feeling is short-lived as the thrill wares off pretty quickly. People are then led to trying other forms of intoxication, each being more and more dangerous.
Drugs like crack, cocaine, marijuana, and even nicotine are all very addictive and have very dangerous side effects. Users become accustomed to the temporary sense pleasure derived by taking such drugs, and thus they become addicts. Drug addiction is a byproduct of the mode of ignorance. The material world is governed by three gunas or qualities: goodness, passion, and ignorance. Acts of charity and piety fall under the goodness category, fruitive activity is considered in the mode of passion, and abominable acts that are not conducive to one’s spiritual health are considered to be in the mode of ignorance.
“…Such a man appears to be always dejected, and is addicted to intoxicants and sleeping. These are the symptoms of a person conditioned by the mode of ignorance.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 14.8 Purport)
First-time drug users may start out in the mode of passion, but their habit gradually leads them to the mode of ignorance. Most people in the world are living in the mode of passion. Almost everyone is concerned with earning money and seeking sense gratification. We have a craving for something and then we take actions to try to satisfy that craving. However, if those cravings and desires are not controlled, they can lead to feelings of lust. Drug addicts are lusty for their drugs and that lust leads to anger and eventually to bewilderment.
“While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita 2.62)
People will do anything to get their drugs, even if it includes lying or stealing. Through our own experiences, we know that some of the most skilled liars we have met in life are people who are addicted to drugs. They appear to be very nice and complimentary, but it is all a façade. Accustomed to lying, cheating, and stealing to get their drugs, dishonesty and deceit become their way of life. Their lust is at such a height that they become experts in performing all unrighteous activities.
Devotees of Lord Krishna, on the other hand, are addicted to chanting His glories. Through constantly being associated with God and His bona fide representative, the spiritual master, they naturally become free of all bad habits. The work of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada proved this fact. The founder of the modern day Hare Krishna Movement, Prabhupada came to America in 1965 to teach the true message of the Vedas to the Western world. Though Americans were slow to catch on at first, eventually his movement would steadily gain in popularity, especially amongst the youth. Many of these young boys and girls were former hippies, addicted to dropping acid and smoking marijuana. Prabhupada not only got them to kick their drug habits, but he turned them into bona fide brahmanas or priests. Instead of sleeping through the day, his disciples were trained to wake up very early in the morning, to take a bath and to perform managala arati and chanting of the Holy name. They not only gave up their drug habits, but all other forms of intoxication as well. The four pillars of sinful life are meat eating, intoxication, gambling, and illicit sex. Prabhupada’s disciples gave up all these habits, and along with their regulated chanting routine, they became first class citizens.
Herein lies the power of the pure devotee of Krishna. Through their example and their dedication to the Lord, they are able to reform anyone. They view every living entity equally, not believing that only certain people are worthy of receiving God’s message. The great Narada Muni has also reformed many a great individual. Maharishi Valmiki in his youth was a dacoit by trade, but he gave up that life at the instruction of Narada. He not only gave up his sinful ways, but he turned to glorifying the Lord by composing a poem about Him known as the Ramayana, which become famous throughout the world. This is the grace of the spiritual master. They don’t simply ask their disciple to refrain from harmful activities. They instruct them on how to make their lives perfect by taking up the process of devotional service. We may ask someone to stop smoking or drinking, but if after quitting they are still bound in the mode of passion, then we really haven’t done anything worthwhile for them. Simply giving people do’s and don’ts may be a good thing, but it is not the answer to the real problems of life, namely birth, old age, disease, and death. Charity and benevolence are very nice, but the highest form of charity is to freely distribute love of Godhead. People must be given a higher cause to serve. According to the great acharyas, that cause is the taking up of devotional service to Lord Krishna.
Devotees become expert in telling the truth, in having compassion, and in praising others. These are all righteous qualities that are acquired automatically and without any effort. Simply by connecting with God, one becomes a first class person. Instead of the lust that arises from drug addiction, attachment to God causes spontaneous love to appear in one’s heart. Instead of turning to drugs or other intoxicants to satisfy our senses, let us all become addicted to viewing the divine form of the Lord. His name, form, and pastimes are so beautiful that we will continue to be enchanted by them day after day.