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To err is human

Other Books by Srila Prabhupada

Sri Isopanisad

Sri Isopanisad Introduction:

The difference between a conditioned soul and a liberated soul is that the conditioned soul has four kinds of defects. The first defect is that he must commit mistakes. For example, in our country, Mahatma Gandhi was considered to be a very great personality, but he committed many mistakes. Even at the last stage of his life, his assistant warned, "Mahatma Gandhi, don't go to the New Delhi meeting. I have some friends, and I have heard there is danger." But he did not hear. He persisted in going and was killed. Even great personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, President Kennedy—there are so many of them—make mistakes. To err is human. This is one defect of the conditioned soul.

Sri Isopanisad 18, Purport:

Since the omnipotent Lord is situated within the heart of everyone, He can give directions to His sincere devotees by which they can attain the right path. Such directions are especially offered to the devotee, even if he desires something else. As far as others are concerned, God gives sanction to the doer only at the risk of the doer. But in the case of a devotee, the Lord directs him in such a way that he never acts wrongly. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (11.5.42) says:

sva-pāda-mūlaṁ bhajataḥ priyasya
tyaktānya-bhāvasya hariḥ pareśaḥ
vikarma yac cotpatitaṁ kathañcid
dhunoti sarvaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭaḥ

"The Lord is so kind to the devotee who is fully surrendered to His lotus feet that even though the devotee sometimes falls into the entanglement of vikarma-acts against the Vedic directions—the Lord at once rectifies such mistakes from within his heart. This is because the devotees are very dear to the Lord."

In this mantra of Śrī Īśopaniṣad, the devotee prays to the Lord to rectify him from within his heart. To err is human. A conditioned soul is very often apt to commit mistakes, and the only remedial measure to take against such unintentional sins is to give oneself up to the lotus feet of the Lord so that He may guide one to avoid such pitfalls. The Lord takes charge of fully surrendered souls; thus all problems are solved simply by surrendering oneself unto the Lord and acting in terms of His directions. Such directions are given to the sincere devotee in two ways: one is by way of the saints, scriptures and spiritual master, and the other is by way of the Lord Himself, who resides within the heart of everyone. Thus the devotee, fully enlightened with Vedic knowledge, is protected in all respects.


Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

Lecture on BG 2.2 -- London, August 3, 1973:

As Bhagavān, Kṛṣṇa cannot be mistaken. Similarly, Vyāsadeva, incarnation of Bhagavān, he also cannot be mistaken. Neither devotee of Kṛṣṇa can be mistaken. Devotee of Kṛṣṇa, he does not say anything as his own opinion. He never says. What Kṛṣṇa says, he says. He may be not perfect, but what Kṛṣṇa has said, that is perfect.

Therefore, a pure devotee, who does not say anything beyond which was spoken by Kṛṣṇa, therefore his statement is also without mistake. Common man within this material world, he commits mistake: "To err is human." Even big, big personalities, they commit mistake. But nārāyaṇa paraḥ. He is transcendental. Kṛṣṇa is transcendental. There cannot be any mistake; there cannot be any illusion.

Lecture on BG 2.11 -- New York, March 4, 1966:

here it is said, bhagavān uvāca. And I have given you the definition of Bhagavān, that He is all knowledge. So whatever He will speak, Bhagavān, there cannot be any mistake. For ordinary persons, there are four, I mean to say, difficulties, four imperfectness. Just like we are ordinary man. We have got four imperfectness. What is that imperfectness? That we must commit mistake. We must commit mistake. Our constitutional position at the present moment is such that we are sure to commit mistake. Even greatest politician like Gandhi, he committed mistake, and so many great men, they committed mistake. "To err is human," therefore, it is called, that any, any man, however he may be great in the estimation of this world, he is sure to commit mistake. And another imperfection is that he is illusioned.

Lecture on BG 2.13 -- Manila, October 12, 1972:

We ordinary human being, we have got four defects. First of all we commit mistake. Even big, big men, they commit mistake, because to err is human. Committing mistake is not a disqualification. As a human being, he is prone to commit mistake, everyone accepts

Lecture on BG 2.13 -- Hyderabad, November 19, 1972:

Do not manufacture knowledge. Because how you can manufacture perfect knowledge? You are imperfect. Your senses are imperfect. You are defective in four ways. You are... To err is human. You must commit mistake. You must be illusioned. Your senses are imperfect, and you have got a cheating propensity. These four defects are there. Those who are not liberated, mukta-puruṣa, they have got four defects. What is that? He must commit mistake. Just like we can give you instance: Our Mahatma Gandhi, he was so great personality, but he also committed so many mistakes. Even on the day of his death, it is heard that he was forbidden not to go the meeting. The other persons, they scented some danger, but he forcibly went there and he was killed. So mistake, committing mistake. To err is human. That is not fault. That is our habit. We commit mistake. And we also, we are illusioned. Illusioned. Just like I am not this body. I am spirit soul. Ahaṁ brahmāsmi. But we are giving identification with this body. "I am Indian," "I am American," "I am brāhmaṇa," "I am śūdra." So this is illusion.

Lecture on BG 4.1-2 -- Columbus, May 9, 1969:

To commit mistake, to forget, to be illusioned, to be cheated, imperfection of the senses—these are our qualifications. Every one of us, anyone who is in this material world, they are subjected to these defects: he is sure to commit mistake—"To err is human"—he is subjected to be illusioned, and he has a cheating propensity.

Lecture on BG 4.13 -- Bombay, April 2, 1974:

If I speak something, there may be so many defects, because I am imperfect. Every one of us, imperfect. We commit mistake. To err is human. There is no human being who can say boldly that "I never committed any mistake." That is not possible. You must commit mistake. And sometimes we are illusioned, pramāda. That we are all, because we are accepting this body as "I am," which I am not. That is called pramāda, bhrama pramāda.

Lecture on BG 7.1 -- Los Angeles, December 2, 1968:

There are four defects of conditional life. One defect is that we commit mistake, and another defect is that we accept something which is not that. Just like commit mistake, that is not to be very difficult to understand. Every one of us know how we commit mistake, blunder. Even great men, they also commit blunder, you see. Just like there are so many instances amongst the politicians, a little mistake or a blunder, great blunder... So mistake, "To err is human," mistake is there. Similarly, accepting something as fact which is not fact. How it is? Just like everyone in the conditioned life, they think that "This body is my self." But I'm not this. I'm not this body. So this is called illusion, pramāda.

Lecture on BG 7.1 -- London, March 9, 1975:

So we are trying to understand Bhagavān, which is explained by Bhagavān Himself, Bhagavān, God. You cannot understand God, or Bhagavān, by your speculation. Any one of us, our senses are defective. Just like we are very much proud of our eyes to see. Sometimes some rascal says, "Can you show me God?" He does not think that how far his eyes are capable to see, but he wants to see God. Our senses are conditional. So long the electric light is there, we can see. If it is immediately dark, we cannot see. Then what is the value of this seeing? But we are very much proud of seeing. Similarly, we have our defective senses and we accept something which is not fact. That is called illusion. And we commit mistake, every one of us. There is no man in the world who can say, "I did not commit any mistake in my life." That is not possible. "To err is human," it is said. So we have got four defects. We commit mistake, we are illusioned, bhrama-pramāda... Just like we accept this body as myself. "I am this body." "Who are you?" "I am Mr. such and such," "I am Indian," "I am American," "I am Englishman," "I am white," "I am black," "I am fat," "I am thin." In this way we give description of our body. But we do not know what I am. This is called illusion. And commit mistake, we have got experience. Many times we have committed mistake, blunder, in our life.

Lecture on BG 7.2 -- Nairobi, October 28, 1975:

Kṛṣṇa says to Arjuna that "I am giving you perfect knowledge." This is our process. We receive knowledge from the perfect person. There is no use getting knowledge from imperfect person. That is useless waste of time. And who is perfect person? Who does not commit any mistake, who is never illusioned, whose senses are not imperfect, and who is not a cheater. These are the qualification. (aside:) The children... These are the symptoms of perfect person. First thing is he does not commit mistake. Throughout the whole world you study big, big men. They committed mistake. Hitler committed mistake. Gandhi committed mistake. Churchill committed mistake. Because "To err is human," however big you may be, you cannot avoid mistakes because you are not liberated.

Lecture on BG 9.15 -- New York, December 1, 1966:

Our imperfectness I have several times described in this meeting. So long we are conditioned, there are four kinds of imperfectness, that we must commit mistake. So long we are conditioned, nobody can say that "I'll not commit mistake. I never commit any mistakes." It is not possible. You must have. To err is human.

Lecture on BG 13.4 -- Hyderabad, April 20, 1974:

We are possessing four defects: we commit mistakes, we are illusioned, our senses are imperfect, and we have got a cheating propensity. We are possessing these four defects. However great a man may be, he makes mistake in calculation. "To err is human."

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

Lecture on SB 6.1.40 -- Surat, December 22, 1970:

Any conditioned soul, however great he may be, he must commit mistakes. That is one of the deficiencies. In this material world, however great one may be in the estimation of the general populace, he is not above committing mistakes. "To err is human," as it is said.

Nectar of Devotion Lectures

The Nectar of Devotion -- Calcutta, January 27, 1973:

If you want actually to make progress in our devotional life, the utsāhān, enthusiasm, is the first thing. If you are lacking enthusiasm, then you should rest, instead of making too much agitation within the mind. The... If you cannot find out... Some, something has dropped in the water, in the river, you cannot see the things dropped within the water by agitating the water. Just stand still for sometimes. As soon as the water is settled up, you'll see the things as they are. So as soon as our enthusiasm is agitated, it is better to sit down in any temple suitable and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. There is no question of being disappointed. After all, we commit so many mistakes. That is human nature. To err is human. That is not fault. But try to rectify with cool head. That is required.

Festival Lectures

Sri Vyasa-puja -- New Vrindaban, September 2, 1972:

We are not perfect because in our conditional life we have got four defects. The first defect is that we commit mistake. Any one of us who are sitting here, nobody can vouchsafe that he has not committed any mistake in life. No, that is natural. "To err is human." In our country, even a personality like Mahātmā Gandhi, he committed so many mistakes. So to commit mistake is not unusual. It is usual for any man.

General Lectures

Lecture Engagement -- Montreal, June 15, 1968:

So authority we have to obey. But the difficulty is: who is authority? That we require to learn who is actually authority. So authority means who has no mistakes, who has no illusion, who does not cheat, and whose senses are perfect. That is authority. That is the definition of authority. A conditioned soul who... Just... "To err is human." Any human being is sure to commit mistakes. However learned he may be, however advanced he may be, he must commit mistake. Therefore this word is, "To err is human."

Engagement Lecture -- Buffalo, April 23, 1969:

At this stage of our material existence, we are conditioned by so many laws of nature. Under the circumstances, every conditioned soul has four defects. Just like to commit mistake. There is no man, even great man, who does not commit mistake. More or less, he commits mistake. Just like in our country there was Mahatma Gandhi. He was supposed to be a very great personality, mahātmā, but he also committed mistake because when he was killed, five minutes before his coming to the meeting, he was warned by his confidential associates not to go to that meeting, but he persisted, and as soon as he entered the meeting hall he was killed. So I am giving an instance that even a great personality like Mahatma Gandhi, he also committed mistake. So in the conditioned state of our life, committing mistake is very natural. Just like we say, "To err is human."

Lecture Engagement and Prasada Distribution -- Boston, April 26, 1969:

However a great man one may be, he is sure to commit mistake. I shall give you one tangible example in the life of Mahatma Gandhi. You know he was a very great man, political leader in India. So he was also very God-fearing man, a very nice soul. But he also committed mistakes so many times. So to err is human. This is a fact in every person. Therefore, because we commit mistake, because we are sometimes illusioned, and because we have got a propensity of cheating others, and because our senses are imperfect, therefore, simply by mental speculation it is not possible to realize God.

Rotary Club Lecture -- Ahmedabad, December 8, 1972 'The Present Need of Human Society':

Ordinary human being, who is called, according to śāstra, conditioned souls, they are conditioned by so many, nature's law. So the imperfectness of the conditioned soul are described as that a conditioned soul is sure to commit mistake; however great he may be, he'll commit mistake. And... "To err is human," they say.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1977 Conversations and Morning Walks

Morning Walk -- February 1, 1977, Bhuvanesvara:

Gurukṛpā: So if the scientists admit that actually the are not right, that makes them great.

Prabhupāda: Yes, actually. He must be standing on truth. That is greatness. Because "to err is human." Anyone commits mistake. There is no doubt about it. But after committing mistake, if I stick to that mistake, that is foolishness. When it is detected that it is mistake, you must admit. That is greatness.


1973 Correspondence

Letter to Lynne Ludwig -- Los Angeles 30 April, 1973:

"Even if a devotee commits the most abominable actions, he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated,". As you will say, "To err is human", so in the neophyte stage we may always expect some discrepancies are there. Kindly see the things in this light and forgive their small mistakes. The big thing is they have given their life, everything to Krishna—that is never a mistake.

Page Title:To err is human
Compiler:Sahadeva, Rishab
Created:26 of Dec, 2009
Totals by Section:BG=0, SB=0, CC=0, OB=2, Lec=18, Con=1, Let=1
No. of Quotes:22