Finding the Cure for Today’s Social Ills
Crime: Why and What to Do?
In this July 1975 interview, Chicago Police Department media relations man Lt. David Mozee asks about curbing the upward-spiraling U.S. crime rate. Śrīla Prabhupāda replies, “If human beings are not given the facility to learn about God, then they remain on the level of cats and dogs. You cannot have peace in a society of cats and dogs.… The thief and murderer already know the law, yet they still commit violent crimes due to their unclean hearts. So our process is to cleanse the heart.”
Lieutenant Mozee: I understand you have some ideas that could help us in our efforts to prevent crime. I’d be very interested to hear them.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The difference between a pious man and a criminal is that one is pure in heart and the other is dirty. This dirt is like a disease in the form of uncontrollable lust and greed in the heart of the criminal. Today people in general are in this diseased condition, and thus crime is very widespread. When the people become purified of these dirty things, crime will disappear. The simplest process of purification is to assemble in congregation and chant the holy names of God. This is called saṅkīrtana and is the basis of our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. So, if you want to stop crime, then you must gather as many people as possible for mass saṅkīrtana. This congregational chanting of the holy name of God will dissipate all the dirty things in everyone’s heart. Then there will be no more crime.
Lieutenant Mozee: Do you have any feelings about crime here in the United States as opposed to the crime in your own country of India?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: What is your definition of crime?
Lieutenant Mozee: Any trampling on the rights of one person by another person.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Our definition is the same. In the Upaniṣads it is said, īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam: “Everything belongs to God.” So, everyone has the right to utilize whatever is allotted to him by God, but one may not encroach upon others’ property. If one does so, he becomes a criminal. Actually the first crime is that you Americans are thinking this land of America is yours. Although two hundred years ago it was not yours, you have come from other parts of the world and claimed it as your land. Actually it is God’s land, and therefore it belongs to everyone, since everyone is a child of God. But the vast majority of people have no conception of God. Practically speaking, everyone is godless. Therefore they should be educated to love God. In America, your government has a slogan, “In God we trust.” Is that correct?
Lieutenant Mozee: Yes.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But where is the education about God? To trust is very good, but simple trust will not endure unless it is backed up with scientific knowledge of God. One may know that he has a father, but unless he knows who his father is, his knowledge is imperfect. And that education in the science of God is lacking.
Lieutenant Mozee: Do you feel that it’s lacking only here in the United States?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No. Everywhere. The age we live in is called Kali-yuga, the age of forgetting God. It is an age of misunderstanding and quarrel, and the people’s hearts are filled with dirty things. But God is so powerful that if we chant His holy name we become purified, just as my disciples have become purified of their bad habits. Our movement is based on this principle of chanting the holy name of God. We give everyone the opportunity, without any distinction. They can come to our temple, chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, take a little prasāda* as refreshment, and gradually become purified. So if the governmental authorities give us some facilities, then we can hold mass saṅkīrtana. Then, without a doubt, the whole society will change.
Lieutenant Mozee: If I understand you correctly, sir, you are saying that we should emphasize a return to religious principles.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Certainly. Without religious principles what is the difference between a dog and a man? Man can understand religion, but a dog cannot. That is the difference. So if human society remains on the level of dogs and cats, how can you expect a peaceful society? If you bring a dozen dogs and put them together in a room, will it be possible to keep them peaceful? Similarly, if human society is filled with men whose mentality is on the level of dogs, how can you expect peace?
Lieutenant Mozee: If some of my questions sound disrespectful, it is only because I do not completely understand your religious beliefs. I mean no disrespect whatsoever.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, it is not a question of my religious beliefs. I am simply pointing out the distinction between human life and animal life. Animals cannot possibly learn anything about God, but human beings can. However, if human beings are not given the facility to learn about God, then they remain on the level of cats and dogs. You cannot have peace in a society of cats and dogs. Therefore, it is the duty of the governmental authorities to see that people are taught how to become God conscious. Otherwise, there will be trouble, because without God consciousness there is no difference between a dog and a man: the dog eats, we eat; the dog sleeps, we sleep; a dog has sex, we have sex; a dog tries to defend itself, and we also try to defend ourselves. These are the common factors. The only difference is that a dog cannot be instructed about his relationship with God, but a man can.
Lieutenant Mozee: Wouldn’t peace be a precursor to a return to religion? Must we not first have peace?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, no, that is the difficulty. At the present moment, no one actually knows the meaning of religion. Religion means to abide by the laws of God, just as good citizenship means to abide by the laws of the government. Because no one has any understanding of God, no one knows the laws of God or the meaning of religion. This is the present status of people in today’s society. They are forgetting religion, taking it to be a kind of faith. Faith may be blind faith. Faith is not the real description of religion. Religion means the laws given by God, and anyone who follows those laws is religious, whether a Christian, a Hindu, or a Muslim.
Lieutenant Mozee: With all due respect, isn’t it true that in India, where religious customs have been followed for centuries upon centuries, we are seeing not a return to but a drawing away from spiritual life?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, but it is due only to bad leadership. Otherwise, the vast majority of the Indian people are fully conscious of God, and they try to follow the laws of God. Here in the West, even big college professors do not believe in God or in life after death. But in India, even the poorest man believes in God and in a next life. He knows that if he commits sins he will suffer and if he acts piously he will enjoy. To this day, if there is a disagreement between two villagers, they will go to the temple to settle it, because everyone knows that the opposite parties will hesitate to speak lies before the Deities. So in most respects, India is still eighty percent religious. That is the special privilege of taking birth in India, and the special responsibility also. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said:
janma sārthaka kari’ kara para-upakāra
[Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi 9.41]
Anyone who has taken birth in India should make his life perfect by becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious. Then he should distribute Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world.
Lieutenant Mozee: Sir, there is a Christian parable that says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to come before the throne of God. Do you think the wealth of the United States and other Western countries is a block to spiritual faith?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Too much wealth is a block. Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-gītā [2.44]:
samādhau na vidhīyate
If one is materially very opulent, he forgets God. Therefore too much material wealth is a disqualification for understanding God. Although there is no absolute law that only the poor man can understand God, generally if one is extraordinarily rich, his only ambition is to acquire money, and it is difficult for him to understand spiritual teachings.
Lieutenant Mozee: In America, those who belong to the Christian faith also believe these things. I don’t see any vast differences between the spiritual beliefs of one religious group and another.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, the essence of all religion is the same. Our proposal is that whatever religious system one follows, he should try to understand God and love Him. If you are a Christian, we do not say, “That is no good; you must become like us.” Our proposition is that whether you are a Christian, Muslim, or Hindu, simply try to understand God and love Him.
Lieutenant Mozee: If I could return to my original purpose for coming, might I ask what advice you could give to assist us in reducing crime? I recognize that the first and foremost way would be a return to God, as you say – there’s no doubt about that – but is there something that we could immediately do to diminish this spreading criminal mentality?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. As I’ve already outlined in the beginning of our talk, you should give us the facility to chant the holy name of God and distribute prasāda. Then there will be a tremendous change in the population. I came alone from India, and now I have many followers. What did I do? I asked them to sit down and chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, and afterward I distributed a little prasāda. If this is done on a mass scale, the entire society will become very pleasing. This is a fact.
Lieutenant Mozee: Would you want to start the program in an area of affluence or an area of poverty?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: We do not draw such distinctions. Any place easily available to all kinds of men would be very suitable to hold saṅkīrtana. There is no restriction that only the poor men need the benefit but the rich do not. Everyone needs to be purified. Do you think criminality exists only in the poorer section of society?
Lieutenant Mozee: No. But I meant to ask whether there would be more of a beneficial influence – more of a strengthening of the community – if the program were held in a poorer area rather than an affluent area.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Our treatment is for the spiritually diseased person. When a person is afflicted with a disease, there are no distinctions between a poor man and a rich man. They are both admitted to the same hospital. Just as the hospital should be in a place where both the poor man and the rich man can easily come, the location of the saṅkīrtana facility should be easily accessible to all. Since everyone is materially infected, everyone should be able to take advantage.
The difficulty is that the rich man thinks he’s perfectly healthy, although he’s the most diseased of all. But as a policeman, you well know that there’s criminality among rich men and poor men alike. So our chanting process is for everyone, because it cleanses the heart, regardless of the man’s opulence or poverty. The only way to permanently change the criminal habit is to change the heart of the criminal. As you well know, many thieves are arrested numerous times and put into jail. Although they know that if they commit theft they will go to jail, still they are forced to steal because of their unclean hearts. Therefore without cleansing the heart of the criminal, you cannot stop crime simply by more stringent law enforcement. The thief and the murderer already know the law, yet they still commit violent crimes, due to their unclean hearts. So our process is to cleanse the heart. Then all the troubles of this material world will be solved.
Lieutenant Mozee: That’s a very difficult task, sir.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: It is not difficult. Simply invite everyone: “Come, chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, dance, and take sumptuous prasāda.” What is the difficulty? We are doing this at our centers, and people are coming. But because we have very little money, we can hold saṅkīrtana only on a small scale. We invite everyone, and gradually people are coming to our centers and becoming devotees. If the government would give us a large facility, however, we could expand unlimitedly. And the problem is big; otherwise why are there national news articles asking what to do? No civil state wants this criminality. That’s a fact. But the leaders do not know how to stop it. If they listen to us, however, we can give them the answer. Why crime? Because people are godless. And what to do? Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and take prasāda. If you like, you can adopt this process of saṅkīrtana. Otherwise, we will continue conducting it on a small scale. We are just like a poor medical man with a small private practice who could open a big hospital if he were given the facility. The government is the executor. If they take our advice and adopt the process of saṅkīrtana, then the problem of crime will be solved.
Lieutenant Mozee: There are many Christian organizations in the United States that give the holy communion. Why doesn’t this work? Why is this not cleansing the heart?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: To speak frankly, I find it difficult to find even one real Christian. The so-called Christians do not abide by the Bible’s order. One of the ten commandments in the Bible is, “Thou shalt not kill.” But where is that Christian who does not kill by eating the flesh of the cow? The process of chanting the Lord’s holy name and distributing prasāda will be effective if carried out by persons who are actually practicing religion. My disciples are trained to strictly follow religious principles, and therefore their chanting of the holy name of God is different from others’. Theirs is not simply a rubber-stamped position. They have realized the purifying power of the holy name through practice.
Lieutenant Mozee: Sir, isn’t the difficulty that although a small circle of priests and devotees may follow the religious principles, those on the fringe deviate and cause trouble? For example, assume that the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement grows to gigantic proportions, as Christianity has. Wouldn’t you then have a problem with people on the fringe of the movement who professed to be followers but were actually not?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That possibility is always there, but all I am saying is that if you are not a true Christian, then your preaching will not be effective. And because we are strictly following religious principles, our preaching will be effective in spreading God consciousness and alleviating the problem of crime.
Lieutenant Mozee: Sir, let me thank you for your time. I will deliver this tape recording to my superiors. Hopefully, it will be effective, as you are effective.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Thank you very much.
Can We Keep Society From Going to the Dogs?
Śrīla Prabhupāda speaks out to India’s Bhavan’s Journal: “A dog comes when there are some eatables; I say ‘Hut!’ and he goes away. But again he comes – he has no memory. So when our memory of God is reducing, that means that our human qualities are reducing.… There is no religion, simply a dog’s race. The dog is running on four legs and you are running on four wheels – that’s all. And you think that the four-wheel race is advancement of civilization!”
Interviewer: The first question is this: Is the influence of religion on the wane? And if so, does this factor account for the increase in corruption and the widespread deterioration of moral values?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, religion is on the wane. This is predicted in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [12.2.1]:
satyaṁ śaucaṁ kṣamā dayā
kālena balinā rājan
naṅkṣyaty āyur balaṁ smṛtiḥ
“In the Kali-yuga [the present age of quarrel and hypocrisy] the following things will diminish: religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy, duration of life, bodily strength, and memory.”
These are human assets, which make the human being distinct from the animal. But these things will decline. There will be no mercy, there will be no truthfulness, memory will be short, and the duration of life will be cut short. Similarly, religion will vanish. That means that gradually we will come to the platform of animals.
Interviewer: Religion will vanish? We’ll become animals?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Especially when there is no religion, it is simply animal life. Any common man can distinguish that the dog does not understand what religion is. The dog is also a living being, but he is not interested in understanding the Bhagavad-gītā or the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. He is not interested. That is the distinction between man and dog: the animal is not interested.
So when the human beings become uninterested in religious things, then they are animals. And how can there be happiness or peace in animal society? They want to keep people like animals, and they are making a United Nations. How is it possible? United animals, society for united animals? These things are going on.
Interviewer: Do you see any hopeful signs?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: At least they have detected that religion is declining. That is good. “Declining” means they are going to be animals. In logic it is said that man is a rational animal. When the rationality is missing, then he is simply an animal, not a human being. In human society either you become Christian, Muhammadan, Hindu, or Buddhist; it doesn’t matter. There must be some system of religion. Human society without religion is animal society. This is a plain fact. Why are people so unhappy now? Because there is no religion. They are neglecting religion.
One gentleman has written me that Tolstoy once said, “Unless dynamite is put underneath the church, there cannot be any peace.” Even now the Russian government is very strictly against God consciousness because they think that religion has spoiled the whole social atmosphere.
Interviewer: It seems there could be some truth in that.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The religious system might have been misused, but that does not mean that religion should be avoided. Real religion should be taken. It does not mean that because religion has not been properly executed by the so-called priests, religion should be rejected. If my eye is giving me some trouble on account of a cataract, it does not mean that the eye should be plucked out. The cataract should be removed. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Interviewer: I think history shows that many people have misused religion. Isn’t that a fact?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: These people have no conception of God, and they are preaching religion. What is religion? Dharmaṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītam: “The path of religion is directly enunciated by the Supreme Lord.” They have no conception of God – they do not know what God is – and they are professing some religion. How long can it go on artificially? It will deteriorate.
That has become the present condition. They have no idea of God, so how will they know what is the order of God? Religion means the order of God. For example, law means the order of the state. If there is no state, then where is the order? We have a clear conception of God – Kṛṣṇa. He is giving His order, and we accept it. It is clear religion. If there is no God, no conception of God, no order of God, then where is religion? If there is no government, then where is the law?
Interviewer: Well, there wouldn’t be any law. It would be an outlaw society.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Outlaw – everyone is an outlaw, manufacturing his own concocted system of religion. That is going on.
Just ask – in any religious system, what is their conception of God? Can anyone tell clearly? No one can tell. But we shall immediately say,
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is adept in playing on His flute, whose blooming eyes are like lotus petals, whose head is bedecked with a peacock’s feather, whose figure of beauty is tinged with the hue of blue clouds, and whose unique loveliness charms millions of Cupids.” [Brahma-saṁhitā 5.30] Immediately we can give a description of God.
If there is no idea of God, then what kind of religion is that?
Interviewer: I don’t know.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: It is bogus. People have no conception of God, and therefore they have no understanding of religion. That is the decline, and because religion is declining, the human beings are becoming more and more like animals.
“Animal” means that one has no memory. A dog comes when there are some eatables; I say “Hut!” and he goes away. But again he comes – he has no memory. So when our memory of God is reducing, that means that our human qualities are reducing. In the Kali-yuga these human qualities will be reduced. That means that people are becoming like cats and dogs.
Interviewer: Here’s the second question: “The traditional charge against Vedic culture is that it is fatalistic, that it makes people slaves to the belief in predestination, and that it therefore inhibits progress. How far is this charge true?”
Śrīla Prabhupāda: What is that progress? Is a dog’s jumping progress? Is that progress? A dog is running here and there on four legs and you are running here and there on the four wheels of the automobile. Is that progress? That is not the Vedic system. According to the Vedic system, the human being has a certain amount of energy, and since the human being has better consciousness than the animals, the energy of the human beings is more valuable than the energy of the animals.
Interviewer: Probably no one would dispute that the human being has more freedom or, I suppose, responsibility than the animals.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: So human energy should be utilized for spiritual advancement, not that the energy should be employed to compete with the dog. The saintly person is not busy like the dog. Today people think that “dog-ness” is life, but actual life is spiritual progress. Therefore, the Vedic literature says:
na labhyate yad bhramatām upary adhaḥ
tal labhyate duḥkha-vad anyataḥ sukhaṁ
kālena sarvatra gabhīra-raṁhasā
“Persons who are actually intelligent and philosophically inclined should endeavor only for that purposeful end which is not obtainable even by wandering from the topmost planet [Brahmaloka] down to the lowest planet [Pātāla]. As far as happiness derived from sense enjoyment is concerned, it can be obtained automatically in the course of time, just as in the course of time we obtain miseries, even though we do not desire them.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.5.18]
Interviewer: Could you explain that a little further?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The human being should exert his energy for that thing that he did not get in many, many lives. In many, many lives the soul has been in the forms of dogs, or demigods, or cats, birds, beasts, and many others. There are 8,400,000 different types of bodies. So this transmigration of the soul is going on. The business in every case is sense gratification.
Interviewer: Which means?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: For example, the dog is busy for sense gratification: where is food, where is shelter, where is a female, where is defense? The man is also doing the same business in different ways. This business is going on life after life. Even a small insect is trying for the same thing. Birds, beasts, fish – everywhere the same struggle is going on. Where is food, where is sex, where is shelter, and how to defend? The Vedic literature says that these things we have done for many, many lives, and that if we don’t get out of this struggle for existence, we will have to do them again for many, many lives.
Interviewer: I’m beginning to see.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, so these things should be stopped. Therefore, Prahlāda Mahārāja makes this statement:
sarvatra labhyate daivād
yathā duḥkham ayatnataḥ
“My dear friends born of demoniac families, the happiness perceived with reference to the sense objects by contact with the body can be obtained in any form of life, according to one’s past fruitive activities. Such happiness is automatically obtained without endeavor, just as we obtain distress.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.6.3]
A dog has a body, and I have a body. So, my sex pleasure and the dog’s sex pleasure – there is no difference. The pleasure derived out of sex is the same. A dog is not afraid of having sex pleasure on the street before everyone, and we hide it. That’s all. People are thinking that to have sex pleasure in a nice apartment is advanced. However, that is not advanced. And they are making a dog’s race for this so-called advancement. People do not know that according to whatever kind of body one has acquired, the pleasure is already stored up.
Interviewer: What do you mean, “the pleasure is already stored up”?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is called destiny. A pig has got a certain type of body, and his eatable is the stool. You cannot change it. The pig will not like to eat halvah [a dessert made of sweetened, buttery toasted grains]. It is not possible. Because he has a particular type of body, he must eat like that. Can any scientist improve the standard of living of the pig?
Interviewer: I doubt it.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Therefore, Prahlāda Mahārāja says that it is already stored up. The pleasure is basically the same, but a little different according to the body. The uncivilized man in the jungle is having the same thing.
Now people are thinking that civilization means constructing skyscraper buildings. But Vedic civilization says, No, that is not advancement. The real advancement of human life is self-realization, how much you have realized your self. Not that you have constructed skyscraper buildings.
Interviewer: But wouldn’t what you’re saying make sense to most people?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Sometimes people misunderstand. In a high court, a judge is sitting soberly, apparently doing nothing, and he is getting a high salary. Someone else is thinking, “I am working so hard in the same court, rubber-stamping and not getting one tenth the salary of the judge.” He is thinking, “I am so busy, working so hard, and I am not getting as good a salary as the man who is just sitting on the bench.” The situation is like that: the Vedic civilization is meant for self-realization, not for a dog’s race.
Interviewer: Still, isn’t it usually considered honorable to work hard, to struggle, and eventually “get ahead” in life?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The karmīs, fruitive workers, have been described in the Bhagavad-gītā as mūḍhas, asses. Why are they compared to the asses? Because the ass works very hard with loads on his back, and in return his master gives him only a little morsel of grass. He stands at the door of the washerman and eats grass while again the washerman loads his back. He doesn’t have the sense to think, “If I go out of the cottage of the washerman, I can get grass anywhere. Why am I carrying so much?”
Interviewer: That brings to mind some people I know.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The fruitive worker is like that. He is very busy in the office, and if you want to see him he will say, “I am very busy.” So what is the result of your being so busy? He takes two pieces of toast and one cup of tea. And for this purpose you are so busy? He does not know why he is busy. In the account books he will find that the balance was one million dollars and now it has become two million. He is satisfied with that, but he will take only two pieces of toast and one cup of tea, and still he will work very hard. That is what is meant by karmī. Asses – they work like asses, without any aim in life.
But Vedic civilization is different. The accusation is not correct – people in Vedic civilization are not at all lazy. They are busy for a higher subject matter. Prahlāda Mahārāja stresses that this busy-ness is so important that it should begin from one’s very childhood. Kaumāra ācaret prājñaḥ: one should not lose a second’s time. That is Vedic civilization. The asses see, “These men are not working like I am” – like dogs and asses – and they consider that we are escaping. Yes, escaping your fruitless endeavor. The Vedic civilization is meant for self-realization.
Interviewer: Could you give us more of an idea what the Vedic civilization is like?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The Vedic civilization begins from the varṇāśrama system. In the varṇāśrama system there is this arrangement: brāhmaṇas [intellectuals, advisors], kṣatriyas [administrators], vaiśyas [merchants, farmers], śūdras [workers], brahmacārīs [celibate students], gṛhasthas [householders], vānaprasthas [retired married people], and sannyāsīs [renounced monks].
The ultimate goal is that Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Lord, should be worshiped. So if you worship Kṛṣṇa, then you fulfill all your occupational duties, either as a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra, brahmacārī, anything. Take to it immediately – take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is so important.
Interviewer: If people really knew about a lifestyle that was more natural, more fulfilling, what would be the problem? They actually would, as you say, take to it.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But they do not know, and therefore there is no religion, simply a dog’s race. The dog is running on four legs, and you are running on four wheels – that’s all. And you think that the four-wheel race is the advancement of civilization.
Therefore, modern civilization is practically said to do nothing. Whatever is obtainable by destiny you will get, wherever you are. Rather, take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The example is given by Prahlāda Mahārāja that you do not want anything distasteful and yet it comes upon you. Similarly, even if you do not want the happiness for which you are destined, it will come upon you. You should not waste your energy for material happiness. You cannot get more material happiness than you are destined.
Interviewer: How can you be so sure of that?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: How shall I believe it? Because you get some distressful condition, although you do not want it. For instance, President Kennedy died by the hand of his own countryman. Who wanted it and why did it come? He was a great man, he was protected by so many, and still he was destined to be killed. Who can protect you?
So if the distressful condition comes upon me by destiny, then the opposite position – happiness – will also come. Why shall I waste my time for this rectification? Let me use my energy for Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is intelligent. You cannot check your destiny. Everyone will experience a certain amount of happiness and a certain amount of distress. No one is enjoying uninterrupted happiness. That is not possible.
Just as you cannot check your distress, so you cannot check your happiness. It will come automatically. So don’t waste your time for these things. Rather, you should utilize your time for advancing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Interviewer: Would a Kṛṣṇa conscious person not try for progress?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The thing is that if you try for progress vainly, then what is the use of that? If it is a fact that you cannot change your destiny, then what is the use of trying? We will be satisfied with the amount of happiness and distress for which we are destined.
Vedic civilization is meant for realization of God. That is the point. You’ll still find in India that during important festivals many millions of people are coming to take bath in the Ganges because they are interested in how to become liberated. They are not lazy. They are going thousands of miles, two thousand miles away, to take bath in the Ganges. They are not lazy, but they are not busy in the dog’s race. Rather, they are busy right from their childhood trying to become self-realized. Kaumāra ācaret prājño dharmān bhāgavatān iha. They are so busy that they want to begin the business from their very childhood. So it is the wrong conception to think that they are lazy.
Interviewer: Then the question may be raised that if destiny cannot be checked, then why not let every newborn child simply run around like an animal, and whatever is destined to happen to him will happen?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, the advantage is that you can train him spiritually. Therefore it is said, tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovidaḥ: you should engage your energy for self-realization. Ahaituky apratihatā: devotional service, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, cannot be checked. Just as material destiny cannot be checked, your advancement in spiritual life cannot be checked if you endeavor for it.
Actually, Kṛṣṇa will change destiny – but only for His devotee. He says, ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi: “I shall give you all protection from all reactions of sinful activities.” [Bhagavad-gītā 18.66]
For instance, if one is condemned by the law court to be hanged, no one can check it. Even the same judge who has given this verdict cannot check it. But if the defendant begs for the mercy of the king, who is above all the laws, then the king can check it.
Therefore, our business is to surrender to Kṛṣṇa. If we artificially want to be happier by economic development, that is not possible. So many men are working so hard, but does it mean that everyone will become a Henry Ford or a Rockefeller? Everyone is trying his best. Mr. Ford’s destiny was to become a rich man, but does it mean that every other man who has worked as hard as Ford will become a rich man like Ford? No. This is practical. You cannot change your destiny simply by working hard like an ass or a dog. But you can utilize that energy for improving your Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Interviewer: Exactly what is Kṛṣṇa consciousness? Could you tell us more?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Love of God – that is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If you have not learned to love God, then what is the meaning of your religion? When you are actually on the platform of love of God, you understand your relationship with God – “I am part and parcel of God.” Then you extend your love to the animal also. If you actually love God, then your love for the insect is also there. You understand, “This insect has a different body, but he is also part and parcel of my father; therefore, he is my brother.” Then you cannot maintain a slaughterhouse. If you maintain a slaughterhouse and disobey the order of Christ, “Thou shalt not kill,” and you proclaim yourself Christian or Hindu, that is not religion. Then it is simply a waste of time – because you do not understand God; you have no love for God, and you are labeling yourself under some sect, but there is no real religion. That is going on all over the world.
Interviewer: How can we cure the situation?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If you do not accept that Kṛṣṇa is the supreme entity, then try to understand. That is education: there is someone supreme; Kṛṣṇa is not Indian; He is God. The sun rises first in India, but that does not mean that the sun is Indian; similarly, although Kṛṣṇa appeared in India, now He has come to the Western countries through this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.
The Supreme Welfare Work
Śrīla Prabhupāda exchanges letters with the Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Relief Fund Committee of Hyderabad, India: “… if you want to perform relief work simply by collecting funds, I think that will not be successful. You have to please the supreme authority, and that is the way to success. For example, due to the performance of saṅkīrtana [congregational chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa] here, the rain has begun to fall after a drought of two years.”
The residents of the twin cities are happy to have this opportunity to meet you and your esteemed followers. You may be aware that due to inadequate rainfall during the last two years and its complete failure this year, more than half of our state [Andhra Pradesh, a state in southern India] is in the grip of a serious drought. With a view to supplement governmental efforts to combat this evil, a Central Voluntary Organization of citizens drawn from various walks of life has been set up. The members of this organization surveyed the areas affected by drought. The situation is pathetic. There are villages where drinking water is not available for miles. Due to scarcity of fodder, the cattle owners are parting with their cattle for a nominal price. Many of the stray cattle are dying away due to unavailability of fodder and water. The food problem is also very serious. Due to high prices of food grains on the open market, purchase of grains at market prices is beyond the reach of poor villagers, with the result that at least five to six million people are hardly having one meal a day. There are many who are on the verge of starvation. The entire situation is most pathetic and heartrending.
We therefore appeal to your revered self to consider how your Society could best come to the rescue of these millions of souls who are in unimaginable distress. The Committee would like to suggest that members of your Society appeal to the bhaktas [devotees] attending your discourses to contribute their mite to the Andhra Pradesh Relief Fund.
The Committee is prepared to send some of its representatives along with members of your Society wherever you wish to distribute prasāda to the hungry millions in the state.
As mānava-sevā is mādhava-sevā [“Service to man is service to God”], the Committee is confident that even a little effort by your gracious Society will go a long way in mitigating the sufferings of hundreds and thousands of people.
Yours ever in the service of the Lord,
T. L. Katidia, Secretary
Andhra Pradesh Relief Fund Committee
My dear Mr. Katidia:
Please accept my greetings. With reference to your letter and your personal interview, I beg to inform you that without pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, no one can become happy. Unfortunately people do not know who God is and how to make Him happy. Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is therefore meant to present the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly to the people. As stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Seventh Canto, sixth chapter: tuṣṭe ca tatra kim alabhyam ananta ādye/ kiṁ tair guṇa-vyatikarād iha ye sva-siddhāḥ.
The idea stated in this verse is that by pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we please everyone, and there is no question of scarcity. Because people do not know this secret of success, they are making their own independent plans to be happy. However, it is not possible to achieve happiness in this way. On your letterhead I find many important men in this country who are interested in relieving the sufferings of the people, but they should know for certain that without pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead all their attempts will be futile. A diseased man cannot live simply on the strength of the help of an expert physician and medicine. If this were so, then no rich man would ever die. One must be favored by Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Therefore if you want to perform relief work simply by collecting funds, I think that it will not be successful. You have to please the supreme authority, and that is the way to success. For example, due to the performance of saṅkīrtana here, the rain has begun to fall after a drought of two years. The last time we performed a Hare Kṛṣṇa Festival in Delhi, there was imminent danger of Pakistan’s declaring war, and when a newspaper man approached me for my opinion, I said there must be fighting because the other party was aggressive. However, because of our saṅkīrtana movement, India emerged victorious. Similarly, when we held a festival in Calcutta, the Naxalite [Communist] movement stopped. These are facts. Through the saṅkīrtana movement we can not only get all facilities for living, but also at the end can go back home, back to Godhead. Those who are of a demoniac nature cannot understand this, but it is a fact.
I therefore request you, as leading members of society, to join this movement. There is no loss on anyone’s part for chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, but the gain is great. According to Bhagavad-gītā [3.21], what is accepted by leading men is also accepted by common men:
tat tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute
lokas tad anuvartate
“Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.”
The saṅkīrtana movement of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is very important. Therefore, through you I wish to appeal to all the leading men of India to accept this movement very seriously and give us all facility to spread this movement throughout the world. Then there will be a very happy condition, not only in India but all over the world.
Hoping this will meet you in good health,
Your ever well-wisher,
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Declaring Our Dependence on God
In a conversation with the Back to Godhead staff, Śrīla Prabhupāda discusses the American Revolution: “The Americans say they trust in God. But without the science of God, that trust is simply fictitious. First take the science of God very seriously; then put your trust in Him.… They’re manufacturing their own way of governing. And that is their defect. They will never be successful.… There will always be revolutions – one after another. There will be no peace.”
Back to Godhead: Thomas Jefferson put the basic philosophy of the American Revolution into the Declaration of Independence. The important men of the day who signed this document agreed that there are certain very obvious or self-evident truths, the first of which is that all men are created equal. By this they meant that all men are equal before the law and have an equal opportunity to be protected by the law.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, in that sense men are, as you say, created equal.
BTG: Another point in the Declaration of Independence is that all men are endowed by God with certain natural rights that cannot be taken away from them. These are the rights of life, liberty, and …
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But animals also have the right to life. Why don’t animals also have the right to live? The rabbits, for instance, are living in their own way in the forest. Why does the government allow hunters to go and shoot them?
BTG: They were simply talking about human beings.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Then they have no real philosophy. The narrow idea that my family or my brother is good, and that I can kill all others, is criminal. Suppose that for my family’s sake I kill your father. Is that philosophy? Real philosophy is suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānām: friendliness to all living entities. Certainly this applies to human beings, but even if you unnecessarily kill one animal, I shall immediately protest, “What nonsense are you doing?”
BTG: The founders of America said that another natural right is the right to liberty, or freedom – freedom in the sense that the government doesn’t have the right to tell you what kind of job you have to do.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If the government is not perfect, it should not be allowed to tell people what to do. But if the government is perfect, then it can.
BTG: The third natural right they mentioned was that every human being has the right to pursue happiness.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. But your standard of happiness may be different from my standard. You may like to eat meat; I hate it. How can your standard of happiness be equal to mine?
BTG: So should everyone be free to try to achieve whatever standard of happiness he wants?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, the standard of happiness should be prescribed according to the qualities of the person. You must divide the whole society into four groups: those with brāhmaṇa qualities, those with kṣatriya qualities, those with vaiśya qualities, and those with śūdra qualities.* Everyone should have good facility to work according to his natural qualities.
You cannot engage a bull in the business of a horse, nor can you engage a horse in the business of a bull. Today practically everyone is getting a college education. But what is taught at these colleges? Mostly technical knowledge, which is śūdra education. Real higher education means learning Vedic wisdom. This is meant for the brāhmaṇas. Alone, śūdra education leads to a chaotic condition. Everyone should be tested to find out which education he is suited for. Some śūdras may be given technical education, but most śūdras should work on the farms. Because everyone is coming to the cities to get an education, thinking, “We can get more money,” the agriculture is being neglected. Now there is scarcity because no one is engaged in producing nice foodstuffs. All these anomalies have been caused by bad government. It is the duty of the government to see that everyone is engaged according to his natural qualities. Then people will be happy.
BTG: So if the government artificially puts all men into one class, then there can’t be happiness.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, that is unnatural and will cause chaos.
BTG: America’s founding fathers didn’t like classes, because they’d had such bad experience with them. Before the revolution, Americans had been ruled by monarchs, but the monarchs would always become tyrannical and unjust.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Because they weren’t trained to be saintly monarchs. In Vedic civilization, boys were trained from the very beginning of life as first-class brahmacārīs [celibate students]. They went to the gurukula, the school of the spiritual master, and learned self-control, cleanliness, truthfulness, and many other saintly qualities. The best of them were later fit to rule the country.
The American Revolution has no special significance. The point is that when people become unhappy, they revolt. That was done in America, that was done in France, and that was done in Russia.
BTG: The American revolutionaries said that if a government fails to rule the people properly, then the people have the right to dissolve that government.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Just as in Nixon’s case: they pulled him down. But if they replace Nixon with another Nixon, then what is the value? They must know how to replace Nixon with a saintly leader. Because people do not have that training and that culture, they will go on electing one Nixon after another and never become happy.
People can be happy. The formula for happiness is there in the Bhagavad-gītā. The first thing they must know is that the land belongs to God. Why do Americans claim that the land belongs to them? When the first settlers went to America, they said, “This land belongs to God; therefore we have a right to live here.” So why are they now not allowing others to settle on the land? What is their philosophy? There are so many overpopulated countries. The American government should let those people go to America and should give them facility to cultivate the land and produce grains. Why are they not doing that? They have taken others’ property by force, and by force they are checking others from going there. What is the philosophy behind this?
BTG: There is no philosophy.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Roguism is their philosophy. They take the property by force, and then they make a law that no one can take another’s property by force. So they are thieves. They cannot restrict God’s property from being occupied by God’s sons. America and the other countries in the United Nations should agree that wherever there is enough land, it may be utilized by the human society for producing food. The government can say, “All right, you are overpopulated. Your people can come here. We will give them land, and they can produce food.” We would see a wonderful result. But will they do that? No. Then what is their philosophy? Roguism. “I will take the land by force, and then I won’t allow others to come here.”
BTG: One American motto is “One nation under God.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. There should be one nation under God, and one world government under God as well. Everything belongs to God, and we are all His sons. That philosophy is wanted.
BTG: But in America people are very much afraid of a central government because they think that whenever there’s a strong government there will always be tyranny.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If the leaders are properly trained, there cannot be tyranny.
BTG: But one of the premises of the American system of government is that if a leader has too much power, he will inevitably become corrupt.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: You have to train him in such a way that he cannot become corrupt!
BTG: What is that training process?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That training is varṇāśrama-dharma.* Divide the society according to quality and train people in the principle that everything belongs to God and should be used in the service of God. Then there really can be “one nation under God.”
BTG: But if society is divided into different groups, won’t there be envy?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, no. Just as in my body there are different parts that work together, so the society can have different parts working for the same goal. My hand is different from my leg. But when I tell the hand, “Bring a glass of water,” the leg will help. The leg is required, and the hand is required.
BTG: But in the Western world we have a working class and a capitalist class, and there is always warfare going on between the two.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. The capitalist class is required, and the working class is also required.
BTG: But they are fighting.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Because they are not trained; they have no common cause. The hand and the leg work differently, but the common cause is to maintain the body. So if you find out the common cause for both the capitalists and the workers, then there will be no fighting. But if you do not know the common cause, then there will always be fighting.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.
BTG: Then the most important thing is to find the common cause that people can unite on?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, just like in our Kṛṣṇa conscious society you come to consult me about every activity, because I can give you the common cause. Otherwise, there will be fighting. The government should be very expert to know the aim of life – the common cause – and they should train the people to work for the common cause. Then they will be happy and peaceful. But if people simply elect rascals like Nixon, they will never find a common cause. Any rascal can secure votes by some arrangement, and then he becomes the head of the government. The candidates are bribing, they are cheating, they are making propaganda to win votes. Somehow or other they get votes and capture the prime post. This system is bad.
BTG: So if we don’t choose our leaders by popular election, how will society be governed?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: You require brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas, and śūdras. Just as when you want to construct a building, you require engineers. You don’t want sweepers. Isn’t that so? What will the sweeper do? No, there must be engineers. So if you follow the division of varṇāśrama, only kṣatriyas are allowed to govern. And for the legislative assembly – the senators – only qualified brāhmaṇas. Now the butcher is in the legislative assembly. What does he know about making laws? He is a butcher, but by winning votes he becomes a senator. At the present moment, by the principle of vox populi, a butcher goes to the legislature. So everything depends on training. In our Kṛṣṇa conscious society, we’re actually doing that, but in the case of politics, they forget it. There cannot be just one class. That is foolishness, because we have to engage different classes of men in different activities. If we do not know the art, then we will fail, because unless there is a division of work, there will be havoc. We have discussed all the responsibilities of the king in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The different classes in society should cooperate exactly as the different parts of the body do. Although each part is meant for a different purpose, they all work for one cause: to maintain the body properly.
BTG: What is the actual duty of the government?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: To understand what God wants and to see that society works toward that aim. Then people will be happy. But if the people work in the wrong direction, how can they be happy? The government’s duty is to see that they are working in the right direction. The right direction is to know God and to act according to His instructions. But if the leaders themselves do not believe in the supremacy of God, and if they do not know what God wants to do, or what He wants us to do, then how can there be good government? The leaders are misled, and they are misleading others. That is the chaotic condition in the world today.
BTG: In the United States there has traditionally been the separation of church and state.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: I am not talking about the church. Church or no church – that is not the point. The main thing is that the leaders have to accept that there is a supreme controller. How can they deny it? Everything in nature is going on under the Supreme Lord’s control. The leaders cannot control nature, so why don’t they accept a supreme controller? That is the defect in society. In every respect, the leaders are feeling that there must be a supreme controller, and yet they are still denying Him.
BTG: But suppose the government is atheistic …
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Then there cannot be good government. The Americans say they trust in God. But without the science of God, that trust is simply fictitious. First take the science of God very seriously, then put your trust in Him. They do not know what God is, but we do. We actually trust in God.
They’re manufacturing their own way of governing. And that is their defect. They will never be successful. They are imperfect, and if they go on manufacturing their own ways and means, they will remain imperfect. There will always be revolutions – one after another. There will be no peace.
BTG: Who determines the regulative principles of religion that people should follow?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: God. God is perfect. He does that. According to the Vedic version, God is the leader of all living entities (nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām). We are different from Him because He is all-perfect and we are not. We are very small. We have the qualities of God, but in very small quantity. Therefore we have only a little knowledge – that’s all. With a little knowledge you can manufacture a 747 airplane, but you cannot manufacture a mosquito. God has created the mosquito’s body, which is also an “airplane.” And that is the difference between God and us: we have knowledge, but it is not as perfect as God’s. So the leaders of the government have to consult God; then they will rule perfectly.
BTG: Has God also devised the most perfect government?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. The kṣatriyas ruled the government in Vedic times. When there was a war, the king was the first to fight. Just like your George Washington: he fought when there was a war. But what kind of president is ruling now? When there is a war, he sits very securely and telephones orders. He’s not fit to be president. When there is war, the president should be the first to come forward and lead the battle.
BTG: But if man is small and imperfect, how can he execute God’s perfect orders for a perfect government?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Although you may be imperfect, because you are carrying out my order, you’re becoming perfect. You have accepted me as your leader, and I accept God as my leader. In this way society can be governed perfectly.
BTG: So good government means first of all to accept the Supreme Being as the real ruler of the government?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: You cannot directly accept the Supreme Being. You must accept the servants of the Supreme Being – the brāhmaṇas or Vaiṣṇavas [devotees of the Lord] – as your guides. The government men are kṣatriyas – the second class. The kṣatriyas should take advice from the brāhmaṇas or Vaiṣṇavas and make laws accordingly. The vaiśyas should carry out the kṣatriyas’ orders in practice. And the śūdras should work under these three orders. Then society will be perfect.
The Peace Formula
“The earth is the property of God, but we, the living entities, especially the so-called civilized human beings, are claiming God’s property as our own, under both an individual and collective false conception. If you want peace, you have to remove this false conception from your mind and from the world.”
The great mistake of modern civilization is to encroach upon others’ property as though it were one’s own and to thereby create an unnecessary disturbance of the laws of nature. These laws are very strong. No living entity can violate them. Only one who is Kṛṣṇa conscious can easily overcome the stringency of the laws of nature and thus become happy and peaceful in the world.
As a state is protected by the department of law and order, so the state of Universe, of which this earth is only an insignificant fragment, is protected by the laws of nature. This material nature is one of the different potencies of God, who is the ultimate proprietor of everything that be. This earth is, therefore, the property of God, but we, the living entities, especially the so-called civilized human beings, are claiming God’s property as our own, under both an individual and collective false conception. If you want peace, you have to remove this false conception from your mind and from the world. This false claim of proprietorship by the human race on earth is partly or wholly the cause of all disturbances of peace on earth.
Foolish and so-called civilized men are claiming proprietary rights on the property of God because they have now become godless. You cannot be happy and peaceful in a godless society. In the Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa says that He is the factual enjoyer of all activities of the living entities, that He is the Supreme Lord of all universes, and that He is the well-wishing friend of all beings. When the people of the world know this as the formula for peace, it is then and there that peace will prevail.
Therefore, if you want peace at all, you will have to change your consciousness into Kṛṣṇa consciousness, both individually and collectively, by the simple process of chanting the holy name of God. This is a standard and recognized process for achieving peace in the world. We therefore recommend that everyone become Kṛṣṇa conscious by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
This is practical, simple, and sublime. Four hundred and eighty years ago this formula was introduced in India by Lord Śrī Caitanya, and now it is available in your country. Take to this simple process of chanting as above mentioned, realize your factual position by reading the Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, and reestablish your lost relationship with Kṛṣṇa, God. Peace and prosperity will be the immediate worldwide result.
During his visit to the Soviet Union, Śrīla Prabhupāda talks with Professor Grigoriy Kotovsky, head of the India Department at the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences: “Whether you surrender to monarchy, aristocracy, or dictatorship, you have to surrender; that is a fact. Without surrender there is no life. It is not possible. So we are educating people to surrender to the Supreme, wherefrom you get all protection.… Any other surrender you have to change by revolution. But when you come to Kṛṣṇa, then it is sufficient. You are satisfied.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The other day I was reading the paper, Moscow News. There was a Communist congress, and the President declared, “We are ready to take others’ experience to improve.” So I think the Vedic concept of socialism or communism will much improve the idea of communism. For example, in a socialistic state the idea is that no one should starve; everyone must have his food. Similarly, in the Vedic concept of gṛhastha [householder] life it is recommended that a householder see that even a lizard or a snake living in his house should not starve. Even these lower creatures should be given food, and certainly all humans should. It is recommended that the gṛhastha, before taking his lunch, should stand on the road and declare, “If anyone is still hungry, please come! Food is ready!” If there is no response, then the proprietor of the household takes his lunch. Modern society takes the people as a whole as the proprietor of a certain state, but the Vedic conception is īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam – everything is owned by īśa, the supreme controller. Tena tyaktena bhuñjīthāḥ – you may enjoy what is allotted to you by Him. Mā gṛdhaḥ kasya svid dhanam: but do not encroach upon others’ property. This is the Īśopaniṣad – Veda. The same idea is explained in the different Purāṇas. There are many good concepts in the Vedic literature about communism. So I thought that these ideas should be distributed to your most thoughtful men. Therefore I was anxious to speak.
Prof. Kotovsky: It is interesting that here in our country there is now great interest in the history of old, old thought. From this point of view, our Institute translated into Russian and published many literary monuments of great Indian culture. You will be interested to discover that we published some of the Purāṇas and parts of the Rāmāyaṇa. There are volumes in Russian of Mahābhārata and also a second edition of Mahābhārata, translated in full. We have also published the full translation of Manu-smṛti with Sanskrit commentaries. Interest in these publications was so great that they sold out in a week. They are now completely out of stock. It was impossible to get them in the book market after a month. There is great interest among reading people here in Moscow and the U.S.S.R. toward ancient Vedic culture, and from this point of view we published many such books.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Among these Purāṇas, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is called the Mahā-purāṇa.
Prof. Kotovsky: Mahā-purāṇa.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. We have translated the full text – first we present the original Sanskrit text, its transliteration, the English equivalent for each word, then the translation, and then a purport, or explanation of the verse. In this way, there are eighteen thousand verses in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. We are translating everything literally. You can see. Each and every verse is being done like that for the whole Bhāgavata Purāṇa. The opinion of the ācāryas, the great saintly sages who are the preachers of the Bhāgavata philosophy, is nigama-kalpa-taror galitaṁ phalam: this is the ripened fruit of the Vedic desire tree [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.1.3]. It is accepted by all the Indian scholars, and Lord Caitanya especially preached this Bhāgavatam. So we have the complete Bhāgavatam in its English translation. If you want to see it, I can show you.
Prof. Kotovsky: It seems to me that in the Moscow and Leningrad libraries we have nearly all the major texts of ancient Indian culture, beginning from the Vedas, the original texts in Sanskrit. For instance, in the Leningrad branch of our Institute there are six or eight editions of Manu-smṛti. This Institute was founded in Imperial Russia in Leningrad, so in Leningrad we now have a branch of our Institute dealing mainly with the history of Asiatic culture. You will find here an account of what is being translated and what studies are being done on the history of Indian religion and also the state of Indian religion, Hinduism, in Hindu India today.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Hinduism is a very complex topic.
Prof. Kotovsky: Oh, yes. [They laugh.] Really, to my understanding, it is not a religion, from the European point of view; it is a way of life – religion, philosophy, a way of life, whatever you want
Śrīla Prabhupāda: This word “Hindu” is not a Sanskrit word. It was given by the Muhammadans. You know that there is a river, Indus, which in Sanskrit is called Sindhu. The Muhammadans pronounce s as h. Instead of Sindhu, they made it Hindu. So “Hindu” is a term that is not found in the Sanskrit dictionary, but it has come into use. But the real cultural institution is called varṇāśrama. There are four varṇas [social divisions] – brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, and śūdra – and four āśramas [spiritual divisions] – brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha, and sannyāsa. According to the Vedic concept of life, unless people take to this system or institution of four varṇas and four āśramas, actually they do not become civilized human beings. One has to take this process of four divisions of social orders and four divisions of spiritual orders; that is called varṇāśrama. India’s culture is based on this age-old Vedic system.
Prof. Kotovsky: Varṇāśrama.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: There, in the Bhagavad-gītā [4.13], is the statement cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭam: this system was created by Viṣṇu [God]. So since varṇāśrama is a creation of the Supreme, it cannot be changed. It is prevalent everywhere. It is like the sun. The sun is a creation of the Supreme. The sunshine is there in America, in Russia, and in India – everywhere. Similarly, this varṇāśrama system is prevalent everywhere in some form or another. Take, for example, the brāhmaṇas, the most intelligent class of men. They are the brains of the society. The kṣatriyas are the administrative class; then the vaiśyas are the productive class, and the śūdras are the worker class. These four classes of men are prevalent everywhere under different names. Because it is created by the original creator, so it is prevalent everywhere, varṇāśrama-dharma.
Prof. Kotovsky: It is interesting that in the opinion of some European and old Russian scholars, this varṇāśrama system is a later creation, and if you would read the old texts of Vedic literature, you would find a much more simple and agrarian society. It is the opinion of these scholars that the varṇāśrama system was introduced in Indian society in the late age of the Vedic era but not from the beginning. And if you would analyze the old texts, you would find that in the old classical India it was not so prevalent.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: As far as we are concerned, it is mentioned in the Bhagavad-gītā. Cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭam. The Bhagavad-gītā was spoken five thousand years ago, and in the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, “This system of the Bhagavad-gītā was spoken by Me to the sun-god.” So if you take an estimation of that period, it comes to forty million years ago. Can the European scholars trace back history five thousand years? Can they go back forty million years? We have evidence that this varṇāśrama system has been current at least five thousand years. The varṇāśrama system is also mentioned in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa [3.8.9]. Varṇāśramācāravatā puruṣeṇa paraḥ pumān. That is stated in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa. Varṇāśrama-dharma is not a phenomenon of a historical period calculated in the modern age. It is natural. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam the comparison is given that just as in the body there are four divisions – the brain division, the arms division, the belly division, and the leg division – so by nature’s way these four divisions are existing in the social body. There exists a class of men who are considered the brain, a class of men who are considered the arms of the state, a class of men who are called the productive class, and so on. There is no need of tracing history; it is naturally existing from the day of creation.
Prof. Kotovsky: You have said that in any society there are four divisions, but they are not so easy to distinguish. For instance, one can group together different social classes and professional groups into four divisions in any society; there is no difficulty. The only difficulty is, for instance, in the socialistic society – in our country and other socialist societies – how you can distinguish the productive group from the workers.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: For example, we belong to the intellectual class of men. This is a division.
Prof. Kotovsky: Intelligent class, brāhmaṇas. And you can also put together all the intelligentsia in that department.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.
Prof. Kotovsky: And then the administrative class.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.
Prof. Kotovsky: But who are the vaiśyas and śūdras? That is the difficulty. Because all others are workers – factory workers, collective farm workers, and so on. So from this point of view there is a great distinction, in my opinion, between socialist society and all societies preceding socialism, because in modern Western society you can group all social and professional classes in these particular class divisions – brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas, and śūdras: intellectuals, productive class, owners of the productive system (factory owners, for instance), and menial workers. But here you have no vaiśyas because you have administrative staffs in factories, and you can call them kṣatriyas, and then there are the śūdras, the workers themselves, but no intermediate class.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is stated. Kalau śūdra-sambhavaḥ. In this age practically all men are śūdras. But if there are simply śūdras, the social order will be disturbed. In spite of your state of śūdras, the brāhmaṇa is found here, and that is necessary. If you do not divide the social order in such a way, there will be chaos. That is the scientific estimation of the Vedas. You may belong to the śūdra class, but to maintain social order you have to train some of the śūdras to become brāhmaṇas. Society cannot depend on śūdras. Nor can you depend on the brāhmaṇas. To fulfill the necessities of your body, there must be a brain, arms, a stomach, and legs. The legs, the brain, and the arms are all required for cooperation to fulfill the mission of the whole body. So in any society you can see that unless there are these four divisions, there will be chaos. It will not work properly. It will be māyā, and there will be disturbances. The brain must be there, but at the present moment there is a scarcity of brains. I am not talking of your state or my state; I am taking the world as a whole. Formerly the Indian administration was a monarchy. For example, Mahārāja Parīkṣit was a kṣatriya king. Just before his death, he renounced his royal order. He came to the forest to hear about self-realization. If you want to maintain the peace and prosperity of the whole world society, you must create a very intelligent class of men, a class of men expert in administration, a class of men expert in production, and a class of men to work. That is required; you cannot avoid it. That is the Vedic conception, mukha-bāhūru-pāda-jāḥ [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.17.13]. Mukha means “the face,” bāhu means “the arms,” ūru means “the waist,” and pāda, “the legs.” Whether you take this state or that state, unless there is a smooth, systematic establishment of these four orders of life, the state or society will not run very smoothly.
Prof. Kotovsky: Generally it seems to me that this whole varṇāśrama system to some extent created a natural division of labor in the ancient society. But now division of labor among people in any society is much more complicated and sophisticated. So it is very confusing to group them into four classes.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Confusion has come to exist because in India, at a later day, the son of a brāhmaṇa, without having the brahminical qualifications, claimed to be a brāhmaṇa; and others, out of superstition or a traditional way, accepted him as a brāhmaṇa. Therefore the Indian social order was disrupted. But in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement we are training brāhmaṇas everywhere, because the world needs the brain of a brāhmaṇa. Although Mahārāja Parīkṣit was a monarch, he had a body of brāhmaṇas and learned sages to consult, an advisory body. It is not that the monarchs were independent. In history it is found that if some of the monarchs were not in order, they were dethroned by the brahminical advisory council. Although the brāhmaṇas did not take part in politics, they would advise the monarch how to execute the royal function. This is not too far in the past. How long ago was Aśoka?
Prof. Kotovsky: That would be equal to what we call, in our terminology, ancient and medieval India.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.
Prof. Kotovsky: In old and feudal India – you are right – it was very open, and the major part of the high administrative staff in the legislative department were brāhmaṇas. Even in the Mogul era there were brāhmaṇas to advise the Muslim emperors and administrators.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is a fact – the brāhmaṇas were accepted. They formed the advisory committee of the king. For example, Candragupta, the Hindu king, was in the age of Alexander the Great. Just before Candragupta, Alexander the Great went from Greece into India and conquered a portion. When Candragupta became emperor, he had Cāṇakya as his prime minister. Perhaps you have heard this name Cāṇakya?
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, he was a great brāhmaṇa politician, and it is by his name that the quarter of New Delhi where all the foreign embassies are grouped together is called Cāṇakya Purī. Cāṇakya Paṇḍita was a great politician and brāhmaṇa. He was vastly learned. His moral instructions are still valuable. In India, schoolchildren are taught Cāṇakya Paṇḍita’s instructions. Although he was the prime minister, Cāṇakya Paṇḍita maintained his brāhmaṇa spirit; he did not accept any salary. If a brāhmaṇa accepts a salary, it is understood that he has become a dog. That is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. He can advise, but he cannot accept employment. So Cāṇakya Paṇḍita was living in a cottage, but he was actually the prime minister. This brahminical culture and the brahminical brain is the standard of Vedic civilization. The Manu-smṛti is an example of the standard of brahminical culture. You cannot trace out from history when the Manu-smṛti was written, but it is considered so perfect that it is the Hindu law. There is no need for the legislature to pass a new law daily to adjust social order. The law given by Manu is so perfect that it can be applicable for all time. It is stated in Sanskrit to be tri-kālādau, which means “good for the past, present, and future.”
Prof. Kotovsky: I am sorry to interrupt you, but to my knowledge all of Indian society in the second half of the eighteenth century was, by order of the British administration, under a law divergent from Hindu law. There was a lot of change. The actual Hindu law that was used by the Hindus was quite different from the original Manu-smṛti.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: They have now made changes. Even our late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru introduced his own Hindu code. He introduced the right of divorce in marriage, but this was not in the Manu-saṁhitā. There are so many things they have changed, but before this modern age the whole human society was governed by the Manu-smṛti. Strictly speaking, modern Hindus are not strictly following the Hindu scriptures.
But our point is not to try to bring back the old type of Hindu society. That is impossible. Our idea is to take the best ideas from the original idea. For example, in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam there is a description of the communist idea. It is described to Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira. If there is something good, a good experience, why shouldn’t you adopt it? That is our point of view. Besides that, modern civilization is missing one all-important point – the aim of human life. Scientifically, the aim of human life is self-realization, ātma-tattva. It is said that unless the members of human society come to the point of self-realization, they are defeated in whatever they do. Actually it is happening in modern society, despite all economic advancement and other advancement: instead of keeping peace and tranquillity, they are fighting – individually, socially, politically, and nationally. If we think about it in a cool-headed way, we can see that in spite of much improvement in many branches of knowledge, we are keeping the same mentality that is visible in the lower animal society. Our conclusion, according to the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, is that this human body is not meant for working hard for sense gratification. But people do not know anything beyond that. They do not know about the next life. There is no scientific department of knowledge to study what happens after this body is finished. That is a great department of knowledge.
In the Bhagavad-gītā [2.13] it is said, dehino ’smin yathā dehe. Deha means “this body.” Dehinaḥ means “the one who owns this body.” Dehino ’smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā. The dehī, the owner of the body, is within, and the body is changing from one form to another. The child has a certain type of body that changes to another type when he is older. But the owner of the body still exists throughout. Similarly, when this body is completely changed, we accept another body. People do not understand this. We are accepting different bodies, even in this life, from babyhood to childhood to boyhood to youth. That is a fact – everyone knows it. I was a child, but that childhood body is no more. I have a different body now. What is the difficulty in understanding that when this body will be no more, then I will have to accept another body? It is a great science.
Prof. Kotovsky: As you know, there are two quite opposite approaches to this problem. The approach is slightly different according to different religions, but at the same time, any religion recognizes and searches for the change-of-place experience, or transmigration of spirit. In Christian religion, in Judaism, in …
Śrīla Prabhupāda: I am not talking religions with you. I am talking science and philosophy. One religion may accept one way; that is not our concern. We are concerned with the point that if the owner of the body is permanent in spite of different changes of body, there should be no difficulty in understanding that when this body changes entirely, the owner of the body will have another body.
Prof. Kotovsky: Another approach is that there is no separation. There are no two phenomena – the body and the owner of the body are the same.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: [emphatically] No.
Prof. Kotovsky: When the body dies, the owner also dies.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, no. But why is there no department of knowledge in the university to study this fact scientifically? That is my proposition – they are lacking. It may be as you say or it may be as I say, but there must be a department of knowledge to study this. Recently a cardiologist in Toronto, a doctor, has accepted that there is a soul. I had some correspondence with him, and he strongly believes that there is a soul. So there is another point of view, but our process is to accept knowledge from authority. We have Kṛṣṇa’s statement on this subject, and He is authoritative. Kṛṣṇa is accepted as the authority by all the ācāryas. The Bhagavad-gītā is accepted by scholarly and philosophical circles all over the world. Kṛṣṇa says:
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
“Just as the soul gives up the childhood body and comes to the boyhood body and then to youth, the soul also gives up this body and accepts another body.” [Bhagavad-gītā 2.13] This statement is given by Kṛṣṇa, the greatest authority according to our tradition of knowledge. We accept such a statement without argument. That is the way of Vedic understanding.
Prof. Kotovsky: The difficulty is that our approach is that we do not believe in anything without argument. We can believe only things based on argument.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is allowed. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā [4.34]. Tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā. Paripraśna, argument, is allowed – but not in the challenging spirit, but rather with the spirit to understand. Argument is not denied. But as far as Vedic statements are concerned, they are infallible, and the scholars of the Vedas accept them in that way. For example, cow dung is the stool of an animal. Now, the Vedic statement is that as soon as you touch the stool of any animal – even if you touch your own stool – you are impure and have to purify yourself by taking a bath. According to the Hindu system, after evacuating one has to take a bath.
Prof. Kotovsky: That is quite understandable hygienic knowledge.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, that is right.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But in another place it is stated that cow dung, although the stool of an animal, is pure. Even if you apply it to an impure place, that place becomes purified. This is superficially contradictory. In one place it is said that the stool of an animal is impure and as soon as you touch it you have to be purified, and in another place it says that cow dung is pure. According to our knowledge, it is contradictory – but still it is accepted by those who are followers of the Vedas. And the fact is that if you analyze cow dung, you will find that it contains all antiseptic properties.
Prof. Kotovsky: This I don’t know.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, one professor in a medical college analyzed it, and he found it full of antiseptic properties. So Vedic statements, even if found contradictory, if analyzed scrutinizingly will prove correct. There may be an exception. But it is accepted, and when scientifically analyzed and examined, it is found to be correct.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, if you analyze from the scientific point of view, that is right.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: There are other instances – for example, the conchshell. The conchshell is the bone of an animal, and according to Vedic instruction if you touch the bone of an animal you become impure and have to take a bath. But this conchshell is kept in the Deity room, because it is accepted as pure by the Vedas. My point is that we accept Vedic laws without argument. That is the principle followed by scholars. If you can substantiate your statements by quotations from the Vedas, then they are accepted. You are not required to substantiate them in other ways. There are different kinds of pramāṇas, or evidences. Proof by Vedic quotation is called śruti-pramāṇa. As in the legal court if you can give statements from the law book your statement is accepted, so all statements you give, if supported by śruti-pramāṇas, are accepted by scholars. I think you know the Vedas are known as śrutis.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes.
aikāntikī harer bhaktir
Any system we accept must be supported by evidences of śruti, smṛti, the Purāṇas, and Pañcarātra. That which is not proved by these pramāṇas is a disturbance.
Prof. Kotovsky: Could I just say one thing? What is in the Vedas could also have been proved in a scientific way. Today, suppose there is a scientific laboratory. What is said by that lab is true. That it is true you accept, without going into the propriety of it. Suppose you have a scientific workshop or institution; if this workshop or scientific institution says, “This is not good,” the general body will take it for granted: “Yes. The scientific body has said so, so it is understood.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Similarly, Vedic authoritative statements are accepted by the ācāryas [great teachers]. India is governed by the ācāryas – Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Śaṅkarācārya. They accept the Vedas, and their followers accept them. The benefit is that I do not waste my time to research whether cow dung is pure or impure; rather, because it is stated in the Vedas to be pure, I accept it. I save my time by accepting the śruti-pramāṇa. In that way there are different statements in the Vedas for sociology and politics or anything, for veda means “knowledge.”
mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham
Prof. Kotovsky: May I put one question to you? Have you many branches of your society in the world?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.
Prof. Kotovsky: Where is your main center, and where are the branches of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness society?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Of course, I have over sixty-five branches.
Prof. Kotovsky: Sixty-five branches.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, and I have made my main center in Los Angeles. And now we are establishing an important center in Māyāpur, the birthplace of Lord Caitanya. Have you been to India?
Prof. Kotovsky: Six or seven times. Now there is a very difficult situation in Calcutta because of the influx of refugees from Bangladesh.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, but we had our saṅkīrtana there for ten days, and it was very wonderful. The gathering was not less than thirty thousand people daily. They were much interested in hearing our lectures, since we lecture from the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and the Bhagavad-gītā. So people are responding from every part of the world, especially the American boys and girls. They are especially interested, and England, and also Germany and France. From here I plan to go to Paris. What is the name of that place?
Disciple: In Paris? Oh, Fontenay-aux-Roses?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, they have taken a whole house, a nice house. So our process is very simple. We ask our students to observe four prohibitive principles - no illicit sex, no eating of meat, fish, or eggs, no gambling, and no intoxication, including cigarettes, tea, and coffee. One has to obey these four principles and chant the Hare Krsna mahā-mantra, and you will find how, by this process only, these boys and girls are quickly improving. The process is very simple. Besides that, we have books – volumes of books – the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the Bhagavad-gītā. Throughout all these years, I have written about one dozen four-hundred-page books – Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead in two parts, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in six parts, Teachings of Lord Caitanya, The Nectar of Devotion. So we are trying to spread this Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Kṛṣṇa is a historical personality, as much as Lenin is a historical personality. Just as you are trying to understand his philosophy, we are trying to understand Kṛṣṇa’s philosophy.
Prof. Kotovsky: Are there many participants in your sixty-five branches?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Oh, yes, more than one thousand initiated, and outside there are many. The one thousand have accepted the principles. Just like these boys. [Śrīla Prabhupāda points to his two secretaries.]
Prof. Kotovsky: But does that mean that these students abstain from normal Western, European universities? For instance, can a normal student from one of the various universities who is attending lectures in the normal way also be initiated and admitted to your community?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If you want to live in our community and be initiated, we welcome you. If not, come and try to understand our philosophy, read our books – there are so many books, magazines, questions, and answers. Try to understand the philosophy. It is not that all of a sudden a student comes and becomes our disciple. He first of all comes, associates, and tries to understand. We do not canvass. He voluntarily says that he wants to be a disciple.
Prof. Kotovsky: What happens if, for instance, one is not a student but a young worker or the young son of a farmer? Would he renounce his whole life and join your community in a given center? How would he maintain himself in his day-to-day life, in material life?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: As I told you, this propaganda is meant for creating brāhmaṇas all over the world, because the brāhmaṇa element is lacking. One who seriously comes to us has to become a brāhmaṇa, so he should adopt the occupation of a brāhmaṇa and give up the occupation of a kṣatriya or śūdra. But if one wants to keep his profession and also at the same time understand our movement, that is allowed. We have many professors following our movement. There is Howard Wheeler, a professor at Ohio State University. He is my disciple. He is continuing with his professorship, but almost all the money he is getting he is spending for this Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Gṛhasthas, those who are in householder life outside, are expected to contribute fifty percent of their income for our society, keep twenty-five percent for family, and keep twenty-five percent for personal emergencies. But Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu teaches that it does not matter whether one is a gṛhastha [householder], or in the renounced order, or a brāhmaṇa, or a śūdra. Lord Caitanya says, “Anyone who understands the science of Kṛṣṇa becomes My spiritual master.” The actual words in Bengali are kibā vipra, kibā nyāsī, śūdra kene naya. Do you understand a little Bengali?
Prof. Kotovsky: A little.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, as a vibration. Yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā, sei ’guru’ haya. “Anyone who understands the science of Kṛṣṇa can become a spiritual master.” [Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya 8.128]
Prof. Kotovsky: But by creating brāhmaṇas from different social classes of society, you deny the old prescription of the Hindu scriptures.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, I establish it.
Prof. Kotovsky: According to all scriptures – the Purāṇas, etc. – every member of one of these four classes of varṇas has to be born within it.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, no, no, no.
Prof. Kotovsky: That is the foundation of all the varṇas …
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, no. I am sorry.
Prof. Kotovsky: The foundation of all the varṇas …
Śrīla Prabhupāda: You have spoken incorrectly. With great respect I beg to submit that you are not speaking correctly. In the Bhagavad-gītā [4.13] it is stated, cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ. “These four orders of brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas, and śūdras were created by Me according to quality and work.” There is no mention of birth.
Prof. Kotovsky: I agree with you that this is the addition of later brāhmaṇas who tried to perpetuate these qualities.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That has killed the Indian culture. Otherwise there would have been no necessity of the division of part of India into Pakistan. Not only that, but from the historical point of view this whole planet was Bhārata-varṣa, and it was controlled by one flag up to the time of Mahārāja Parīkṣit. Then it gradually separated. This is history. Lately they have separated Pakistan. So Bhārata-varṣa is now crippled into a small piece of land. Otherwise, according to Vedic scripture, this whole planet is called Bhārata-varṣa. Formerly it was named Ilāvṛta-varṣa. But since Emperor Bhārata ruled this planet, it is called Bhārata-varṣa. So this culture, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, was always existent. Consider any religion – Christian, Muhammadan, Jewish. They are at most two to three thousand years old. But you cannot trace out the beginning of this Vedic scripture. It is therefore called sanātana, eternal. This culture is for this whole human society. It is not a religious faith. Religious faith you can change, but real dharma you cannot change. Try to understand Kṛṣṇa. In the Bhagavad-gītā [18.66] He says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: “Give up all other forms of religion and just surrender to Me.” That is real knowledge – to surrender to the Supreme. You or I – anyone – is surrendered to someone. That is a fact. Our life is by surrender, is it not? Do you disagree with this point?
Prof. Kotovsky: To some extent you surrender.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, to the full extent.
Prof. Kotovsky: You have to surrender to the society, for instance. To the whole people.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, to the whole people, or to the state or to the king or the government or whatever you say. This surrender must be there.
Prof. Kotovsky: The only difficulty is that we cannot half surrender to a government or a king. The principal difference is of surrender to a king, to a person, or to the society.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, that is only a change of color. But the principle of surrender is there. Whether you surrender to monarchy, democracy, aristocracy, or dictatorship, you have to surrender; that is a fact. Without surrender there is no life. It is not possible. So we are educating people to surrender to the Supreme, wherefrom you get all protection, just as Kṛṣṇa says (sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja). No one can say, “No, I am not surrendered to anyone.” Not a single person. The difference is where he surrenders. The ultimate surrendering object is Kṛṣṇa. Therefore in the Bhagavad-gītā [7.19] Kṛṣṇa says, bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate: “After surrendering to so many things birth after birth, when one is factually wise he surrenders unto Me.” Vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ: “Such a mahātmā is very rare.”
Prof. Kotovsky: But at the same time it seems to me that surrender is to be accompanied by revolt. The history of mankind has proved that mankind has developed only by revolt against some kind of surrender. In the medieval age there was the French Revolution. It was revolt against surrender. But this revolution itself was surrender to the rank and file of the people. You are agreed?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.
Prof. Kotovsky: So it is not enough to come to a full stop. Surrender is to be accompanied with revolt against some and surrender to other people.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But the surrender will be fully stopped when it is surrender to Kṛṣṇa.
Prof. Kotovsky: Ah, ah.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is full stop – no more surrender. Any other surrender you have to change by revolution. But when you come to Kṛṣṇa, then it is sufficient. You are satisfied. I’ll give you an example: a child is crying, and people move him from one lap to another. Oh, he does not stop. But as soon as the baby comes to the lap of his mother …
Prof. Kotovsky: It stops.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, full satisfaction. So this surrender, these changes, will go on in different categories. But the sum total of all this surrender is surrender to māyā. Therefore, in the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that this surrender, neglecting Kṛṣṇa, is all māyā. Either you surrender to this or to that, but final surrender is surrender to Kṛṣṇa; then you will be happy. The process of surrender is there, but surrender to Kṛṣṇa keeps one quite satisfied, transcendentally.
Prof. Kotovsky: Haven’t you come across hostile attitudes to your teachings from orthodox Hindus or brāhmaṇas in India?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: We have subdued them.
Prof. Kotovsky: Ah.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Any orthodox Hindu may come and challenge, but we have our weapon – the Vedic literature. So no one has come. Even Christian priests in America love me. They say, “These boys are American, Christian, Jewish, and now they are so much after God. But we could not deliver them.” They are admitting it. Their fathers and their parents come to me, offer their obeisances, and say, “Swamiji, it is our great fortune that you have come here to teach God consciousness.” So on the contrary, I have been well received. In India also, since you inquired of India, all other sects are admitting that before me many kinds of swamis went to the Western countries, but they could not convert even a single person to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. They are admitting that. As far as I am concerned, I don’t take any credit, but I am confident that because I am presenting the Vedic knowledge as it is, without adulteration, it is being effective. That is my confidence. If you have the right medicine and you administer it to a patient, you must be sure that he will be cured.
Prof. Kotovsky: How many out of your one thousand disciples do you have in India itself? How many of your community do you have in India?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: In India?
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: In India there are many Kṛṣṇa conscious persons – hundreds, thousands, millions. In India there is no question. There is not a single Hindu who is not Kṛṣṇa conscious.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, I understand.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Vaiṣṇavas. This is called the Vaiṣṇava cult. You have been in India, so as it is commonly known, there are many millions of Vaiṣṇavas. For example, this gentleman [an Indian gentleman present] is the commander of Air India airlines. He is not my disciple, but he is a Vaiṣṇava, Kṛṣṇa conscious. Similarly, in India there are millions of Kṛṣṇa conscious persons. There are even Muhammadans who are Kṛṣṇa conscious. At Gorakhpur University there is a Muhammadan professor who is a great devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa. So this is natural. It is said in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta that Kṛṣṇa consciousness is everywhere, in everyone’s heart. It simply has to be awakened by this process. That is all. It is there in your heart also. It is not that it is foreign to you. In everyone’s heart there is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. By this process we have to awaken it. It is just like the way the sun rises. It is not that all of a sudden the sun comes from nowhere. It is there, but it rises in the morning. Similarly, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness is everywhere, but some way or another it is now covered. By this process it is reawakened and aroused by association.
Prof. Kotovsky: You came yesterday to Moscow. Have you seen something here in Moscow?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, I am not very much interested in sightseeing.
Prof. Kotovsky: But in any case, just to stay in an old-style hotel is not interesting – not many people to see. And you are leaving the day after tomorrow?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is my program.
Prof. Kotovsky: You are leaving for the United States or for Europe?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, for Europe. Paris. And we have two very big ceremonies in London and San Francisco. They are making arrangements for the Ratha-yātrā Car Festival. This car festival is observed in Jagannātha Purī. You have been to Jagannātha Purī?
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, the car festival has been held from immemorial times. A very old tradition. Huge cars.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, and it has now been introduced in the Western countries in London and San Francisco, and gradually maybe we will introduce it in other countries also.
Prof. Kotovsky: In London there is a large Indian community.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, no. This is organized by the Englishmen and Americans. The Indian communities in London and San Francisco are trying to become – you know the word? Sahib?
Prof. Kotovsky: [Laughs.] Westernized. [They both laugh.] A very great social anthropologist at the university has written something very interesting. He says there are two processes – the process of Westernization among brāhmaṇas, mainly the upper class, and the process called Sanskritization, which is the process of adopting brāhmaṇa rituals, etc., by so-called lower classes, even untouchables. It is a very interesting process in India just now. But India’s position, unfortunately, is problematic.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The difficulty is that India is nowhere. They are trying to imitate Western life, but from a materialistic or technical point of view, they are one hundred years back.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, that is right. But what to do for India?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: There is one thing I am experiencing. If India’s spiritual asset is distributed, that will increase India’s honor. Because everywhere I go, people still adore Indian culture. If this treasure house of India’s spiritual knowledge is properly distributed, at least people outside of India will understand that they are getting something from India.
Prof. Kotovsky: Of course, you’re right. The Indian cultural heritage is to be made known everywhere. But at the same time, in what way would this benefit the Indian masses themselves? They are sitting in India, and they have nothing to gain from the spreading of the Indian cultural heritage all over the world. Indian villages have to have fertilizers, tractors, etc.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, we do not object to that.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, I don’t think you can object, but at the same time, something has to be done in India. One may call it Westernization, but this introduction to an industrial technological revolution is needed in all fields of Indian life – agriculture, industry, etc.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Arjuna, before understanding the Bhagavad-gītā, was a fighter, and after understanding the Bhagavad-gītā he remained a fighter. So we don’t want to change the position. For example, you are a respectable professor, a teacher. We don’t say that you must change your position. We have come to convince you about our philosophy. That is all. Arjuna was refusing to fight. “Kṛṣṇa, I don’t want to kill my relatives. I do not want this kingdom.” But he was taught the Bhagavad-gītā, and at the end when Kṛṣṇa inquired, “What is your decision now?” he said, kariṣye vacanaṁ tava – “Yes, I shall act as You say.” [Bhagavad-gītā 18.73] That means that his consciousness changed. He was a fighter, and he remained a fighter, but he changed his consciousness. We want that. We don’t want to disturb the present condition of society. We are not against technology. No, but we try to make one understand this Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is our program.
Prof. Kotovsky: Of course, at the same time the final goal of any consciousness is to change the society – to make it a better society.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is automatic.
Prof. Kotovsky: I am not really so happy that the ultimate goal is not to disturb society, because in modern society there are many things to be changed through consciousness.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That preliminary change is to follow rules and regulations of austerity. For example, don’t take intoxicants.
Prof. Kotovsky: No indulging in intoxicants – simplicity, etc.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: So if one takes to this process …
Prof. Kotovsky: Then the others will come automatically.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: One’s whole life will change, because these four things – illicit sex life, intoxicants, meat-eating, and gambling – are very great impediments to social improvement.
Prof. Kotovsky: That will automatically make life simpler, because a person who does not indulge in illicit sex, intoxicants, and such other things has to lead a comparatively simple life.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The other day I was speaking in Bombay with a respectable gentleman. I was telling him that Kṛṣṇa says:
ye ’pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ
striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās
te ’pi yānti parāṁ gatim
“Even those who are lowborn [pāpa-yonayaḥ] – strī, vaiśyas, and śūdras – are also included by accepting Me. By accepting My shelter they are also elevated to the transcendental position.” [Bhagavad-gītā 9.32] Now why have the higher classes of Hindu society neglected this injunction of the Bhagavad-gītā? Suppose one is pāpa-yonayaḥ, lowborn. Kṛṣṇa says that he can be “elevated to the transcendental position if he accepts Me.” Why wasn’t this message propagated by the higher class of people so that the so-called lowborn could be elevated? Why did they reject them? The result was that instead of accepting the Muhammadans, the Indians rejected them, and now they are partitioned off. They have become eternal enemies of India. So for the first time we are trying to elevate persons to the higher position of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, even if one is lowborn. Because the soul is pure. In the Vedas it is said that the soul is untouched by any material contamination; it is simply temporarily covered. This covering should be removed. Then one becomes pure. That is the mission of human life – to uncover ourselves from this material environment, come to spiritual understanding, and surrender to Kṛṣṇa. Then life is perfect.
The Tiny World of Modern Science
During a morning walk in April of 1973, at Venice Beach, Los Angeles, Śrīla Prabhupāda discusses modern science and its high priests: “They claim to have millions of dollars’ worth of knowledge, but if you ask them a question, they simply give you a postdated check. Why should we accept it? They cannot even produce a spear of grass through their biological or chemical experiments. Nonetheless, they are claiming that the creation is produced by some chemical or biological method. Why does no one question all this nonsense?”
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The whole world of science and technology is running on the false idea that life is born from matter. We cannot allow this nonsensical theory to go unchallenged. Life does not come from matter. Matter is generated from life. This is not theory; it is fact. Science is based on an incorrect theory; therefore all its calculations and conclusions are wrong, and people are suffering because of this. When all these mistaken modern scientific theories are corrected, people will become happy. So we must challenge the scientists and defeat them. Otherwise they will mislead the entire society.
Matter changes in six phases: birth, growth, maintenance, production of by-products, dwindling, and death. But the life within matter, the spirit soul, is eternal; it goes through no such changes. Life appears to be developing and decaying, but actually it is simply passing through each of these six phases until the material body can no longer be maintained. Then the old body dies, and the soul enters a new body. When our clothing is old and worn, we change it. Similarly, one day our bodies become old and useless, and we pass on to a new body.
As Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā [2.13], dehino ’smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā / tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ: “As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death.” And a little later [2.18]: antavanta ime dehā nityasyoktāḥ śarīriṇaḥ. This means that only the material body of the indestructible and eternal entity is subject to destruction. This material body is perishable, but the life within the body is nitya, eternal.
According to the Vedas, the measurement of the soul within the body is one ten-thousandth part of the tip of a hair. This is very small; in fact, it is atomic. Yet because of that atomic spiritual energy, my body is working. Is it so difficult to understand? Suppose a man thinks himself very stout and strong. Why is he stout and strong? Only because within his body is a small spiritual spark. But as soon as the spiritual spark is gone, his body dies, and his strength and vigor become void. If scientists say that matter is the cause and origin of life, then let them bring just one dead man back to life by injecting him with chemicals. But this they cannot do.
Dr. Singh: Since scientists cannot see the spirit soul, they say its existence is very doubtful.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: How can they see it? It is too small to see. Where is such seeing power?
Dr. Singh: Still, they want to sense it by some means.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If you inject just one grain of deadly poison into someone, he immediately dies. No one can see the poison or how it acts. But the poison is acting nevertheless. In the same way, the Vedas say that because the minute particle called the soul is within the body, the whole body is working nicely. If I pinch myself, I immediately feel it, because I am conscious all over my skin. But as soon as the soul is absent, which is the case when my body dies, you can take this same skin and cut it and chop it, and no one will protest. Why is this simple thing so hard to understand? Is this not detecting spirit?
Dr. Singh: That is the soul. But what about God?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: First of all let us understand the soul. The soul is a small God. If you understand the sample, then you can understand the whole.
Now here is matter. [Śrīla Prabhupāda points at a dead tree with his cane.] Formerly leaves and twigs were growing from this tree. Why are they not growing now? Can the scientists answer this question?
Karāndhara dāsa: They would say the chemical composition has changed.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: All right, then if they are so advanced in knowledge of chemistry, they must supply the proper chemicals to make branches and leaves grow again.
Brahmānanda Swami: Knowledge means that one must be able to demonstrate his theory. They should be able to show in their laboratories that life is caused by a combination of chemicals.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, the scientific method means first observation, then hypothesis, and then demonstration. But these scientists cannot demonstrate their hypothesis. They simply observe and then speak nonsense.
Scientists say that the chemicals are the cause of life. But all the chemicals that were there when the tree was living are still present. And life energy is also there. There are thousands of microbes in the tree, and they are all living entities. No one can claim that life energy is lacking in the body of this tree.
Dr. Singh: But what about the life energy of the tree itself?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is the difference. The living force is individual, and the particular individual living entity which was the tree has left. This must be the case, since all the chemicals that are necessary to support life are still there yet the tree is dead.
Here is another example: suppose I am living in an apartment and then I leave it. I am gone, but many other living entities remain there – ants, spiders, and so forth. It is not true that simply because I have left the apartment, it can no longer accommodate life. Other living entities are still living there. It is simply that I – an individual living being – have left. The chemicals in the tree are like the apartment; they are simply the environment for the individual living force – the soul – to act through. Thus the scientists will never be able to produce life in the chemical laboratory.
The so-called scientists say that life begins from chemicals. But the real question is, “Where have the chemicals come from?” The chemicals come from life, and this means that life has mystic power. For example, an orange tree contains many oranges, and each orange contains chemicals – citric acid and others. So where have these chemicals come from? Obviously they have come from the life within the tree. The scientists are missing the origin of the chemicals. They have started their investigation from the chemicals, but they cannot identify the origin of the chemicals. Chemicals come from the supreme life – God. Just as the living body of a man produces many chemicals, the supreme life (the Supreme Lord) is producing all the chemicals found in the atmosphere, in the water, in humans, in animals, and in the earth. And that is called mystic power. Unless the mystic power of the Supreme Lord is accepted, there is no solution to the problem of the origin of life.
Dr. Singh: The scientists will reply that they cannot believe in mystic power.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But they must explain the origin of the chemicals. Anyone can see that an ordinary tree is producing many chemicals; they cannot deny it. But how does it produce them? Since they cannot answer this, they must accept that the living force has mystic power. I cannot explain how my fingernail is growing out of my finger; it is beyond the power of my brain. In other words, it is growing by inconceivable potency, or acintya-śakti. So if acintya-śakti exists in an ordinary being, imagine how much acintya-śakti God possesses.
The difference between God and me is that although I have the same potencies as God, I can produce only a small quantity of chemicals, whereas He can produce enormous quantities. I can produce a little water in the form of perspiration, but God can produce the seas. Analysis of one drop of seawater gives you the qualitative analysis of the sea, without any mistake. Similarly, the ordinary living being is part and parcel of God, so by analyzing the living beings we can begin to understand God. In God there is great mystic potency. God’s mystic potency is working swiftly, exactly like an electric machine. Machines operate by certain energy, and they are so nicely made that all the work is done simply by pushing a button. Similarly, God said, “Let there be creation,” and there was creation. Considered in this way, the workings of nature are not very difficult to understand. God has such wonderful potencies that the creation, on His order alone, immediately takes place.
Brahmānanda Swami: Scientists don’t accept God or acintya-śakti.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is their rascaldom. God exists, and His acintya-śakti also exists.
Karāndhara dāsa: Scientists say that life was created biochemically.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: And I say to them: “Why don’t you create life? Your biology and chemistry are very advanced, so why don’t you create life?”
Karāndhara dāsa: They say they will create life in the future.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: When in the future? If the scientists know the creative process, why can’t they create life now? If life has a biochemical origin, and if biologists and chemists are so advanced, then why can’t they create life in their laboratories? When this crucial point is raised, they say, “We shall do it in the future.” Why in the future? That is nonsense. Trust no future, however pleasant. What is the meaning of their advancement? They are talking nonsense.
Karāndhara dāsa: They say that they are right on the verge of creating life.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But that is also the future, in a different way. They must accept that they still do not know the truth about the origin of life. Since they are expecting to be able to create life in the future, presently their knowledge must be imperfect. Their proposal is something like giving someone a postdated check. Suppose I owe you ten thousand dollars and I say, “Yes, I will pay you the entire sum with this postdated check. Is that all right?” If you are intelligent, you will reply, “At present, give me at least five dollars in cash so I can see something tangible.“ Similarly, the scientists cannot produce even a single blade of grass by biochemistry, yet still they claim that life is produced from matter. What is this nonsense? Is no one questioning this? We can prove that life began from life. Here is the proof: when a father begets a child, the father is living, and the child is living. But where is the scientist’s proof that life comes from matter? We can prove that life begins from life, and we can also prove that the original life is Kṛṣṇa. But what evidence exists that a child is ever born out of a dead stone? The scientists cannot prove that life comes from matter. They are leaving that aside for the future.
Karāndhara dāsa: The basis of what the scientists call “scientific integrity” is that they talk only about what they can experience through their senses.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Then they are suffering from what we call “Doctor Frog’s philosophy.” There was once a frog who had lived all his life in a well. One day a friend visited him and informed him of the existence of the Atlantic Ocean.
“Oh, what is this Atlantic Ocean?” asked the frog in the well.
“It is a vast body of water,” his friend replied.
“How vast? Is it double the size of this well?”
“Oh, no, much larger,” his friend replied.
“How much larger? Ten times the size?”
In this way the frog went on calculating. But what was the possibility of his ever understanding the depths and far reaches of the great ocean? Our faculties, experience, and powers of speculation are always limited. The frog was always thinking in terms relative to his well. He had no power to think otherwise. Similarly, the scientists are estimating the Absolute Truth, the cause of all causes, with their imperfect senses and minds, and thus they are bound to be bewildered. The essential fault of the so-called scientists is that they have adopted the inductive process to arrive at their conclusions. For example, if a scientist wants to determine whether or not man is mortal by the inductive process, he must study every man to try to discover if some or one of them may be immortal. The scientist says, “I cannot accept the proposition that all men are mortal. There may be some men who are immortal. I have not yet seen every man. Therefore how can I accept that man is mortal?” This is called the inductive process. And the deductive process means that your father, your teacher, or your guru says that man is mortal, and you accept it.
Dr. Singh: So there is an ascending process of gaining knowledge and a descending process?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. The ascending process will never be successful, because it relies on information gathered through the senses, and the senses are imperfect. So we accept the descending process.
God cannot be known by the inductive process. Therefore He is called adhokṣaja, which means “unknowable by direct perception.” The scientists say there is no God because they are trying to understand by direct perception. But He is adhokṣaja; therefore the scientists are ignorant of God because they are missing the method of knowing Him. In order to understand transcendental science, one must approach a bona fide spiritual master, hear from him submissively, and render service to him. Lord Kṛṣṇa explains this in the Bhagavad-gītā [4.34]: tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā.
Dr. Singh: There is a scientific journal called Nature. It contains articles concerning natural products like plants and animals, but it does not mention God – only nature.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: We may correctly observe that plants are being produced by nature, but we must ask, “What has produced nature?” To ask this question is intelligence.
Dr. Singh: The scientists don’t think about that.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: So they are fools. As soon as we speak of nature, the next question should be, “Whose nature?” For instance, I speak of my nature, and you speak of your nature. Therefore, as soon as nature is mentioned, the next inquiry should be, “Whose nature?”
Nature means energy, and as soon as you speak of energy, you must accept that there is a source of that energy. For example, the source of electric energy is the electric powerhouse. Electricity is not produced automatically. We must install a powerhouse and a generator. Similarly, in the Vedas it is said that material nature is working under Kṛṣṇa’s direction.
Dr. Singh: So do you mean to say that science has started from an intermediate point – not from the original point?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is it exactly. They are ignorant of the origin. The scientists start from one point – but where does that point come from? That they do not know, in spite of vast research. One has to accept that the original source is God, who is full of all mystic powers and from whom everything emanates. He Himself says in the Bhagavad-gītā [10.8]: ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate, “I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me.” Our conclusions are not based on blind faith; they are most scientific. Matter comes from life. In life – in the origin – there are unlimited material resources; that is the great mystery of creation.
Modern scientific research is just like Sāṅkhya philosophy, which analyzes material elements. Sāṅkhya means “to count.” We are also Sāṅkhya philosophers to some extent, because we count and analyze the material elements; this is land, this is water, this is air, this is sunshine, this is fire. Furthermore, I can count my mind, my intelligence, and my ego. Beyond my ego, however, I cannot count. But Kṛṣṇa says that there is existence beyond the ego, and that existence is the living force – the spirit soul. This is what the scientists do not know. They think that life is merely a combination of material elements, but Kṛṣṇa denies this in the Bhagavad-gītā [7.5]. Apareyam itas tv anyāṁ prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām: “Besides this inferior nature there is a superior energy of Mine.” The inferior energy is the material elements, and the superior energy is the living entity.
khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca
ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me
bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā
“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego – all together these eight comprise My separated material energies.” [Bhagavad-gītā 7.4] Kṛṣṇa explains here in the Bhagavad-gītā that vāyu (gas) comes from Him, and that finer than the gases is kham (ether). Finer than ether is the mind, finer than the mind is intelligence, and finer than the intelligence is the soul. But the scientists do not know this. They can perceive only gross things. They mention vāyu, but where does the vāyu come from? Where does the gas come from?
Dr. Singh: That they cannot answer.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But we can answer. We have the knowledge that gas comes from kham, or ether, and ether comes from mind, mind comes from intelligence, and intelligence comes from Kṛṣṇa’s superior energy, the spirit soul.
Dr. Singh: Are both inferior and superior energies studied in Sāṅkhya philosophy?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No. Sāṅkhya philosophers do not know of superior energy. They simply analyze the material elements, just as the scientists do. Neither the scientists nor the Sāṅkhya philosophers know anything of the spirit soul. They are simply analyzing Kṛṣṇa’s material energy.
Dr. Singh: They are analyzing the creative material elements?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Material elements are not creative! The soul is creative. No one can create life with only matter, and matter cannot create itself. You, a living entity, can mix hydrogen and oxygen to create water. But matter itself has no creative energy. If you place a bottle of hydrogen near a bottle of oxygen, will they automatically combine, without your help?
Dr. Singh: No. They must be mixed.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, the superior energy – the living entity – is required. Oxygen and hydrogen are inferior energy, but when the superior energy mixes them, then they can become water.
Inferior energy has no power unless superior energy is involved. This sea [indicating the Pacific Ocean] is calm and quiet. But when superior force – air – pushes it, high waves are created. The sea has no power without the superior force. Similarly, there is another force superior to the air, and another, and another, until we arrive at Kṛṣṇa, the most superior force. This is real research. Suppose a railroad train is just starting to move. The engine pushes one car, which pushes another, and so on, until the entire train is moving. And the whole motion originates with the engineer, a living entity. Similarly, in the cosmic creation, Kṛṣṇa gives the first push, and then, by means of many successive pushes, the entire cosmic manifestation comes into being. This is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā [9.10]: mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram. “This material nature is working under My direction, O son of Kuntī, and is producing all moving and unmoving beings.” And a little later:
mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ
tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir
ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā
“All species of life are made possible by birth in material nature, and I am the seed-giving father.” [Bhagavad-gītā 14.4] For example, if we sow a banyan seed, a huge tree eventually grows up and produces millions of new seeds. Each of these seeds, in turn, produces another tree with millions of new seeds, and so on. So Kṛṣṇa is the original seed-giving father.
Unfortunately, the scientists only observe the immediate cause; they do not perceive the remote cause. There are two causes – the immediate cause and the remote cause. Kṛṣṇa is described in the Vedas as sarva- kāraṇa-kāraṇam, the cause of all causes. If you understand the cause of all causes, then you understand everything. Kasmin nu bhagavo vijñāte sarvam idaṁ vijñātaṁ bhavati: “If you know the original cause, the later, subordinate causes are automatically known.” Although the scientists are searching after the original cause, when the Vedas, which contain perfect knowledge, give the original cause, they won’t accept. They keep to their partial, imperfect knowledge.
Dr. Singh: Scientists are worried about energy sources, and now they are working to utilize solar energy for cooking, lighting, and various other purposes. They are hoping that when they exhaust all other energy sources, they will be able to use solar energy.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: This is not a very new theory. Everyone knows that because the roots of trees store the sun’s energy, it is possible to get fire from a tree. These scientists are tiny creatures, but they are very proud. We don’t give them credit, because they are simply stating what everyone knows. As soon as you cut a tree, you cannot get fire from it. It has to be dried in the sun. When the energy is gathered from the sun, the tree can be utilized for fire. Actually everything is being maintained by the sun’s energy, but the scientists don’t know where the sun’s energy comes from. In the Bhagavad-gītā [15.12] Kṛṣṇa says:
jagad bhāsayate ’khilam
yac candramasi yac cāgnau
tat tejo viddhi māmakam
“The splendor of the sun, which dissipates the darkness of this whole world, comes from Me. And the splendor of the moon and the splendor of fire are also from Me.”
Again, Kṛṣṇa says, jyotiṣāṁ ravir aṁśumān: “Of lights I am the radiant sun.” [Bhagavad-gītā 10.21] Also, in the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā Arjuna tells Kṛṣṇa, śaśi-sūrya-netram: “The sun and moon are among Your great, unlimited eyes.” This knowledge is contained in the Bhagavad-gītā, but scientists cannot attain this knowledge by their speculation. Can they?
Dr. Singh: It is not possible.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: And what is their knowledge? The scriptures say that even if you counted all the grains of sand on earth, you still would not be able to understand God. All this material counting does not mean that you have the capacity to understand the unlimited. But it is even beyond their capacity to count all the material things. Why are the scientists so proud of their energy and capacities? They do not even know of the material things, and what to speak of the spiritual. As far as scientists and other living entities are concerned, their knowledge is limited. But this is not so for Kṛṣṇa. If we receive knowledge from Kṛṣṇa, that knowledge is perfect. In the scriptures we receive information that there are nine hundred thousand species of life existing within the ocean. The information given in the scriptures is exact, because it comes from Kṛṣṇa, and as Kṛṣṇa Himself says: “As the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come.” [Bhagavad-gītā 7.26]
Dr. Singh: We have to take knowledge from the supreme knower.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: For perfect knowledge we have to approach a superior person, a guru. One may try to learn a subject by reading books at home, but he can learn much better by going to college and approaching a professor. In the same way, we have to approach a guru. Of course, if we encounter a false guru, our knowledge is false. But if our guru is perfect, our knowledge is perfect. We accept Kṛṣṇa as our guru. If He is perfect in knowledge, our knowledge is also perfect. As far as we’re concerned, we do not have to be perfect in ourselves, but if we receive knowledge from the perfect, our knowledge is perfect. We cannot say that we understand that there are nine hundred thousand species of life in the ocean because we have studied the entire ocean. Rather, we say that we take this information from scriptures, and therefore it is perfect. This is the Vedic process.
Scientists may carry out much research work, but however great a scientist may be, his senses are imperfect. Therefore he cannot have perfect knowledge. What is the value of our eyes? We cannot see without sunlight, nor can we see small things without a microscope. Our eyes are imperfect, and the instruments our eyes have discovered are also imperfect. How, then, is it possible to get perfect knowledge? Because the living entity is limited, his knowledge is limited. A child may know that two plus two equals four, but when he speaks of higher mathematics, we do not take him seriously. The senses through which a scientist acquires knowledge are limited and imperfect; therefore his knowledge is limited and imperfect. In his ignorance he may claim to know everything, but that is simply nonsense.
A blind man may lead another blind man, but what does it avail them when they both fall into a ditch? The laws of nature bind us hand and foot, yet we think we are free to speculate. This is illusion. Although conditioned by so many of nature’s laws, the rascals think they are free. Yet if there is a cloud, they cannot see the sun. What power have we to see? Only when nature’s laws give us some facility are we able to see. Indeed, we can only experiment under certain conditions, and if the conditions are not favorable, our experiments fail. Why then are we so proud of experimental knowledge?
Why experiment? Things are already there. The sun’s energy is there, given by God for us to use. What else is there to know? So many apples fall from trees. What further need is there to explain the law of gravity? Actually the scientists are lacking in common sense. They are simply concerned with “scientific” explanations. They say the law of gravity works only under certain conditions, but who has made these conditions? When Kṛṣṇa appeared as Lord Rāmacandra, He threw stones on the water and the stones floated. The law of gravity did not work in that case. Therefore the law of gravity works only under the direction of the Supreme Lord. The law in itself is not final. A king may give a law, but he can change that law immediately. The ultimate law-giver is Kṛṣṇa, and a law will only work by His will. Scientists try to explain God’s will in so many ways, but because they are conditioned by māyā, illusion, they can only talk like a person haunted by ghosts. Tell me, what is the scientific explanation that accounts for all the varieties of trees?
Karāndhara dāsa: They say that nature mutates and makes these varieties.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Then it must be nature’s will. And what is that will? Does the land have any will?
Karāndhara dāsa: Well, they are very vague on that point.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That means that they do not have perfect knowledge. They do not know that behind nature is the will of Kṛṣṇa.
Dr. Singh: They explain that the chemical composition of these different plants is different.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That’s all right, but who made these chemical compositions? As soon as you say “chemical composition,” you immediately require a God.
Karāndhara dāsa: They say there is no need for a God, because if you mix two chemicals together …
Śrīla Prabhupāda: God or not, there must be some will. There must be some consciousness. Two chemicals mix and produce such and such. Who mixes them? Consciousness is there. Well, that consciousness is Kṛṣṇa. There is consciousness everywhere, and as soon as you accept that consciousness, you must accept consciousness as a person. Therefore, we speak of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is stated that consciousness is all-pervading. You may have consciousness, and I may have consciousness, but there is another consciousness, which is all-pervading. My consciousness is limited to my body, and your consciousness is limited to yours, but there is another consciousness, which is within you, me, and everyone. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Actually everything in the world is relative. That is a scientific fact. Our bodies, lives, intelligence, and everything else are all relative. To us an ant may seem to have a very short life, but for the ant his life is about a hundred years in duration. That hundred years is relative to the body. Similarly, Brahmā, who lives fantastically long from our point of view, only lives a hundred years from his point of view. This is relativity.
Karāndhara dāsa: Then the relativity is based upon our individual situation.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Therefore it is said that what is food for one is poison for another. People are thinking that because they cannot survive on the moon, no other living entities can. Everyone thinks of things in a relative way, in his own terms. This is the meaning of “frog philosophy.” The frog is always thinking of things in relation to his well. He has no power to conceive of the Atlantic Ocean, because his well is his only experience. God is great, but we are thinking of God’s greatness in our own terms, in terms of relative greatness. Some insects are born at night; they grow at night, have their children at night, and die at night. They never see the sun; therefore they conclude that there is no such thing as day. If you asked the insect about the morning, he would say, “There cannot be any morning.” Similarly, when people hear of Brahmā’s long duration of life from the scriptures, they do not believe it. They say, “How can anyone live for such a long time?” In the Bhagavad-gītā [8.17] Kṛṣṇa states:
ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ
te ’ho-rātra-vido janāḥ
“By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahmā’s one day. And such also is the duration of his night.”
Thus Brahmā, by these calculations, lives for so many millions and trillions of years. We cannot believe this, although evidence is given in the scriptures. In other words, we conclude that Kṛṣṇa talks nonsensically, while we speak as authorities. Even great scholars say that these scriptural statements are all mental speculations. Although these men are nothing but rascals, they pass for reputable scholars. They place themselves above God’s position by attempting to refute or deny the statements of God in the revealed scriptures. In this way so many fools in the guise of scholars, scientists, and philosophers are misguiding the whole world.
Dr. Singh: Of course, so much is being written about Darwin’s theory. In any library there are hundreds of books on his theories.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Do they accept or reject them?
Dr. Singh: Generally they accept him, but there are some who are very critical.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Darwin speaks about the evolution of the species of life, but he has no real information about spiritual evolution. He knows nothing about the progress of the spirit soul from lower forms of life to higher forms. He claims that man has evolved from monkeys, but we can see that the monkey is not extinct. If the monkey is the immediate forefather of man, why is the monkey still existing?
Dr. Singh: Darwin says that the species are not created independently but are descended from one another.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If there is no question of independence, how can he abruptly begin with a certain species? He must explain how the original species came into existence.
Karāndhara dāsa: Scientists claim that the earth was created by biological chemistry, and they refuse to teach that God created the earth, because they think everyone will consider them fools.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If their biology and chemistry are so advanced, why don’t they create something? They claim they may be able to create life in the future, but why in the future? Life is already created. Is science based on the future? We should trust no future, however pleasant we may think it will be. Everyone is thinking the future will be very pleasant, but what assurance do we have of this? They have to accept that they do not know what the truth actually is. They cannot even produce a spear of grass through their biological or chemical experiments. Nonetheless they are claiming that the creation is produced by some chemical or biological method. Why does no one question all this nonsense?
Dr. Singh: In the ultimate analysis, when they consider the origin of life, they say that everything started from matter. In other words, living matter comes from nonliving matter.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: From where is this living matter coming now? Did it come from nonliving matter in the past and not at the present? How is the ant coming? Is it materializing from dirt? Even an ant does not come from inert matter. What proof do they have of such a theory? Darwin claims that in the distant past no really intelligent man existed, that man simply evolved from the apes. If there was no intelligent brain in the past, how is it that these Vedic scriptures were written thousands and thousands of years ago? How do they explain a sage like Vyāsadeva?
Dr. Singh: They have no explanation. They simply say these are unknown forest sages.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Vyāsadeva may be unknown to them, but nonetheless he was there. How is it he got such a brain? He may be unknown to you or to me, but nonetheless his brain-work is there, his philosophy is there, his language, linguistics, poetic arrangements, and verbal strength. You may not know the person, but you can understand the brain.
Dr. Singh: Weren’t all the varieties of animals existing from the beginning?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Simultaneous creation is verified by the Bhagavad-gītā. All the varieties of animals and men as well as demigods were existing from the beginning. A living entity wants a certain type of body, and Kṛṣṇa gives it to him. Because he desires things in a certain way, he associates with certain qualities of nature in matter. According to his association, he receives a particular type of body. The psychological forces – the mind, thinking, feeling, and willing – determine the particular type of situation and body the living entity receives. The evolutionary process is there, but it is not an evolution of species. It is not that one species of life develops from another, for, as Kṛṣṇa states:
bhūtva bhūtva pralīyate
rātry-āgame ’vaśaḥ pārtha
“Again and again, when Brahmā’s day arrives, all living entities come into being, and with the arrival of Brahmā’s night they are helplessly annihilated.” [Bhagavad-gītā 8.19]
The evolution is the spiritual evolution of the individual living entity through the various species of life. If one enters into the body of a fish, he has to undergo the evolutionary process step by step. If one is on the top of the stairs and somehow falls down, he again has to go up the evolutionary staircase step by step. Of course, the scientists are busy making so much research that they cannot understand this. If you tell them they are going to be trees in their next life, they think you are speaking nonsense. After all, what can we learn by research? When the cause of all causes is known, then everything knowable becomes known, and nothing remains unknown. As the Vedas state: kasmin nu bhagavo vijñāte sarvam idaṁ vijñātaṁ bhavati. If we know the Absolute Truth, all other truths become known, but if we don’t know the Absolute Truth, we are in ignorance. One may not be an official scientist or philosopher, but he may challenge anyone and talk boldly if he only knows one thing – Kṛṣṇa.
This contemporary civilization is so proud of its independence, but actually it is so much dependent on oil. If the oil supply is stopped, then what will these rascal scientists do? They cannot do anything. Let them try to manufacture oil in their test tubes, enough oil to run their civilization on. At present there is a scarcity of water in India. What can the scientists do about this? They may know the chemical composition of water, but they cannot produce it when there is a great scarcity. They require the help of clouds, and all that is God’s manipulation. Actually they cannot do anything. They have gone to the moon, but for all their labor they have simply taken away some dust and rocks. The rascal government exacts taxes and spends money unnecessarily. This is their intelligence. It is a state of asses, that’s all. The politicians have no sympathy or compassion. They do not consider that the hard-earned money is coming from the public and that they are spending it by shooting big rockets off to other planets. All they do is promise to bring back more dust. First they may get a handful of dust, then they promise to bring back tons of dust. What is the meaning of all this?
Karāndhara dāsa: They believe that there may be life on Mars.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: They may believe or not believe – what is the gain? What we do know is that life is here. They know this, yet they are engaged in fighting and in killing life. Here is life. Here is a human being. Life is here undoubtedly. But they are busy trying to destroy it with their big bombs. This is their scientific advancement.
Dr. Singh: They are very curious to know what is going on on other planets.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That means that for their childish curiosity they are spending so much money. They can spend so much to satisfy their curiosity, but when so many poverty-stricken countries ask them for help, they say there is no money. They are very proud to go to the moon, but why don’t they take information how to go to Kṛṣṇa’s Goloka Vṛndāvana? If they go there, all their curiosity will be satisfied. They will learn that beyond this inferior energy there is indeed a superior, spiritual energy. This material energy cannot work independently. The spiritual energy has to join it. Material elements are not created of themselves. It is the soul that is creative. We may try to make something with matter, but matter does not create itself. Hydrogen and oxygen will come in contact only when moved by the superior energy. Only fools can expect the entire cosmic manifestation, which is only matter, to come into being automatically. We may have a nice car, but if there is no driver, what is its use? Unless a man knows how to work a machine, unless a man pushes a button, the machine does not work. Similarly, without the superior energy, the material energy cannot act. Behind this wonderful cosmic manifestation is the direction of a superior energy. All this information is given in the scriptures, but still people will not believe it.
Actually everything is God’s property, but people are claiming this property to be theirs or their country’s. Now they are talking about the problem of overpopulation, but the fact is that God has supplied enough. Actually there is enough land and enough food if it is properly used. People are artificially creating problems, and the scientists are helping them by giving them so many destructive devices. They simply encourage the rascals and rogues who are trying to use up God’s property. If you help a murderer or a thief, you also become a criminal. Is that not so? There is so much trouble in the world because the scientists are helping all the thieves and rogues. Thus they are all criminals. Stena eva saḥ. One who does not recognize the proprietorship of the Supreme Lord is a thief.
Our mission is to bring these rascals to their senses. Now one must find out the means to do this. The rascals are suffering, but because they are sons of God they should not suffer. They do not know that there is God or that there is happiness. They know nothing of bliss or of eternal life. They are carrying on so much research and living for fifty, sixty, or seventy years. After that they do not know what is going to happen. They have no knowledge that life is eternal. Actually their position is like that of an animal. An animal does not know what is after death, nor does he actually contemplate death. He does not know why he is here, nor does he know the value of life. Under the influence of māyā, the animal simply goes on eating, sleeping, defending, mating, and dying. That’s all. People are endeavoring so hard, but for what purpose? They say that they are struggling so hard to make provisions for the next generation, but what are the provisions for? They cannot reply to that. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is meant to give real purpose to life by establishing Kṛṣṇa, God, as the center of everything. It is therefore to the scientists’ benefit to understand this important movement.