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720229 - Conversation 3 with Bob Cohen - Mayapur
- Reproduced in the book Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers
Bob: ...does one earn good karma?
Prabhupāda: Good karma means what are prescribed in the Vedas. The... Specifically, it is prescribed that one should perform yajña. Yajña means to act for satisfaction of Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said...
(aside:) Shall I stop the fan? I think you can stop. You got? Otherwise much mosquitoes may disturb.
Bob: I have a sweater here, if you like.
Prabhupāda: No. So good karma means performance of the yajñas as they are prescribed in the Vedic literature. And this purpose of this yajña is to satisfy the Supreme Lord. Just like good citizen means one who satisfies the government. Law-abiding. Good citizen. Similarly, good karma means who satisfies Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Lord.
Unfortunately, the modern civilization, they do not know what is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and what to speak of satisfying Him. They do not know. They are simply busy in material activities. Therefore, all of them are doing only bad karma, and therefore they are suffering. They are blind men and leading some other blind men. And both of them are expanding the path to hell by bad karma.
Bad karma, you suffer. That is very easy to understand. If you do something criminal, you'll suffer. If you do something benevolent for the state, for the people, then you are rewarded, you are recognized, you are given title. Sometimes shot. This is good and bad karma. So... (microphone movement sounds) ...some material happiness, and bad karma means you suffer from material distress. By good karma you get birth in good family, janma. You get riches, good money. Then you become learned scholar, you become beautiful also.
(aside:) Sit down. There is some trouble with your leg? What is that?
Devotee: There is an infection in this ankle.
Prabhupāda: Ankle? Oh, there was some... (break)
Bob: ...who is not very aware of God, but...
Prabhupāda: Then he's an animal. The animal does not know what is God. A person who does not know what is God or one who does not try to understand what is God, he's animal. The animals are with four legs, and that animal is with two legs. And Darwin's theory is they are monkeys. So anyone who does not know God or does not try to understand God, he's nothing but animal.
Bob: What about the people in the..., the innocent people?
Prabhupāda: The animal is very innocent. You cut its throat, it won't protest. So innocent is not very good qualification. The animals are all innocent. Therefore you get the chance of cutting their throat. So just... To become innocent is not a very good qualification. Our proposition is one must be very, very intelligent, and then he can understand Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa yei bhaje se baḍa catura. So to become innocent, ignorant, simpleton is not very good qualification. Simplicity is all right, but one should not be unintelligent.
Bob: Can you tell me again what intelligence is?
Prabhupāda: Intelligence means one who knows what he is, what is this world, what is God, what is the interrelation—he's intelligent. If he does not know what he is... The animal does not know what he is. He thinks that he's body. Similarly, any man who does not know what he is, he's not intelligent.
Bob: What about a person who does..., tries to do what is right and is very conscientious instead of being unconscientious about the things he does? Like the servant who is very honest to his master, but if he was not honest he knows he would not be caught, but he stays honest anyway. A person like that. Is that some kind of good karma?
Prabhupāda: Yes, to become honest is also good karma. The how to become good man, they're described in the Bhagavad-gītā: daivī sampad and asurī sampad. These are very elaborately described in the Bhagavad-gītā. So if you become qualified with the daivī sampad, then daivī sampad vimokṣāya (BG 16.5), then you'll be liberated. And nibandhāyāsurī matā: and if you are qualified with the demonic qualification, then you'll be more and more entangled.
Unfortunately, the modern civilization, they do not know what is liberation and what is entanglement. They're so much ignorant. They do not know. Suppose if I ask you, "What do you mean by liberation?" can you answer? And if I ask you, "What do you mean by entanglement?" can you answer? These words are there in the Vedic literature: liberation and entanglement.
But at the present moment they do not know even what is liberation, what is entanglement. They're so ignorant and foolish, and still, they're proud of their advancement in knowledge. Can you answer what is liberation? You are a professor, teacher, but if I ask you, can you explain what is liberation?
Bob: Umm... Not adequately, because if I could explain, then I would be becoming liberated very fast.
Prabhupāda: But if you do not know what is liberation, then how fast and slow liberation? (chuckles) There is no question of liberation. It is not..., neither fast nor slow. You first know what is liberation. If you do not know where the train is going, then what is the use of asking, understanding fast and slow? You do not know your destination. What is liberation?
Prabhupāda: I am asking. You daily ask me; I am asking you today.
Bob: Okay, yes. (laughs) I'll think for a moment.
Śyāmasundara: Shall I turn this off, this fan?
Śyāmasundara: It's cool now.
Prabhupāda: Yes. No, he'll do. Where is Nanda-kumāra? He can do. (break) ...is described in the Bhagavad-gītā, er, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The exact Sanskrit word for liberation is called mukti. So that mukti is defined in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, muktir hitvānyathā rūpaṁ svarūpeṇa vyavasthitiḥ (SB 2.10.6): one should stop doing all nonsense, and he must be situated in his original position.
But this is also more embarrassing, because nobody knows what is his original position and how to act properly. Muktir hitvānyathā rūpam. People are generally acting differently. But they do not know what is differently and what is properly. So much ignorant are the modern population about their life. It is very, very awkward position. They do not know. (break)
Bob: ...who is honest?
Prabhupāda: But he does not know what is honesty. How he can be honest? If you know what is honesty, then you can become honest. But you do not know what is honesty. What is honesty? First of all explain.
Bob: Honesty is doing what you really feel is right.
Prabhupāda: Then a thief is feeling that "I must steal to provide my children. It is right." Does it mean that he's honest? Everyone thinks. The butcher, he thinks, "It is my life. I must cut throat of the animals daily." Just like that, what is that, vyādha, vyādha... When Nārada Muni met him?
Śyāmasundara: Oh, Mṛgāri.
Prabhupāda: Yes, Mṛgāri. "Why you are killing in this way?" "Oh, it is my business. My father taught it." So he was honestly doing that. So feeling of honesty depends on different culture. A thief's culture is different. He thinks stealing is honesty.
Bob: So what is honesty?
Prabhupāda: Yes, that is my question. (laughter) Real honesty is that you should not encroach upon others' property. This is honesty. Just like this is my table. If you want to take it away while going, is that honesty? No. So therefore the simple definition of honesty is that you should not encroach upon others' right. That is honesty.
Bob: So somebody who is honest will be in the mode of goodness. Would that be correct?
Prabhupāda: Certainly. Certainly. Because mode of goodness means knowledge. So if you know, if you're well conversant that "This table does not belong to me; it belongs to Swāmījī," so you'll not try to take it away. Therefore one must know, be thoroughly well conversant; then he can be honest.
Bob: So... Now, you had said the mode of goodness was knowledge of God, but somebody may be honest without having very much knowledge of God.
Bob: You know, without being honest, without thinking they're honest because it is God's wishes, they just feel like they ought to be honest.
Prabhupāda: No. God wishes everyone should be honest. Why God should think otherwise?
Bob: So you may follow God's wishes without knowing you are following God's wishes. Like somebody may be in the mode of...
Prabhupāda: No. Without knowing following, that is absurd. Without knowing following, that is absurd. You must know that "This is the order of God." And if you follow that, then that is honesty.
Bob: But somebody would not be honest without knowing God?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Because God is the supreme proprietor. Huh? See... God is the supreme proprietor and He's the supreme enjoyer and He's the supreme friend. That is the statement in the Bhagavad-gītā. If anyone knows these three things, then he is in full knowledge.
These three things only: that God is the proprietor of everything, God is friend of everyone and God is the enjoyer of everything. Just like the same example, in your body... Everyone knows in the body the stomach is the enjoyer—not the hands, legs, eyes, ears. They are simply to help the stomach. Eyes... The vulture goes seven miles up to see where is food for the stomach. Is it not?
Bob: That's so.
Prabhupāda: Then the wings fly there, and the jaws catch the food, and after all he puts into the mouth. Similarly, as in this body, this particular example, the stomach is the enjoyer, similarly, the central figure of whole cosmic manifestation, material or spiritual, the central figure is Kṛṣṇa, God. He's the enjoyer. We can understand. As in my this particular body, the body is also a creation. The body has got the same mechanism as you will find out in the whole universe.
The same mechanical, anywhere you go, you find even in animals or human body or in the cosmic manifestation. Almost the same mechanism. So as you understand very easily that in this body, my body, your body, the stomach is the enjoyer, or there is a central enjoyer. And the stomach is friend also of everyone. Because if we cannot digest food, you see, then all other limbs of the body, they become weak. Therefore stomach is the friend. It is digesting and distribute the energy to all the limbs of the body. Is it not?
Bob: It is so.
Prabhupāda: Similarly, the central stomach of the whole creation is God, or Kṛṣṇa. He's the enjoyer and He's the friend. He's maintaining everyone. Eko bahūnāṁ vidadhāti kāmān (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13). Therefore He's friend of everyone. And everywhere... He is maintaining means everywhere He's the proprietor. Just like a king can maintain the whole country, citizens, because he's the proprietor. Without being proprietor, how he can become everyone's friend?
So these things have to be understood, that Kṛṣṇa is the enjoyer, Kṛṣṇa is the proprietor and Kṛṣṇa is friend. If you know these three things, then your knowledge is full. You do not require to understand anything more. Yasmin vijñāte sarvam evaṁ vijñātaṁ bhavati (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.3). If you simply understand Kṛṣṇa by these three formulas, then your knowledge is complete. You don't require any more knowledge.
But people will not agree. "Why Kṛṣṇa shall be proprietor? Hitler shall be proprietor. Yayha Khan should be proprietor. (laughter) Nixon shall be proprietor." That is going on. Therefore you are in trouble. But if you understand these three things only, then your knowledge is finished. But he'll not accept. He'll put forward so many impediments for understanding these three things. And that is the cause of our trouble. But Bhagavad-gītā, in the Bhagavad-gītā it is plainly said,
- bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ
- suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ
- jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati
- (BG 5.29)
But we won't take this. We shall put forward so many false proprietor, false friends, false enjoyer, and they will fight one another. This is the situation of the world.
If this education is given and people takes this knowledge, there is peace, śāntim ṛcchati. Immediately there is peace. This is knowledge. And if anyone follows this principle, he's honest. He does not claim, "It is mine." He everything knows it is Kṛṣṇa's, so therefore everything should be utilized for Kṛṣṇa's service. That is honesty. If this pencil belongs to me, the etiquette is... Just like my students sometimes do: "Can I use this pencil?" "Yes." This is etiquette. I say, "Yes, you can." Similarly, if I know that everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa, without His permission I'll not use. That is honesty. And that is knowledge.
And one does not know, he's ignorant, he's foolish, and foolish man commits all criminality. All criminals, they're foolish men. Out of ignorance one commits law-breaking. So ignorance is not bliss, but it is folly to be wise where ignorance is bliss. That is the difficulty, our. The whole world is enjoying ignorance, and when we say about Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they do not very much appreciate. If I say, "Kṛṣṇa is the proprietor, you are not proprietor," he'll not be very much satisfied. (laughs) Just see, ignorance is bliss. So it is my foolishness to say the real truth. Therefore this is, "It is folly to be wise where ignorance is bliss."
So we are taking the risk to offend people because they'll think we are fools. If I say, "Birla, Mr. Birla, you are not proprietor, Kṛṣṇa is proprietor. So whatever money you have got, spend for Kṛṣṇa," he'll be angry. Mūrkha upadeśo hi prakopāya na śāntaye (Cāṇakya Paṇḍita). If you instruct a rascal, he'll be angry. Therefore we go as beggar: "My dear Mr. Birla, you are very rich man. I am sannyāsī, beggar. So I want to construct a temple. If you spare some money?" So he'll be, "Oh, here is a beggar. Give him some money." You see? (laughter)
But if I say, "Mr. Birla, you have got millions of dollars at your disposal. That is Kṛṣṇa's money. Give it to me; I am Kṛṣṇa's servant." Oh, he will... (laughter) He'll not be very satisfied. Rather, if I go as a beggar, he would give something, and if I tell him the truth, he'll not give me a farthing. Therefore we take this beggar's dress. We are not beggar. We cheat him as beggar. We are not beggar. We are Kṛṣṇa's servant, we are not beggar. We don't want anything from anyone, because we know Kṛṣṇa will provide everything.
Prabhupāda: This is knowledge. Just like a child sometimes takes something important. He'll not spare it. So we have to flatter, "Oh, you are so nice, please take these lozenges and give me that paper, hundred rupees. It is nothing. It is paper." (laughter) And he will, "Oh, yes, take. That's nice. That two-paisa lozenges is very nice. It is sweet." So we have to do like that. Why? Because he'll go to hell taking Kṛṣṇa's money. So some way or other, take some money from him and engage in Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.
Bob: And then he may not go to hell.
Prabhupāda: Yes. You save him from going to hell. Because a farthing spent for Kṛṣṇa, it will be accounted, "Oh, this man has given a farthing." This is called ajñāta-sukṛti. Ajñāta-sukṛti means knowing pious activities..., doing pious activities without knowledge. So we give everyone chance to act very piously, without his knowledge.
This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Mahad-vicalanaṁ nṟṇāṁ gṛhīṇāṁ dīna-cetasām (SB 10.8.4). Dīna-cetasām. They're very poor in their thought. Therefore the saintly persons move just to enlighten him little, to give him chance to serve Kṛṣṇa. That is saintly person's duty.
Bob: That is what?
Prabhupāda: But if he takes money from other and utilizes for his sense gratification, then he goes to hell. Then it is finished. Then he's a cheater. Actually, he is criminal. You cannot take money, a farthing, from anyone. (break)
Bob: I think of people I know who are not Kṛṣṇa conscious...
Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇa means God.
Bob: Oh, yeah. Are not very..., are just slightly God conscious, but still these people are honest to the extent they don't take..., they don't take from other people at all, and they try to be honest with other people. Will these...
Prabhupāda: But he does not take from other people, but he takes from God.
Bob: So these people are half good.
Bob: These people, then, are half good?
Prabhupāda: Not half God.
Bob: Half good, good.
Prabhupāda: Not good. If he does not know this principle, that God is the proprietor... Others' thing..., what do you mean by others' thing?
Bob: Like, people I'm thinking of, they're poor people who need money and food, but...
Prabhupāda: Everyone needs money. Everyone needs. Who is not poor? Anyone find out. So many gentlemen sitting here. Who is not in need of food and money? You are also in need of money. So what do you distinguish poor and rich? Everyone needs. If that is your definition, if one needs money and food, everyone needs money and food. So everyone is poor.
Bob: So, but, well, I was thinking of terms of just people who are relatively poor.
Prabhupāda: No relatively. Relatively maybe. You are more hungry than me. But that does not mean you are not hungry or I am not hungry. I don't feel hungry now; that does not mean I do not feel hungry or I am not hungry. For the time being you may not be hungry. Tomorrow you'll be hungry.
Bob: What I feel is that somehow these people that... Everybody around them may be stealing, but they still stand up and don't steal. That these people somehow deserve something good to happen to them.
Prabhupāda: But the man who is thinking that he's not stealing, he's also a thief. Because he does not know that everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa. Therefore whatever he's accepting, he's stealing.
Bob: Is he less of a thief?
Prabhupāda: You may not know that I am the proprietor of this wrapper, but if you take it away, are you not steal?
Bob: But maybe it isn't... If I know it is yours and I take it, I'm a worse thief than if I do not know whose it is and I just think it may be nobody's and I take it.
Prabhupāda: That is also stealing. Because it must belong to somebody.
Prabhupāda: How do you take without his permission? You may not know exactly who is the proprietor, but you must know, "It must belong to somebody." That is knowledge. Sometimes we see on the road so many valuable things are lying, government property. You see? For repairing roads or electrical, so many things, valuable things are lying down. But a man may think that it is "Fortunately, it is lying there; so I take it," is it not stealing?
Bob: It is stealing.
Prabhupāda: Yes. He does not know that these are all government property. He takes away. That is stealing. And when he's caught, he's arrested and he's punished. So similarly, whatever you are collecting... Suppose you are drinking a glass of water from the river. Is the river your property?
Prabhupāda: Then? It is stealing. You have not created the river. You do not know who is the proprietor. Therefore it is not your property. So even if you drink a glass of water without the knowledge to whom it belongs, you are a thief. So you may think, "I'm honest," but factually you are thief. (speaks with someone in Bengali) Raso 'ham apsu kaunteya (BG 7.8). You must remember Kṛṣṇa, that "Kṛṣṇa, it is Your creation, so kindly allow me to drink it." This is honesty. This is honesty.
Therefore a devotee always thinks of Kṛṣṇa in all activities: "Oh, it is Kṛṣṇa's." Sarvatra sphuraya tara iṣṭa-deva mūrti (CC Madhya 8.274). This is honesty. (speaks with someone in Bengali) So without Kṛṣṇa consciousness, everyone is a rascal, is a thief, is a rogue, is a robber—these qualifications. Therefore our conclusion is anyone who does not understand Kṛṣṇa, he has no good qualification. Neither he's honest, neither he has knowledge. Therefore he's a third-class man. Is that correct? What do you think, Girirāja?
Prabhupāda: Yes. This is not dogmatism, this is fact. (speaks with someone in Bengali) (break) ...you have understood what is knowledge and what is honesty?
Bob: In a way. In a way.
Prabhupāda: And if there is other way to defy it? Is there any other way? You defy it. (laughs) If there no other way? Girirāja?
Prabhupāda: Is there any alternative, to defy it? We do not say anything which can be defied by anyone. That experience we have got. Rather, we defy it. "Any question?" Till now. And Kṛṣṇa gives us protection. In big, big meeting, in big, big country, after speaking I ask, "Any question?"
Bob: Now I... I have none.
Prabhupāda: In London, we had... How many days lecture in that, what is that, Conwall Hall?
Gurudāsa: Twelve days. Conway Hall.
Prabhupāda: Conway Hall, yes.
Gurudāsa: Twelve days.
Prabhupāda: So after every meeting I was asking, "Any question?"
Bob: Did you get many questions?
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. Many foolish questions. (laughter)
Bob: Let me ask one more question: What is being foolish?
Prabhupāda: Foolish means who has no knowledge.
Bob: No knowledge.
Prabhupāda: That is foolish. Is it not foolish?
Bob: Having no knowledge? Yes.
Indian man: Prabhupāda, I have one personal question, can I ask?
Indian man: Some time ago in Calcutta they observed a week, it was named "Prevention of Cruelty to Animals."
Prabhupāda: Hmm. (chuckles) This is another foolishness. They are advertising prevention of cruelty, and they are maintaining thousands of slaughterhouse. You see? That is another foolishness.
Indian man: No, I wanted just to ask...
Prabhupāda: Asking... Before asking, I give you the answer. (laughter) That is another foolishness. They're regularly cruel to the animals, and they're making Society.
Bob: Maybe this is...
Prabhupāda: Just like a gang of thieves gives a signboard, "Goodman and Company." A gang of thieves are giving signboard, "Goodman and Company." You sometimes find such signboard.
Śyāmasundara: Our landlord in San Francisco temple, his name was Goodman. (laughs) (break)
Bob: ...returning very soon.
Prabhupāda: Their philosophy is that a animal, when it is not properly nourished, that is cruelty. Therefore instead of allowing to starve, better kill him. Where is that, theory. Is it not?
Prabhupāda: Yes. They say, "Oh, it is better to kill him than to give him so much..." That theory is coming in Communist country, that an old man, grandfather, is suffering; better kill him. And there, in Africa, there is a class of nation, they eat, make a festival by killing great-grandfather and grandfather. Is it not? Yes.
Śyāmasundara: They eat them?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Huh?
Pañcadraviḍa: I had an uncle and aunt. They were in the army, so when they went overseas, they could not take their dog with them. So they said, "The poor dog, he will be so heartbroken not to be with us," that they had him put to sleep. They killed.
Prabhupāda: In Gandhi's life also, he once killed one calf or some cow. It was suffering very much. So Gandhi ordered that "Instead of suffering, just kill him."
Girirāja: Yesterday you said that the spiritual master may have to suffer due to the sinful activities of his disciple. What do you mean by sinful activities?
Prabhupāda: Sinful activity means therefore you promised that "I shall follow the regulative principles." If you do not, that is sinful. That is the promise. That is sinful. You break your promise and do nasty things, therefore you are sinful. Is it not?
Prabhupāda: Yes. (pause)
Girirāja: But there are some things we're instructed to do...
Girirāja: There are other things which we're instructed to do which, even though we try to do, we cannot do perfectly yet.
Prabhupāda: How is that? You try to do and cannot do? How it is?
Girirāja: Like chanting attentively. Sometimes we try to...
Prabhupāda: That is... That is not fault. Suppose you are trying to do something, and due to your inexperience you sometimes fail, that is not fault. You are trying. There is a verse in Bhāgavata that a devotee is trying his best, but due to his incapability he sometimes fails. So Kṛṣṇa excuses. And in the Bhagavad-gītā also it is said, api cet sudurācāro bhajate mām ananya-bhāk (BG 9.30).
By..., due to his bad habit, past, sometimes, not willingly, but due to his habit—habit is second nature—he does something nonsense. But that does not mean he is faulty. But he must repent for that, that "I have done this," and should try to avoid as far as possible. But habit is the second nature.
Sometimes, in spite of our trying hard, the māyā is so strong, push me into pitfalls. That can be excused. Kṛṣṇa excuses. But those who are doing willingly something, that is not excused. On the strength that "I am a devotee, I am chanting; therefore I may commit all this nonsense, it will be nullified," that is the greatest offense. (indistinct) (end)