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760708 - Interview - Washington D.C.

His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

760708IV-WASHINGTON DC - July 08, 1976 - 45:11 Minutes

Bṛṣākapi: She's from a religious, er . . . she reports on a religious, er . . . and this is Channel 4, TV.

(background talk, setting up cameras etc.)

Hari-śauri: Be a few minutes, they're setting up the cameras.

Interviewer: We'd like to get a . . . first of all a general statement from you about the state of the world and the state of your movement in it . . . at this time.

Prabhupāda: This is a spiritual movement, at the present moment people are more interested with material improvement. But our real interest is . . . not only our, every human being's interest should be for spiritual upliftment. Just like our body is there, and within the body I am the spirit soul, also I am there. So we are taking care of the body but not of the spirit soul. The nature's law is that a spirit soul, changing in different position of the body, as we experience in this life, from childhood to boyhood, boyhood to youthhood, similarly, after giving up this body, we'll have to accept another body, and there are 8,400,000 different forms of body. We do not know what kind of body we are going to accept according to our activities and mentality. At the time of death the mentality will ascertain what kind of body we are going to get next. So these things are completely not discussed, neither they have any knowledge. So at the present moment the human civilization is a very risky civilization, so in order to save them from this state of ignorance, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is essential. It is not a sectarian religious movement, faith or sentiment. It is actually scientific movement. Here are many scientists present. They are also taking very serious view of this movement. So we invite all important men to contact us and try to understand the basic principle of this movement: how to elevate the human society to the proper standard of life and become peaceful in this life as well as in the next life.

Interviewer: Do you think mankind is making some improvement?

Prabhupāda: No. Materially they may be doing some improvement, but that is not spiritually important. Just like I give sometimes this example: just like a dog, animal, is jumping with four legs on the street, and we are going fast with four wheels, so that does not make any difference. The difference is the dog cannot understand about his spiritual identity. A man can understand if he's properly trained up. If the man is denied that facility, then he remains in the ignorance of an animal like cats and dogs.

Janice Johnson: I'd like to know, this is your first visit to Washington? Is that right?

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Janice Johnson: Who have you visited with while you've been here? Have you stayed here, or have you gone out and . . .?

Prabhupāda: Yes, I am in the Western country for the last ten years, sometimes Europe, sometimes America. I have got more than one hundred temples all over the world, so I go and visit and instruct my disciples about this movement.

Janice Johnson: But you indicated in . . . before you came here, that you were interested in meeting some leaders in the city. Have you met any of them?

Prabhupāda: Leaders?

Hari-śauri: She's wondering whether you met with any political leaders.

Prabhupāda: No. I have no interest with the political leaders, because it is not a political movement. It is spiritual movement.

Janice Johnson: Another question I have is, if materialism is not so important as the . . .

Prabhupāda: No, it is important, but not at the sacrifice of spiritual understanding.

Janice Johnson: Well, what I was interested in is why is it necessary to live in such lavish situation as is shown here?

Prabhupāda: Lavish? What do you mean by lavish?

Janice Johnson: Well, I think this is a rather elegant, lavish kind of room.

Prabhupāda: What is that "lavish"?

Hari-śauri: She's referring to your quarters are very nicely furnished.

Prabhupāda: Yes. So it is for you, because you cannot sit down cross-legged, we have arranged this couch for you. (laughter) If it is not lavishly decorated, you'll refuse to come here.

Janice Johnson: Why is it necessary to live in such comfort as this for the spiritual . . .?

Prabhupāda: No, we can live on the street, but you cannot come and see on the street. For you we have arranged. That is the . . . we can live underneath a tree. That is a . . . but that does not make any difference. Our point is that you may live materially comfortably—there is no harm—but if you forget your spiritual identity, then you remain like animal. Just like sometimes a cat or dog is also allowed to sit on the couch, but that does not mean he has become a human, human. He remains a cat and dog, because the consciousness is lacking of a human being. In this seat there may be some bugs. So the bug is also living on this couch, but he has no understanding.

Interviewer: What is your opinion of what this movement should be doing in terms of world activities and world affairs that it isn't doing now? Are there some new areas that you may try to influence?

Prabhupāda: No, we are pushing on this movement all over the world. It is not that this particular place is important. But our interest is that Western people, they are so intelligent. They are very systematically making improvement in material condition of life. They should know also that spiritual life is more important than material life. Because, for example, we are combination of matter and spirit. The . . . so long the spirit soul is there, our body is very important. Otherwise, without spirit, the body has no importance. Everyone can understand. Similarly, all this material advancement of civilization is very good, provided there is spiritual understanding also. Otherwise it is decoration of the dead body. A dead body decorated has no value, but when there is life, then the body is valuable. So material advancement of material civilization means decoration of the dead body. But when there is spiritual understanding, then there is importance of everything.

Janice Johnson: Why is it that the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement has in the last couple of years attempted to make itself a little bit more respectable in the public's eyes by having members wear street clothes and wigs and so forth, while they are soliciting?

Prabhupāda: By nature it is very important movement. Therefore those who are intelligent, they are taking serious interest. We have got so many books. Perhaps you have seen. They are being accepted by the learned circle all over the world. University, colleges, professor, they are reading our books, placing, what is called, standing order, and we have got relationship, especially with educated circle. They are trying to understand the importance of this movement.

Janice Johnson: I don't quite understand that in terms of my question about wearing street clothes and wigs instead of saffron robes and chanting and so forth.

Hari-śauri: She's pointing out that in recent years we've changed our dressing style whilst we're on the street selling books.

Prabhupāda: Dress? Dress is not important. Practically, as sannyāsī, brahmacārī, we dress with saffron cloth. But sometimes you do not like, but we have to do business with you—therefore we change. What can be done? "Necessity has no law."

Janice Johnson: I'm also interested in . . . you all have moved your school out of Texas. Is that correct?

Prabhupāda: Gurukula school, yes.

Janice Johnson: Why was that done?

Prabhupāda: Why? Gurukula school? We are training children from the very beginning of life to understand spiritual importance of life.

Hari-śauri: She's wondering why we moved from Texas.

Prabhupāda: We have . . . no, we have got there.

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: We have . . . have got our school there. We have about seven or eight schools now all throughout America. We've actually expanded.

Janice Johnson: But wasn't that school moved to India?

Prabhupāda: No, it is maintained, not in large scale, but in small scale.

Hari-śauri: Rather than have one large central school, we have smaller.

Janice Johnson: Seven or eight schools around the U.S.? Where are they?

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: On our various farming communities especially.

Interviewer: How many members do you now have? How many followers, I mean?

Hari-śauri: About ten thousand.

Interviewer: Ten thousand? That is in this country or is that . . .?

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Disciples. Hundreds of thousands, millions throughout the world, are reading these books, adopting some of these principles at least into their lives.

Janice Johnson: What does the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement offer that other religions do not?

Prabhupāda: I say it is not . . . don't compare with religion. It is a educational movement. One should understand his spiritual identity.


Janice Johnson: I think I'm through, thank you.

Interviewer: We're through also, thank you.

Prabhupāda: Hare Kṛṣṇa. (break) (background talk as interviewers leave)

Rūpānuga: You made some nice points during the interview, Śrīla Prabhupāda. They wanted to know why we were doing things so elaborately, and you said: "This is for you, so that you will come here. We can live anywhere, under a tree, but if we were living under a tree you would not come. So this couch is for you to sit down because you can't sit down cross-legged." They appreciated.

Prabhupāda: Actually that is the fact. We can live any condition.


Prabhupāda: What he'll do?

Svarūpa Dāmodara: We saw the first Back to Godhead magazine yesterday, Śrīla Prabhupāda.

Prabhupāda: Huh?

Svarūpa Dāmodara: The first Back to Godhead copy of the magazine that you published from Calcutta in 1944. We found in the library here.

Prabhupāda: Oh, '44 edition is here?

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes, Library of Congress.

Prabhupāda: How they collected?

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Oh, it has kept very nicely. Paper was . . . quality was very good, I mean the printing and everything, from India, thinking . . . (laughs)

Prabhupāda: There are some mistakes also.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes, printing mistakes.

Prabhupāda: That is India's special . . .

Svarūpa Dāmodara: (laughs) Quality.

Prabhupāda: . . . qualification. It was printed in the best press of Calcutta, but still, they committed mistake. Sarasvati Press. That is the best publishing house in Bengal.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: This is called Tapke?

Prabhupāda: Tata Spingh was the agent for selling.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes, the paper quality was good.

Prabhupāda: So it was first published in 1944. That is . . .

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes, the first appearance in the Vyāsa-pūjā day, 1944.

Prabhupāda: It was published in the first-class press, and the first-class bookseller who was selling this, Tata Spingh, that was the most important bookseller in Calcutta.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Did you send copies to all the libraries?

Prabhupāda: No, they were doing everything. They might have sent to America, like that.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: We saw lots of Śrīla Prabhupāda's books, recent books, in that library. Library of Congress has most of the books.

Prabhupāda: In here, inside the . . . have you got the photograph of inside?

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes, it's photograph of Bhaktisiddhānta Prabhupāda.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Yes.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: And . . . this is not the copy that I wanted. Then Bhaktivinoda. (looking through pages) That is wrong, I think.

Prabhupāda: So in 1944, and it is '76. Thirty-two years?

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes.

Prabhupāda: How did you get the information?

Svarūpa Dāmodara: In the card catalogue. I think Pradyumna found it. Pradyumna . . . three, four, five of us went there to see the library. Actually we went to discuss that Sūrya-siddhānta and some of the astronomical calculations. We wanted to check in the library, but they didn't have anything. We found some.

Prabhupāda: Found?

Svarūpa Dāmodara: I found one Bhāgavata-purāṇa, it was printed in sometime 1901. Their summary of Bhāgavatam, they also described the planetary system, earth first, then . . . no. Yes, earth, then sun, then moon, like that, in circles.

Prabhupāda: They are . . . just see. Their all activities are in Arizona. That's all. That is disclosed yesterday. He has . . .

Rūpānuga: Exposed.

Prabhupāda: All bogus propaganda. They have now disclosed the same psychology, "No, I am not stealing." "Who is there in the room?" "No, no, I am not stealing." Where is the question of . . .? If somebody asks, "Are you stealing," then this answer is . . . if somebody is asking, "Who is in that room?" he immediately answers, "No, no, I am not stealing."

Hari-śauri: Feeling guilty.

Prabhupāda: And this is going on. What concern was about Arizona? This is psychology. They have no business with Arizona, but they are putting the Arizona. That means it was . . . everything was in Arizona. What benefit people will get by such information? And they are spending so much money. If it is like Arizona cave, then Arizona there are living entities. Why not there? Hmm? What is the answer?

Rūpānuga: Well they say it is similar, but not enough to have life.

Prabhupāda: No, that is not science. If the some of them are similar, then everything must be similar. That is nature's way. Hmm? What the scientists say?

Hari-śauri: There was one report. They said there may be some bacteria there. They thought there is a possibility of bacteria.

Mādhava: They did not see anything grow. In the winter everything dies, everything becomes brown, and in the spring everything becomes green. In these other planets they don't see anything like that, changes.

Prabhupāda: Their seeing is not perfect. Now it is up to you scientists to answer all these. What is this picture?

Svarūpa Dāmodara: The Rādhā-ramaṇa Prabhu from Atlanta temple, I requested him to complete this after Prabhupāda's instruction. He has sent me yesterday, so I just wanted to show to Prabhupāda to see how . . .

Prabhupāda: What is this?

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: They sent one sample, Bhaktivedanta Institute, the emblem.

Rūpānuga: Logos.

Prabhupāda: Oh.

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: And they had wanted to include some Sanskrit slogan, perhaps, and you'd mentioned athāto brahma jijñāsā, so they have done that and decorated little bit.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes. This is . . . is this style acceptable Śrila Prabhupāda? You think it's nice?

Prabhupāda: Yes, you can do. Where is wrong? Or you can . . .

Svarūpa Dāmodara: And this is another one that, that the similar style, but here with devotees inside. Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja wrote me back saying that . . .

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: It's just my opinion, that because it is Bhaktivedanta Institute, it should have the picture of the founder, Bhaktivedanta. Especially also because not only children will be instructed, but you'll have adults also, I'm presuming. The picture you sent me appears to be very young people.

Rūpānuga: I was thinking that to show the devotees dressed in the śikhās and everything may not be so important. That will make us some Indian, Hindu . . . we don't want to give that impression.

Prabhupāda: Yes. This is all right

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Quite. So we'll take this.

Rūpānuga: We're always preaching to everyone. This is rough sketch, but we can make it very colorful, put nice color, detail.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Also, Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja sent me a letter yesterday, saying . . . asking a little about Bhaktivedanta Institute, what plans, things like that.

Prabhupāda: So, we are going tomorrow. You are also coming?

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes.

Prabhupāda: That's nice.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Rūpānuga, we should also . . . what we've been thinking was at the beginning we would try to finish this book as part of the Institute's program, and plus the journal that we discussed yesterday with Ravīndra Svarūpa as the, er . . . and that will be our initial phase, and my feeling is that, now, this Institute, at the beginning, some sort of research institute that we are doing right now, writing something, collecting some information from other sources. So some sort of . . . looks to me like a research type . . . it is research-oriented.

Rūpānuga: Until we finish the book and are able to establish a teaching situation. Right now our men are really concerned with finishing, so we have some good propaganda.

Prabhupāda: No, one thing is, research means again that mental speculation.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: But our research is different, though.

Prabhupāda: So they have . . . people will understand that it is another type of mental speculation. But ours is not that. We take it as Absolute Truth. So how to convince them?

Rūpānuga: We were not going to advertise ourselves as a research institute.

Prabhupāda: Research means that it is not known; you are trying to find out. But our, Kṛṣṇa's position is not. It is already known.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: And another aspect of the Institute at the beginning phase is that Your Divine Grace also instructed a few days ago that we also get some . . . try to give some lectures to colleges. We can present as members from the Bhaktivedanta Institute, the higher learning section of ISKCON. That can also be part of the . . . so we can go to colleges and universities. We don't have to go every month or so, but maybe once a month or twice a month.

Prabhupāda: Whatever there is opportunity.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes, but we can represent from . . .

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: . . . Bhaktivedanta Institute. If we do that, then people will also respect, those in the academic circle, and that we are representing ISKCON from academic aspect. And so we have our title that, "From Bhaktivedanta Institute, such and such person is going to speak on such and such topic."

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: So we can, in the initial phase, I think, we can . . .

Prabhupāda: (aside) So you can post this. Here.

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: This morning. I'll be doing that, Śrīla Prabhupāda. I have to go into town a little bit later to pick up these passports. They're not quite ready till two-thirty.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: We were also thinking that since Rūpānuga Prabhu is here in Washington area but his participation is utmost important, so he's suggesting that the Institute, they house somewhere here in Washington.

Rūpānuga: It is also a good area for the scientists. Already we have met . . .

Prabhupāda: That you make thing. That you will make from among yourselves.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: In this college program, when we went last time to Florida, Gainesville, Amarendra, our president of Gainesville temple . . .

Prabhupāda: He has written. It was encouraging.

Hari-śauri: Balavanta was reporting about the TV that he did at the university in Gainesville.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Actually he wanted to make engagements in colleges, and he wanted to participate, going to colleges, talk, and then make engagements.

Prabhupāda: So go. Do this.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: And then he said we can come once in a while and give lectures, things like that.

Prabhupāda: That kind of engagement is very nice.

Rūpānuga: We learned there that they wanted some book to take home and study the situation. So we told them . . . we told them we are working on book.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes.

Rūpānuga: So the book will be very helpful, for propaganda when we meet with these people.

Prabhupāda: So finish this book as soon as possible.

Rūpānuga: It is very important. These kinds of engagements, as you know, if you don't have some literature for them take home, then it's not complete. (to Svarūpa Dāmodara) Another point?

Svarūpa Dāmodara: I think that's all the . . .

Rūpānuga: So the title of the journal is Sa-vijñānam, Sa-vijñāna.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: And it's "Scientific Knowledge."

Rūpānuga: "In Scientific Knowledge."

Svarūpa Dāmodara: "In"? This "in"?

Rūpānuga: That's what Śrīla Prabhupāda said: "In Scientific Knowledge." I was wondering if this, is this, sa, mean "in"?

Prabhupāda: No, sa means "with."

Rūpānuga: "With scientific knowledge." Would it be improper to say Vijñāna only? Would that be improper? I was thinking in terms of making the title as short as possible. Vijñānam or sa-vijñānam, both nice, but I was thinking . . .

Prabhupāda: Sa-vijñānam is more important. Vijñānam means theoretical. And sa-vijñāna means practical.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: So in parenthesis we write, "In Scientific Knowledge"?

Prabhupāda: That you say. Or you can write "Spiritual Science." No. That will not ring for them. They will not understand "Spiritual Science."

Svarūpa Dāmodara: How about "perfect science," "complete science"?

Devotee: "Absolute science." "Science of the Absolute."

Rūpānuga: So I'll be coming to New York, but first I have to go to Ratha-yātrā in Philadelphia. They are having Ratha-yātrā on the, the tenth. Then I don't think there will be any GBC meetings earlier than that, so I'll go there first. (to devotees) Any other scientists have any questions they want to ask Śrīla Prabhupāda while we have this time?

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes, you have any question?

Sadāpūta: There was one thing I was wondering a little bit. Is the possibility of . . . is it possible of making some experiments which would tend to indicate that life is not material? And this might be appealing to some of the people with scientific education, because they are used to such things, experiments.

Prabhupāda: No, experiment is there. Just like in . . . Hindus, we burn the body into ashes. How the soul is transmigrating? This is scientific experiment. Bhagavad-gītā says, nainaṁ dahati pāvakaḥ (BG 2.23). Everyone is seeing the body is burned into ashes, but still, tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ: he's going to another body. How it is going? So the soul is not burned.

Rūpānuga: We were having a meeting with the other scientists, and they were challenging you. They were saying: "Show us one experiment! Show us one experiment!" That's the way they are.

Prabhupāda: There are so many experiments.

Sadāpūta: We were wondering . . . we knew that, for example, Jagadish Chandra Bose did some experiments indicating plants having consciousness. We were wondering if some things of that kind might be of some use.

Prabhupāda: So in the Calcutta there is Bose Institute. You can go and see. They have got all machine, how the plants are feeling. Everything is there.

Rūpānuga: That's important because they are saying these animals have no soul. They are saying lower form of life, they have no soul, so killing them is not important. So his work was important. It showed . . .

Prabhupāda: No, killing or not killing, that is another point. You can kill your own son. They are killing, actually. That is another point. But they have got soul. All the symptoms are there. How you can say there is no soul? Where is the difference between man's behavior and animal's behavior? So far eating, sleeping, sex, defense is concerned, the same thing. How do you say that it is different from the human being? Why they differentiate the animal from the man? What is the main point?

Sadāpūta: I think that scientifically that was just Christian doctrine that made them do that. Because the scientists turned it around . . .

Prabhupāda: Christian doctrine is not perfect. But symptoms of animal and symptoms of human being, primary necessities—eating sleeping, mating, defense—that is there, everywhere.

Rūpānuga: They may agree, but they'll say that this . . .

Prabhupāda: There is soul. As soon as there is living condition, there is soul. As soon as the body is dead, there is no soul. This is difference. It is the Christian doctrine, not scientific doctrine, that animal has . . . what we have to do with Christian theory?

Svarūpa Dāmodara: They have very poor understanding of the nature of the soul.

Prabhupāda: Huh?

Svarūpa Dāmodara: In Christianity, they speak of . . .

Prabhupāda: It is not very advanced.

Rūpānuga: That's not respected.

Prabhupāda: That is true.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Even Billy Graham says there's no soul in the dog. In his column, "My Answer" . . . there's a column by Billy Graham . . .

Hari-śauri: That's that column you saw.

Prabhupāda: So you challenge them, the scientists.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Somebody asked that "I love my dog. Looks like the dog comes when I call and behaves very nicely." So this questioner was asking that the dog might have soul. So he asked Billy Graham, "What do you think?" So Billy Graham was saying that, "No, dog has no soul."

Prabhupāda: This is dogmatic. This is not scientific, it is dogmatic.

Rūpānuga: He could not support his statements.

Prabhupāda: So dogmatic, you can say any nonsense, but philosophy and science is different. If he's talking on dogmatic platform, then what is his value? What does he mean by "soul is there" and "soul is not there"? How does he prove?

Rūpānuga: We were finding that there are some real scientific experiments like Pasteur's, the one that we did in the slide show the other night, and some of the work of Bose, that have been ignored simply or misinterpreted. Already there has been some work in this area. So we were thinking that we can point to these as examples to confirm our position, because they are scientific.

Prabhupāda: Now, in Christian commandment, there is "Thou shall not kill." So what does it mean? (door opens and closes)

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: These Chinese Bhagavad-gītās came, Śrīla Prabhupāda . . . (indistinct)

Prabhupāda: Oh. Chinese will be color?

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Yes, he said there was some defect with them, so they rectified that, apparently, the color.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Can we see that?

Rūpānuga: Who has done this, Śrīla Prabhupāda?

Prabhupāda: One devotee.

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Oh, this is nice! (laughs)

Hari-śauri: This is the first six chapters.

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: He mentioned that he's going to begin printing the second six chapters soon, within two months, and also a new Chinese magazine.

(pause) (end)