760723 - Interview - London
(Interview with religion editor of The Observer)
Prabhupāda: I think I saw you before? No.
Mukunda: Śrīla Prabhupāda, this is Mr. Colin Cross, who is the religious correspondent for The Observer. This is His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. And this is Tony McGraw, who is a photographer.
Jayatīrtha: The Observer is one of the most respected newspapers.
Prabhupāda: You can give chair.
Colin Cross: No, I'll sit on the floor.
Jayatīrtha: You sure you're comfortable this way? We can have them bring a chair. There's no problem.
Colin Cross: Yes, I can . . . no, a chair would give the wrong atmosphere.
Prabhupāda: So you are observing our movement?
Colin Cross: Yes, really for the first time at close quarters.
Prabhupāda: First time? We are here for the last seven years.
Colin Cross: Yes, I know a little about you, but it's only in the last hour that I've really begun to learn.
Jayatīrtha: We showed him the movie.
Prabhupāda: Your paper is Observer. Why did you not observe for the last seven years? (laughter)
Mukunda: We just showed him our film.
Prabhupāda: How did you like?
Colin Cross: Oh, it was very interesting. Again, it taught me a lot that I did not previously know.
Prabhupāda: We are trying to give real life. The present civilization is . . . (to someone else) Hare Kṛṣṇa. How are you? (converses in Hindi) You are religious observer. What is your idea of religion?
Colin Cross: I would say much the same as yours, from what I've seen in your writings—that there's an underlying truth behind all religion. Would you agree with that?
Prabhupāda: Religion, as it is explained in the dictionary, "Accepting a supreme controller." Is it not?
Colin Cross: Hmm.
Prabhupāda: So do the people accept a supreme controller? Do they accept? There are so many system of religions, but do they actually know who is the supreme controller? That is my question. What do you think? Just like this is British government, and we know that the Queen is the supreme controller. Similarly, of all creation, cosmic manifestation, there is a supreme controller. And who is that supreme controller? Do they know it? That is my question.
Colin Cross: I mean, what is your attitude towards Christianity?
Prabhupāda: Don't come to Christianity. I'm talking on religion, the science of religion. The religion . . . when we speak of religion, there is no question of Christianity or Muslim or Hindu. Just like when they speak of gold, gold is gold everywhere. Gold cannot be Muslim gold or Hindu gold or Christian gold. First try . . . we are concerned with gold, not the country where the gold is produced. That is not very important thing. Whether it is gold, that is our business.
Colin Cross: I mean, would you count Jesus Christ as gold?
Prabhupāda: Yes, why not? He's speaking about the supreme controller, God, so why should we not? Anyone who is speaking about God . . . (break)
Colin Cross: You don't accept it as mere sentiment.
Prabhupāda: No. Religion without science or philosophy is sentiment. And philosophy without religion is mental speculation. So they must be combined together. So far the controller is concerned, this is scientific understanding. Just like the father . . . we consider . . . why we? Everyone. Either he is Christian or Muhammadan or Hindu, the conception of God is generally accepted as the supreme father.
Colin Cross: I mean, it is a fact.
Prabhupāda: It is fact.
Colin Cross: Yes.
Prabhupāda: Because, just like anything, creation means the mother, the father and the children. That is our practical experience. Without mother, we are nowhere. We are given birth by the mother. So the material nature is the mother. From the material nature, material elements, everything is coming. From the water the fishes are coming, from the land the grass, the worms, and then human being, they are coming. From the air also living entities are coming. So therefore material nature is the mother, and we have come out of the material nature, therefore we are children. Then there must be father, because without father, simply mother cannot give birth. This is science. You cannot deny the existence of God simply by a false argument. This is real argument. The mother is there, material nature, and we are children there. There must be father.
Colin Cross: In England, the Christian Church in recent years or recent decades has been doing very badly and losing support. Your teaching could perhaps provide a substitute for the more traditional type of Christian teaching.
Prabhupāda: Yes, this is science. Therefore I say religion without scientific idea, that is sentiment. It has no value. This is basic principle of religion, that the mother is there, the children are there—there must be father. If you say: "I do not see what is God," it doesn't matter. Sometimes the child after birth does not see his father. But that does not mean that he has no father, because without father there is no possibility of his existence.
Colin Cross: What impelled you personally, when you, at a fairly late stage in life, to come to the West and teach?
Prabhupāda: I must be prepared to teach. Teaching is not so easy thing. I was ordered to teach at the age of twenty-five years by my Guru Mahārāja. But I was finding out the opportunity how to take up the work. So it took me so many years, so that at seventy years I came out for teaching.
Colin Cross: Why particularly in the West?
Prabhupāda: Because my Guru Mahārāja ordered that, "You go and teach this gospel in the Western world."
Jayatīrtha: His teacher instructed him to do this.
Colin Cross: Yes. And are you surprised at the great success you've had?
Prabhupāda: That is my Guru Mahārāja's blessings. He ordered me, I tried my best, so there is little success. When I see so many boys and hundreds of centers, they are living very peacefully in a nice house, getting good prasādam, having good knowledge in the books, and reforming their character and getting some good home, that is my success. Otherwise, they are loitering—no home, no character, no peace of mind. So at least this is my success. I have given so many boys a life. That is my success.
Colin Cross: Well, I'm very honored to have met you. I've read some of your work. I intend to read more.
Prabhupāda: Yes. So we are trying to give the best service to the humanity, human society, and this is the only service. People should come forward and cooperate with us. It is not a sectarian, sentimental religious system. It is a scientific understanding of the value of life.
Colin Cross: Well, thank you very much indeed, sir.
Prabhupāda: Thank you. Hare Kṛṣṇa. Jaya. (end)