680924 - Interview - Seattle

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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada



680924iv.sea - September 24, 1968


Interview (a tape is being played of the interview)


Prabhupāda: ...Personality of Godhead, who stops our struggle for existence and raises to the platform of eternal life, bliss, and knowledge. To be more clear, everyone is trying to get eternal life. The whole human society is trying to get the highest perfection of knowledge, and they are trying also, by so many methods, to become happy, blissful. But they are being confused and baffled. Therefore if we take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, these things will be easily achieved.

Interviewer: Would you give me a background, the history and origin of Kṛṣṇa consciousness?

Prabhupāda: No history can trace out the origin of Kṛṣṇa consciousness because the living entities, they are eternal. The bodily concept of life is not correct. Nobody dies, nobody takes birth. Everyone is eternal. This change of body is considered a change of dress. Therefore nobody can say that "This is the beginning of life." So whenever there is life, there is consciousness also, and originally the consciousness is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. But due to our long material association that consciousness is covered. Therefore we are out of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This movement is to revive that Kṛṣṇa consciousness again, so that he can be raised to his original position.

Interviewer: Would you describe where Kṛṣṇa consciousness started and why you have come to the Western world?

Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇa consciousness is there in the Bhagavad-gītā. It is a very popular and old literature, Vedic literature, known all over the world. But so far the history of this Bhagavad-gītā is concerned, there are difference of opinions, but factually even if we take it as it is, it is at least five thousand years old. And in the Bhagavad-gītā we learn that five thousand years ago it was spoken on the battlefield of Kurukṣetra. But before that, some millions of years ago, the same Bhagavad-gītā was spoken long, long ago. So actually the human effort cannot trace out the history of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but taking consideration of the present history, it is at least as old as five thousand years.

Interviewer: Govinda told me that it started five hundred years ago in Western Bengal. Could you elucidate on this please?

Prabhupāda: This Bhagavad-gītā is read by the human society not only in India, but outside India, since a very long, long time. But unfortunately, as everything is deteriorated by the contact of material contamination, so people began to interpret Bhagavad-gītā in different ways. Therefore about five hundred years ago, Lord Caitanya appeared, and he started the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement under His personal guidance in Bengal. His birthplace is known as Navadvīpa. Now, He ordered every Indian to spread this message of Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world, in every village, every town. That was His order. But unfortunately, since India was under foreign subjugation, they could not spread, or they lost their own independence of culture. But everyone expected after declaration of independence by India, such things should come to the outside world. But the government did not take much care of it. So far I am concerned, I belong to Lord Caitanya's disciplic succession, and my spiritual master, who was just ninth generation from Lord Caitanya, he ordered me that "You try to spread this Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the Western world." Therefore in pursuance of his order, I have come here.

Interviewer: Where is Kṛṣṇa consciousness most common in the world, and how widespread is it in India?

Prabhupāda: In India Kṛṣṇa consciousness is cent percent spread. Every Indian, even if he is not Hindu, he is Kṛṣṇa conscious. There is one professor in Allahabad University. He is Mohammedan by religion, but he is a great devotee of Kṛṣṇa. On the birthday of Kṛṣṇa he would fast the whole day, and he would write one article to some paper. So similarly, Kṛṣṇa consciousness is heart and soul of every Indian. One may differ, one may not agree, or there are so many different classes of men, but Kṛṣṇa is known cent percent in India.

Interviewer: Is Kṛṣṇa consciousness more easily accepted among Indians and among Far Eastern peoples than among the Western peoples?

Prabhupāda: It is the easiest method conceivable because the method is so easy that we simply ask people to come and chant the name of Kṛṣṇa. And it is actually experienced that in this country, all my disciples, they are neither Indian, nor Hindu, nor they know the Sanskrit words, everything is unknown to them, but still, they are taking so seriously. That is the proof how it is easier, that it can be spread all over the world.

Interviewer: I mean, just is Kṛṣṇa consciousness more readily accepted by the Far Eastern peoples? That is does their way of life make the acceptance of Kṛṣṇa consciousness any more easy than here in America? For instance, Americans are constantly rushing around and Europeans somewhat less. But they find it more difficult to be tranquil and peaceful than the Eastern peoples. For this reason, might it not be harder for Western peoples to accept Kṛṣṇa consciousness?

Prabhupāda: In India, due to her long subjugation by the foreigners, practically the so-called educated persons, they have lost their original culture. Rather, those who are not so-called educated, following the traditional rules and regulations, they are more Kṛṣṇa conscious. And the educated circle, they are thinking that this religious temperament is the cause of India's economic fall-down. But actually, that is not the fact. So not only India, in other countries also they are trying to imitate the economic situation or economic development of other countries, especially of America, but they do not find that in America, although the boys and girls, the younger generation, they are born of rich family, rich nation, they are still confused, and they are also hankering after something better. So the policy followed by India now, that is, to imitate the Western way of life, is not very happy mood. This means they have lost their original culture. And so far Western countries are concerned, I think they have sufficient arrangement for material comforts. Now they can very easily take up this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement because they have no disturbance for material hankering. And I think it is the time for them to accept this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement to make them perfectly well.

Interviewer: Is there conflict with other Eastern religions, and if so, how far is this spread?

Prabhupāda: There is no conflict at all. The conflict is between persons who are godless, who does not believe in God. Conflict is there. The conflict is not between East and West; the conflict is between the atheists and the theists. We are preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness, not that we are trying to replace something by Indian method to Christian method or Jewish method. That is not our policy. This is... In one sense, Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is the post-graduate study of all religions. What is the method of religion? To accept the authority of God. That is the primary principle of every religion, may be Christian religion or Hindu religion or Mohammedan religion. It doesn't matter. But people are becoming godless. That is the problem. They are thinking that "There is no God. Nature is everything." That is their foolishness. They are unhappy for this godlessness. And as a result of this godlessness, the Communist party have sprang up, the hippies have sprang up and so many other things will gradually spring up. So there is no check. It is... The only check is Kṛṣṇa consciousness, if people are taught that he can be happy only by reestablishing his eternal relationship with God. So our test of religion is how one has developed his God consciousness or love of God. We do not accept any principle of religion as genuine if we see that the followers have no love of God but they have got love of matter. We testify the, I mean to say, bona fides of a religious principle... Of course, in religious principle there is the teaching to become God conscious, to accept the authority of God, but because they are not properly taught, the followers are becoming godless, not only here, in India also. That is the position everywhere. So our proposition is to make people God conscious. It doesn't matter what he is. Either he is Hindu or Christian or Mohammedan, it doesn't matter. And this Kṛṣṇa consciousness procedure is to raise or to develop love of Godhead. And as soon as he develops love of Godhead, then he becomes happy individually and collectively because there is love. He wants to love somebody else, but he is placing his love wrongly. He is placing his love... Even one has nobody to love, he is loving cats and dogs. So love is there, but he does not know where to place his love and be happy. This is the information, Kṛṣṇa.

Interviewer: Then love is the most important element of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. How do you feel about Christians, Buddhists, Moslems, Hindus, then? Are their other beliefs of real, of no importance to you just so long as they believe in one God and in love?

Prabhupāda: So far Hindu religion is concerned, it is a very broad thinking. The Hindu religion, Vedic religion, is divided into two kinds of philosophers. One kinds of philosopher is the impersonalist. They take the Absolute Truth as impersonal, all-pervading impersonal. And the another philosophers, they take that the Supreme Absolute Truth is person. The impersonal feature is one of the features of that person, but ultimately he is person. So without person there cannot be any question of love. Therefore the section who believes in person... Not believing, they know actually what He is, and there is method how to love that person. The example is given: just like the sun and the sunshine and the predominating Deity in the sun globe, similarly, one who comes to the light, he first of all sees the sunshine. That is impersonal. Then, if he goes further, if he is able to go to the sun planet, that is localized. And if he can enter into the sun planet and see the predominating deity there, then he is a person. So this is a vast science. People are too much engrossed with material activities. They do not try to understand actually what is the position of Absolute Truth, what is the position of the soul. Practically in the present day they are more or less animalistic. Just like animal does not know anything beyond eating, sleeping, mating and defending, similarly, the modern civilization is too much busy for increasing the method of eating and increasing the process of comfortable life or sleeping, and increasing the matter of, method of sexual life, or increasing the method of defense. So these things, are found even in the animals. They also eat, they also sleep, they also have sex life and they also defend in their own way. So human life is not limited within these four walls. He has to understand what he is, what is this world, what is this creation, what is God, how it is going on. But they are neglecting that fact. And Kṛṣṇa consciousness will give information to this department of knowledge.

Interviewer: What are other major beliefs besides love, understanding of Kṛṣṇa, understanding of oneself, which you would like to impart to me?

Prabhupāda: Love is the basic principle of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and love is the basic principle of all our activities. So love is there, dormant, but that love is not being properly utilized. So Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the movement to revive that original love and the original person with whom that loving transaction can be executed.

Interviewer: What are other major beliefs besides love, to which you ascribe?

Prabhupāda: Other belief, they are also based on the principle of love. That is actually not belief; that is misbelief. Because any religious principle... Just like Buddhism. Buddhism, actually, they do not believe in God, but they have love for Lord Buddha. So love is there. They may declare that "We don't believe in God," but they love Lord Buddha. And according to our Vedic scripture, Lord Buddha is also incarnation of God. So we interpret in this way, that Lord Buddha preached among the atheists by cheating them. Oh, how it is? That they did not believe in God, and Lord Buddha said, "Oh, yes, there is no God. But you love Me." So they are loving Lord Buddha. Similarly, there are many persons. They do not believe in family life, they do not believe in so many things, but love is there. He is sleeping with a cat, with a dog. So in no circumstances you can avoid love, but they are suffering because the love is misplaced and misused.

Interviewer: As far as rites which you practice and demands upon you which Kṛṣṇa makes, what are any of these rites or demands? That is must you eat special foods, wear special clothing, special..., anything special which you put upon your face, sign, symbols, and also, is there any connection of Kṛṣṇa consciousness to the meditation of yoga or of Zen, and what of physical fitness? How does Kṛṣṇa consciousness look at this?

Prabhupāda: Our process is to accept everything which conduces to develop Kṛṣṇa's love. So those methods are given by experienced ācāryas, that "You just follow." Just like when a child tries to walk, the mother gives some direction or some help in a wooden plank, that "You try to move in this way. You will learn how to walk," similarly, there are certain principles given by experienced ācāryas. If we follow those principles, then we can work or we can go to the perfection of Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. It is not the method that is important. The real important is how to develop your love of Kṛṣṇa. If somebody develops love of Kṛṣṇa, or God, without those methods, there is no objection. We are not limited by the methods or ritualistic methods. But there are certain ritualistic method, which, if one follows, then he can quickly learn the art of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Just like we restrict our students in four principles: illicit sex life and intoxication, gambling, and meat-eating. So it is not that a gambler or a meat-eater or a man addicted to illicit sex life, he cannot love Kṛṣṇa. It is not that. But that is very rare case. If he follows these principles, then it will be easier for him. Because Kṛṣṇa, or God is pure, so so long one is impure in his habits, it is not possible for him. So these are the purificatory processes. And so far our signals or some marks on the body—just like we take tilaka; we have some beads—this means... Just like it is practical. When I was in Montreal and other cities, when we passed through the road, the children, the persons, they also said, "Hare Kṛṣṇa!" So these marks and this symbolic representation reminds others to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Just like a policeman, as soon as he appears in his dress, "Oh, here is a policeman," so similarly, these things are also required to remind others. Our process is to raise persons to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So if by our symbolic representation one immediately remembers Kṛṣṇa, that is our success.

Interviewer: And what of special foods and special drink?

Prabhupāda: Special food means Kṛṣṇa-prasāda. Because we have dedicated our life to Kṛṣṇa, we eat such things which Kṛṣṇa eats. The impersonalists, they have no idea of Kṛṣṇa, they have no idea of God, and how they can conceive that the God eats also? So we are not such rascal. We know that what God eats, and we offer such thing to God, or Kṛṣṇa, and we take after His eating. That is our special food.

Interviewer: Could you tell me the names of these special foods? How do you know what Kṛṣṇa eats and drinks, please?

Prabhupāda: As I have told you, that Bhagavad-gītā is the book of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Just like any department of knowledge, there are some books to know that departmental knowledge or science, similarly, to know Kṛṣṇa consciousness there are many books and especially Bhagavad-gītā. In this Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa says that "Anyone who gives Me fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, with great devotional love, I eat." Therefore we offer these things to Kṛṣṇa in different preparations, and we know He will eat. And that's all.

Interviewer: What types of food, what types of things do you drink, such as juices or anything else do you drink?

Prabhupāda: Eatables are just within this jurisdiction of fruits, flowers, vegetables, grains, and milk. But we can prepare thousands of preparation, very nice palatable preparations. And I invite you to our temple. When love feast is distributed on every Sunday, you will see how they are nicely prepared. But they are prepared... Only if we get some grains and some butter and some fruits and some vegetables, we can prepare hundreds of preparations, hundreds, very, very palatable. You will forget all other eating.

Interviewer: What are your teachers called, those who teach the members of the community of Kṛṣṇa consciousness? Are they also gurus or anything similar to the gurus of the Hindu faith?

Prabhupāda: The original guru is Kṛṣṇa. And just like He taught first the Kṛṣṇa consciousness principle to Arjuna. And how Arjuna understood, that is also there. So anyone who follows the principle... Just like my great grandfather told something, "This is watch." Then my grandfather told, "This is watch." Then my father told, "This is watch." So I am also telling, "This is watch." So there is no difference of opinion between the old great grandfather and me because we are following the same principle. Similarly, whatever is spoken by Kṛṣṇa five thousand years or forty millions of years, it doesn't matter. If you are simply following the same principles, then you are spiritual master.

Interviewer: Then your teachers are called spiritual masters? You are the spiritual preceptor, your holiness. And do you use the word guru?

Prabhupāda: Our guru or spiritual master comes down from that disciplic succession. It is not that, that somebody all of a sudden becomes guru and manufactures his own philosophy. We don't accept such nonsense. We must accept somebody who is actually bona fide, coming in disciplic succession, not others.

Interviewer: What is your opinion of yoga and Zen? Do you incorporate any of their principles? Such as meditation for example?

Prabhupāda: Any principles of religion current in the world, they are all included in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, any principle. But just like if you have got two millions of dollars, the ten dollars, fifty dollars, five hundred dollars, five thousand dollars, or go on increasing, everything is included there, similarly, Kṛṣṇa consciousness is perfect. Just like in New York there is a building, Empire State Building. It is 102 stories. So one who has gone up to the topmost story, 102, it is to be understood that he has passed over the fiftieth story or fortieth story or tenth story or all the stories. So one who has become Kṛṣṇa conscious, he knows everything, the meditation, the yoga, this practice, that practice. Everything is there. That we can give proof. It is practically. So we have to simply become Kṛṣṇa conscious. Then everything will be included there.

Interviewer: What is your hierarchy in Kṛṣṇa conscious? That is, do you have anything comparable to bishops and the hierarchy of the Christian faith and of other major faiths? That is, you are the spiritual preceptor, and who are all those below you, between you and the congregation, the members?

Prabhupāda: It is not exactly the hierarchy, but in the Christian method, Roman Catholic method, the process of the Pope, Archbishop, and..., that is very nice. There is no objection of us. But our point is that Kṛṣṇa consciousness is lacking. In spite of all arrangement, if people lost faith in God, so simply by hierarchy, what is the benefit there? There is no benefit. You see? Bambarambhe laghu-kriya, in the Sanskrit word, that you can make a very high-grade arrangement, but the result is zero. So that hierarchical arrangement is exactly not in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. But our method is very simple. If one is fortunate enough to meet a bona fide spiritual master and if he acts strictly under his discipline, he also becomes within a very short time another spiritual master.

Interviewer: How does one feel called toward Kṛṣṇa conscious? That is, does he begin by having faith or does...? What demands are made upon him? How does he come into the frame of mind where he can accept Kṛṣṇa consciousness?

Prabhupāda: Of course, faith is the basic principle of everything. If you have no faith, then you cannot make progress in any line of action. So in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is also... Faith is the basic principle. Just like I have come here. I started my classes in New York. So I was alone chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. Somebody came. Naturally, out of inquisitiveness, somebody comes. Somebody came and, "Oh, what this Indian swami is doing? Let me see." So he sat down. Some other came. He sat down. Then some of them took it, "Oh, Swamiji speaks very nice. Let me come again." He comes, he comes, and then he gets some faith: "Oh, Kṛṣṇa consciousness is very nice." Then next point is that he wants intimate relationship with the swami, or me: "Swamiji, I have heard you so many days. I think it is very nice. So I want to be your student." So faith is the basic principle. The next stage is that he wants to become a student. And as soon as he wants to become a student, the next stage is that I accept him a disciple if I think that he is suitable. Then as soon as he becomes a disciple, he follows my regulative principles, injunctions. Then gradually he becomes free from all misgivings and naturally he gives up that illicit sex life or gambling or meat-eating and so many other things. In that way he becomes fixed up. Then he develops a taste; he cannot give up the society, taste. Then attraction, attachment. He wants to do everything for the society. In this way he develops love of Kṛṣṇa. And in the final stage he loves only Kṛṣṇa and nobody else. And because Kṛṣṇa includes everyone, that means he loves everyone.

Interviewer: Could you describe your temple to me?

Prabhupāda: At the present moment, we have got fourteen temples: New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Buffalo, Boston, and Montreal, and Seattle, and one in New Vrindaban. We have purchased about 130 acres of land and developing there, New Vrindaban. And we have got now a temple in London, in Germany, Berlin. And we are in negotiation with Florida friends and we have sent one of our representative in Hawaii. So we have got so many temples. Gradually it is increasing. And boys and girls, especially younger generation... My, amongst my disciples, the oldest disciple is thirty-five years old. Otherwise they are between twenty to twenty-five.

Interviewer: How do you account for most of your disciples being so young that is, right after university age, and what have your inroads been here in Seattle during the month that you have been here?

Prabhupāda: I have come here for the last ten days only. And at least two or three is already converted (in) Seattle. Yes. I want to see the youngsters in your country to be happy. Everyone wants that, but not only in your country, I want to see everywhere. Because that is the duty of every human being, to give information of highest happiness. That is the duty of every human being. The animal propensity is to exploit others. And human propensity should be to do good to others. That is the difference between animal propensity and human propensity. So here is a nice thing, Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Why should you not distribute? Especially in your country where there is great need for it? They are not after economic development. They have seen much of economic development. Now it is time for them to take to this Kṛṣṇa consciousness and they will be happy. That is my mission.

Interviewer: Would you tell me something of your own background? That is, where you were educated, how you became a disciple of Kṛṣṇa.

Prabhupāda: I was born and educated in Calcutta. Calcutta is my home place. I was born in 1896, and I was my father's pet child, so my education began a little late, and still, I was educated in higher secondary, high school for eight years. In primary school four years, higher secondary school, eight years, in college, four years. Then I joined Gandhi's movement, national movement. But by good chance I met my Guru Mahārāja, my spiritual master, in 1922. And since then, I was attracted in this line, and gradually I gave up my household life. I was married in 1918 when I was still a third year student. And so I got my children. I was doing business. Then I retired from my family life in 1954. For four years I was alone, without any family. Then I took regularly renounced order of life in 1959. Then I devoted myself in writing books. My first publication came out in 1962, and when there were three books, then I started for your country in 1965 and I reached here in September, 1965. Since then, I am trying to preach this Kṛṣṇa consciousness in America, Canada, in European countries. And gradually the centers are developing. The disciples are also increasing. Let me see what is going to be done.

Interviewer: How did you become a disciple yourself? What were you, or what did you follow before you became a disciple?

Prabhupāda: Same principle as I told you, faith. One of my friend, he dragged me forcibly to my spiritual master. And when I talked with my spiritual master, I was induced. And since then, the seedling began.

Interviewer: Would you discuss your dancing with me please and explain something of it. I first saw it Tuesday evening, and I would like to know more about it.

Prabhupāda: We don't this dancing as an art. It is automatic. We dance, we cry, we chant, we laugh not by artificially learning it. But Kṛṣṇa consciousness is so nice. As you begin to chant, naturally you feel for dancing. So it is not taught artificially. It comes simultaneously with development of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Interviewer: What is the hand attire which you are wearing? What is the meaning of this?

Prabhupāda: I am chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa whenever there is opportunity, and there are beads. So I am chanting on beads. There are 108 beads and each bead we chant sixteen names, Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare, Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare. So my disciples, they chant at least sixteen rounds. Actually...

Interviewer: [break] I wanted to find out more about attending the services, that is, are there any books written about Kṛṣṇa consciousness here available in Seattle or any other organizations besides the temple?

Prabhupāda: We have many books already published. One, first, is Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. This is published by Macmillan and Company. You can have any number of these books from our temple. And the next book is Teachings of Lord Caitanya. That is also available from our temple. And the next book, in three parts, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. So if somebody... These are the, I mean to say, covering of the books. So if somebody carefully reads these books, Kṛṣṇa consciousness science will be understood very easily by him. Besides these books, we have got our monthly magazine, Back to Godhead. So if the students... It is not very costly. The monthly magazine is only 35 cents per copy and the subscription four dollars yearly. And this Bhagavad-gītā As It Is , it is only $2.95. Of course, this Teachings of Lord Caitanya, it is hardbound, it is $5.95. So they will be greatly profited.

Interviewer: (inaudible)

Prabhupāda: Oh, yes.

Interviewer: What do you offer to Kṛṣṇa? That is, do you offer money in the sense of an offering in a Christian church or do you burn anything, for example, incense or could you explain this?

Prabhupāda: Yes. The flowers, incense, and fruits, the same thing. I have already explained that whatever He has described in the Bhagavad-gītā. Kṛṣṇa says that "Anyone offering Me these things in devotion..." So we follow the same principle. So it is very nice thing. If the students follow, they can follow it individually. Even in his own apartment he can keep a picture of Kṛṣṇa and offer a lamp, a candle, and one, I mean to say, incense. He will feel tremendously spiritually advanced. And if he reads these books, his life will be changed completely. That is a fact. [break] And two boys, Kṛṣṇānanda and one German boy, is going there very soon. So, of course, we do not expect to sell English books in Germany very much, but maybe... (end)