760714 - Interview A - New York
(Redirected from Interview with Newsweek -- July 14, 1976, New York)
(Interview with Newsweek)
Rāmeśvara: . . . from our public relations firm. She's assisting us in arranging for these interviews. We were just meeting with Wanda and telling her a little bit about how you began the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement here in America.
Interviewer (Wanda): Well, perhaps you could continue where they left off.
Interviewer: Could you tell me why you came to the United States in 1965? Did you feel that this was a mission that you had to fulfill?
Prabhupāda: Yes, not only United States, but everywhere people do not know what is spiritual life. They have no knowledge how to develop spiritual life, although it is . . . the only business of human form of life is to understand spiritual life.
Interviewer: Are you retiring now?
Prabhupāda: I am always retired. I began this movement in my retirement.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Prabhupāda said he was always retired, and he began . . . after retiring, he began this movement.
Prabhupāda: What do you mean by retired life?
Interviewer: I mean are you giving up your position as spiritual leader?
Rāmeśvara: She means now you are going back to India, does that mean you are retiring from traveling all over the world preaching and . . .?
Prabhupāda: No, she said spiritual life . . . what do you mean by that?
Hari-śauri: Spiritual leader of the movement.
Rāmeśvara: Managing and everything.
Prabhupāda: Why you are asking this question?
Interviewer: Well, I'm curious.
Prabhupāda: No, why you are curious about this? Whether I am retiring or not, that is . . .
Interviewer: What's the reason I'm curious? Well, because we're trying to, at Newsweek, develop and try to understand what the trends are in religion, all types of religion, whether it be Christianity, you know, Catholicism, Evangelicism . . .
Prabhupāda: Spiritual life is never retired. It is eternal. There is no question of retire.
Interviewer: I was wondering whether perhaps you would personally take a less active role.
Prabhupāda: No, I am not taking any very great active part. They are doing. I am simply reading, that's all.
Rāmeśvara: Prabhupāda is saying that the disciples are working so hard.
Interviewer: Oh, I see.
Rāmeśvara: But I was explaining to her that you are traveling all over the world, visiting your centers, and at the same time writing so many books.
Prabhupāda: That may be lessened. That may be lessened, but that does not mean retirement.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: That's the point. He may not travel as much, but that doesn't mean retiring from spiritual life, because spiritual life goes on continuously, at all times, whatever ones age is.
Interviewer: I didn't mean that he was retiring from spiritual life.
Hari-śauri: From management.
Bali-mardana: His main work is his books, so he'll continue that.
Interviewer: I was wondering if he had a successor to do . . . do you have a successor to take your place when you die?
Prabhupāda: Not yet settled up.
Interviewer: Pardon me?
Prabhupāda: Not yet settled up.
Interviewer: No. So what process would the Hare Kṛṣṇas . . .?
Prabhupāda: We have got secretaries. They are managing.
Rāmeśvara: He has appointed from all the disciples a group of secretaries. Each one is in charge of a different sector of the world.
Interviewer: How many secretaries?
Rāmeśvara: Presently there is eighteen.
Interviewer: And so that group of eighteen secretaries will choose another leader?
Prabhupāda: I am training each one of them as leader so that they can spread extensively. That is my idea.
Interviewer: So, in other words, you started this whole movement here in the United States ten years ago. Would you say that the United States had the most active, financially, group of followers?
Prabhupāda: What is that?
Rāmeśvara: She wants to know, seeing that you chose the United States to begin this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement ten years ago, now do you find that in the United States there is the most active membership, financially speaking. In terms of contributing to this movement, supporting the movement, is the best field America?
Prabhupāda: But without finance we can go on.
Rāmeśvara: Without finance we can go on.
Interviewer: Oh, we can go on?
Prabhupāda: Caitanya Mahāprabhu did not have any financial help, but His movement is going on. It does not depend on a . . . on financial. It is independent. Spiritual movement is independent of any material help. That is spiritual movement.
Interviewer: But how would you be able to carry out your educational program or book publishing program if you did not have a financial backing?
Prabhupāda: How I am managing now?
Interviewer: But now you are doing well financially.
Prabhupāda: You are stressing on financial help, but my reply is that this movement does not depend on financial help. That is the reply.
Bali-mardana: In the beginning . . .
Prabhupāda: Any time, it does not depend on financial help.
Interviewer: Why would you say you were doing so well?
Rāmeśvara: We don't tithe our members. We don't . . . in other words, our congregations do not pay dues. We are depending on Kṛṣṇa. We're simply trying to print books, and we show them to people, and then Kṛṣṇa inspires them to purchase or give a contribution. It's not that we have people making large contributions or a congregation that pays dues.
Interviewer: So where does most of your money come from?
Rāmeśvara: She wants to know where most of our money comes from.
Prabhupāda: Money comes from Kṛṣṇa.
Interviewer: From where?
Interviewer: Ah, Rāmeśvara, maybe it would help if you just told me how, in the first year how the books were sold, before there was this publishing. There was a time in which there was just a storefront. How were these books sold in the very beginning? That's what I'd like to understand.
Rāmeśvara: Prabhupāda personally went to the printer in Japan. He personally made the arrangement with the printer, the first printing.
Interviewer: But how did he sell his first book in America?
Hari-śauri: On the boat to the ship's captain.
Interviewer: There was a process . . .
Prabhupāda: I mean to say: "What is our financial arrangement?" why these questions are being raised? This is not interview about the movement. They are very much interested about our financial help.
Rāmeśvara: Prabhupāda's observing that they are very interested in our financial backing.
Interviewer: What do you think about some of the other gurus, if you will, since you are yourself considered a guru? Do you study anybody else?
Prabhupāda: These answers you can give.
Bali-mardana: She said what do you think about the other gurus.
Prabhupāda: Why shall I think of other gurus?
Bali-mardana: He does not study them.
Prabhupāda: Why shall I think of other guru? "Oil your own machine." (laughter)
Devotees: "Oil your own machine."
Interviewer: Could you tell me a little bit about your background, when you were young, what types of things you did, what . . .?
Prabhupāda: Why shall I tell you?
Interviewer: Pardon me?
Prabhupāda: Why shall I tell you?
Interviewer: If you wish.
Prabhupāda: Why shall I wish?
Interviewer: Well, reporters have to ask these questions. Otherwise I would be out of business.
Hari-śauri: Prabhupāda is hoping that you'll ask something that is relevant to this . . .
Rāmeśvara: People are interested to know about you, Śrīla Prabhupāda. And if they take an interest in you, then they will automatically be interested in your books also. They are very eager to know about the author of all these books that we are selling.
Prabhupāda: But these books, books . . . we'll speak about the books. Does it depend what the author was doing previously?
Interviewer: You are the translator of many books, from what I understand.
Prabhupāda: Yes. So that translation, the book, will speak how I have translated.
Interviewer: Um-hmm. I was wondering . . .
Prabhupāda: You read the books, then you'll understand. Instead of asking me, you better read the books. That is real understanding.
Interviewer: I was just wondering how he personally got interested or involved, and what his route to his consciousness was.
Rāmeśvara: I see. She's asking about your relationship with your Guru Mahārāja, how you became inspired to start the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement and write so many books.
Prabhupāda: These things you can answer. It is not very important things for public.
Rāmeśvara: I think the public always likes to know about the person behind the movement.
Interviewer: Yes, it helps. People are interested. People are interested in development of a man like you because they relate. And that way they decide to read what you write.
Prabhupāda: First thing is that if you are interested in our book, so you read our books; you'll understand.
Interviewer: Understand you?
Interviewer: Is that what you're saying?
Interviewer: Is that what he's saying?
Prabhupāda: A man is known when he speaks.
Interviewer: When you , when you . . .
Prabhupāda: When he speaks. Tāvac ca śobhate mūrkho yāvat kiñcin na bhāṣate: "A fool is so long beautiful as long as he does not speak." (laughter) When he speaks, then you can understand what he is. So my speaking are there in the books, and if you are intelligent, you can understand. You haven't got to ask. Speaking . . . just like in a court. A big lawyer is known when he speaks. Otherwise everyone is a good lawyer. But when he speaks in the court, then he is known whether he is good lawyer or not. So you have to hear. You have to read. Then you'll understand. Real understanding is there.
Interviewer: Do you think that some day the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement will spread to all the people in the world?
Prabhupāda: That is not possible. It is more for the most intelligent class of men. So it, this movement, is for the most intelligent class of men.
Interviewer: But amongst the most intelligent classes.
Prabhupāda: Unless one is intelligent class, belonging to the in . . . he cannot understand. So we don't expect that everyone is intelligent. Kṛṣṇa yei bhaje se baḍa catura (CC Antya 4.67). Unless one is very intelligent, he cannot become Kṛṣṇa conscious, because it is a different subject matter. People are engrossed with the bodily concept of life. It is beyond that. So dull brain cannot understand what is beyond this body. So you cannot expect that everyone will understand Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is not possible.
Interviewer: There has been a lot of talk of genetic perfection of mankind, or, say, attempting a genetic perfection.
Prabhupāda: What is genetic?
Interviewer: What is genetic perfection?
Bali-mardana: We were discussing yesterday about the science of genetics. They try to understand the traits, how the body and mind are formed, and then try to change it.
Prabhupāda: That we have already . . . where is that book?
Rāmeśvara: Svarūpa Dāmodara's book.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Bring.
Rāmeśvara: Well, what is your question?
Interviewer: My question is . . . you were mentioning earlier about using the technological tools, and if there is some society where there is some . . .
Prabhupāda: That book is not here? Nowhere?
Interviewer: Let me ask you. If through technological means mankind is somewhat improved, in other words, the average man is much more intelligent, what you would consider now to be an intelligent man . . .
Prabhupāda: But intelligent man . . . if one understands that he is not this body—he is within the body . . . just like you have got one shirt. You are not the shirt—anyone can understand—you are within the shirt. Similarly, a person who understands that he is not the body—he is within the body . . . that anyone can understand, because when the body is dead, what is the difference? Because the living force within the body is gone, therefore we call the body dead.
Interviewer: But there are some very intelligent men who are not spiritually enlightened, perhaps even men who understand that they are not you know . . . or the body is not all, the body is dead and there is something else. Why aren't these men spiritually aware?
Prabhupāda: If one does not understand this simple thing, that he is not body, then he is no better than animal.
Interviewer: But . . .
Prabhupāda: That is the first understanding of spiritual platform. If he thinks that he is body, then he is in the same category as the animals are.
Rāmeśvara: Her question is . . . suppose someone has some faith in life after death, and he also may be an intelligent man by material standards, why isn't he automatically . . .?
Prabhupāda: No, material standard is no intelligence. Material standard is that "I am of this body." "I am American," "I am Indian," "I am fox," "I am dog," "I am man." This is material understanding. Spiritual understanding is beyond that, that . . .
Interviewer: Did you . . .
Prabhupāda: "I am not this body." And when he tries to understand that spiritual identification, then he is intelligent. Otherwise he is not intelligent.
Interviewer: So does this mean that . . .
Prabhupāda: They have been described as mūḍha. Mūḍha means asses. So this is the first understanding, that one should not identify with this body.
Interviewer: What understandings come after . . .?
Prabhupāda: Just like dog. Dog understands that he is body. If a man also understands like that—he is body—then he's no better than the dog.
Interviewer: What other understandings come after this one?
Bali-mardana: After you realize that you're not the body, then what comes next?
Prabhupāda: Hah! That is intelligent question. Then one has to find out that, "I am engaged only in this bodily concept of life. Then what is my engagement?" That is the inquiry of Sanātana Gosvāmī that, "You have relieved me from this material engagement. Now let me know what is my duty." For that reason one has to go to the spiritual master, to know, understand, that what is his duty now. "If I am not this body, then what is my duty? Because I am busy whole day and night for this body. I am eating, I am sleeping, I am having sex, I am defending—these are all bodily necessities. If I am not body, then what is my duty?" That is intelligence.
Rāmeśvara: So you said: "What is the next thing after realizing you're not this body?" Prabhupāda says the next thing is to find out what you should be doing, and for that, you take information from a self-realized soul, or spiritual master.
Interviewer: Spiritual master in the form of his books.
Bali-mardana: Personally or . . .
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Prabhupāda was explaining that now in the bodily concept we have so many duties. We are working, we are having sex life, we are eating, sleeping, defending ourselves—so many things. All of this is in the relationship to the body. But if I'm not this body, then what is my duty? What is my responsibility? So the next thing is that when one understands this, then he must take instruction from the spiritual master, make progress and understand what real duty is. It's very important.
Prabhupāda: Even for eating, sleeping, sex life and defense we require some knowledge from a teacher. Say for eating, so we take knowledge from expert what kind of eating we shall take, what kind of vitamin, what kind of . . . so that also requires education. And sleeping also requires education. And so for bodily concept of life one has to take knowledge from others. So when he is above this bodily concept of life—he understands that, "I am not this body; I am spirit soul"—so similarly he has to take lesson and education from an expert.
Interviewer: Could you go over each of the three functions you've been mentioning—eating, sleeping and sex—and tell me what specifically, what rules or hints that you would give people who are seeking spiritual enlightenment to aid in their lives in these ways.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Yes, that is our books. That is our books. We have got enough matter to understand. It is not a thing that you'll understand in a minute.
Interviewer: I understand you sleep very little. You sleep three to four hours a night. Do you feel that this is what any person who is spiritually actualized will also realize?
Prabhupāda: Yes, we see from the behavior of the Gosvāmīs. They practically had no material necessities. This eating, sleeping, mating and defending, practically they had no such thing. They are simply engaged in Kṛṣṇa's business.
Interviewer: Engaged in Kṛṣṇa's . . .?
Rāmeśvara: Kṛṣṇa's business, or God's service.
Bali-mardana: He's setting the example of the previous spiritual masters.
Interviewer: Well, what I was interested in is why . . . has he found that three or four hours is the necessary time period to sleep?
Bali-mardana: She's asking why is three to four hours the amount that you sleep. How have you reached that standard?
Prabhupāda: That is not artificially. The more you are engaged in spiritual activities, the more you become free from material activities. That is the test.
Interviewer: And so you've arrived at that . . .
Prabhupāda: No, I don't speak about myself, but that is the test. Bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir anyatra syāt (SB 11.2.42). If you advance in bhakti, in spiritual life, then you become disinterested in material life.
Interviewer: Do you think there's a difference between the various peoples of the world? In other words, do you think that Indians as opposed to Europeans have more of a tendency or are more likely to adhere to the Kṛṣṇa consciousness?
Prabhupāda: No, any intelligent man can become Kṛṣṇa conscious. That I have already explained, that unless one is very intelligent, he cannot take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So it is open for everyone. But there are different grades of intelligence. In Europe, America, they are intelligent, but their intelligence is utilized for material purposes. And in India their intelligence is utilized for spiritual purpose. Therefore you find so many highly spiritual standard of life, books, literature. Just like Vyāsadeva. Vyāsadeva was also in householder life, but he was living in the forest, and see his contribution of literature. Nobody can dream even. So by literary contribution, one's intelligence is tested. All big, big men of the material world, scientists, philosophers, even technicians, they are recognized by their writings, by their contribution, not by their gigantic body.
Interviewer: Could you tell me a little bit about your educational system that you have helped to establish, particularly here in the States.
Rāmeśvara: Gurukula. She's asking if you could tell her about the system of education you have established in America.
Prabhupāda: That you can see, what education I have given to my disciples. The first education is that they must be free from all sinful activities. That is the first education. According to the Vedic instruction, a man is supposed to be educated, even from material point of view, a man is supposed to be educated when he sees every woman as mother.
Prabhupāda: As mother.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: He sees every woman as his mother.
Prabhupāda: That is the standard of education.
- mātṛvat para-dāreṣu
- para-dravyeṣu loṣṭravat
- ātmavat sarva-bhūteṣu
- yaḥ paśyati sa paṇḍitaḥ
- (Cāṇakya Paṇḍita)
Paṇḍita means educated. So how one is educated? How it is tested? When a person takes all women except his wife as mother, then he is educated. When one thinks others' property as garbage in the street, then he is educated. And when one thinks that all living entities are of the same level, ātmavat sarva-bhūteṣu, then he is educated. Not that for my convenience I say: "The animal has no soul, so send them to the slaughterhouse." He is not educated.
Rāmeśvara: He says Prabhupāda said one of the standards of education is to see all living entities equally. So not that we say that an animal has no soul, therefore he can go to the slaughterhouse, but a man has soul, so he cannot. Because we see all living entities equally, so we do not send man to slaughterhouse, and we do not send animals to slaughterhouse. That is education.
Interviewer: What . . . in your system, what do you propose to do with criminals?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: What do you propose to do with criminals in your educational system? How will you reform them?
Prabhupāda: Criminals should be punished.
Interviewer: How so?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: How seriously should they be punished?
Prabhupāda: That you have to consult śāstra. There is direction. It is . . . practically it is the same. Just like Manu-saṁhitā, it says that if one is a murderer then he should be killed. Life for life. He should be hanged. That is the old system. The king used to kill a murderer. So that is almost the same punishment.
Rāmeśvara: Capital punishment.
Interviewer: What . . .
Rāmeśvara: What Prabhupāda said is that you have to consult the ancient law books which were written, which are part of Indian culture, thousands of years ago.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Part of the Vedic scriptures.
Rāmeśvara: They are our lawbook. Just like we have books of philosophy, there are also books of law, how to govern society, how to deal with criminals. In other words, we are sticking to the Vedic literatures. As they instruct, we are following.
Interviewer: What do the Vedic literatures say about adultery?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: What about adultery, Prabhupāda? She wants to know what the Vedas say should be the . . . what is the reaction for adultery? How does one deal with an adulterer? If someone is an adulterer and he's caught, what should be the . . .
Prabhupāda: No, there is no such direct punishment, but it is prohibited. It is prohibited.
Rāmeśvara: There is no direct punishment, but it is prohibited. Part of education and social convention, it is prohibited. Not that the government allows propaganda to be made for illicit sex.
Prabhupāda: The other words, the woman who is chaste, she is very much glorified.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: A chaste woman is very much glorified in Vedic culture.
Interviewer: I'm particularly interested in the educational system that you are setting up. Do you think . . .
Bali-mardana: You mean for children?
Rāmeśvara: She's referring now to the system that we have for our children, gurukula. So what's the question?
Interviewer: My question is because they are receiving this education, physical and spiritual education so that they will be free of corruption and sin, they might still, even with this education, they still might not be intelligent, what you consider intelligent people. How, you know . . . is it more likely that they will be what you would term intelligent, having been educated in this system?
Prabhupāda: No, there are different types of education. Just like in the material world, there is education for medical man, there is education for engineer, there is education for so many other departments. Similarly, there is education how to make one man spiritual. So we are going to give education how to become spiritually advanced. That is our purpose.
Rāmeśvara: Spiritually advanced, that is our purpose. Now her question was whether all the people that go to our gurukula will become spiritually advanced.
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes, certainly. That is gurukula education.
Rāmeśvara: Even though some are born with more intelligence and some are born with less intelligence.
Prabhupāda: It doesn't matter. Average intelligence will do.
Interviewer: Well, then conceivably it seems that almost the great majority of society would adhere to Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Rāmeśvara: So then, since it doesn't matter whether less intelligent, small intelligent, if they go to gurukula, they can become spiritually advanced.
Prabhupāda: Yes, because spiritually everyone is free from material bondage. So materially we find one is more intelligent, one is less intelligent, but spiritually everyone can be equally intelligent.
Rāmeśvara: So what about the common man? If he accepts the gurukula system, he can also be spiritually advanced?
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. Anyone, anyone.
Rāmeśvara: See, Prabhupāda's point in the beginning was whether they will accept it or not. But once they accept it, once they get trained, then they will automatically be advanced. His point in the beginning was that whether they'll accept it or not. That requires intelligence.
Bali-mardana: He has to undergo a type of conditioning.
Rāmeśvara: Or training.
Lady guest: I think he was defining his definition of intelligence in the spiritual realm as opposed to material intelligence.
Rāmeśvara: Prabhupāda said intelligence means you accept the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or you accept to be trained to be spiritually advanced.
Lady guest: It's an hypothesis. It's like an hypothesis.
Interviewer: Don't you find the whole Kṛṣṇa movement more successful in an age and era when there is such laxity of moral standards and spiritual leadership and direction?
Prabhupāda: No, at any stage of life, if one accepts the principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he can make advance.
Rāmeśvara: She asked: "Is it more favorable for spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness if there is some material problems, social problems? If there is a lack of God consciousness, then people become frustrated. Is that a more favorable situation for Kṛṣṇa consciousness to take root?"
Prabhupāda: Yes, if we arrange social, political and everything favorable to spiritual understanding, then it becomes easier.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Prabhupāda is saying the opposite than what you hypothesized. That if everything is arranged socially, politically, everything, in a God conscious, Kṛṣṇa conscious manner, then it is easier to accept the principles of God consciousness, Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Prabhupāda: Just like . . . these are all discussed in the Bhagavad-gītā, what kind of social arrangement should be. That . . . it is called varṇāśrama-dharma. A brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra, brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha—so these are different groups, and if they are favorably trained up, then spiritual understanding becomes very easy.
Interviewer: Can you tell me a little bit about the future direction of the movement, how you plan to expand?
Prabhupāda: That is . . . that is going on already. Just like these boys, they did not know about Kṛṣṇa some years ago, but they are taking seriously. The same process, if it is continued, then people will take.
Rāmeśvara: In other words, Prabhupāda sees that if we just continue the programs that he has introduced, just like we have already become members, similarly, many others will continue to become members in the future if we just continue the same programs which made us members, namely the chanting of the mantra, distributing of the books, distribution of the food.
Prabhupāda: And following the regulative principles.
Rāmeśvara: And very carefully following the training system that Prabhupāda has given us for becoming advanced spiritually. That involves what to eat, what not to eat, and how to avoid taking drugs, intoxicants. There are certain principles.
Bali-mardana: In other words, Prabhupāda is creating a class of purified persons, so they are located throughout the world, and if other persons come to them, then they become purified. Just like we have come to Prabhupāda and we have been purified, similarly his disciples are empowered to purify others because they have become pure. In that way it increases geometrically.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: It's an educational process. Just like someone coming from the street, you can't expect that he's given a degree in chemistry. He has to be trained up. So the educational process goes on and goes on, you can take. It expands naturally.
Bali-mardana: Just like in the beginning Prabhupāda was teaching Bhagavad-gītā personally to his disciples. But now in each one of his over a hundred temples throughout the world, his instructions are being taught. So he's expanded himself through his books and his temples. So anyone who enters into them, they are associating with him and becoming purified. So then more temples, more people come and become purified.
Interviewer: Are you prepared to die?
Prabhupāda: What is this question? (laughter)
Bali-mardana: Are you prepared to die?
Rāmeśvara: What does that mean?
Prabhupāda: You are not prepared? Why don't you answer?
Interviewer: Pardon me?
Prabhupāda: You are not prepared to die?
Interviewer: I haven't thought about it too much.
Prabhupāda: Why you are asking me, "Why"? Because you are afraid.
Interviewer: Pardon me?
Prabhupāda: Because you are afraid. You are not prepared to die.
Interviewer: Perhaps that's the reason.
Prabhupāda: Everyone will die. You prepare or not prepare, you'll die. It doesn't matter whether you are prepared or not. Death must be there.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: "Sure as death."
Rāmeśvara: Our philosophy, as Prabhupāda said in the beginning, is that spiritually there is no end. There is no such thing as death for the soul, self-realized soul. There is simply death of the body.
Prabhupāda: These things are discussed. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre (BG 2.20). (aside) Find out this verse. It is an educational movement, it is not a religious movement, sentiment. One requires to be educated; then he is completely on the spiritual platform.
Interviewer: Let me ask you one more question before he reads the passage.
Prabhupāda: No, first of all about death.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: The translation is, "For the soul there is never birth nor death, nor having once been does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain."
Prabhupāda: So there is no question of death for a spiritually realized person.
Interviewer: Is there any method for dissent within your movement? Or change?
Rāmeśvara: Reform, you mean?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Changing the teaching, perhaps, to fit the times?
Rāmeśvara: Just like in the church, as the public mood is changed, they have compromised on certain issues like abortion, homosexuality, priests getting married. So she wants to know if in our movement there will be this arrangement also. (laughter)
Interviewer: Well, I didn't necessarily mean the specifics.
Bali-mardana: In other words the purity is maintained by . . . the system is perfect to begin with, so it remains perfect by being unchanged. If the system is imperfect, you may always be questioning.
Prabhupāda: Yes. When the system is imperfect, then it has to be changed according to time and circumstance. But if the system is itself perfect, there is no question of . . . just like the perfect system: the sun rises from the eastern side. So for millions and trillions of years the system is going on because the system is perfect. It doesn't require change, neither you can change. You cannot ask the sun to rise from the western side. So if the soul is eternal, it does not die or it is slain after the body is finished, but that is eternal fact. It is . . . (indistinct) . . . in the past, present and future, everything.
Interviewer: How important is your physical environment to you? If this room is very lovely—it has light and space and air and flowers—is this important at all, or would it be the same to you to be sitting out on the street?
Prabhupāda: No, why shall I sit . . . I can sit down on the open space anywhere, on the bank of the river, on the bank of the ocean. There are so many open spaces. You can sit down there.
Bali-mardana: Her question was, "Is your physical place important, surroundings?"
Prabhupāda: Yes. So long I have got this physical body, I have to give some physical facility. Yukta-vairāgya. If I can write my books in a comfortable place, why shall I voluntarily go to a dark place? Material facilities, either dark place or lighted place, it is the same thing, but I'll have to accept which is favorable for me.
Rāmeśvara: In other words, our system is, as I explained out there, we are not averse to using material facilities in our service to Kṛṣṇa.
Bali-mardana: But we're not dependent upon them.
Rāmeśvara: We're not dependent on them, but if they are available, we must use them for Kṛṣṇa.
Bali-mardana: Prabhupāda has undergone great difficulties . . .
Prabhupāda: After all, anything, material or spiritual, that is Kṛṣṇa's arrangement.
Interviewer: That is what?
Rāmeśvara: Kṛṣṇa's arrangement, after all. Anything material or anything spiritual, it's His arrangement.
Prabhupāda: What we say material, that is not aloof from Kṛṣṇa. That is also Kṛṣṇa's energy. Just like darkness and light: both of them are related to the sun. Is it not? What is darkness? Absence of light. Is it not?
Interviewer: Can you tell me what this painting up here is?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Painting of the spiritual sky.
Interviewer: Painting of the spiritual sky?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yes, it's a picture of the entire creation. It shows many different . . . each of these spheres is a planet. And you may notice that on the right-hand bottom corner there is a darker area. That darker portion is known as the material world. By "world" we don't mean just mean this planet; we mean a composite of all of the material universes. But these only make up one small portion of the entire creation. Just for our understanding it's said to be about one fourth of the creation, the entire composite of all the material universes. The other three-fourths are made up of spiritual planets, which are self-illuminating. There's no need of sunshine or moon, light or electricity. (break) . . . and full of knowledge, whereas here life is very temporary and it's not always blissful, and there's a lot of ignorance also.
Interviewer: But you are living in a spiritual planet here?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Well, this planet is part of the material universe, but because our consciousness is Kṛṣṇa conscious, or God conscious, practically we are not affected very much by the conditions of the material world. Just like one of the conditions is fearfulness of death. But because we're . . .
Prabhupāda: I can give one example. Just like royal throne. The king is there, and a bug is there.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: On a royal throne there's a king . . .
Prabhupāda: And the bug.
Rāmeśvara: Also a mosquito may be there also, some bug.
Prabhupāda: But the mosquito is mosquito, and the king is king, although they are sitting on the same place.
Bali-mardana: Both sitting on the throne.
Rāmeśvara: So we're both . . . everyone is here on this planet. Some people are affected by the material conditions . . .
Prabhupāda: He's mosquito.
Rāmeśvara: He's the bug.
Prabhupāda: This is the best example. On the throne, both of them are sitting, but king's consciousness and mosquito's consciousness are different. It is not because they are on the same throne, therefore of the same consciousness.
Interviewer: (aside) I must bring attention to the time.
Prabhupāda: Mosquito's business is to bite, and king's business is to rule over.
Rāmeśvara: Another important thing to note about this painting is that the material world is said to be a reflection of the spiritual world. Just like here in this universe there are many planets, similarly there are many planets in the spiritual world. But it is a perverted reflection.
Prabhupāda: And besides that, even we are claiming to be very materially advanced, we do not know everything of the material world. Just like so big universe, material, what do we know about that? We have no knowledge practically. Even of the material world we have no sufficient knowledge, what to speak of the spiritual world.
Interviewer: Could you tell me something about your altar?
Prabhupāda: Just explain. This Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Lord Nityānanda, we are worshiping Him.
Rāmeśvara: The two figures on the throne of the altar represent an incarnation of God named Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityānanda, and They both appeared in India approximately five hundred years ago. They are incarnations of God, God Himself, who descends into this world. So those forms represent the Supreme Lord. Therefore we are worshiping Them.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: And the pictures . . .
Rāmeśvara: And below, on the step, are the pictures of the spiritual masters coming in the disciplic succession from Lord Caitanya when He appeared in this world five hundred years ago.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Lord Caitanya started this movement, chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa congregationally. It was predicted five thousand years ago in the Vedic scriptures that in this age, this present age, the Lord would appear and would teach the real religious process for this age, which is chanting of the holy names.
Rāmeśvara: This is very traditional in India, temple worship and the figures are on the altar. It's very, very traditional. It goes back many thousands of years.
Interviewer: Let me ask you one more question. Why are you returning to India? Had you ever considered staying here in the United States?
Prabhupāda: (chuckles) I have got branches everywhere. Just like I am coming here after traveling so many branches, similarly I am going to India.
Interviewer: So . . .
Bali-mardana: It's part of his travels.
Rāmeśvara: Prabhupāda has no fixed home.
Prabhupāda: I want to see that every center, things are going on nicely.
Interviewer: Oh, I see. I thought you were not returning to the United States.
Cyavana: He has traveled the world . . . sixteen times around?
Prabhupāda: Yes, sixteen times.
Cyavana: Sixteen times around in ten years. So this is a common thing for Prabhupāda to do.
Prabhupāda: Just to inspect things, how they are going on.
Rāmeśvara: Just to inspect things.
Interviewer: But you might . . . might you come back to the U.S.?
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. Why not?
Rāmeśvara: He might. But there are many projects in India now. That we can talk about.
Prabhupāda: Every years, almost six to seven months, I pass outside India.
Rāmeśvara: Wanda, do you have any more questions you'd like to ask?
Interviewer: I'm looking.
(pause) (indistinct conversation)
Rāmeśvara: We've taped the conversation, and we're going to transcribe it for you and send it to your office.
Interviewer: Oh, we would certainly appreciate it. (break)
Prabhupāda: They are on the same plane, but different consciousness.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Different consciousness. I don't think she was the senior editor that was supposed . . . (break) . . . someone like her that . . .
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: The first time they've ever heard such things, in any case. Even if they are religious by Western standards, they've never heard such things before, "I'm not this body." They've never heard it.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: No one has any knowledge at all about religion.
Prabhupāda: Mūḍha. That is the general statement, mūḍha.
Cyavana: They see our movement as being material.
Prabhupāda: Eh Cyavana. They see our movement as being material because they have no other conception than material.
Cyavana: They don't see the spiritual aspect at all.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: They have no other conception, Prabhupāda says. They can't recognize.
Prabhupāda: They have no other conception. Therefore they misunderstand.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: They can't recognize what spiritual knowledge is. Even in India nowadays they are confused also. They can't recognize.
Prabhupāda: Yes. In Caitanya-bhāgavata there is a word, vaiṣṇavera kriyā-mudrā vijñe nā bujhāya: "The activities of a Vaiṣṇava, even the most intelligent person of this world cannot understand." Vaiṣṇavera kriyā-mudrā vijñe nā bujhāya (Caitanya-bhāgavata).
Hari-śauri: I remember reading in the Kṛṣṇa book, you mention that to the ordinary man a Vaiṣṇava appears to be crazy.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Prabhupāda, if they are going to have another interview at one, I think perhaps you can take rest now. (end)