Recorded on April 18, 1973,
In Cheviot Hills Park, Los Angeles.
Śrīla Prabhupāda is accompanied by Dr. Thoudam Dāmodara Singh, Karandhara dāsa adhikārī, Brahmānanda Svāmī and other students.
Life on Other Planets
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Even on the sun and moon there are living entities. What is the opinion of the scientists?
Dr. Singh. They say there is no life there.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. That is nonsense. There is life there.
Dr. Singh. They say that there is no life on the moon because they did not find any there.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Why do they believe that? The moon planet is covered with dust, but within that dust the living entities can live. Every atmosphere is suitable for life - any atmosphere. Therefore the Vedas(1) describe the living entities as sarva-gataḥ, which means "existing in all circumstances." The living entity is not material. Although encaged in a material body, he is not material. But when we speak of different atmospheres, we refer to different material conditions.
Karandhara. They say that the moon's atmosphere is unsuitable for life, but all they can legitimately say is that it is unsuitable for life as they know it.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. The Vedas say that the living entity has no connection with material things. He cannot be burned, cut, dried up or moistened. This is discussed in Bhagavad-gītā.(2)
Dr. Singh. Scientists extend their knowledge about life on this planet, thinking that it must apply to life on other planets also.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yes. They are thinking foremost of their own selves. They are thinking limitedly, in terms of their own circumstances. This is what we call "Dr. Frog's philosophy. (Laughter.)
Once there was a frog in a well, and when a friend informed him of the existence of the Atlantic Ocean, he asked the friend, "Oh, what is this Atlantic Ocean?"
"It is a vast body of water," his friend replied.
"How vast? Is it twice the size of this well?"
"Oh, no-much, much larger," his friend replied.
"How much larger? Ten times the size?" In this way, the frog went on calculating. But what is the possibility or ever understanding the vastness of the great ocean in this way? Our faculties, our experience, and our powers of speculation are always limited. The speculations of the scientists only give rise to such frog philosophy.
Karandhara. The basis of what they call "scientific integrity" is that they talk only about what they can directly experience.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. You may talk about your experience, and I may talk about my experience. But why should I accept your experience? You may be a fool, so why should I also become a fool? You may be a frog, but suppose I am a whale. Why should I take your well as all in all? You have your method of acquiring scientific knowledge, and I have mine.
Dr. Singh. Because the scientists haven't detected any water on the surface of the moon, they've concluded that no life could survive there.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. They haven't seen the whole surface of the moon. Suppose someone were to come here from another planet, drop into the Arabian Desert and then return home. Could he come to a complete conclusion about the nature of the whole earth? His knowledge would not be complete.
Karandhara. They have a device that senses water. They say they've had it orbit the moon, and they've concluded that the moon has no water and therefore no life.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Even if, as on the sun, there is apparently no water, still there are living entities there. How does a cactus grow in the desert, apparently without water?
Karandhara. It gets water from the atmosphere.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yes, because the atmosphere contains all the elements needed to sustain life: earth, water, fire, air and ether. In anything material, all these elements are present. For example, in my body there is water, although you cannot see it. Similarly, you don't see fire in my body, yet my body is warm. Where does this warmth come from? You don't see any fire. Do you see any fire burning in my body? Then where does the warmth come from? What is the answer?
The Universe in the Atom
Śrīla Prabhupāda. All matter is a combination of five gross elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether) and three subtle elements (mind, intelligence and false ego).
Karandhara. According to the Vedic science, material energy begins with the false ego and then develops into the intelligence, then the mind and then the gross elements - ether, air, fire and so on. So the same basic ingredients are present in all matter. Is this right?
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yes. The creation of the material universe is like the growth of a great banyan tree(3) from a tiny seed. No one can see the tree within the seed, but all the necessary ingredients for the tree are there, including the required intelligence. Actually, everyone's body is simply a sample universe. Your body and my body are different universes, small universes. Therefore, all eight material elements are present within our bodies, just as they are within the whole universe. Similarly, an insect's body is another universe.
Karandhara. How about the atom?
Śrīla Prabhupāda. The same formula applies: all these constituents are within the atom. Aṇor aṇīyān mahato mahīyān (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 1.2.20). This means that whether something is extremely large or infinitesimal, it is still made of the same basic elements. This is true everywhere in the material world. Just as a woman's small watch has all the requisite machinery for its smooth functioning, so an ant has all the necessary brain substance to manage its affairs nicely. How is this possible? To answer this properly, you must minutely examine the brain tissues in the ant. But this you cannot do. Moreover, there are innumerable insects smaller than the ant. So there must be a mechanical arrangement for all this detailed activity, but scientists cannot discover it.
Relativity and Knowledge
Śrīla Prabhupāda. All living entities possess the required intelligence to execute four principles: eating, sleeping, sexual intercourse and defense. These four principles exist even in the atom. The only difference in the human being is that he has the extra intelligence with which to understand God. This is the difference. Āhāra-nidrā-bhaya-maithunaṁ ca samānam etat paśubhir narāṇām. Eating, sleeping, sex life and defense are to be found everywhere. You have seen trees growing. Wherever there is a knot, the bark does not go this way; it goes that way. (Śrīla Prabhupāda gestures to show that a tree's bark grows not over a knot, but around it.) The tree has intelligence: "If I go this way, I will be blocked, so I will go that way." But where are its eyes? How can it see? It has intelligence. That intelligence may not be as good as yours, but it is intelligence. Similarly, a child also has intelligence, though not as developed as his father's. In due course of time, when the child gets a body like that of his father, the child's intelligence will be fully developed and exhibited.
Dr. Singh. Then intelligence is relative.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yes. Everything is relative. You have your body, your duration of life, and your intelligence, and the ant has his. Both we and the ant live for one hundred years, but the length of our hundred - year life - span is relative to our bodies. Even Brahmā, the longest - living entity in this universe, lives for one hundred years. To us the ant's life-span may seem only a few days. In the same way, on other planets with atmospheres different from the earth's, there are life-forms suited to those conditions. But the scientists try to view everything according to the relative conditions of planet earth. This is nonsense. Why are they doing that? If the whole cosmic manifestation follows the law of relativity, how can the scientist say that the conditions of this planet must apply to life on other planets? The Vedas instruct us that knowledge must always be considered in terms of deśa-kāla-pātra. Deśa means "circumstances," kāla means "time," and pātra means "the object." We must understand everything by taking these three elements into consideration. For example, a fish is living very comfortably in the water, and we are shivering on the shore of the sea. This is because my deśa-kāla-pātra and the fish's deśa-kāla-pātra are different. But if we conclude that the sea gulls will also shiver in the water, that is nonsense; their deśa-kāla-pātra is again different. There are 8,400,000 different species of life in the material cosmic manifestation, and each species must adjust to circumstances differently. Even on this planet, you cannot go live comfortably in Alaska, although it is America. Similarly, the living entities enjoying life in Alaska do not come here.
Karandhara. Relativity, then, is based upon our individual situation.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yes. Therefore it is said that what is food for one is poison for another.
Brahmānanda Swami. Because scientists cannot survive on the moon, they think no one else can.
The 8.6-Billion-Year Day
Dr. Singh. The problem with the world is that practically everyone is thinking only in terms of his own circumstances - and that is nonsense.
Student. Someone who has never gone out of his village thinks that his village is the whole world.
Śrīla Prabhupāda. Yes. The frog is always thinking in terms relative to his well. He has no power to think otherwise. The ocean is great, but he is thinking of the ocean's greatness in terms relative to his own greatness. Similarly, God is great, but we are thinking of God in terms of relative greatness, greatness relative to our own. There are certain insects that are born at night, and they grow, bear offspring and die - all before daybreak. They never see the morning. So if they conclude that there is no morning, that is nonsense. In the same way, as soon as we hear from the śāstras (revealed scriptures) that Brahmā's duration of life is equivalent to millions of our years, we do not believe it. We say, "How can it be?" But Bhagavad-gītā (8.17) says, sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmaṇo viduḥ: "Four billion three hundred million earth years equal Brahmā's twelve hours." Even a leading Indian politician who was known as a great scholar of the Gītā could not accept this information. He said it is mental speculation. Such a rascal! Yet he is passing as an important scholar. This is the problem. Rascals and fools are passing as scholars, scientists and philosophers, and therefore the whole world is being misguided.