Philosophy Discussion on Plato
Hayagrīva: This is the additional notations on Plato. For Plato, the spiritual world is not a mental conception. For Plato, truth is the same as the ultimate reality, the ideal or the highest good, and it is from this that all manifestations and cognitions flow. Plato uses the word "idea" in order to denote a subject's primordial existence, or maybe it's archetype. I think that Kṛṣṇa uses the word bījam.
Hayagrīva: Bījam, seed, "I am the seed of all existence"?
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes.
Hayagrīva: For instance...
Prabhupāda: Bījāhaṁ sarva-bhūtānām. In Bhagavad-gītā it is said, mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate, that even the spiritual world and material world, everything is emanation from Him. The difference is, in the material everything is created and maintained then annihilated. In the spiritual world that is not the case. Just like material world this body, and spiritual world the soul. The body is created, maintained and annihilated; the soul is not. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre (BG 2.20). After the destruction of the body, the spirit soul is not destroyed. What happens to him? He takes another body. And one who is perfect, he goes directly to Kṛṣṇa, tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti (BG 4.9). So we can make this life... Because we are preparing for the next life, so why not take advantage of going back to home, back to Godhead? This is our mission. You have to prepare yourself either for going to the higher planetary system, yānti devān deva-vratāḥ... You can go to the higher planetary system, you can go lower, and you can go to Godhead. So they, therefore, if I have to change this body and go elsewhere, why not go to God? That is intelligence. Now what is the advantage? If you go to God, then you will have..., haven't got to change any more this body. That is eternal, blissful. Therefore our intelligence should be utilized how to go to back to home, back to Godhead. That is intelligence.
Hayagrīva: Now you said to Śyāmasundara that water existed before our mental conception of H2O. We conceive of H2O, we think of well, what is..., we begin to analyze water, and we say, well, it's two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen. But before we even began to think of this, water existed.
Hayagrīva: Therefore H2O is not the permanent essence or the primordial existence of water, but what Plato is saying is that everything that exists has its seed or essence or idea.
Prabhupāda: Seed is originally with Kṛṣṇa.
Hayagrīva: Yes. The seed is, then, Kṛṣṇa says bījam, "I am the seed..."
Prabhupāda: Bīja ahaṁ sarva-bhūtānām. Whatever is manifest, the original God had.
Hayagrīva: That... Is that the bījam is the unmanifest...
Hayagrīva: ...is the unmanifest essence of an object.
Hayagrīva: Uh-huh. That...
Prabhupāda: Just like the tree. Before manifestation it is a seed, but within that seed the whole tree is there.
Hayagrīva: Plato would call that the idea or the archetype.
Prabhupāda: That is not idea; that is fact.
Hayagrīva: Not idea, fact.
Prabhupāda: Fact. If you sow a seed of rose flower, it will come as rose tree. If you grow a seed of mango tree, it will come as mango tree. So it is not idea; it is fact. Simply it is in nascent state, but it is a fact. You cannot make your idea, "Now here is a seed, let it be mango tree." It will not make. If it is rose tree it will come rose tree. So your idea has no value. Seed means the nascent state.
Hayagrīva: The na..., the...
Prabhupāda: Nascent. What is called?
Prabhupāda: Yes, nascent. What is the...
Hayagrīva: (sic:) Nescent.
Prabhupāda: What is spelling?
Hayagrīva: (sic:) N-e-s-c-e-n-t. To be..., not yet developed.
Prabhupāda: Manifested, yes, yes.
Hayagrīva: Plato states that the material world is restricted to limitations of time and space, whereas the spiritual world transcends time and space.
Hayagrīva: He also states that time began with the creation of the material world. And how does this comply with the Vedic statement that time is eternal?
Prabhupāda: Yes, time is eternal. The present, past, present, the three features of time, it is relative. What is your past or your future, that is not past, future, of Brahmā. Brahmā lives for millions of years. So within millions of years I had many past, present and future. Present..., past, present and future is relative according to the person, but the time is eternal. That is the point. It is clear? The past, present, future is relative according to the body. Otherwise time is eternal. Time has no past, present, future.
Hari-śauri: That means like time is actually like presence?
Prabhupāda: No. Presence... It is always present. Say just like a small germ, he lives for three minutes. So his past, present, future within three minutes, while I am living. So I am not within his past, present and future. Therefore past, present, future is relative. My past, present, future is different from the past, present, future of a small germ. That is the idea.
Hayagrīva: Now, concerning the creation, Plato says that material nature, or prakṛti, has always existed in a chaotic state, but that God takes prakṛti and fashions it into form in order to create the universe. So in this sense God is the hand worker or the master designer. God is the creator of forms from pre-existent matter, and yet He does not create directly.
Hayagrīva: It's stated...
Prabhupāda: No. Just like I have created a machine to manufacture something. I am, I set on in motion, and the products is coming automatically, products are coming automatically.
Prabhupāda: Simply I have to set up the machine. Just like in a press, the machine has to be set up, and automatically you will see the magazines are coming all complete. The printing, the binding - everything complete; you simply take it now. There are many machines like that, that you set up the machine and simply stand and see how from the raw state it has come into the finishing state. So bījāhaṁ sarva-bhūtānām. He has created such a seed that you sow the seed and that the tree will come. This is God's machine. He has created the seed only. Now the seed of the universe is coming from Him. Yasyaika-niśvasita-kālam athāvalambya (Bs. 5.48). He is breathing, and thousands and millions of seeds of universes are coming, and they are becoming manifested. Same way, seed. And when He is inhaling, everything is finished. So this manifestation and not manifestation is depending on His breathing process. When He is exhaling you see the manifestation; when He is inhaling, everything is finished. This is going on. So the cause of creation and annihilation is His breathing. So He is breathing always, but the process of creation and annihilation is going on. But if you think, "Kṛṣṇa is breathing like me," then it is finished; your knowledge is finished. Avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam (BG 9.11). "Because I am speaking to these rascal like a human being, they are thinking Me as one of them." This is..., they are mūḍha. They are misled. As soon as he thinks Kṛṣṇa is, "Ah, He is a person like me. He is born in Mathurā, I have seen. How He becomes God?" Brahmā was bewildered. "This boy, this cowherd boy is accepted as God. Let me test." Indra was misled. Muhyanti yat sūrayoḥ. Even big, big demigods, they are also bewildered. So Kṛṣṇa answered them. Brahmā had stolen all His calves and cows and friends, and when he came to see what He is doing, they were the same. He has expanded Himself. He is surprised. "Well I have actually taken His calves and cows. They are sleeping under my spell." Then he answered, "Yes, He is God." Then he is praying there, in the picture.
Hayagrīva: Plato states that every object in the universe is made with some purpose, and its ideal goal is to move toward the ideal in which it's archetype or essence resides. So according to the Vedic version, Kṛṣṇa is the all-attractive object of the universe; therefore all things must be moving toward Him. How is it the jīva apparently turns from Kṛṣṇa to participate in the world of birth and death?
Prabhupāda: That is māyā. That is māyā, illusion. He should not have deviated, but out of the influence of māyā he is doing that and he is suffering. Therefore Kṛṣṇa says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekam (BG 18.66). "You stop this plan-making. You simply surrender unto Me and do what I say, then you are happy." That is practical.
Hayagrīva: Here is a famous quotation from Plato. He says, "God put intelligence in the soul and the soul in the body that He," that is God, "might be the creator of a work which was by nature best."
Prabhupāda: We say that the living entity is part and parcel of God, mamaivāṁśa. Under the circumstances he has got almost all the qualities of God, but partially, because God is great and we are minute. So even though we have got all the qualities of God - not all, certain percentage, say seventy-eight percent - in minute quantity. Just like God has creative power, we have got also creative power. We have created the 747 flying machine. All right, get credit for that, but you cannot create a flying ball like sun floating in the sky. That is difference between God and me. You can take credit that you are keeping suspension in the air a big machine, 747, but it is not in your power that you can float millions and millions of planets floating in the air. That is not possible. Therefore God is great; I am small. That is real Kṛṣṇa consciousness. And as soon as he says, "I am as good or as great as God," then He is a rascal. That is Māyāvādī. He is in māyā. Just like one man in India, he is showing some jugglery. He makes like this and creates some gold, a little gold, but foolish people are enamored. "Ah, he is God." But we are not enamored, but we know that he may create a small piece of gold, but God has created many millions of gold mines. So if creation of gold is the standard of becoming God, then why shall we accept this tiny man as God, who has created the mines, not only one mine, in this planet there are hundreds and thousands of gold mines and there are so many planets. There are, there is, I was reading this, Trikūṭa, Trikūṭa mountain, eight thousand miles high, eight thousand miles wide and long, and it has got three big, big peaks. One is of iron, one is of silver, and one is of gold. So the mountain, eight thousand miles high, peak gold, silver. So who can manufacture such gold? You cannot manufacture gold. That is not possible. So even you may so-called manufacture that, can you manufacture the peak of gold?
Hayagrīva: No. (laughs) It tarnishes.
Hayagrīva: It tarnishes in time. It doesn't remain.
Prabhupāda: One king, by the grace of Lord Śiva, he got information in the Himalaya some spot of gold, so he hugely manufactured gold utensils. And the yajña, everything is gold, and the brāhmaṇas are given gold plates and gold. And they, in those days brāhmaṇas are not greedy, so they thought, "Who carries this weight? Throw it. It is bothersome." The king thought that "I am giving a very valuable, contributing charity," but they thought that "What is this utensils? I have to carry this. Throw it." So they are stacked up. So when Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira finished his whole treasury on account of the war and he wanted to perform yajña, he asked Arjuna, "You bring some money somewhere." So Arjuna was little perplexed. Kṛṣṇa gave him this information: "You go there. There is stack of gold utensils you can bring." So when he brought it, his name was Dhanañjaya, "conquering over wealth." There are so many gold peaks, gold mines. Who cares for that? Those who are materialistic person, they will give some man, and those who are Kṛṣṇa conscious, they will see, "What I have to do with all gold? I require some money for making propagation. Otherwise what is the use of stacking gold? There is no use."
Hayagrīva: Plato believes that at death there is an end of the sensory life of the individual - his thoughts, his perceptions and experiences - and the individual then returns to the ideal world from which he came.
Prabhupāda: That means he believes in eternity. This loss of senses, that is we also accept that there are three stages: jāgrati, awakening, and sleeping and deep sleeping. So deep sleeping means unconsciousness. So when a man dies from awakening state, he enters into the dreaming state and then enters into the deep sleeping state. So transmigration of the soul means he gives up this gross body, and the subtle body, mind, intelligence carries him to the another body, and in another body, unless the body is prepared properly, he lives in deep sleep. And when the body is prepared at seven months for human being, then he comes to consciousness. He feels, "Oh, why I am put into this packed-up status." If he is pious he feels very uncomfortable. He prays to God - these things are described - that "Kindly excuse me from this awkward position. Now this time I shall become a devotee." This is position. The soul is immortal, but still he enters into different stages of life. Then when he comes out, the same different stages of body continues. In childhood he is something different from his boyhood; boyhood something different from youthhood; and he is the same, but he is passing through different... That is called evolution. So when he comes to the perfect stage of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then his life is successful. Just like a flower, in the bud stage, in the fructified stage, in the blooming stage, and when it is fully bloomed it looks very nice, beautiful. Similarly, when by gradual development when you come to the stage of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then our whole beauty is revealed.
Hayagrīva: He also stressed the process of remembering. It's called the, his, Plato's doctrine of recollection. And he says you can ask a boy, who may be ignorant of a subject, you can elicit answers from him, and this answers, he may give you the right answers, and this would suggest that he acquired this knowledge in a previous existence.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Therefore we find a student in school is very intelligent and less intelligent. Otherwise both of them of the same age, why one is more intelligent, he grasps the matter very quickly, and why the other is not so intelligent? This is everything that putra-janma dṛḍhaṁ vidyā putra-janma dṛḍhaṁ dhanam. (indistinct) The two things especially, knowledge, education and money, they are earned in the previous birth, not that all of a sudden one has become rich, all of a sudden one has become very learned man. No. It is continuous. So if one man is extraordinarily learned, it is to be understood that it is the result of his previous culture. Similarly, if anyone is extraordinarily rich, it is to be understood it is due to his past pious activities. Janmaiśvarya-śruta-śrī (SB 1.8.26), these four things are achieved on account of previous pious activities: good birth, good opulence, aiśvarya, and good education, and good beauty. These are the results of pious, good activities. So you can see practically in your country between the black and white. The white men are more advanced in everything, and the black man, although he has got the same facilities, they are in inferior position. Why? It is putra-janma dṛḍham. That is the proof of past life. But so far we are concerned, we are not concerned about one black man or white man. Both of them are in the clutches of māyā. We want to educate all of them to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and they have got equal opportunity, it is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, kirāta-hūṇāndhra-pulinda-pulkaśā ābhīra-śumbhā yavanāḥ (SB 2.4.18). Never mind what is his body, if he is willing to become trained to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, that is the platform of the soul, that we can do.
Hayagrīva: Now for Plato, perfect happiness is in attempting to become godlike.
Hayagrīva: Perfect happiness is in attempting to become godlike.
Hayagrīva: Godlike, godly.
Prabhupāda: Godly, yes.
Hayagrīva: Insofar as man resembles God, he is ethical. Evil forces within man combat his efforts to attain this ultimate goal. Plato is not a determinist. He emphasized freedom of the will and insisted that evil acts are due to man's failure to live up to his responsibility. They do not come from God, who is all-good.
Prabhupāda: Everything comes from God, but we have to make our choice. This ideal example: that the university comes from the government and the prison house also comes from the government, but the prison house is meant for the criminal and the university is meant for the highly learned scholar. The government spends money in both the departments to maintain it; therefore, so far government's recognition is concerned, it has to be maintained. But it is we, we make our selection whether go to the prison house or go to the university. That is, that little independence is there in every human being. We have to make our choice.
Hayagrīva: He says that perfection within the world of the senses can never be attained...
Hayagrīva: ...and Kṛṣṇa says something like that, um...
Prabhupāda: Yes, that Kṛṣṇa says...
Hayagrīva: "Imperfections..., there will always be imperfections like smoke and fire," something like that.
Prabhupāda: Yes, that, uh, He says that everything has got some defect, material. Even the fire, so powerful, so fire has also some defect: the smoke. So apart from that imperfection, if we execute our prescribed duties exactly in the way as it is enjoined in the śāstra, that even there is some defect, still we can get perfection. Just like Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is giving chance, everyone, to become perfect by his own work. It doesn't matter brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or what means according to Vedic civilization, brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra. So brāhmaṇa is giving knowledge, kṣatriya is giving protection, vaiśya is giving food, and śūdra is general help to everyone. So if the whole thing is done under the direction of the brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya executes the orders of the brāhmaṇa, and the vaiśyas supply food - because food is required, that is materially required - then everything is perfect. (break) (aside with Hari-śauri regarding tape recorder)
Hayagrīva: All right, this is... Later in The Republic, in the allegory of the cave, we mentioned before, Socrates says, "In the world of knowledge, the last thing to be perceived, and only with great difficulty, is the essential form of goodness. Once it is perceived, the conclusion must follow that for all things, this is the cause of whatever is right and good. In the visible world it gives birth to light and to the Lord of light while it is itself sovereign in the intelligible world and the parent of the intelligible world and the parent of intelligence and truth. Without having had a vision of this Form," he uses capital "F," Form, "no one can act with wisdom either in his own life or in matters of state." And here, he, Socrates mentions form but he doesn't mention personality. He mentions the form of goodness, but through intellection, or jñāna, how is it possible to perceive the form of God or the form of goodness? What could he possibly mean by...
Prabhupāda: That is from Vedic same. As soon as there is instruction there is form. As Kṛṣṇa is giving instruction, He is always saying "I," "you," like that, it is personal. He says Arjuna, "You," and He says Himself, "I." So Arjuna is also form and Kṛṣṇa is also form, and Kṛṣṇa also says that "Both you, Me, and all these living entities, kings and soldiers who are assembled here, they existed in the past, they are existing now, and they will continue to exist." So you can understand that "In the present I am in form, so I existed in the past in form and I shall continue to exist in the future as form. So where is formless?" From my present position I can understand my past and future. So Kṛṣṇa says that we existed in the past. So we existing now, now I mean to say, continuing. He never said that "In the past we were formless; now we have got form." This is not stated there. Rather, He condemns, that avyaktaṁ vyaktim āpannam manyante mām abuddhayaḥ (BG 7.24): "In the past I was formless, impersonal, and now I am a person," that is Māyāvādī thought, that when God takes the form, He takes the form of māyā. So they have been condemned as abuddhayaḥ, no intelligence. Avyaktaṁ vyaktiṁ āpannaṁ manyante mām abuddhayaḥ (BG 7.24). Those who have less intelligence, they think like that, that "God was formerly formless, now He is talking in form, that means He has accepted the body of māyā." This is called Māyāvāda philosophy.
Hayagrīva: Concerning education, he says, "We must conclude that education is not what it is said to be by some who profess to put knowledge into a soul which does not possess it, as if they can put sight into blind eyes. On the contrary, our own account signifies that the soul of every man does possess the power of learning the truth and the organ to see it with, and that just as one might have to turn the whole body around in order that the eye should see light instead of darkness, so the entire soul must be turned away from this changing world until its eye can bear to contemplate reality and that supreme splendor which we have called good. Hence there may well be an art whose aim would be to effect this very thing, the conversion of the soul, in the readiest way, not to put the power of sight into the soul's eye, which already has it, but to insure that instead of looking in the wrong direction, it is turned the way it ought to be.
Prabhupāda: That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.
Hayagrīva: Yes. It's that art, he says.
Prabhupāda: It is an art, that our aim of life by these sensually affected senses... At the present moment we are sensually affected. I want to eat something which is very palatable, I eat it. I do not care whether this palatable eating will mislead me or lead me to the proper way. Therefore we are making this propaganda. So your eating process is not stopped. You eat, but don't eat meat, you eat Kṛṣṇa prasādam. So if we agree to this process, then gradually we become purified by Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Our aim, objective, is attained. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Don't stop eating. No sensual activities are stopped. The eyes, in the material way, the eyes want to see very beautiful objective. We say, "Yes, you see the beautiful Kṛṣṇa. You taste Kṛṣṇa prasādam." Everything is there; simply we purify. Paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate (BG 2.59). If this process is accepted, then when he sees real beauty, real food, real, then he becomes satisfied. That is wanted.
Hayagrīva: Well, one last point is that neither Socrates, Plato or Aristotle ever mentions service to God; rather, they always speak of contemplation of God's reality or the Supreme Splendor. It's always contemplation, meditation. Is this typical of the jñānī? Or... There's no mention of service.
Prabhupāda: No, this is the process of knowing God. They are partially helpful to know God as He is, but when he actually comes to know God, he sees that "He is the great and I am the small." So the business of the small is to serve the great. That is nature's way. We practically see in our daily life, because you are small you are going to serve a big factory. Otherwise you have no other way. So everyone is serving, but when he realizes that "I am serving. I am not the master," that is the position actually. Ask anybody in this world whether he is master or serving, the conclusion will be that he is serving. His natural position is to serve. So if one hasn't got a family to serve, he keeps a dozen of dog to serve. That is going on, and especially in the Western countries we see that at the old age, when he has no children, so he keeps a dog or two or three pets to serve. So the serving position is already there, and when the servant wants to become master, that is māyā. Because this word māyā means actually he is serving and he is thinking that he is master. That is māyā. Māyā means what is not fact. So by meditation, when he actually becomes a realized soul, he will understand that "Oh, I am servant. So why I am serving māyā? Let me serve Kṛṣṇa." That is perfection. So if his guide, spiritual master, engages him from the very beginning to serve God, then he becomes quickly perfect, because he is servant and he has to serve Kṛṣṇa. That is his perfection. He is falsely thinking that he is master. That is māyā. Here also they are simply serving. Just like President Nixon. He thought himself, "I am the master of America." But actually he is not. The master is the public. As soon as the public wanted "You come down immediately," he had to do that. So if the president of big state, he is under the false impression that although he is serving he is thinking master, then what to speak of others? Everyone is serving, but he is thinking master. So perfect knowledge is there that when he comes to the platform that "God is the supreme master, He is great, and we are servant." That is perfection of life.
Hayagrīva: In his Politics, Plato changes his mind later in life. In the beginning he believed that in an ideal state the leaders should possess nothing of their own, neither property nor family. He felt that they must live together in a community where wives and children are held in common to guard against corruption, bribery and nepotism in government. He felt that the elite philosophers should mate with women of high qualities in order to produce the best children for positions of responsibility. Now, how does this view of common wives and children correspond to the Vedic version?
Prabhupāda: Yes, Vedic civilization is that, that putrārthe kriyate bhāryā. A man should accept a wife for putra, for son. Why son? Putra-piṇḍa-prayojanam: a putra should be responsible for offering piṇḍa, so that after death, even by mistake or somehow or other I am in a wrong position, by the piṇḍa I am elevated. This is idea. So marriage is for having good son, that's a fact, who will deliver me even if I am in the hell. Therefore the śraddhā ceremony in there. So even the father is in hell, by this śraddhā ceremony he will be delivered. This is the idea. So unless one has got son, nobody is going to offer him śraddhā oblation, and even one may be very benevolent, but it is not expected. But it is the duty of the son, as it is said, putra. Pu means there is a hell pundama (?). The hell's name is pundama, pun. So I mean, pu and tra, tra means one who delivers. If by chance I am put into pundama naraka trayate, one who delivers me from that hellish condition of life, he is putra, and for this kind of putra I accept a wife, not for my sex enjoyment. And it is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā, one who uses his sex for these religious activities, that "I shall get good father, a good son who can deliver me," then marriage is required. Otherwise it is useless. Dharmāviruddho kāmo 'smi. Kṛṣṇa says, "Sex life which is not against religious principle, that is I am." And sex life which is, which has no religious principle, that is sense gratification leading one to hell. So this theory: that we should marry, we should have sex life for creating good progeny. And my Guru Mahārāja used to say - he was a sannyāsī brahmacārī - but he said that "If I could produce really Kṛṣṇa conscious children, I can use hundred times sex life. Otherwise why shall I use my sex for cat, producing cats and dog?" He has said like that. So the śāstra also says, pitā na sa syāt janani na sa syāt: the father's, mother's duty is how to rescue their children from the cycle of birth and death. That is real father and mother. Otherwise cats and dogs, they are also father and mother. That is not wanted. Vedic culture is different. Produce children for such education and such accomplishment that he can be saved from the cycle of birth and death, and the putra should be such qualified that even his father goes to the hellish condition of pundama, he will deliver him. That is the idea of becoming father and family.
Hayagrīva: He believed that the best form of government is an enlightened monarchy, enlightened monarchy.
Prabhupāda: Yes, yes. That is we say, rājarṣi, rājarṣi. Imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ (BG 4.2). Rājarṣi means king, at the same time saintly.
Prabhupāda: That is idea. He has taken these ideas from the Vedic literature.
Hayagrīva: When this form degenerates, it becomes a tyranny.
Hayagrīva: When it degenerates.
Hayagrīva: The second best form is an aristocracy, and when it deteriorates it becomes an oligarchy, rule of corrupt men. And he considered democracy to be one of the worst forms of government...
Prabhupāda: Yes, that is my, I have said...
Hayagrīva: ...for when it deteriorates, it degenerates into mob rule.
Prabhupāda: Yes, yes, that's a fact, very good. But the best thing is monarchy, because if the monarch is rājarṣi, he is not only king... That is necessary. Kṛṣṇa wants that, that the government should be ruled; therefore we praise, offer so much respect to Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, Mahārāja Parīkṣit and Lord Rāmacandra, how to become an ideal king. He is Personality of Godhead. He showed how to become Rāma-rājya. So this is very good because it is not expensive. One man is maintained by the state very nicely, and nowadays these democracies' mob rule means instead of one king there are 300,000 kings in a state, and they are looting the hard-earned money by income tax, and everything is so polluted. So the condemnation of democracy is supported by us. It is mob rule. It has no value.
Hayagrīva: Socrates and Plato.
Prabhupāda: That's all right.
Hayagrīva: They had city states that were, uh...
Hayagrīva: ...democracy. They were, they were so small that everyone could get together.
Prabhupāda: Pañcayat, in India it was pañcayat. So each man of the village, it is to reduce the responsibility of the state if that small cases, the pañcayat, some of the important men of the village they would sit together, and whatever they will decide, that the state will accept, court will accept. So minimize the responsibility of the court in deciding several cases. So in the India the Pañcayat system is there.
Hayagrīva: The what?
Prabhupāda: Pañca, Pañcayat means...
Prabhupāda: Pañca means five, five selected men from the village sit down and decide the case. That will be accepted by the government.
Hayagrīva: Greece, Greece was not a country as such; it was composed of small towns or cities, and Athens was...
Hayagrīva: ...Athens was the biggest, and everyone got together and the wisest men spoke, and they voted on their decisions.
Prabhupāda: That is the beginning of Parliament.
Prabhupāda: So in monarchy also there was council of learned men, brāhmaṇas, great saintly persons. Even Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was guided like that. Lord Rāmacandra was guided. That is the system. Even monarchy was there, still he was advised by learned scholars and brāhmaṇas and saintly persons, and he would do according to their decision. And Vena Mahārāja, he was not ruling. The brāhmaṇas came, advised him, "My dear King, you are not doing nicely. You should do like this." And when he refused, then he was killed, and his son Prthu Mahārāja was give charge. So-called democracy is ludicrous, that's a fact. All fools and rascals bribing, and this way and that way they have taken post, and when they go to the post, simply squander money, that's all. Just they take bribes from big, big men, that "I will give you, repay you ten times, you give me money."
Hari-śauri: The system of continuously changing the government every four years means that...
Prabhupāda: Every four days!
Devotee: For four years that "I'll take advantage as much as possible for my personal gain, and then retire rich."
Prabhupāda: It is very, a very dangerous position, this so-called democracy. Nobody cares for it. So sometimes this emergency is required, but if it is used again for personal aggrandizement, then it is also. Actually, the perfection of government is monarchy, and the monarchy, monarch should be ideal rājarṣi. That is the Indian's, Vedic system. The Vedic system was there everywhere; therefore still there are monarchs. But they are simply maintaining the monarchy, but actually monarch has no power.
Hayagrīva: I think in the history of the West all the monarchs have been ogres except maybe with the exception of Constantine, who was a Christian monarch, and I think that was the only one.
Hayagrīva: But it was not...
Prabhupāda: Monarch, that is the idea, rājarṣi. Rāja and ṛṣi. He is in the position of rāja, but he is actually a great sage. That is required. Then everything will be perfect. Rājarṣayo viduḥ, Kṛṣṇa says. And if the monarch, the chief man in the state, he understands Bhagavad-gītā, then everything will be immediately perfect. Everything, immediate. Formerly the kings were (indistinct). Imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ (BG 4.2), it clearly stated. But the, there is no monarchy, and all loafer class they are taking charge of government. They do not know. Why they will know it? They have gone there for getting some money. "I am now in position, get that much money (indistinct)." They know, "After five years I will be nowhere, so let me accumulate some money while I am on the ministerial post." This is going on. Who cares for the good of the citizen? If we discuss these things, it will be great criticism, but this is the position. (end)