Interview and Conversation
July 8, 1976, Washington, D.C.
Vrsakapi: She reports on a religious, er... And this is Channel 4, TV. (setting up cameras, etc.)
Interviewer: We'd like to get a, first of all a general statement from you about the state of the world and the state of your movement in it...
Interviewer: ...at this time.
Prabhupada: This is a spiritual movement, and at the present moment people are more interested with material improvement, but our real interest is... Not only our, every human being's interest should be for spiritual upliftment. Just like our body is there, and within the body I am the spirit soul, also I am there. So we are taking care of the body but not of the spirit soul. So the nature's law is that a spirit soul, changing in different position of the body, as we experience in this life, from childhood to boyhood, boyhood to youthhood, similarly, after giving up this body, we'll have to accept another body, and there are 8,400,000 different forms of body. We do not know what kind of body we are going to accept according to our activities and mentality. At the time of death the mentality will ascertain what kind of body we are going to get next. So these things are completely not discussed, neither they have any knowledge. So at the present moment the human civilization is a very risky civilization, so in order to save them from this state of ignorance, this Krsna consciousness movement is essential. It is not a sectarian religious movement, faith or sentiment. It is actually scientific movement. Here are many scientists present. They are also taking very seriously about this movement. So we invite all important men to contact us and try to understand the basic principle of this movement, how to elevate the human society to the proper standard of life and become peaceful in this life as well as in the next life.
Interviewer: Do you think mankind is making some improvement?
Prabhupada: No. Materially they may be doing some improvement, but that is not spiritually important. Just like I give sometimes this example: just like a dog, animal, is jumping with four legs on the street, and we are going fast with four wheels, so that does not make any difference. The difference is the dog cannot understand about his spiritual identity. A man can understand if he's properly trained up. If the man is denied that facility, then he remains in the ignorance of an animal like cats and dogs.
Janice Johnson: I'd like to know, this is your first visit to Washington? Is that right?
Janice Johnson: Who have you visited with while you've been here? Have you stayed here, or have you gone out and...?
Prabhupada: Yes, I am in the Western country for the last ten years, sometimes Europe, sometimes America. I have got more than one hundred temples all over the world, so I go and visit and instruct my disciples about this movement.
Janice Johnson: But you indicated in..., before you came here, that you were interested in meeting some leaders in the city. Have you met any of them?
Prabhupada: No. I have no interest with the political leaders because it is not a political movement. It is spiritual movement.
Janice Johnson: Another question I have is, if materialism is not so important as the...
Prabhupada: No, it is important, but not at the sacrifice of spiritual understanding.
Janice Johnson: Well, what I was interested in is why is it necessary to live in such lavish situation as is shown here?
Prabhupada: Lavish? What do you mean by lavish?
Janice Johnson: Well, I think this is a rather elegant, lavish kind of room.
Prabhupada: Yes. So it is for you, because you cannot sit down cross-legged, we have arranged this couch for you. (laughter) If it is not lavishly decorated, you'll refuse to come here.
Janice Johnson: Why is it necessary to live in such comfort as this for the spiritual...?
Prabhupada: No, we can live on the street, but you cannot come and see on the street. For you we have arranged. That is the... We can live underneath a tree. That is a... But that does not make any difference. Our point is that you may live materially comfortably—there is no harm—but if you forget your spiritual identity, then you'll remain like animal. Just like sometimes a cat or dog is also allowed to sit on the couch, but that does not mean he has become a human being. He remains a cat and dog because the consciousness is lacking of a human being. In this seat there may be some bugs. So the bug is also living on this couch, but he has no understanding.
Interviewer: What is your opinion of what this movement should be doing in terms of world activities and world affairs that it isn't doing now? Are there some new areas that you may try to influence?
Prabhupada: No, we are pushing on this movement all over the world. It is not that this particular place is important, but our interest is that Western people... They are so intelligent. They are very systematically making improvement in material condition of life. They should know also that spiritual life is more important than material life. Because, for example, we are combination of matter and spirit. So long the spirit soul is there, our body is very important. Otherwise, without spirit, the body has no importance. Everyone can understand. Similarly, all this material advancement of civilization is very good, provided there is spiritual understanding also. Otherwise it is decoration of the dead body. A dead body decorated has no value, but when there is life, then the body is valuable. So material advancement of material civilization means decoration of the dead body. But when there is spiritual understanding, then there is importance of everything.
Janice Johnson: Why is it that the Hare Krsna movement has in the last couple of years attempted to make itself a little bit more respectable in the public's eyes by having members wear street clothes and wigs and so forth, while they are soliciting?
Prabhupada: By nature it is very important movement. Therefore those who are intelligent, they are taking serious interest. We have got so many books. Perhaps you have seen. They are being accepted by the learned circle all over the world. University, colleges, professors, they are reading our books, placing standing order, and we have got relationship, especially with educated circle. They are trying to understand the importance of this movement.
Janice Johnson: I don't quite understand that in terms of my question about wearing street clothes and wigs instead of saffron robes and chanting and so forth.
Hari-sauri: She's pointing out that in recent years we've changed our dressing style while we're on the street selling books.
Prabhupada: Dress? Dress is not important. Practically, as sannyasi, brahmacari, we dress with saffron cloth, but sometimes you do not like, but we have to do business with you; therefore we change. What can be done? "Necessity has no law."
Janice Johnson: I'm also interested in... You all have moved your school out of Texas. Is that correct?
Prabhupada: Gurukula school, yes.
Janice Johnson: Why was that done?
Prabhupada: Why? Gurukula school? We are training children from the very beginning of life to understand spiritual importance of life.
Prabhupada: We have... No, we have got there.
Pusta Krsna: We have, have got our school there. We have about seven or eight schools now all throughout America. We've actually expanded.
Janice Johnson: But wasn't that school moved to India?
Prabhupada: No, it is maintained, not in large scale, but in small scale.
Janice Johnson: Seven or eight schools around the U.S.? Where are they?
Interviewer: How many members do you now have? How many followers?
Interviewer: Ten thousand? That is in this country or is that...?
Pusta Krsna: Disciples. Hundreds of thousands, millions throughout the world, are reading these books, adopting some of these principles at least.
Prabhupada: I say it is not... Don't compare with religion. It is a educational movement. One should understand his spiritual identity.
Janice Johnson: I think I'm through, thank you.
Interviewer: We're through also, thank you.
Rupanuga: You made some nice points during the interview, Srila Prabhupada. They wanted to know why we were doing things so elaborately, and you said, "This is for you, so that you will come here. We can live anywhere, under a tree, but if we were living under a tree you would not come. So this couch is for you to sit down because you can't sit down cross-legged." They appreciated.
Prabhupada: Actually that is the fact. We can live any condition. What he'll do?
Svarupa Damodara: The first Back to Godhead copy of the magazine that you published from Calcutta in 1944. We found in the library.
Prabhupada: Oh, '44 edition is here?
Prabhupada: How they collected?
Svarupa Damodara: Oh, it has kept very nicely. Paper was... Quality was very good, printing and everything, from India, thinking... (laughs)
Prabhupada: There are some mistakes also.
Prabhupada: That is India's special...
Prabhupada: ...qualification. It was printed in the best place of Calcutta; still, they committed mistake. Sarasvati Press. That is the best publisher in Bengal.
Prabhupada: Tata Spingh(?) was the agent for selling.
Prabhupada: So it was first published in 1944.
Prabhupada: It was published in the first-class place, and the first-class bookseller who was selling this, Tata Spingh(?), that was the most important bookseller in Calcutta.
Prabhupada: No, they were doing everything. They might have sent to America like that.
Svarupa Damodara: We saw lots of Srila Prabhupada's books, recent books, in that library. Library of Congress has those books.
Prabhupada: Inside, inside the... Have you got the photograph of inside?
Prabhupada: Yes. Yes.
Svarupa Damodara: And... This is not the copy that I wanted. Then Bhaktivinoda. (aside:) That is wrong, I think.
Prabhupada: So 1944, and it is '76. Thirty-two years?
Prabhupada: How did you get the information?
Svarupa Damodara: In the card catalogue. I think Pradyumna found it. Pradyumna, three, four, five of us went there to see the library. Actually we went to discuss that Surya-siddhanta and some of the astronomical calculations. We wanted to check in the library, but they didn't have anything. We found some.
Svarupa Damodara: I found one Bhagavata-purana, it was printed in sometime 1901. Their summary of Bhagavatam, they also described the planetary system, earth first, then... No. Yes, earth, then sun, then moon, like that, in circles.
Prabhupada: They are... Just see. Their all activities are in Arizona. That's all. That is disclosed yesterday. He has...
Prabhupada: All bogus propaganda. They have now disclosed the same psychology, "No, I am not stealing." "Who is there in the room?" "No, no, I am not stealing." Where is the question of...? If somebody asks "Are you stealing," then this answer is... If somebody is asking, "Who is in that room?" he immediately answers, "No, no, I am not stealing."
Prabhupada: And this is going on. What concern was about Arizona? This is psychology. They have no business with Arizona, but they are putting the Arizona. That means it was. Everything was in Arizona. What benefit people will get by such information? And they are spending so much money. If it is like Arizona cave, then Arizona there are living entities. Why not there? Hmm? What is the answer?
Rupanuga: They say it is similar, but not enough to have life.
Prabhupada: No, that is not science. If the some of them are similar, then everything must be similar. That is nature's law. Hmm? What the scientists say?
Hari-sauri: There was one report. They said there may be some bacteria there. They thought there was a possibility of bacteria.
Madhava: They did not see anything grow. In the winter everything dies, everything becomes brown, and in the spring everything becomes green. In these other planets they don't see anything like that, changes.
Prabhupada: Their seeing is not perfect. Now it is up to you scientists to answer all these. What is this picture?
Svarupa Damodara: The Radha-ramana Prabhu from Atlanta temple, I requested him to complete this after Prabhupada's instruction. You were saying yesterday, so I just wanted to show to Prabhupada to see how...
Prabhupada: What is this?
Pusta Krsna: They sent one sample, Bhaktivedanta Institute, the emblem. And they had wanted to include some Sanskrit slogan, perhaps, and you'd mentioned athato brahma jijnasa, so they have done that and decorated little bit.
Prabhupada: Yes, you can do. Where is wrong? Or you can...
Svarupa Damodara: And this is another one that, the similar style, but here with devotees inside. Pusta Krsna Maharaja wrote me that...
Pusta Krsna: This is my opinion, that because it is Bhaktivedanta Institute, it should have the picture of the founder, Bhaktivedanta. Especially also because not only children will be instructed, but you'll have adults also I'm presuming. The picture appears to be very young people.
Rupanuga: I was thinking that to show the devotees dressed in the sikhas and everything may not be so important. That will make us some Indian, Hindu...
Prabhupada: Yes. This is...
Rupanuga: We're always preaching to everyone. This is rough sketch, but we can make it very colorful, make nice color, detail.
Svarupa Damodara: Also, Tamala Krsna Maharaja sent me a letter yesterday, asking a little about Bhaktivedanta Institute, what plans, things like that.
Prabhupada: So, we are going tomorrow. You are also coming?
Prabhupada: That's nice.
Svarupa Damodara: Rupanuga, we should also... What we've been thinking was at the beginning we would try to finish this book as part of the Institute's program, and plus that journal we discussed yesterday with Ravindra Svarupa as the, er... And that will be our initial phase, and our feeling is that, now, this Institute, at the beginning, some sort of research institute that we are doing right now, writing something, collecting some information from other sources. So some sort of... Looks to me like a research type... It is research oriented.
Rupanuga: Until we finish the book and are able to establish a teaching situation. Right now our men are really concerned with finishing so we have some good propaganda.
Prabhupada: No, one thing is, research means again that mental speculation.
Prabhupada: So they have... People will understand that it is another type of mental speculation. But ours is not that. We take it as Absolute Truth. So how to convince them?
Rupanuga: We were not going to advertise ourselves as a research institute.
Prabhupada: Research means that it is not known; you are trying to find out. But our, Krsna's position is not. It is already known.
Svarupa Damodara: And another aspect of the Institute at the beginning phase is that Your Divine Grace also instructed a few days ago that we also get some, try to give some lectures to colleges. We can present as members from the Bhaktivedanta Institute, the higher learning section of ISKCON. That can also be part of the... So we can go to colleges and universities. We don't have to go every month or so, but maybe once a month or twice a month.
Prabhupada: Whenever there is opportunity.
Svarupa Damodara: ...Bhaktivedanta Institute. If we do that, then people will also respect, those in the academic circle, that we are representing ISKCON from academic aspect. We have our title that "From Bhaktivedanta Institute, such and such person is going to speak on such and such topic."
Prabhupada: (aside:) So you can post this. Here.
Pusta Krsna: This one, Bhaktivedanta Institute. I have to go into town a little bit later to pick up these passports. They're not quite ready till two-thirty.
Svarupa Damodara: We were also thinking that since Rupanuga Prabhu is here in the Washington area but his participation is most important, so he's suggesting that the Institute, they house someone here in Washington.
Rupanuga: It is also a good area for scientists. Already we have met...
Prabhupada: That you make thing. That you will make from among yourselves.
Svarupa Damodara: In this college program, when we went last time to Florida, Gainesville, Amarendra, our president of Gainesville temple...
Prabhupada: He has written. It was encouraging.
Svarupa Damodara: Actually he wanted to make engagements in colleges, and he wanted to participate, going to colleges, talk, and make engagements.
Prabhupada: So go. Do this.
Prabhupada: That kind of engagement is very nice.
Rupanuga: We learned there that they wanted some book to take home and study the situation. So we told them... We told them we were working on book.
Rupanuga: So the book will be very helpful, for propaganda when we meet with these people.
Prabhupada: So finish this book as soon as possible.
Rupanuga: It is very important. These kinds of engagements, as you know, if you don't have some kind of literature for them to take home, then it's not complete. (to Svarupa Damodara:) Another point?
Rupanuga: "In Scientific Knowledge"
Rupanuga: That's what Srila Prabhupada said, "In Scientific Knowledge." I was wondering, if this, is this, sa, mean "in"?
Prabhupada: No, sa means "with."
Rupanuga: "With scientific." Would it be improper to say Vijnana only? Would that be improper? I was thinking in terms of making the title as short as possible. Vijnanam or sa-vijnanam, both nice, but I was thinking...
Prabhupada: Sa-vijnana is more important. Vijnanam means theoretical. And sa-vijnana means practical.
Prabhupada: That you say. Or you can write, "Spiritual Science." No. That will not ring for them. They will not understand "Spiritual Science."
Devotee: "Absolute science."
Rupanuga: "Science of the absolute." So I'll be coming to New York, but first I have to go to Ratha-yatra in Philadelphia. They are having Ratha-yatra on the tenth. Then I don't think there will be any GBC meetings earlier than that, so I'll go there first. (to devotees:) Any other scientists have any other questions they'd like to ask Srila Prabhupada while we have this time?
Sadaputa: There was one thing I was wondering a little bit. Is the possibility of..., is it possible of making some experiments which would tend to indicate that life is not material? And this might be appealing to some of the people with scientific education, because they are used to such things, experiments.
Prabhupada: No, experiment is there. Just like in... Hindus, we burn the body into ashes. How the soul is transmigrating? This is scientific experiment. The Bhagavad-gita says nainam dahati pavakah. Everyone is seeing the body is burned into ashes, but still, tatha dehantara-praptih [Bg. 2.13]. He's going to another body. How it is going? So the soul is not burned.
Rupanuga: We were having a meeting with the other scientists, and they were challenging you. They were saying, "Show us one experiment. Show us one experiment!" That's the way they are.
Prabhupada: There are so many experiments.
Sadaputa: We were wondering... We knew that, for example, Jagadisha Chandra Bose did some experiments indicating plants having consciousness. We were wondering if some things of that kind might be of some use.
Prabhupada: So in the Calcutta there is Bose Institute, you can go and see. They have got all machine, how the plants are feeling. Everything is there.
Rupanuga: That's important because they are saying these animals have no soul. They are saying lower form of life, they have no soul, so killing them is not important. So his work was important. It showed...
Prabhupada: No, killing or not killing, that is another point. You can kill your own son. They are killing, actually. That is another point. But they have got soul. All the symptoms are there; how you can say there is no soul? Where is the difference between man's behavior and animal's behavior? So far eating, sleeping, sex, defense is concerned, the same thing. How do you say that it is different from the human being? Why they differentiate the animal from the man? What is the main point?
Sadaputa: I think that scientifically that was just Christian doctrine that made them do that. Because the scientists turned around...
Prabhupada: Christian doctrine is not perfect. But symptoms of animal and symptoms of human being, primary necessities eating sleeping, mating, defense that is there, everywhere.
Rupanuga: They may agree, but they'll say that this...
Prabhupada: There is soul. As soon as there is living condition, there is soul. As soon as the body is dead, there is no soul. This is difference. It is the Christian doctrine, not scientific doctrine, that animal has... What we have to do with Christian theory?
Prabhupada: It is not very advanced.
Rupanuga: That's not respected.
Prabhupada: That is true.
Svarupa Damodara: Even Billy Graham says there's no soul in the dog. In his column "My Answer"... There's a column by Billy Graham...
Prabhupada: So you challenge them, the scientists.
Svarupa Damodara: Somebody asked that "I love my dog. Looks like the dog comes when I call and behaves very nicely." So this question was asking that the dog might have soul. So he asked Billy Graham, "What do you think?" So Billy Graham was saying, "No, dog has no soul."
Prabhupada: This is dogmatic. This is not scientific; it is dogmatic.
Rupanuga: He could not support his statements.
Prabhupada: So dogmatic, you can say any nonsense, but philosophy and science is different. If he's talking on dogmatic platform, then what is his value? What does he mean by "soul is there" and "soul is not there"? How does he prove?
Rupanuga: We were finding that there are some real scientific experiments like Pasteur's, the one we did in the slide show the other night, and some of the work of Bose, that have been ignored simply or misinterpreted. Already there has been some work in this area. So we were thinking that we could point to these as examples to confirm our position, because they are scientific.
Prabhupada: Now, in Christian commandment, there is "Thou shalt not kill." So what does it mean? (door opens and closes)
Prabhupada: Oh. Chinese will be color?
Rupanuga: Who has done this, Srila Prabhupada?
Prabhupada: One devotee.
Pusta Krsna: He mentioned that he's going to begin printing the second six chapters soon, within two months, and also a new Chinese magazine. (end)