Interview with Kathy Kerr
Reporter from The Star
June 17, 1976, Toronto
Kathy Kerr: Umm, I was wondering what brings you to Canada right now. Is it some particular occasion you're...
Prabhupada: You can answer all these questions.
Jayadvaita: I can.... Why Srila Prabhupada is coming, he's visiting different centers around the world. I can fill you in on most of the details about the society and dates and times and so on. You might prefer to ask Srila Prabhupada a little more about the philosophy of our movement.
Kathy Kerr: Ah. Very well. Okay, I understand that this is an extension of Hindu religion. Is that not correct? No, it's not. Does it have any basic tenets of the Hindu religion?
Prabhupada: There is no such word as Hindu religion. You do not know. There is no such word as Hindu religion, at least in the Vedas. The religion is translated into Sanskrit as "characteristic." Religion is not a kind of faith. Just like chemical composition. Sugar is sweet—that is religion. Sugar must be sweet. Sugar cannot be pungent. Or chili must be pungent. If chili is sweet, we reject it, and sugar is pungent, you reject it. Similarly, our Vedic system is to train the human being to the ultimate goal of his life. That system is called varnasrama-dharma, gradually training the person how to become perfect human being and understand the goal of his life. That is our activity. It is not meant for any particular sect or particular nation. No. It is meant for the whole human society, how to make them perfect in the goal of his life.
Kathy Kerr: Through what means do you train the human being to become, to achieve his ultimate goal in life?
Prabhupada: To understand his spiritual identification. At the present moment, this age, all over the world, things are passing on on the bodily concept of life. But we are not this body. That is the defect of modern civilization, that there are two things—one, the body; and the moving force which is moving the body. So they are taking care of the body, but they have no information what is that moving force. They are presenting some foolish theories that the body is moving by chemical composition, by this, that, but actually they do not know what is there. The chemical composition..., what is that? Frankenstein or something?
Jayadvaita: Frankenstein. (laughter)
Prabhupada: These foolish things are going on. They think the body, by some chemical and physical combination and electric power.... Although they have not been able to do so, but still they'll theorize like that. In this way the whole human society is going on in a deep, ignorant platform. So, that is the defect of the human society at the present moment, and we are trying to mend this defect by this Krsna consciousness movement. People are trying to understand. Our books are being very nicely received by the educated circle. We have got so many books. About, for the time, we have got over fifty-four books like this. This book is selling very nicely, Bhagavad-gita As It Is. We have printed recent edition, 350,000 copies, that is finished. Again we are going to print 500,000 copies. So it is a great science meant for all human beings, not for the Hindus or the Muslim or the Christian. Science, mathematic, is meant for everyone. So it is spiritual science. Everyone should take advantage of it. Otherwise what was the use of my.... I have not come here to preach Hindu religion. Why you should take Hindu religion? You are already Christian. So what is use of replacing Christian religion to Hindu religion? We have no such distinction. We are not after increasing the number of Hindus; we are after making the human being perfect in knowledge. That is our aim.
Kathy Kerr: Do you believe then that there is more than one way?
Prabhupada: There is only one way. Just like the spirit soul is within you and within me. Your skin may be white, my skin may be colored, but within, the spirit soul, what is there in you, that is in me also. There is not change on account of the body. Therefore to understand that spirit soul, there is only one way. There is no second way. Because it is not experimental; it is already there. If it is based on experiment and observation, then my experiment, your experiment may be different. But it is a fact that the soul is there, and as soon as the soul is gone from the body, the body is a dead lump of matter. That you have to understand. And any gentleman, any sensible man can understand it, that soul is there although we are changing body. Just like you were a child. That's a fact. But where is that child's body? Now your body's different. Is it not a fact? What do you think? So where is that body, your child's body?
Kathy Kerr: It's material, I would say.
Prabhupada: Material. When you were on the lap of your mother the body was so small. Now you are a young girl and you are.... So where is that small body? That means you have changed bodies. But your mother knows that you are the same, "My child." Because you have grown up or you have changed your body, your mother will not cry "Where is my child?" She knows that "My child is there, but she has changed body." Why these people do not understand this plain truth? Suppose you have come in this dress; next moment you come in another dress. But if I know you I'll not mistake because you have changed your dress. Similarly, we are changing our dress from baby to child, child to boy, boy to young man, young man to middle-aged man, constantly changing, every moment. Medical science also says. The blood corpuscles are changed every moment. So we are changing our body every moment. But still we cannot understand that on account of change of body, the living force within the body does not change. Is there any difficulty to understand?
Kathy Kerr: No. Does that mean then that the basic, your basic self, your basic spirit then, is innocent basically? Like if it's the same spirit throughout your life from the moment you were born on, then it is innocent and you can, you can achieve fullness...
Prabhupada: Now first of all, let us accept that the basic principle is the soul. Now whether he is innocent or evil, that we shall consider later on. First of all, the basic power is the spirit soul. First of all we have to understand that the spirit soul is there always, although we are changing bodies. This first principle has to be.... But they do not understand. This education is lacking.
Kathy Kerr: Do you advocate then that one deny the body? Like comforts and so forth, in order to...
Prabhupada: No, why deny the body? Just like you are putting some type of dress. So dress is not unimportant. But real importance is you, the person. So where is that education about the real person? They are simply engrossed with the dress. This is going on. Such kind of mentality is there even within the cats and dogs. He's also thinking "I am this body." If a human being does not understand this fact, that he is not this body, he is changing his body, but he is spirit soul, then he is no better than the cats and dogs. We do not want to keep the human society in the category of cats and dogs. We want to raise them to the real understanding of his identification. That is our mission. It is neither Hindu religion or Muslim religion or.... This is science.
Kathy Kerr: I notice all your followers obviously dress similarly and so forth.
Prabhupada: We cannot get many followers. Because everyone is under this impression, "I am this body." And to get him released from this conception is not so easy job. So we cannot expect many thousands and millions. Only selected fortunate people will understand it. But everyone can understand it. It is very simple thing. But the modern education has made them so dull brain, they cannot understand, neither do they try to understand. That is the difficulty. Matter, subject matter, is very simple thing. I am changing bodies, but in spite of my change of body, I am the spirit soul existing. This is the first understanding. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire [Bg. 2.20], that I am not dead on account of my body being finished. My childhood body is finished, my boyhood body is finished, my youth-hood body is finished, but I am existing. I can remember that I was in such body, I was in such body, in such circumstances. When I was a child I was talking like this, I was jumping like this. But because that body is finished, I cannot do that. Now I have got a different body, I cannot jump like a child. This simple truth. But I know that I was jumping. That is not dream, that's a fact. But we are educated in such a foolish way that we cannot understand this simple truth. That has to be amended. Otherwise, there is no question of enlightenment in the human society.
Kathy Kerr: Do you feel that it's any help.... For instance, one of your followers here mentioned that the university here in Toronto is teaching your books and so forth. Do you feel that any contact with your ideas...
Prabhupada: It is not my idea, it is fact. It is not my idea.
Kathy Kerr: Well not necessarily.... With these truths, with these basic truths, do you think that is helping people realize themselves, or do they have to go into a more...
Prabhupada: Yes, that you can ask my students. We have not bribed them. I am Indian, poor Indian. So why they are sticking to me? Ask them. They'll describe.
Jayadvaita: About nine years ago.
Kathy Kerr: And how did you become a Krsna.
Jayadvaita: Meeting the devotees and reading the books. We had fewer books then. But you read. Also you can read these books, they're not just for us. Read a little. You'll understand.
Kathy Kerr: You were saying that you're not necessarily trying to get a large number of devotees, but you think there are a few people who are yet ready to accept?
Prabhupada: Anyone we can accept. If he is interested to become learned in this subject matter, he's welcome.
Kathy Kerr: Can a person follow your movement, the Hare Krsna movement, without necessarily going into a temple and concentrating on your attentions?(?)
Jayadvaita: It's a kind of education. So to get that education you have to go to the institution. If you want to get an education in chemistry you go to college. Not that you have to.... It's not.... Yes, you have to come to the place where this is being taught. It doesn't mean you have to give up everything, but you have to take education from the recognized authority.
Kathy Kerr: Does it ever end?
Jayadvaita: No, no. In Bhagavad-gita it's described as avyayam. It means there's no end of it. More and more.
Devotee (1): But living in the temple is not necessary to engage in Krsna conscious activities. You can engage outside also, take advantage of reading the books and visiting the temple, chanting Hare Krsna.
Kathy Kerr: Do you consider that going..., your movement then is basically more of an educational movement than a religious movement.
Prabhupada: Yes. Educational. It is religious, but it is not a man-made religious. Our idea.... I have already explained that our idea of religion means that like the sugar, it must be sweet. It is not that in Europe sugar is not sweet, in India it is sweet. Sugar, wherever it is, it is sweet. Similarly, the soul, the spirit soul is the same everywhere. So he, the spirit soul, is now embodied within this material body, and he is suffering on account of this material body. So we are teaching everyone how to get out of this material body and stay in his original, spiritual body. This is our real movement. This is another way..., another name is liberation. We are suffering within this body. Our suffering means on account of this body. So if there is such science how to continue our life without changing body, that science we are teaching. It is purely educational.
Kathy Kerr: Do you believe then that when your physical body dies, that your spiritual body...
Prabhupada: That I have already explained, that your physical body as child's body, dead, gone. How you are living? This simple truth we cannot understand. Where is this child's body? Where is that, can you answer?
Kathy Kerr: Child's body?
Prabhupada: Yes, you had a body, a small child's body. Is it not?
Kathy Kerr: Yes.
Prabhupada: You were a child. So where is that child's body?
Kathy Kerr: Well, you say it's changed.
Prabhupada: Changed, or another body you have got. Change means another body. If you dress your child, you get another.(?) So it is simple truth. So you have got another body or another dress, but you are still living. This simple truth they cannot understand, and they are advanced in education.
Kathy Kerr: Does that mean then that once the immediate corporal body is dead, the one that you have...
Prabhupada: Yes. We have to conclude.... This is, what is called, logic, that my, I have changed my body, still I am living. Therefore when I change this body, I shall live. This is the logic.
Kathy Kerr: Does your spiritual body keep the same training that you...
Prabhupada: Same, that is another.... Just like you are in different type of dress, I am in different type of dress, that is another thing. Dress may be changed in different types, but I, the owner of the dress, is the same. Now a person, the same person, when he's dressed as a high-court judge, he's dealing differently in the high-court. And the same person, after giving up his garment of high-court judge, he talks with the wife and children in a different way, talking. The wife does not address him, "My lord." The wife calls, Mr. John. "John, why you are doing this?" She has no respect, as the respect he gets in the court. Man is the same, circumstance is different.
Kathy Kerr: So that means then that our society then gives certain people certain status just because of their job, that's not correct.
Prabhupada: Yes. We must come to the correct position of our spiritual life, then it is perfection of life. Otherwise, they're ignorant. If the husband comes at home and the wife calls him by the name, "John, come here." "Oh, you are not addressing 'my lord,' " it will be ridiculous. He might be "my lord," in the court, but when he's in the family, the wife calls by the name. So our, with the change of dress we are changing our name, circumstances, thoughts, and everything. Therefore we find differentiation. American, Indian, Hindu, Muslim, black, white, this, these are all designation of the dress. And therefore we do not agree. As soon as I accept, identify myself with the dress, there will be disagreement. And as soon as we, everyone of us, we know that this is superficial, this is dress, I am spirit soul, then there will be agreement. Samah sarvesu bhutesu, find out this verse. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati samah sarvesu bhutesu [Bg. 18.54]. So without this understanding they have opened United Nations, keeping them cats and dogs. And they are simply barking, that's all. This is going on. For the last forty years simply they are barking. What achievement is there? In your country, who is the president gave the black man same liberty?
Prabhupada: Lincoln. Equal right, but actually, there is some tension, black and white. Because they are not on the spiritual platform.
Visvakarma: In Canada, Prabhupada, it's the French and the English.
Prabhupada: Everywhere, some tension. The Catholic, the Protestant; the black, the white; the Hindu, the Muslim. That must go on because if we accept on the platform of dress, of body, then there must be ignorance. Read that verse and explain to her.
Jayadvaita: "One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me."
Prabhupada: Equally disposed. As soon as he knows that I am not this body, I am spirit soul, then there is no distinction. Just like two American goes to India. So when they understand that "We are Americans," immediately their interest becomes one, although they are in the foreign country. That is psychology. Similarly, as soon as we come to the spiritual platform, there is no such distinction as black, white, Hindu, Muslim, Christian. Everything finished. Samah sarvesu bhutesu. You are reading the purport?
Jayadvaita: Purport: "To the impersonalist, achieving the brahma-bhuta [SB 4.30.20] stage, becoming one with the Absolute, is the last word. But for the personalist, or pure devotee, one has to go still further to become engaged in pure devotional service. This means that one who is engaged in pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord is already in a state of liberation, called brahma-bhuta, oneness with the Absolute. Without being one with the Supreme, the Absolute, one cannot render service unto Him. In the absolute conception, there is no difference between the served and the servitor; yet the distinctions is there, in a higher spiritual sense. In the material concept of life, when one works for sense gratification, there is misery, but in the absolute world, when one is engaged in pure devotional service, there is no misery. The devotee in Krsna consciousness has nothing to lament or desire. Since God is full, a living entity who is engaged in God's service, in Krsna consciousness, becomes also full in himself. He is just like a river cleansed of all dirty water. Because a pure devotee has no thought other than Krsna, he is naturally always joyful. He does not lament for any material loss or gain because he is full in service to the Lord. He has no desire for material enjoyment because he knows that every living entity is the fragmental part and parcel of the Supreme Lord and therefore eternally a servant. He does not see, in the material world, someone as higher and someone as lower; higher and lower positions are ephemeral, and a devotee has nothing to do with ephemeral appearances or disappearances. For him, stone and gold are of equal value. This is the brahma-bhuta stage, and this stage is attained very easily..."
Prabhupada: So this brahma-bhuta stage is spiritual stage. We want to bring everyone to this spiritual stage. That is the sum and substance. We are not on the material stage. Therefore it is little difficult to understand. Everyone is on the material stage, but we are working on the spiritual stage. But the spirit and matter, we can distinguish. Without the spirit, the body is nothing but lump of matter. The spirit is there, the matter is there, but we are so dull, we do not understand what is that spirit. That is the difficulty of the modern society. This is the most important thing. Without the spirit the body cannot move. They are daily experiencing that without spirit the body is nothing, decomposed matter. But still they are simply licking up that decomposed matter without taking care of the spiritual. This is the most defective position of the modern society. So it is not a Hindu religion or Christian religion. It is a science to understand.
Kathy Kerr: If a sufficient number of people could take care of their spirits, could achieve an understanding of the spiritual body and so forth, do you think that that would solve, say for instance...
Prabhupada: It is not possible that, because, at the present moment the number of educated persons, there are many. Many Ph.D.'s, D.H.C.'s but nobody understands it. You cannot expect a fair number of persons understanding it. It requires little higher brain. But even some percent of the population understands this philosophy, then there will be peace and prosperity. Not that everyone. Just like in my body, not that every part of my body is brain. But if the brain is in order, then other parts of the body will act nicely. The leg is not brain, but if the brain is in order, the leg will move nicely. The difficulty is there is no brain. So without brain, without head, when the body moves it is ghost. So it is ghostly civilization. All ghosts. There is a kind of ghost, perhaps you know, that without head. If a man is chopped of his head, and if he has got attraction, then he becomes a ghost without head. So at the present moment, all these so-called educated civilized men are ghosts without head. You now this, there is some ghosts without head?
Jayadvaita: I hadn't heard about them.
Prabhupada: No, in India they know. And I have described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Hari-sauri: They're depicted like that quite often in Europe, because they used to have the guillotine chopping the head off.
Prabhupada: A ghost without head, yes, there is a ghost. So at the present moment, without head ghost. A civilization of ghosts, without brain. It is something revolutionary. Something revolutionary, but this is a fact.
Kathy Kerr: Are you doing anything to try and contact people, the educated men, to...
Prabhupada: Yes, many. Many educated. They are coming, trying to understand. But it requires little brain. So-called educated with dull brain cannot understand. So to make their brain finer to understand, we are prohibiting four things: no illicit sex, no meat-eating, no intoxication, no gambling. If one refrains from these four prohibited things, then he can develop his brain to understand. And if one indulges in these four things, his brain will never be able to understand. Just like a dog having sexual intercourse on the street, so if I request the dog that "Don't do this, it is not very good," he'll never understand.
Kathy Kerr: What purpose does the chanting serve?
Prabhupada: Cleansing. The brain cleansed so that one can understand. Ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. Cleansing. We have got so many dirty things within ourselves. By this chanting and following these regulative principles, it will be cleansed. Then just like a mirror full of dust, you have to cleanse it. Then you'll see your face very nicely. So this is the process of cleansing the mirror of heart. So when it is cleansed, then you can understand, "Yes, I'm not this body. I am soul. My business is different." That is wanted. Therefore we are encouraging people to come here, chant, dance, and take prasadam. Gradual process. They have come. In the beginning, I had no place to stay even. Now we have got hundreds of big, big palaces.
Kathy Kerr: Why is it that you seem to attract a large following of youth?
Prabhupada: Because my..., it is fact, it is not a bogus thing. It is not some imagination, "By meditation you become God." We do not bluff like that. We give education, scientific education. The books are there. You'll find this Bhagavad-gita... Have you read ever? No. Here, how to understand God and myself, my relationship. There is no such thing that "You sit down fifteen minutes and you become God." There is no such bogus thing. It is science.
Devotee (1): I think she was asking also why there are so many young people, why so many young are attracted.
Prabhupada: Young, they are receptive, and another side is that in the Western countries, your younger generation, they have seen that their father and grandfather are not happy. Is it not a fact? So they are trying to find out something where they will find happiness. As such, they go to so many swamis and yogis who come from India. But there also they are frustrated. But here they are finding the real substance. That you can ask any one of them, they will explain how they have come.
Kathy Kerr: Can you, em, do any of you (indistinct).
Jayadvaita: I can show you downstairs in our magazine, there's an article about our program of visiting India. We have very beautiful centers there. India..., it's not that because we're going to India, therefore it's an Indian idea. Science, it's not "Two plus two" is Indian or American. It's everywhere.
Kathy Kerr: I've asked everything I've been able to think of. Thank you very much for the interview.
Prabhupada: Very good. You have given prasada?
Jayadvaita: Yes, we have some downstairs.