Karl Marx
Hayagriva: ...and Syamasundara discussed the politics of Karl Marx with you but not the religious attitudes of Marx.
Prabhupada: He has any religious attitude?
Hayagriva: Well, he, his father was a Jew, but he became converted to Christianity.
Prabhupada: His father?
Hayagriva: His father, Marx's father. And Marx's mother, however, remained Jewish, and Marx was raised a Christian. But at the age of twenty-three, after having studied some philosophy at the university, Marx became an avowed atheist. And Hegel, it was Hegel who wrote, "Because the accidental is not God or the Absolute is," and Marx commented on this, "Obviously the reverse can also be said." That is because God is not, the accidental is.
Prabhupada: God is not?
Hayagriva: Yes.
Prabhupada: What, what does...?
Hayagriva: So everything is accidental.
Prabhupada: Accidental.
Hayagriva: Hegel said, "Because the accidental is not,..." because nothing is accidental, "God exists." Marx says you can say it the other way around.
Prabhupada: How, how we, any sensible man can accept accidental?
Hayagriva: He thought that...
Prabhupada: Accidental... Just like a child takes birth, is it accidental? Beginning from the child, so it is not accidental. That there is a father-mother unity, and then, when the child is born, then how you can say accidental? Nothing is accidental.
Hayagriva: He felt that man..., it is only man who gives reality to God, or, he said, "the gods."
Prabhupada: Reality must be there. That we... Just like Mr. Marx, he certainly did not like to die, but he was forced to die. Why it takes place unless there is some superior force? We do not wish to have some accident but there is accident; so how you can check it? So in this way, the conception of God, there is always some superior, and there are many other things, common sense, we discuss daily that the, as the nature, things are going on so nicely, they are not accidentally. There are so many planets in the sky. Accidentally they are not colliding but they are remaining in their position. The sun is rising in due course of time, in the morning exactly in time. So there is nothing accidental. And because things are going on very systematically, so there must be some brain behind it, and that supreme brain is God. How you can deny it?
Hayagriva: Marx felt that true philosophy would say, "In simple truth I bear hate for any and every God is its own avowal, its own judgment against all heavenly and earthly gods who do not acknowledge human self-consciousness as the supreme divinity. There must be no other on a level with it."
Prabhupada: Human intelligence, unless he comes to the point of the Absolute Truth and the original cause of everything, then how his intellect is perfect? One must make progress. Progress means to go to the ultimate goal. If the human being does not know what is the ultimate cause, ultimate goal, then what is the value of his intelligence?
Hayagriva: Marx felt that religion is a symptom of a degraded man. He wrote, "Religion is the sigh of a distressed creature, the soul of a heartless world, as it is also the spirit of a spiritless condition. It is the opium of the people. The more a man puts into God, the less he retains in himself."
Prabhupada: But practically we see that the Communist are also equally failure, even without God. Now these Chinese and Russians, they are not in agreement. So same thing—that those who believed in God and those who did not believe in God the difference existed. And now amongst the Communist there are coming out so many section. So the difference of opinion is still there even denying God, without God. So that is not improvement. The real purpose is to understand what is really God is. That is required both by the Communist or the capitalist. Denying God and acting independently, that has not brought any peaceful condition of the human society.
Hayagriva: He felt, like Comte, that the proletariat, the worker, would eventually eliminate religion, and he wrote, "The political emancipation of the Jew, the Christian, the religious man in general is the emancipation of the state from Judaism, from Christianity, and from religion generally." So that the worker would become the savior of mankind in emancipating or freeing man from a religion that worshiped a supernatural being.
Prabhupada: So that has not actually happened. Marx is dead and gone. The Communist theory is already there, but they are not in agreement. The Russians are not in agreement with the Chinese men. Why it has happened? The God is not there; the working class is there. Then why there is dissension and disagreement?
Hayagriva: Marx felt that religion stood between man and happiness. He said, "The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. The demand to abandon the illusions about their condition is the demand to give up a condition that requires illusion. Hence criticism of religion is an embryo, or a beginning of a criticism of this vale of tears whose halo is religion." So religion was like a millstone around the neck of man, and that man must free himself of this illusion.
Prabhupada: Religious system deteriorates, and without any understanding on philosophical basis. Then, if he is apt to, rejects that religion. But we understand that is fact that there is God on the top of all cosmic manifestation activities, and the law given by the supreme head of the cosmic manifestation, that is religion. And if we create our religious system on sentiments only, that will create troubles only and there will be misunderstandings. But actually it is a fact that there is some brain behind all this cosmic manifestation, and if we know what is that brain, how it is working, that is scientific understanding, and the law given by God is religion. That is our simple definition. Religion cannot be manufactured as law cannot be manufactured. So if we do not know what is God, how He is acting, what..., what are His words, how we have to follow that, that kind of religion will be failure.
Hayagriva: He felt... Marx writes, "The alien being to whom labor and the produce of labor belong, and whose service labor is done, and for whose benefit the produce of labor is provided can only be man himself." And he felt that throughout history that the working man has labored so hard for the construction of temples to God, and this should be changed, that man should work not to build temples to God but for the benefit of man.
Prabhupada: So unless one understands that abide by the orders of God is the benefit of man... If there is any, any organization... Even in communistic country there are many men working, but there is one director. In the state also there is one dictator, either Stalin or Lenin. A leader is wanted. So the supreme leader is called God. So the Communist cannot do without leader. Even Karl Marx, he is giving leadership. So, so leadership is wanted. There you cannot change. A person, a society is working under the leadership of God or Krsna, and a society is working under the leadership of Marx... What is this? Marx?
Hayagriva: Marx and Engels and Lenin, they were...
Prabhupada: And Lenin. So that leadership wanted. Now the question is who will be the leader—Krsna or Lenin? That is to be understood. Without leader, either the Communist or the theist cannot work. So, so far accepting leadership, the philosophy is one. Now the question will remain, "Whose leadership is perfect?" That is to be decided. But the Communist cannot avoid leadership.
Hayagriva: Like Comte, Marx believed that atheism was unnecessary because it was negative denial. He felt that socialism is positive assertion. He says, "Atheism no longer has any meaning, for atheism is a negation of God and postulates the existence of man through this negation. But socialism as socialism no longer stands in any need of such a mediation. It proceeds from the practically and theoretically sensuous consciousness of man and of nature the essence. Socialism is man's positive self-consciousness no longer mediated throught the annulment of religion, just as real life is man's positive reality through Communism." So that Communism really has nothing whatsoever to do with religion.
Prabhupada: No. Our point is that religion is not sentiment. Leadership has to be accepted, either by the Communist or the theist or atheist. There is leadership. So when the leadership is selected and the direction given by the leader, you can take it as some "ism." So religion is the same thing. When we accept the leadership of God and His direction, that is religion. I don't think on principle the Communist can change this idea. The same leader is Lenin or Stalin, and he is giving his direction, and people must follow it. So where is the difference of philosophy? Similarly, Krsna is there, His instruction is there, and we are following. So where is the difference in fact?
Hayagriva: In either case there is authority.
Prabhupada: Authority. So where is the difference in principle? There is no difference, but everyone will say that "I am the best leader." But who will select the best leader? What is the criterion of best leader?
Hayagriva: Well the basic difference is that Marx believes that there's nothing spiritual; everything is material. He says, "An incorporeal substance is just as much a contradiction as an incorporeal body."
Prabhupada: That is his ignorance, because this body is dead. That what is the difference between the dead body and the... The same Marx and same Lenin was lying, but because there is no spirit sould it was considered as dead. This is imperfect understanding of the man, of the body. Otherwise, I mean to say, man of sense studies there must be a spiritualism and materialism. Spiritualism..., spirit means the force behind the matter. It can be understood very easily that matter as it is, it is inactive. A machine may be very well made, but without a person, a living being, the machine is useless. So that is the difference between spirit and matter. Matter can be active only in touch with the spirit. Similarly, the body is active when there is soul within the body. This can be easily understood, unless one is very dull. Spirit cannot be denied. [break]
Hayagriva: He says, "Since only what is material is perceptible, knowable, nothing is known of the existence of God. I am sure only of my own existence." He feels that material life precedes consciousness and gives rise to consciousness. He says li...
Prabhupada: But he does not believe in spirit soul, is that not? Hayagriva: He says, "Life is not determined by consciousness but consciousness by life."
Prabhupada: So what is that life? When the life is absent why this body, the used body, is dead stone only? Has he got any understanding of that, what is that life?
Hayagriva: He felt that consciousness is basically social. He says, "Consciousness is from the very beginning a social product and remains so as long as man exists at all."
Prabhupada: Why? Why he finishes? Why does he not exist? What is his answer to this?
Hayagriva: What's that?
Prabhupada: So long man exists, but why he ceases to exist? Why he stops his existence, he becomes dead matter, his body?
Hayagriva: Marx had very little to say about death. He felt...
Prabhupada: But death is a fact.
Hayagriva: the continuance...
Prabhupada: Death is a fact. He is talking so loudly, but as soon as he is dead he cannot speak any more.
Hayagriva: Well he would say...
Prabhupada: What is the difference? Why he becomes completely dumb? If somebody kicks on his face he cannot say anything.
Hayagriva: Well if life..., if consciousness is dependent on life, when life ceases, consciousness also ceases.
Prabhupada: That's all right, what is that life? Does he know anything? Without life you cannot speak. But he has not established what is that life.
Hayagriva: Marx opposed Comte's view of the worship of women, and he also opposed the worship of God in nature. He writes, "There is no question of modern sciences which alone, along with modern industry, have revolutionized the whole of nature and put an end to man's childish attitude toward nature as well as to other forms of childishness. The position as regards to the worship of female is the same as nature worship."
Prabhupada: But how the science or the scientific brain has surpassed the laws of nature? Has man stopped the nature's action—birth, death, old age, and disease? So how the scientist has conquered over nature? What is the meaning of this conquering? The nature's law is going on. Before Marx, his father died, his mother died, and he also died. So how he has conquered over the nature? The death is continuing.
Hayagriva: He felt...
Prabhupada: What is the improvement?
Hayagriva: Yes.
Prabhupada: What is the improvement?
Hayagriva: He felt that there has been no improvement because religion has kept man...
Prabhupada: It has nothing to do with religion. It is the work of nature...
Hayagriva: Yes.
Prabhupada: ...that the man takes birth and he dies. So what the science has revolutionized in this matter? Has the science stopped birth and death and old age and disease? Then what improvement has done? The work is going on. In spite of talking all theories by Marx or anybody, nature's law is still superseding them. So how the science and others, they have surpassed the laws of nature?
Hayagriva: Well, he felt that modern industry had made men...
Prabhupada: Industry, whatever you take, industry. Does it means when a man takes to industry he does not die? How he has conquered over the laws of nature?
Hayagriva: He couldn't say. How can he say?
Prabhupada: Yes, go on.
Hayagriva: He felt that industry or science could make man happier by emancipating man from...
Prabhupada: We don't think so because in the industry the worker are not satisfied. They are, they are observing strike. Why? If there is happiness, why there is strike?
Hayagriva: He felt... Well this... Of course Marx wrote before Communism came into actual existence as a, as a political institution, so he's simply theorizing.
Prabhupada: Still, his theory, he...
Hayagriva: He's never, he's never, he never saw Communist Russia for instance, or any Communist state. He, he felt that religion has..., was the cause of antagonism between men. He says, "The most persistent form of antagonism between the Jew and the Christian is religious antagonism." How has one solved an antagonism by...
Prabhupada: No.
Hayagriva: making it impossible?
Prabhupada: There is not the question of antagonism. If we actually know who is God and what He desires... I give always this example: if we know the government and the government laws, then there is no antagonism. The government says that "Keep to the right," so there is no question of antagonism; anyone must keep to the right. So there is no question of antagonism. But the antagonism is there when the so-called religious system does not know what is God and what is actually the desire of God. Then there cannot be any antagonism. That perfectness of understanding God and God's regulation or order is clearly described in the Bhagavad-gita. We are therefore advocating Krsna consciousness, that "Here is God and here is God's instructions." So if we deliver it, and the proposal in the Bhagavad-gita, they are all practical. Just like God says that you divide the society in four division—not only worker, but also the good brain, good administrator, and good producer of food. That is the actually the divisions of the society. So without division of the society, if you simply keep worker, who will give them instruction to work? These are all imperfect ideas. But the perfect ideas are given in the Bhagavad-gita. If we follow that, then the human society, humanity will be in perfect order. So either you call it religion or a system to..., following which one can become peaceful. Religion means, to understand God means, a system. A system is explained in the Bhagavad-gita in three principles. God says that He is the proprietor of everything, sarva-loka-mahesvaram [Bg. 5.29]. So we see this planet, and there is different proprietors-individual proprietor of the land or the state proprietor, the king. So there is a proprietor of this earth, either you divide it nationally or you take it wholly. So similarly there are many, many millions of others, so they are called sarva-loka. So there must be a proprietor. So if we know who is that proprietor and how He is working... That is also stated, that the supreme proprietor is the supreme friend of everyone. So if we find out the supreme proprietor, supreme friend, and if we understand the proprietor is the enjoyer of everything, that is real religion. Then peace will prevail. But if we do not know who is the proprietor, what is His function, what is our relationship with Him, that we create antagonism. Somebody will say, "My religion is better," somebody will say, "My religion is better." But we most of all first, first of all know what is religion. Religion, we say, that the order given by the supreme proprietor and to live according to, according to that order, that is religion. If you do not know what is religion, what is the use of criticizing religion or creating antagonism?
Hayagriva: Well, evidently Marx never got over the antagonism between his father and his mother—his mother who was Jewish and his father who was a Christian convert. He says, "As soon as Jew and Christian recognize their respective religions, there is nothing more than different stages of evolution of the human spirit, as different snakeskins shed by history, and recognize man as the snake who wore them. They will no longer find themselves in religious antagonism but only in a critical scientific and human relationship. Science constitutes their unity. Contradictions in science, however, are resolved by science itself." So that, in other words, science, material science, is to replace this religion, and religion is to be shed by mankind just as a snake sheds its skin. And in this way the antagonisms created between Jew and Christian or, or Hindu and Muslim are reconciled.
Prabhupada: Reconciled can be only when you actually know what is God. Simply by stamping oneself Christian, Jewish, or Hindu and Muslim, without knowing who is God and what is his desire, that will naturally create antagonism. Therefore the conclusion is, as Mr. Marx giving stress on science, so we should understand scientifically what is religion, what is God. Then this antagonism will stop.
Hayagriva: He felt that the state should eventually assume the role of Christ. He said, "As Christ is the mediator on whom man unburdens all his own divinity and his whole religious burden, so also the state is the mediator on which man places all his unholiness and his whole human burden." So, in other words, that Christ, of course, relieves man of all his burdens and his sins through his message of salvation, and instead of Christ it would be the state that would assume this role.
Prabhupada: So Christ gives the knowledge how one can be relieved of the material burden. That is the business of all religious preacher. The religious preacher should give information to the people in general the exact position of God or idea of God, and when people will learn scientifically about God's existence and his relationship with God, then everything will be adjusted. That is wanted. Our Krsna consciousness movement is trying to give people exact idea of God, exact definition of God, and exact instruction of God. If we take that, take to that, then our religious life will be perfect.
Hayagriva: The last point is... And this is a point that most Marxists tend to ignore because Communism, when Communism comes to power, they, oh, like in Tibet, I believe when the Communists came in they abolished...
Prabhupada: All religious system.
Hayagriva: The Dalai Lama had to flee to India, I believe, and the Tibetan Buddhists had to...
Prabhupada: Yes.
Hayagriva: They had a temple in Delhi.
Prabhupada: Yes.
Hayagriva: Well, he says, Marx says, "The incompatibility with religion with the rights of man is so little implied in the concept of the rights of man that the right to be religious according to one's liking and to practice one's own particular religion is explicitly included among the rights of man. The privilege of religion is a universal human right."
Prabhupada: Yes.
Hayagriva: So he felt that man should at least be allowed to practice his religion, although he felt that the state should encourage the abolition of religion. That it is an inherent human right for man to be able to practice religion...
Prabhupada: That, that I explain always, that state duty is the freedom of religion, but the state must see that a person advocating particular type of religion, whether he is acting according to that religion...
Hayagriva: But he felt that if this religion should be allowed, it should be individual and not communal. He says, "Liberty as a right of man is not based on the association of man with man but rather on a separation of man from man. It is the right of separation..."
Prabhupada: No, there is no question of separation, that if we accept God as the supreme father. Now the Christian religion believes God as the supreme father. So if the supreme father is there, and if we become obedient to the supreme father, then why, where is the difference of opinion? But we do not know the supreme father and we do not obey the supreme father. That is the cause of dissension. The son's duty is to become obedient to the father and enjoy father's property. So if we know the supreme father, and if we live according to the father's order, so there is question of antagonism, dissension. It is all our own, father being the center. That, the difficulty is that we call supreme father but we do not accept the father's order or what is the order of the supreme father. That is the defect.
Hayagriva: Well he felt that if man, if man is going to worship God, if man must worship God, he should do so privately, individually, and not communally.
Prabhupada: No, if God is a fact, and man must worship God, then why not communally? That he, he is pleading that every individual man shall manufacture his own God and worship.
Hayagriva: Well he would rather do..., do away with the whole thing.
Prabhupada: No, that is impossible. God means, as I have explained, the supreme father. He is the father of every man or every living entity. So how the father can be different? If man manufactures a different... There are ten sons in the family; the father is one. It is not that one son say, "No, I shall select my own father." So what kind of father he is? So that is imperfectness of understanding the father. Nobody can say that "I can select my own father." How it is possible? Father is one. Similarly God is one, and if one is actually religious and obeying the same one father's order, then where is dissension? That the difficulty is nobody knows who is that supreme father, neither they are prepared to obey the orders of the father. That is the difficulty. In one family there cannot be two father. The one father. Similarly, when you speak of the supreme father, "O father, give us our daily bread," He is father of everyone. So why one should select one father, another man will select another father? That means he does not know who is father. That is the defect.
Hayagriva: Well he was hoping that this process would eventually lead to the total dissolution of religion.
Prabhupada: No.
Hayagriva: That if everyone worships..., well not everybody, but if you must worship God, worship Him in your own way, in your own home.
Prabhupada: So dissolution of religion means animalism. That has happened actually, because one does not know what is God, soon there is misunderstanding of religion. Therefore if he, actually anyone is serious about religion, then they should sit down together, that "We call God as supreme father, then why should we fight ourselves? Let us obey the order of the supreme father." Then there is no dissension. But they do not do that, neither they know who is the supreme father. That is the defect.
Hayagriva: You have been to Communist Russia, and was there any church worship? The Eastern Orthodox church used to be the standard Russian religion. Is there any church worship in Russia today?
Prabhupada: I, I, I did not see, but I saw some mosquelike building in the, what is called, Red Square. I saw that building, but that is vacant. They are worshiping Stalin, no, Lenin. Yes. They are worshiping Lenin's tomb. That I have seen in the Red Square. And there was a church or mosque, I do not know. The building is, can be called a church or mosque...
Hayagriva: Church.
Prabhupada: That was vacant.
Hayagriva: It's more like a museum.
Prabhupada: Yes.
Hayagriva: They keep it as a museum.
Prabhupada: Yes, that I have seen. I don't think there is any worship of church.
Hayagriva: But there must be some... There must be some people in Russia, since God is...
Prabhupada: They may be doing private, privately. Or I did not see.
Hayagriva: Well at least now some people are interested in purchasing your books in Russia.
Prabhupada: Yes, that is...
Hayagriva: What does this mean?
Prabhupada: It may be because it is Indian culture, and we have quoted from Vedic literature, the original Sanskrit. So they are little after the Indian culture, so when they find that here is the original version in original letters, they may be interested in that.
Hari-sauri: But actually it's a fect that in Russia there aren't many people who still believe in God.
Prabhupada: No, no. Believe in God, why? Eighty percent, ninety percent, they believe in God. That cannot be avoided.
Hayagriva: But don't the... The young people are Communists, are very enthusiastic about Communism, but as a person grows older and sees death as inevitable, don't the, don't the older people worship...?
Prabhupada: No, even the young men, in Russia I have seen, they are after also God. They are unhappy because they are not allowed to go out of Russia. They want to see the world, but they are not allowed. Their independence is suppressed. So they are not happy.
Hayagriva: That's the end of...
Prabhupada: Hm. (end)

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