Shortcomings of Marxism
In the following dialogue, Srila Prabhupada focuses on Marx’s frustrated attempt to eradicate greed from human nature and society at large. “A classless society is possible only when Krsna is in the center,” says Srila Prabhupada. “The real change occurs when we say, ‘Nothing belongs to me, everything belongs to God.’... So Krsna consciousness is the final revolution.”
Syamasundara: Karl Marx contended that philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it. His philosophy is often called “dialectical materialism” because it comes from the dialectic of George Hegel—thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. When applied to society, his philosophy is known as communism. His idea is that for many generations, the bourgeoisie [the property owners] have competed with the proletariat [the working class], and that this conflict will terminate in the communist society. In other words, the workers will overthrow the capitalistic class and establish a so-called dictatorship of the proletariat, which will finally become a classless society.
Srila Prabhupada: But how is a classless society possible? Men naturally fall into different classes. Your nature is different from mine, so how can we artificially be brought to the same level?
Syamasundara: His idea is that human nature, or ideas, are molded by the means of production. Therefore everyone can be trained to participate in the classless society.
Srila Prabhupada: Then training is required?
Srila Prabhupada: And what will be the center of training for this classless society? What will be the motto?
Syamasundara: The motto is “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” The idea is that everyone would contribute something, and everyone would get what he needed.
Srila Prabhupada: But everyone’s contribution is different. A scientific man contributes something, and a philosopher contributes something else. The cow contributes milk, and the dog contributes service as a watchdog. Even the trees, the birds, the beasts—everyone is contributing something. So, by nature a reciprocal arrangement is already there among social classes. How can there be a classless society?
Syamasundara: Well, Marx’s idea is that the means of production will be owned in common. No one would have an advantage over anyone else, and thus one person could not exploit another. Marx is thinking in terms of profit.
Srila Prabhupada: First we must know what profit actually is. For example, the American hippies already had “profit.” They were from the best homes, their fathers were rich—they had everything. Yet they were not satisfied; they rejected it. No, this idea of a classless society based on profit-sharing is imperfect. Besides, the communists have not created a classless society. We have seen in Moscow how a poor woman will wash the streets while her boss sits comfortably in his car. So where is the classless society? As long as society is maintained, there must be some higher and lower classification. But if the central point of society is one, then whether one works in a lower or a higher position, he doesn’t care. For example, our body has different parts—the head, the legs, the hands—but everything works for the stomach.
Syamasundara: Actually, the Russians supposedly have the same idea: they claim the common worker is just as glorious as the top scientist or manager.
Srila Prabhupada: But in Moscow we have seen that not everyone is satisfied. One boy who came to us was very unhappy because in Russia young boys are not allowed to go out at night.
Syamasundara: The Russian authorities would say that he has an improper understanding of Marxist philosophy.
Srila Prabhupada: That “improper understanding” is inevitable. They will never be able to create a classless society because, as I have already explained, everyone’s mentality is different.
Syamasundara: Marx says that if everyone is engaged according to his abilities in a certain type of production, and everyone works for the central interest, then everyone’s ideas will become uniform.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore we must find out the real central interest. In our International Society for Krishna Consciousness, everyone has a central interest in Krsna. Therefore one person is speaking, another person is typing, another is going to the press or washing the dishes, and no one is grudging, because they are all convinced they are serving Krsna.
Syamasundara: Marx’s idea is that the center is the state.
Srila Prabhupada: But the state cannot be perfect. If the Russian state is perfect, then why was Khrushchev driven from power? He was elected premier. Why was he driven from power?
Syamasundara: Because he was not fulfilling the aims of the people.
Srila Prabhupada: Well, then, what is the guarantee the next premier will do that? There is no guarantee. The same thing will happen again and again. Because the center, Khrushchev, was imperfect, people begrudged their labor. The same thing is going on in non-communist countries as well. The government is changed, the prime minister is deposed, the president is impeached. So what is the real difference between Russian communism and other political systems? What is happening in other countries is also happening in Russia, only they call it by a different name. When we talked with Professor Kotovsky of Moscow University, we told him he had to surrender: either he must surrender to Krsna or to Lenin, but he must surrender. He was taken aback at this.
Syamasundara: From studying history, Marx concluded that the characteristics of culture, the social structure, and even the thoughts of the people are determined by the means of economic production.
Srila Prabhupada: How does he account for all the social disruption in countries like America, which is so advanced in economic production?
Syamasundara: He says that capitalism is a decadent form of economic production because it relies on the exploitation of one class by another.
Srila Prabhupada: But there is exploitation in the communist countries also. Khrushchev was driven out of power because he was exploiting his position. He was giving big government posts to his son and son-in-law.
Syamasundara: He was deviating from the doctrine.
Srila Prabhupada: But since any leader can deviate, how will perfection come? First the person in the center must be perfect, then his dictations will be correct. Otherwise, if the leaders are all imperfect men, what is the use of changing this or that? The corruption will continue.
Syamasundara: Presumably the perfect leader would be the one who practiced Marx’s philosophy without deviation.
Srila Prabhupada: But Marx’s philosophy is also imperfect! His proposal for a classless society is unworkable. There must be one class of men to administer the government and one class of men to sweep the streets. How can there be a classless society? Why should a sweeper be satisfied seeing someone else in the administrative post? He will think, “He is forcing me to work as a sweeper in the street while he sits comfortably in a chair.” In our Inter-national Society, I am also holding the superior post: I am sitting in a chair, and you are offering me garlands and the best food. Why? Because you see a perfect man whom you can follow. That mentality must be there. Everyone in the society must be able to say, “Yes, here is a perfect man. Let him sit in a chair, and let us all bow down and work like menials.” Where is that perfect man in the communist countries?
Syamasundara: The Russians claim that Lenin is a perfect man.
Srila Prabhupada: Lenin? But no one is following Lenin. Lenin’s only perfection was that he overthrew the czar’s government. What other perfection has he shown? The people are not happy simply reading Lenin’s books. I studied the people in Moscow. They are unhappy. The government cannot force them to be happy artificially. Unless there is a perfect, ideal man in the center, there cannot possibly be a classless society.
Syamasundara: Perhaps they see the workers and the managers in the same way that we do—in the absolute sense. Since everyone is serving the state, the sweeper is as good as the administrator.
Srila Prabhupada: But unless the state gives perfect satisfaction to the people, there will always be distinctions between higher and lower classes. In the Russian state, that sense of perfection in the center is lacking.
Syamasundara: Their goal is the production of material goods for the enhancement of human well-being.
Srila Prabhupada: That is useless! Economic production in America has no comparison in the world, yet still people are dissatisfied. The young men are confused. It is nonsensical to think that simply by increasing production everyone will become satisfied. No one will be satisfied. Man is not meant simply for eating. He has mental necessities, intellectual necessities, spiritual necessities. In India many people sit alone silently in the jungle and practice yoga. They do not require anything. How will increased production satisfy them? If someone were to say to them, “If you give up this yoga practice, I will give you two hundred bags of rice,” they would laugh at the proposal. It is animalistic to think that simply by increasing production everyone will become satisfied. Real happiness does not depend on either production or starvation, but upon peace of mind. For example, if a child is crying but the mother does not know why, the child will not stop simply by giving him some milk. Sometimes this actually happens: the mother cannot understand why her child is crying, and though she is giving him her breast, he continues to cry. Similarly, dissatisfaction in human society is not caused solely by low economic production. That is nonsense. There are many causes of dissatisfaction. The practical example is America, where there is sufficient production of everything, yet the young men are becoming hippies. They are dissatisfied, confused. No, simply by increasing economic production people will not become satisfied. Marx’s knowledge is insufficient. Perhaps because he came from a country where people were starving, he had that idea.
Syamasundara: Yes, now we’ve seen that production of material goods alone will not make people happy.
Srila Prabhupada: Because they do not know that real happiness comes from spiritual understanding. That understanding is given in the Bhagavad-gita: God is the supreme enjoyer, and He is the proprietor of everything. We are not actually enjoyers; we are all workers. These two things must be there: an enjoyer and a worker. For example, in our body the stomach is the enjoyer and all other parts of the body are workers. So this system is natural: there must always be someone who is the enjoyer and someone who is the worker. It is present in the capitalist system also. In Russia there is always conflict between the managers and the workers. The workers say, “If this is a classless society, why is that man sitting comfortably and ordering us to work?” The Russians have not been able to avoid this dilemma, and it cannot be avoided. There must be one class of men who are the directors or enjoyers and another class of men who are the workers. Therefore the only way to have a truly classless society is to find that method by which both the managers and the workers will feel equal happiness. For example, if the stomach is hungry and the eyes see some food, immediately the brain will say, “O legs, please go there!” and “Hand, pick it up,” and “Now please put it into the mouth.” Immediately the food goes into the stomach, and as soon as the stomach is satisfied, the eyes are satisfied, the legs are satisfied, and the hand is satisfied.
Syamasundara: But Marx would use this as a perfect example of communism.
Srila Prabhupada: But he has neglected to find out the real stomach.
Syamasundara: His is the material stomach.
Srila Prabhupada: But the material stomach is always hungry again; it can never be satisfied. In the Krsna consciousness movement we have the substance for feeding our brains, our minds, and our souls. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah **. If the spiritual master is satisfied, then Krsna is satisfied, and if Krsna is satisfied, then everyone is satisfied. Therefore you are all trying to satisfy your spiritual master. Similarly, if the communist countries can come up with a dictator who, if satisfied, automatically gives satisfaction to all the people, then we will accept such a classless society. But this is impossible. A classless society is only possible when Krsna is in the center. For the satisfaction of Krsna, the intellectual can work in his own way, the administrator can work in his way, the merchant can work in his way, and the laborer can work in his way. This is truly a classless society.
Syamasundara: How is this different from the communist country, where all sorts of men contribute for the same central purpose, which is the state?
Srila Prabhupada: The difference is that if the state is not perfect, no one will willingly contribute to it. They may be forced to contribute, but they will not voluntarily contribute unless there is a perfect state in the center. For example, the hands, legs, and brain are working in perfect harmony for the satisfaction of the stomach. Why? Because they know without a doubt that by satisfying the stomach they will all share the energy and also be satisfied. Therefore, unless the people have this kind of perfect faith in the leader of the country, there is no possibility of a classless society.
Syamasundara: The communists theorize that if the worker contributes to the central fund, he will get satisfaction in return.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but if he sees imperfection in the center, he will not work enthusiastically because he will have no faith that he will get full satisfaction. That perfection of the state will never be there, and therefore the workers will always remain dissatisfied.
Syamasundara: The propagandists play upon this dissatisfaction and tell the people that foreigners are causing it.
Srila Prabhupada: But if the people were truly satisfied, they could not be influenced by outsiders. If you are satisfied that your spiritual master is perfect—that he is guiding you nicely—will you be influenced by outsiders?
Srila Prabhupada: Because the communist state will never be perfect, there is no possibility of a classless society.
Syamasundara: Marx examines history and sees that in Greek times, in Roman times, and in the Middle Ages slaves were always required for production.
Srila Prabhupada: The Russians are also creating slaves—the working class. Joseph Stalin stayed in power simply by killing all his enemies. He killed so many men that he is recorded in history as the greatest criminal. He was certainly imperfect, yet he held the position of dictator, and the people were forced to obey him.
Syamasundara: His followers have denounced him.
Srila Prabhupada: That’s all well and good, but his followers should also be denounced. The point is that in any society there must be a leader, there must be directors, and there must be workers, but everyone should be so satisfied that they forget the difference.
Syamasundara: No envy.
Srila Prabhupada: Ah, no envy. But that perfection is not possible in the material world. Therefore Marx’s theories are useless.
Syamasundara: But on the other hand, the capitalists also make slaves of their workers.
Srila Prabhupada: Wherever there is materialistic activity, there must be imperfection. But if they make Krsna the center, then all problems will be resolved.
Syamasundara: Are you saying that any system of organizing the means of production is bound to be full of exploitation?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, certainly, certainly! The materialistic mentality means exploitation.
Syamasundara: Then what is the solution?
Srila Prabhupada: Krsna consciousness!
Syamasundara: How is that?
Srila Prabhupada: Just make Krsna the center and work for Him. Then everyone will be satisfied. As it is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam [4.31.14]:
yatha taror mula-nisecanena
pranopaharac ca yathendriyanam
tathaiva sarvarhanam acyutejya
If you simply pour water on the root of a tree, all the branches, twigs, leaves, and flowers will be nourished. Similarly, everyone can be satisfied simply by acyutejya. Acyuta means Krsna, and ijya means worship. So this is the formula for a classless society: Make Krsna [God] the center and do everything for Him. There are no classes in our International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Now you are writing philosophy, but if I want you to wash dishes, you will do so immediately because you know that whatever you do, you are working for Krsna and for your spiritual master. In the material world different kinds of work have different values, but in Krsna consciousness everything is done on the absolute platform. Whether you wash dishes or write books or worship the Deity, the value is the same because you are serving Krsna. That is a classless society. Actually, the perfect classless society is Vrndavana. In Vrndavana, some are cowherd boys, some are cows, some are trees, some are fathers, some are mothers, but the center is Krsna, and everyone is satisfied simply by loving Him. When all people become Krsna conscious and understand how to love Him, then there will be a classless society. Otherwise it is not possible.
Syamasundara: Marx’s definition of communism is “The common or public ownership of the means of production, and the abolition of private property.” In our International Society for Krishna Consciousness, don’t we have the same idea? We also say, “Nothing is mine.” We have also abolished private property.
Srila Prabhupada: While the communist says, “Nothing is mine,” he thinks everything belongs to the state. The state, however, is simply an extended “mine.” For example, if I am the head of a family, I might say, “I do not want anything for myself, but I want many things for my children.” Mahatma Gandhi, who sacrificed so much to drive the English out of India, was at the same time thinking, “I am a very good man; I am doing national work.” Therefore, this so-called nationalism or so-called communism is simply extended selfishness. The quality remains the same. The real change occurs when we say, “Nothing belongs to me; everything belongs to God, Krsna, and therefore I should use everything in His service.” That is factual.
Syamasundara: Marx says that the capitalists are parasites living at the cost of the workers.
Srila Prabhupada: But the communists are also living at the cost of the workers: the managers are drawing big salaries, and the common workers are dissatisfied. Indeed, their godless society is becoming more and more troublesome. Unless everyone accepts God as the only enjoyer and himself simply as His servant, there will always be conflict. In the broad sense, there is no difference between the communists and the capitalists because God is not accepted as the supreme enjoyer and proprietor in either system. Actually, no property belongs to either the communists or the capitalists. Everything belongs to God.
Syamasundara: Marx condemns the capitalists for making a profit. He says that profit-making is exploitation and that the capitalists are unnecessary for the production of commodities.
Srila Prabhupada: Profit-making may be wrong, but that exploitative tendency is always there, whether it is a communist or a capitalist system. In Bengal it is said that during the winter season the bugs cannot come out because of the severe cold. So they become dried up, being unable to suck any blood. But as soon as the summer season comes, the bugs get the opportunity to come out, so they immediately bite someone and suck his blood to their full satisfaction. Our mentality in this material world is the same: to exploit others and become wealthy. Whether you are a communist in the winter season or a capitalist in the summer season, your tendency is to exploit others. Unless there is a change of heart, this exploitation will go on.
I once knew a mill worker who acquired some money. Then he became the proprietor of the mill and took advantage of his good fortune to become a capitalist. Henry Ford is another example. He was an errand boy, but he got the opportunity to become a capitalist. There are many such instances. So, to a greater or lesser degree, the propensity is always there in human nature to exploit others and become wealthy. Unless this mentality is changed, there is no point in changing from a capitalist to a communist society. Material life means that everyone is seeking some profit, some adoration, and some position. By threats the state can force people to curb this tendency, but for how long? Can they change everyone’s mind by force? No, it is impossible. Therefore, Marx’s proposition is nonsense.
Syamasundara: Marx thinks the minds of people can be changed by forced conditioning.
Srila Prabhupada: That is not possible. Even a child cannot be convinced by force, what to speak of a mature, educated man. We have the real process for changing people’s minds: chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. Ceto-darpana-marjanam: [Cc. Antya 20.12] This process cleanses the heart of material desires. We have seen that people in Moscow are not happy. They are simply waiting for another revolution. We talked to one working-class boy who was very unhappy. When a pot of rice is boiling, you can take one grain and press it between your fingers, and if it is hot you can understand all the rice is boiling. Thus we can understand the position of the Russian people from the sample of that boy. We could also get further ideas by talking with Professor Kotovsky from the India Department of Moscow University. How foolish he was! He said that after death everything is finished. If this is his knowledge, and if that young boy is a sample of the citizenry, then the situation in Russia is very bleak. They may theorize about so many things, but we could not even purchase sufficient groceries in Moscow. There were no vegetables, fruits, or rice, and the milk was of poor quality. If that Madrasi gentleman had not contributed some dahl and rice, then practically speaking we would have starved. The Russians’ diet seemed to consist of only meat and liquor.
Syamasundara: The communists play upon this universal profit motive. The worker who produces the most units at his factory is glorified by the state or receives a small bonus.
Srila Prabhupada: Why should he get a bonus?
Syamasundara: To give him some incentive to work hard.
Srila Prabhupada: Just to satisfy his tendency to lord it over others and make a profit, his superiors bribe him. This Russian communist idea is very good, provided the citizens do not want any profit. But that is impossible, because everyone wants profit. The state cannot destroy this tendency either by law or by force.
Syamasundara: The communists try to centralize everything—money, communications, and transport—in the hands of the state.
Srila Prabhupada: But what benefit will there be in that? As soon as all the wealth is centralized, the members of the central government will appropriate it, just as Khrushchev did. These are all useless ideas as long as the tendency for exploitation is not reformed. The Russians have organized their country according to Marx’s theories, yet all their leaders have turned out to be cheaters. Where is their program for reforming this cheating propensity?
Syamasundara: Their program is to first change the social condition, and then, they believe, the corrupt mentality will change automatically.
Srila Prabhupada: Impossible. Such repression will simply cause a reaction in the form of another revolution.
Syamasundara: Are you implying that the people’s mentality must first be changed, and then a change in the social structure will naturally follow?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. But the leaders will never be able to train all the people to think that everything belongs to the state. This idea is simply utopian nonsense.
Syamasundara: Marx has another slogan: “Human nature has no reality.” He says that man’s nature changes through history according to material conditions.
Srila Prabhupada: He does not know the real human nature. It is certainly true that everything in this cosmic creation, or jagat, is changing. Your body changes daily. Everything is changing, just like waves in the ocean. This is not a very advanced philosophy. Marx’s theory is also being changed; it cannot last. But man does have a fundamental nature that never changes: his spiritual nature. We are teaching people to come to the standard of acting according to their spiritual nature, which will never change. Acting spiritually means serving Krsna. If we try to serve Krsna now, we will continue to serve Krsna when we go to Vaikuntha, the spiritual world. Therefore, loving service to Lord Krsna is called nitya, or eternal. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, nitya-yukta upasate: “My pure devotees perpetually worship Me with devotion.”
The communists give up Krsna and replace Him with the state. Then they expect to get the people to think, “Nothing in my favor; everything in favor of the state.” But people will never accept this idea. It is impossible; let the rascals try it! All they can do is simply force the people to work, as Stalin did. As soon as he found someone opposed to him, he immediately cut his throat. The same disease is still there today, so how will their program be successful?
Syamasundara: Their idea is that human nature has no reality of its own. It is simply a product of the material environment. Thus, by putting a man in the factory and making him identify with the state and something like scientific achievement, they think they can transform him into a selfless person.
Srila Prabhupada: But because he has the basic disease, envy, he will remain selfish. When he sees that he is working so hard but that the profit is not coming to him, his enthusiasm will immediately slacken. In Bengal there is a proverb: “As a proprietor I can turn sand into gold, but as soon as I am no longer the proprietor, the gold becomes sand.” The Russian people are in this position. They are not as rich as the Europeans or the Americans, and because of this they are unhappy.
Syamasundara: One of the methods the authorities in Russia use is to constantly whip the people into believing there may be a war at any moment. Then they think, “To protect our country, we must work hard.”
Srila Prabhupada: If the people cannot make any profit on their work, however, they will eventually lose all interest in the country. The average man will think, “Whether I work or not, I get the same result. I cannot adequately feed and clothe my family.” Then he will begin to lose his incentive to work. A scientist will see that despite his high position, his wife and children are dressed just like the common laborer.
Syamasundara: Marx says that industrial and scientific work is the highest kind of activity.
Srila Prabhupada: But unless the scientists and the industrialists receive sufficient profit, they will be reluctant to work for the state.
Syamasundara: The Russian goal is the production of material goods for the enhancement of human well-being.
Srila Prabhupada: Their “human well-being” actually means, “If you don’t agree with me, I’ll cut your throat.” This is their “well-being.” Stalin had his idea of “human well-being,” but anyone m who disagreed with his version of it was killed or imprisoned. They may say that a few must suffer for the sake of many, but we have personally seen that Russia has achieved neither general happiness nor prosperity. For example, in Moscow none of the big buildings have been recently built. They are old and ravaged, or poorly renovated. Also, at the stores the people had to stand in long lines to make purchases. These are indications that economic conditions are unsound.
Syamasundara: Marx considered religion an illusion that must be condemned.
Srila Prabhupada: The divisions between different religious faiths may be an illusion, but Marx’s philosophy is also an illusion.
Syamasundara: Do you mean that it’s not being practiced?
Srila Prabhupada: In the sixty years since the Russian Revolution, his philosophy has become distorted. On the other hand, Lord Brahma began the Vedic religion countless years ago, and though foreigners have been trying to devastate it for the last two thousand years, it is still intact. Vedic religion is not an illusion, at least not for India.
Syamasundara: Here is Marx’s famous statement about religion. He says, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of the heartless world, just as it is the spirit of the spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.”
Srila Prabhupada: He does not know what religion is. His definition is false. The Vedas state that religion is the course of action given by God. God is a fact, and His law is also a fact. It is not an illusion. Krsna gives the definition of religion in Bhagavad-gita [18.66]: sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. To surrender unto God—this is religion.
Syamasundara: Marx believes everything is produced from economic struggle and that religion is a technique invented by the bourgeoisie or the capitalists to dissuade the masses from revolution by promising them a better existence after death.
Srila Prabhupada: He himself has created a philosophy that is presently being enforced by coercion and killing.
Syamasundara: And he promised that in the future things will be better. So he is guilty of the very thing that he condemns religion for.
Srila Prabhupada: As we have often explained, religion is that part of our nature which is permanent, which we cannot give up. No one can give up his religion. And what is that religion? Service. Marx desires to serve humanity by putting forward his philosophy. Therefore that is his religion. Everyone is trying to render some service. The father is trying to serve his family, the statesman is trying to serve his country, and the philanthropist is trying to serve all humanity. Whether you are Karl Marx or Stalin or Mahatma Gandhi, a Hindu, a Muslim, or a Christian, you must serve. Because we are presently rendering service to so many people and so many things, we are becoming confused. Therefore, Krsna advises us to give up all this service and serve Him alone:
“Abandon all varieties of service and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” [Bhagavad-gita 18.66]
Syamasundara: The communists—and even to a certain extent the capitalists—believe that service for the production of goods is the only real service. Therefore they condemn us because we are not producing anything tangible.
Srila Prabhupada: How can they condemn us? We are giving service to humanity by teaching the highest knowledge. A high court judge does not produce any grains in the field. He sits in a chair and gets $25,000 or $30,000. Does that mean he is not rendering any service? Of course he is. The theory that unless one performs manual labor in the factory or the fields he is not doing service would simply give credit to the peasant and the worker. It is a peasant philosophy.
There is a story about a king and his prime minister. Once the king’s salaried workers complained, “We are actually working, and this minister is doing nothing, yet you are paying him such a large salary. Why is that?” The king then called his minister in and also had someone bring in an elephant. “Please take this elephant and weigh it,” the king said to his workers. The workers took the elephant to all the markets, but they could not find a scale large enough to weigh the animal. When they returned to the palace the king asked, “What happened?” One of the workers answered, “Sir, we could not find a scale large enough to weigh the elephant.” Then the king addressed his prime minister, “Will you please weigh this elephant?” “Yes, sir,” said the prime minister, and he took the elephant away. He returned within a few minutes and said, “It weighs 11,650 pounds.” All the workers were astonished. “How did you weigh the elephant so quickly?” one of them asked. “Did you find some very large scale?” The minister replied, “No. It is impossible to weigh an elephant on a scale. I went to the river, took the elephant on a boat, and noted the watermark. After taking the elephant off the boat, I put weights in the boat until the same watermark was reached. Then I had the elephant’s weight.” The king said to his workers, “Now do you see the difference?” One who has intelligence has strength, not the fools and the rascals. Marx and his followers are simply fools and rascals. We don’t take advice from them; we take advice from Krsna or His representative.
Syamasundara: So religion is not simply a police force to keep people in illusion?
Srila Prabhupada: No. Religion means to serve the spirit. That is religion. Everyone is rendering service, but no one knows where his service will be most successful. Therefore Krsna says, “Serve Me, and you will serve the spiritual society.” This is real religion. The Marxists want to build a so-called perfect society without religion, yet even up to this day, because India’s foundation is religion, people all over the world adore India.
Syamasundara: Marx says that God does not create man; rather, man creates God.
Srila Prabhupada: That is more nonsense. From what he says, I can tell he is a nonsensical rascal and a fool. One cannot understand that someone is a fool unless he talks. A fool may dress very nicely and sit like a gentleman amongst gentlemen, but we can tell the fools from the learned men by their speech.
Syamasundara: Marx’s follower was Nikolai Lenin. He reinforced all of Marx’s ideas and added a few of his own. He believed that revolution is a fundamental fact of history. He said that history moves in leaps, and that it progresses toward the communist leap. He wanted Russia to leap into the dictatorship of the proletariat, which he called the final stage of historical development.
Srila Prabhupada: No. We can say with confidence—and they may note it carefully—that after the Bolshevik Revolution there will be many other revolutions, because as long as people live on the mental plane there will be only revolution. Our proposition is to give up all these mental concoctions and come to the spiritual platform. If one comes to the spiritual platform, there will be no more revolution. As Dhruva Maharaja said, natah param parama vedmi na yatra nadah: “Now that I am seeing God, I am completely satisfied. Now all kinds of theorizing processes are finished.” So God consciousness is the final revolution. There will be repeated revolutions in this material world unless people come to Krsna consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada: The Vedic injunction is that people are searching after knowledge, and that when one understands the Absolute Truth, he understands everything. Yasmin vijnate sarvam evam vijnatam bhavati. People are trying to approach an objective, but they do not know that the final objective is Krsna. They are simply trying to make adjustments with so many materialistic revolutions. They have no knowledge that they are spiritual beings and that unless they go back to the spiritual world and associate with the Supreme Spirit, God, there is no question of happiness. We are like fish out of water. Just as a fish cannot be happy unless he is in the water, we cannot be happy apart from the spiritual world. We are part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit, Krsna, but we have left His association and fallen from the spiritual world because of our desire to enjoy this material world. So unless we reawaken the understanding of our spiritual position and go back home to the spiritual world, we can never be happy. We can go on theorizing for many lifetimes, but we will only see one revolution after another. The old order changes, yielding its place to the new. Or in other words, history repeats itself.
Syamasundara: Marx says that there are always two conflicting properties in material nature, and that the inner pulsation of opposite forces causes history to take leaps from one revolution to another. He claims that the communist revolution is the final revolution because it is the perfect resolution of all social and political contradictions.
Srila Prabhupada: If the communist idea is spiritualized, then it will become perfect. As long as the communist idea remains materialistic, it cannot be the final revolution. They believe that the state is the owner of everything. But the state is not the owner; the real owner is God. When they come to this conclusion, then the communist idea will be perfect. We also have a communistic philosophy. They say that everything must be done for the state, but in our International Society for Krishna Consciousness we are actually practicing perfect communism by doing everything for Krsna. We know Krsna is the supreme enjoyer of the result of all work (bhoktaram yajna-tapasam [Bg. 5.29]). The communist philosophy as it is now practiced is vague, but it can become perfect if they accept the conclusion of the Bhagavad-gita—that Krsna is the supreme proprietor, the supreme enjoyer, and the supreme friend of everyone. Then people will be happy. Now they mistrust the state, but if the people accept Krsna as their friend, they will have perfect confidence in Him, just as Arjuna was perfectly confident in Krsna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra. The great victory of Arjuna and his associates on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra showed that his confidence in Krsna was justified:
“Wherever there is Krsna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.” [Bhagavad-gita 18.78] So if Krsna is at the center of society, then the people will be perfectly secure and prosperous. The communist idea is welcome, provided they are prepared to replace the so-called state with God. That is religion.
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