Conversation with Author , Sydney , 1972-04-01
Prabhupāda: And if still people are unhappy with this movement, then what can be done? [pause]
Author: So you say that you encourage anybody who disagrees with aspects of your philosophy to argue with you.
Prabhupāda: No. We invite everyone, "Please come and take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness." So if one disagrees, why he will come?
Author: But don't you suggest that if somebody feels that they can find fault in your philosophy...
Prabhupāda: Then let him explain what is that fault.
Prabhupāda: Then we can reply. But without fault, if they make some, what is called?
Prabhupāda: Complaints, that is very difficult thing. What is our fault? Please tell me?
Author: Then sir, I want to ask you about, well... It seems this book is impracticable without the kind of material I want. Now, I don't want to adopt an uncompromising position at all, but I am convinced that you misunderstand my motivations.
I don't know how to persuade you that my motivations are good ones, and so therefore I am in a corner, in a cul de sac. Now, the material that I must have in this book is sufficient to be able to persuade people that they are reading about something which is true. That means, for example, that I...
Prabhupāda: So, that books we have already got. To convince people that this is a nice movement, we have got dozens of books, and they are selling nicely. Practically we are standing by the sales of our books and literature. How to convince people that this is a nice movement, we are ourselves publishing. You cannot publish better book than what we have done. We know the interest.
Author: Sir, I am not seeking to persuade people that it is a nice movement. I am seeking to describe it as it is.
Prabhupāda: No, no, describe, but you cannot describe better than us. Is it not a fact?
Author: Sir, Back to Godhead and the other books are not...
Prabhupāda: Because we know our business, therefore we are describing our facts very nicely. You are outsider.
Author: That's right.
Prabhupāda: Yes. So you cannot place our, I mean to say, pros and cons so nicely.
Author: Sir, I think we are talking about two different things. I think you...
Prabhupāda: You, you wanted little history of this movement? I have given you. That you can create. Yes. How the movement is going on, you can... But we cannot spoil our time in that way, that I describe the biography of a person.
Prabhupāda: In our books there is no biography of anyone. That biography is not that you... We are interested in the philosophy.
Author: Well, I, erm...
Prabhupāda: If this... The philosophy, vijñāna. It is called vijñāna, science. If you want to know what is the science of this movement, we can spare day and night to convince you. But these are superficial. First of all we say that "I am not..., we are not this body." So why we shall be interested with the history of this body?
Author: Sir, I, with respect, I am now talking about offering some information about the movement, not on the movement's behalf and not for the movement's benefit, but to the general public. Now, among this information, a substantial proportion of this information will be about the movement's philosophy. I shall make an earnest, and I think...
Prabhupāda: That is nice.
Author: I shall make an earnest and I think intelligent effort to understand and then to communicate the movement's philosophy.
Prabhupāda: Yes. That is...
Author: But I can assure you that it's also necessary to communicate something of the rather superficial aspects of the movement, which, I think I agree with you, are much less important than the philosophy. But it is also necessary to communicate these.
Prabhupāda: Now, our simple philosophy is that we are spirit soul. We are eternal. You are eternal. I am eternal. Everyone is eternal. We are changing our body, transmigrating from one body to another. And that means repetition of birth and death, but we are eternal. Why we are in such botheration of repetition of birth and death? Not only that; sometimes in some species of life, may be very high position, sometimes in low position.
Suppose somebody is American, and the next life, if he becomes a tree, if he becomes a dog... Huh? He may become a demigod also. There is possibility. Just like in future you may be a very big journalist, very, I mean to say, educated man, but you may not be Australian[?]. So there is big science in it, but people are not interested.
[break] ...understand this movement thoroughly and take it seriously. It is for good welfare, for very good welfare. Now, in Europe, America, here also, so many frustrated young boys, they are coming to be practically of no value to the country. In America I see thousands of hippies, they are doing nothing. So what is the future of the country? If the flowers of the country, young boys, they do not take interest anything, in administration, in industry, then what is the future?
From economic point of view I have studied that America, for want of sufficient workers, they are importing goods from Japan. This is not very good sign. Why such a big country, American country, why they should import? But they are obliged to import. They have no workers. Japan's 75% business is done in America. We are not impractical. Because there are so many workers, but they refuse. In Central Park, it is full of rubbish things always. You go; it is a garbage. Why? There is no worker. And on the other side we see so many young men, they are not working, simply idling time.
So they do not tackle the real problem. The future is not very hopeful if things go on like this. So many young boys, they are doing nothing.
[aside:] What is the percentage of hippies now in America? A very good percent. All the school, colleges. Here also in the university...
Devotee: All the university students.
Prabhupāda: They are all hippies. So what do we expect? They are taking education, and then, after taking education, they don't do anything. This is a problem. And so many illicit children, and the government has to supply them food, and the welfare, what is called? That welfare department?
Devotee: Social service, social...
Prabhupāda: Social welfare.
Devotee (2): Social security, welfare.
Prabhupāda: Security. No, social welfare, that the girls are getting illicit children and the government has to supply food for them. Nobody is taking care of the girls, of the children. And government has to take. The responsibility is increasing, so many things, but this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement will solve all the questions. It is such a nice movement. It is a boon. So you study from that point of view and prepare. You are journalist, therefore I am talking so many things. This is good material for your writing. Practical.
Author: Sir, when somebody joins your movement, when they first come to see your movement, what presents itself to them---men with shaven heads and saffron-colored robes who dance in the street and who sing songs, strange songs...
Prabhupāda: We [indistinct] what we require.
Author: These are strange aspects. And in themselves they are not especially significant to an understanding of the philosophy, are they?
Prabhupāda: No, this is... This chanting and dancing is for mass of people. But when you want to discuss philosophy, we have got volumes of books. Yes. Both things we have got. We are attracting both the intelligent class of men and the mass of people, even the children.
Author: Now, sir, I think you agree that when... If you agree that this is the first thing that people generally see of your movement, then surely, if I am to write a book in which I am to describe the movement, it is necessary for me to describe some of the...
Prabhupāda: But if he is actually, anyone wants to see, so he should see our books also, magazines also. Why does he not see? We, our, send our boys in the streets with books. If you are not liking this saffron dress and dancing, why don't you read the books?
Author: No, I don't think you take my point. What I am saying is that... Let us imagine that the reader who picks up the book, this book that I am going to write, I hope, is very much like a person who sees the devotees dancing in the street, because he is seeing something for the first time. Now, it's necessary, surely, to describe these external and superficial features.
Prabhupāda: It is not superficial. This dancing is spiritual ecstasy. Otherwise, it is not a dog's dancing. You see? Any gentleman, if I ask you, "Please dance on this footpath," will you agree? It is not that dancing. You don't compare with that dancing. It is not dog's dancing. They chant, they feel---they dance.
That is another thing. You try to understand it. If they are coming from respectable family... Now, here is a boy. He is a professor. So if I ask him, "Please go and dance on the footpath," will he agree? A professor will agree? But when a professor dances, there is something. You should understand.
Author: But, sir, I'm not saying that the dancing is meaningless. I was saying that when one sees people dancing, that doesn't mean anything.
Prabhupāda: That does not mean to you.
Author: That's what I mean.
Prabhupāda: But it means to them.
Author: Yes. No. I'm not saying that it's meaningless. I'm saying that it appears to be meaningless in the same way that one should wonder why he has his head shaven and why he wears those clothes. If one doesn't understand, these things are...
Prabhupāda: At least, they can take by shaving head means it cleans, cleanses. The head is not overburdened with unnecessary... [laughter] We want clear brain, and that is the system, Vedic system. All learned scholars, they cleanse head. Cleanse head. Yes. And at least we get relief. A little hair growing is also burdensome. We cleanse. So it is personal convenience. So that is not the point of preaching.
Author: No. But, sir, I see... I don't... I think it would be very difficult to explain the meaning of having a bald head, and by saying somebody's got a bald head, the reason for this is, there seems to be some cleanliness and so on, and to explain why people wear clothes like this. It's impossible, surely, to explain the reasons for these things without describing them in the first place.
Prabhupāda: Explain... Any group of men, they have got a particular type of dress---the military dress, the police dress---so people can understand that "Here is a police." Similarly, by this dress they will chant "Hare Kṛṣṇa!" immediately. That is our experience. As soon as they will see these people, "Hare Kṛṣṇa," and if they will criticize our, anything... We want that people see us and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. That we want. Simply by seeing us they will remember Hare Kṛṣṇa. That is great advancement. Indirectly that is our propaganda, chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Author: Can I appeal to Mohanānanda dāsa just for a second. What I am trying to say here is that for every person..., well, for most of the people who read this book, what they are going to be reading about is something which is completely alien, and therefore one can't start by offering them a highly sophisticated discussion of the philosophy, because they won't even begin to understand it.
Just as when you people sell Back to Godhead on the footpaths, the people who buy it, I can assure you, understand very little of it. And I think you are aware that they understand very little of it. But they understand some of it. And probably enough to make it worthwhile. You think so, and I think so, too. But this book can't start off at the end. I can't start off with the philosophy.
Prabhupāda: [aside:] Your business is finished at [indistinct].
Devotee: Not too much yet, but...
Prabhupāda: When it will finish?
Devotee: Tonight it will be finished.
Author: I must start off from the beginning for the person who reads the book, and the beginning for the person who reads the book is = here are these people wearing these strange clothes and doing these strange things. Now, why? Now, that's what I've got to do in the book. And in order to do this, it's necessary to describe some of these physical characteristics. And my reason for doing this is, in order to define what is relevant, it's necessary also to define what is irrelevant. That's pure logic.
Devotee: But Prabhupāda wants that you should have the highest understanding. Not just looking at it from their point of view, but if you present it from our point of view, then it can gain the realest, greatest understanding.
Author: Well, with respect, I think that can only..., we can only consider that question in practice. When I actually write the material, you'll have to...
Prabhupāda: No. I mean to say, why there is objection if they are dressed in a particular way?
Author: Oh, I'm not objecting to it at all.
Author: In fact, it's one of the most reasons why I'm most strongly in favor of the Hare Kṛṣṇa...
Prabhupāda: So they are Hare Kṛṣṇa people, they dress in a particular way. That is the answer. That's all.
Author: I don't mind. Sir, I don't mind how they dress. I don't mind how anybody dresses. I don't mind at all. I happen to dress conservatively, other people dress less conservatively, and you people dress in saffron robes. It's not an...
Prabhupāda: Then what is your real question about the dress and shaven head?
Author: No I, for most people...
Devotee: One thing I think I understand is that he is saying that many people come and become interested in our movement by seeing us. Or by..., not understanding anything of what we are doing, but by visual, by the mundane, seemingly, aspects. And in his book, I think what he is saying is he wants to present it in a way that will attract that sort of person, whereas most people will not pick up the book and read it because it's a book on Kṛṣṇa conscious philosophy, but because they are interested in the outward aspect of things. If it contains that to some degree, then they will pick it up, and then he can present both and give them some knowledge also of what we are doing in our philosophy.
Prabhupāda: I do not follow.
Upendra: By putting a label, poison, a label, nectar on a bottle of poison. [laughter] They will take. They will think he is giving them what they are interested in, even though it may be superficial. But once there, then he can present the philosophy as well. I think that's what he's saying.
Author: Yes, well, I'm not trying to... Because I am not an adherent of... I'm not a Hare Kṛṣṇa movement member. As is obvious. And because I am not a member of the movement, I am therefore not trying to do precisely what you gentlemen are saying, but I'll not try to package an unwholesome product like poison... [laughter] Yes, I appreciate that. But what I am trying to do is to describe what is.
Now this requires an exercise of the imagination. If you imagine somebody who is outside, as each of you people were at one stage, you came to understand what this movement was by a gradual process. Now I in, I hope, in a book of about a hundred pages, am going to trace that process, not in the way you did it, but in a slightly different way. But the things that strikes one immediately are these external, superficial characteristics. And then one becomes to appreciate rather more important things. And it's just a question of stating these in that way. Now in order to understand the highest possible things, it surely is necessary to state the superficial things as well, the less important things. It seems to me to be clearly...
Upendra: What Prabhupāda is speaking tonight is very important, and it might appear that he is not understanding you, but he is actually speaking to you, like you said, necessary [indistinct], so that if you can assimilate everything Prabhupāda is saying tonight, you'll be able to write the book much more clearly. You might think that he is not understanding you, but he is speaking the most important part.
Author: I am not suggesting his understanding. I think he is worried about my understanding, which is why he is stressing... Right. Well, I appreciate this, but I am trying to convince him that I am going to try to say accurately what your philosophy is. And in this I'll have to rely on your help, because I can't do it otherwise.
Prabhupāda: I have already explained our philosophy.
Author: I'm sorry, not explain; describe, I think, is a rather better word.
Prabhupāda: That philosophy, if you want to know more, then we can speak more. But that is the outlines of the philosophy, that people, without knowledge of his identification, they are misled, being misled. And that is very risky. Risky means that you have got this opportunity of understanding your position and get out of the difficulties of birth, death, old age and disease. If you do not properly use this opportunity and again you become cats and dogs, then are you not misled?
So present civilization is misleading. They are concerned with a few years' enjoyment, so-called enjoyment. Suppose you are Australian or American. You have got very nice status in your country---good house, good facility, good money, and that's all right. But after your death, when you have to quit this subtle atmosphere, then after your death what is happening to you, you are not concerned to know. If you are eternal, if you are eternal, then suppose you have got this shirt and coat. When it is torn down, when it is old enough, you have to give it up. Then you have to purchase another shirt and coat. So are you not prepared for that, "What kind of shirt and coat I shall have?"
Author: No, I'm not.
Prabhupāda: You are not? That is a very good intelligence? You go naked?
Author: No. It's not very wise, provided one assumes that one is going to have another body[?].
Prabhupāda: No. Everyone thinks like that. Suppose I have to purchase one coat. I consult my pocket, "What kind of shirt I shall purchase?" Everyone knows. But if you say you are not interested, that is different thing. But any man who is going to purchase a new shirt and coat, he considers before going to the tailor's house what kind of shirt he will have, what kind of coat. Everyone thinks. That is natural. You cannot deny it. Whether it will be suitable, whether it will be comfortable, so many things, everyone considers. And then he goes to a storehouse and orders, "Give me this kind of coat, this kind of shirt." Why you can say that nobody is interested in that? Everyone is interested.
Author: No, I didn't say nobody was. I didn't say that nobody was.
Prabhupāda: That is the natural inclination. So if you are eternal, if your life is not for these ten, twenty or hundred years---you are going to have another span of life---are you not interested to know what kind of life you are going to get?
Author: Well, I don't believe that I shall. But then I don't think that...
Prabhupāda: It is not the question of belief; it is a fact. You have to accept another body after this body, just like you have already accepted. Your childhood body was there, and that is gone. You accepted another body. Similarly, now you have got another body. A few years after, you will get another body. So you are accepting bodies one after another. That's a fact.
So you have to accept another body after this. So what kind of body I am going to get? Is it not the point of consideration? But there is no education on this point. But that's a fact. We have accepted already so many bodies. And natural conclusion is that I must accept another body. But what kind of body? Now you can select. There are 8,400,000 forms of body.
So these questions are not discussed at all, but they are very important factors. That is philosophy. But modern civilization, they neglect = "I don't mind what kind of body I shall get next life." So those who are intelligent, if they think that "Why shall I neglect this point? I am not going to accept a body like a tree or a dog. If I accept a body, I must have a body very nice." One may not [be] interested in this fact, but others may be interested. So if others are interested, why this chance should be denied?
Devotee: Śrīla Prabhupāda? The temple is calling on the phone. They want to know if you are coming tonight.
Prabhupāda: No, no. It is too late. Just like there is higher studies in science, in so many departments of knowledge. It is not that mass of people is interested in Ph.D. degree. But if one is interested in Ph.D. degree, therefore government provides = "Yes, in university you come." That is the real facility. So if anyone is interested to understand Kṛṣṇa consciousness, why it should be denied?
Why this should be obstructed because I do not like it? In big, big universities, maybe in higher studies there may be one student, and for that one student they are maintaining four professors. Each professor is paid two thousand dollars. Is it not a fact? What do you think, you professor? Is it not a fact? Some department of knowledge is maintained, even it is not paying. Is it not?
Devotee: That's true.
Prabhupāda: There are so many departments simply for research work because the government knows it is important thing. It may not be for the mass of people, but at least one, two intelligent class of men, he pays, qualified = "Let them have this opportunity."
So this is like that. Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is not for ordinary men, but it is very important movement. Those who are interested, why they should be denied? It should be maintained. We cannot expect everyone can give up all these bad habits---illicit sex, illicit meat-eating, or drink or intoxication, gambling. That is not expected. But if one wants to be for higher status of life, why he should be denied? This is not a bad thing. Why the city fathers are thinking that this should be stopped? [pause]
Hmm. All right, let us now... So my appeal to you, that you are journalist; you at least study this our movement, and present very nicely. That is my request.
Author: Well, thank you very much for...
Prabhupāda: Yes, thank you.
[aside:] Stop that. [end]