Room Conversation with George Gullen, President of Wayne State University , Detroit , 1976-06-15

George Gullen: ...I'm the president of Wayne State University. I'm very pleased to be asked to come and visit with you. [break]

Prabhupāda: You have studied something about our philosophy?

George Gullen: I beg your pardon?

Prabhupāda: I am asking, you have studied something about our philosophy?

George Gullen: A little. Not very much. I'm not as knowledgeable as I should be, I'm certain.

Prabhupāda: It is not a sectarian movement. [to someone else:] Why you stop? Yes. [to Gullen:] It is essential knowledge for the whole human society. There are two things = matter and spirit. We can understand, every one of us, we are combination of two things = matter and spirit. The matter is the body, and the spirit is the moving force.

George Gullen: Um-hm, I hear what you're saying, yes.

Prabhupāda: But the modern civilization, throughout the whole world, they are very serious about the matter, but they are completely in ignorance about the spirit. What is your opinion about these things?

George Gullen: I understand that very clearly, and I think we're caught up terribly in matters that are not of the spirit. We're terribly caught up in materialistic things.

Prabhupāda: But material, that is temporary. This body---your body, my body, anyone's body---that is temporary. It will not stay. It has taken birth at a certain date, it will endure for certain years, and then it will be finished. But the spirit, that will continue. It will accept another body. Just like we are accepting..., we are giving up our body, childhood body, accepting the body of a boy, then giving up the boyhood body, accepting the body of a young man. Similarly, this body... Just like I am an old man. This will be finished, and I will accept another body. So the spirit soul is eternal, and the body is temporary. So we are taking care of the body very much. That is also required. But what about the spirit soul? This education is lacking.

George Gullen: Yes, this is true. My father was a Christian minister all of his life, and he had very deep beliefs about the spiritual matters. He felt very strongly, as you do, that the body was temporal, temporary, and that his spirit would find its way into some other form of life, and he believed very strongly in life after human death, very much so. He believed in a matter he called cosmic consciousness, in which the spirit had far greater powers than physical powers. He had similar kinds, I believe, of beliefs that you do. I have some beliefs myself that the human body being quite temporary, that years are not long for it, that there must be more to life than just the physical side.

Prabhupāda: Everyone's body is temporary, either human body or cat's body, dog's body. But the human body is important because in the human body we have developed consciousness by which we can understand what is God. The cats and dogs, they cannot. They haven't got that developed consciousness. Therefore if we do not use this developed consciousness for understanding God and our relationship with Him, then we are no better than cats and dogs. Cats and dogs cannot be educated about God, but a human being can be educated. That is the distinction between animals and man. But modern education is keeping them in ignorance about God, so they are no better than cats and dogs. And how can you bring peace among cats and dogs? Can you bring in peace calling all the dogs of your city and sit down peacefully? No, that is not possible. So if we keep our citizens like cats and dogs, then how we can expect peace?

George Gullen: We are much in ignorance about those matters, I understand that, and...

Prabhupāda: Yes. Complete ignorance, like animals. So the leaders of the society, if they are serious about advancement of human civilization, they must take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or God consciousness; otherwise, they'll be baffled.

George Gullen: Well, we do not teach about these things...

Prabhupāda: Yes, that is the defect.

George Gullen: ...in public schools because we do not know.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Now whether still we shall remain in ignorance or we shall learn this science and teach? That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. It is not a sectarian religious movement. No, it is not that. This is science, scientific movement. So leading personalities like you, teachers, professors and other leading men, they should try to understand what is this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is, and join. It is for the human society; it is not for a certain section.

George Gullen: I would like very much to know more about these matters myself, personally.

Prabhupāda: So kindly do that. You are little interested. So we are receiving orders from all universities, colleges, of our books. You have seen our books? These are our books.

Satsvarūpa: Wayne State University, where he is president, they have standing orders.

Prabhupāda: Ah, we have also given[?]. That is very nice. So every person, responsible person, he should learn this science and introduce, so that the opportunity a human being has got, that must be utilized.

George Gullen: I'm sure there are many interpretations of what you say. I have an interest in these matters, and I want to know more about yours, very much so. I will see that I get your literature and read it.

Prabhupāda: Your father was also interested. That means naturally you have got some instinct from father, hereditary instinct. That is natural. So we want that... In the Bhagavad-gītā there is a verse. [aside:] Find out,

yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas
tat tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute
lokas tad anuvartate

Hari-śauri: 3.21.

yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas
tat tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute
lokas tad anuvartate

"Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues."

Prabhupāda: Purport?

Hari-śauri: Purport = "People in general always require a leader who can teach the public by practical behavior. A leader cannot teach the public to stop smoking if he himself smokes. Lord Caitanya said that a teacher should behave properly even before he begins teaching. One who teaches in that way is called ācārya, or the ideal teacher. Therefore, a teacher must follow the principles of śāstra, scripture, to reach the common man. The teacher cannot manufacture rules against the principles of revealed scriptures. The revealed scriptures, like Manu-saṁhitā and others, are considered the standard books to be followed by human society. Thus the leader's teaching should be based on the principles of the standard rules as they are practiced by the great teachers. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam also affirms that one should follow in the footsteps of great devotees, and this is the way of progress on the path of spiritual realization. The king or the executive head of a state, the father and the schoolteacher are all considered to be natural leaders of the innocent people in general. All such natural leaders have a great responsibility to their dependents; therefore they must be conversant with standard books of moral and spiritual codes."

George Gullen: Very good, very good. I believe all that. Every word. The people need leadership, inspiration, that they can follow with their whole heart. They cannot follow...

Prabhupāda: There must be practice. That we are teaching. That simply not theoretical, but practical. Here in our institute, we teach all the students practically how to become God conscious. Theoretical knowledge will not help us. There must be practical behavior. They are rising early in the morning, attending maṅgala-ārati, then having class, Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, chanting. In this way, twenty-four hours engaged. It is not fifteen minutes' recreation. No. Twenty-four hours' program.

George Gullen: I think this is good for the world. I think the world needs it, very much so.

Prabhupāda: So we are trying, although we are not supported by any government, we are trying in our own way. Own way... The way is standard, but unfortunately people have lost interest in these things. Animal life. As soon as we forget our interest in spiritual life, then immediately we're animals.

George Gullen: We're very much creatures of habit, and it's difficult for us to give up our habits.

Prabhupāda: Habit can be changed. Habit can be changed by practice. Just like we advise no illicit sex, no intoxication, no meat-eating. So all these Europeans, Americans, they were habituated to all these habits, but now they have stopped. It can be, by practice, bad habits can be changed.

George Gullen: You appear to have a program of great discipline, and I think that discipline is necessary for people who want to feel and learn and understand. I'm an admirer of discipline of that kind. But it's hard for one to bring oneself to do that out of a world that's strange, a strange world---our world is strange---try to bring myself out of that to other things. But I'm pleased to have this opportunity to hear you and to think about it, talk about it. I'd like to read more about it.

Prabhupāda: One priest has joined us. What is his name?

Satsvarūpa: Eugene Stowsky.

Prabhupāda: He's Ph.D. He has recently joined us. He likes this movement.

George Gullen: I'm sure it satisfies a deep need. I'm sure that's true.

Prabhupāda: No, it is the need of the human society. There is no alternative. In the Vedic mantra it is said, tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet [MU 1.2.12]. One must accept this. Otherwise, his human life is spoiled. If you simply trained up to live like an animal, then it is a great harm to the human society.

George Gullen: I think our educational program at our university is very important to people if it helps them think and understand and begin to feel. We don't educate the heart, and I think there's something wrong about that. I think that the heart needs an education. There's some feelings one has to understand and some responses. We're inadequate in this respect, I...

Prabhupāda: No, the thing is... Suppose a person, by his right, has to get so much money from his father's property. If somebody does not give him that money or somehow or other checks him to get the money, so that's a very heinous act. If he is actually inheritor of the father's property, he must get it. That is justice. Similarly, in the human form of life, one can get this education. If this education is lacking, that means we are envious; we're not giving the opportunity of fulfilling the right. And without this education, there is chance of falling down. Just like tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ [Bg. 2.13]. Another body you have to accept. If you do not give proper education, then next body may be lower than human being. There are so many different types of bodies, 8,400,000. So according to our mentality, we get another body. Nature's law. Nobody can check it. This life I may be very satisfied, that "I have got this body. Let me enjoy without any responsibility and become an animal." That's not very good civilization. They do not believe in the next life. Big, big educated men, they have no brain even to understand that we are changing every moment the body, and they don't believe that body changes and the soul continues. Dhīras tatra na muhyati. [aside:] Find out this verse.


dehino 'smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
tathā dehāntara-prāptir
dhīras tatra na muhyati

"As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change."

George Gullen: These are difficult words to understand, but I appreciate them.

Prabhupāda: Therefore dhīra... Dhīras tatra. Dhīra means sober gentleman. Dhīra. Dhīra means gentleman. So if one does not understand this simple truth, he's not even a gentleman, what to speak of learned scholar. Dhīras tatra na muhyati. That means every gentleman must have this education. And what is the use? What is the meaning of dhīra?

Hari-śauri: Sober.

Satsvarūpa: Learned.

Prabhupāda: That is gentleman. So one who does not understand this philosophy of life is not fit to be addressed as gentleman. It is commonsense knowledge.

George Gullen: My father used to speak of the Oversoul, that I think had some similarity to these words that we just read, that the soul that is above...

Prabhupāda: We call Supersoul, that is God. The idea is in Christianity also, "Holy Ghost" like that. Supersoul and the ordinary soul. We living entities, we are ordinary souls, and God in His all-pervading feature, He is Supersoul. [aside:] Find out this verse = kṣetra-jñaṁ cāpi māṁ viddhi sarva-kṣetreṣu bhārata.


kṣetra-jñaṁ cāpi māṁ viddhi
sarva-kṣetreṣu bhārata
kṣetra-kṣetrajñayor jñānaṁ
yat taj jñānaṁ mataṁ mama

Prabhupāda: Kṣetra-kṣetrajñayor jñānaṁ yat taj jñānaṁ yat anyatā. English?

Hari-śauri: "O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its owner is called knowledge. That is My opinion."

Prabhupāda: First of all knowledge means kṣetra-kṣetrajña. The body is the field of activity. You are acting, I am also acting, everyone is acting---according to the body. But the actor is called kṣetrajña. Just like a cultivator is tilling the land, his own, and the tiller is cultivator. Similarly, this body is an analogy of this field, and we are tilling. So Kṛṣṇa says that "I am also one of the tillers." Just like the tenant and the landlord. In an apartment house, the tenant is occupier of a certain house, certain apartment, but the landlord is the owner of the whole house. So God says, "I am also kṣetrajña---but for all the building," everything that is there, all planets, all, everywhere. That is His all-pervasiveness. I am the proprietor of this body, owner of this body, but God is proprietor of all the bodies. In this way that is explained. [aside:] Purport?

Hari-śauri: Purport = "While discussing the subject of this body and the owner of the body, the soul and the Supersoul, we shall find three different topics of study = the Lord, the living entity and matter. In every field of activities, in every body, there are two souls = the individual soul and the Supersoul. Because the Supersoul is the plenary expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa says, 'I am also the knower, but I am not the individual owner of the body. I am the superknower. I am present in every body as the Paramātmā, or Supersoul.'

One who studies the subject matter of the field of activity and the knower of the field very minutely, in terms of this Bhagavad-gītā, can attain to knowledge. The Lord says, 'I am the knower of the field of activities in every individual body.' The individual may be the knower of his own body, but he is not in knowledge of other bodies. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is present as the Supersoul in all bodies, knows everything about all bodies. He knows all the different bodies of all the various species of life. A citizen may know everything about his patch of land, but the king knows not only his palace but all the properties possessed by the individual citizens. Similarly, one may be the proprietor of the body individually, but the Supreme Lord is the proprietor of all bodies. The king is the original proprietor of the kingdom, and the citizen is the secondary proprietor. Similarly, the Supreme Lord is the supreme proprietor of all bodies.

The body consists of the senses. The Supreme Lord is Hṛṣīkeśa, which means controller of the senses. He is the original controller of the senses, just as the king is the original controller of all activities within the state, and the citizens are secondary controllers. The Lord also says, 'I am also the knower.' This means that He is the superknower; the individual soul knows only his particular body. In Vedic literature, it is also stated..."

Prabhupāda: Just like pains and pleasure. You know your bodily pains and pleasure, I know my body. But I do not know your bodily pains, neither you know mine. But God knows everyone's pains and pleasures. That is the difference between God and individual soul.

Hari-śauri: "This body is called kṣetra, and within it dwells the owner of the body and the Supreme Lord, who knows both the body and the owner of the body. Therefore He is called the knower of all fields. The distinction between the field of activities, the owner of activities and the supreme owner of activities is described as follows. Perfect knowledge of the constitution of the body, the constitution of the individual soul and the constitution of the Supersoul is known in terms of Vedic literature as jñānam. That is the opinion of Kṛṣṇa. To understand both the soul and the Supersoul as one yet distinct is knowledge. One who does not understand the field of activity and the knower of activity is not in perfect knowledge. One has to understand the position of prakṛti, nature, and puruṣa, the enjoyer of the nature, and īśvara, the knower who dominates or controls nature and the individual soul. One should not confuse the three in their different capacities. One should not confuse the painter, the painting and the easel. This material world, which is the field of activities, is nature, and the enjoyer of nature is the living entity, and above them both is the supreme controller, the Personality of Godhead. It is stated in the Vedic language = bhoktā bhogyaṁ preritāraṁ ca matvā/ sarvaṁ proktaṁ tri-vidhaṁ brahmam etat [Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 1.12]. There are three Brahman conceptions = prakṛti is Brahman as the field of activities, and the jīva [individual soul] is also Brahman and is trying to control the material nature, and the controller of both of them is also Brahman, but He is the factual controller.

In this chapter it will be also explained that out of the two knowers, one is fallible and the other is infallible. One is superior and the other is subordinate. One who understands the two knowers of the field to be one and the same contradicts the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who states here very clearly that 'I am also the knower of the field of activity.' One who misunderstands a rope to be a serpent is not in knowledge. There are different kinds of bodies, and there are different owners of the bodies. Because each individual soul has his individual capacity of lording it over material nature, there are different bodies. But the Supreme also is present in them as the controller. The word ca is significant, for it indicates the total number of bodies. That is the opinion of Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa = Kṛṣṇa is the Supersoul present in each and every body apart from the individual soul. And Kṛṣṇa explicitly says here that the Supersoul is the controller of both the field of activities and the finite enjoyer."

George Gullen: Thank you for reading this to me. I'm afraid I must be discourteous and leave you at the moment. I am speaking at a dinner meeting for my university.

Prabhupāda: All right.

George Gullen: I was delighted with Miss Reuther's call, for the chance to come and for this opportunity to listen to you, and I'm very grateful to her for calling.

Prabhupāda: Give him some prasādam.

Lekhaśravantī: Here's some prasādam.

George Gullen: Oh, thank you very much. [end]