Conversation with Dr. Shaligram Shukla--Part 2 , Washington, D.C. , 1976-07-05
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: There are certain hymns in Vedas which are so personal and [indistinct]. And I don't find anything in Vedas impersonal. As a matter of fact...
Prabhupāda: No, no, impersonal there is. Impersonal means negation of this material thing. Neti neti, "Not this." Impersonal means not this material person. That is impersonal. Kṛṣṇa is person, but in order to convince people that He's person but not a material person, the material things have to be negated. That is Upaniṣad. Just to evade the material conception of the Absolute. But ultimately He's person. Brahmaṇo 'ham pratiṣṭhā [Bg. 14.27]. Yasya prabhā prabhavato jagad-aṇḍa-koṭi-koṭiṣu [Bs. 5.40]. These things are there. So in order to substantiate the Supreme Person as completely spiritual, the material conception of personality is rejected. That is impersonal. Nirguṇa means He has no material qualities. Bhakta-vatsala. Kṛṣṇa is bhakta-vatsala. That is not material quality, that is spiritual quality. So negation of material understanding is impersonal. But when one is fully in awareness of Kṛṣṇa, His spiritual identity, then again He's person.
Devotee (1): Śrīla Prabhupāda gave the example this morning that something which is personal can speak, just like Kṛṣṇa spoke Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa's described in Bhagavad-gītā as the Supreme. But we don't have any experience of something impersonal like the sky speaking to us. So if the Supreme is impersonal, how is it that the Bhagavad-gītā is spoken by Him?
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Māyāvādīs like Swami Vivekananda, he questions, "Who was Lord Kṛṣṇa?" Was Kṛṣṇa King of Dvārakā or anybody else? He don't know even that.
Prabhupāda: He's a fool. He does not know, therefore other does not know. It is not the fact. He's a fool. He does not know.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: He does not know. He said that Gītā is karma-yoga, and writes volumes and volumes...
Prabhupāda: That is foolishness. That is his foolishness. Gītā is completely bhakti-yoga. Sarva dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja [Bg. 18.66]. Everything is finished. And what is karma-yoga? What is karma-yoga?
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: According to these Māyāvādīs...
Prabhupāda: Not according, according to Bhagavad-gītā.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: According to Bhagavad-gītā, all the karma should be done for Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Prabhupāda: For Kṛṣṇa, yes. So that is bhakti-yoga. Yat karoṣi kuruṣva tad mad-arpaṇam. That is bhakti. Karma-yoga means bhakti. That is the difficulty, that these Māyāvādīs, they have killed India's Vedic civilization. Now India is atheist. Very tragic position.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: What are your plans for India? Because I was in India...
Prabhupāda: We are pushing this Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is being appreciated. It will take some time. Because so much mischievous activities have been done by the Māyāvādīs, to counteract, it will take some time. They are simply mischievous. Caitanya Mahāprabhu has rejected them. Māyāvādī bhāṣya sunile haya sarva-nāśa [Cc. Madhya 6.169]. If one takes the Māyāvādī version of the śāstras, then his spiritual life is finished. He becomes atheist. His spiritual life is finished. Now what is the contribution? You talked about Vivekananda. What is his contribution?
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Nothing. He accomplished nothing.
Prabhupāda: Nothing. Simply he has taught the sannyāsīs to eat meat. That is his contribution.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: The Western [indistinct].
Prabhupāda: He says there is no harm eating meat.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: As long as it's not his meat.
Prabhupāda: This is going on. Nārāyaṇa has become daridra. Daridra-nārāyaṇa, these are Vivekananda's contribution. And spoiled India's spiritual tradition. He has created one illiterate priest as God. That is his contribution, if you become honest to understand. So it will take some time to counteract all these mischievous activities.
Rūpānuga: You will do it, Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Prabhupāda: Simply mischievous.
Devotee (1): How is it that these men are so attractive to the Indian people?
Prabhupāda: They have become fools. Fool's paradise, they have been made.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Because Vivekananda became very popular in America, and...
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Who became popular in America?
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Vivekananda.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: No, he didn't. That's their propaganda.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: That's propaganda, yes, but...
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: I never heard of Vivekananda until I went to Bengal.
Devotee (1): The Vedanta Society was formed there...
Prabhupāda: No, no, the other day we spoke that... Now in Vṛndāvana, you know, we have got our temple. So the Ramakrishna Mission, they have got their temple also. In our temple, thousands and thousands of these Americans came, and not a single one went there. If they had preached anything, then why these American boys and girls are not interested, "Let us see where the Ramakrishna Mission stays"? They do not know even. There are many present here who went to Vṛndāvana, and none of them were interested to see. Why? If there was any propaganda... This is practical proof. Why none of them were interested, "Oh, here is also Ramakrishna Mandir, let us go here"? Nodody. Boliya, Sukla. Is it practical?
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Yes, of course. Of course, even in India I don't think Vivekananda is that popular. It's localized within one area, and people probably just had no good books to read, and they got some of his writings. I know my father brought some books and...
Prabhupāda: So where is your home?
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: It's in Benares, Kāśī. So there were some books by Vivekananda. And he is emotionally against Vivekananda, so that's a little too much perhaps. So he brought those books so that I could read them, I was curious. And I said, "When you are through, give it to your cook." [laughter] That's the only functional use of those books.
Prabhupāda: So burning it in the fire?
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Yes, he said so that we can make our cāpāṭis, to have some use of those things. [laughter] And Kṛṣṇa, of course, there's hardly a village in India where, whether knowingly or unknowingly, people are not aware of this Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: In India they know, everyone. They observe Janmāṣṭamī.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Kṛṣṇa paraṁ bhajami. In India everybody knows Kṛṣṇa, even the illiterate person, but nobody knows Vivekananda. Only a few people, they started a Vedanta Society.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Of course Veda is a very serious literature, it's not just anybody can get into that, it's a very..., it's a disciplic...
Prabhupāda: Brahma-sūtra-padaiś caiva hetumādbhir viniścitaiḥ [Bg. 13.5]. Very.... Nyāya-praṣṭhāna. But Vedānta-sūtra is explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Therefore our Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, they did not write any comment on the Vedānta-sūtra. They accept Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the real bhāṣya. But when the Gauḍīya-Vaiṣṇavas are challenged that "You have no Vedānta-sūtra bhāṣya, therefore you cannot be accepted as transcendental party," so Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana immediately gave Govinda-bhāṣya on Vedānta. Our Gosvāmīs, they did not write, because they knew Brahma-sūtra bhāṣya, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Indian devotee: Śrīla Prabhupāda, I was also a victim of this Vivekananda philosophy for a long time, and my father was very against.
Prabhupāda: What is the philosophy?
Indian devotee: There is no philosophy, but I was... It was amusing... My father all the time was telling me to do some devotional service, and I was... No, if I would not do it, I would not get my breakfast. So I had to do it. Anyway. But now you have your books, and they have just like really given me proper guidance.
Indian lady: Śrīla Prabhupāda, I read Ramakrishna when I was fifteen years old, and I became so restless and anxious for guru, and I began to concentrate so much, and I become so God conscious. But I don't know what happened to me by reading Ramakrishna, and I was thinking I should have guru [indistinct], I should have some discipline, spiritual discipline. And then I heard, and he gave me so much inspiration. So I don't know. I can't criticize anyone. I don't know what's wrong with me.
Prabhupāda: Eh? [devotees laugh] What is the question?
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: The question is that she was so much inspired when she was very young, she read some words by Ramakrishna.
Prabhupāda: What was the particular thing?
Indian lady: Life. His life. I did not read the philosophy, but his life.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Then she started looking for guru. She became very aware of the need for a guru.
Indian lady: And that's why I found you.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Many of us who have similar experiences like that. Naturally, we weren't always so fortunate that we first came in contact with Śrīla Prabhupāda's books or his disciples, like this. But somehow or another we weren't satisfied by anything, because there was some gap, some void, some missing information that didn't satisfy us.
Prabhupāda: Which portion appealed to you in Ramakrishna's life?
Indian lady: Well, his life, his discipline.
Prabhupāda: Which portion?
Indian lady: [indistinct] He was very disciplined, like in the relationship with his wife. And there was no sense gratification in his life. When he used to be married he wrote devotional songs, he used to practice to sing, he used to chant, and he used to cry.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Of course, first we were talking about Vivekananda, not Ramakrishna. They are two different personalities and two different paths.
Indian lady: Yes, but I thought about Ramakrishna... Many times I get devotees who say to me, "Oh, he's a rascal." I say, "I don't know, I can't say rascal." I don't read him, but he inspired me so much. And I don't know what's wrong. Am I wrong or foolish or not? Everybody has [indistinct].
Prabhupāda: Now, what is the philosophy of Ramakrishna?
Indian lady: I did not read it. He does not say that Kṛṣṇa is God, so I didn't read it. And I was very young at that time.
Prabhupāda: If you want to discuss, there is points of discussion. [laughs] Yes.
He worshiped Kālī, is it not? Everyone knows it. Do you know that? And by worshiping he became God. Do you agree to that?
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: No. He said, "I'm Rāma and Kṛṣṇa both."
Prabhupāda: But he realized by worshiping Kālī. [laughter]
Devotee: He dressed up as Rādhārāṇī, too.
Prabhupāda: So do you agree to that? Then how you appreciate it?
Indian lady: No, I don't appreciate it.
Prabhupāda: No, no, no. And it is a common sense. [Suklaji... Hindi] He, later on, he became God by worshiping Kālī, is it not?
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Yes. He was cursed by Kālī.
Prabhupāda: No, he was a big worshiper of Kālī. And he was meat-eater also, Mā Kālī's prasāda, that unless one eats that prasādam he cannot become a devotee. So this was his position, that he worshiped Kālī and later on by worshiping Kālī... His picture is there, Mother Kālī's embracing. And he also preached yata mata tata pat: "Whatever path you take, accept, that is all right." Is it not? So do you think it is all right? He worshiped Kālī and he said, yata mata tata pat. You agree to this?
Indian lady: No.
Prabhupāda: Now, Ramakrishna says yata mata tata pat. And Kṛṣṇa says... He became Ramakrishna, identifying himself with Kṛṣṇa. But Kṛṣṇa said mam ekam, and now he's becoming Kṛṣṇa, he says yata mata tata pat. Just see. Boliya Sukla. When he's actual Kṛṣṇa, he says mām ekam, and when he became imitation Kṛṣṇa, he says yata mata tata pat. Kṛṣṇa has changed his views.
Just see, this foolishness is going on.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Well, it's documented that he was kind of deranged, of a deranged mind.
Prabhupāda: Yes, that is the proof.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Yes, because he was, when he was thirteen or seventeen he was walking, he was going from one village to another village through the paddy fields, and the clouds were very thick, and thunder and lightning, and as he writes that he saw Kālī. And I have a friend in England, Colin Wilson, who has done some work on Ramakrishna, he believes that at that very moment...
Prabhupāda: These are miracles, that's all.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Yes, that miracle. It changes...
Prabhupāda: It has no value. People are after miracles. So in the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, kāmais tais tair hṛta-jñānāḥ yajante 'nya-devatāḥ [Bg. 7.20]. Those who are worshipers of other demigods, they are hṛta-jñānāḥ. Hṛta-jñānāḥ, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura gives his comment, hṛta-jñānāḥ naṣṭa buddhayaḥ: one who has lost his intelligence. So by worshiping the demigod Kālī he is to be considered as hṛta-jñānāḥ, one who has lost his intelligence---and he becomes God. Is it possible? One who has lost his intelligence, he becomes God, with that lost intelligence. And this is the proof that on account of lost intelligence, he says yata mata tata pat. Kṛṣṇa says mām ekam. Sarva dharmān parityajya [Bg. 18.66]. And when he became Ramakrishna, same Kṛṣṇa is speaking, no = yata mata tata pat. So he has changed his view. We have to accept this? And how he gave up his wife, that's a long history, I don't wish to discuss. We know everything.
Indian lady: I don't believe it. Actually I'm very impressed with Mīrabāi.
Prabhupāda: So we cannot accept something which is beyond the instruction of śāstra.
vartate kāma kārataḥ
na sa siddhim avāpnoti
na sukhaṁ na parāṁ gatim
If you have no knowledge of the śāstra, then you'll never be successful in your spiritual life, what to speak of happiness and liberation. It is not possible.
Indian lady: Is Mīrabāi Lord Caitanya's disciple?
Prabhupāda: I'm talking of this Ramakrishna particularly. There is no śāstra-siddha. Whimsical, sentiment, that's all. So far his yata mata tata pat is concerned, at last he proposed, "Now I shall worship according to the Muhammadan process. So I have to eat cow's flesh." So he was living in that temple... What is that temple in Calcutta?
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Dakshineswari.
Prabhupāda: Ah, Dakshineswari. So the temple was owned by one big zamindar. So because it is temple, he cannot take... Of course, in that temple Kālī was there. So they were taking fish and flesh. That was not objectionable. But he, when he wanted to take cow's flesh, so he wanted permission from proprietor, "Sir, I shall now practice according to Muhammadan system. So I take cow's flesh. So I want your permission." So he said, "Sir, I've given you so much licenses, but if you ask this, then I'll ask you to go out. I cannot give you this permission." Then he stopped Muhammadan way of worship. This is whimsical.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: We have another mentally retarded person in India, like Sai Baba. He was the same...
Prabhupāda: Yes, magic.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: We have that newspaper from South Africa.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Anyway, we are not after all this magic. We are laymen. We do not want this magic, neither we want to show magic. We simply, as canvasser of Kṛṣṇa, we are preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness = "Sir, Kṛṣṇa says like this, you do like that," that's all. If you like, you can do; otherwise let us do our own business. We don't show any magic, neither we speak anything which is not in the Bhagavad-gītā. If there is little success, it is due to this secret, that's all. Boliya Sukla [Bengali]. Kṛṣṇa says that He is Supreme, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat [Bg. 7.7]. So we are preaching, "Yes, Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme," that's all.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Therefore you are doing so with tremendous success.
Prabhupāda: Yes, people say that "Swāmījī, you have done wonder, you have..." so on, so on, so on. But I do not know what is wonder. I know it is certain that I have not adulterated. That much I know. But I do not know how to play wonders. That I do not know. But I am certain that I have not adulterated what Kṛṣṇa has said. That's all. And I study everything by the crucial test of Kṛṣṇa's teaching. That's all. Kṛṣṇa says,
āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ
As soon as we see that somebody is not Kṛṣṇa conscious or Kṛṣṇa's devotee, I take him immediately he's a duṣkṛtina, he's a mūḍha, he's a narādhama. "Oh, he's educated!" No, māyāyapahṛta-jñānā. Finish. Our study finish. We take it immediately that here is a māyayāpahṛta-jñānā. That's all. Āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ. Because he denies to accept Kṛṣṇa, he must be within this group = duṣkṛtina, mūḍha, narādhama, māyayāpahṛta-jñānā. So people will be sorry or happy, we take them like that, that "Here is a duṣkṛtina," that's all.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Tulasi dāsa has also said [Bengali] that who is not God..., Kṛṣṇa conscious, you should behave them like your enemy.
Prabhupāda: That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu's mission, that asat-saṅga tyāga vaiṣṇava ācāra [Cc. Madhya 22.87]. The Vaiṣṇava's behavior is to give up bad company. So who is bad? Next question will be that "I have to give up the bad company. Who is bad?" Then He says, next line = asat stri saṅgī 'kṛṣṇabhakta' āra. Two words. Those who are too much attached to woman and those who are not devotee of Kṛṣṇa, they are bad. So Caitanya Mahāprabhu says give up the company of these two bad men, that's all. That is Vaiṣṇava. So everything is there. If you simply follow with sincerity, then Kṛṣṇa is pleased. As Arjuna says, "Yes, kariṣye vacanaṁ tava [Bg. 18.73]." That's all. He becomes perfect. And Kṛṣṇa immediately accepts, na ca tasmān manuṣyeṣu kaścin me priya-kṛttamaḥ [Bg. 18.69]. He becomes immediately recognized by Kṛṣṇa. Ya idaṁ paramaṁ guhyaṁ mad-bhakteṣv abhidhāsyati [Bg. 18.68]. Na ca tasmān manuṣyeṣu kaścin me priya-kṛttamaḥ. Priya-kṛttamaḥ. Priya-kṛttamaḥ, superlative. Priya-kṛt, priya-kṛtara, priya-kṛttamaḥ. So let us follow the instruction of Bhagavad-gītā as it is, our life will be perfect. That is a fact. Don't divert your attention here and there.
Devotee: Śrīla Prabhupāda, you were a chemist before, but I think you are the greatest alchemist to have taken so many leaden souls and turned them into golden Vaiṣṇavas. Perhaps you can even transform me, by your mercy.
Prabhupāda: So Kṛṣṇa is giving us facilities to preach this cult. Everywhere we have got very, very palatial buildings to accommodate devotees. Now we have got here a very nice place, accommodate devotees. Everywhere we have got. In Bombay we are getting the best temple in India. We are spending crores of rupees; Kṛṣṇa is giving us money. So I started the business with forty rupees. [laughter] That was also not American currency. They allowed me to bring forty rupees. So when I was getting off the ship I asked the captain, "I have brought these forty rupees, which will not be accepted here, so you take." At that time three books I had, the first, second and third Bhāgavata. So I asked him that "You purchase. Give me some dollars." So he asked, "What is the price?" "Sixteen dollars." So he gave me twenty dollars, and I delivered them. With that twenty dollars I got down on the land of America, and that forty rupees. So I did not know where to go, where to stay.
So Kṛṣṇa is giving us all facilities, and these American boys are helping. I think those who are Indians in this..., they should join this movement sincerely and preach more vigorously. People will be benefited. This is real substance. Otherwise people are being misguided, so many things going on, Transcendental meditation, the..., what is called?
Prabhupāda: No, another. So many. Actually, speaking for the last at least two hundred years, many svāmīs, people, came here, but not a single person was converted to become a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. That is history. What do you think, Sukla? You have studied. So many svāmīs, yogīs, scholars came, and they spoke on Bhagavad-gītā and other, but not a single person became a devotee of Kṛṣṇa.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: I think they try to be impersonal.
Prabhupāda: Whatever it may be. They are supposed to be great personalities, but not a single person was converted.
Indian man: [indistinct] There was some yogī [indistinct] Desai or something, [indistinct] he was asked who is spiritual master. He pointed out could not answer who can be spiritual master, and he posed himself as a spiritual master.
Prabhupāda: So here is an opportunity to preach real India's traditional culture. So those who are Indians present here, they should cooperate. They should not mislead persons.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: We have started teaching your Gītā at Georgetown University, where I teach. Before we had..., we have two years' course of Sanskrit, and we had some excerpts from Mahābhārata and some Pañca-tantra and so on, but there was no Gītā. So I decided, and we are using the entire Gītā for the second year. Your contributions just can't be duplicated.
Prabhupāda: Thank you very much.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: And same thing with Bhāgavatam. We all know what a great book that is, and what I really appreciate about the whole thing is, number one, that there are no misprints in the book. So that's a great delight. Especially, for people who do not know Sanskrit, for them, there's no difference between the wheat and the germ that comes with it. The translations are very accurate. So it's real scholarship there. And people who were not aware of this Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they know that if the intellect is so powerful, the spirit must be powerful too. Our library, of course, has several copies, and our bookstore has almost all the...
Prabhupāda: All over the world they have given standing order. [laughter]
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Of course, it's very attractive to look at, another thing, the colors. So it's a beauty sight. But for some people...
Prabhupāda: [aside:] In India, the list you have got? We have got standing order from all institution, universities, colleges, standing orders = "Send as soon as possible."
Devotee (2): The best thing is to distribute them everywhere.
Prabhupāda: In Germany, in Russia we have got orders. The Russian professors, they have given order.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Your interview with the Russian professor was really sublime. I read it. I gave it to them.
Prabhupāda: You were in Russia?
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: No, I read in Bhavan's Journal, quoted from Bombay. I gave it to him.
Devotee (1): It was in the journal. Your article was in one of the Indian journals.
Prabhupāda: My talk with Professor Kotovsky?
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Yes.
Devotee (1): Actually, other Indians also commented they appreciate it very much.
Indian devotee: That was the first time I started association, then I came to realize, ah, my direction, I was fooling around with Vivekananda.
Prabhupāda: Now other professors you have to assure that higher appreciation. Any scholar will appreciate. Apart from religious point of view, from scholarly point of view, they like it.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: I think you should maybe some day in the future also put out a grammar, Sanskrit grammar, whether yourself you write or somebody who you trust.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Grammar of Sanskrit language published by the Kṛṣṇa...
Prabhupāda: We have got grammar, Jīva Gosvāmī, Harināmāmṛta-vyakāraṇa.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Is it in English, available in translation?
Prabhupāda: No, not here.
Dr. Shaligram Shukla: Well, I mean for the foreigners.
Prabhupāda: But there is grammar. Harināmāmṛta, all examples, words are harināmāmṛta. Yes, these are the list of, apart from European, America. "Cc" means Caitanya-caritāmṛta, "SB" means Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, standing order.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: In addition to other books also. This is within the last few months. They just started after our Māyāpur festival.
Devotee (3): In Europe, Śrīla Prabhupāda, there's a very nice Hungarian boy, he's a translator. He doesn't know English expertly, but I kept talking to him, and he was working on translating...
Prabhupāda: How he'll translate?
Devotee (3): He's a Hungarian, and he knows Russian also.
Prabhupāda: That's all right, but if he does not know English, how he can translate?
Devotee (3): He knows English quite fluently, but he feels not so expert in it. He's developing his expertise for English too. [break] [end]