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Civilization and Transcendence (new98)
















His Divine Grace
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupda
Replies to a Questionnaire
From Bhavan's Journal
June 28, 1976



Pua Ka: rla Prabhupda, this questionnaire was sent to you by Bhavan's Journal, a cultural and religious magazine in Bombay. They are questioning various religious and spiritual leaders, trying to get the answers to some of the important questions that are perplexing people today. So there's a list of questions, and the first is this: "Is the influence of religion over the masses on the wane?"

rla Prabhupda: Yes. This is predicted in rmad-Bhgavatam [12.2.1]:

tata cnu-dina dharma
satya auca kam day
klena balin rjan
nakyaty yur bala smti

"In Kali-yuga, this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, there shall be a waning of these qualities: religiosity, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, memory, bodily strength, duration of life, and mercy." These are the human assetsqualities which make a human being distinct from the animals. But these things will decline. There will be almost no mercy, there will be almost no truthfulness, memory will be shortened, duration of life shortened. Similarly, religion will practically vanish. So that means gradually human beings will descend to the platform of animals.

Especially when there is no religion, human beings are simply animals. This any common man can distinguishthat a dog does not understand what religion is. The dog is also a living being, but he's not interested in what is being discussed here about Bhagavad-gt or rmad-Bhgavatam. That is the distinction between man and dog: the animal is not interested. So when human beings are becoming uninterested in religion, then they're becoming animals.

And how can there be happiness or peace in animal society? The big leaders want to keep the citizenry as animals, and at the same time they are striving to make a United Nations. How is it possible? United Animals? Is it possible? Society for United Animals. [Laughter.] In the science of logic it is said, "Man is a rational animal." So when rationality is missing, one becomes simply an animal. What is the possibility of being a human being?

In human society, whether you are a Christian or a Muhammadan or a Hindu or a Buddhist, it doesn't matter. But there must be some system of religionthat is human society. And human society without religionanimal society. This is the plain fact. Why are people unhappy now? Because they are neglecting religion.

One gentleman has written me that Marx said, "Religion is the opium of the people." That means the Communists are very adamant against God consciousness because they think that religion has spoiled the whole social atmosphere. Religion might have been misused, but that does not mean that religion should be avoided. Real religion should be taken. Simply because religion has not been properly executed by the so-called priests, that does not mean religion should be rejected. If my eye is giving me some kind of trouble on account of a cataract, that doesn't mean my eye should be plucked out. The cataract should be removed. So that is the idea of the Ka consciousness movementto remove the cataract from people's religious vision.

Generally, modern so-called religious leaders have no conception of God, and yet they are preaching religion. What good is that religion? People are simply being misled. Real religion means God's order: dharma tu skd bhagavat-pratam [SB 6.3.19]. If your religion has no conception of God, where is the question of religion? Still, without any conception of God, they are professing some religion. How long will it go on artificially? It will deteriorate. That ignorance about God has resulted in the present condition.

Religion means the order of God, just as law means the order of the state. Now, if in your social system there is no state, where is the question of the state's order? You will simply manufacture your own order. Today that is going on in the field of religion: there is no conception of God and therefore no following of God's order.

But we devotees of Ka have a clear conception of God. Here is God: Ka. And He's giving orders. We accept those orders. So it is clear religion. But if there is no conception of God, no order of God, then where is the question of religion? Ask someone in some other religious system what their conception of the form of God is. Can anyone tell clearly? Nobody can say. But we shall immediately say,

veu kvaantam aravinda-dalyatka
barhvatasam asitmbudha-sundargam
govindam di-purua tam aha bhajmi

"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is adept at playing on His flute, whose eyes are like petals of a blooming lotus, whose head is bedecked with a peacock's feather, whose figure of beauty is tinged with the hue of blue clouds, and whose unique loveliness charms millions of Cupids." [Brahma-sahit 5.30]

Immediately, description"Here is God." Then there is religion. And if there is no conception of God, where is the question of religion? Bogus. That is why religiosity and the other noble human qualities are declining. People have no conception of God, and therefore there is no understanding of religion. As a result, the whole human civilization is declining. And because it is declining, human beings are becoming more and more like animals.



Pua Ka: Question number two?

rla Prabhupda: Yes.

Pua Ka: "The traditional charge against Hinduism is that it is fatalistic, that it inhibits progress by making people slaves to the belief in the inevitability of what is to happen. How far is this charge true?"

rla Prabhupda: The charge is false. Those who have made that charge do not know what "Hinduism" is. First of all, the Vedic scriptures make no mention of such a thing as "Hinduism." but they do mention santana-dharma, the eternal and universal religion, and also varrama-dharma, the natural organization of human society. That we can find in the Vedic scriptures.

So it is a false charge that the Vedic system inhibits the progress of mankind. What is that "progress"? A dog's jumping is progress? [Laughter.] A dog is running here and there on four legs, and you are running on four wheels. Is that progress?

The Vedic system is this: The human being has a certain amount of energybetter energy than the animals', better consciousnessand that energy should be utilized for spiritual advancement. So the whole Vedic system is meant for spiritual advancement. Human energy is employed in a more exalted direction than to compete with the dog.

Consequently, sometimes those who have no idea of religion notice that the Indian saintly persons are not working hard like dogs. Spiritually uncultured people think the dog race is life. But actual life is spiritual progress. Therefore the rmad-Bhgavatam [1.5.18] says,

tasyaiva heto prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatm upary adha
tal labhyate dukhavad anyata sukha
klena sarvatra gabhra-rahas

The human being should exert his energy for that thing which he did not get in many, many lives. Through many, many lives the soul has been in the forms of dogs or demigods or cats or birds or insects. There are 8,400,000 material forms. So this transmigration is going on, but in every one of these millions of forms, the business is sense gratification. The dog is busy for sense gratification: "Where is food? Where is shelter? Where is a mate? How to defend?" And the man is also doing the same business, in different ways.

So this struggle for existence is going on, life after life. Even a small insect is engaging in the same strugglehra-nidr-bhaya-maithunameating, sleeping, defending, and mating. Bird, beast, insect, fisheverywhere the same struggle: "Where is food? Where is sex? Where is shelter? How to defend?" So the stra [scripture] says we have done these things in many, many past lives, and if we don't get out of this struggle for existence, we'll have to do them again in many, many future lives. So these things should be stopped.

Therefore Prahlda Mahrja advises his friends [rmad-Bhgavatam 7.6.3],

sukham aindriyaka daity
deha-yogena dehinm
sarvatra labhyate daivd
yath dukham ayatnata

"My dear friends, material pleasurewhich is due simply to this material bodyis essentially the same in any body. And just as misery comes without our trying for it, so the happiness we deserve will also come, by higher arrangement." A dog has a material body, and I have a material body. So my sex pleasure and the dog's sex pleasure is the same. Of course, a dog is not afraid of having sex on the street, in front of everyone. We hide it in a nice apartment. That's all. But the activity is the same. There is no difference.

Still, people are taking this sex pleasure between a man and woman in a nice decorated apartment as very advanced. But this is not advanced. And yet they are making a dog's race for this "advancement." Prahlda Mahrja says we are imagining that there are different types of pleasure on account of different types of body, but the pleasure is fundamentally the same.

Naturally, according to the different types of body, there are some external differences in the pleasure, but the basic amount and quality of this pleasure has very well defined limitations. That is called destiny. A pig has a certain type of body, and his eatable is stool. This is destined. You cannot change it"Let the pig eat halav." That is not possible. Because the soul has a particular type of body, he must eat a particular type of food. Can anyone, any scientist, improve the standard of living of a pig? Is it possible? [Laughter.]

Therefore Prahlda Mahrja says that everything about material pleasure is already fixed. The uncivilized men in the jungle are having the same sex pleasure as the so-called civilized men who boast, "Instead of living in that hut made of leaves, we are living in a skyscraper building. This is advancement."

But Vedic civilization says, "No, this is not advancement. Real advancement is self-realizationhow much you have realized your relationship with god."

Sometimes people misunderstand, thinking that sages who try for self-realization are lazy. In a high court a judge is sitting soberly, apparently doing nothing, and he is getting the highest salary. And another man in the same courthe's working hard all day long, rubber-stamping, and he is getting not even one-tenth of the judge's salary. He's thinking, "I am so busy and working so hard, yet I am not getting a good salary. And this man is just sitting on the bench, and he's getting such a fat salary." The criticism of Hinduism as "inhibiting progress" is like that: it comes out of ignorance. The Vedic civilization is for self-realization. It is meant for the intelligent person, the person who will not just work like an ass but who will try for that thing which he did not achieve in so many other livesnamely, self-realization.

For example, we are sometimes labeled "escapists." What is the charge?

Disciple: They say we are escaping from reality.

rla Prabhupda: Yes, we are escaping their reality. But their reality is a dog's race, and our reality is to advance in self-realization, Ka consciousness. That is the difference. Therefore the mundane, materialistic workers have been described as mhas, asses. Why? Because the ass works very hard for no tangible gain. He carries on his back tons of cloth for the washerman, and the washerman in return gives him a little morsel of grass. Then the ass stands at the washerman's door, eating the grass, while the washerman loads him up again. The ass has no sense to think, "If I get out of the clutches of this washerman, I can get grass anywhere. Why am I carrying so much?"

The mundane workers are like that. They're busy at the office, very busy. If you want to see the fellow, "I am very busy now." [Laughter.] So what is the result of your being so busy? "Well, I take two pieces of toast and one cup of tea. That's all." [Laughter.] And for this purpose you are so busy?

Or, he is busy all day simply so that in the evening he can look at his account books and say, "Oh, the balance had been one thousand dollarsnow it has become two thousand." That is his satisfaction. But still he will have the same two pieces of bread and one cup of tea, even though he has increased his balance from one thousand to two thousand. And still he'll work hard. This is why karms are called mhas. They work like asses, without any real aim of life.

But Vedic civilization is different. The accusation implied in the question is not correct. In the Vedic system, people are not lazy. They are very busy working for a higher purpose. And that busy-ness is so important that Prahlda Mahrja says, kaumra caret prjo: [SB 7.6.1] "Beginning from childhood, one should work for self-realization." One should not lose a second's time. So that is Vedic civilization.

Of course, the materialistic workersthey see, "These men are not working like us, like dogs and asses. So they are escaping."

Yes, escaping your fruitless endeavor.

The Vedic civilization of self-realization begins from the varrama system of social organization. Varnramcravat puruea para pumn viur rdhyate: "Everyone should offer up the fruits of his occupational duty to the lotus feet of the Lord Viu , or Ka." That is why the Vedic system is called varramaliterally, "social organization with a spiritual perspective."

The varrama system has four social and four spiritual divisions. the social divisions are the brhmaas [teachers and priests], katriyas [administrators and military men], vaiyas [farmers and merchants], and dras [laborers and craftsmen], while the spiritual divisions are the brahmacrs [students], ghasthas [householders], vnaprasthas [retirees], and sannyss [renunciants]. But the ultimate goal is viur rdhyatethe worship of the Supreme Lord, Viu , by all. That is the idea.

But the members of the modern so-called civilization do not know of varrama. Therefore they have created a society that is simply a dog's race. The dog is running on four legs, and thay are running on four wheels. That's all. And they think the four-wheel race is advancement of civilization.

Vedic civilization is different. As Nrada Muni says, tasyaiva heto prayateta kovido na labhyate yad bhramatm upary adha: the learned, astute person will use this life to gain what he has missed in countless prior livesnamely, realization of self and realization of God. Someone may ask, "Then shall we do nothing?" Yes do nothing simply to improve your material position. Whatever material happiness is allotted for you by destiny, you'll get it wherever you are. Take to Ka consciousness. You'll get these other things besides.

"How shall I get them?"

How? Klena sarvatra gabhra-rahas: by the arrangement of eternal time, everything will come about in due course. The example is given that even though you do not want distress, still distress comes upon you. Similarly, even if you do not work hard for the happiness that is destined to be yours, still it will come.

Similarly, Prahlda Mahrja says, na tat-praysa kartavyam: you should not waste your energy for material happiness, because you cannot get more than what you are destined to ha That is not possible. "How can I believe itthat by working harder I will not get more material happiness than I would otherwise have had?"

Because you are undergoing so many distressing conditions even though you do not want them. Who wants distress? For example, in our country, Mahatma Gandhi was killed by his own countrymen. He was a great man, he was protected by so many followers, he was beloved by alland still he was killed. Destiny. Who can protect you from all these distressing conditions?

"So," you should conclude, "if these distressing conditions come upon me by force, the other kind of condition, the opposite number, will also come. Therefore why shall I waste my time trying to avoid distress and gain so-called happiness? Let me utilize my energy for Ka consciousness." That is intelligence. You cannot check your destiny. The magazine's question touches on this point.

Pua Ka: Yes, the usual charge is that this Vedic system of civilization is fatalistic, and that as a result people are not making as much material progress as they otherwise would.

rla Prabhupda: No, no, the Vedic system is not fatalistic. It is fatalistic only in the sense that one's material destiny cannot be changed. But your spiritual life is in your hands. our point is this: The whole Vedic civilization is based on the understanding that destiny allows only a certain amount of material happiness in this world, and that our efforts should therefore be directed toward self-realization. Nobody is enjoying uninterrupted material happiness. That is not possible. A certain amount of material happiness and a certain amount of material distressthese both must be present always. So just as you cannot check your distressing condition of life, similarly you cannot check your happy condition of life. It will come automatically. Therefore, don't waste your time with these things. better you utilize your energy for advancing in Ka consciousness.

Pua Ka: So then, rla Prabhupda, would it be accurate, after all, to say that people who have this Vedic conception would not try for progress?

rla Prabhupda: No, no. "Progress"first you must understand what actual progress is. The thing is that if you try to progress vainly, what is the use of trying? If it is a fact you cannot change your material destiny, why should you try for that? Rather, whatever energy you have, utilize it for understanding Ka consciousness. That is real progress. Make your spiritual understandingyour understanding of God and selfperfectly clear.

For instance, in our International Society for Krishna Consciousness, our main business is how to make advancement in Ka consciousness. We are not enthusiastic about opening big, big factories with big, big money-earning machines. No. We are satisfied with whatever material happiness and distress we are destined. But we are very eager to utilize our energy for progressing in Ka consciousness. This is the point.

So the Vedic system of civilization is meant for realizing God: viur rdhyate. In the Vedic system, people try for that. Actually, the followers of varrama-dharmathey never tried for economic development. You'll find in India, still, millions of people taking bath in the Ganges during Kumbha-mel. Have you have been to the Kumbha-mel festival?

Disciple: No.

rla Prabhupda: At the Kumbha-mel, millions of people come to take bath in the Ganges because they are interested in how to become spiritually liberated from this material world. They're not lazy. They tavel thousands of miles to take bath in the Ganges at the holy place of Prayag. So although they are not busy in the dog's race, these people are not lazy. Y ni sarva-bhtn tasy jgarti sayam: "What is night for ordinary beings is the time of wakefulness for the self-controlled." The self-controlled man wakes up very earlypractically in the middle of the nightand works for spiritual realization while others are sleeping. Similarly, during the daytime the dogs and asses think, "We are working, but these spiritualists, they are not working."

So there are two different platforms, the material and the spiritual. Followers of the Vedic civilization, which is practiced in Indiaalthough nowadays it is distortedactually, these people are not lazy. They are very, very busy. Not only very, very busy, but also kaumra caret prjo dharmn bhgavatn iha: [SB 7.6.1] they are trying to become self-realized from the very beginning of life. They are so busy that they want to begin the busy-ness from their very childhood. Therefore it is wrong to think they are lazy.

People who accuse followers of Vedic civilization of laziness or of "inhibiting progress" do not know what real progress is. The Vedic civilization is not interested in the false progress of economic development. For instance, sometimes people boast, "We have gone from the hut to the skyscraper." They think this is progress. But in the Vedic system of civilization, one thinks about how much he is advanced in self-realization. He may live in a hut and become very advanced in self-realzation. But if he wastes his time turning his hut into a skyscraper, then his whole life is wasted, finished. And in his next life he is going to be a dog, although he does not know it. That's all.

Pua Ka: rla Prabhupda, then this question may be raised: If destiny cannot be checked, then why not, when a child is born, simply let him run around like an animal? And whatever happens to him . . .

rla Prabhupda: No. That is the advantage of this human form of life. You can train the child spiritually. That is possible. Therefore it is said, tasyaiva heto prayeteta kovido: use this priceless human form to attain what you could not attain in so many millions of lower forms. For that spiritual purpose you should engage your energy. That advantage is open to you now, in the human form. Ahaituky apratihat: pure devotional service to the Lord, Ka consciousness, is open to you now, and it cannot be checked. Just as your advancement of so-called material happiness is already destined and cannot be checked, similarly, your advancement in spiritual life cannot be checkedif you endeavor for it. No one can check your spiritual advancement. Try to understand this.

Pua Ka: So, then, we can't say that the Vedic system, or santana-dharma, is fatalistic. There actually is endeavor for progress.

rla Prabhupda: Certainlyspiritual progress. As for the question of "fatalistic," I have often given this example: Let us say a man is condemmed by a court of law to be hanged. Nobody can check it. Even the same judge who gave the verdict cannot check it. But if the man begs for the mercy of the king, the king can check the execution. He can go totally above the law. Therefore the Brahma-sahit [5.54] says, karmi nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhjm: destiny can be changed by Ka for His devotees; otherwise it is not possible.

therefore our only business should be to surrender to Ka. And if you artificially want to be more happy by economic development, that is not possible.

Pua Ka: Question number three?

rla Prabhupda: Hm? No. First of all make sure that everything is clear. Why are you so eager to progress? [Laughter.]

Try to understand what is what. The first thing is that your destiny cannot be changed. That's a fact. But in spite of your destiny, if you try for Ka consciousness, you can achieve spiritual success. Otherwise, why did Prahlda Mahrja urge his friends, kaumra cret: "Take Ka consciousness up from your very childhood"? If destiny cannot be changed, then why was Prahlda Mahrja urging this? Generally, "destiny" means your material future. That you cannot chnge. But even that can be changed when you are in spiritual life.

Pua Ka: What is the meaning of apratihat? You said that spiritual development cannot be checked.

rla Prabhupda: Apratihat means this: Suppose you are destined to suffer. So apratihat means that in spite of your so-called destiny to suffer, if you take to Ka consciousness your suffering will be reduced, or there will be no sufferingand in spite of any suffering, you can make progress in spiritual life. Just like Prahlda Mahrja himself. His father put him into so many suffering conditions, but he was not impededhe made spiritual progress. He didn't care about his father's attempts to make him suffer. That state of existence is called apratihat: if you want to execute Ka consciousness, your material condition of life cannot check it. That is the real platform of progress.

Of course, insofar as your material condition is concerned, generally that cannot be checked. You have to suffer. But in the case of a devotee, that suffering also can be stopped or minimized. Otherwise, Ka's statement would be false: aha tv sarva-ppebhyo mokayiymi"I will deliver you from all the reactions to your sinful activities." Suffering must befall me on account of my sinful activities, but Ka says, "I will deliver you from all the reactions to your sinful activities." This should be clear. Ordinarily, destiny cannot be checked. Therefore, instead of wasting your time trying to change your economic condition or material destiny apart from Ka consciousness, you should employ your priceless human energy for attaining Ka consciousness, which cannot be checked.

We see so many men working so hard. Does this mean that every one of them will become a Ford, a Rockefeller? Why not? Everyone is trying his best. But Mr. Ford was destined to become a rich man. His destiny was there, and so he became a rich man. Another man may work just as hard as Ford, but this does not mean he will become as rich as Ford. This is practical. You cannot change your destiny simply by working hard like asses and dogs. No. But you can utilize your special human energy for improving your Ka consciousness. That's a fact.

Disciple: rla Prabhupda, if destiny cannot be changed, what does Ka mean when He says, "Be thou happy by this sacrifice"?

rla Prabhupda: Do you know what is meant by "sacrifice"?

Disciple: Sacrifice to Viu , to Ka.

rla Prabhupda: Yes. That means pleasing Ka. If Ka is pleased, He can change destiny. Karmi nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhjm: [Bs. 5.54] for those who serve Him with love and devotion, Ka can change destiny. So sacrifice, yaja, means pleasing Ka. Our whole Ka consciousness movement means pleasing Ka. That is the whole program. In all other business, there is no question of pleasing Ka. When one nation declares war upon another, there is no question of pleasing Ka or serving Ka. They're pleasing their own senses, serving their own whims. When the First and Second World Wars began, it was not for pleasing Ka. The Germans wanted that their sense gratification not be hampered by the Britishers. That means it was a war of sense gratification. "The Britishers are achieving their sense gratification; we cannot. All right, fight." So there was no question of pleasing Ka. Hm. Next question?



Pua Ka: Question number three. "It is said that the greatest strength of Hinduism is its catholicity, or breadth of outlook, but that this is also its greatest weakness, in that there are very few common prescribed religious observances which are obligatory for all, as in other religions. Is it necessary and possible to outline certain basic minimum observances for all Hindus?"

rla Prabhupda: So far as the Vedic religion is concerned, it is not simply for the so-called Hindus. That is to be understood. This is santana-dharma, the eternal and universal nature and duty of every living being. It is for all living entities, all living beings. That is why it is called santana-dharma. That I have already explained. The living entity is santana, or eternal; God is santana; and there is santana-dhma, the Lord's eternal abode. As Ka describes in the Bhagavad-gt [8.20], paras tasmt tu bhvo 'nyo vyakto 'vyaktt santana: "Yet there is another unmanifest nature, which is eternal." And in the Eleventh Chapter Ka Himself is described as santana. Do you remember? He is described as santana, the supreme eternal.

So actually, the Vedic system is called santana-dharma, not Hindu dharma. This is a wrong conception. This santana-dharma is meant for all living entities, not just the so-called Hindus. The very term "Hindu" is a misconception. The Muslims referred to the Indian people, who lived on the other side of the river Sind, as "Sindus"actually, due to the peculiarities of pronunciation, as "Hindus." In any case, the Muslims called India "Hindustan," which means "the land on the other side of the river Sind, or 'Hind.'" Otherwise, "Hindustan" has no Vedic reference. So this "Hindu dharma" has no Vedic reference.

The real Vedic dharma is santana-dharma, or varrama-dharma. First of all, one has to understand this. Now that santana-dharma, or Vedic dharma, is being disobeyed, distorted, and misrepresented, it has come to be misunderstood as "Hinduism." That is a fake understanding. That is not the real understanding. We have to study santana-dharma, or varrama-dharma. Then we'll understand what the Vedic religion is.

Every living entity is eternal, santana. God is also eternal, and we can live with God in His santana-dhma, His eternal abode. This reciprocation is called santana-dharma, the eternal nature and duty of the living being. So Vedic religion means this santana-dharma, not "Hindu dharma." Read the verse from Bhagavad-gt that describes Ka as santana.


tvam akara parama veditavya
tvam asya vivasya para nidhnam
tvam avyaya vata-dharma-gopt
santanas tva puruo mato me

"You are the supreme primal objective You are the ultimate resting place of this universe. You are inexhaustible, and You are the supreme eternal. You are the maintainer of the eternal religion, the Personality of Godhead. This is my opionion." [Bhagavad-gt 11.18]

rla Prabhupda: This understanding is wanted. Ka is eternal, we are eternal, and the place where we will live with Him and exchange our feelingsthat is eternal. And the system which teaches this eternal system of reciprocationthat is called santana-dharma, the eternal religion. It is meant for everyone.

Pua Ka: How can people follow santana-dharma on a practical, daily basis?

rla Prabhupda: How are we doing it? Is it not practical? Ka requests, man-man bhava mad-bhakto mad-yj m namaskuru: "Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me, and offer your obeisances to Me." Where is the impracticality? Where is the difficulty? And Ka promises, mm evaiyasy asaaya: "If you do this, you'll come to Me. Without any doubt you'll come to Me." Why don't you do that?

Later Ka requests, sarva-dharmn parityajya mm eka araa vraja: [Bg. 18.66] "Give up all varieties of concocted religion and simply surrender to Me." This is practical religion. Just surrender to Ka and think, "I am a devotee of Ka, a servant of Ka." Take this simple approach. Then everything will be immediately done. Real dharma, real religion, means dharma tu skd bhagavat-pratam: [SB 6.3.19] what God says, that is dharma. Now, God says, "give up all this concocted dharma and just surrender unto Me." So take that dharma.

Why don't you take Ka's instruction? Why do you go outside His instruction? That is the cause of all your troubles. You do not know the difference between this santana-dharma, the real, eternal religion, and your concocted dharma. If you take to some false religious system, then you suffer. But if you take to the real religious system, then you'll be happy.

Of course, nowadays India, like the rest of the world, has also given up the real religious systemsantana-dharma, or varrama-dharma. In India they have accepted a hodgepodge thing called "Hinduism." So there is trouble. Everywhere, but in India especially, people should know that the real religion is this Vedic system. Vedic religion means varrama-dharma. Ka saysGod saysctur-varya may sam: [Bg. 4.13] "For spiritual and material progress, the four occupational divisions of society have been set up by Me." So that is obligatory, just as the state law is obligatory. You cannot say, "I don't accept this law." No. You have to accept it if you want to have a happy life. You cannot become an outlaw. Then you'll not be happy. You'll be punished.

Now, God says, may sam: "This varrama system is given by Me." So how can we refuse to follow it? that means we are denying the real religion. Dharma tu skd bhagavat-pratam: [SB 6.3.19] real dharma, real religion, means the order given by God. And God says, ctur-varya may sam gua-karma-vibhgaa: "For the proper management of human society, I have created these four social divisions, based on people's qualities and actions." So you have to accept it.

Pua Ka: This would be the prescription for all people?

rla Prabhupda: For everyone. At the head of the social body there must be the intelligent class of men, who will give advice; then there must be the administrative and protective class, the farming and mercantile class, and the laboring class. This is all given in the Bhagavad-gt: brhmaa, katriya, vaiya, dra.

But when you fully surrender to Ka, you can give up all the regulations pertaining to these four social classes. That is why Ka says, sarva-dharmn parityajya: [Bg. 18.66] "In the ultimate issue, My instruction is to give up all religious formularies"including even Vedic formularies"and simply surrender to Me." "Brhmaa-dharma," "katriya-dharma,""Hindu dharma," this dharma, that dharmagive all these up and simply surrender to Ka, because the ultimate aim of dharma is to come to Ka. "You directly come to Me; then everything is all right."

Disciple: So many people concoct their own system and say, "This is the way to go to God."

rla Prabhupda: Then let them suffer. What can be done? If you don't accept the laws of the state and you manufacture your own laws, then you'll suffer. The state says, "Keep to the right." But if you make your own law"No, I will keep to the left"then you'll suffer. It's a fact.

Ka is personally advising: sarva-dharmn parityajya mm eka araa vraja: [Bg. 18.66] "Give up all your concocted religions and surrender to Me alone." take His advice and be happy.



Pua Ka: Next question, rla Prabhupda. "Will the fundamental values of the Vedic religion be in any way affected by the eradication of the caste system, toward which a concerted effort is now being made at all levels?"

rla Prabhupda: The Vedic system of religion we have been describingthe varrama system created by Kais not to be confused with the present-day caste systemdetermination of social divisions by birth. But as to eradication of all social divisions, it cannot be done. This is still more foolishness, because Ka Himself says, ctur-varya may sam gua-karma-vibhgaa: [Bg. 4.13] "This system of four social divisions, according to quality and work, is ordained by Me." But the difficulty is that this so-called caste system has come in, on account of the false notion that in order to be a brhmaa, one must be the son of a brhmaa. That is the caste system. But Ka does not say that. He says "according to quality and work." He never says "according to birth." So this so-called caste system in India is a false notion of ctur-varya, the system of four social divisions. The real system of ctur-varya means gua-karma-vibhgaa, determination of the four social divisions according to quality and work. One must be qualified.

And how does one become qualified? That is also described. For instance, in Bhagavad-gt Ka describes the qualities of a brhmaa as follows: amo damas tapa auca kntir rjavam eva ca jnam vijnam stikyam [Bg. 18.42]. "Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom, and religiousness." So people who want to become brhmaas must be educated to acquire these qualities. It is not enough simply to abolish the caste system, which is contaminated by the false conception of qualification by birthright. Certainly, this wrong caste system should be abolished. Also, educational centers should be opened for teaching people how to become genuine brhmaas and katriyas. Gua-karma-vibhgaa: according to their qualities and work, people naturally belong to different social groupings. So you cannot avoid it, but because you have created a false caste system, that should be abolished, and the system recommended by Kathat should be adopted.

In any event, you cannot avoid the natural occurrence of various social divisions. Nature's caste system will remain. Take, for example, the brahminical quality of truthfulness. All over the world, wherever you go, you'll find at least one person who is truthful. Does anyone say, "Oh, his father was truthfultherefore, he is truthful"? This is nonsense. Ka never says anything like this. The father may be Hirayakaipu, a big demon, but his son can still be Prahlda, a great devotee of the Lord. It is not that one will inevitably become exactly like one's father. Of course, it may be; there is every possibility. But still it is not a fact that the son unavoidably becomes like the father.

Our point is, wherever you go, you'll find a first-class man who is truthful. Now, wherever you find a truthful man, you can classify him as a brhmaa and train him to serve the social body in that capacity, as a spiritual teacher and advisor. That is wanted. Why assume, "Here is the son of a truthful man; therefore he is truthful, a brhmaa"? That is a misconception. You have to find the truthful men all over the world and train them as brhmaas. That we are doing. "If you follow these principlesno illicit sex, no intoxication, no gambling, no meat-eatingyou are a brhmaa. Come on and receive further training." The fellow's father may be a meat-eater or a gambler or a drunkard, but if he himself is truthful and agreeable to the brahminical life, then tell him, "All right, come onyou are welcome." Then everything will be all right.

You could not abolish the truthful class of men even if you wanted to. You'll find truthful men everywhere. You simply have to train them. So Ka says, ctur-varya may sam gua-karma-vibhgaa: [Bg. 4.13] according to their qualities and work, you take some men and put them in the brahminical class, others in the katriya class, still others in the vaiya class, and the rest in the dra class. But you cannot abolish that system. That is a false attempt.

Pua Ka: You're saying the natural system is to classify a person and train him for a particular duty, according to his particular inner qualities and his particular propensity to act.

rla Prabhupda: Yes. That classification is wanted. That must be there.

Pua Ka: And what will be the benefit of classifying and training people according to their own qualities and propensities?

rla Prabhupda: The benefit will be that the whole social body will function harmoniously. The social body must have a brain and arms and a belly and legs to be complete. If there is no brain, no head, then what is the use of these arms and legs and belly? It is all dead. So in human society, if there is not a class of learned, truthful, and honest menmen with all the brahminical qualificationsthen society is ruined. That is why people are perplexed. Today almost everyone is trained to be a dra, a laborer: "Go to the factory." That's all. "Go to the factory and get money." And when the man gets some money, he immediately purchases wine and women. So if you try to make society classless, you'll produce such menuseless men, disturbing to the social body. You cannot make society classless. If you try to make it classless, naturally people will all be dras, fourth-class men, and worse. Then there will be social chaos.

Pua Ka: But can all people take an equal interest in religion, despite their belonging to different social classifications?

rla Prabhupda: Yes. This I have already explained, that any civilized human beinghe has got some religion. Now, the basic principles of religion are the statements made by God. So here in the Vedic system is what God says. If you take to this system, then the social body will be perfect, not only for Hindus but also for Christians, for Muhammadans, for everyone. And that is being practically realized in our Ka consciousness movement. We have got devotees from all groups of human society, and they are taking to this Vedic system. It is practical. There is no difficulty. So Hindus, Muslims, Christianseveryone should take to this Ka religion and become "Krishnites," "Krishnians." [Laughter.] The Greek word Christo comes from the Sanskrit Krishna. In fact, another spelling of Krishna is Krishta. So actually, if we take the root meaning,"Christian" means "Krishtian" or "Krishnian." So that is a controversial point, but everyone can take to Ka. Then everything will be settled up.



Pua Ka: Would you like to hear another question, rla Prabhupda?

rla Prabhupda: Yes.

Pua Ka: "It is said that whereas the rutis [the four original Vedas, the upaniads, and the Vednta-stra] embody eternal truths, the smtis [the Puras, the Mahbhrata, the Rmyaa, and corollary Vedic literature] embody the rules of conduct and thus need to be revised according to the dictates of the changing times. Will such a view be acceptable to all sections of society, and if so, how can the new smtis come into being, and who will give them sanction and sanctity?"

rla Prabhupda: The smtis are given by the Lord and His representatives. They come from spiritual authorities such as Lord Caitanya Mahprabhu. The stra, or scripture, also gives this authority. For instance, for this age, Kali-yuga, the Lord has prescribed a special means of God-realizationthe chanting of His holy name. Smtis such as the Bhan-nradya Pura say the same thingthat in this age of Kali-yuga, the only possible means of God-realization is chanting the Lord's name. In the Bhgavata Pura [12.3.51] also, ukadeva Gosvm directs,

kaler doa-nidhe rjann
asti hy eko mahn gua
krtand eva kasya
mukta-saga para vrajet

"Although in this age there are so many faultsit is truly an ocean of faultsstill, there is one very great advantage: simply by chanting the Hare Ka mantra, one becomes fully purified and is liberated from all material miseries." So this smti injunction we should take up, and actually we see all over the world how it is purifying all sections of people. Take to this chanting of Hare Ka; then ruti, smti, everything will be fulfilled. This is the easiest method. Krtand eva kasya mukta-saga para vrajet: chant the Lord's holy name and you'll be liberated.

Pua Ka: So the rutis are eternally relevant and constant?

rla Prabhupda: Yes, everything is based on the rutis. as the Vednta-stra says, anvtti abdt: simply by chanting the Lord's names and instructionsHis sound vibrationone becomes spiritually realized. abda brahman means "spiritual sound vibration," and as the Vednta-stra instructs us, by chanting this spiritual sound vibrationthe instructions and holy name of the Lordone can become liberated.

Pua Ka: Also, the smtis are directly based on the original rutis?

rla Prabhupda: Yes, for instance, Bhagavad-gt is considered smti. And Bhagavad-gt also says, satat krtayanto m yatanta ca dha-vrat: [Bg. 9.14] "Fully endeavoring with determination, the great souls are always chanting My glories." And as the Bhakti-rasmta-sindhu, which is also considered smti, explains: ruti-smti-purdi [BRS [i]1.2.101]the great devotees heed both the rutis and the smtis. Another smti, Bhan-nradya Pura, enjoins, harer nma harer nma harer nmaiva kevalam: "In this age of quarrel, the only way to realize the Lord is to chant His holy name, chant His holy name, chant His holy name." So because He was in the role of a great devotee, Lord Caitanya followed these injunctions of ruti and smti. Ka-vara tvika sgopgstra-pradam [SB 11.5.32]. Kam varayati: Lord Caitanya was always chanting Hare Ka. These examples are evidence that the smtis are directly based on the rutis. So introduce this Hare Ka mah-mantra. Everyone will be purified.

Pua Ka: Is smti more than just rules of conduct?

rla Prabhupda: Yes. Here is what smti means:

The four original Vedas are considered ruti. But simply by hearing them, one cannot understand fully. Therefore, the smtis have explained further. Purayati iti pura: by hearing the Puras and other smtis, one makes his understanding complete. The Vedic mantras are not always understood. For instance, the Vednta, which is ruti, begins with the mantra janmdy asya yata: [SB 1.1.1] "The Supreme is that being from whom everything has emanated." This is very abbreviated. But the rmad-Bhgavatam, which is smti, explains, janmdy asya yato 'nvayd itarata crthev abhij sva-rt: [SB 1.1.1] "The Supreme Being, from whom everything has emanated, is directly and indirectly cognizant of everything and is fully independent." In this way the smti explains the ruti.

So whether you take ruti or smti, the subject matter is the same. Both ruti and smti are spiritual evidence. We cannot do without either of them. As rla Rpa Gosvm says in the Bhakti-rasmta-sindhu [1.2.101],

pacartra-vidhi vin
aikntiki harer bhaktir
utptyaiva kalpate
[BRS [ii]1.2.101]

You cannot become purified or actually God conscious without reference to both ruti and smti. So as we push on this Ka consciousness movement, it is not whimsical. It is based on

ruti, smti, and pacartriki-vidhi, the principles of ruti, smti, and the Nrada-pacartra. Therefore, it is becoming effective

Pua Ka: Nevertheless, rla Prabhupda, the question asks, "Do the smtis need to be revised according to the changing times?"

rla Prabhupda: They cannot be changed.

Pua Ka: The smtis cannot be changed?

rla Prabhupda: Nothing can be changed. But according to the time, you have to apply the principles properly. For instance, in Kali-yuga the smti order is krtand eva kasya mukta-saga para vrajet: to obtain spiritual liberation, one must chant the holy name of the Lord, Hare Ka. So you have to do this. For instance, a doctor may order, "In the morning, take this medicine; in the evening, take that medicine." It is not a change of the doctor's orders. It is simply that according to the time, the doctor's orders call for a particular medicine. But the particular medicine is recommended by the doctor, not by your whims. ruti and smti cannot be changed, but they may recommend a particular process at a particular time. So there must be adherence to both ruti and smtito scriptural authority. You cannot modify.

Pua Ka: There is no question, then, ofas the magazine puts it"new smti."

rla Prabhupda: No. New smti? they may take it as "new smti," but smti is smtiit is not new. In any spiritual statement, you have to give references to ruti and smti. Otherwise, it is not valid. There must be veda-prama, abda-prama: evidence from the Vedas and from the explanatory Vedic literature. Otherwise, there is no evidence. Your statement is not valid: you cannot change the original ruti-smti. But you have to take their particular recommendation for the particular time, just as Ka Caitanya Mahprabhu did when He urged His followers to heed the injunction of Bhan-nradya Pura [3.8.126]:

harer nma harer nma
harer nmaiva kevalam
kalau nsty eva nsty eva
nsty eva gatir anyath
[Adi 17.21]

"Chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name of Ka. In the present age of quarrel and anxiety, there is no other way to attain God realization, no other way, no other way." So ruti-smti-pramaciting evidence from the Vedas and the corollary literatureis the only method for making a spiritual statement. You have to take it.

Pua Ka: Can anyone change

rla Prabhupda: No!

Pua Ka: the rules of conduct as described in the smtis?

rla Prabhupda: Nobody can change them. But these particular rules and regulations in ruti-smti are for particular times, particular circumstances. So we have to take these rules and regulations. You cannot change them.

Pua Ka: And who will sanction a particular application for a particular time and place?

rla Prabhupda: Yes. This was done by Lord r Ka Caitanya. When he appeared five hundred years ago, he sanctioned the application of ruti-smti because He's a genuine authority. He's a genuine crya. And we are following in the footsteps of Caitanya Mahprabhu. It is not whimsical. You have to follow the authority in all circumstances.

Pua Ka: Is this Vedic religion, this santana-dharma, so broad that everyone is included?

rla Prabhupda: Yes. Santana means "eternal." As Ka says in the Bhagavad-gt, na hanyate hanyamne arre: [Bg. 2.20] "The living entity within the body is not destroyed when the body is destroyed, because he is eternal." So that eternality belongs to everyone. Not that the Hindus, after giving up this body, exist, and the Muslims or Christians do not exist. Everyone exists eternally. So santana-dharma is meant for everyone.

Pua Ka: Then is there anyone actually outside of santana-dharma?

rla Prabhupda: Nobody is actually outside. Everyone is an eternal spirit soul, and therefore everyone is meant for the eternal religion, santana-dharma. You may think that you are not an eternal spirit soul, but that is simply illusion. There are so many rascals who think that with the death of the body, everything is finished. They may think so, but that is not a fact. Similarly, you may think, "I am not a santana-dharma follower of santana-dharmaI am a Christian," but actually you are a santana-dharm. Of course, if you wish to think otherwise, you can. Who can check it?

Hari-sauri: So whether one can be accepted as following santana-dharma depends on how one acts?

rla Prabhupda: Yes. If one does not act accord to the rules and regulations of santana-dharma, that is his business. That's all.



Pua Ka: rla Prabhupda, this is the next question: "In the Kali-yuga, the current age of quarrel and hypocrisy, bhakti [devotional service to the Lord] has been described as the most suitable and easiest of paths for God realization. Yet how is it that Vedantic teachings, with their accent on jna [cultivation of knowledge], are being given the pride of place by noted savants?"

rla Prabhupda: The so-called Vedantists, the Myvds [impersonalists], are bluffers. They do not know what Vednta is. But people want to be bluffed, and the bluffers take advantage of it. the two words combined in the word Vednta are veda and anta. Veda means "knowledge," and anta means "goal" or "end." so Vednta means "the end of all knowledge, or veda." Now, in the Bhagavad-gt Lord Ka says, vedai ca sarvair aham eva vedya: [Bg. 15.15] "By all the Vedas I am to be known." So the whole Vednta-stra is a description of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The first statement in the Vednta-stra is athto brahma jijs: "Now, having attained a human birth, one should inquire into Brahman, the Absolute Truth." In a nutshell, Brahman is then described: janmdy asya yata [SB 1.1.1]"Brahman is the origin of everything." And in Bhagavad-gt Ka says, aha sarvasya prabhava: "I am the origin of everything." So, again, the Vednta-stra actually describes Ka, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Now, because rla Vysadeva knew that in this Kali-yuga people would not be able to study Vednta-stra nicely on account of a lack of education, he personally wrote a commentary on the Vednta-stra. That commentary is rmad-Bhgavatam. Bhya brahma-strnm:[iii]** the rmad-Bhgavatam is the real commentary on the Vednta-stra, written by the author of the Vednta-stra himself. The Vednta-stra was written by Vysadeva, and under the instruction of Nrada, his spiritual master, Vysadeva wrote a commentary on it. That is rmad-Bhgavatam.

rmad-Bhgavatam begins with the same aphorism as the Vednta-stra: janmdy asya yata [SB 1.1.1], and continues, anvayd itarata crthev abhija svart. So actually, the Vednta-stra is explained by the author in rmad-Bhgavatam.

But the rascal Myvdswithout understanding Vednta-stra, and without reading the natural commentary, rmad-Bhgavatamare posing themselves as Vedantists. That means they are misguiding people. And because people are not educated, they're accepting these rascals as Vedantists. Really, the Myvd Vedantiststhey are bluffers. They are not Vedantists. They do not know anything of the Vednta-stra. That is the difficulty. Actually, what is stated in the rmad-Bhgavatamthat is real Vednta.

So, if we take rmad-Bhgavatam as the real explanation of Vednta-stra, then we will understand Vednta, the end of knowledge. And if we take shelter of the Myvd Vedantists, the bluffers, then we cannot understand Vednta. People do not know anything, and as a result they can be bluffed and cheated by anyone. Therefore now they should learn from this Ka consciousness movement what Vednta is and what the explanation of Vednta-stra is. Then they will be benefited.

If we accept rmad-Bhgavatam as the real commentary on Vednta-stra, then we'll find that in the rmad-Bhgavatam it is said, kaler doa-nidhe rjann asti hy eko mahn gua: "In this Kali-yuga, which is an ocean of faults, there is one benediction, one opportunity." What is that? Krtand eva kasya mukta-saga para vrajet: "One can become liberated simply by chanting the Hare Ka mantra." This is real Vednta. And actually, this liberation by chanting Hare Ka is happening. But people want to be misguided. And there are so many bluffers to misguide them. What can be done? Vysadeva has already given the perfect explanation of Vednta-strathe rmad-Bhgavatam. So let people read the rmad-Bhgavatam; then they will understand what Vednta is.

Pua Ka: Then are the conclusion of the Vednta-stra and the conclusion of rmad-Bhgavatam one and the samebhakti?

rla Prabhupda: Yes. Find this verse: Kmasya nendriya-prtir

Pua Ka:

kmasya nendriya-prtir
lbho jveta yvat
jvasya tattva-jijs
nrtho ya ceha karmabhi

"Life's desires should never be directed toward sense gratification. One should desire only a healthy life, or self-preservation, since a human being is meant for inquiry about the About Truth. Nothing else should be the goal of one's works." [rmad-Bhgavatam 1.2.10]

rla Prabhupda: Yes. This verse of rmad-Bhgavatam proceeds directly from the Vednta-stra athto brahma jijs: "Now is the time to inquire about the Absolute Truth." Here the very same thing is explained. "Don't be entrapped with these temporary, bodily 'necessities of life'sense gratification. You must inquire about the Absolute Truth." the next verse of rmad-Bhgavatam explains, vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattva yaj jnam advayam: [SB 1.2.11] "Those who know the Absolute Truth describe Him in this way " Tattva means "truth." The truth is explained by the tattva-vit, one who knows the truth. How? Brahmeti paramtmeti bhagavn iti abdyate: the Absolute Truth is explained as Brahman, the all-pervading spiritual effulgence; as Paramtm, the localized Supersoul; or as Bhagavn, the Supreme Lord. Understanding these is what Vednta-stra means when it says, athto brahma jijs: "Now one should learn about the Absolute Truthwhat Brahman is, what Paramtm is, what Bhagavn is. In this way, one should make advancement in his spiritual consciousness."

The Myvd Vedantists follow the impersonal commentary of akarcrya, rraka-bhya. But there are other commentaries on the Vednta-stra. Besides the rmad-Bhgavatam, the natural commentary by the author of Vednta-stra himself, there are Vednta-bhyas written by Vaiava cryas such as Rmnujcrya, Madhvcrya, Viu Swami, and Baladeva Vidybhana. Unfortunately, the Myvd Vedantists do not care to read these Vaiava Vednta-bhyas. They simply read rraka-bhya and call themselves Vedantists.

Pua Ka: Why do the Myvd Vedantists read only one commentary? What is the reason for that?

rla Prabhupda: The reason is that they want to read something that will confirm their illusion that they are God.

the Myvd Vedantists cheat. Suppose I present some proposition. If it is a misconception, generally there are others also who can say something to clarify this misconception. For instance, in a court of law, there are two lawyers. One lawyer is speaking on one point of the law, the other lawyer is speaking on another point of the law. But if the judge listens to one side only, then how will he make a proper judgement? Similarly, the Vedantists are simply reading the rraka-bhya. They are not reading other bhyas, such as the rmad-Bhgavatam, which is the natural commentary. And they are cheating people. That's all.

Now, the Vednta-stra says, janmdy asya yata: [SB 1.1.1] "The Absolute Truth is that from which everything emanates." But this needs some explanation. One may ask, "Is that Absolute Truth personal or impersonal?" Therefore in the Bhagavad-gt Ka clearly says, aha sarvasya prabhavo matta sarva pravartate: [Bg. 10.8] "I am the origin of everything; everything comes from Me." So why don't you Myvd Vedantists take it? Why do you simply remain stuck at the point that the Absolute Truth is that from which everything emanates? When Ka, the Absolute Truth, comes before you and says, "I am the origin of everythingeverything comes from Me," why don't you accept Ka as the Absolute Truth? Why do you take the impersonalist view only, that the Absolute Truth has no form? Here is the Absolute Truth speakinga person. Why don't you take it?

Of course, if people want to be cheated, then who can stop them? In Bhagavad-gt Ka also says, vednta-kd eva cham: "I am the compiler of Vednta." Why do these rascals not consider who compiled Vednta? Vysadeva is the incarnation of Ka. He compiled Vednta. Why do these rascals not consider the original Vedantist, Ka? They approach a Myvd instead. So how will they understand Vednta?

Suppose I have written a book. If you cannot understand something in it, then you should come directly to me for an explanation. That is sensible. Why go to a rascal who has nothing to do with my book? Similary, some rascal Myvd may claim, "I am a Vedantist," but why should I go to a rascal instead of the real compiler of the Vednta-stra?

Those who approach the Myvd Vedantists for knowledge are also rascals. They are willingly being cheated. Let the Myvd Vedantists and their followers accept the conclusions of Bhagavad-gt and rmad-Bhgavatam. Then they will understand Vednta-stra. They'll be real Vedantists. Otherwise, they will remain cheaters. So if you go to a cheater you'll be cheated, and that is your business.

Pua Ka: rla Prabhupda, are you saying that the Myvds have no knowledge at all?

rla Prabhupda: Once again, Vednta means "the ultimate knowledge." And what is that knowledge? Ka explains in the Bhagavad-gt [7.19]: bahn janmanm ante jnavn m prapadyate. "After many births, one who is actually in knowledge at last surrenders unto Me." So unless one surrenders to Ka, there is no jna, no knowledge.

Therefore the Myvd Vedantists are all nonsensethey have no knowledge at all. The subject matter of ultimate knowledge, Vednta, is Ka, God. So if one does not know who God is, who Ka is, and if one does not surrender to Him, then where is the question of knowledge? But if a rascal claims that "I am a man of knowledge," what can be done?

In Bhagavad-gt Ka goes on to explain: vsudeva sarvam iti sa mahtm su-durlabha [Bg. 7.19]. "when one understands that Vsudeva, Ka, is everything, then that is knowledge. But such a mahtm is very rare." Before coming to this understanding, one has no knowledge. His so-called understanding is simply misunderstanding. Brahmeti paramtmeti bhagavn iti abdyate: one may begin with understanding impersonal Brahman by the speculative method; then, in the secondary stage, one can understand the Paramtm, the Lord's localized aspect; and the final stage is to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Ka. Vedai ca sarvair aham eva vedyam: [Bg. 15.15] by all the Vedas, Ka is to be known. That is the ultimate knowledge. But if you do not understand Ka, then where is your knowledge? Half-way knowledge is not knowledge. It must be complete knowledge.

That complete knowledge is possible, as it is said in the Bhagavad-gt, bahn janmanm ante [Bg. 7.19]after many births. Those who are striving to acquire knowledgeafter many, many births, when actually by the grace of God and by the grace of a devotee they come to knowledge, then such persons agree, "Oh, vsudeva sarvam iti: [Bg. 7.19] Ka is everything." Sa mahtm sudurlabha: that mahtm, that great soul, is very rarely to be found. Durlabha means "very rarely found," but the word used is sudurlabha"very, very rarely to be found." So you cannot easily find such a mahtm who clearly understands Ka.



Pua Ka: May I ask another question, rla Prabhupda? "Is a guru essential for one to enter the spiritual path and attain the goal, and how does one recognize one's guru?"

rla Prabhupda: Yes, a guru is necessary. In the Bhagavad-gt, when Ka and Arjuna were talking as friends, there was no conclusion. So Arjuna decided to accept Ka as his guru. Find this verse in Bhagavad-gt: krpaya-doopahata svabhva.


krpaya-doopahata svabhva
pcchmi tva dharma-sammha-cet
yac chreya syn nicita brhi tan me
iyas te 'ha dhi m tv prapannam

"[Arjuna said:] Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of miserly weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me for certain what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me." [Bg. 2.7]

rla Prabhupda: Yes. So a guru is necessary. Like Arjuna, everyone is perplexed about his best course of action. Nobody can decide by himself. Even a physicianwhen he is sick he does not devise his own treatment. He calls for another physician, because his brain is not in order. How can he prescribe the right medicine for himself?

similarly, when we are perplexed and cannot find any solution, at that time the guru is required. It is therefore essential for everyone to surrender to a guru, since in our present existence we are all perplexed. Arjuna is representing the perplexed position of the materialistic person. So under the circumstances, a guru is required to give us real direction.

Now, Arjuna selected Ka as his guru. He did not go to anyone else, because he knew, "I can't find any other means to pacify me. You are the only one." The purport is that like Arjuna, we should also accept Ka as the guru who can intruct us in how to get relief from our perplexed position. So Ka is the guru not only for Arjuna, but for everyone.

If we take instruction from Ka and abide by that instruction, then our life is successful. Conveying that fact is our mission. This Ka consciousness movement teaches, "Accept Ka as your guru. Don't divert your attention." We don't say, "I am Ka; follow my order." We never say that. We simply ask people, "Please abide by the order of Ka." Ka says, sarva-dharmn parityajya mm eka araa vraja [Bg. 18.66], and we say the same thing: "Give up all other ideas of so-called dharma and surrender to Ka." The same thing. we don't say of ourselves, "I am the authority." No, we say, "Ka is the authority, and you should surrender to His instruction and try to understand Him." This is the Ka consciousness movement.

Now, one may say, "Ka is no longer present, so how can I surrender to Him?" Ka is no longer present? How can you say that? Ka's instruction is thereBhagavad-gt. How can you say that Ka is not present? Ka, being absolute, is not different from His words. The words of Ka and Ka Himselfthey are the same. That is the meaning of Absolute Truth.

In the relative world, the word water and the substance water are different. When I am thirsty, if I simply chant "Water, water, water," my thirst will not be satisfied. I require the real water. That is the nature of the relative world and relative consciousness. But in the spiritual world or spiritual consciousness, the name is the same as the thing that is named. For instance, we are chanting Hare Ka. If Ka were different from the chanting of Hare Ka, then how could we be satisfied chanting the whole day and night? This is the proof. An ordinary nameif you chant "Mr. John, Mr. John," after chanting three times you'll cease. But this Hare Ka mah-mantraif you go on chanting twenty-four hours a day, you'll never become tired. This is the spiritual nature of the Absolute Truth. This is practical. Anyone can perceive it.

So Ka is present through His words and through His representati Therefore we advise everyone to accept Ka's instructions in Bhagavad-gt and to surrender to His bona fide representati You have to accept a guru, so why go to a pseudo guru, who will mislead you? Why not take instructions from a real guru? Now you are in doubt about whether a guru is needed. Yes, a guru is needed, but you have to go to a real guru. That is the instruction given by Ka in the Bhagavad-gt. Just find this

tad viddhi praiptena
paripranena sevay
upadekyanti tad-jna
jninas tattva-darina

Pua Ka: "Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth." [Bhagavad-gt 4.34]

rla Prabhupda: So this is the real guruone who has seen the truth, just as Arjuna has seen Ka. Arjuna heard Ka's instructions and said, "You are the Absolute Truth." Now, if you take the instruction of Arjuna, then you will understand the Absolute Truth. So what is the instruction of Arjuna? Find out in the tenth chapter.

Pua Ka:

arjuna uvca
para brahma para dhma
pavitra parama bhavn
purua vata divyam
di-devam aja vibhum

"Arjuna said, 'You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest.'" [Bhagavad-gt 10.12]

rla Prabhupda: And the Vednta-stra says, athto brahma jijs: "Now, in the human form of life, is the time to inquire into what is the Supreme Brahman." So here in Bhagavad-gt Arjuna has realized, "O Ka, You are the Supreme Brahman," So you should make Arjuna your guru and Ka your guru. Arjuna is the representative of Ka, the friend of Ka. The guru is essential. But why go to a bogus guru? You will be cheated. For instance, when you are diseased, for your treatment you need to go to a physician. But you want to go to a real physician, not a cheater who has no knowledge of medical science and misrepresents himself"I am a physician, an M.D." Then you'll be cheated. The guru is necessary; that's a fact. But go to the real guru. Who is the real guru? The real guru is Ka or one who has seen Ka, such as Arjuna.



Pua Ka: May I ask the next question, rla Prabhupda? "Are fasting and other dietary regulations necessary for leading a spiritual life?"

rla Prabhupda: Certainly. For advancement in spiritual life, such tapasya is essential. Tapasya means voluntarily accepting something which may be painful. For instance, we are recommending no illicit sex, no intoxication, no gambling, no meat-eating. So those who are accustomed to these bad habitsfor them, in the beginning it may be a little difficult. But in spite of this difficulty, one has to do it. That is tapasya. To rise early in the morningfor those who are not practiced, it is a little painful, but one has to do it. So according to the Vedic injunctions, there are some tapasyas that must be done.

It is not "I may do it or not do it." These austerities must be done. For example, in the Muaka Upaniad it is ordered that if one wants to become self-realized, one must approach a spiritual master: tad-vijnrtha sa gurum evbhigacchet [MU [iv]1.2.12]. So there is no question of "optional"; it must be done. And one must carry out the order of the spiritual master and the order of the stra, or scripture. When you follow without consideration of whether it is convenient or inconvenient, simply because it must be done, that is called tapasya. Tapo divyam: like other great spiritual authorities, Rsabhadeva orders that this human life is meant for austerity aimed toward realizing God. Therefore in our Vedic civilization we find so many rules and regulations.

At the very beginning of life one must be a brahmacr. He must go to the spiritual master's place and act like a menial servant. If the spiritual master says "go and pick up some wood from the forest," one may be a king's son, but he cannot refuse the spiritual master's order. He must go. Even Ka was ordered by His spiritual master to go and pick up some dry wood from the forest. So He had to go. Although His father was Nanda Mahrja, a village vaiya king, and although Ka was the Personality of Godhead Himself, still He could not refuse. He had to go. Nicavatjust like a menial servant. This is brahmcrya, spiritual student life. This is tapasya. Tapasya is so essential that one has to do it. There is no question of an alternati

After brahmacr life, one may marry. This means he enters ghastha life, household life. That is also tapasya. He cannot have sex whenever he likes. No. The stra says, "You must have sex like this: once in a month and only for begetting children." So that is also tapasya.

People do not follow any tapasya at the present moment, but human life is meant for tapasyaregulative principles. Even in ordinary affairslet us say you are driving your car on some urgent business, and you see a red light. You have to stop. You cannot say, "I have to be there in a few minutes. I must go." No. You must stop. That is tapasya.

So tapasya means following the regulative principles strictly, according to the higher order. and that is human life.

Animal life, however, means you can do whatever you like. On the road, animals may keep to the right or keep to the left; it doesn't matter. Their irregularity is not taken as an offense, because they are animals. But if a human being does not follow the regulative principles, he is sinful. He'll be punished. Consider the same example: When there is a red light, if you do not stop you'll be punished. But if a cat or dog transgresses"Never mind the red light; I shall go"he's not punished. So tapasya is meant for the human being. He must do it if he at all wants to make progress in life. It is essential.

Pua Ka: And so, rla Prabhupda, tapasya includes dietary regulations?

rla Prabhupda: That is also tapasya. For example, we prohibit meat-eating. So in your country this is a little troublesome. From the very beginning of life, a child is habituated to eating meat. the mother purchases powdered meat and mixes it with liquid and feeds it to the infant. I have seen it. So practically everyone has been brought up eating meat. yet I say, "Don't eat meat." Therefore that is troublesome. But if one is serious about becoming self-realized, one must accept the order. That is tapasya.

Tapasya applies to diet, to personal behavior, to dealings with others, and so on and so forth. In every aspect of life, there is tapasya. That is all described in the Bhagavad-gt. Mental tapasya. Bodily tapasya. Verbal tapasyacontrolling vaco-vegam, the urge to talk loosely or whimsically. You cannot talk nonsense. If you talk, you must talk about Ka. That is tapasya. There is also tapasya in connection with krodha-vegam, the urge to express one's anger. If one becomes angry and wants to express it by beating someone or doing something very violent, tapasya will restrict him"No, don't do it." There is also tapasya with regards to the tongue, belly, and genitals. One cannot eat anything and everything, or at any time he pleases. Nor can one have sex freely, but only according to the scriptural injunctions. "I am sexually inclined, but I cannot do it. This is not the time." That is tapasya.

So one should practice tapasya in every wayin body, mind, words, personal behavior, and dealings with others. That is human life. Tapo divyam: if you want to simply be a human being, and especially if you want to make progress in spiritual life, you must act according to the sastric injunctions. That means tapasya. Before Brahma could take part in creation, he had to undergo tapasya. Is it not stated in the stra? Yes. So tapasya is essential. You cannot avoid it.

And what is the aim of performing tapasya? The aim is to please the Supreme Lord through the spiritual master. Yasya prasdd bhagavat-prasdo: ** "One can attain the mercy of the Lord only by attaining the mercy of the spiritual master." This is the idea.

Now, in today's educational institutions, who is teaching this tapasya? Where is the school or college? The students are even smoking in front of their teacher, and it is tolerated. No offense. What can you expect from such students? This is an animal civilization. This is not human civilization. No tapasya, no brahmacr life. Real civilization means tapo divyam, godly austerity. And this tapasya begins with brahmacr life, learning to control the sensesthat is the beginning of life. Not "A-B-C-D" learning, and maybe your character is less than an animal's, though you have a degree from the university. "Never mind. You have become a learned man." Nothat is not accepted.

Even from the standpoint of basic moral instruction, we must ask, Who today is educated? The educated person is described by Cakya Paita:

mt-vat para-dreu
para-dravyeu lora-vat
tma-vat sarva-bhteu
ya payati sa pait

"The educated man sees another's wife as his mother and another's property as untouchable garbage, and he sees all others as equal to himself."

That is the paita, the learned man. In Bhagavad-gt [5.18] Ka also describes the paita:

brhmae gavi hastini
uni caiva va-pke ca
pait sama-darina

"The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brhmaa, a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog-eater." That is a learned man. Not this degree-holder. A degree-holder who has no tapasya and no characterKa says he is myaypahta-jn, "his knowledge is stolen by illusion." Although he has learned so many things, nonetheless, my has taken away his knowledge. He's a rascal. He's an animal. This is the perspective of Vedic civilization.



Pua Ka: Next question, rla Prabhupda? "What is the role of rituals in religion? Are they to be discouraged, as is being advocated by some reformists, or are they to be encouraged? If so, in what form?"

rla Prabhupda: A ritual is a practice based on tapasya, or austerity. Generally, unless one undergoes the ritualistic ceremonies for purification, he remains unclean. But in this age, because it is practically impossible to induce people to take up all these ritualistic processes, both the scripture and Caitanya Mahprabhu recommend, "Chant the Hare Ka mah-mantra." This is the special advantage of this agethat by constant chanting of the Hare Ka mah-mantra, one automatically becomes purified.

In His ikaka, Lord Caitanya describes the progressive benefits of chanting Hare Ka. First, ceto-darpaa-mrjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. The beginning is cleansing the heart, because we are impure on account of dirty things within our heart, accumulated lifetime after lifetime in the animalistic way of life. So everythingadvancement of spiritual life, culture, tapasyais meant to cleanse the heart. And in this process of chanting the mah-mantra, the first installment of benefit is the cleansing of the heart. Ceto-darpaa-mrjanam.

And when the heart is cleansed, then a person becomes eligible for being freed from the clutches of my, or the materialistic way of life. He understands that he is not this bodythat he's a spirit soul, and that his business is therefore different from merely material concerns. He thinks, "Now I am engaged only in seeking these bodily comforts of life. These are not at all essential, because my body will change. Today, since I am in an American body, I think I have so many duties as an American man. Tomorrow I may be in an American dog body, and immediately my duty would change. So I can understand that these bodily concerns are not my real business. My real business is how to elevate myselfas a spirit soulto the spiritual world, back to home, back to Godhead."

In this way the person who chants Hare Ka purifies his consciousness. Then his materialistic activity is stopped. He knows, "This is simply a waste of time. I must act spiritually." That is knowledge, which comes from cleansing the heart (ceto-darpaa-mrjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]). The illusion of wrongly working on the basis of the bodily concept of life is overcome simply by the chanting of the Hare Ka mah-mantra. This is the first installment of benefit from chanting.

And then there is bhava-mah-dvgni-nirvpaam: the process of stopping the blazing fire of material existence. Next, reya-kairava-candrik-vitaraam: his life becomes completely auspcious; and vidy-vadh-jvanam: he becomes filled with transcendental knowledge. The next benefit is nandmbudhi-vardanam: the ocean of transcendental bliss increases; and prmtsvdanam: he tastes the nectar of Ka consciousess at every step of life. In other words, his life becomes totally blissful. Finally, sarvtma-snapana para vijyate r-ka-sakrtanam: all glories to this sakrtana movement, the chanting of the Hare Ka mah-mantra!

So this sakrtana movement is Caitanya Mahprabhu's gift, and by taking up this chanting one attains kevala-bhakti, unalloyed devotion to the Lord. All the benefits of practicing austerities, penances, mystic yoga, and so on will be totally achieved simply by the chanting of the Hare Ka mantra. This is stated in the rmad-Bhgavatam [6.1.15]:

kecit kevalay bhakty
agha dhunvanti krtsnyena
nhram iva bhskara

Just as when the sun rises the all-pervading fog immediately disappears, so in this Kali-yuga, by the process of bhakti-yogaespecially by chanting the Hare Ka mah-mantraall one's sins are eradicated and one becomes fully reformed. In other words, one comes to the spiritual platform, and that is success in life.



Pua Ka: rla Prabhupda, the next question somewhat echoes the previous one: "There are various saskras, or purificatory ceremonies, prescribed for every civilized person, from birth to death. Many of these saskras are not being observed today. Should they be revived?"

rla Prabhupda: The real aim of saskras is to bring a rascal to the platform of knowledge. Janman jyate dra: by birth, everyone is the samedra. In other words, one is without any knowledge. So the purpose of saskras is to gradually bring a person who has no knowledge of spiritual life to the spiritual platform. As it is said, saskrd bhaved dvija: by the purificatory processes, one attains spiritual rebirth. That is essential.

Human life is the opportunity for understanding what one is and what the aim of one's life is. The aim of life is to go back home, back to Godhead. After all, we are part and parcel of God. Somehow or other, we are now in this material existence. So the real aim of life is to return to the spiritual world, where there is no struggle for existenceblissful, happy life. we want unending blissful life, but it is not possible in the material world That happiness is in the spiritual world. So our aim should be to go there, and every human being should be given the chance. That is real education. That is called saskra, the process of purification.

Now, altogether there are daa-vidha-saskrah, ten kinds of purificatory processes. So, in this age it is very difficult to follow them. but if one chants the Hare Ka mah-mantra without any offense, under the guidance of a spiritual master, all these saskras automatically become fulfilled, and one returns to his original, spiritual position.

Aha brahmsmi"I am a spirit soul." So, we are Brahman, spirit, and Ka is Param Brahman, the Supreme Spirit. As Arjuna said, para brahma para dhma pavitra parama bhavn: [Bg. 10.12] "You are the Supreme Spirit, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth." Ka is Brahman, or spirit, and I am also Brahman, but He's the Supreme Brahman, while I am minute Brahman. So my business is to serve Ka. That is the teaching of Lord Caitanya: jvera 'svarpa' haya kera 'nitya-dsa' [Cc. Madhya 20.108]"The real identity of the living being is that he is the eternal servant of Ka." So if one engages himself in his original, spiritual business, acting as the servant of Ka, then all processes of purification and reformation are fulfilled.

And that advantage of re-engagement in our original, spiritual business is given freely in this age: krtand eva kasya mukta-saga para vrajet"Simply by chanting the Lord's holy name, one achieves spiritual liberation." The reformatory processes, or saskras, are meant for purifying a person so that he becomes mukta-saga, liberated from all the bad association of material existence and eligible to go back home, back to Godhead. So this is the special advantage of chanting the Hare Ka mah-mantra.

The question was, "Should purificatory processes be revived?" They should be revived as far as necessary, but all of them cannot be revived in this age. So people should take to the chanting of the Hare Ka mah-mantra. Then all reformation will be there, and people will come to the spiritual platformbrahma-bhta, the realization of Brahman. Then prasanntm: they'll be happy. Na ocati na kkati: there will be no lamentation or needless hankering. Sama sarveu bhteu: they will see everyone on the spiritual platform. And finally, mad-bhakti labhate param [Bg. 18.54]. In this way they will come to the platform of devotional service, and then their life becomes successful. Is that question answered or not?

Pua Ka: Yes. Just one question I have, rla Prabhupda. You said that the saskras should be revived as far as necessary?

rla Prabhupda: The essentials. For instance, to make one a brhmaa, these four things are essential: no illicit sex, no meat-eating, no intoxication, no gambling. These essentials must be there; you cannot dispense with them. You must at least avoid sinful activities. Then one can practice Ka consciousness. As Ka says in the Bhagavad-gt [7.28]:

ye tv anta-gata ppa
jann puya-karmam
te dvandva-moha-nirmukt
bhajante m dha-vrat

"Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination."

You cannot become a devotee unless you give up sinful activity. Therefore you have to begin by following these four prohibitions. You have to avoid sinful activities like illicit sex, meat-eating, gambling, and intoxication, including tobacco, coffee, and tea. Then you'll gradually become completely sinless. On one side you have to follow restrictions, and on the other side you have to engage yourself in devotional service. To engage oneself in devotional service under the order of the spiritual master and the stra is the way to remain on the transcendental platform.

The transcendental platform means there is no sinful activity. It is above any question of "sinful." "Pious" and "sinful" activities are there only as long as you are on the material platform. "Good" and "bad," "pious" and "sinful"these are all considerations on the material platform. But when you are on the transcendental platform, you are automatically without sin. Ka confirms this in Bhagavad-gt [14.26]:

m ca yo' vyabhicrea
bhakti-yogena sevate
sa gun samattyaitn
brahma-bhyya kalpate

The life of vice and the life of piety are within this material world, but when one is spiritually engaged, he is above the material plane, on the spiritual plane.

So the whole thing is that if you chant the Hare Ka mah-mantra and give up these sinful activities, automatically you become reformed. You come to the spiritual platform. And in this way your life will become successful.



Pua Ka: This next question is rather interesting, rla Prabhupda. "Is it not possible for all kinds of spiritualistsbe they Advaitans [advocates of oneness of the self with God], Dvaitans [advocates of total difference between the self and God], or Viidvaitans [advocates of qualified oneness of the self with God]come together instead of remaining isolated as warring factions?"

rla Prabhupda: Yes. This is the process taught by Caitanya Mahprabhuto bring all the Dvaitans and Advaitans together on one platform. Everyone has to understand that he is essentially a servant of God. The Advaitan wrongly thinks that he is absolutely one with God, that he himself is God. That is wrong. How can you become God? God is a-aivarya-pram, full in six opulences. He has all power, all wealth, all beauty, all fame, all knowledge, and all renunciation. So this Advaitan idea is artificialto think you're able to become God.

The Dvaitans stress that one is utterly different from God, that God is separate from the living entity. But actually, from the Bhagavad-gt we understand that the living entities are part and parcel of God. And in the Vedas it is said, nityo nityn cetana cetannm: both God and His creatures are living entities, though God is the chief. Eko yo bahn vidadhti kmn: the difference between the two is that God maintains all the other living entities. That is a fact. We are maintained, and God is the maintainer. We are predominatedwe are not independentand God is the predominator. But because the predominated living entities are part and parcel of God, in quality they are one with God.

So r Caitanya Mahprabhu's philosophy is acintya-bhedbheda: the living entities are simultaneously one with and different from the Lord. The living entity is one in the sense that he is part and parcel of God. So if God were gold, the living entity would also be gold. That is oneness in quality. But God is great, and we are minute. In that way we are different. That is why Caitanya Mahprabhu enunciated this philosophy of acintya-bhedbheda: inconceivable, simultaneous oneness with and difference from God. That is real philosophy.

So on the platform of this philosophy, everyone can come together, if they are reasonable. If they remain unreasonably stuck up in their own concocted philosophy, then it is difficult. But it is a fact that the living entity is eternally one with and different from God. Find this verse: mamaivo jva-loke.


mamaivo jva-loke
jva-bhta santana
mana ahnndriyi
prakti-sthni karati

"The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind." [Bg. 15.7]

rla Prabhupda: So if the living entity is eternally a fragmental part, how can he become one with the whole? The part is never equal to the whole. That is an axiomatic truth. So it is a wrong conception to try to become equal to God. The Myvds are trying to become God, but that is impossible. Let them try to become godly. Godly means "servant of God." That will make them perfect. The Vaiava philosophy teaches that we can remain in our natural position but act as a servant of God. That is perfect. But if the servant tries to become the master, that is artificial.

Of course, in the spiritual world there often seems to be no difference between the master and the servant. For instance, Ka's friends the cowherd boysthey do not know that Ka is God. They play with Him on equal terms. When Ka is defeated in play, He has to take His friend on His shoulder and carry him. The friends do not know who is God and who is not God. So that is the advanced spiritual conception. Of course, the difference is always there between God and the part-and-parcel living entities, but by the influence of God's internal potency, the understanding is covered. We can attain that position after many, many lives of pious activities. That is stated in the rmad-Bhgavatam [10.12.11]:

ittha sat brahma-sukhnubhty
dsya gatn para-daivatena
myritn nara-drakea
ska vijahru kta-puya-puj

The cowherd boys are playing with Ka. And who is Ka? He is the essence of brahma-sukha, spiritual bliss. He is Param Brahman, the Supreme Spirit. So the boys are playing with Param Brahman, though to an ordinary man He appears to be an ordinary child. how have the cowherd boys gotten the position of being able to play with Ka? Kta-puya-puj: After many, many lives of pious activities, they have gotten the position of playing with Ka on equal terms.

So this is the conception of pure devotional servicethat when you go to Goloka Vndvana, Ka's abode, you love Ka so much that you will not distinguish between the Supreme Lord and His subordinates. The inhabitants of Ka's abode have such unflinching love for Ka. That is Vndvana life. The cows, the calves, the trees, the flowers, the water, the elderly men, Ka's parents Nanda Mahrja and Yaodmayeveryone is intensely attached to Ka. Everyone's central point is Ka. Everyone is loving Ka so much that they do not know He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Sometimes the residents of Vndvana see Ka's wonderful activities and think, "Ka must be some demigod who has come here." They never recognize that Ka is the Supreme Personality of Godheador if they do, Ka makes them immediately forget. When Ka manifested His pastimes on earth some five thousands years ago, He passed through many dangerous situationsso many demons were comingand mother Yaod would chant mantras to protect Ka, thinking, "He may not be put into some calamity." Ka's family and friends never understood that Ka is God. Their natural love for Ka was so intense. Therefore Vndvana life is so exalted. As Caitanya Mahprabhu taught, rdhyo bhagavn vrajea-tanayas tad-dhma vndvanam: First of all, KaVrajendra-nandana, the son of Nanda Mahrjais rdhya, worshipable. Then, tad-dhma vndvanam: His dhma, or abodeVndvanais equally worshipable.

So these facts pertain to a higher standard of understanding. Only a devotee can understand that to become one with God is not a sublime idea. In Vndvana the devotees want to become the father or mother of Godto control God with love. This fact the Myvds, or Advaitavds, cannot understand. Only pure devotees can understand these things. What is the benefit of becoming one with God?

Even other Vaiava philosophies cannot explain the higher relationships with God, which Caitanya Mahprabhu explained. These are vatsalya-rasa [parenthood], and madhurya-rasa [conjugal love]. Caitanya Mahprabhu especially taught that our relationship with Ka can be in conjugal love, madhurya-rasa.

But as for our general understanding, Lord Caitanya introduced the philosophy of acintya-bhedbhedasimultaneously one with and different from the Lord. That is explained by Ka in Bhagavad-gt [15.7]: mamaivo jva-bhtathe living entities are part and parcel of God. So we are one with God, since we have God's qualities in minute degree. But God is the master, and we are always subordinate. Eko bahn yo vidadhti kmn: we are protected, we are maintained, we are predominated. That is our position. We cannot attain the position of predominator. That is not possible.



Pua Ka: Next question, rla Prabhupda. "As the world is coming to be divided into just two classesatheist and theistis it not advisable for all religions to come together? And what positive steps can be taken in this direction?"

rla Prabhupda: The steps to be taken have already been explainedthis Ka consciousness movement. The atheist class and the theist class will always exist. This is the nature of the material world. Even at homethe father may be an atheist like Hirayakaipu, and the son a theist like Prahlda. So atheists and theists will always existin the family, in the community, in the nation.

But the theists should follow the instructions of the Bhagavad-gt and take shelter at Ka's lotus feet, giving up other, so-called religious principles. That will bring religious unity. Religion without a clear conception of God is humbug, bogus. Religion means to accept the order of God. So if you have no clear conception of God, if you do not know who God is, there is no question of accepting His order. Find this verse in the Sixth Canto of

rmad-Bhgavatam: dharma tu skd bhagavat-pratam [SB 6.3.19].


dharma tu skd bhagavat-pratam
na vai vidur ayo npi dev
na siddha-mukhy asur manuy
kuto nu vidydhara-cradaya
[SB 6.3.19]

"Real religious principles are enacted by . . ."

rla Prabhupda: Ah. "Real." Go on.

Hari-sauri: "Real religious principles are enacted by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although fully situated in the mode of goodness, even the great sages who occupy the topmost planets cannot ascertain the real religious principles, nor can the demigods or the leaders of Siddhaloka, to say nothing of the demons, ordinary human beings, Vidydharas, and Craas." [Bhg. 6.3.19]

rla Prabhupda: Hm. Read the next verses also.


svayambhr nrada abhu
kumra kapilo manu
prahldo janako bhmo
balir vaiysakir vayam
[SB 6.3.20]

dvdaaite vijnmo
dharma bhgavata bha
guhya viuddha durbodha
yaj jtvmtam anute

"Lord Brahm, Bhagavn Nrada, Lord iva, the four Kumras, Lord Kapila [the son of Devahti], Svaymbhuva Manu, Prahlda Mahrja, Janaka Mahrja, Bhmadeva, Bali Mahrja, ukadeva Gosvm, and I myself [Yamarja] know the real religious principle. My dear servants, this transcendental religious principle, which is known as bhgavata-dharma, or surrender unto the Supreme Lord and love for Him, is uncontaminated by the material modes of nature. This transcendental religious principle is very confidential and difficult for ordinary human beings to understand, but if by chance one fortunately understands it, he is immediately liberated, and thus he returns home, back to Godhead."

rla Prabhupda: So these mahjanasBrahm, Nrada, Lord iva, and so onthey know what the principles of religion are. Religion means bhgavata-dharma, understanding God and our relationship with God. That is religion. You may call it "Hindu religion" or "Muslim religion" or "Christian religion," but in any case, real religion is that which teaches how to love God. Sa vai pus paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhokaje: [SB 1.2.6] if by following some religious system you come to the platform of loving God, then your religious system is perfect. Otherwise, it is simply a waste of timebogus religion, without a clear conception of God. So we have to understand what God is and what He says, and we have to abide by His orders. Then there is real religion, there is real understanding of God, and everything is complete.

Pua Ka: rla Prabhupda, one may ask why someone like Christ or Moses is not mentioned among the mahjanas.

rla Prabhupda: There are mahjanas among the Christian saints. They include Christ, and in addition to Christ, so many othersSt. Matthew, St. Thomas, and so forth. These mahjanas are mentioned in the Bible. A mahjana is one who strictly follows the original religion and knows things as they are. And that means he must be coming in the parampar, the system of disciplic succession.

For instance, Arjuna learned Bhagavad-gt directly from Ka. Therefore Arjuna is a mahjana. So you should learn from Arjuna. You follow the way Arjuna acted and the way Arjuna understood Ka. Then mahjano yena gata sa panth: you are following the mahjanayou are on the real path. Just as we are.

in these verses from rmad-Bhgavatam is a list of mahjanas, including Svyambhu, or Lord Brahm. So this sampradya of ours is called the Brahma-sampradya. Our sampradya also includes Nrada, another mahjana. Sambhu, or Lord Siva, is still another mahjana. He has his own sampradya, the Rudra-sampradya. And similarly, Lakm, the goddess of fortune, has the r-sampradya.

So we must belong to one these sampradyas. Sampradya-vihin ye mantrs te niphal mat: if you do not belong to a bona fide sampradya, originating from a mahjana, then your religious process is useless. You cannot concoct some religious system. So whether you follow the Christian mahjanas or the Vedic mahjanas, it doesn't matter. But you have to follow the mahjanas. If a Christian says, "I don't believe in St. Thomas," what kind of Christian is he? It doesn't matter which mahjana we are discussing. The real mahjana is he who is strictly following the principles enunciated by God. Then he is following a real religious system. Otherwise, there is no question of religion. The so-called follower is simply a mano-dharm, a mental speculator. Mental speculation is not religion. Religion is the order of God, and one who follows that orderhe is religious. That's all.

Pua Ka: Then as far as I can understand, rla Prabhupda, you're saying that there's no need to maintain sectarian labels, that there's one religion in the world.

rla Prabhupda: One religion exists already: how to love God. This is the one religion. Will the Christians say, "No, we don't want to love God"? Will the Muhammadans say, "No, no, we don't want to love God"? So religion means how to love God, and any religion which teaches how to love Godthat is perfect. It doesn't matter whether you are Christian or Muslim or Hindu.

Dharma tu skd bhagavat-pratam: [SB 6.3.19] "Real religion is directly enunciated by Bhagavn, the Supreme Personality of Godhead." So, Bhagavn, Lord Ka, says, "surrender unto Me." Of course, you cannot surrender until you love. For instance, you are surrendered to me. Even though I am not from your country, because you have love for me, you surrender. If I say, "do this," you'll do it. Why? Because you love me. So when will there be surrender to God? When one loves Godwhen one reaches the platform where he thinks, "O Lord, I love You; I can sacrifice everything for You." That is the basic principle of religion.

Therefore, that religion is perfect which teaches its followers how to love God. So let everyone come to this platform of loving God. That is Ka consciousness. We are teaching nothing but how to love God, how to sacrifice everything for God. That is real religion. Otherwise, it is all a bogus waste of time, simply a following of ritualistic ceremonies. That is not religion. That is superfluous. As stated in the rmad-Bhgavatam [1.2.8],

dharma svanuhita pus
vivaksena kathsu ya
notpdayed yadi rati
rama eva hi kevalam

"You are very good; you are following your religious principles very strictly. That's all rightbut what about your love of God?" "Oh, that I do not know." So, the Bhgavatam says, rama eva hi kevalam: "Your religion is simply a waste of timesimply laboring. That's all. If you have not learned how to love God, then what is the meaning of your religion?"

But when you're actually on the platform of love of God, you understand your relationship with God: "I am part and parcel of Godand this dog is also part and parcel of God. And so is every other living entity." Then you'll extend your love to the animals also. If you actually love God, then your love for insects is also there, because you understand, "This insect has got a different kind of body, but he is also part and parcel of Godhe is my brother." Sama sarveu bhteu: you look upon all living beings equally. Then you cannot maintain slaughterhouses. If you maintain slaughterhouses and disobey the order of Christ in the Bible"Thou shall not kill"and you proclaim yourself a Christian, your so-called religion is simply a waste of time. rama eva hi kevalam: your going to the church and everything is simply a waste of time, because you have no love for God. That foolishness is going on all over the world. People are stamping themselves with some sectarian label, but there is no real religion.

So if all people are to come together on one platform, they have to accept the principles of Bhagavad-gt. The first principle is that Ka is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If you do not accept in the beginning that Ka is the Supreme Lord, then try to understand this gradually. That is education. You can begin by accepting that there is somebody who is supreme.

Now, if I say, "Ka is the Supreme Lord," you may say, "Why is Ka the Supreme Lord? Ka is Indian." No. He is God. For example, the sun rises first over India, then over Europe. But that does not mean the European sun is different from the Indian sun. Similarly, although Ka appeared in India, now He has come to the Western countries through this Ka consciousness movement.

So you should try to understand whether Ka is God or not. But He is God. There is no doubt about it. If you have the intelligence to understand what God is, then try to understand. But Ka is God, undoubtedly. So take to Ka consciousness and abide by the order of Ka. Then everyone can come together on the same religious platform. One religion, Ka consciousness.

Pua Ka: rla Prabhupda, sometimes in our preaching activities we meet people who claim to be very devout Christians or Muslims but at the same time blaspheme Ka. Is it possible that such persons can actually be associates of God?

rla Prabhupda: No. If one is serious about understanding what God is, then he will accept Ka as the Supreme Lord. Once he knows what God is, he'll understand, "Here is GodKa." If he remains in darkness and does not learn what God is, then how will he understand Ka? He'll understand Ka as one of us. That's all. But if he knows what God is, then he'll understand about Ka: "Yes, here is God."

For instance, if a person knows what gold is, then anywhere he comes upon gold, he'll understand, "Here is gold." He won't think gold is available in one shop only. And if a person knows what God is, what the meaning of "God" is, then in Ka he will find God in fullness. Kas tu bhagavn svayam: "Ka Himself is the Supreme Personality of Godhead." The stra explains what Bhagavn, or God, is, and how Ka is Bhagavn. You should understand and see from the activities of Ka whether He is or is not Bhagavn. It requires a good brain to understand. If I say, "Here is God," now it is up to you to test my statement. If you know what God is, then test my statement about Ka, and then you'll accept Him as God. If you do not know how to test my statement, then you may refuse to accept it. That is another thing. You may also accept iron as gold. That is your ignorance: you do not know what gold is. But if you actually know what God is, you will accept Ka as God. There is no doubt about it.

So this is the common platformBhagavad-gt. Everyone, come and take to Ka consciousness. Understand God and learn how to love Him, and your life will be perfect.

Pua Ka: But many people claim to have the best religion, rla Prabhupda.

rla Prabhupda: But we have to look at the result. how will we decide what is real religion? Sa vai pus paro dharma yato bhaktir adhokaje: by seeing whether the followers have learned how to love God. If one has no love of God, then what is the use of claiming that one's religion is the best? Where is the sign of love of Godhead? That is to be seen. Everyone will say, "My understanding is the best." But there must be practical proof.

If someone claims to have the best religion, we ask, "Tell us how to love God. What is your process of loving God? If you do not know your relationship with God and others' relationship with God, then how can you love God?" That process of loving God is lacking. Nobody can give a clear conception of God. If you have no understanding of what God is, where is the question of love? Love is not mere fantasy or imagination. You cannot love air. You love a person, a beautiful person. If you merely say, "I love the air, I love the sky," what question is there of love? There must be a person. So who is that person we want to love?

Unfortunately, most people have no personal conception of God. Nor can they describe the Lord's personal beauty, knowledge, strength His fullness in the six personal opulences. There is no such description. They have some conception of God, but actually they do not know what God is. But religion means you must know God and love Him. Love is something tangible. It is not merely fantasy or imagination. So we Ka conscious people accept Ka as God, and we are worshiping Ka, and we are making progress.

Pua Ka: Recently a priest visited us and admitted that he didn't know what God looks like. He couldn't say anything about God, but he said he loved God.

rla Prabhupda: Then? What kind of love is it?

Pua Ka: Nor did he say his people were very enthusiastic about coming to church. He said, "At best they come once a week." He said that's all that is necessary.

rla Prabhupda: Well, love does not mean that you come once a week to my house. Love means you come to my house every day, give me some present, and take something from me. rla Rpa Gosvm describes the symptoms of love in his

Upademta [4]
dadti pratighti
guhyam khyti pcchati
bhukte bhojayate caiva
a-vidha prti-lakaam

If you love somebody, you must give him something, and you must accept something from him. You must disclose your mind to him, and he should disclose his mind to you. And you should give him some eatable, and whatever eatable thing he offers, you accept. These six kinds of exchange develop love.

But if you do not even know the person, then where is the question of love? Suppose you love some boy or some girl, then you will give some present, and he or she gives you some presentthat develops love. You give something to eat, and whatever he or she gives you to eat, you eat. You disclose your mind: "My dear such-and-such, I love you. This is my ambition." And he or she makes some disclosure. These are the exchanges of love.

But if there is no person-to-person meeting, where is the question of love? If I claim to love somebody, but I visit his house only once a week and ask,"Please give me such-and-such," where is the exchange of love? Love means there is some exchange. If you love somebody but you have not given anything to that person or taken anything from him, where is the love?

The conclusion is, religion means to love God, and that means you must know who God is. There is no alternati You must know the person who is God. Then you can have loving exchanges with Him. That we are teaching. We are asking our disciples to rise early in the morning and offer magala rati, then bhoga rati, to the Lord in His form as the Deity in the temple. Are we such fools and rascals that we are wasting time worshiping a "doll"? Sometimes people think like that. But that is not a fact. When you enter the temple, you know definitely, "Here is Ka. He is God, and we must love Him like this." That is the superexcellence of this Ka consciousness movement. We do everything definitely, on the positive platform. Is that clear? Does anyone have any further question?

Pradyumna: rla Prabhupda, you're saying we must know God before we can love Him. So that means devotional service is preceded by knowledge.

rla Prabhupda: Yes, that is the process given in the Bhagavad-gt. There are eighteen chapters, and the whole eighteen chapters are educationhow to know God. When Arjuna at last comes to complete awareness, he accepts, "Ka, You are para brahma, the Supreme Personality of Godhead." Then Arjuna surrendered, as Ka advisedsarva-dharmn parityajya [Bg. 18.66]. But unless you know God, how will you surrender? If some third-class man comes and says, "Surrender to me," will you do that? "Why should I surrender to you?" You must know, "Now, here is God. I must surrender." Eighteen chapters describe God and how to know God, and then Ka proposes, "Surrender unto Me." Then Arjuna does it: "Yes." So without knowing God, how can you surrender to Him? It is not possible.

So the Bhagavad-gt is the science of how to know God. The preliminary science. If you want to know more, then read rmad-Bhgavatam. And if you are in intense love with God, read Caitanya-caritmtahow your love for God can be still more intensified. That is Caitanya-caritmta. So Bhagavad-gt is the preliminary book: to understand God and surrender. And from the surrendering point, further progressthat is rmad-Bhgavatam. And when the love is intense, to make it more intensifiedthat is Caitanya-caritmta. Caitanya Mahprabhu was mad after God. He cried, nyyitam jagat sarva govinda virahea me: "I find everything vacant without Ka." That is the supreme ecstasy.

So these things cannot happen without love. If you love somebody and he's not there, you find everything vacant. So r Caitanya Mahprabhu felt this way about Kalover and beloved. nyyita jagat sarva govinda virahea me: "I see everything vacant without Govinda." That is the supreme stage of love. Is that clear or not?

Pradyumna: There's just one more thing, rla Prabhupda. What's the minimum knowledge one must have to . . .

rla Prabhupda: God is great. That's all. God is great. Ka proved that He's great. Therefore He's God. Everyone says, "God is great." Allah-u-akbar, the Muslims say: "God is great." And Hindus say, para brahma: "You are the Supreme Spirit." So God is great. And when Ka was present, He proved that He is all-great. Therefore He's God. If you accept that God is great, and if you find somebody who is great in everything, then He is God. How can you deny it? You can see how great Ka is simply by considering His Bhagavad-gt. Five thousand years have passed since Ka spoke Bhagavad-gt, and still it is accepted as the greatest book of knowledge all over the world. Even people from other religions who are really learned accept it. That is proof of the greatness of Kathis knowledge. Who can give such knowledge? That is the proof that He is God. Ka has all opulences in full, including knowledge. Other than here in Ka's words, where is such knowledge throughout the whole world? Every line is sublime knowledge. If you study Bhagavad-gt scrutinizingly, you'll understand that Ka is the Supreme Lord.



Pua Ka: Next question, rla Prabhupda. "Do you envision a different role for the Vedic culture in the Western countries, where the influence of other great religions has been felt for centuries?"

rla Prabhupda: No. There is no "different role." God is one. God cannot be two. As Ka states in the Bhagavad-gt [7.7], matta paratara nnyat kicid asti dhanajaya: "There is no authority superior to Me." That is God. Now people have to understand that Ka is God. There is no "different role" for the Vedic culture. The role is the same worldwide. Five thousand years ago, Ka said, "I am the supreme authority. There is no authority superior to Me." He is still so. Therefore we are simply attempting to introduce Ka.

Previously nobody attempted to introduce the supreme authority, Ka, all over the world. We are just trying to introduce Ka, following the orders of r Caitanya Mahprabhu, who appeared five hundred years ago. He is Ka, and He wanted this Ka consciousness to be spread all over the world:

pthivte che yata nagardi-grma
sarvatra pracra haibe mora nma

"In every town and village throughout the world," said Lord Caitanya, "the chanting of My holy name will be heard." Ka is not just for India. He is for everyone, because He is God. In Bhagavad-gt He affirms, aha bja-prada pit: "I am the seed-giving father of all living entities"not just the living entities in the human society, but also all other living entities, like the aquatics, the insects, the plants, the birds, and the beasts.

Everything is there in the Vedic culture, but this culture of Ka consciousness, which is summarized in Bhagavad-gt As It Is, had not been preached properly. Everyone had interpreted Bhagavad-gt in his own way, to satisfy his own whims. We are just trying for the first time to present Bhagavad-gt as it is, and it is becoming effective. So this is not a "different role" for the Vedic culture. It is the actual role. Nobody had tried for it; therefore Ka had been unknown in the Western countries. But even though we have been attempting to introduce Him for only a few years, still, because it is reality, Ka consciousness is being accepted. So it is not a new role for the Vedic culture. The role is already thereto preach Ka consciousness.

That is Caitanya Mahprabhu's vision. He says especially to people born in India,

bhrata-bhmite manuya-janma haila yra
janma srthaka kari' kara para-upakra
[Cc. di 9.41]

"Anyone who has taken his birth as a human being in India, Bhratavara, should make his life successful and work for the upliftment of the whole world." Indians are meant for this businessfor the upliftment of the whole worldbecause all over the world people are unaware of Ka. So anyone who is born in India should attempt to broadcast the message of Bhagavad-gt and Ka. That is the order of Caitanya Mahprabhu.

This is not a new role for the Vedic culture. The role is already there. Five hundred years ago, Caitanya Mahprabhu spoke of it. But all the various swamis and yogis who came herethey never introduced Ka as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Now it is being done, and people are accepting, naturally. This is the Ka consciousness movement.

So if everyone joinseither Indian or non-Indianin this movement, there will be one religion and there will be peace. Peace will prevail. This is the only way.

bhoktra yaja-tapas
suhda sarva-bhtn
jtv m ntim cchati
[Bg. 5.29]

"A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries." This is the way to attain nti, peace. Understand Kathat He is the supreme enjoyer, the supreme proprietor, and the supreme friend of everyone. "Accept Ka as your friend. You'll be happy." This is the message of Ka consciousness.



Pua Ka: rla Prabhupda, the final question is: "What is your view regarding proselytizing or preaching?"

rla Prabhupda: We are simply attempting to bring people to the real understanding. Ka says, mamaivo jva-bhta: [15.7] all living entities are part and parcel of Me. He says, sarva-yoniu kaunteya [Bg. 14.4] aha bja-prada: "Of all forms of life, I am the seed-giving father." In other words, the natural position is that every living entityanimals, plants, and human beings, including Indians, Americans, Czechseveryone is part and parcel of Ka.

So our Ka consciousness movement is not a process of trying to convince people of some speculative idea. This movement is actually bringing people to their real positionthat they're all part and parcel of Ka. It is not artificial proselytizing: "You are Christian; now become a Hindu." It is not like that. This movement is actually bringing people back to their natural positionpart and parcel of God.

The effects of artificial proselytizing will not stand. But when one comes to the real understanding of his position, then that will continue. This Ka consciousness movement is that real understandingbringing everyone back to his original position. At the present moment everyone is in a diseased condition: people are thinking they are something other than servants of Ka. Now this movement is trying to bring everyone to the position of recognizing that they are eternal servants of Ka.

This movement is not some kind of rubber-stamp proselytizing"You were Christian; now you are Hindu." After all, if one does not know what his position is, what benefit will he derive by simply being stamped "Hindu"?

Pua Ka: No benefit. He'll still be in ignorance of his real, spiritual identity.

rla Prabhupda: If you keep someone on the ignorant platform, then what is the benefit of making a Christian or a Muslim into a Hindu? No, artificially changing someone into a Hindu will not help. One must know the philosophy of life. One must know what God is. One must learn how to love God. That is real life.

pacartra-vidhi vin
aikntik harer bhaktir
utptyaiva kalpate

Devotional service of the Lord that ignores the authorized Vedic literatures like the Upaniads, Puras and Nrada-pacartra is simply an unnecessary disturbance in society. Bhakti-rasmta-sindhu 1.2.101

pacartra-vidhi vin
aikntik harer bhaktir
utptyaiva kalpate

Devotional service of the Lord that ignores the authorized Vedic literatures like the Upaniads, Puras and Nrada-pacartra is simply an unnecessary disturbance in society. Bhakti-rasmta-sindhu 1.2.101

[iii]In the Garua Pura it is said:

artho ya brahma-str
gyatr-bhya-rpo sau

grantho daa-shasra

The rmad-Bhgavatam is the authorized explanation of Brahma-stra, and it is a further explanation of Mahbhrata. It is the expansion of the gyatr mantra and the essence of all Vedic knowledge. This rmad-Bhgavatam, containing eighteen thousand verses, is known as the explanation of all Vedic literature.

[iv]tad-vijnrtha sa gurum evbhigacchet
samit-pi rotriya brahma-niham

To understand these things properly, one must humbly approach, with firewood in hand, a spiritual master who is learned in the Vedas and firmly devoted to the Absolute Truth.
[Muaka Upaniad 1.2.12]