Published on December 17th, 2015 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada | Full size image2
George Harrison speaks about Living in the Material World
George Harrison & Srila Prabhupada
Bhaktivedanta Manor, August 22, 1973
Śrīla Prabhupāda: …in your house?
George Harrison: Yes.
Prabhupāda: The first time you are seeing? (Laughs)
George: Yes. I’ve just seen the photographs before. We saw many places which didn’t turn out to be the one.
Prabhupāda: This village is also nice. I am walking daily, morning.
George: It’s perfect.
Prabhupāda: One priest came?
Śyāmasundara: Today? A priest? Ah, ( laughs )
Prabhupāda: Yes. With a girl friend. ( laughs )
Śyāmasundara: Local priest or…?
Prabhupāda: I do not know. They told me that he is a priest.
Śyāmasundara: He had black, dressed in black?
Prabhupāda: No, no. Ordinary dress. But they told me that he is priest. In Bombay we are going under some tribulation. You have seen this booklet?
Śyāmasundara: No. They ruined our temple. The city, municipal authorities knocked our temple down.
George: Who did?
Śyāmasundara: In Bombay, the city police. So we made a publicity from it. I understand though they have rebuilt?
Śyāmasundara: They have rebuilt it?
George: Why? Why did they do that?
Prabhupāda: Oh, that’s a long story.
Śyāmasundara: Long story. About the land. There is some dispute. We purchased it and the other owners tried to dispute it. So they were powerful with the police…
George: But they said you, they didn’t want you to have the land or they said you didn’t own the land?
Śyāmasundara: They said we really didn’t even though we paid for it. So they were powerful friends with the police and they got the police to come and demolish the temple.
George: Really? With the Deities in there?
Śyāmasundara: They didn’t destroy the Deities.
Prabhupāda: No, they were going to, not destroy, they dismantled the Deity room also. In the meantime another message came, “Don’t go on further,” so they stopped.
George: You’d expect it somewhere like in America. In India you wouldn’t expect that.
Prabhupāda: No, this is an extraordinary incident. So public is on our side. So you have got that marble you told me that…
Śyāmasundara: He said we can get it and use it for a temporary altar.
George: If we speak tomorrow to the people you can have it the day after probably.
Śyāmasundara: And we can install the Deities.
George: You keep it anyway, you know. Well, I know once you get the proper Deities you will have something else, but, I mean, then use that somewhere else.
Prabhupāda: I think you can fix up that platform permanently. And when your throne comes you can place on that platform, altar. [Pause] Sometimes you are chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Hare Kṛṣṇa.
George: I seem to keep going in cycles.
George: I go around in circles. Maybe it’s something to do with me being, you know, the Pisces. They show one fish going this way and one fish going that way.
George: And periods when I just can’t stop chanting and then other periods where, you know, I turn into a demon again and then forget to…
Prabhupāda: (Laughs) You are not demon. You are demigod. (Laughs) Someway or other you have got attached to Kṛṣṇa. That will help you.
George: I mean, even at my worst… at my worst, I can always…
Prabhupāda: Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam you are reading?
George: Pardon ?
Prabhupada: Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, you are reading ?
George: I’m reading the Gīta.
Prabhupāda: Bhagavad-gītā As It Is.
Prabhupada: Yes, that is… All answers are there.
George: And it goes… Just read it over and over. You know, just one piece over and over.
Prabhupāda: Yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas tad tad evetaro janaḥ. Just take… Yes. Find out this verse.
Śyāmasundara: Jaya jagadish?
Prabhupāda: Yad. Y-a-d. Yad Yad.
yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas
tad tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute
lokas tad anuvartate
In this column you will find. In this column. Right.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Up. Yad yad ācarati.
Śyāmasundara: …ācarati śreṣṭhas.
Prabhupāda: Ah, that’s it.
Yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas
tad tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute
lokas tad anuvartate.
Prabhupāda: You can read the diacritic marks? English transliteration?
George: Yes. I try to read this in the Roman. But sometimes…
Śyāmasundara: This mark means long i, and short a and long a.
Prabhupāda: Ah. How to read, the instruction is there in the back side, how to read.
Śyāmasundara: Here, Prabhupāda…
George: Like when you have the dots beneath the letters…
Prabhupāda: No, it is not difficult. If you practice little, the instruction is there.
George: Because when you see Kṛṣṇa spelled with the dots beneath, I mean that’s the only way you can say it.
Prabhupāda: That is… The direction is here. You see, direction is here. I think at the back of Bhagavad-gītā also the direction is there.
Śyāmasundara: There is something, how to pronounce the words.
George: Yes. Although the problem is that if you’re trying to read… If you’re trying to understand…
Prabhupāda: No, you can understand my translation.
Śyāmasundara: But better to listen… For you, probably to listen to a tape of Prabhupāda pronouncing Sanskrit because you have musical ear.
George: Yes, I can learn anything by ear.
Śyāmasundara: By hearing it.
Prabhupāda: Oh yes. Your hearing is very sharp. (Laughs)
Śyāmasundara: Anyway, the translation is, “Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.”
Prabhupāda: So this is your duty now. (Laughs) By the grace of Kṛṣṇa you are one of the great men. Although you are young man, but Kṛṣṇa has placed you in such a high position that there are many young men who follows you. So that is the instruction.
George: There is some… You know, Śyāmasundara and I were talking just on the way here, and it’s like, when you commit yourself to something, in a way it’s like putting your head on the chopping block. Because people, you know, somebody can turn around and chop it off or it may be lucky and, you know, it doesn’t get chopped off.
Prabhupāda: No, it is not chopping off.
George: I find that this, um, the more commitment that you make, or that I make, even though it’s such a little commitment, I mean, relatively speaking it’s such a little one. Now I’m getting in the area where I find that people are… It provokes, um…
George: Well, sometimes it provokes bad reaction.
Śyāmasundara: Sometimes people become agitated by his words.
Prabhupāda: Oh. Mukhāya upadeśo hi prokopāya śāntāya. There is a verse that if one is foolish, if you give him good instruction he becomes angry. Just like the example is given, payaḥ-pānaṁ bhujaṅgānāṁ kevalaṁ viṣa-vardhanaṁ. If you keep a snake and if you give him milk the result will be that his poison will be increased. Payaḥ-pānaṁ bhujaṅgānāṁ kevalaṁ viṣa-vardhanaṁ. So sometimes it happens that ah, if one is foolish, if you give him good advice he becomes angry. Mukhāya upadeśo hi prokopāya śāntāya. But, has it happened like that? No, I don’t think so.
George: I, you know, you can feel, I can feel a little animosity comes from people who, I don’t know for what reason, but people…
Śyāmasundara: Envious maybe.
George: I don’t know which is, in some ways the more committed you are to the thing and the stronger that you are in what you do then the stronger the animosity becomes.
Prabhupāda: Yes, the other side.
George: And I’m not sure if… You know, sometimes I get the feeling that maybe there’s one person who it means something real to and ten people who it doesn’t mean anything to. And I’m not sure how it, if it all balances out in the end whether…
Śyāmasundara: Well, that one person though, if you reach one person he is worth all of them.
George: But say you don’t reach any people, and then you have a choice of reaching people and you only reach one, but in, by reaching that one you have twenty people who are annoyed. You know, how do you…?
Prabhupāda: Yes, sometimes it happens.
Śyāmasundara: His question is that if you preach and you see many men, you meet many men. You may make… If you meet ten men you may make nine of them enemies and only one will become helped by your preaching. So how is that…
George: But if you don’t say anything then maybe with all the ten of them are quite friendly.
Śyāmasundara: Is that… How is that beneficial?
Prabhupāda: Yes, the preaching is different, you see. When one preaches he must tell the truth. Just like Lord Jesus Christ. The people did not like his preaching but he did not stop his preaching. That is another point. You see? So in the preaching propaganda there is possibility of creating animosity. Yes. That is possible. Just see that unnecessarily my God brothers are troubling.
Śyāmasundara: This temple demolishing?
Prabhupāda: Yes, you see. Innocent we are. We are simply worshiping. We have given money. Everything is all right. But they are creating some unwanted… Especially in God consciousness such things are possible, you see? We have to pay sometimes. Even Prahlāda Mahārāja, he was five years old boy. And his only fault was that he is Kṛṣṇa conscious. His father became enemy, what to speak of others. Because his father did not like God consciousness so he became enemy of his child although the child was only five years old. So there is possibility of such things. Yes.
Śyāmasundara: I was suggesting that those who take the biggest risk for Kṛṣṇa, that even though they may stand the risk of losing everything, Kṛṣṇa always comes to help and protect.
Prabhupāda: That is the history of everyone. Just like the Pāṇḍavas. They were bereft of their kingdom, bereft of their wife, they were insulted. So many things. Still, at last they came out victorious, Arjuna and Yudhiṣṭhira and the other party. That is the Kurukṣetra war. That is a fact. Kṛṣṇa protects His devotee. That verse is there. Kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati [Bg. 9.31]. So your, this record album, “I am in the Material World”?
George: “Living in the Material World.”
Prabhupāda: I heard that has been appreciated by so many people. Even one teacher was telling me.
Śyāmasundara: Hm. One teacher came to visit Prabhupāda. He said he played your record in his classroom. He teaches religious education. And they were astounded that the children, one of them began to pray. He found one boy in a room alone playing the record and praying on the floor. It had great effect.
George: There’s one song in particular which is directly the result of the conversation we had, when you came to Henley.
Prabhupāda: Yes, in your house. Yes.
George: About fame and fortune and…
Prabhupāda: So how the record is now received there?
George: Yes. It’s…
Prabhupāda: People are seeking after something about spiritual enlighten. That’s a fact. Especially in the Western world. That is a fact. We have to administer very cautiously and carefully. Then it will be taken. So one thing is that when you speak of the strictures, four principles…
Prabhupāda: Restriction, yes. That’s when they become angry.
Śyāmasundara: They become angry.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Because everyone is addicted to these things. I told you the story, Lord Zetland. Lord Zetland. The Marquis of Zetland. He was Lord Ronaldsay. Do you know him?
George: I don’t know him.
Prabhupāda: Oh, he is Scottish man. He was governor of Bengal when we were children. Not children, young men. Because I was student at the Scottish Churches College, so our principle, Mr. Watt, he invited him to visit. So he was a big philosopher. He liked Indian culture and philosophy. So I was at that time second year class. So when he came to our class he first of all, “How many of you have taken philosophy?” So our principal, Mr. Watt, informed that this is second year class. So philosophy begins from the third year. So the preliminary philosophy, logic, they might have taken some of them. So, “All right, how many have taken logic?” So I was also one of them. So he was very nice gentleman. So one of my God brothers came here in 1935. What is your birthdate?
George: Mine? ’43.
Prabhupāda: ’43, you were not born at that time. 1935. So he met Lord, that Lord Ronaldsay. Is there any place in Scotland, Ronaldsay?
George: How is that spelled?
Prabhupāda: R-o-n-a-l-d-s-a-y. Ronaldsay. He was Lord Ronaldsay, Marquis of Zetland. Is Zetland is any place?
Śyāmasundara: I think so.
Prabhupāda: Anyway, so he asked my, that Godbrother, his name was Bannerjee. “Mr. Bannerjee, can you make me a brāhmana?” So he inquired, this Lord Zetland. So he replied, “Yes, why not? You have to give up these four restricted principles.” So when he heard he said, “Oh, it is impossible. It is impossible. This is our life.” So when we speak to these principles sometimes people become angry. Yes. The same thing, mukhāya upadeśo hi prokopāya śāntāya. That risk is there. But actually that is the fact. God consciousness can be awakened proportionately, as proportionately one is pure. Pure. Purified. Because Kṛṣṇa is the purest.
paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma
pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān.
That is stated in… “You are the paraṁ brahma, the purest, uncontaminated.” So unless one becomes uncontaminated of this material modes, it is difficult to understand what is God. Therefore in our institution we begin with these four restrictions: no illicit sex, no intoxication, no meat-eating, no gambling. So those who are not serious about, they take it, “Oh, what is this.” Just like Rayarāma, he remarked that I am restricting…
Śyāmasundara: “Natural instincts.”
Prabhupāda: “Natural ( laughs ) instincts”, yes. Especially in the Western countries. I was thinking in the beginning that as soon as I shall propose these things these people will say, “Please go. Don’t preach.” (Laughs) But by Kṛṣṇa’s grace, I do not know how these young boys and girls, they agreed to my proposal. I am also astonished because even Zetland says, “It is impossible.” I was not very much hopeful when I first came in your country. It was in Boston, Commonwealth Dock. So I was thinking on the boat… I came on boat.
George: What year was that?
Prabhupāda: It was 1965, September. So I was thinking, I think it is published in our magazine, yes, that as soon as I propose this thing people will refuse to hear me. But Kṛṣṇa’s grace, these selected boys, they agreed. So their cooperation has helped me.
Śyāmasundara: We agreed because we saw someone who was perfect in teaching and setting example in every way. So just by seeing you we gave up. We thought, “Well, if we do this then we can learn something from this man. Otherwise we cannot learn.” So we gave up.
Prabhupāda: So that is the only point people become sometimes angry. Otherwise we have nothing to make enemy. We are simply teaching “love God.”
George: If you think since ’65, just less than 8 years. And you came with five dollars or ten dollars and now it’s so big, the organization.
George: Think of another five years the potential. And that is what people will have to, you know, just the growth and the success is… You don’t need any other reason for people to, you know, have the jealousy or…
Prabhupāda: Yes, people receiving it nicely. Even Africa. Especially Europe and America, the younger generation, they are liking.
Śyāmasundara: Just by your words. The words that you gave us. Those words have created all of this institution.
Prabhupāda: That is not my word. That is Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s word. So you can open these windows. Shall I open?
George: No, no, I… I’m not too hot.
Prabhupāda: I see.
Śyāmasundara: Shall I read this verse?
Prabhupāda: Yes, yes.
Śyāmasundara: “He quickly becomes righteous and attains lasting peace. O son of Kunti, declare it boldly that my devotee never perishes.”
Prabhupāda: Ah, declare boldly. Yes, Kṛṣṇa says. “Declare boldly to the world that My devotees will never perish.” Yes.
Śyāmasundara: He is protecting us.
Prabhupāda: Oh yes. Teṣām ahaṁ samuddhartā mṛtyu-saṁsāra-sāgarāt[Bg. 12.7]. This is Kṛṣṇa’s special mercy. So we are teaching exactly to save the human society, you see. Because the human life is specially meant for, by nature’s gift, that in this life you realize God. In other life, cats and dog, it is not possible. Now you have got nice human body, developed consciousness. And there are literatures, instruction. You just take advantage of them and make your life successful. Successful means that you save yourself from the repeated birth and death. This is success. So long we will be materialistic or attached to material enjoyment we have to accept a body, material body. Not necessarily human body. It may be according to karma, higher grade life, demigod’s life in higher planet or in lower grade. It is mentioned in theBhagavad-gītā, dehāntara-prāpti [Bg. 2.13]. You have to change this body, as you have changed already from childhood to babyhood, babyhood to boyhood, boyhood to youth hood. So… now it is old this body. So when this body will be finished I will have to accept another body, that is a fact. But unfortunately there is no education on this point. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre [Bg. 2.20]. After destruction of this body the spirit soul is not destroyed. Vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni [Bg. 2.22]. Just like you left your coat. That means you are not dead. Your coat is set aside. Similarly this body may be destroyed. It will be destroyed because it is material. And that is Christian religion also accept, resurrection.
Prabhupāda: So the soul transmigrates to another body. Now this transmigration can be done in so many ways. Either in this material world or in the spiritual world. In the material world also there are high grade life. Just like here in this planet also there are so many different grades of life and different planets. That is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā, you can find out.
yānti deva-vratā devān
pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
George: The birds in the sky and the fish in the water and the worms in the soil and man on this…
Prabhupāda: Yes, where is Pandit [indistinct]? Yānti deva-vratā devān. Y-ā-n-t-i.
Śyāmasundara: Oh, y-a.
Prabhupāda: Yānti. Actually the pronunciation is yānti, yānti. Antastha…
Śyāmasundara: Yānti deva.
Prabhupāda: Ah. Someway or other this Bhagavad-gītā should be preached all over for the education of the human society.
Prabhupāda: Ah? Yes.
Śyāmasundara: “Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods. Those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings. Those who worship ancestors go to the ancestors and those who worship Me will live with Me.”
Prabhupāda: So I will have to transmigrate. So I can transmigrate to the higher planetary systems. I can transmigrate amongst the ghost and evil spirit. Or I can transmigrate ordinary life. Or I can transmigrate to the kingdom of God. Everything is open.
George: It’s a good deal. It’s a good, fair deal.
Prabhupāda: Ah. So why I shall not transmigrate to, back to home, back to Godhead? Why shall I go to the… This is the policy. If I have to endeavor in this life for my next life, why not endeavor for next life go back to Kṛṣṇa and live with Him eternally blissfully? Eh? If I have to work for some next life, why not work… and it is so easy in this age. Kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya mukta-saṅgaḥ paraṁ vrajet [SB 12.3.51]. Simply by chanting this Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra he becomes liberated from all contamination and goes back to home. Simply by… This is a special advantage of this age. Because people are generally fallen. So Kṛṣṇa has given a special concession. Caitanya Mahāprabhu introduced that you simply chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. You will be liberated. Simply…
Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa
Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare
Hare Rāma Hare Rāma
Rāma Rāma Hare Hare.
There is no expenditure. Suppose you are going on your car and if you chant, “Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa.” What is your loss? But if there is gain, why not take it? (Laughs) This is our proposal.
- George Harrison’s Assistance in Printing Krsna Book
- The Beatles: George Harrison, John Lennon and Yoko Ono and Krishna
- George Harrison Interview: Hare Krishna Mantra–There’s Nothing Higher (1982)
- Srila Prabhupada Writes to George Harrison: “Preach to John Lennon!”
- World premiere of full-length film Chant and Be Happy
- George Harrison Says: The World Is Going Mental
- George Harrison–A Personal Appreciation
- Harrison’s ashes to be immersed in Ganges
- A Song For George Harrison
- George Harrison speaks about Living in the Material World