Published on January 31st, 2023 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


Interview with Religion Editor of The London Observer

Religion, as it is explained in the dictionary is accepting a supreme controller. Is it not? So do the people accept a supreme controller? Do they accept? There are so many system of religions, but do they actually know who is the supreme controller? That is my question.

Prabhupada: So you are observing our movement?

Cline Cross: Yes, really for the first time at close quarters.

Prabhupada: First time? We are here for the last seven years.

Cline Cross: Yes, I know a little about you, but it’s only in the last hour that I’ve really begun to learn.

Jayatirtha: We showed him the movie,

Prabhupada: Your paper is Observer. Why did you not observe for the last seven years? (laughter)

Mukunda: We just showed him our film.

Prabhupada: How did you like?

Cline Cross: Oh, it was very interesting. Again it taught me a lot that I did not previously know.

Prabhupada: We are trying to give real life. The present civilization is… (to someone else): Hare Krishna, but… How are you? (converses in Hindi) So you are religious observer. What is your idea of religion?

Cline Cross: I would say much the same as yours, from what I’ve seen in your writings–that there’s an underlying truth behind all religion. Would you agree with that?

Prabhupada: Religion, as it is explained in the dictionary, “accepting a supreme controller.” Is it not? So do the people accept a supreme controller? Do they accept? There are so many system of religions, but do they actually know who is the supreme controller? That is my question. What do you think? Just like, this is British government, and we know that the Queen is the supreme controller. Similarly, of all creation, cosmic manifestation, there is a supreme controller, and who is that supreme controller? Do they know it? That is my question.

Cline Cross: I mean, what is your attitude towards Christianity?

Prabhupada: Don’t come to Christianity. I’m talking on religion, the science of religion. The religion… When we speak of religion, there is no question of Christianity or Muslim or Hindu. Just like when they speak of gold, gold is gold everywhere. Gold cannot be Muslim gold or Hindu gold or Christian gold. We are concerned with gold, not the country where the gold is produced. That is not very important thing. Whether it is gold, that is our business.

Cline Cross: I mean, would you count Jesus Christ as gold?

Prabhupada: Yes, why not? He’s speaking about the supreme controller, God, so why should we not? Anyone who is speaking about God… (break) Religion without science or philosophy is sentiment. And philosophy without religion is mental speculation. So they must be combined together. So far the controller is concerned, this is scientific understanding. Just like the father… We consider… Why we? Everyone. Either he is Christian or Muhammadan or Hindu, the conception of God is generally accepted as the supreme father.

Cline Cross: I mean, it is a fact.

Prabhupada: It is fact.

Cline Cross: Yes.

Prabhupada: Because, just like anything, creation means the mother, the father and the children. That is our practical experience. Without mother, we are nowhere. We are given birth by the mother. So the material nature is the mother. From the material nature, material elements, everything is coming. From the water the fishes are coming, from the land the grass, the worms, and then human being, they are coming. From the air also living entities are coming. So therefore material nature is the mother, and we have come out of the material nature, therefore we are children. Then there must be father, because without father, simply mother cannot give birth. This is science. You cannot deny the existence of God simply by a false argument. This is real argument. The mother is there, material nature, and we are children there. There must be father.

Cline Cross: In England, the Christian Church in recent years or recent decades has been doing very badly and losing support. Your teaching could perhaps provide a substitute for the more traditional type of Christian teaching.

Prabhupada: Yes, this is the science. Therefore I say religion without scientific idea, that is sentiment. It has no value. This is basic principle of religion that the mother is there, the children are there–there must be father. If you say “I do not see what is God,” it doesn’t matter. Sometimes the child after birth does not see his father. But that does not mean that he has no father, because without father there is no possibility of his existence.

Cline Cross: What impelled you personally, when you, at a fairly late stage in life, to come to the West to teach?

Prabhupada: I must be prepared to teach. Teaching is not so easy thing. I was ordered to teach at the age of twenty-five years by my Guru Maharaja. But I was finding out the opportunity how to take up the work. So it took me so many years, so that at seventy years I came out for teaching.

Cline Cross: Why particularly in the West?

Prabhupada: Because my Guru Maharaja ordered that “You go and teach this gospel in the Western world.”

Jayatirtha: His teacher instructed him to do this.

Cline Cross: Yes. And are you surprised at the great success you’ve had?

Prabhupada: That is my Guru Maharaja’s blessing. He ordered me, I tried my best, so there is little success. When I see so many boys and hundreds of centers, they are living very peacefully in a nice house, getting good prasadam, having good knowledge in the books, and reforming their character, and getting some good home, that is my success. Otherwise, they are loitering, no home, no character, no peace of mind. So at least this is my success. I have given so many boys a life. That is my success.

Cline Cross: Well, I’m very honored to have met you. I’ve read some of your work. I intend to read more.

Prabhupada: Yes. So we are trying to give the best service to the humanity, human society, and this is the only service. People should come forward and cooperate with us. It is not a sectarian sentimental religious system. It is a scientific understanding of the value of life.

Cline Cross: Well, thank you very much indeed, sir.

Prabhupada: Thank you. Hare Krsna. Jaya. (end) [760723iv.lon] July 23, 1976, London

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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About the Author

Founded the Hare Krishna Movement in 1966 in New York. In only 11 years he spread the movement all over the world. He wrote more than 80 books including Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Sri Isopanisad. Prabhupada's books constitute a complete library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.

4 Responses to Interview with Religion Editor of The London Observer

  1. MAHEK says:

    Dear All,

    Its my humble request if anyone in this world can clear my few doubts on God.
    I used to be a great devotee of God. But all of a sudden a question arise in my mind that:
    1) Where did the God come from, His existence,
    2) Why he gave birth to us in this world and what does he wants actually from us,
    3) Why he creates different YUGA’s, destroy them and bring them back and so on..

    Thankful to anyone who can give a reasonable answer, coz I am tired of diplomatic answers or answers which confuse me more.

    • Hare Krishna!

      (1) God did not come from anywhere. He is eternal, unborn. He has no beginning and no end. He is always. We have no experience of anything being eternal in the material world so we find this hard to grasp. But that is the fact.
      (2) We are all parts and parcels of God. He is great and we are small. But we are constitutionally the same as Him. So we are also eternal, unborn, we also have no beginning and no end. But we have come to this material world and have accepted these material bodies made of earth, water, fire air and ether; and we are thinking that “I am this material body…” We are all expansions of God, but tiny, and He is great. Our constitutional position is to serve the great, to serve God. But as we are part and parcel of God and He is supremely independent we also have a small degree of independence. So we can choose to serve God or not serve God. So very mercifully Krishna has created this material world for the living entities who do not want to serve Him. Here we can “play God.” And if you look around you everyone is trying to become god. Everyone wants to be the controller, to be powerful, to be rich, to be strong… But actually we can never become god. That is impossible. We are constitutionally very tiny and Krishna is very great. We will always be tiny and Krishna will always be great. So Krishna has constructed this world in such a way that we can “play god” for some time but all our plans will end in frustration and defeat. So after many, many births of frustration and defeat in the material world a thoughtful soul realizes that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and surrenders unto Him. So the purpose of this material world is to gradually rectify the fallen rebellious conditioned souls and at the same time to give them the facility they want to lord it over the material energy…
      (3) Why, why, why… How can you expect to understand the mind of God? He is supremely independent and He can do anything He wants to do and you may not understand why He has done it. You can not expect to understand why Krishna does everything… Simply we have to surrender to Krishna and serve Him…

      You will always be confused until you surrender to Krishna.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

  2. Gopa Aaron says:

    Hare Krishna, Please accept my humble obeisances. All Glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga. So what do we do then? Do we tell the ministers and priests who are doing their jobs to stop what they are doing like the crazy televangelists instruct? My question is why is Krsna Consciousness preached in such an extreme manner to the point to where it is hard for everyone else to follow? Do you think the cynical majority is going to follow Srila Prabhupada’s instructions? I know many people who would have trouble even coming close to understand this. Are we just going to stand over people and to expect them to live or think a certain way and to not bother to understand them?
    I recently heard in an ISKCON lecture that we cannot know other people’s hearts. I disagree with this. Krsna Consciousness should make us more intuitive and compassionate and to learn to know everyone’s hearts including our own. We can expect people to change and abide by the Guru’s orders all we want to but most of this will fall on deaf ears if we cannot deliver this in a way to where other people understand.
    The best way is to chant on the streets doing Harinama-Sankirtan. Lord Chaitanya is so merciful that he distributes Krsna Consciousness freely with no strings or cult-mentality attached.
    Anyone can do this. So why is it mostly being kept away now?
    We have chanting in the big cities but that is mostly it. Why?
    This is commiting violence, as I have read in the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. We are allowing everyone to suffer because there is no continual Harinama-Sankirtan going on Everywhere as it is instructed.
    If the Priests and Preachers see this then maybe their hearts will be melted and they will understand that chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare is the best thing to do and that all paths are meant to lead to Krishna because He is the Supreme Controller.
    If we simply just tell people what to do then it is dry preaching. Srila Prabhupada was not a dry preacher but these days it appears that others make it look this way. If he was a dry preacher then how did he interest the Beatles and the counterculture into chanting Hare Krishna? It looks like devotees have a lot of work to do. This is only the beginning. Srila Prabhupada sacrificed his life for Krishna Consciousness. We also have to do the same. My family preacher actually has a copy of Bhagavad-Gita As It Is and he knows that I chant Hare Krishna. He finds my posts on my social network page interesting. That is good. We need to find a way to get religious leaders into Krishna Consciousness as well as government leaders but if we box everything and everyone in by just calling them demons then we will fail at spreading Krsna Consciousness. It takes Compassion to do this and not just name-calling. Haribol!

    • Hare Krishna Gopa

      Krishna consciousness is not for many people. It is not possible for the general people to take to Krishna consciousness.

      To take to Krishna consciousness one has to give up the desire for sense gratification and instead work for the pleasure of Krishna’s senses. Not many people are going to do this.

      Krishna consciousness is for sincere souls who are prepared to surrender to the bona fide spiritual master and hear from him and in this way understand Krishna. It is not possible for anyone else.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Maadhudvisa dasa

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