Published on September 25th, 2023 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


Srila Prabhupada Interview With Reporter in Durban, South Africa

This saffron robe is not very essential, or cut the hair, but it creates some good situation. Just like a military man, when he is dressed properly he gets some energy to feel like a military man. But it does not mean that unless you are dressed, you cannot fight. So God consciousness can be revived in any condition. But these conditions are helpful.

Faill: …the Krishna movement is about and its origins, its following. This sort of thing.

Prabhupada: Where is Pusta Krsna? Krsna means God. The word Krsna means all-attractive. So unless one is all-attractive, he cannot be God. So this Krsna consciousness means God consciousness. Our position, we all living entities, we are all small particles, equal in quality with God–small, just like gold and a small particle of gold.

Faill: The spark.

Prabhupada: Spark. Yes. Fire, big fire and spark fire–both of them fire, but one is big and one is very small. So our relationship with God is eternal. At the present moment, on account of contact with this material energy, we have forgotten our relationship with God. Therefore our life is problematic. We are facing so many problems. So again, if we revive our original consciousness, then we shall become happy. So this is the sum and substance of Krsna consciousness. Now, the process how to revive our original consciousness. There are different processes, but at the present moment people are very, very fallen. This is called the age of Kali–means most fallen. Most fallen. The so-called material advancement is not the solution because God is eternal, we are eternal, and in the material condition we are changing our body. On account of our ignorance we are thinking “I am this body,” but I am not this body. I am that spark, spirit, part and parcel of God.

Faill: The body is just a vehicle.

Prabhupada: Yes, a covering. Vehicle also. Vehicle also. It is just like a machine. You go from one place to another on a motorcar machine. So this body is just like machine. On account of our material, conditional life we are thinking that “If I get this position, then I will be happy. If I get this position, I will be happy.” We are creating mental concoction. But nothing will make us happy unless we come to our real position that “I am part and parcel of God. My business is to associate with God and help or cooperate with God.” So that position we have to revive. And there are different types of vehicle, in the aquatic animals, then, I mean to say, plants. When the water is dried up, then vegetation comes. Then vegetation…, from vegetation, we… Trees and plants, they cannot move. Then we get little improvement; we can move, just like flies, insects, microbes, reptiles, and so many. So there are nine lakhs’ forms of body within the water. Then two million types of bodies in vegetable, and then 1,100,000 species of life like microbes, germs, worms, insects. Then you come to the birds’ life, three million different forms of. Then we come to beast life. That is also… Birds, I am sorry. Birds’ life, one million, and then the beast life, three millions…

Then we come to human form of body, and especially, gradually, we become civilized. So when we are civilized, then it is a chance to understand “what is God, what I am, what is our relationship.” So if we don’t take advantage of this civilized human life to understand God, and if we simply waste our life like cats and dogs, jumping and going here, then this is a great missing point. So the Krsna consciousness movement is to educate people not to miss this opportunity. You take full advantage on this human form of life and try to understand God and your relationship with God.

Faill: May I ask a few questions now?

Prabhupada: Yes, yes, yes.

Faill: Do we get a second chance if we don’t make the most of this life? In other words, is reincarnation part of your…

Prabhupada: Yes. Second chance means you have to change your body. Now, according to your desire you get another body. That body is not guaranteed that you shall get a human body. It may be…

Faill: If you’ve been bad enough, you might finish…

Prabhupada: No, that… This I have already told you. There are 8,400,000 different forms of life. So you can enter any one of them according to your mental condition. We are under the control of the material nature. The material nature is being conducted in three modes: goodness, passion and ignorance. So just like three

colors: yellow, red, and blue. Now you mix–three into three equal to nine, nine into nine equal to eighty-one. So these modes of material nature is being mixed up. Therefore there are so many varieties of life. So if we transcend this coloring platform of material nature, we come to the pure consciousness. Then we stop this repetition of birth and death in different forms of life. And if we do not that, then there is chance of going down or going up. There are different planets. If you cultivate the modes of goodness, then you are promoted to the higher planetary system, higher standard of life. And if you don’t improve or don’t go down, then you may remain in the present stage. But out of ignorance, if you still degrade, commit sinful activities, violate the laws of nature, then we go down again–the animal life, the plants’ life, like that. But again we have to evolve, evolutionary process, by nature’s… So it may take many millions of years. So therefore a human being must be responsible that “I have got this opportunity to get out of this cycle of birth and death and different forms of life, and let me properly understand God and what is my relationship with God and act accordingly so that if we understand what is God, then we go back to home, back to Godhead.”

Faill: What can an ordinary man do? I mean the Krsna consciousness movement involves shaving the head and wearing the saffron robe. What can the man who is caught up in family life do?

Prabhupada: This saffron robe is not very essential, or cut the hair, but it creates some good situation, mental. You see? Just like a military man, when he is dressed properly he gets some energy to feel like a military man. But it does not mean that unless you are dressed, you cannot fight. It does not mean. So God consciousness can be revived in any condition, without any check. But these conditions are helpful, helpful. Therefore it is prescribed that “You live like this,” “You dress like this,” “You eat like this,” “You do like this.” These are convenient. These are convenient. So they are not essential. At the same time, if we take to these processes, then it will be helpful.

Faill: Yes. One can be a student of Krsna consciousness while going about a normal daily life.

Prabhupada: Yes.

Faill: Do you think transcendental meditation is beginning to help…

Prabhupada: They do not know what is meditation. They are… Simply it is a farce. That is another cheating process by the so-called swamis and yogis. They do not know what is meditation. Do you know what is meditation? You are asking me the question, but do you know what is meditation?

Faill: Just a stilling of the mind, trying to sit in the center without swimming either way.

Prabhupada: So what is that center?

Faill: Oh, I don’t know.

Prabhupada: Then? Why you are asking me? You do not know. So everyone does not know what is meditation, and they talk very much, “meditation.” This is going on. These bluffers, they say “meditation,” but what is the subject matter of meditation they do not know. Simply bogus propaganda. You see?

Faill: Not even beginning to get people thinking right?

Prabhupada: No. Meditation means this dhyanavasthita-tad-gatena manasa, mind saturated with God consciousness and thinking of God. But if you do not know God, then where is the meditation?

Faill: So it’s a long…

Prabhupada: No, it is very nice, but at the present moment in the name of meditation, simply cheating and bluffing going on. They do not know what is the subject matter of meditation. Besides that, in this age, mind is so agitated that you cannot concentrate. I have seen the so-called meditation. They are regularly sleeping and snoring. They do not know. Yes. This is going on. So unfortunately, in the name of God consciousness or this self-realization, so many not standardized methods are being presented by the so-called bluffers without any reference to the authoritative books and knowledge, Vedic knowledge. It is another type of exploitation.

Faill: What about some of the other schools that have grown up, people like Ouspensky and Gurdjieff and people who’ve brought a message similar to yours to the West in the past?

Prabhupada: What we have to study particularly whether it is standard. Otherwise they may speak so many things, but if they do not know what is the standard… Just like medical science or any science, that is one. It cannot be different because it is spoken by different men. That is not one. That is not science. “Two plus two equal to four”–this is a science that is true everywhere, not that because it is spoken by somebody else it becomes “two plus two equal to five” or “three.” No. That is…

Faill: No. Some other people, do you feel, possibly have had the truth as well, have they?

Prabhupada: It is very difficult to say.

Faill: Yes. Unless you studied it in detail.

Prabhupada: Yes. Unless I study, it is very difficult to say because there are so many bluffers, so many.

Faill: Just doing it for money.

Prabhupada: That’s all. That’s all. It is going on like that. They have no standard method. We are presenting the standard method. This is Bhagavad-gita As It Is. As it is, without any malinterpretation, we are presenting as it is. This is standard.

Faill: Yes. If you begin dressing things up, they change. And the size of the movement now? Is it a growing movement, Krsna consciousness?

Prabhupada: Oh, yes, it is very much growing. You will be surprised that we are selling these books… We have got about fifty books like this, and every library, college, professor, universities, they are very much appreciative of this, because there was no such literature existent. This is the new contribution to the world.

Faill: Now, this American, Alpert, he came to a state of God consciousness, but he was very, very heavy on drugs. This can’t be right, taking a drug.

Prabhupada: Alfred? Just speak.

Harikesa: He was one of the associates of Timothy Leary.

Prabhupada: Alfred Ford?

Harikesa: No, no, no.

Prabhupada: Then?

Harikesa: What is his first name?

Faill: Alpert was his second name, and then he took on, you know, an Indian name.

Prabhupada: Oh, then he is speaking of Alfred Ford.

Harikesa: No, no, no. He is one of the people who were first into that LSD thing and then he took up meditation in India.

Prabhupada: Timothy?

Harikesa: Yes. Leary was his associate. And then this other man, he took up this meditation and started to become…

Prabhupada: That is also bogus. That is also bogus.

Faill: I didn’t like the idea of that. The book was very impressive, but I just thought, “This isn’t right.” You shouldn’t have to lean on drugs.

Prabhupada: No. That is… Anything… If drugs can help God realization, the drug is better, I mean to say, more powerful than God.

Faill: Which isn’t…

Prabhupada: Then how we can accept that? Drug is a material thing, chemical composition, and how it can help one, God realization? That is not possible. This is a kind of intoxication and hallucination, but it is not God realization.

Faill: Do you think that the great mystics down the ages have actually seen this spark? This is what…

Prabhupada: What do you mean by mystic?

Faill: Well, there seem to be chaps who’ve had some very odd experience and always remembered it and found it very difficult to put it down in words.

Prabhupada: Mystic means something jugglery? What do you mean by mystic?

Faill: Well, it’s just the name they seem to give people who’ve had an experience of another level of reality.

Prabhupada: Yes. So yes, that… We don’t say mystic. Our reality is God realization. There are different stages. I mean to say, direct perception, then receiving knowledge from authority, then personal experience between the two, then above that transcendental, and then, I mean to say, spiritual. In this way we have to go, step by step.

We have to come to the point, to the spiritual platform. So, so long we are on the bodily concept of life, our understanding is sense gratification because body means the senses. And then, if we go still up, then we can see that mind is the center of sense activities. We take the mind as the final, and that is mental platform. Then, from mental platform, we come to the intellectual platform. Then, from intellectual platform, we come to the transcendental platform.

Faill: To the trans…

Prabhupada: Transcendental platform. And from transcendental platform, we come to the spiritual platform. These are the stages. So in this age, because people are so fallen and in the sastra a special recommendation that give the people directly spiritual platform… That direct spiritual platform is chanting of this holy name of God, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. So if we cultivate this practice on the spiritual platform, then immediately we realize our spiritual identity, and God, and it becomes very quickly successful.

Faill: So in a sense, what a lot of people are saying today is that we must look inwards rather than outwards into the world of the senses.

Prabhupada: Yes. Inward means that you are spirit soul; you are not this body. But if you keep your bodily concept of life, then where is inward? It is outward only.

Faill: It’s just another way of looking out.

Prabhupada: No. That means it is simply talking. It has no realization. Unless you understand that you are not this body–you are spirit soul–there is no question of inward. That we have to study first of all, whether I am this body, or I am something within this body. That is inward. But that they do not understand. There is no education in the school, college or university. Everyone is thinking “I am this body.” You see? Just like in this country, everywhere: “We are South African. They are Indian. They are this. They are this. They are this.” So whole bodily concept, the whole world… “I am American,” “I am Indian,” “I am German.” So this Krsna consciousness movement means it starts when one is above the bodily conception of life. Then the starting begins.

Faill: So the recognition of the spark comes first.

Prabhupada: Ha. Recognition of the spirit soul within this body, that is first education. Unless one understands this simple fact, there is no question of spiritual advancement.

Faill: Is it a question of just understanding it?

Prabhupada: Yes. For the time, in the beginning, first of all theoretical, theoretical.

Faill: Intellectually accept it.

Prabhupada: Theoretical. That is a fact. Unless there are two department of knowledge, theoretical and practical… So first of all, one has to learn theoretical. That much knowledge one must have.

Then, by practicing, working on that spiritual platform, he comes to the practical life.

Faill: Am I keeping you too long now?

Prabhupada: No, you can go on.

Faill: Do you think we’re going to come right, then? Is that a possible question? Or is it just far too many people now who are purely in the body and in the world of the senses? Is the world going to come around?

Prabhupada: They are in darkness. Therefore this movement is very important to take the civilized man from the darkness because everyone is thinking, “I am this body.” So long we are in this bodily conception of our life, we are no better than animal. The animal, they keep themselves always in bodily conception: “I am dog,” “I am cat,” “I am cow,” “I am this.” If we also keep in that platform, then where is the difference between dog and me?

Faill: There is none then.

Prabhupada: The dog is barking. He is thinking, “I am dog. I am appointed here as watchman, watchdog, and as soon as somebody is passing, ‘Yow! Gow! Gow!’ ” So, and similarly, if I keep myself in the dog mentality and act like that–“Why you have come to this country? Why you have come to my jurisdiction?” the same dog mentality.

Faill: Is it vital to follow certain eating habits? I mean…

Prabhupada: Yes. The whole process is how to purify ourself. So by… according to eating, the purification also… I think Mr. Bernard Shaw, he wrote one book that “You Are What You Eat.” And that’s a fact. We constitute our bodily atmosphere and mental atmosphere according to eating. So our Krsna conscious movement recommends… Not the movement recommends. It is recommended in the sastra that to become Krsna conscious, you eat the remnants of foodstuff left by Krsna. Just like opposite way: if a tuberculosis patient eats something and if you eat the remnants, then you will be infected with the tuberculosis bacillus. Is it not? So similarly, if you eat krsna-prasadam, then you infect Krsna consciousness. This is our process. We don’t take anything directly. We offer to Krsna. Then we take krsna-prasadam. That helps us. We do not take anything… We cannot take anything from the restaurant or from the shop. No. We prepare everything, offer to Krsna. Then we take.

Faill: You’re all vegetarians, are you?

Prabhupada: Oh, yes, because Krsna is vegetarian. Krsna says… Krsna can eat anything because He is God, but He recommends, “Give Me vegetable.” Patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati. He never said, “You give Me meat or wine or this,” no.

Faill: Those are all out. They have to be. And tobacco is…

Prabhupada: Tobacco is also intoxication. We are already intoxicated in the bodily conception of life, and if we put more intoxication, then we are lost.

Faill: You mean these things just reinforce body consciousness.

Prabhupada: Yes. So if you want to be treated, then we have to follow the instruction of the physician. He says “Don’t take this. Don’t take that. You eat only this.” So we have got such prescription.

Faill: Well, I think I have got quite a lot down now. I’ll have to go and work it out.

Prabhupada: Yes.

Faill: I’ll look up some reference books on the history of the movement and that sort of thing.

Prabhupada: History, it is not a new movement. You have seen this book. You read that book thoroughly. You will get full knowledge. This movement is very, very old and standard. It is never changed. As soon as you change it, then the potency of the movement is lost.

Faill: Sorry, what was that?

Prabhupada: Potency. Just like electricity. There is standard

regulation: “This is negative; this is positive. You must act like this. You must fix like…” You cannot do whimsically: “No, why not this way? Why not that way?” Then it is lost. Then there will be no electricity. Similarly, there is standard method how to understand this philosophy, how to get it, I mean to say, what is called, authoritatively. Then it will act.

Faill: Then you could go to a book, read a book…

Prabhupada: Oh, yes. That is the book of, what is called, guidance. If you follow the guide and do this according, then it will be effective. And if you don’t follow the guide, you do in your whims… That is another dangerous disease of the modern man. Everyone wants to do according to his own whim. Nobody wants to follow any standard way. Therefore they are failure.

Faill: I think that’s fine. I’ll just take that and do what I can with it. I’ve spoken to them, and they’re quite happy if I can get a feature out of it. You wouldn’t know what time the planes leave yet on Monday?

Harikesa: I can find out.

Faill: I was thinking we might try and get a photographer out and get the group leaving, if that would be all right.

Prabhupada: Yes. Yes. That can be done.

Faill: Have they modernized this at all, in that they’ve explained some of the…

Prabhupada: Oh, yes. There it is very lucidly explained.

Faill: May I have another one of them?

Prabhupada: Yes, yes, yes. You just read one big professor’s remark here. You see?

Faill: Yes.

Prabhupada: Professor Dimmock of Chicago University.

Faill: “A new and living interpretation.” This is you, is it?

Prabhupada: This is…? Yes.

Faill: That’s you.

Prabhupada: Yes. If you read these books and write regular articles on the basis of my talk with you, it will be actually great benefit to the public.

Faill: Well, I’m about the only person in Durban, I think, who tries to write about this at all.

Prabhupada: Yes. It is the duty of the journalist to give real knowledge to the public. That is the duty of the journalist, not to give some hodgepodge idea without any effect.

Faill: I can’t be bothered with profit (indistinct). I do a weekly science column, but it’s more mysticism than science. I try and cover everything. Anyway, I won’t keep you any longer.

Harikesa: We’re leaving at 9:45 A.M. on Tuesday.

Faill: 9:45.

Harikesa: A.M. on Tuesday morning.

Faill: That’s fine. Well, I’ll try and get a photographer out and just get the group with you when you’re catching the plane.

Prabhupada: Thank you. Yes.

Faill: The plane is at 9:45.

Harikesa: Yes. It’s leaving at 9:45.

Faill: You’ll have to be there about 9:15, I think. Good. Well, thank you very much.

Prabhupada: Now, now… So we are leaving this place at nine?

Harikesa: No, no. We are leaving this place maybe nine o’clock.

Prabhupada: “Maybe.” You do not know. But where they will come, here or in the…?

Harikesa: You mean you will meet at the airport?

Faill: Oh, we’ll meet you. We’ll have somebody out at the airport.

Prabhupada: Then that’s all right. So the airplane leaves this port at 9:45. So you can come, according to the time.

Faill: Yes. You’ll have to leave here about 8:30 actually. It’s about three quarters of an hour’s drive there.

Prabhupada: Yes.

Faill: Good. Thank you.

Prabhupada: Give him some prasada. (end)

[751008rc.dur Room Conversation with Bill Faill (reporter) October 8, 1975, Durban]

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.

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