The Materialistic Demeanor Collides with the Spiritual Mountain

The materialistic demeanor cannot possibly stretch to the transcendental autocrat who is ever inviting the fallen conditioned souls to associate with Him through devotion or eternal serving mood. The phenomenal attractions are often found to tempt sentient beings to enjoy the variegated position which is opposed to undifferenced monism. People are so much apt to indulge in transitory speculations even when they are to educate themselves on a situation beyond their empiric area or experiencing jurisdiction. The esoteric aspect often knocks them to trace out immanence in their outward inspection of transitory and transformable things. This impulse moves them to fix the position of the immanent to an indeterminate impersonal entity, no clue of which could be discerned by moving earth and heaven through their organic senses.

— Siddhānta Sarasvatī, Shree Gaudiya Math, Calcutta, the 1st August, 1932.

A clear illustration of the above can be found in the interview that follows. Therein one may note the questioners’ preconceived notions cannot stretch so far as to accommodate the beauty, magnificence and magnanimity of the transcendental plane they have approached while yet standing on the desert below.

I pray you, my dear readers, will appreciate the beauty and truth of these talks at least as much, if not more, than I have during the last nearly fifty years, even after hearing them again and again.

Swami B.K. Giri

Srila Prabhupada March 5 1975 New York Interview

Rāmeśvara: They’re intoxicated by it.

Prabhupāda: So? What is the question? Any question? Or shall I shall speak?

Reporter: Swāmījī, can you please…? Yes, please. Can you tell us what your purpose is in coming to New York at this time?

Prabhupāda: New York, I am coming here since 1965. I have got my temple. So I am going to London. So it is for the time being transit stoppage. Otherwise, I have got my temple here.

Female Reporter: What special message would you have for people who don’t know anything about your movement and would like to know something about it?

Prabhupāda: About the movement?

Śrutakīrti: Yes, what special message for the people who don’t know about us?

Prabhupāda: It is a little difficult to understand this movement, because it is spiritual movement. People practically have no information what is spirit and what is spiritual movement, but they can simply understand that the body is there. Body is the machine, and the driver of the machine is the spirit soul. So we are beginning our movement from that platform, the driver of the machine. People are very much engrossed with the machine only, but they have no information who is driving the machine. That is the difficulty.

Reporter: Swāmījī, your movement has received a great deal of attention for, at least one reason, because many of your followers dress in what for the West is an odd fashion, and relate to the world in what for the West is an odd fashion. Can you respond to that? Why have you asked your followers to dress in this fashion and to play drums on the streets?

Prabhupāda: This is our preaching method, some way or other to draw their attention. [laughter]

Devotees: Jaya! Haribol!

Reporter: I’m sure that you’re aware that to many people in the West, in America, in New York City specifically, that your disciples seem strange because of the way they act on the streets. What about that?

Prabhupāda: Yes, they must be strange, because they are spiritual. You are all material. [laughter] So for the material persons, we are surely strange people.

Reporter: Is this manifestation the only way to be spiritual, dressing in this fashion?

Prabhupāda: No, no, you cannot compete with us. Because we don’t have any illicit sex, we don’t have meat-eating, we have no intoxication, we have no gambling. There’s so many no’s which you are unable to perform.

Reporter: Swami, that wasn’t my question. My question was, is this manifestation, dressing in this fashion, playing drums and dancing in the streets, the only way to be spiritual?

Prabhupāda: No, we have got about sixty books. If you want to learn this movement through science and philosophy, we have got our books. You have not seen our books? [laughter]

Reporter: Swami, that isn’t the thrust of my question. Yes, I have. The thrust of my question very simply is this = Can’t people be spiritual without dressing in this fashion and dancing in the street?

Prabhupāda: Oh, yes, oh, yes. You can become spiritual in your this dress. Simply you have to learn what it is from the books. The dress… Dress is not very important thing, but still, in the material field, this girl is dressed in a different way, you are dressed in a different way.

Reporter: The way we dress lets us move in all circles.

Prabhupāda: No, the thing is, dress is not very important.

Reporter: But you have your disciples dress in this way…

Prabhupāda: But just to draw a particular… Just like the policeman, he is differently dressed. One can understand that he is policeman. Similarly, we are also differently dressed so that people may understand we are Hare Kṛṣṇa people.

Devotees: Jaya! Haribol!

Female Reporter: Swami, I saw a television program about your movement once, and they said that the men make the decisions and the women follow. Is that true?

Prabhupāda: I do not follow.

Śrutakīrti: She hears that the men make the decisions and that the women follow these decisions.

Prabhupāda: Not necessarily. We follow the decision of Kṛṣṇa, men and women both. We follow the decision of Kṛṣṇa. That is applicable both men and women.

Reporter: Are men superior in your movement, though?

Prabhupāda: Hmm?

Reporter: Are men regarded as superior to women?

Prabhupāda: Yes, naturally. Naturally, woman requires protection by the man. In the childhood she is protected by the father, and youth time she is protected by the husband, and old age she is protected by elderly sons. That is natural.

Female Reporter: That goes against the thinking of a lot of people in America now. Do you know that?

Prabhupāda: No… America, maybe, but this is the natural position. Women require protection.

Female Reporter: Who decides who’s natural? And what’s natural?

Prabhupāda: Natural means just like in psychology it is said that woman, the highest brain substance of woman is thirty-six ounce, whereas the highest brain substance of man is sixty-four ounce. So there is difference, by nature, of the brain.

Female Reporter: Well, to get to something else, what do you do for fun when you’re in New York? [laughter]

Prabhupāda: Huh? What is that? I…

Śrutakīrti: You have defeated her.

Prabhupāda: Huh?

Female Reporter: [laughs] But I’m not going to pursue your line of logic. And what do you do for fun?

Prabhupāda: No, that is natural defeat. You cannot avoid it. [laughter]

Female Reporter: I can’t what?

Devotee: You cannot avoid it.

Female Reporter: Again, what do you do to have a good time in New York?

Prabhupāda: A sixteen-years-old boy can travel all over the world, and it is very difficult for a sixteen-years-old girl to travel all over the world. [pause]

Reporter: Thank you, Swāmījī.

Prabhupāda: Thank you. Hare Kṛṣṇa.

Devotees: Haribol! [break]

Reporter: Have you realized the highest truth yourself?

Prabhupāda: Certainly.

Reporter: You have?

Prabhupāda: Oh, yes.

Reporter: At what age did you realize God?

Prabhupāda: I can deliver to you also.

Reporter: Pardon me?

Prabhupāda: I can deliver to you also if you want.

Reporter: My question to you is at what age did you realize God?

Prabhupāda: God is a person like you and me. The difference is that we are also persons. We are many, and God is one, leader.

Reporter: Understood, Swāmījī.

Prabhupāda: Now, what is the difference between this one and we many? He maintains all these many, and we are maintained by Him, but He is also a person like you and me. Do you follow?

Reporter: Yes, I do, but Swāmījī, my question to you was a bit more pointed than that. I appreciate the answer you just gave me, but at what age did you realize the highest truth? At what physical age…?

Prabhupāda: There is no question of age. Realization of God should be educated from the very beginning of life.

Reporter: Oh, I understand that, Swāmījī. My question to you was at what age did you yourself in this physical incarnation realize the highest truth?

Prabhupāda: Of course, we were born in a very nice family. My father educated me in this way. So practically from the very beginning of our life we were educated in this way.

Reporter: Oh, no, I understand that. I mean at what time did you have your own personal realization, Swāmījī? At what age?

Prabhupāda: Well, that I can say from the age, say, four or five years.

Reporter: At the age of four or five years?

Devotees: Jaya! Haribol!

Prabhupāda: Yes. That’s a fact.

Female Reporter: Swāmī, is there a chance that all your followers can realize the highest truth?

Prabhupāda: They have already done.

Female Reporter: They have already?

Prabhupāda: They have already done. Otherwise, I am Indian, I am poor man. Why they are after me? You American, you are rich men. So I have not bribed them. These young boys, they are educated, qualified. Why they are after me unless they have realized?

Reporter: Swāmījī, I have one other question for you, please. By definition, it seems to me anyway, and I think to other observers, and sympathetic observers at that, that you have asked your spiritual children to leave the outer world in the West and to go deep within the heart of ISKCON, within your heart and the heart of the Supreme, to accomplish what you’ve set as their goal. What about outer service to humanity in this incarnation?

Prabhupāda: This is the best humanity’s service. They were all fools and rascals, and we educated them for spiritual understanding. The material… If I think “I am this body,” then I am no better than cat and dog. That is going on. “I am American,” “I am Indian,” “I am Hindu,” “I am Muslim,” “I am Christian.” Only this bodily relationship. But suppose you have come to me, can I ask you whether you are body or something else?

Reporter: Swāmījī, perhaps the deficiency is in my question. Let me rephrase the question, if you’ll permit. And I realize there isn’t much air to breathe. Hare Kṛṣṇa. But I will make the question brief. My question has to do with karma-yoga in the outer world, for instance, in New York City. From what I understand, your disciples do not pursue the professions. Is that correct?

Prabhupāda: No, we are also karma-yogī. We are also eating, we are also sleeping.

Reporter: Oh, no, I understand that. I’m speaking in terms of outer service to people who are not in your mission. Other than preaching the truth of Kṛṣṇa, is there any other outer service to humanity?

Prabhupāda: That will include everything. If we make Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then he becomes perfectly educated. We do not require to… Just like if you pour water on the root of the tree, the water reaches everywhere. And if you pour water on the leaf, on the twig, or on the branch, it does not go anywhere. It is localized. So at the present moment, service is a particular departmental service, not all-including. So, to educate people in Kṛṣṇa consciousness means to educate him all round.

Reporter: I understand, Swāmījī. Again the deficiency is obviously with my question. My question relates to service to the outer world by your disciples.

Prabhupāda: That I have already explained…

Reporter: Yes, but…

Prabhupāda: That if you pour water on the root of the tree, the service reaches everywhere.

Reporter: How is that manifesting?

Prabhupāda: Manifested? Just like if you eat and give the foodstuff to your stomach,
then you realize that you have got energy in every part of your body.

Reporter: Yes, I’ve understood your words, and I’m grateful for them, but again the problem, obviously, is with me and not with you. But the question still remains, what about being of material service. Material service, not just spiritual service?

Prabhupāda: It is material service, as I showed. If you put foodstuff in your stomach, all the parts of your body feel energetic. That is material service. That is not spiritual service. Spiritual service beyond that. Similarly, the center is God. If you understand God, then you understand everything.

Reporter: Understood, Swāmījī. But your disciples do not build houses, they don’t work in hospitals, they don’t perform—as far as I know, and I could just be swimming in ignorance here—as far as I know, they do not perform service to the outer world other than offering free meals at the temple and preaching the word of Lord Kṛṣṇa.

Prabhupāda: I, I quite follow. That is your ignorance. Because you do not know that what is the real service. You do not know. Do you know what is real service?

Reporter: The answer should come from you and not from me.

Prabhupāda: Yes. The real service is… Suppose you open hospital. You can cure for the time being some disease, but can you give me…, can you give him any assurance that he will not die? Can you protect him from death? In spite of your all big, big hospital, can you protect humanity from death, from birth, from old age, from disease? Can you?

Reporter: Physically, of course not, only spiritually.

Prabhupāda: Ah. That we are giving. That we are giving you, that no more death, no more birth, no more old age and no more disease.

Reporter: But couldn’t your disciples perform all the wonderful things that you have them do and at the same time provide outer material service?

Prabhupāda: They are doing. They are doing. What they are not doing? They are doing all service. We have got this body. We have to maintain this body. We are doing everything. We are also eating, we are also sleeping, as you are eating, we are sleeping. Where is the difference? We also allow sex, but not illicit sex. We allow eating, but no meat-eating. That is the difference. We are also eating, as you are eating. We are sleeping, as you are sleeping. Where is the difference?

Reporter: Perhaps only in some perceptions.

Prabhupāda: Huh?

Reporter: Perhaps only in some perceptions.

Prabhupāda: That’s all.

Reporter: Thank you, Swāmījī.

Prabhupāda: There is no difference.

Reporter: Thank you very much.

Devotees: Jaya! All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda. [end]