In 1971, during his historic visit to the Soviet Union, Srila
Prabhupada was introduced to Professor Grigoriy Kotovsky, head
of the India Department at the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences and
chairman of the Indian studies department at the University of
Moscow. As they sat informally in Dr. Kotovsky's office, the
spiritual leader and the communist scholar vigorously discussed
topics of mutual concern, and Srila Prabhupada proposed a
radical reformation within modern communism.
Srila Prabhupada: The other day I was reading the paper, Moscow
News. There was a Communist congress, and the President
declared, "We are ready to take others' experience to improve."
So I think the Vedic concept of socialism or communism will much
improve the idea of communism. For example, in a socialistic
state the idea is that no one should starve; everyone must have
his food. Similarly, in the Vedic concept of grhastha
[householder] life it is recommended that a householder see that
even a lizard or a snake living in his house should not starve.
Even these lower creatures should be given food, and certainly
all humans should. It is recommended that the grhastha, before
taking his lunch, stand on the road and declare, "If anyone is
still hungry, please come! Food is ready!" If there is no
response, then the proprietor of the household takes his lunch.
Modern society takes the people as a whole as the proprietor of
a certain state, but the Vedic conception is isavasyam idam
sarvam--everything is owned by isa, the supreme controller. Tena
tyaktena bhunjithah--you may enjoy what is allotted to you by
Him. Ma grdhah kasya svid dhanam: but do not encroach upon
others' property. This is the Isopanisad--Veda. The same idea is
explained in the different Puranas. There are many good concepts
in the Vedic literature about communism. So I thought that these
ideas should be distributed to your most thoughtful men.
Therefore I was anxious to speak.
Prof. Kotovsky: It is interesting that here in our country there
is now great interest in the history of old, old thought. From
this point of view, our Institute translated into Russian and
published many literary monuments of great Indian culture. You
will be interested to discover that we published some of the Puranas and parts of the Ramayana. There are volumes in Russian
of Mahabharata and also a second edition of Mahabharata,
translated in full. We have also published the full translation
of Manu-smrti with Sanskrit commentaries. Interest in these
publications was so great that they sold out in a week. They are
now completely out of stock. It was impossible to get them in
the book market after a month. There is great interest among
reading people here in Moscow and the U.S.S.R. toward ancient
Vedic culture, and from this point of view we published many
Srila Prabhupada: Among these Puranas, the Srimad-Bhagavatam is
called the Maha-Purana.
Prof. Kotovsky: Maha-Purana.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. We have translated the full text--first
we present the original Sanskrit text, its transliteration, the
English equivalent for each word, then the translation, and then
a purport, or explanation of the verse. In this way, there are
eighteen thousand verses in Srimad-Bhagavatam. We are
translating everything literally. You can see. Each and every
verse is being done like that for the whole Bhagavata Purana.
The opinion of the acaryas, the great saintly sages who are the
preachers of the Bhagavata philosophy, is nigama-kalpa-taror
galitam phalam: this is the ripened fruit of the Vedic desire
tree (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.3). It is accepted by all the Indian
scholars, and Lord Caitanya especially preached this Bhagavatam.
So we have the complete Bhagavatam in its English translation.
If you want to see it, I can show you.
Prof. Kotovsky: It seems to me that in the Moscow and Leningrad
libraries we have nearly all the major texts of ancient Indian
culture, beginning from the Vedas, the original texts in
Sanskrit. For instance, in the Leningrad branch of our Institute
there are six or eight editions of Manu-smrti. This Institute
was founded in Imperial Russia in Leningrad, so in Leningrad we
now have a branch of our Institute dealing mainly with the
history of Asiatic culture. You will find here an account of
what is being translated and what studies are being done on the
history of Indian religion and also the state of Indian
religion, Hinduism, in Hindu India today.
Srila Prabhupada: Hinduism is a very complex topic.
Prof. Kotovsky: Oh, yes. [They laugh.] Really, to my
understanding, it is not a religion, from the European point of
view; it is a way of life--religion, philosophy, a way of life,
whatever you want.
Srila Prabhupada: This word Hindu is not a Sanskrit word. It was
given by the Muhammadans. You know that there is a river, Indus,
which in Sanskrit is called Sindhu. The Muhammadans pronounce s
as h. Instead of Sindhu, they made it Hindu. So Hindu is a term
that is not found in the Sanskrit dictionary, but it has come
into use. But the real cultural institution is called varnasrama.
There are four varnas (social divisions)--brahmana, ksatriya,
vaisya, and sudra--and four asramas (spiritual divisions)--brahmacarya,
grhastha, vanaprastha, and sannyasa. According to the Vedic
concept of life, unless people take to this system or
institution of four varnas and four asramas, actually they do
not become civilized human beings. One has to take this process
of four divisions of social orders and four divisions of
spiritual orders; that is called varnasrama. India's culture is
based on this age-old Vedic system.
Prof. Kotovsky: Varnasrama.
Srila Prabhupada: Varnasrama. And in the Bhagavad-gita--perhaps
you have read the Bhagavad-gita?
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes.
Srila Prabhupada: There, in the Bhagavad-gita (4.13), is the
statement catur-varnyam maya srstam: this system was created by
Visnu [God]. So since varnasrama is a creation of the Supreme,
it cannot be changed. It is prevalent everywhere. It is like the
sun. The sun is a creation of the Supreme. The sunshine is there
in America, in Russia, and in India--everywhere. Similarly, this
varnasrama system is prevalent everywhere in some form or
another. Take, for example, the brahmanas, the most intelligent
class of men. They are the brains of the society. The ksatriyas
are the administrative class; then the vaisyas are the
productive class, and the sudras are the worker class. These
four classes of men are prevalent everywhere under different
names. Because it is created by the original creator, so it is
prevalent everywhere, varnasrama-dharma.
Prof. Kotovsky: It is interesting that in the opinion of some
European and old Russian scholars, this varnasrama system is a
later creation, and if you would read the old texts of Vedic
literature, you would find a much more simple and agrarian
society. It is the opinion of these scholars that the varnasrama
system was introduced in Indian society in the late age of the
Vedic era but not from the beginning. And if you would analyze
the old texts, you would find that in the old classical India it
was not so prevalent.
Srila Prabhupada: As far as we are concerned, it is mentioned in
the Bhagavad-gita. Catur-varnyam maya srstam. The Bhagavad-gita
was spoken five thousand years ago, and in the Bhagavad-gita it
is said, "This system of the Bhagavad-gita was spoken by Me to
the sun-god." So if you take an estimation of that period, it
comes to forty million years ago. Can the European scholars
trace back history five thousand years? Can they go back forty
million years? We have evidence that this varnasrama system has
been current at least five thousand years. The varnasrama system
is also mentioned in the Visnu Purana (3.8.9).
Varnasramacaravata purusena parah puman. That is stated in the
Visnu Purana. Varnasrama-dharma is not a phenomenon of a
historical period calculated in the modern age. It is natural.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam the comparison is given that just as in
the body there are four divisions--the brain division, the arms
division, the belly division, and the leg division--so by
nature's way these four divisions are existing in the social
body. There exist a class of men who are considered the brain, a
class of men who are considered the arms of the state, a class
of men who are called the productive class, and so on. There is
no need of tracing history; it is naturally existing from the
day of creation.
Prof. Kotovsky: You have said that in any society there are four
divisions, but they are not so easy to distinguish. For
instance, one can group together different social classes and
professional groups into four divisions in any society; there is
no difficulty. The only difficulty is, for instance, in the
socialistic society--in our country and other socialist
societies--how you can distinguish the productive group from the
Srila Prabhupada: For example, we belong to the intellectual
class of men. This is a division.
Prof. Kotovsky: Intelligent class, brahmanas. And you can also
put together all the intelligentsia in that department.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Prof. Kotovsky: And then the administrative class.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Prof. Kotovsky: But who are the vaisyas and sudras? That is the
difficulty. Because all others are workers--factory workers,
collective farm workers, and so on. So from this point of view
there is a great distinction, in my opinion, between socialist
society and all societies preceding socialism, because in modern
Western society you can group all social and professional
classes in these particular class divisions--brahmanas,
ksatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras: intellectuals, productive class,
owners of the productive system (factory owners, for instance),
and menial workers. But here you have no vaisyas because you
have administrative staffs in factories, and you can call them
ksatriyas, and then there are the sudras, the workers
themselves, but no intermediate class.
Srila Prabhupada: That is stated. Kalau sudra-sambhavah. In this
age practically all men are sudras. But if there are simply
sudras, the social order will be disturbed. In spite of your
state of sudras, the brahmana is found here, and that is
necessary. If you do not divide the social order in such a way,
there will be chaos. That is the scientific estimation of the
Vedas. You may belong to the sudra class, but to maintain social
order you have to train some of the sudras to become brahmanas.
Society cannot depend on sudras. Nor can you depend on the
brahmanas. To fulfill the necessities of your body, there must
be a brain, arms, a stomach, and legs. The legs, the brain, and
the arms are all required for cooperation to fulfill the mission
of the whole body. So in any society you can see that unless
there are these four divisions, there will be chaos. It will not
work properly. It will be maya, and there will be disturbances.
The brain must be there, but at the present moment there is a
scarcity of brains. I am not talking of your state or my state;
I am taking the world as a whole. Formerly the Indian
administration was a monarchy. For example, Maharaja Pariksit
was a ksatriya king. Just before his death, he renounced his
royal order. He came to the forest to hear about
self-realization. If you want to maintain the peace and
prosperity of the whole world society, you must create a very
intelligent class of men, a class of men expert in
administration, a class of men expert in production, and a class
of men to work. That is required; you cannot avoid it. That is
the Vedic conception, mukha-bahuru-pada jah (Srimad-Bhagavatam
11.17.13). Mukha means "the face," bahu means "the arms," uru
means "the waist," and pada, "the legs." Whether you take this
state or that state, unless there is a smooth, systematic
establishment of these four orders of life, the state or society
will not run very smoothly.
Prof. Kotovsky: Generally it seems to me that this whole
varnasrama system to some extent created a natural division of
labor in the ancient society. But now division of labor among
people in any society is much more complicated and
sophisticated. So it is very confusing to group them into four
Srila Prabhupada: Confusion has come to exist because in India,
at a later day, the son of a brahmana, without having the
brahminical qualifications, claimed to be a brahmana; and
others, out of superstition or a traditional way, accepted him
as a brahmana. Therefore the Indian social order was disrupted.
But in our Krsna consciousness movement we are training
brahmanas everywhere, because the world needs the brain of a
brahmana. Although Maharaja Pariksit was a monarch, he had a
body of brahmanas and learned sages to consult, an advisory
body. It is not that the monarchs were independent. In history
it is found that if some of the monarchs were not in order, they
were dethroned by the brahminical advisory council. Although the
brahmanas did not take part in politics, they would advise the
monarch how to execute the royal function. This is not too far
in the past. How long ago was Asoka?
Prof. Kotovsky: That would be equal to what we call, in our
terminology, ancient and medieval India.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Prof. Kotovsky: In old and feudal India--you are right--it was
very open, and the major part of the high administrative staff
in the legislative department were brahmanas. Even in the Mogul
era there were brahmanas to advise the Muslim emperors and
Srila Prabhupada: That is a fact--the brahmanas were accepted.
They formed the advisory committee of the king. For example,
Candragupta, the Hindu king, was in the age of Alexander the
Great. Just before Candragupta, Alexander the Great went from
Greece into India and conquered a portion. When Candragupta
became emperor, he had Canakya as his prime minister. Perhaps
you have heard this name Canakya?
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, he was a great brahmana politician, and
it is by his name that the quarter of New Delhi where all the
foreign embassies are grouped together is called Canakya Puri.
Canakya Pandita was a great politician and brahmana. He was
vastly learned. His moral instructions are still valuable. In
India, schoolchildren are taught Canakya Pandita's instructions.
Although he was the prime minister, Canakya Pandita maintained
his brahmana spirit; he did not accept any salary. If a brahmana
accepts a salary, it is understood that he has become a dog.
That is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. He can advise, but he
cannot accept employment. So Canakya Pandita was living in a
cottage, but he was actually the prime minister. This
brahminical culture and the brahminical brain is the standard of
Vedic civilization. The Manu-smrti is an example of the standard
of brahminical culture. You cannot trace out from history when
the Manu-smrti was written, but it is considered so perfect that
it is the Hindu law. There is no need for the legislature to
pass a new law daily to adjust social order. The law given by
Manu is so perfect that it can be applicable for all time. It is
stated in Sanskrit to be tri-kaladau, which means "good for the
past, present, and future."
Prof. Kotovsky: I am sorry to interrupt you, but to my knowledge
all of Indian society in the second half of the eighteenth
century was, by order of the British administration, under a law
divergent from Hindu law. There was a lot of change. The actual
Hindu law that was used by the Hindus was quite different from
the original Manu-smrti.
Srila Prabhupada: They have now made changes. Even our late
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru introduced his own Hindu code. He
introduced the right of divorce in marriage, but this was not in
the Manu-samhita. There are so many things they have changed,
but before this modern age the whole human society was governed
by the Manu-smrti. Strictly speaking, modern Hindus are not
strictly following the Hindu scriptures.
But our point is not to try to bring back the old type of Hindu
society. That is impossible. Our idea is to take the best ideas
from the original idea. For example, in the Srimad-Bhagavatam
there is a description of the communist idea. It is described to
Maharaja Yudhisthira. If there is something good, a good
experience, why shouldn't you adopt it? That is our point of
view. Besides that, modern civilization is missing one
all-important point--the aim of human life. Scientifically, the
aim of human life is self-realization, atma-tattva. It is said
that unless the members of human society come to the point of
self-realization, they are defeated in whatever they do.
Actually it is happening in modern society, despite all economic
advancement and other advancement: instead of keeping peace and
tranquillity, they are fighting--individually, socially,
politically, and nationally. If we think about it in a
cool-headed way, we can see that in spite of much improvement in
many branches of knowledge, we are keeping the same mentality
that is visible in the lower animal society. Our conclusion,
according to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, is that this human body is
not meant for working hard for sense gratification. But people
do not know anything beyond that. They do not know about the
next life. There is no scientific department of knowledge to
study what happens after this body is finished. That is a great
department of knowledge.
In the Bhagavad-gita (2.13) it is said, dehino 'smin yatha-dehe.
Deha means "this body." Dehinah means "the one who owns this
body." Dehino 'smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara. The dehi,
the owner of the body, is within, and the body is changing from
one form to another. The child has a certain type of body that
changes to another type when he is older. But the owner of the
body still exists throughout. Similarly, when this body is
completely changed, we accept another body. People do not
understand this. We are accepting different bodies, even in this
life, from babyhood to childhood to boyhood to youth. That is a
fact--everyone knows it. I was a child, but that childhood body
is no more. I have a different body now. What is the difficulty
in understanding that when this body will be no more, then I
will have to accept another body? It is a great science.
Prof. Kotovsky: As you know, there are two quite opposite
approaches to this problem. The approach is slightly different
according to different religions, but at the same time, any
religion recognizes and searches for the change-of-place
experience, or transmigration of spirit. In Christian religion,
in Judaism, in...
Srila Prabhupada: I am not talking religions with you. I am
talking science and philosophy. One religion may accept one way;
that is not our concern. We are concerned with the point that if
the owner of the body is permanent in spite of different changes
of body, there should be no difficulty in understanding that
when this body changes entirely, the owner of the body will have
Prof. Kotovsky: Another approach is that there is no separation.
There are no two phenomena--the body and the owner of the body
are the same.
Srila Prabhupada [emphatically]: No.
Prof. Kotovsky: When the body dies, the owner also dies.
Srila Prabhupada: No, no. But why is there no department of
knowledge in the university to study this fact scientifically?
That is my proposition--they are lacking. It may be as you say
or it may be as I say, but there must be a department of
knowledge to study this. Recently a cardiologist in Toronto, a
doctor, has accepted that there is a soul. I had some
correspondence with him, and he strongly believes that there is
a soul. So there is another point of view, but our process is to
accept knowledge from authority. We have Krsna's statement on
this subject, and He is authoritative. Krsna is accepted as the
authority by all the acaryas. The Bhagavad-gita is accepted by
scholarly and philosophical circles all over the world. Krsna
dehino 'smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
dhiras tatra na muhyati
"Just as the soul gives up the childhood body and comes to the
boyhood body and then to youth, the soul also gives up this body
and accepts another body." (Bg. 2.13) This statement is given by
Krsna, the greatest authority according to our tradition of
knowledge. We accept such a statement without argument. That is
the way of Vedic understanding.
Prof. Kotovsky: The difficulty is that our approach is that we
do not believe in anything without argument. We can believe only
things based on argument.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is allowed. That is stated in the
Bhagavad-gita (4.34). Tad viddhi pranipatena pariprasnena sevaya.
Pariprasna, argument, is allowed--but not in the challenging
spirit, but rather with the spirit to understand. Argument is
not denied. But as far as Vedic statements are concerned, they
are infallible, and the scholars of the Vedas accept them in
that way. For example, cow dung is the stool of an animal. Now,
the Vedic statement is that as soon as you touch the stool of
any animal--even if you touch your own stool--you are impure and
have to purify yourself by taking a bath. According to the Hindu
system, after evacuating one has to take a bath.
Prof. Kotovsky: That is quite understandable hygienic knowledge.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, that is right.
Srila Prabhupada: But in another place it is stated that cow
dung, although the stool of an animal, is pure. Even if you
apply it to an impure place, that place becomes purified. This
is superficially contradictory. In one place it is said that the
stool of an animal is impure and as soon as you touch it you
have to be purified, and in another place it says that cow dung
is pure. According to our knowledge, it is contradictory--but
still it is accepted by those who are followers of the Vedas.
And the fact is that if you analyze cow dung, you will find that
it contains all antiseptic properties.
Prof. Kotovsky: This I don't know.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, one professor in a medical college
analyzed it, and he found it full of antiseptic properties. So
Vedic statements, even if found contradictory, if analyzed
scrutinizingly will prove correct. There may be an exception.
But it is accepted, and when scientifically analyzed and
examined, it is found to be correct.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, if you analyze from the scientific point of
view, that is right.
Srila Prabhupada: There are other instances--for example, the
conchshell. The conchshell is the bone of an animal, and
according to Vedic instruction if you touch the bone of an
animal you become impure and have to take a bath. But this
conchshell is kept in the Deity room, because it is accepted as
pure by the Vedas. My point is that we accept Vedic laws without
argument. That is the principle followed by scholars. If you can
substantiate your statements by quotations from the Vedas, then
they are accepted. You are not required to substantiate them in
other ways. There are different kinds of pramanas, or evidences.
Proof by Vedic quotation is called sruti-pramana. As in the
legal court if you can give statements from the law book your
statement is accepted, so all statements you give, if supported
by sruti-pramanas, are accepted by scholars. I think you know
the Vedas are known as srutis.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes.
aikantiki harer bhaktir
Any system we accept must be supported by evidences of sruti,
smrti, the Puranas, and Pancaratra. That which is not proved by
these pramanas is a disturbance.
Prof. Kotovsky: Could I just say one thing? What is in the Vedas
could also have been proved in a scientific way. Today, suppose
there is a scientific laboratory. What is said by that lab is
true. That it is true you accept, without going into the
propriety of it. Suppose you have a scientific workshop or
institution; if this workshop or scientific institution says,
"This is not good," the general body will take it for granted:
"Yes. The scientific body has said so, so it is understood."
Srila Prabhupada: Similarly, Vedic authoritative statements are
accepted by the acaryas [great teachers]. India is governed by
the acaryas--Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Sankaracarya. They
accept the Vedas, and their followers accept them. The benefit
is that I do not waste my time to research whether cow dung is
pure or impure; rather, because it is stated in the Vedas to be
pure, I accept it. I save my time by accepting the sruti-pramana.
In that way there are different statements in the Vedas for
sociology and politics or anything, for veda means "knowledge."
sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto
mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca
vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedanta-krd veda-vid eva caham
Prof. Kotovsky: May I put one question to you? Have you many
branches of your society in the world?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Prof. Kotovsky: Where is your main center, and where are the
branches of the Krsna consciousness society?
Srila Prabhupada: Of course, I have over sixty-five branches.
accepted the principles. Just like these boys. [Srila Prabhupada
points to his two secretaries.]
Prof. Kotovsky: But does that mean that these students abstain
from normal Western, European universities? For instance, can a
normal student from one of the various universities who is
attending lectures in the normal way also be initiated and
admitted to your community?
Srila Prabhupada: If you want to live in our community and be
initiated, we welcome you. If not, come try to understand our
philosophy, read our books--there are so many books, magazines,
questions, and answers. Try to understand the philosophy. It is
not that all of a sudden a student comes and becomes our
disciple. He first of all comes, associates, and tries to
understand. We do not canvass. He voluntarily says that he wants
to be a disciple.
Prof. Kotovsky: What happens if, for instance, one is not a
student but a young worker or the young son of a farmer? Would
he renounce his whole life and join your community in a given
center? How would he maintain himself in his day-to-day life, in
Srila Prabhupada: As I told you, this propaganda is meant for
creating brahmanas all over the world, because the brahmana
element is lacking. One who seriously comes to us has to become
a brahmana, so he should adopt the occupation of a brahmana and
give up the occupation of a ksatriya or sudra. But if one wants
to keep his profession and also at the same time understand our
movement, that is allowed. We have many professors following our
movement. There is Howard Wheeler, a professor at Ohio State
University. He is my disciple. He is continuing with his
professorship, but almost all the money he is getting he is
spending for this Krsna consciousness. Grhasthas, those who are
in householder life outside, are expected to contribute fifty
percent of their income for our society, keep twenty-five
percent for family, and keep twenty-five percent for personal
emergencies. But Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu teaches that it does
not matter whether one is a grhastha (householder), or in the
renounced order, or a brahmana, or a sudra. Lord Caitanya says,
"Anyone who understands the science of Krsna becomes My
spiritual master." The actual words in Bengali are kiba vipra,
kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya. Do you understand a little Bengali?
Prof. Kotovsky: A little.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, as a vibration. Yei krsna-tattva-vetta,
sei 'guru' haya. "Anyone who understands the science of Krsna
can become a spiritual master." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya
Prof. Kotovsky: But by creating brahmanas from different social
classes of society, you deny the old prescription of the Hindu
Srila Prabhupada: No, I establish it.
Prof. Kotovsky: According to all scriptures--the Puranas,
etc.--every member of one of these four classes of varnas has to
be born within it.
Srila Prabhupada: No, no, no, no.
Prof. Kotovsky: That is the foundation of all the varnas...
Srila Prabhupada: No, no. I am sorry.
Prof. Kotovsky: The foundation of all the varnas...
Srila Prabhupada: You have spoken incorrectly. With great
respect I beg to submit that you are not speaking correctly. In
the Bhagavad-gita (4.13) it is stated, catur-varnyam maya-srstam
guna-karma-vibhagasah. "These four orders of brahmanas,
ksatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras were created by Me according to
quality and work." There is no mention of birth.
Prof. Kotovsky: I agree with you that this is the addition of
later brahmanas who tried to perpetuate these qualities.
Srila Prabhupada: That has killed the Indian culture. Otherwise
there would have been no necessity of the division of part of
India into Pakistan. Not only that, but from the historical
point of view this whole planet was Bharata-varsa, and it was
controlled by one flag up to the time of Maharaja Pariksit. Then
it gradually separated. This is history. Lately they have
separated Pakistan. So Bharata-varsa is now crippled into a
small piece of land. Otherwise, according to Vedic scripture,
this whole planet is called Bharata-varsa. Formerly it was named
Ilavrta-varsa. But since Emperor Bharata ruled this planet, it
is called Bharata-varsa. So this culture, Krsna consciousness,
was always existent. Consider any religion--Christian,
Muhammadan, Jewish. They are at most two to three thousand years
old. But you cannot trace out the beginning of this Vedic
scripture. It is therefore called sanatana, eternal. This
culture is for this whole human society. It is not a religious
faith. Religious faith you can change, but real dharma you
cannot change. Try to understand Krsna. In the Bhagavad-gita
(18.66) He says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja:
"Give up all other forms of religion and just surrender to Me."
That is real knowledge--to surrender to the Supreme. You or
I--anyone--is surrendered to someone. That is a fact. Our life
is by surrender, is it not? Do you disagree with this point?
Prof. Kotovsky: To some extent you surrender.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, to the full extent.
Prof. Kotovsky: You have to surrender to the society, for
instance. To the whole people.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, to the whole people, or to the state or
to the king or the government or whatever you say. This
surrender must be there.
Prof. Kotovsky: The only difficulty is that we cannot half
surrender to a government or a king. The principal difference is
of surrender to a king, to a person, or to the society.
Srila Prabhupada: No, that is only a change of color. But the
principle of surrender is there. Whether you surrender to
monarchy, democracy, aristocracy, or dictatorship, you have to
surrender; that is a fact. Without surrender there is no life.
It is not possible. So we are educating people to surrender to
the Supreme, wherefrom you get all protection, just as Krsna
says (sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja). No one
can say, "No, I am not surrendered to anyone." Not a single
person. The difference is where he surrenders. The ultimate
surrendering object is Krsna. Therefore in the Bhagavad-gita
(7.19) Krsna says, bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate:
"After surrendering to so many things birth after birth, when
one is factually wise he surrenders unto Me." Vasudevah sarvam
iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah: "Such a mahatma is very rare."
Prof. Kotovsky: But at the same time it seems to me that
surrender is to be accompanied by revolt. The history of mankind
has proved that mankind has developed only by revolt against
some kind of surrender. In the medieval age there was the French
Revolution. It was revolt against surrender. But this revolution
itself was surrender to the rank and file of the people. You are
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Prof. Kotovsky: So it is not enough to come to a full stop.
Surrender is to be accompanied with revolt against some and
surrender to other people.
Srila Prabhupada: But the surrender will be fully stopped when
it is surrender to Krsna.
Prof. Kotovsky: Ah, ah.
Srila Prabhupada: That is full stop--no more surrender. Any
other surrender you have to change by revolution. But when you
come to Krsna, then it is sufficient. You are satisfied. I'll
give you an example: a child is crying, and people move him from
one lap to another. Oh, he does not stop. But as soon as the
baby comes to the lap of his mother...
Prof. Kotovsky: It stops.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, full satisfaction. So this surrender,
these changes, will go on in different categories. But the sum
total of all this surrender is surrender to maya. Therefore, in
the Bhagavad-gita it is said that this surrender, neglecting
Krsna, is all maya. Either you surrender to this or to that, but
final surrender is surrender to Krsna; then you will be happy.
The process of surrender is there, but surrender to Krsna keeps
one quite satisfied, transcendentally.
Prof. Kotovsky: Haven't you come across hostile attitudes to
your teachings from orthodox Hindus or brahmanas in India?
Srila Prabhupada: We have subdued them.
Prof. Kotovsky: Ah.
Srila Prabhupada: Any orthodox Hindu may come and challenge, but
we have our weapons--the Vedic literatures. So no one has come.
Even Christian priests in America love me. They say, "These boys
are American, Christian, Jewish, and now they are so much after
God. But we could not deliver them." They are admitting it.
Their fathers and their parents come to me, offer their
obeisances, and say, "Swamiji, it is our great fortune that you
have come here to teach God consciousness." So on the contrary,
I have been well received. In India also, since you inquired of
India, all other sects are admitting that before me many kinds
of svamis went to the Western countries, but they could not
convert even a single person to Krsna consciousness. They are
admitting that. As far as I am concerned, I don't take any
credit, but I am confident that because I am presenting the
Vedic knowledge as it is, without adulteration, it is being
effective. That is my confidence. If you have the right medicine
and you administer it to a patient, you must be sure that he
will be cured.
Prof. Kotovsky: How many out of your one thousand disciples do
you have in India itself? How many of your community do you have
Srila Prabhupada: In India?
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes.
Srila Prabhupada: In India there are many Krsna conscious
persons--hundreds, thousands, millions. In India there is no
question. There is not a single Hindu who is not Krsna
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, I understand.
Srila Prabhupada: Vaisnavas. This is called the Vaisnava cult.
You have been in India, so as it is commonly known, there are
many millions of Vaisnavas. For example, this gentleman [an
Indian gentleman present] is the commander of Air India
airlines. He is not my disciple, but he is a Vaisnava, Krsna
conscious. Similarly, in India there are millions of Krsna
conscious persons. There are even Muhammadans who are Krsna
conscious. At Gorakhpur University there is a Muhammadan
professor who is a great devotee of Lord Krsna. So this is
natural. It is said in the Caitanya-caritamrta that Krsna
consciousness is everywhere, in everyone's heart. It simply has
to be awakened by this process. That is all. It is there in your
heart also. It is not that it is foreign to you. In everyone's
heart there is Krsna consciousness. By this process we have to
awaken it. It is just like the way the sun rises. It is not that
all of a sudden the sun comes from nowhere. It is there, but it
rises in the morning. Similarly, this Krsna consciousness is
everywhere, but some way or another it is now covered. By this
process it is reawakened and aroused by association.
Prof. Kotovsky: You came yesterday to Moscow. Have you seen
something here in Moscow?
Srila Prabhupada: No, I am not very much interested in
Prof. Kotovsky: But in any case, just to stay in an old-style
hotel is not interesting--not many people to see. And you are
leaving the day after tomorrow?
Srila Prabhupada: That is my program.
Prof. Kotovsky: You are leaving for the United States or for
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, for Europe. Paris. And we have two very
big ceremonies in London and San Francisco. They are making
arrangements for the Ratha-yatra Car Festival. This car festival
is observed in Jagannatha Puri. You have been to Jagannatha Puri?
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, the car festival has been held from
immemorial times. A very old tradition. Huge cars.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and it has now been introduced in the
Western countries in London and San Francisco, and gradually
maybe we will introduce it in other countries also.
Prof. Kotovsky: In London there is a large Indian community.
Srila Prabhupada: No, no. This is organized by the Englishmen
and Americans. The Indian communities in London and San
Francisco are trying to become--you know the word? Sahib?
Prof. Kotovsky: [Laughs.] Westernized. [They both laugh.] A very
great social anthropologist at the university has written
something very interesting. He says there are two processes--the
process of Westernization among brahmanas, mainly the upper
class, and the process called Sanskritization, which is the
process of adopting brahmana rituals, etc., by so-called lower
classes, even untouchables. It is a very interesting process in
India just now. But India's position, unfortunately, is
Srila Prabhupada: The difficulty is that India is nowhere. They
are trying to imitate Western life, but from a materialistic or
technical point of view, they are one hundred years back.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, that is right. But what to do for India?
Srila Prabhupada: There is one thing I am experiencing. If
India's spiritual asset is distributed, that will increase
India's honor. Because everywhere I go, people still adore
Indian culture. If this treasure-house of India's spiritual
knowledge is properly distributed, at least people outside of
India will understand that they are getting something from
Prof. Kotovsky: Of course, you're right. The Indian cultural
heritage is to be made known everywhere. But at the same time,
in what way would this benefit the Indian masses themselves?
They are sitting in India, and they have nothing to gain from
the spreading of the Indian cultural heritage all over the
world. Indian villages have to have fertilizers, tractors, etc.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, we do not object to that.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, I don't think you can object, but at the
same time, something has to be done in India. One may call it
Westernization, but this introduction to an industrial
technological revolution is needed in all fields of Indian
life--agriculture, industry, etc.
Srila Prabhupada: Arjuna, before understanding the Bhagavad-gita,
was a fighter, and after understanding the Bhagavad-gita he
remained a fighter. So we don't want to change the position. For
example, you are a respectable professor, a teacher. We don't
say that you must change your position. We have come to convince
you about our philosophy. That is all. Arjuna was refusing to
fight. "Krsna, I don't want to kill my relatives. I do not want
this kingdom." But he was taught the Bhagavad-gita, and at the
end when Krsna inquired, "What is your decision now?" he said,
karisye vacanam tava--"Yes, I shall act as You say." (Bg. 18.72)
That means that his consciousness changed. He was a fighter, and
he remained a fighter, but he changed his consciousness. We want
that. We don't want to disturb the present condition of society.
We are not against technology. No, but we try to make one
understand this Krsna consciousness. That is our program.
Prof. Kotovsky: Of course, at the same time the final goal of
any consciousness is to change the society--to make it a better
Srila Prabhupada: That is automatic.
Prof. Kotovsky: I am not really so happy that the ultimate goal
is not to disturb society, because in modern society there are
many things to be changed through consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada: That preliminary change is to follow rules and
regulations of austerity. For example, don't take intoxicants.
Prof. Kotovsky: No indulging in intoxicants--simplicity, etc.
Srila Prabhupada: So if one takes to this process...
Prof. Kotovsky: Then the others will come automatically.
Srila Prabhupada: One's whole life will change, because these
four things--illicit sex life, intoxicants, meat-eating and
gambling--are very great impediments to social improvement.
Prof. Kotovsky: That will automatically make life simpler,
because a person who does not indulge in illicit sex,
intoxicants, and such other things has to lead a comparatively
Srila Prabhupada: The other day I was speaking in Bombay with a
respectable gentleman. I was telling him that Krsna says:
mam hi partha vyapasritya
ye 'pi syuh papa-yonayah
striyo vaisyas tatha sudras
te 'pi yanti param gatim
"Even those who are lowborn [papa-yonayah]--stri, vaisyas, and
sudras--are also included by accepting Me. By accepting My
shelter they are also elevated to the transcendental position."
(Bg. 9.32) Now why have the higher classes of Hindu society
neglected this injunction of the Bhagavad-gita? Suppose one is
papa-yonayah, lowborn. Krsna says that he can be "elevated to
the transcendental position if he accepts Me." Why wasn't this
message propagated by the higher class of people so that the
so-called lowborn could be elevated? Why did they reject them?
The result was that instead of accepting the Muhammadans, the
Indians rejected them, and now they are partitioned off. They
have become eternal enemies of India. So for the first time we
are trying to elevate persons to the higher position of Krsna
consciousness, even if one is lowborn. Because the soul is pure.
In the Vedas it is said that the soul is untouched by any
material contamination; it is simply temporarily covered. This
covering should be removed. Then one becomes pure. That is the
mission of human life--to uncover ourselves from this material
environment, come to spiritual understanding, and surrender to
Krsna. Then life is perfect.