with Sir Alistair Hardy
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
July 21, 1973, London
Pradyumna: “…by the conditioned soul. Thus God is all-good, and God is all-merciful. Antah pravistah sasta jananam. The living entity forgets as soon as he quits his present body, but he begins his work again, initiated by the Supreme Lord. Although he forgets, the Lord gives him the intelligence to renew his work where he ended his last life. So not only does the living entity enjoy or suffer in this world according to the dictation from the Supreme Lord situated locally in the heart, but he receives the opportunity to understand Vedas from Him. If one is serious to understand the Vedic knowledge, then Krsna gives the required intelligence. Why does He present the Vedic knowledge for understanding? Because the living entity individually needs to understand Krsna. Vedic literature confirms this. Yo ’sau sarvair vedair giyate. In all Vedic literature, beginning from the four Vedas, Vedanta-sutra and the Upanisads and Puranas, the glories of the Supreme Lord are celebrated. By performing Vedic rituals, discussing the Vedic philosophy and worshiping the Lord in devotional service, He is attained. Therefore the purpose of the Vedas is to understand Krsna. The Vedas give us direction to understand Krsna and the process of understanding. The ultimate goal is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Vedanta-sutra confirms this in the following words: tat tu samanvayat. One can attain perfection by understanding Vedic literature, and one can understand his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead by performing the different processes. Thus one can approach Him, and at the end attain the supreme goal, who is no other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this verse, however, the purpose of the Vedas, the understanding of the Vedas, and the goal of Vedas are clearly defined.”
Prabhupada: So God is acting within the heart of everyone. Sarvasya caham hrdi sannivistah.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Yes. That’s what I certainly believe.
Sir Alistair Hardy: I certainly believe that. Oh, I think we’re very close really, in our views of God, except that I’m concentrating on studying the working of God in the people of today. You are studying the message of God given by Krsna in the… And I’m trying to show they are the same, the same view as that revealed by Jesus and by other great…
Prabhupada: No… When we speak of Veda, Veda means knowledge. So knowledge means knowledge of God. Any scripture that gives knowledge of God, that is Vedas. Don’t think that Vedas means that only the Sama, Yajuh, Atharva. Those who are following the principles to give knowledge about God, that is Veda. Veda means knowledge. Vetti veda vido jnane. Vid-dhatu is called veda, vetti. Jnane when there is question of knowledge, these three forms are used: vetti, veda, vido, jnane. Vinte vid vicarane vidyate vid saptayam labhe vindati vindate. (?) This is the vid-dhatu description. So vid-dhatu means to know. So ultimate knowledge is to know God. That is real knowledge. Vedais ca sarvaih. Sarvaih, all kinds of Vedas. All kinds, sarvaih. So Bible can be taken as Vedas because it is trying to give knowledge about God, maybe for a certain class of men. That is another thing. But the subject matter is how to know God. So that can be taken as also, as Vedas. Because ultimate knowledge is how to know God. Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate [Bg. 7.19]. So we accept Bible also as Vedas, but we simply say that they misinterpret the Biblical commandments. The Bible says, “Thou shalt not kill,” and the Christian people are killing, maintaining slaughterhouse. What is this? This is my question. How they’ll understand God if they are so much implicated in sinful activities? According to Vedas, there are four kinds of sinful activities: illicit sex, unnecessary killing of animals, intoxication and gambling. Yatra papas catur-vidhah. So God is purest. Param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan [Bg. 10.12]. How one can approach God if he leads a sinful life? That is our propagation. You give up this sinful life. Then you’ll be able to understand God. You follow Christianity or Mohammedanism or Buddhism. It doesn’t matter. You give up this sinful life.
Revatinandana: In the Bible it says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Prabhupada: Yes, yes.
Revatinandana: It’s possible to see God, but only if there’s purity of heart. And a sinful person has not got that purity of heart.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Yes, I… Some of the very simplest people have been years at home (?) and there’s great intellectual standing. That’s true.
Revatinandana: Not simple. Sinful.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Simple.
Revatinandana: Not simple. We’re saying “sinful.”
Sir Alistair Hardy: Oh, sinful! I… I thought… I thought you said… Sorry.
Revatinandana: Yes, it’s, it’s, it’s sin… I’m saying… Here in the Bible it says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Sir Alistair Hardy: Yes.
Revatinandana: And how can a, how will a sinful person have that purity of heart?
Sir Alistair Hardy: No, well, a sinful person hasn’t got purity of heart. No, quite.
Prabhupada: So do you…? Don’t you think that killing of animal is sinful activity?
Sir Alistair Hardy: Well, it’s a very difficult problem because surely the whole of creation has been part of God’s work, and the whole of evolution, building up to man, has consisted in the killing of animals, one species killing another.
Prabhupada: So why a human being should be like one species of animal?
Sir Alistair Hardy: Well, er, man should gradually grow out of that. I agree. Yes.
Prabhupada: That means he’s in lowest stage, animal stage. Who is killing, that means he’s in animal stage. So how he can see God? Can animal, cats and dogs, can see God? That’s not possible. How the animals can see God?
Sir Alistair Hardy: Well, we don’t know at all what…
Sir Alistair Hardy: We can’t…
Prabhupada: Your Bible is meant for not the cats and dogs. It is meant for the human beings.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Yes.
Prabhupada: Our Vedas are not meant for the cats and dogs. All sastras and scriptures and Vedas, they are meant for human being. So if human being remains on cats and dogs, how he can understand? If he voluntarily remains like the cats and dogs, then how he can understand the Vedas or Bible or Koran? He cannot. Naham prakasah sarvasya yoga-maya-samavrtah [Bg. 7.25]. We have to become pure before understanding what is God. Therefore every civilized society has got a type of religion to become purified so that he can understand God. Without being purified, how it is possible? That is not possible. So at least these things should be accepted as they are in the Bible, “Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not covet.” Illicit sex life, intoxication, and killing of animals. These are in the Bible. Why they are not accepted? This is not our impositions. This is already there.
Revatinandana: And in every scripture…
Revatinandana: …for purification there are so many processes.
Prabhupada: So how they can be God conscious without being purified?
Sir Alistair Hardy: Well, I think you’re probably getting tired, and I think I probably…
Prabhupada: You can give some prasadam. Take some prasadam.
Sir Alistair Hardy: You don’t know what the time is? Good gracious, quarter to six. Yes.
Prabhupada: No, we are very glad to meet together, and we are ready to help you in your research work, provided you take our help. That will be very nice for you.
Revatinandana: I’ll say one thing. If you want to see where in the world people are experiencing God, experiencing their relationship with God, you should examine this Hare Krsna movement, I think.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Yes, well I’ve, I’ve…
Revatinandana: You’ll see people who are living in every minute of every day in relation with God, and their experience is joyful…
Sir Alistair Hardy: Yes.
Revatinandana: …and full of knowledge.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Yes.
Mukunda: Actually, it’s not that we’re studying the past, but we study a principle called dharma which means that principle of life which never changes.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Yes.
Mukunda: That’s our main concern.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Well, I’d very much like to have records of experience, accounts of present-day experience. Although as I say, at the moment I’m rather tending to concentrate on the western. I’m hoping to get scholars who are really Sanskrit scholars and those people who can really understand the language of oriental affairs.
Prabhupada: No, first thing is: this, this is a different science. Science of God is not material science. Simply material, academic career will not help.
Sir Alistair Hardy: No, no. I agree.
Revatinandana: “Eastern-Western” will not help.
Sir Alistair Hardy: No, I get example (?) to both, both from the East and the West.
Prabhupada: Simply by becoming Sanskrit scholar or Latin scholar, it is not sufficient. He must be God-realized, purified. Then it is possible. Atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih: [BRS. 1.2.234] “By your these blunt senses it is not possible to understand what is God, what is His form, what is His name, what is His quality, what is His kingdom, what is His paraphernalia.” These things are to be understood. God means… Just like when we speak of “king.” King does not mean alone. King means he has got his queen, he has got his kingdom, he has got his secretary, he has got his minister, he has got his palace, he has… so many things, king, royal. When we speak of Queen, we immediately remember the Buckingham Palace, his (her) bodyguards and so many, so many other things. Similarly, God means He has got His entourage also, everything. He’s not alone. To understand God means to understand everything of God— His name, His fame, His lila, His pastimes. So namadi. With all these blunt senses, how can we… We cannot understand even the Personality of Godhead, what to speak of other things? “God is a person:”—it is a very difficult subject matter for ordinary man to take it, very difficult subject. That is stated in the… Even the demigods they cannot understand. That is… Because he’s thinking materially that “This cosmic manifestation, then creation, is so big, and it is created by a person. How it is possible?” But… Because they do not know what is that person. Simply by the word “person,” he is afraid: “Oh, oh, oh, oh.”
Revatinandana: “He’s like me. I can’t do it. Therefore not a person.”
Revatinandana: “No person except He’s like me.”
Prabhupada: Yes. Therefore the Vedic scripture says, isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah [Bs. 5.1]. His person is different. Sac-cid-ananda. That is not exactly with our personality. This is material. This is temporary personality. Now I am man. Next time I may become dog, Next time become demigod. It is changing. It is not eternal, sat. So God is not like that. Just like Krsna says, sambhavamy atma-mayaya [Bg. 4.6]. He does not come here being forced by the material energy. He comes by His spiritual energy. Sambhavamy atma-mayaya. Find out this. Yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata [Bg. 4.7]. Therefore, as soon as He’s accepted as ordinary man, avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum asritam, param bhavam ajanantah [Bg. 9.11]. He does not know what is the power behind that. Read it.
Pradyumna: Ajo ’pi sann avyayatma bhutanam isvaro ’pi san, prakrtim svam adhisthaya…
Prabhupada: Prakrtim svam adhisthaya.
Pradyumna: Sambhavamy atma-mayaya [Bg. 4.6]. “Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all sentient beings, I still appear in every millennium in My original, transcendental form.”
Prabhupada: Read the purport.
Pradyumna: “The Lord has spoken about the peculiarity of His birth. Although He may appear like an ordinary person, He remembers everything of His many, many past births, whereas a common man cannot remember what he has done even a few hours before. If someone is asked what he did exactly at the same time one day earlier, it would be very difficult for a common man to answer immediately. He would surely have to dredge his memory to recall what he was doing exactly at the same time one day before. And yet, men often dare claim to be God, or Krsna. One should not be misled by such meaningless claims. Then again, the Lord explains His prakrti, or His form. Prakrti means nature, as well as svarupa, or one’s own form. The Lord says that He appears in His own body. He does not change His body as the common living entity changes from one body to another. The conditioned soul may have one kind of body in the present birth, but yet a different body in the next birth. In the material world, the living entity has no fixed body, but transmigrates from one body to another. The Lord, however, does not do so. Whenever He appears, He does so in the same original body by His internal potency. In other words, Krsna appears in this material world in his original eternal form with two hands, holding a flute. He appears exactly in His eternal body, uncontaminated by this material world. Although He appears in the same transcendental body and is the Lord of the universe, it still appears that He takes His birth like an ordinary living entity. Despite the fact Lord Krsna grows from childhood to boyhood and from boyhood to youth, astonishingly enough, He never ages beyond youth. At the time of the Battle of Kuruksetra, He had many grandchildren at home, or in other words, He had sufficiently aged by material calculations. Still, He looked just like a young man, twenty or twenty-five years old. We never see a picture of Krsna in old age because He never grows old like us, although He is the oldest person in the…”
Prabhupada: Advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam adyam purana-purusam nava-yauvanam ca [Bs. 5.33]. Purana-purusa, the oldest man, oldest living entity, but nava-yauvana, just like young man. Nava-yauvanam ca. Advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam adyam purana-purusam [Bs. 5.33]. Purana means oldest, because He’s the origin of all living entities. But nava-yauvanam ca, just a fresh, young man. Hm. Go on.
Pradyumna: “And, although He is the oldest person…” (continues reading to the end of the purport)
Prabhupada: Hm. Yes. So you have got this Bhagavad-gita now. Kindly take it. That will help you in your research work. And whenever you kindly ask us in some question, we are prepared to help you.
Revatinandana: One thing I noticed, at one point you mentioned that you only have a few years to go and you’re working on this particular subject of how religion is experienced today. Do you really think you only have a few years to go?
Sir Alistair Hardy: Well, I don’t know, but I…
Prabhupada: No, that is material calculation.
Sir Alistair Hardy: I’m getting on.
Revatinandana: That’s right.
Sir Alistair Hardy: I’m seventy-seven.
Revatinandana: Well, are you really seventy-seven?
Sir Alistair Hardy: I’m seventy-seven, yes.
Revatinandana: But are you really seventy-seven? You see what I mean?
Sir Alistair Hardy: No…
Revatinandana: When does the work begin of actually knowing God, to actually know God? When does that business begin? Actually, we think that when this body is finished, we are now finished. But if we’re not working toward God, we’ll come back here and work again because we’re working in some other direction.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Yes.
Revatinandana: So to be working in the vicinity of God, as you are, that’s good, but to try to know God, that’s the ultimate destination.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Yes, well, that’s… Yes. Well, I agree. But I must think of getting back to…
Revatinandana: They’re bringing some fruit for you.
Mukunda: In a few minutes they’re bringing some refreshments.
Prabhupada: Can you wait?
Mukunda: I can take you straight to the station.
Sir Alistair Hardy: And I must catch at least the 7:15 train.
Mukunda: Oh, yes, definitely.
Sir Alistair Hardy: 7:15
Revatinandana: 7:15 there’ll be plenty of time. If we leave twenty minutes from now, by that time you will have had a little…
Sir Alistair Hardy: Yes, I…
Revatinandana: They’re bringing something right now.
Prabhupada: You have to go to Oxford?
Sir Alistair Hardy: Yes, yes, I must. I’ve been to the great temple of Ramesvaram in southern India, south of Madras. It was a very fine experience.
Prabhupada: All the temples you have seen? South India?
Sir Alistair Hardy: A temple in southern India.
Revatinandana: Which one?
Sir Alistair Hardy: Ramesvaram.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Rames… I’m sorry. I pronounced it wrong. Ramesvaram. There pilgrims bring water from the Ganges. They have a pool in which they keep it. I think. I’m not quite sure if I understood, but I think that over the period, all pilgrims bring water from the Ganges. And I think this water in this pool is Ganges water, which is continually added to by pilgrims coming. I’m not sure about that. That’s what I understood, but I don’t know. I’d a rather amusing experience, there. I was doing a drawing… I was very fascinated. Its very beautiful pagoda-like entrances, north, east, south…
Revatinandana: Temple gates.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Temple gates. Yes. And I was making a drawing of this. So I had a very big crowd around me. And my Indian friends… I’d been staying at Mandapam (?) which is the… It was a naval settlement. Well, it was really a settlement of the Indian fisheries. My biological interest had always been in the sea. And these friends came over, and they left this case while they went to take photographs. And they came back. And so the crowd were very excited. “Would you like to know what they’re saying?” And so I said, “Yes.” So he said, “What they’re saying is, ‘Isn’t he wonderful! Isn’t he wonderful! He’s taking photographs with his fingers.’ ” They were more used to photographs, I think. They’d never seen anyone doing an actual… They’d seen symbolic drawings, but… I was reproducing the temple gates, and they said I was taking photographs with my fingers. I thought that was a wonderful expression really, “taking photographs with my fingers.” (Someone brings in prasadam) Oh, thank you.
Prabhupada: No, you can keep it here.
Revatinandana: Perhaps if you keep your case there.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Oh. My case, yes.
Revatinandana: You can use it like a little table.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Thank you. Such a huge… Oh, now can I have… I’d like some of this. Put that down. Put that down.
Pradyumna: You know the Indian style of…
Sir Alistair Hardy: I must follow you, how you eat this. I don’t know how you…
Prabhupada: Anything you can eat, as you like. There is no restriction.
Pradyumna: That’s called puri.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Puris, yes, that’s lovely. Yes.
Pradyumna: You probably had those in India.
Sir Alistair Hardy: [break] …through India, going out to the Far East. I’ve been out advising on the setting up of a fishery, biological research, at Hong Kong. But I never believe in going straight out and I’ve always stopped in India, various places, very little, short time. (eating) I had a great friend, Professor Bower, who was professor of zoology at Lucknow. He then became the vice-chancellor of Patna. But he overworked very badly, and he had a breakdown, and then… But he was an awfully nice man. I stayed with him in Lucknow.
Prabhupada: This zoology is another subject matter, whether life began from matter or matter began from life.
Sir Alistair Hardy: That’s a great problem in biology, how did life arise from the inorganic matter.
Revatinandana: Quite a problem. We don’t agree. We think that it didn’t.
Sir Alistair Hardy: No? I say, that’s…
Prabhupada: Life came from life; matter also came from matter, er, life. That is explained in the Vedanta-sutra, janmadyasya yatah. And it is explained in Bhagavad-gita: Aham sarvasya prabhavah. So there is no difficulty.
Sir Alistair Hardy: But life may have arisen from the inorganic by the breathing in of the Divine into it. And there’s no doubt that our bodies are material, but within our bodies is this divine, what I call the “divine flame” in one of my (indistinct).
Prabhupada: Why not the “divine person?” Wherefrom flame comes?
Revatinandana: He says, now how to find out the Divine Person from whom the flame comes? Just like you were talking about how God is a manifestation of power, in your statement. But the manifestation of power we always find in relation with a source of power. Just like the sunlight is a manifestation of the power, and this great power of the sunlight, they’re tapping it for electricity and so many things now, but that sunlight is not an independent entity. It’s dependent on the source.
Prabhupada: And Veda also, points out, yato va imani bhutani jayante. So your New York going is suspended now?
Mukunda: No, I’m still going.
Prabhupada: When you are going?
Mukunda: As soon as possible. (pause) [break]
Prabhupada: Then talk of all this moral instruction. If you are killing yourself, then why do you object? Why? [break] …acari prabhu jive sikhaila.
Revatinandana: I recognize the Bengali. What’s the…?
Prabhupada: You should teach philosophy by behaving yourself.
Revatinandana: Very nice. So simple.
Prabhupada: [break] …talked with many gentleman, lawyer. That Goldsmith, he was against war, but when I asked him, “Whether you are meat-eaters, killing animals?”, “Yes, that is our food.” So if the poor animals can become your food, the big nation can say, “The small nation is my food. I can kill them. We can kill them.” Everyone can say. And that is happening like, “Might is right.”
Revatinandana: Goldsmith? He’s a lawyer or something in Los Angeles?
Prabhupada: Hm, hm, hm. (Yes) No, not Los Angeles. New York.
Revatinandana: Oh, this Gold, Martin… Some, his name was, in Los Angeles, Gold, Martin Gold.
Sir Alistair Hardy: [Break] …Tagore thought of in India today. I’ve always admired Rabindranath Tagore’s very much, his poetic writings. Do people in India think much of him today?
Prabhupada: What about that?
Revatinandana: Rabindranath Tagore.
Hamsaduta : If his writings are highly considered by people in India?
Prabhupada: No, not at all.
Sir Alistair Hardy: Not at all. No.
Prabhupada: What is his writings? So many speculation. That’s all. But it has got little similarity to Vaisnavism. His Gitanjali…
Sir Alistair Hardy: He had a great reputation in the western world.
Prabhupada: But his literatures are not read by our… A section.
Revatinandana: Mostly in Bengal. And because he was accepted in the West, therefore they are very proud of it. But otherwise…
Prabhupada: The Russians read. I have heard that in your Oxford University there is study of Rabindranath’s books? They study?
Sir Alistair Hardy: They study which books?
Sir Alistair Hardy: Oh, I think they produce some of them, yes. He gave a course of lectures in Oxford about 1923, or, ’22 or ’23, which were very well attended. I wasn’t there, unfortunately, but I read them.
Sir Alistair Hardy: ’23. (end)