His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
July 13, 1975, Philadelphia
Prabhupada: How are you?
Prof. Hopkins: Fine thank you.
Prabhupada: Thank you.
Prof. Hopkins: I have several questions that I would like to raise. I have a long-standing interest in the…
Prabhupada: You can sit down.
Prof. Hopkins: In Srimad-Bhagavatam. And this I know is very important to you and to the Caitanya tradition.
Prabhupada: You have seen all the parts published? Books and… Which Canto you have read?
Prof. Hopkins: I’m not thinking so much of the specific Cantos as the Srimad-Bhagavatam as a whole. Is that, for you, as you see it, more important than Bhagavad-gita?
Prabhupada: No, Bhagavad-gita is the preliminary study of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Prof. Hopkins: So you would see the two related to each other.
Prabhupada: Yes. If one can understand Bhagavad-gita then he becomes a bona fide student of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Prof. Hopkins: Oh.
Prabhupada: Because in the… You have read Bhagavad-gita?
Prof. Hopkins: Oh yes, I have.
Prabhupada: So Bhagavad-gita, last instruction is sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. [Bg. 18.66] “You give up all kinds of occupation and just surrender unto Me.” If one can take it very seriously, understand, then he can enter into the study of Bhagavatam. The Bhagavatam begins from the point where Krsna left Bhagavad-gita. So he advised that “You surrender to Me,” and Bhagavata begins, satyam param dhimahi, “I am worshiping the Supreme Truth.” And next verse is dharmah projjhita-kaitavo ’tra [SB 1.1.2], “All cheating type of religious system is rejected.” So this is rather revolting. Krsna says sarva dharman parityajya [Bg. 18.66], “Give up all kinds of religious system, just surrender to Me.” And from that point Bhagavata begins, “All cheating type of religious system is rejected.” It is meant for the paramahamsa. Paramo nirmatsaranam. Those who are envious, for them is not Bhagavata. So any materialistic person, he is envious. It is not meant for the materialistic person. Those who are spiritually advanced, one who has understood that “I am not this body, I am spirit soul, my direct connection is with God, therefore my only business is to serve God.” One who has come to this conclusion, he is called paramahamsa. Hamsa means swan. A swan, it has got a quality that if you give the swan to drink milk mixed with water, she will drink the milk and reject the water. She has got the capacity. So paramahamsa means one who has taken the essence of the existence, Absolute Truth, he is called paramahamsa.
Prof. Hopkins: So you would see the Bhagavad-gita then as accessible to a wide range of people, at an elementary level or beginning level, whereas Srimad-Bhagavatam would be for more advanced, more advanced people.
Prabhupada: Not only advanced, completely advanced. Because so long one will be, stay on the material platform, he will be envious of others only, animal propensity, dog. Dog does not like another dog is coming. So unless one is spiritually realized, the dog mentality will remain there. It is said nasau munir yasya matam na bhinnam, even amongst the topmost thinkers, if he does not refute other thinkers, he is not a good thinker. That enviousness. He will not be established a good thinker if he cannot… If a scientist, if he cannot refute the previous scientist, he is not a scientist. This is material world. Everyone is envious of the other. So Bhagavata meant for who is no more envious. Simply loving.
Prof. Hopkins: Why, why is that more necessary for Srimad-Bhagavatam than for Bhagavad-gita?
Prabhupada: More… Bhagavatam, I told you, it is a counterpart. Just like when you have passed the school examination then next you admit yourself for degree or graduate degree. Similarly, Bhagavata is the end of education. Everyone is progressing. When one comes to Srimad-Bhagavatam and understands it then his education is complete.
Prof. Hopkins: Then would it be, would it be dangerous for someone who is not at that level to study Srimad-Bhagavatam or would they simply not understand it?
Prabhupada: Dangerous means if one is not completely educated of self-realization he has the risk of degradation.
Prof. Hopkins: He has what?
Prabhupada: The risk of degradation. Now I have got human form of body, I may degrade to animal. Because transmigration of the soul. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said, tatha dehantara praptir, after death one gets another body. Now, what kind of body, that depends on his work. Urdhvam gacchanti sattva-sthah. If he has done very nicely, in goodness, then he will be promoted to the higher planetary system. And if he has not done anything nice then he will remain here or he will be degraded to the lower planetary system.
Prof. Hopkins: That is… How does that relate to the question of studying the Srimad-Bhagavatam?
Prabhupada: Srimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita, if one realizes properly then he gets promotion back to home, back to Godhead. He is no more a person to live in this material world. Material world means ups and down, ups and down. And spiritual world means steady life of knowledge and bliss.
Prof. Hopkins: But if one were to study, read Srimad-Bhagavatam who was not ready for this, not prepared for it, this might throw them into confusion then, or this would be…
Prof. Hopkins: Would it be bad for them or would they simply not learn from it.
Prabhupada: No, as I told you the… Our only business is to know the Absolute Truth. If you do not try for this then you remain animals. Animal cannot know the Absolute Truth. So to remain animal means varieties of life. Sometimes cat, sometimes dog, sometimes demigod, sometimes this, sometimes that, sometimes American, sometimes something else. This will go on. Bhutva bhutva praliyate. In this life we are living, we are making the next body. So if we work nicely then next body may be the higher planetary system or above this material world, in the spiritual world.
Prof. Hopkins: And the way to progress then is to take, to study, to learn these things in order, in the proper order.
Prof. Hopkins: I remember when I first, when I first met Brahmananda in New York. I came there initially in part to, because I had been studying Bhagavatam and I wanted to talk to people in the temple about Srimad-Bhagavatam. And they said, “What is this?” (laughs) “We’ve heard Swamiji speak of this but we don’t know it.” A few years later you were all sitting around reciting verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam. Was this… You did not begin to teach Srimad-Bhagavatam when you first came to the U.S.
Prabhupada: No, I taught Bhagavad-gita first of all, then Bhagavata.
Prof. Hopkins: So you prepared, you prepared them with…
Prabhupada: Oh yes.
Prof. Hopkins: Bhagavad-gita and then Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Prabhupada: You have seen yesterday’s procession?
Prof. Hopkins: I didn’t get to the one yesterday, no.
Prabhupada: So, unless we have prepared groundwork, it is not possible.
Prof. Hopkins: A related question, which is a practical question also. I am collecting material for a kind of sourcebook, readings in Hinduism, contemporary as well as classical, and would like to include in these readings some of the things that you have written. Of the things that you have written what do you consider most important?
Prabhupada: Prema pumartho mahan: The most important thing is how to love God.
Prof. Hopkins: And where of the things that you have written would that come?
Prof. Hopkins: Where in the… In the things that you’ve written, where would that message come through most clearly?
Prabhupada: In Vedanta philosophy, the most important philosophy.
Brahmananda: He’s asking which one of your books?
Prabhupada: Bhagavata, Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Brahmananda: Which of your books do you consider to be the most important?
Prabhupada: Well, beginning from the First Canto.
Prabhupada: Yes. Janmady asya yatah [Bhag. 1.1.1]. It is step by step. First of all Bhagavad-gita study nicely so we can get the idea of Absolute Truth, and then by studying Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, you understand more and more, more and more, more and more.
Prof. Hopkins: But is there, is there any one, one of the translations or one of the purports or of a series of purports of the things that you’ve published that you think is more clear, more…
Prabhupada: Every sloka we are describing word to word. So every sloka you will find new idea, new idea. There are 18,000 verses.
Prof. Hopkins: (laughs) I would react the same way if anyone asked me a question like that. But you’ve… In the beginning of the Srimad-Bhagavatam you did discuss the general story(?).
Prabhupada: Oh yes, you have not seen it?
Prof. Hopkins: Yes, I’ve seen it. I’m just wondering what your judgment is on what… If you had to say to someone who was going to collect one small section of your work, what would you want them to collect?
Prabhupada: That is stated in few verses, you find out this. Dharmasya hy apavargyasya.
Brahmananda: In the First Canto?
Prabhupada: Yes. Dharmasya hy apavargyasya nartho ’rthayopakalpate. The first thing is that people become religious. Just like in your Christian religion they go to the church to get some material profit. “Oh God, give us our daily bread.” This is material profit. Similarly, Hindus or Muslims, they become religious, dharma artha kama moksa, the material activities. Those who are actually advanced… Those who are not even human beings, their philosophy is different. Those who are human beings, their dharma, religion. Then artha, economic development, and then kama, sense gratification, and then moksa, liberation. These four things are taken as general activities. So Bhagavata says your dharma… Religious principle means the ultimate goal is how to become liberated, not artha. Artha means economic development. So then question may be if you do not, if we are not economically developed then how we shall live? The Bhagavata says that you can make economic development as far as it maintains your body and soul together. Not that making whole life economic development and real purpose of life forget. This is foolishness. So dharma, artha. Dharma means, religious advancement means how to get out of this material condition. Not that I go to temple and chant, “God, give me millions of dollars, and this, and that.” This is not possible. It is good that one has gone to God to ask some help, that much credit is there. You have found out the verse?
Prabhupada: Dharmasya hy apavargyasya. Read it.
dharmasya hy apavargyasya nartho ’rthayopakalpate narthasya dharmaikantasya kamo labhaya hi smrtah
“All occupational engagements are certainly meant for ultimate liberation. They should never be performed for material gain. Furthermore, one who is engaged in the ultimate occupational service should never use material gain to cultivate sense gratification.”
Brahmananda: We have already discussed that pure devotional service to the Lord is automatically followed by perfect knowledge and detachment from material existence. But there are others who consider that all kinds of different occupational engagements, including those of religion, are meant for material gain. The general tendency of any ordinary man in any part of the world is to gain some material profit in exchange for religious or any other occupational service. Even in the Vedic literatures, for all sorts of religious performances an allurement of material gain is offered, and most people are attracted by such allurements or blessings of religiosity. Why are such so-called men of religion allured by material gain? Because material gain can enable one to fulfill desires, which in turn satisfy sense gratification. This cycle of occupational engagements includes so-called religiosity followed by material gain and material gain followed by fulfillment of desires. Sense gratification is the general way for all sorts of fully occupied men. But in the statement of Suta Gosvami, as per the verdict of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, this is nullified by the present sloka.
One should not engage himself in any sort of occupational service for material gain only. Nor should material gain be utilized for sense gratification. How material gain should be utilized is described as follows.
Prabhupada: People are after material gain. They have no spiritual information even, what is spirit, what is the need of spiritual realization, they do not know. Therefore they have been described as mudhas: fools and rascals. Those who are after material way of…
Prof. Hopkins: Do you… Do you think then that that, that message is the most important message that you have to convey?
Prabhupada: This is the most important message. Because you are not this material body. Suppose you have got this shirt. If you simply try to maintain this shirt, is that very good intelligence, without taking care of your person? Similarly, if we are spirit soul and the body is just like dress, so the whole material world is, everyone is engaged to take care of the body. Nobody knows what is spirit soul, what is this need. Nobody knows. All these educational institutions, they are blind. Andha yathandhair upaniyamanas. And the whole system is also blind. If a blind man leads another blind man what is the benefit? No benefit. Therefore in your country, every country, it is a blind education. No spiritual enlightenment.
Prof. Hopkins: What is the solution? What is the solution? Devotion to God…
Prabhupada: First of all you know what is spirit. Then as soon as you know that you are spirit then wherefrom the spirit comes, or wherefrom everything comes? Then it comes to the question of God. And then we understand what is our relationship with God. And then if we act according to that, then it is perfect life.
Prof. Hopkins: So that you would… You would see the Gita then as a guide to understanding.
Prof. Hopkins: It starts in Chapter Two with the question of what is atma?
Prabhupada: In Chapter Two it is said… Arjuna was lamenting that “I shall fight and the other party they are my brother, so I will be sinful. So many problems will come.” He was thinking like that. So Krsna first gave him lesson that “Why you are thinking on the bodily concept of life? You are not body. You are spirit soul.” Then He gave spiritual education.
Prof. Hopkins: So you must start with what the Gita calls sankhya-yoga then, but go on, and go on to bhakti-yoga.
Prabhupada: Bhakti-yoga is said last. Sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]. People are not prepared to take the sublime lesson immediately. Then he has to go step by step. So that is the system of Bhagavad-gita.
Prof. Hopkins: Are there other ways besides Krsna consciousness to reach that same goal?
Prof. Hopkins: Or is that the only goal?
Prabhupada: That is only. That is stated in Bhagavad-gita. Bhaktya mam abhi… If you want to know God and your relationship with God then only through bhakti, no other. That is stated in the… Bhaktya mam abhijanati yavan yas casmi tattvatah [Bg. 18.55]. Otherwise you will never be able to understand.
Prof. Hopkins: If the highest reality is Purusottama and Purusottama is manifested in many different ways in the world, can people come to Purusottama through various paths?
Prabhupada: Various path means bhakti is the only path. Now all other paths they must come to bhakti. Without bhakti there is no possibility.
Prof. Hopkins: But must bhakti be directed to Krsna only or…
Prabhupada: Because Krsna is Bhagavan. Bhakti means our transaction with Bhagavan. Krsnas tu bhagavan svayam. So original Bhagavan is Krsna.
Prof. Hopkins: What about those who would worship Rama, say?
Prabhupada: Rama is Krsna.
Prof. Hopkins: Rama is Krsna.
Prabhupada: Yes. Another form of Krsna. Ramadi murtisu kala-niyamena tisthan [Bs. 5.39].
Prof. Hopkins: What about those who would worship Siva?
Prabhupada: Siva is just like milk and yogurt. The yogurt is milk but it is not milk.
Prof. Hopkins: In another form then. So, ah…
Prabhupada: You will not derive the benefit of milk from yogurt.
Prof. Hopkins: But do you get benefits?
Prabhupada: Benefit there must.
Prof. Hopkins: Benefits there are but not the same.
Prabhupada: Yes. Lord Siva means you get material opulence but not salvation.
Prof. Hopkins: So you would see Siva as more related to material.
Prof. Hopkins: There is a passage in Srimad-Bhagavatam, I forget where, where Visnu is asked “Why is it that the followers of the ascetic Siva are all wealthy and prosperous people and the followers of You who are the Lord of the universe are all poor?” Is that the way you would see it then, that those that follow Siva are after more material gain?
Prabhupada: More material gain means you become more implicated.
Prof. Hopkins: More what?
Prabhupada: Implicated. Our problem is birth and death, old age and disease. [break] …this birth, death, old age and disease. For them, liberation, the ultimate liberation is to transfer oneself to the spiritual world.
Prof. Hopkins: So you see… You see a clear difference there between those who follow the Vaisnava tradition, which is less worldly, more spiritual…
Prabhupada: That is the ultimate goal of life. That is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam: na te viduh svartha gatim hi visnum [SB 7.5.31]. People do not know what is his self-interest. The self- interest is to approach Visnu.
Prof. Hopkins: What about Christian, Christian.
Prabhupada: Krsna is Visnu.
Prof. Hopkins: What about Christians?
Prabhupada: Christian also, that is nice, giving instruction to go back to God. It is not? What is the ultimate goal of Christianity? What do they desire?
Prof. Hopkins: Hard to answer. There’s no clear single goal. (laughter)
Prabhupada: What is the goal, single or plural, doesn’t matter.
Prof. Hopkins: Well, some Christians would say the vision of God, the ultimate goal is to be with God.
Prabhupada: That is really, to realize God. Not only Christian, any religion. That is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje [SB 1.2.6]. There may be different types of religious systems but that system is first class which directly leads one to understand what is God and how to love Him. That’s all. That is perfect religion.
Prof. Hopkins: So the question… The question in one sense is not whether it’s Christian or Saivite or Vaisnavite but whether it is directed to a knowledge of God, a devotion to God or not.
Prabhupada: That is first-class.
Prof. Hopkins: But you would feel that there, what, it is easier to reach that goal by worshiping Krsna?
Prabhupada: Yes. Krsna is the ultimate goal.
Prof. Hopkins: But is it easier or better to be a devotee of Krsna…
Prof. Hopkins: A Krsna bhakta than to be a Christian, say?
Prabhupada: Yes. Anything genuine is easy. Anything hodgepodge, that is not good. We don’t recommend hodgepodge.
Prof. Hopkins: So the advantage then, or the greater value is that it is focused and clear rather than a hodgepodge where the goal and the activities are not clear.
Prabhupada: The hodgepodge has killed the whole world, that so many pseudo-religious systems. People are misled.
Prof. Hopkins: So the truth may be there somewhere…
Prabhupada: Truth is everywhere.
Prof. Hopkins: But you can’t find it.
Prabhupada: Just like there is butter in the milk but the milk is not butter. You churn it and then the butter will be there. Similarly, in every religious system… Every milk there is butter, but churning the milk and giving direct delivery of butter, that is the Srimad Bhagavad-gita and Bhagavata.
Prof. Hopkins: And it’s more… It’s more clear there, you would say, than it is in any other tradition.
Prabhupada: Yes. Now God… Ask any religious system “What is God?” he cannot… What is God? They cannot explain. And we are saying, “Here is God, Krsna.” So which is better? If you search after gold and you do not know what is gold… Eh? And if you… If some authorized friend gives, “Here is gold. You take it.” That is easier.
Prof. Hopkins: So the strength and the value is in knowing…
Prabhupada: Oh yes.
Prof. Hopkins: Knowing what gold is.
Prabhupada: That is the only business of human being, to know the Absolute Truth, God. That is the only business. Otherwise what is the difference between cats and dogs and human being? They do not care to know what is God. So if human being also in the same status, doesn’t care to know what is God, then what is the difference between dogs and human being?
Prof. Hopkins: People, various people read your writings, your commentaries, and they, they react to them sometimes with reservation because they see your writings as dogmatic.
Prof. Hopkins: They see your writings… Some people see your writings as dogmatic.
Prabhupada: Or “He is dogmatic.” (laughter)
Prof. Hopkins: They say, “He is dogmatic,” okay. Do you feel that you are dogmatic or…
Prabhupada: No. You find out any passage in my book dogmatic, then you say dogmatic. Any page you open, where is dogmatic?
Prof. Hopkins: Well, dogmatic, to call someone else dogmatic means to start with that you don’t agree with what they are saying. If I agree with you and you…
Prabhupada: No, you have to agree. You open any passage of my book.
Prof. Hopkins: Well, some people would say to insist that Krsna is the only way, that Krsna consciousness is the only way…
Prabhupada: No, no. The only thing that God is one, that you have to accept. God cannot be many. If God has got competitor, then he is not God.
Prof. Hopkins: Okay.
Prabhupada: So if we don’t admit Krsna is the only God then you present who is only God. You say me. Either you have to learn from me or I have to learn from you.
Prof. Hopkins: So to insist…
Prabhupada: If you do not know what is God you cannot say, “Krsna is not God.” As soon as you say, “Krsna is not God,” that means you must know what is God. You present. But if you cannot present, you say, “No, I do not know God,” then you cannot say, “Krsna is not God.”
Prof. Hopkins: All right.
Prabhupada: So they are dogmatic. Dogmatically they are saying, “Krsna is not God.” He does not know God and he says, “Krsna is not God.” So what is this nonsense? You do not know God. How you can say Krsna is not God?
Prof. Hopkins: I agree with you, I just… I want to get… (laughter) If we’re dogmatic, we’re on the same side.
Prabhupada: We are not dogmatic. Those people who are talking us as dogmatic, he is dogmatic. He does not know God, and when God is presented before him, he says, “No, He is not God.” That is dogmatic.
Prof. Hopkins: Would you… Do you feel that those who’ve had genuine religious, spiritual understanding would not have that kind of argument?
Prabhupada: Yes. One… We say… I do not say, in the Bhagavad-gita it is said that… Find out this verse,
na mam duskrtino mudhah prapadyante naradhamah mayayapahrta-jnana asuram bhavam asritah [Bg. 7.15]
Find out. Seventh chapter.
na mam duskrtino mudhah prapadyante naradhamah mayayapahrta-jnana asuram bhavam asritah [Bg. 7.15]
“Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons, do not surrender unto Me.”
Prabhupada: As soon as one denies Krsna is not God, then he comes within those categories: miscreant, rascal, lowest of the mankind, his knowledge is taken away by maya, and he’s a demon.
Prof. Hopkins: (laughs) That’s a strong statement.
Prabhupada: Krsna is God. If he does not know, then he must be amongst these groups.
Prof. Hopkins: What if someone says, “Siva is God?”
Prabhupada: He may say, but sastra doesn’t say.
Prof. Hopkins: So you…
Prabhupada: Just like in the Bhagavad-gita you’ll find, mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya [Bg. 7.7], “Nobody or no principle is greater than Me.” Then who can be God? God is great. Here the great says, “There is no more greater principle than Me.” Then who can be God? People generally know God is great. Krsna says, mattah parataram nanyat [Bg. 7.7] Not only He says but it is confirmed by great authorities like Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Visnu Swami, all the big, big acaryas, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Vyasadeva, authorities. Krsnas tu bhagavan svayam. So how you can deny?
Prof. Hopkins: You refer to Ramanujacarya as an important person. Where does he… Where does he fit into your, the Caitanya tradition? He’s accepted as an authority. His, the Sri Bhasya is studied, accepted…
Prabhupada: Ramanujacarya has written comment on Bhagavad-gita. You know that?
Prof. Hopkins: No.
Prof. Hopkins: No.
Prabhupada: In the Bhagavad-gita Caitanya philosophy is discussed.
Prof. Hopkins: So you would see no basic difference between Ramanuja’s position and…
Prabhupada: They cannot be different because both of them are Vaisnava. So this is the common point, that Caitanya Mahaprabhu is preaching Krsna as the Supreme Lord. Ramanujacarya was preaching Krsna as the Supreme Lord. So where is difference?
Prof. Hopkins: Well, I don’t see a difference, but…
Prabhupada: People know it. Things equal to the same thing are equal to one another.
Prof. Hopkins: What about certain other traditions; Ishnamadeva(?), Tukarama, some of the poet saints of Maharastra. Where…
Prabhupada: Yes, Tukarama accepted Visnu as the Supreme. He accepted the process of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He accepted Caitanya Mahaprabhu as his guru so there is no difference between Tukarama and Caitanya.
Prof. Hopkins: So Tukarama, you would say, is teaching the same thing as Caitanya?
Prabhupada: Yes, sankirtana. And Krsna is teaching the same thing. Satatam kirtayanto mam yatantas ca drdha-vratah [Bg. 9.14]. Find out.
Prof. Hopkins: So by saying that the Gaudiya Vaisnavism is, and Caitanya, are the central way of… You are not excluding…
Prof. Hopkins: You would not…
Prof. Hopkins: You are not excluding the Pandarpur tradition of Tukarama, Ramanitoba, (indistinct), you are not excluding the Alavars and Ramancha, but you are saying all of these groups, all of these teachers.
Prabhupada: Tukarama accepts Caitanya Mahaprabhu as his guru. Then where is the difference?
Prof. Hopkins: So that Lord Vitoba and Krsna…
Prabhupada: Is the same.
Prof. Hopkins: You see as the same.
Prabhupada: Vitoba means Visnu. They call Vitoba.
Prof. Hopkins: And the Alavars, the Alavars of Tamil Nadu.
Prof. Hopkins: Alavar.
Prabhupada: Yes. That is also Vaisnava.
Prof. Hopkins: You would accept their teachings also?
Prabhupada: Oh yes.
Prof. Hopkins: So the real question then is Vaisnavas and others.
Prof. Hopkins: The central teaching…
Prabhupada: Vaisnava and non-Vaisnava.
Prof. Hopkins: Vaisnava and non-Vaisnava. So it’s not a question of sectarian differences within Vaisnavism. [break] And you would see the worshipers of Siva as impersonalists?
Prof. Hopkins: You would see… All of them.
Prabhupada: The Saivites, the Sankaracarya.
Prof. Hopkins: Sankaracarya, I know he is.
Prabhupada: Yes. Sankaracarya’s theory is the ultimate, the Absolute Truth is impersonal. And one can imagine a personal form for the benefit of the worshiper.
Prof. Hopkins: But there are some worshipers of Siva who would be personalists.
Prof. Hopkins: You would deny that.
Prabhupada: They are all impersonalists. They are pancopasana. Pancopasana means the ultimate, Absolute Truth is impersonal and Sankaracarya recommended that you cannot worship the impersonal, so you conceive a personal form. So that he recommended five: the sun-god, Lord Siva, Durga, and Ganesa, and? What else? And Visnu.
Prof. Hopkins: Visnu. Panca (indistinct)
Prabhupada: But after you are per…, become, you are perfect, then you merge into the impersonal. That is Sankara.
Prof. Hopkins: You would see all worshipers of Siva as following basically that idea.
Prabhupada: No, there are devotees. Just like we, we offer all respect to Lord Siva. We consider Siva as the best of the Vaisnavas. Vaisnavanam yatha sambhu. And we have got sampradaya from Siva. He is considered one of the authority of Vaisnavism.
Prof. Hopkins: So you would, you would include…
Prabhupada: Our conception of Siva is different.
Prof. Hopkins: Where would Basavana fit in?
Prof. Hopkins: Where would you place Basavana in relation with…
Prof. Hopkins: Basavana.
Prof. Hopkins: Lingayat. Lingayat teacher. The Saivite, Saivite…
Prabhupada: He is impersonalist.
Prof. Hopkins: You would say impersonalist.
Prabhupada: Oh yes. They say Sivaham, “I am Siva.” They are impersonalist. If you are Siva then why you worshiping Siva? That is impersonalist.
Prof. Hopkins: So any position which would deny the difference between the devotee and God, you would see…
Prabhupada: He is impersonalist.
Prof. Hopkins: Is impersonalist.
Prabhupada: The impersonalist theory is that I am now devotee. As soon as I become perfect I become one.”
Prof. Hopkins: Oh.
Prabhupada: That is their theory. Then there is no more difference. In the preliminary stage, when I am not perfect, I am worshiping some imaginary form of God. But when I become perfect there is no need of worshiping, I become one with God. This is impersonal. Now, actually, the Supreme has no form so they recommend whichever form you like to worship you can select out of these five. But their destination is the same. So somebody likes “I worship Siva,” somebody says “I worship Ganesa,” somebody says, “I worship Durga,” and Surya, or somebody says, “I worship Visnu.” So this Vaisnava is impersonalist. You’ll find amongst smarta brahmanas there are also some of them Vaisnavas, but they are impersonalists.
Prof. Hopkins: So you would… You would say that those, those smartas say, and I know smarta brahmanas who are worshipers of Visnu. You would say they still are impersonalists in some ultimate sense because at some point they would deny…
Prabhupada: No, it is very difficult to pick them out. Most of the so- called Vaisnavas, they are impersonalists.
Prof. Hopkins: Some, I suspect, are more Vaisnavas than they are smartas.
Prabhupada: So, satatam kirtayanto mam?
satatam kirtayanto mam yatantas ca drdha-vratah namasyantas ca mam bhaktya nitya-yukta upasate [Bg. 9.14]
“Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.”
Prabhupada: Perpetually. It is not that I am worshiping now and when I am perfect I become one. That is impersonal.
Prof. Hopkins: But someone who sees devotion as the not just a stage…
Prabhupada: They say everything one; no devotee, no devotion, and no person. Everything becomes one.
Prof. Hopkins: So that would then be the deciding test, as it were, of whether one were a serious devotee or not.
Prabhupada: Devotee means serious devotee.
Prof. Hopkins: Not only that one is devoted now, but that one sees the goal as perpetual devotion.
Prabhupada: Yes. Nitya-yukta.
Prof. Hopkins: And which never is there…
Prabhupada: The word is used, nitya-yukta. Nitya-yukta means perpetually. If a devotee is to merge into the existence of the Lord then why this word is used, nitya-yukta. Upasana. Not only nitya-yukta, upasana. Upasana means “you worship Me.” As soon as the word is “he worships” that means the worshipable and the mode of worship and the worshiper must be there. That is indicated, nitya-yukta, perpetual. But the Mayavadis or these impersonalists, they think that it is temporary. I am devotee temporarily. As soon as I become perfect I become one.
Prof. Hopkins: So that you would see then, in terms of, in terms of some kind of theological structure, you would see that Purusottama as always…
Prabhupada: Uttama, uttama means the best.
Prof. Hopkins: Always superior.
Prof. Hopkins: And always…
Prabhupada: That is the word, purusottama. Purusottama means supreme or superior. So there must be inferior, otherwise, how he is superior? Is it not?
Prof. Hopkins: Hm.
Prabhupada: As soon as he is the superior, professor, or the, what is called? Junior or senior. As soon as called senior, there must be junior. Without junior there is no question of senior.
Prof. Hopkins: So that the Purusottama always stands beyond, always, is other, in addition to be in also everything that there is.
Prabhupada: Unless He is eternally there, then how the devotee will eternally, nitya-yukta upasana, whom to worship? Nitya-yukta upasana. Unless Purusottama is everlasting Purusottama then where is the question of worship everlasting? So the Mayavadis, they do not understand.
Prof. Hopkins: Well, would you… Do you equate then the impersonalists and the Mayavadis? Are they the same?
Prabhupada: Almost the same.
Prof. Hopkins: At some point I guess they would have to be almost.
Prof. Hopkins: At some point I suppose they would almost have to be because to be an impersonalist you would have to deny the ultimate reality of phenomenon, which would make you a Mayavadi.
Prabhupada: They accept this form of God as maya. Therefore we call them Mayavadi.
Prof. Hopkins: Any form of God, including the Purusa. So that your, your central existence, or certainly one of your central existences would be that the ultimate reality is personal, that it is known as Visnu, possessing all qualities.
Prabhupada: Yes. That is stated in the Bhagavatam:
vadanti tat tattva vidas tattvam yaj jnanam advayam brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate [Bhag. 1.2.11]
Human life is meant for understanding the tattva. Then the question will be what is that tattva or ultimate truth? And that is described. Tattva is realized in three phases: Brahman, impersonal Brahman; Paramatma, localized Paramatma; and Bhagavan.
Prof. Hopkins: So it’s the mistake… The mistake of the impersonalist then is to identify the complete reality with Brahman, which is only one aspect of the complete reality.
Prabhupada: Just like finger. Finger is one of the item of the whole body. You can’t say, “Yes, the finger is my body,” because the finger is not the whole body. Similarly, everything is part and parcel of the whole but that does not mean that everything is whole.
Prof. Hopkins: And these realities are in a hierarchy in the sense that Brahman, Paramatman…
Prabhupada: Brahman is everything. Brahman is also maya Brahman, (indistinct) is Brahman. Sabda idam khalv brahman. Because it is the manifestation of Brahman. Brahman’s energy. Just like here in this room. Daytime there is sun, but sun is ninety three miles away; ninety three millions miles. But where there is sunshine we can say, “Here is sun.”
Prof. Hopkins: So that the problem is not the identification of everything with Brahman, which is correct, but the failure to realize that there is the Paramatma or the Purusottama.
Prabhupada: Supreme Person.
Prof. Hopkins: Which is beyond this and includes…
Prabhupada: Just like I have got so many branches, hundred branches. So everyone knows that I am something, but that does not mean I am present everywhere. My student(?) has got this tape…, hundreds of thousands of tape recorders to record my speech and then you speak the same thing that I am speaking, but I am not there. And that is explained in the Bhagavad-gita.
maya tatam idam sarvam jagad avyakta-murtina mat sthani sarva bhutani na caham tesv avasthitah
Hm? Find out. Everything is God but God is not everything. He is simultaneously one and different. We therefore say that everything is God but not that everything is…, not that God is everywhere. But because everything is God, everything, with everything you can realize God.
Prof. Hopkins: So that the…
maya tatam idam sarvam jagad avyakta-murtina mat sthani sarva bhutani na caham tesv avasthitah
“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All things are in Me but I am not in them.”
Prof. Hopkins: So the failure is a failure to go beyond.
Prof. Hopkins: The failure is a failure to go beyond, to realize beyond that level of identity, that there is a Lord, who is…
Prabhupada: Mayavadi philosophy is defective. They say if everything is God then where is the Lord’s separate existence. That is their defect. That is materialist theory. If you take a big paper and make it into small pieces and throw it away, then the big paper is lost. (laughs) The Mayavadi thinks like that, that if everything is Brahman, Brahman is distributed, then where is…, why you call the Supreme Lord? They think that Brahman being distributed, He is finished. This is Mayavadi. He does not know the potency of God. And that is stated in Upanisad. Isavasyam idam sarvam.
purnam idam purnam adah purnat purnam udacyate purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate [Isopanisad, Invocation]
In the material sense one minus one is equal to zero. In the spiritual world purnasya purnam adaya. The one is purna and if you take the whole one it is still one. That they cannot understand, the poor brain. They think materially. If the one is complete and if one is taken away then it becomes zero. What kind of God is only zero? But Upanisad says purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate. If from the complete you take the complete, it still it is complete. That they cannot understand. That is God. We say why complete is complete always? Why complete may be zero? No.
Prof. Hopkins: So God can create everything out of Himself.
Prof. Hopkins: And still be complete as He was before.
Prabhupada: We can see one material example, that the sun, for millions and trillions of years it is distributing sunshine, heat, but still it is full. If it is possible materially, what about the Supreme Lord? Five thousand years or five millions of years the degree of temperature in the sunshine was the same as it is now. If it is materially so possible how much it is possible spiritually?
Prof. Hopkins: Is that… It’s difficult for people outside the Krsna consciousness group to see what the purpose of the movement is.
Prof. Hopkins: It’s difficult for people outside the society of Krsna consciousness to see what the purpose is. How would you understand the purpose? Simply to make God known? How would you state…
Prabhupada: Our purpose is how to become happy. Everyone is struggling how to become happy. Somebody is thinking that “If I can get money then I’ll be happy.” Somebody is thinking that “If we become one with the Supreme, then I’ll be happy.” And somebody thinks that “If I can get material power, then I’ll be happy.” So those who are thinking in terms of money, they are karmis. And those who are thinking in terms of becoming one, they are jnanis. And those who are thinking in terms of getting material power, they are yogis. But the bhaktas, they don’t want any such perfection. They, bhaktis, “Let me worship the Supreme, that’s all.” Therefore he has already (indistinct) and they are all in want. Bhakta is satisfied simply by worshiping the Lord. Svamin krtartho ’smi. And all others, karmis, jnanis, yogis, they want something so they cannot be happy. So if happiness is my aim, then I must become a bhakta, otherwise there is no happiness. You are always in want. Somebody is in want of money, somebody is in want to becoming one with the Supreme, and somebody wants to show some jugglery, mysticism. So they want something. And a devotee, he doesn’t want all these things. He wants to serve Krsna, that’s all. No demand. And he serves Krsna without any motive. Ahaituky apratihata. That is bhakta.
Prof. Hopkins: So what you are doing is simply showing people how to be happy.
Prof. Hopkins: I like that.
Prabhupada: Thank you. That is the real want, how to become happy.
Prof. Hopkins: It’s remarkable how complicated simple things get.
Prabhupada: The example is also very simple. Just like a child is crying and somebody is offering some milk, somebody is offering something but he is still crying. Could not find any cause. Then when the child goes to the mother’s lap, immediately (claps)—stops. He understands immediately, “Now I am on the lap of my mother, then everything is all right.” Yam labdhva caparam labham manyate nadhikam tatah. Everyone is hankering after making some profit, this way, that way, this way, that way. But when one becomes, gets that supreme thing then he thinks, “Oh, I don’t want anything.” That is happiness. Unhappiness due to want. So the karmis, jnanis, yogis, they are all in want. They want something. Bhaktas are also sometimes in want. They want Krsna. And in absence of Krsna they are very unhappy, but that unhappiness is greater than happiness.
Prof. Hopkins: The gopis in Vrndavana.
Prabhupada: Yes. That is greater than happiness. And the Mayavadi, karmi, jnani, they cannot understand. They will say, “Your gopis are also crying for Krsna, for want of Krsna.” But they do not know that this want is different.
Prof. Hopkins: So you have been extremely generous with your time and your wisdom.
Prabhupada: I enjoy(?) that. And that is what the whole human society (indistinct).
Prof. Hopkins: Well I… I have been a friend for many years now. I suspect… I suspect sometimes that I may end up as a sannyasi among your line at some point. (laughs)
Prabhupada: Sannyasa does not mean change of dress. Sannyasa means everything for Krsna. That is sannyasa.
Prof. Hopkins: What is your view of Sri Aurobindo? (loud laughter) Or should I have left well enough alone? He is not an impersonalist, he’s not a Mayavadi.
Prabhupada: He says that above the Mayavada philosophy there is something else, super. That is bhakti. (indistinct) …bhakti, but he could not understand because he did not take any education from realized person. He wanted to realize himself. That is his defect.
Prof. Hopkins: So one who… You would see his effort to transcend, I suppose you would call it…
Prabhupada: That effort was for life after life. Then when his effort will be successful he will realize Krsna. Vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah. Bahunam janmanam ante [Bg. 7.19]
Prof. Hopkins: So his problem was the effort to attempt to do this on his own without going through…
Prabhupada: The guru.
Prof. Hopkins: The guru.
Prabhupada: Therefore it will take time. Just like a man searching after the right path but he does not care to ask anybody, he is loitering in the forest.
Prof. Hopkins: You… I’m sure you’re familiar with his essays on the Gita.
Prof. Hopkins: Which I think are generally quite good, his essays on the Gita themselves. Are there places there that you would strongly disagree with in his, what he says?
Prabhupada: No, we disagree with the whole system because he is trying to understand the Absolute Truth by his own effort. That is not possible.
Prof. Hopkins: So you would say then that no matter… He may have the right idea, but he has not, he has not…
Prabhupada: He may be a great thoughtful man but (indistinct) …a realized man.
Prof. Hopkins: Not realized. I’m sorry I raised the question right at the last minute but it occurred to me and I was interested in your answer. So, thank you very much.
Prabhupada: You have given him prasada?
Prabhupada: You are staying here?
Prof. Hopkins: No, I’m going back to Lancaster this evening. I have tomorrow… Tomorrow morning we are getting a group of students together to go to India.
Prof. Hopkins: I am not going but we’re sending seventeen students to India, leaving tomorrow evening.
Brahmananda: You can stay at our guest house in Vrndavana.
Prof. Hopkins: Ah, could I pass on the people an invitation from you that that would be possible?
Brahmananda: Yes. Definitely we can arrange it.
Prof. Hopkins: Because I know there are students in the group who would like to visit Vrndavana. And you, I think, talked to some this spring and you were there. I know that the senior student with the group is very interested in going to Vrndavana.
Devotee: We have nice facility there. (indistinct)
Prof. Hopkins: That’s true. They’re going to be in Delhi for a week or so. It would be great if they could get out to Vrndavana just for a day. They can come back later when they have more time. So… Would they have to make preliminary arrangements or could they…? Is there some way they could make arrangements from Delhi to do that?
Brahmananda: Afterwards we can discuss it.
Prof. Hopkins: Okay. So.
Prabhupada: Thank you very much.
Prof. Hopkins: Hare Krsna. (end)