conversation with His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the spiritual master of the Hare Krsna movement
Yogesvara: They do not, they do not accept that the soul exists below the human level.
Prabhupada: And that is their foolishness. That is their foolishness. Why does not exist? What is the proof of existence of the soul in the body? What is the proof? First of all, you have to understand that. Suppose I am a human being, so...
Yogesvara: (to driver) You know where to go?
Prabhupada: I am a human being. You accept that I have got soul. By what symptoms you accept that I have got soul? First of all you have to ascertain that. What is the symptom that we agree that I am human being. I have got, I am a soul. By what characteristic, analytical study, you accept that I have got soul, and the dog has not got soul? What are the different characteristics? First of all, we have to enumerate that thing. If we find in the characteristics, then we can say there is no soul. But if we see that both the animal and the human being have the same characteristics of living condition, then how you can say the animal has not soul?
Yogesvara: His point was that the animals don't show the same symptoms. They don't think as...
Prabhupada: Why not, why not? The general symptom is animal eats, you eat, animal sleeps, you sleep, animal has sex, you have got sex, animal also defends, you also defend. Where is the difference?
Yogesvara: His point was that human beings, they think on higher platforms than animals do.
Prabhupada: What that higher platform? Eating, you require to maintain the body. I eat something, you eat another. That does not mean higher or lower. You eat, I also eat. That's all. You eat according to your taste. I eat according to my taste. So the eating is the real symptom, not the varieties of eating. By varieties of eating, suppose I... A animal, the cow is eating grass, and you are eating the same animal by keeping a huge slaughterhouse with machines and... Does it mean that you have improved your eating process? Simply by having big, big machine and ghastly scenes. And the animal eats simple grass. Does it mean that you are advanced than the animals? There is no logic. Eating is eating. One man's food, another man's poison. That is another thing. But eating is there. Somebody eats poison. Somebody eats ordinary thing. But eating is there. So nobody can avoid eating. That is the main symptom. Even in human society, there are different varieties of food. We Indians, we like a different type of dish. European, Americans, they like a di... But eating is there. Either American, Indian or cats, dogs, eating must be there. That is real symptom. After eating, you must sleep. That is essential. So where is the difference of real character, characteristic between the animals and the human beings?
Yogesvara: Then his point was that we find God's creatures, many of them, not just human beings, but it's a symptom of life everywhere that meat-eating is allowed. There are many creations, he said, many species...
Prabhupada: That's all right. Eating, that is another thing. First of all, if the, point is that you say that the animals have no soul. So what is the special point that you are speaking of the animals having no soul? You eat meat, or I eat rice, that doesn't matter, but eating is there. That is the common thing. You cannot say the animal does not eat or man does not eat. Only animal eats. No. Everyone eats. First of all, you enunciate: how do you say that the human being has got soul and the animal has not soul? What are the special symptoms?
Yogesvara: His, his point was that only in humans do we find a metaphysical search for the meaning of life.
Yogesvara: And that's the only difference.
Prabhupada: The metaphysical search... Now metaphysically search out why do you deny soul in the human being, uh, in the animals? That is metaphysical. It is metaphysical question. What is your metaphysical study about the living, uh, animals that you say there is no soul? Come to the metaphysical then. You are thinking metaphysically. That's all right. But if you are still thinking like animal, then what is the use of your metaphysical studies? If you are thinking like the animals: "Where shall I get my food? Where shall I take shelter? Where shall I have sexual facility? How shall I defend?" If you are thinking like that, this is animal thinking. Metaphysical thinking means beyond this, beyond this thinking of eating, sleeping, mating and defending. That is metaphysical thinking. So what you are thinking beyond that? That is God consciousness. When a human being thinks about God, that is metaphysical. When he thinks like animals about eating, sleeping, mating and defending, that is not metaphysical. Metaphysical. What do you mean by metaphysical? How to define? What is the meaning of "meta"? Above physical. That means spiritual. So if you think spiritually, then you'll see. Just like Bhagavad-gita, Krsna claims: sarva-yonisu kaunteya [Bg. 14.4]. "In all forms of life, the living entities are there, and they are My sons." So this is metaphysical, or if some third-class man says that there is no soul in the animal, that is metaphysical? Which one is metaphysical? Krnna speaking will be metaphysical, or a third-class fool's statement will be taken as metaphysical? Which one is metaphysical? First of all say me.
Yogesvara: Then he made the point that in a place like India it's foolish where so many people are dying of starvation, not to kill the cow on some religious principle.
Prabhupada: That is another story. No Indians are dying, not by eating cow's flesh. That, that is the theory at the present moment given. But there are so many vegetarians in India. They do not touch even fish, or eggs, or animal flesh. They're quite healthy. It does not mean...
Yogesvara: I think his answer would be that vegetarianism is reserved to the rich people who can afford it. That if you're poor, you have to eat whatever you can get.
Prabhupada: Well. Now in India, meat is selling at high price than vegetable. Yes.
Yogesvara: He said now in India meat is selling at a higher price than vegetables.
Prabhupada: That is no logic.
Yogesvara: Not logic.
Prabhupada: Price of meat is higher than milk and vegetables. So in that consideration, why not take vegetable and milk. Why you go to meat?
Conversation after meeting Cardinal Danileau August 9 1973