Why Is Krsna Consciousness the Top Most Perfection of Spiritual Understanding.

Prof. Hopkins: 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?

Prabhupāda: Premā pumārtho mahān: The most important thing is how to love God.

Prof. Hopkins: And where of the things that you have written would that come?

Prabhupāda: Eh?

Prof. Hopkins: Where in the... In the things that you've written, where would that message come through most clearly?

Prabhupāda: In Vedānta philosophy, the most important philosophy.

Brahmānanda: He's asking which one of your books?

Prabhupāda: Bhāgavata, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

Brahmānanda: Which of your books do you consider to be the most important?

Prabhupāda: Well, beginning from the First Canto.

Brahmānanda: Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Janmādy asya yataḥ [SB 1.1.1]. It is step by step. First of all Bhagavad-gītā study nicely so we can get the idea of Absolute Truth, and then by studying Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, 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...

Prabhupāda: Every śloka we are describing word to word. So every śloka 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 Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam you did discuss the general story(?).

Prabhupāda: 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?

Prabhupāda: That is stated in few verses, you find out this. Dharmasya hy āpavargyasya [SB 1.2.9].

Brahmānanda: In the First Canto?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Dharmasya hy āpavargyasya nārtho 'rthāyopakalpate. 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 kāma mokṣa [SB 4.8.41, Cc. Ādi 1.90], 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 kāma, sense gratification, and then mokṣa, liberation. These four things are taken as general activities. So Bhāgavata 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 Bhāgavata 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?

Brahmānanda: Yes.

Prabhupāda: Dharmasya hy āpavargyasya. Read it.


dharmasya hy āpavargyasya

nārtho 'rthāyopakalpate

nārthasya dharmaikāntasya

kāmo lābhāya hi smṛtaḥ

 [SB 1.2.9]


"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."

Prabhupāda: Purport.

Brahmānanda: 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 Sūta Gosvāmī, as per the verdict of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, this is nullified by the present śloka.

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.

Prabhupāda: 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 mūḍhas: 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?

Prabhupāda: 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. Andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānās [SB 7.5.31]. 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...

Prabhupāda: 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 Gītā then as a guide to understanding.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Prof. Hopkins: It starts in Chapter Two with the question of what is ātmā?

Prabhupāda: 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 Kṛṣṇa 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 Gītā calls sāṅkhya-yoga then, but go on, and go on to bhakti-yoga.

Prabhupāda: Bhakti-yoga is said last. Sarva dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ 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-gītā.

Prof. Hopkins: Are there other ways besides Kṛṣṇa consciousness to reach that same goal?

Prabhupāda: No.

Prof. Hopkins: Or is that the only goal?

Prabhupāda: That is only. That is stated in Bhagavad-gītā. Bhaktyā mām abhi... If you want to know God and your relationship with God then only through bhakti, no other. That is stated in the... Bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ [Bg. 18.55]. Otherwise you will never be able to understand.

Prof. Hopkins: If the highest reality is Puruṣottama and Puruṣottama is manifested in many different ways in the world, can people come to Puruṣottama through various paths?

Prabhupāda: 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 Kṛṣṇa only or...

Prabhupāda: Because Kṛṣṇa is Bhagavān. Bhakti means our transaction with Bhagavān. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam [SB 1.3.28]. So original Bhagavān is Kṛṣṇa.

Prof. Hopkins: What about those who would worship Rāma, say?

Prabhupāda: Rāma is Kṛṣṇa.

Prof. Hopkins: Rāma is Kṛṣṇa.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Another form of Kṛṣṇa. Rāmādi mūrtiṣu kalā-niyamena tiṣṭhan [Bs. 5.39].

Prof. Hopkins: What about those who would worship Śiva?

Prabhupāda: Śiva is just like milk and yogurt. The yogurt is milk but it is not milk.

Prof. Hopkins: In another form then. So, ah...

Prabhupāda: You will not derive the benefit of milk from yogurt.

Prof. Hopkins: But do you get benefits?

Prabhupāda: Benefit there must.

Prof. Hopkins: Benefits there are but not the same.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Lord Śiva means you get material opulence but not salvation.

Prof. Hopkins: So you would see Śiva as more related to material.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Prof. Hopkins: There is a passage in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, I forget where, where Viṣṇu is asked "Why is it that the followers of the ascetic Śiva 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 Śiva are after more material gain?

Prabhupāda: More material gain means you become more implicated.

Prof. Hopkins: More what?

Prabhupāda: 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 Vaiṣṇava tradition, which is less worldly, more spiritual...

Prabhupāda: That is the ultimate goal of life. That is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam: na te viduḥ svārtha gatiṁ hi viṣṇum [SB 7.5.31]. People do not know what is his self-interest. The self-interest is to approach Viṣṇu.

Prof. Hopkins: What about Christian, Christian.

Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇa is Viṣṇu.

Prof. Hopkins: What about Christians?

Prabhupāda: 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)

Prabhupāda: 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.

Prabhupāda: That is really, to realize God. Not only Christian, any religion. That is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhokṣaje [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 Śaivite or Vaiṣṇavite but whether it is directed to a knowledge of God, a devotion to God or not.

Prabhupāda: That is first-class.

Prof. Hopkins: But you would feel that there, what, it is easier to reach that goal by worshiping Kṛṣṇa?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Kṛṣṇa is the ultimate goal.

Prof. Hopkins: But is it easier or better to be a devotee of Kṛṣṇa...

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Prof. Hopkins: A Kṛṣṇa bhakta than to be a Christian, say?

Prabhupāda: 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.

Prabhupāda: 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...

Prabhupāda: Truth is everywhere.

Prof. Hopkins: But you can't find it.

Prabhupāda: 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 Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā and Bhāgavata.

Prof. Hopkins: And it's more... It's more clear there, you would say, than it is in any other tradition.

Prabhupāda: 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, Kṛṣṇa." 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...

Prabhupāda: Oh yes.

Prof. Hopkins: Knowing what gold is.

Prabhupāda: 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.

Prabhupāda: Hm?

Prof. Hopkins: They see your writings... Some people see your writings as dogmatic.

Prabhupāda: Or "He is dogmatic." (laughter)

Prof. Hopkins: They say, "He is dogmatic," okay. Do you feel that you are dogmatic or...

Prabhupāda: 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...

Prabhupāda: No, you have to agree. You open any passage of my book.

Prof. Hopkins: Well, some people would say to insist that Kṛṣṇa is the only way, that Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the only way...

Prabhupāda: 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.

Prabhupāda: So if we don't admit Kṛṣṇa 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...

Prabhupāda: If you do not know what is God you cannot say, "Kṛṣṇa is not God." As soon as you say, "Kṛṣṇa 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, "Kṛṣṇa is not God."

Prof. Hopkins: All right.

Prabhupāda: So they are dogmatic. Dogmatically they are saying, "Kṛṣṇa is not God." He does not know God and he says, "Kṛṣṇa is not God." So what is this nonsense? You do not know God. How you can say Kṛṣṇa 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.

Prabhupāda: 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?

Prabhupāda: Yes. One... We say... I do not say, in the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that... Find out this verse,

na māṁduṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ

prapadyante narādhamāḥ


āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ

 [Bg. 7.15]

Find out. Seventh chapter.


na māṁduṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ

prapadyante narādhamāḥ


āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ

 [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."

Prabhupāda: As soon as one denies Kṛṣṇa is not God, then he comes within those categories: miscreant, rascal, lowest of the mankind, his knowledge is taken away by māyā, and he's a demon.

Prof. Hopkins: (laughs) That's a strong statement.

Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇa is God. If he does not know, then he must be amongst these groups.

Prof. Hopkins: What if someone says, "Śiva is God?"

Prabhupāda: He may say, but śāstra doesn't say.

Prof. Hopkins: So you...

Prabhupāda: Just like in the Bhagavad-gītā you'll find, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya [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. Kṛṣṇa says, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat [Bg. 7.7]. Not only He says but it is confirmed by great authorities like Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Viṣṇu Svāmī, all the big, big ācāryas, Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Vyāsadeva, authorities. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam [SB 1.3.28]. So how you can deny?

Prof. Hopkins: You refer to Rāmānujācārya as an important person. Where does he... Where does he fit into your, the Caitanya tradition? He's accepted as an authority. His, the Śrī Bhāṣya is studied, accepted...

Prabhupāda: Rāmānujācārya has written comment on Bhagavad-gītā. You know that?

Prof. Hopkins: No.

Prabhupāda: Eh?

Prof. Hopkins: No.

Prabhupāda: In the Bhagavad-gītā Caitanya philosophy is discussed.

Prof. Hopkins: So you would see no basic difference between Rāmānuja's position and...

Prabhupāda: They cannot be different because both of them are Vaiṣṇava. So this is the common point, that Caitanya Mahāprabhu is preaching Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Lord. Rāmānujācārya was preaching Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Lord. So where is difference?

Prof. Hopkins: Well, I don't see a difference, but...

Prabhupāda: People know it. Things equal to the same thing are equal to one another.

Prof. Hopkins: What about certain other traditions; Ishnamadeva(?), Tukārāma, some of the poet saints of Maharastra. Where...

Prabhupāda: Yes, Tukārāma accepted Viṣṇu as the Supreme. He accepted the process of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He accepted Caitanya Mahāprabhu as his guru so there is no difference between Tukārāma and Caitanya.

Prof. Hopkins: So Tukārāma, you would say, is teaching the same thing as Caitanya?

Prabhupāda: Yes, saṅkīrtana. And Kṛṣṇa is teaching the same thing. Satataṁkīrtayanto māṁ yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ [Bg. 9.14]. Find out.

Prof. Hopkins: So by saying that the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism is, and Caitanya, are the central way of... You are not excluding...

Prabhupāda: Eh?

Prof. Hopkins: You would not...

Prabhupāda: No.

Prof. Hopkins: You are not excluding the Pandarpur tradition of Tukārāma, Rāmanitoba, (indistinct), you are not excluding the Alavars and Rāmancha, but you are saying all of these groups, all of these teachers.

Prabhupāda: Tukārāma accepts Caitanya Mahaprabhu as his guru. Then where is the difference?

Prof. Hopkins: So that Lord Vitoba and Kṛṣṇa...

Prabhupāda: Is the same.

Prof. Hopkins: You see as the same.

Prabhupāda: Vitoba means Viṣṇu. They call Vitoba.

Prof. Hopkins: And the Alavars, the Alavars of Tamil Nadu.

Prabhupāda: Alavar.

Prof. Hopkins: Alavar.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is also Vaiṣṇava.

Prof. Hopkins: You would accept their teachings also?

Prabhupāda: Oh yes.

Prof. Hopkins: So the real question then is Vaiṣṇavas and others.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Prof. Hopkins: The central teaching...

Prabhupāda: Vaiṣṇava and non-Vaiṣṇava.

Prof. Hopkins: Vaiṣṇava and non-Vaiṣṇava. So it's not a question of sectarian differences within Vaiṣṇavism. [break] And you would see the worshipers of Śiva as impersonalists?

Prabhupāda: Impersonalists.

Prof. Hopkins: You would see... All of them.

Prabhupāda: The Śaivites, the Śaṅkarācārya.

Prof. Hopkins: Śaṅkarācārya, I know he is.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Śaṅkarācārya'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 Śiva who would be personalists.

Prabhupāda: No.

Prof. Hopkins: You would deny that.

Prabhupāda: They are all impersonalists. They are pañcopāsana. Pañcopāsana means the ultimate, Absolute Truth is impersonal and Śaṅkarācārya recommended that you cannot worship the impersonal, so you conceive a personal form. So that he recommended five: the sun-god, Lord Śiva, Durgā, and Gaṇeśa, and? What else? And Viṣṇu.

Prof. Hopkins: Viṣṇu. Pañca (indistinct)

Prabhupāda: But after you are per..., become, you are perfect, then you merge into the impersonal. That is Śaṅkara.

Prof. Hopkins: You would see all worshipers of Śiva as following basically that idea.

Prabhupāda: No, there are devotees. Just like we, we offer all respect to Lord Śiva. We consider Śiva as the best of the Vaiṣṇavas. Vaiṣṇavānām yathā śambhu. And we have got sampradāya from Śiva. He is considered one of the authority of Vaiṣṇavism.

Prof. Hopkins: So you would, you would include...

Prabhupāda: Our conception of Śiva is different.

Prof. Hopkins: Where would Basavana fit in?

Prabhupāda: Eh?

Prof. Hopkins: Where would you place Basavana in relation with...

Prabhupāda: Who?

Prof. Hopkins: Basavana.

Prabhupāda: Basavana?

Prof. Hopkins: Lingayat. Lingayat teacher. The Śaivite, Śaivite...

Prabhupāda: He is impersonalist.

Prof. Hopkins: You would say impersonalist.

Prabhupāda: Oh yes. They say Śivāham, "I am Śiva." They are impersonalist. If you are Śiva then why you worshiping Śiva? That is impersonalist.

Prof. Hopkins: So any position which would deny the difference between the devotee and God, you would see...

Prabhupāda: He is impersonalist.

Prof. Hopkins: Is impersonalist.

Prabhupāda: The impersonalist theory is that I am now devotee. As soon as I become perfect I become one."

Prof. Hopkins: Oh.

Prabhupāda: 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 Śiva," somebody says "I worship Gaṇeśa," somebody says, "I worship Durgā," and Sūrya, or somebody says, "I worship Viṣṇu." So this Vaiṣṇava is impersonalist. You'll find amongst smārta brāhmaṇas there are also some of them Vaiṣṇavas, but they are impersonalists.

Prof. Hopkins: So you would... You would say that those, those smārtas say, and I know smārta brāhmaṇas who are worshipers of Viṣṇu. You would say they still are impersonalists in some ultimate sense because at some point they would deny...

Prabhupāda: No, it is very difficult to pick them out. Most of the so-called Vaiṣṇavas, they are impersonalists.

Prof. Hopkins: Some, I suspect, are more Vaiṣṇavas than they are smārtas.

Prabhupāda: So, satataṁ kīrtayanto mām?


satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ

yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ

namasyantaś ca māṁ bhaktyā

nitya-yuktā upāsate

 [Bg. 9.14]

"Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion."

Prabhupāda: 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...

Prabhupāda: 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.

Prabhupāda: Devotee means serious devotee.

Prof. Hopkins: Not only that one is devoted now, but that one sees the goal as perpetual devotion.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Nitya-yukta.

Prof. Hopkins: And which never is there...

Prabhupāda: 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. Upāsana. Not only nitya-yukta, upāsana. Upāsana 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 Māyāvādīs 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 Puruṣottama as always...

Prabhupāda: Uttama, uttama means the best.

Prof. Hopkins: Always superior.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Prof. Hopkins: And always...

Prabhupāda: That is the word, puruṣottama. Puruṣottama means supreme or superior. So there must be inferior, otherwise, how he is superior? Is it not?

Prof. Hopkins: Hm.

Prabhupāda: 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 Puruṣottama always stands beyond, always, is other, in addition to be in also everything that there is.

Prabhupāda: Unless He is eternally there, then how the devotee will eternally, nitya-yukta upāsana, whom to worship? Nitya-yukta upāsana. Unless Puruṣottama is everlasting Puruṣottama then where is the question of worship everlasting? So the Māyāvādīs, they do not understand.

Prof. Hopkins: Well, would you... Do you equate then the impersonalists and the Māyāvādīs? Are they the same?

Prabhupāda: Almost the same.

Prof. Hopkins: At some point I guess they would have to be almost.

Prabhupāda: Eh?

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 Māyāvādī.

Prabhupāda: They accept this form of God as māyā. Therefore we call them Māyāvādī.

Prof. Hopkins: Any form of God, including the Puruṣa. 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 Viṣṇu, possessing all qualities.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is stated in the Bhāgavatam:

vadanti tat tattva vidas

tattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayam

brahmeti paramātmeti

bhagavān iti śabdyate

 [SB 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; Paramātmā, localized Paramātmā; and Bhagavān.

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.

Prabhupāda: 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, Paramātman...

Prabhupāda: Brahman is everything. Brahman is also māyā Brahman, (indistinct) is Brahman. Śabda idaṁ 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 Paramātmā or the Puruṣottama.

Prabhupāda: Supreme Person.

Prof. Hopkins: Which is beyond this and includes...

Prabhupāda: 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-gītā.

mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ

jagad avyakta-mūrtinā

mat sthāni sarva bhūtāni

na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ

 [Bg. 9.4]

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...


mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ

jagad avyakta-mūrtinā

mat sthāni sarva bhūtāni

na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ

 [Bg. 9.4]

"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.

Prabhupāda: Eh?

Prof. Hopkins: The failure is a failure to go beyond, to realize beyond that level of identity, that there is a Lord, who is...

Prabhupāda: Māyāvādī 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 Māyāvādī 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 Māyāvādī. He does not know the potency of God. And that is stated in Upaniṣad. Īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam.

pūrṇam idaṁ pūrṇam adaḥ

pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate

pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya

pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate

 [Iso Invocation]

In the material sense one minus one is equal to zero. In the spiritual world pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya. The one is pūrṇa 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 Upaniṣad says pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate. 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.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Prof. Hopkins: And still be complete as He was before.

Prabhupāda: 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 Kṛṣṇa consciousness group to see what the purpose of the movement is.

Prabhupāda: Eh?

Prof. Hopkins: It's difficult for people outside the society of Kṛṣṇa consciousness to see what the purpose is. How would you understand the purpose? Simply to make God known? How would you state...

Prabhupāda: 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 karmīs. And those who are thinking in terms of becoming one, they are jñānīs. 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. Svāmin kṛtārtho 'smi. And all others, karmīs, jñānīs, 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 Kṛṣṇa, that's all. No demand. And he serves Kṛṣṇa without any motive. Ahaituky apratihatā. That is bhakta.

Prof. Hopkins: So what you are doing is simply showing people how to be happy.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Prof. Hopkins: I like that.

Prabhupāda: Thank you. That is the real want, how to become happy.

Prof. Hopkins: It's remarkable how complicated simple things get.

Prabhupāda: 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." Yaṁ labdhvā cāparaṁ lābhaṁ manyate nādhikaṁ tataḥ. 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 karmīs, jñānīs, yogis, they are all in want. They want something. Bhaktas are also sometimes in want. They want Kṛṣṇa. And in absence of Kṛṣṇa they are very unhappy, but that unhappiness is greater than happiness.

Prof. Hopkins: The gopīs in Vṛndāvana.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is greater than happiness. And the Māyāvādī, karmī, jñānī, they cannot understand. They will say, "Your gopīs are also crying for Kṛṣṇa, for want of Kṛṣṇa." But they do not know that this want is different.


 Conversation with Professor Hopkins -- July 13, 1975, Philadelphia


Prabhupāda: There is a picture; my Guru Mahārāja has..., one man has fallen in a deep well, and he's crying "Save me!" So another man dropped a rope, that "You catch it. I shall carry you." Then he'll not catch it. Then how he can be drawn. So... [break] ...mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat [Bg. 7.7]. "There is nothing more superior than Me." We are preaching the same thing, that "You are searching after God. You are, some of you are disgusted that 'There is no God,' but here is God. You take His name. You take His address. You take His daily activities. Everything is there." And that is our mission. And we started this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement in 1966. So when I registered this society, somebody suggested that "Why not make it 'God consciousness?' " And no, I want to give definitely what is God. God, they have got different conception. But here is God. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam [SB 1.3.28]. That is the Vedic injunction. "Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead." And when He was present, He proved it, that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So we have not introduced any new system of religion. That is not a fact. We have simply placed, administered, the same thing which was spoken five thousand years ago. That's all. Five thousand years ago, Kṛṣṇa said that "There is nothing, no more superior authority than Me." We are preaching the same thing. The same old thing. Kṛṣṇa said, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja [Bg. 18.66]. "You just surrender unto Me." Kṛṣṇa said that "Surrender unto Me," and we are speaking, "Surrender unto Kṛṣṇa;" same thing. Kṛṣṇa said that "I am the origin of everything." Ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate [Bg. 10.8]. We are speaking the same thing, that the original source of everything is Kṛṣṇa. We are challenging the scientists also. They are of opinion that "Life has come from matter," and we are challenging, "No, life and matter, both have come from life." This is our challenge. So originally life, originally Kṛṣṇa, life. Not matter. Matter has come subsequently. So our, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is not a new movement. It is the old movement. At least, historically, five thousand years old. And we have got so many books. We have... Out of sixty volumes, we have published only about twelve volumes. So it's a great literature, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. So everything is there; nothing new. We haven't got to make a new system of religion. It is already there. Simply people may kindly understand it. That is our proposition.

Buddhist Monk (1): What happens when similar statements are made by other people that we have, they have their own god, who is, they made a unique system, and someone else says, "No, we have our own unique system." Someone else says, "No, all those three systems we do not agree with. We have got our unique system." What's going to happen in that thing?

Prabhupāda: That will... Phalena paricīyate. The system which is accepted more, that is successful. You can present so many system, but the test will be which system is more accepted by the people, by the mass, general people. That is successful. Phalena paricīyate. And if somebody says that "I have got my own god," and some other says, "I have got my own god," but this is a fact: God is one. You may call by different names. That is different thing. But God cannot be manufactured, that "You manufacture your god, I manufacture my god, he manufactures his god." That is not God.

Buddhist Monk (1): That's exactly what is happening.

Prabhupāda: That, happening, that is another thing. We are talking of the principle. God is one. God cannot be two. Then there is no meaning of God. Now, if I present Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, if you disagree, then you'll have to present your god. Now, we have to consider who is actually God. Just like I talked with Professor Kotofsky in Moscow. So I asked him that "Where is the difference between your communist philosophy and our philosophy? The communist philosophy, they have created their own god, Lenin." Lenin is their God. We have seen in Moscow.

Buddhist Monk (1): Yes, I've been...

Prabhupāda: Every street, every a...

Buddhist Monk (1): Every street. I know, all over.

Prabhupāda: Lenin, Lenin's picture, Lenin's book.

Buddhist Monk (1): Yes, yes, yes, yes. That's right.

Prabhupāda: So I told him that "You have created your own god, Lenin. And we have got our own God, Kṛṣṇa. Now, the principle of accepting somebody as God is there, in your philosophy and in my philosophy. So that you cannot avoid. Your communistic philosophy cannot avoid the conception of God, the leader." Just like in Buddha philosophy also, there is the conception of God, of Lord Buddha.

Buddhist Monk (1): No. That's not correct. Because we do not treat the Buddha... In fact, when the Buddha preached his atheistic philosophy... That's why he was termed a nāstika, a wasala. We do not believe in a god. We say panya, wisdom, and dharmuddha, is an incompatible...

Prabhupāda: At least, you follow the leadership of Buddha.

Buddhist Monk (1): Leadership, that's correct.

Prabhupāda: So that is, I am pointing out. Leadership,... God means "the leader." According to Vedic injunction, God means "the supreme leader." Nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13). He is the chief living entity. Mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram [Bg. 9.10]. God means the Supreme Leader. So leader you have to accept. That is the conception of God. Either you select Buddha or Lenin or somebody else, you have to accept one leader and follow. That is your business. So our philosophy is that Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Lord, He's the Supreme Leader. And we are to obey His orders. This is our philosophy. So if you do not obey the orders of Kṛṣṇa, if you obey the orders of Lord Buddha, or somebody obeys the orders of Lenin, the principle is there that you have to follow the orders of somebody. Now, you select Lenin, Kṛṣṇa or Buddha or Gandhi or anyone. That is a different thing. But the principle—to accept one leader and follow his leadership—is there everywhere. That nobody can change. That is not possible. So the professor could not give me any satisfactory answer, you see. The leadership you have to accept. You cannot do anything independently. You have to accept. That is our constitutional position, that we have to follow somebody. Now you select whom you shall follow. If you are following the most perfect, then you become perfect. And if you are following less perfect or imperfect, then you are imperfect. This is our philosophy. You have to follow some leader. If your leader is perfect, then you are perfect. If your leader is not perfect, then you are also not perfect.

Buddhist Monk (1): How is one to find out...?

Prabhupāda: That is another thing.

Buddhist Monk (1): Yeah, that's a very important advantage, you know.

Prabhupāda: Yes, yes. So that is another thing. Our philosophy is: God is the most perfect. Otherwise He cannot be God. So you follow God; then you become perfect. So Kṛṣṇa is teaching personally. We accept Kṛṣṇa as God. And if we follow Kṛṣṇa's instruction, then we become perfect. Where is the difficulty? Simple thing.

Buddhist Monk (1): What we say is...

Prabhupāda: If you think that Kṛṣṇa's not perfect, somebody is perfect, then you follow him.

Buddhist Monk (1): What we believe is that incomparable bliss and peace everlasting is the most perfect.

Prabhupāda: That is... These are items. These are items. First of all you have to follow a perfect leader. Then whatever he says, that is perfect. So that peace, you have given a definition of peace. Kṛṣṇa is giving definition of peace:



suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ

jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati

 [Bg. 5.29]

"I am the proprietor of all the lokas," sarva-loka-maheśvaram, suhṛdaṁsarva-bhūtānām. "I am the friend of everyone." Bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasām. "And I am the enjoyer of all fruitive activities." Jñātvā mām. "When one knows Me like that, he gets śānti." This is the śānti formula given by Kṛṣṇa. One has to accept Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Enjoyer. Because He's the proprietor of everything; therefore He should be enjoyer. And because everything belongs to Him—we also belong to Him—so suhṛdaṁsarva-bhūtānām, He's friend of everyone. So these three things, if you understand-Kṛṣṇa, or God, is the supreme enjoyer. He is the supreme proprietor, and He is the supreme friend of everyone—then you get śānti. If we understand these three things only, then there is śānti. Otherwise there is no possibility of śānti. Now, how it is fact, that is a subject matter of discussion. Say, Kṛṣṇa says that sarva-loka-maheśvaram [Bg. 5.29], "I am the proprietor of all the lokas." And now you study this fact. Who is the proprietor? We are claiming proprietor, nation. Englishmen, they are claiming, "This land belongs to the English people." Others claiming this land belongs to the American, Indian, like that. But are they actually the proprietor? Take for example the American land. Two hundred years ago, or, say...? How many years ago they won it?

Haṁsadūta: Four hundred.

Prabhupāda: Four hundred years ago the land was there. They, these Europeans, migrated there. Now they are proprietor. So four hundred years ago, who was the proprietor. In this way, trace history. The land is there, the ocean is there, everything is there. We sometimes claim that "I am the proprietor," "We are the proprietor," but this is lying there. Who is actually the proprietor? Actually proprietor is God, Kṛṣṇa. Īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam [Īśo mantra 1]. Everything is owned by the supreme īśvara. Īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ [Bs. 5.1]. So if we study scrutinizingly, then we'll find God is the proprietor actually. He is the creator; therefore He is the proprietor. And because He is the proprietor, He is friend of all. Actually. Īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe 'rjuna tiṣṭhati [Bg. 18.61]. Īśvara is situated in everyone's heart as Paramātmā, and He's giving us good counsel. We are not abiding by that. We are disobeying. Therefore we are suffering. Otherwise, He's giving us good counsel, good advice. So this formula, that bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁsarva-loka-maheśvaram, suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānām... [Bg. 5.29]. So if we accept God, or Kṛṣṇa, as the supreme friend, then whatever advice He'll give me, if we follow, then I am happy. There is no difficulty. He says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja [Bg. 18.66]. If we do that, we become happy. Where is the difficulty? From historical point of view... Of course, no, I mean to say, religious literature is older than Bhagavad-gītā. It was spoken by the Supreme Lord personally five thousand years ago. And that old thing we are presenting as it is. Our Bhagavad-gītā is therefore named Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. Without any interpretation. Without any addition, alteration. No, we don't make that. If we make addition, alteration, then where is the authority of Bhagavad-gītā? We don't do that. And that is proving effective. Those who are taking according to the instruction, they're becoming happy. Practical. Without any consideration of time, country, people. Anyone is accepting, and he's becoming happy. And they are not expected to undergo very severe type of austerities. Neither prāṇāyāma or yoga. They are unable. Simply I have advised them, "With these beads chant Hare Kṛṣṇa sixteen rounds." They are chanting. It is very easy. Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare, Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma... Sixteen rounds. It takes about two hours. And they're refraining from four kinds of sinful activities: illicit sex, gambling, intoxication, meat-eating. This much they are following austerities, chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, taking prasādam. They are happy. Anyone can take. It is not difficult at all. Anyone. They are gṛhasthas. It is not that one has to become a sannyāsī. No. All my, these disciples... Here is a gṛhastha. Here is a sannyāsī. Here is a brahmacārī. So all together, they are serving the same purport. And we are getting good result.


Room Conversation with Two Buddhist Monks -- July 12, 1973, London


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