Reporter: Your Grace, can I start by asking you what do you think of South Africa?
Prabhupāda: That you can reply. Just preach this cult, Kṛṣṇa consciousness. I was expected since a long time. So I could not come here due to my other engagements.
Reporter: Yes. What are your views of the country? What do you think of it?
Prabhupāda: Every country is all right. I don't find any fault. But only difficulty is that all over the world the civilization is being misdirected.
Prabhupāda: Misdirected. They are not taking importance of the right thing. Just like we are in this body. Now, when the body is dead, we cry that "My father is gone away. My son is gone away." But if I reply that "Your father is lying on the bed. Why you're crying that your father has gone away?" what will be the reply? The father whom the son has seen since his birth, that body in the coat and pant, so that coat-pant and body is there on the bed, and why the son is crying, "My father has gone away"? What is the reply? What should be the reply?
Reporter: Well, I know what I would reply. I don't know what you would reply.
Prabhupāda: No, I want what is your reply.
Reporter: My reply would be that he hasn't gone, that he's gone to God.
Prabhupāda: He...? He has not seen his father. That is my reply. Now, the person whom he accepted as his father, he is lying there on the bed. And now he is crying that "My father has gone." That means he has not seen his father. So this is going on. The whole world movement is on the basic principle of that living force which makes the body so important. Either a politician or a philosopher or a scientist, so long the living force is there, the body is important. And as such, the living force is gone, then it is simply a lump of matter. So we are taking care of this lump of matter, not of the living force. This is the mistake of the whole civilization. We do not know what is that living force. There is no scientist, there is no philosopher, nothing of the sort. Simply as child we cry, "Oh, my father has gone away. My father has gone." Why did you not see who is your father or who is your son? Where is that education? Where is that enlightenment? Where is that university? Therefore I say the whole civilization is being misdirected. They do not know what is the important factor in civilization.
Reporter: If I asked you to give the people who will read my article a message...
Prabhupāda: This is my message, that the whole civilization is misdirected, giving importance on the body, but the living force within the body, he does not know anything about.
Reporter: But what message would you give to people in terms of helping people, perhaps, to live better lives?
Prabhupāda: Yes. But if the basic principle is wrong, then all their plans for becoming happy is also wrong. So he does not know what is the important factor. So when he comes to know that he is not this body, he is spirit soul—he studies what is the nature of the spirit soul, what is the necessity of the spirit soul—then he becomes happy. If he is under misconception... Suppose if I take you, Mr. Singer, as the coat, and I take care of the coat and not of you, person, then is that very good proposal? So that is going on. They are taking care of the shirt and coat, not the person who is putting on the shirt and coat. This is the mistake of the modern civilization. And the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is an attempt to correct it, not theoretically, but by scientifically, by philosophically, economically, religiously, everything. Therefore we have got so many books. We are trying to distribute, enlighten people. This is our business. Then people will be happy. Unless one who knows "what I am, and what is my business, what is my aim of life," then how he can be happy? Just like a dog is jumping here and there, here and there, but he does not know what is the aim of life, so if we do not come to the spiritual platform, that we remain animal like cats and dogs, then what is the civilization of cats and dogs? If you keep the dogs as dog and if you ask some of them to come together and make a peace formula, is it possible the dogs will be able to make any peace formula? Because they are dogs, they will go on barking. That's all. So we are attempting so many peace formula, but we are keeping the consciousness on the body, exactly like the dog. And therefore there is no peace. There cannot be any peace. First of all you must come to the real platform, the living force, what is that spirit soul, what is the necessity, what is the aim. That you do not know.
Reporter: Your Grace, a great many of South Africa's church leaders from some of the big churches are fearful that South Africa is going to find itself in a situation, or find... What message would you give this country in terms of avoiding any...
Prabhupāda: No, I am going to every country because everywhere the same mistake is going on, bodily concept of life. So I am trying to bring them to the real life and then make their plan. They will be happy. It is not for South Africa. For any Africa, or any country, South America or South India or anywhere. The problem is the same. Everywhere the same conception: "I am South African." "I am American." "I am Indian." "I am this." "I am that." So all these things are on the bodily concept of life. Nobody says, "No, I am not this body. I am different from body." Nobody says. We are simply preaching that "You are not this body. You are different from this..." That is our unique situation. Perhaps throughout the whole world we are trying to preach that "You are not this body. You are different from body." And we have not manufactured this idea. This is the instruction in the Bhagavad-gītā. Bhagavad-gītā, the first teaching is,
dehino 'smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
This is the first instruction. Just like in the body of a child the spirit soul is there. Therefore the child is becoming a boy, and the boy is becoming a young man. Young man is becoming old man. Then what is the next? Then the old man must have next body. This is very simple logic. Now... But I am the same. I was also a baby. I was a boy. I remember. But the body is no longer existing. I am existing. I know that I had such and such body. So therefore the conclusion is that after annihilation of this body, I will exist in another body. Tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ [Bg. 2.13]. So who knows this science? And there are 8,400,000 forms of body. What kind of or what form of body I am going to get next, where is that science? So we are teaching, by Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, all these things, not only theoretically, but with scientific knowledge, philosophy, everything. You can see our... We have got fifty books of four hundred, five hundred pages each. We are teaching only about Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Reporter: Your Grace, what stops so many people from becoming Kṛṣṇa devotees?
Prabhupāda: Join this, our center. You come here; you'll become Kṛṣṇa devotee. Just like these boys. They are not imported from India. They are European, American, and South African. You are South African?
Prabhupāda: British. And who is South African?
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: They're South Africans.
Prabhupāda: So we welcome everyone, African, South African, North African.
Reporter: What stops so many millions of people from doing it?
Prabhupāda: Well, knowledge means it is meant for few men. If you want men without any university degree, you will get many thousands. But as soon as say, "We want graduate," it will be minimized. Or as soon as you say "postgraduate," it will be still minimized. So as soon as there is question of knowledge, the number of people will be diminished. So we cannot expect mass of people. But if there are good persons, exemplified person, vivid example, that will help the whole society—"There is ideal class. They know everything."
Reporter: You're going to be delivering two addresses next week at one of our biggest universities.
Prabhupāda: That he knows.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Monday and Wednesday. It would be nice if you would mention that in your article.
Reporter: Yes, I will. But I want to know what will you tell the people.
Prabhupāda: These things in different way, that "Come to your pure knowledge and make your plan. Then you will be happy. And if your basic principle is wrong, then whatever plan you make, it is useless."
Reporter: Yes. But, you see, the thing that worries me is that how do people begin to understand that their basic principle might be wrong?
Prabhupāda: Just as one goes to a school and gradually he understands what is one, what is two, what is three, what is "two plus two equal to four," how to place. It is a question of learning, education.
Reporter: Yes, but this doesn't effect the ordinary man in the street, Your Grace.
Reporter: This doesn't effect the masses.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: The mass of people, he says it doesn't effect them.
Prabhupāda: Mass of people will follow. Yad yad ācarati śreṣṭha [Bg. 3.21]. Just like everywhere, in politics there is in one leader and people follow him, so we want first-class leader. Then mass will follow. If the leaders are rascals and fools, then what will be result? Andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānāḥ [SB 7.5.31]. If the leader is blind, how he can help other blind men? He must be open eyes. Then he can lead thousands of blind men—"Come here." And if he is himself blind, then how he can help? That is wanted. One blind man... One open-eyes man is sufficient to lead many thousands of blind men. But if the leaders are also blind, then it is useless. He must be in perfect knowledge. That is wanted. We do not expect that mass of people will understand this philosophy. It is not possible. But at least the leaders, they must know how to lead people—the father, the teachers, the government, like that. Then people will follow.
Reporter: My last question: Will you be meeting other spiritual leaders in South Africa?
Prabhupāda: I do not know who is that spiritual leader. Nobody...
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: We haven't found any really prominent personalities to introduce Prabhupāda to.
Prabhupāda: But one spiritual leader is there, Swami Sahajananda.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Yes, the Divine Life Society in Durban, the head of that. He wrote one letter praising Prabhupāda's work, that he is rightfully representing the Vedic literatures.
Reporter: Well, thank you very much.
Prabhupāda: Thank you. Hare Kṛṣṇa. You have taken lunch? So, it is very important movement. Try to study, understand. And it is the duty of the pressmen, journalists, to propagate. They must know the first science of the living force within the body. That is the most important part.
Room Conversation with Reporter of The Star -- October 16, 1975, Johannesburg