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Talks with Professor Kotovsky in Moscow on
by His Divine Grace A.C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acharya of the
world-wide Hare Krishna Movement, Brahma Sampradaya Acharya
Conversation with Professor Kotovsky, Moscow,
22 June 1971
In 1971, during his historic visit to the Soviet Union, Srila
Prabhupada was introduced to Professor Grigoriy Kotovsky, head of the
India Department at the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences and chairman of
the Indian studies department at the University of Moscow. As they sat
informally in Dr. Kotovsky's office, the spiritual leader and the
communist scholar vigorously discussed topics of mutual concern, and
Srila Prabhupada proposed a radical reformation of the communist
Modern sociology is targeting the state or the people as the owner of a
certain state, but our Vedic conception is ishavasyam idam sarvam
[Ishopanishad mantra 1]: "Everything is owned by Isha, the
Supreme Controller." Tena tyaktena bhunjitha: "What is
given by Him, allotted to you, you enjoy that." Ma gridhah kasya
svid dhanam: "But do not encroach upon others' property." This
is Ishopanishad, Vedas. And the same idea
is explained in different Puranas
The other day I was reading in the... that paper, Moscow News, there
was a congress, Communist congress, and the president declared that "We
are ready to get others' experience to improve." So I think the Vedic
concept of socialism or communism will much improve the idea of
communism. Just like we are thinking in terms of human beings, in the
socialistic state, that "Nobody should starve. Everyone must have his
food." And in the Vedic conception of grihastha, householder,
it is recommended there that a householder shall see that even a lizard
living in the room or even a snake living in that house should not
starve. They should be also given food. And what to speak of others?
The grihastha, before taking his lunch, he is recommended to
stand on the road and declare that "If anybody is still hungry, please
come. Food is ready." Then, if there is no response, then the
proprietor of the household life, he takes his lunch. In this way there
are so many good concept about this socialistic idea of communism. So I
thought that these ideas might have been distributed to some of your
thoughtful men. Therefore I was anxious to speak with you.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, you know, what is interesting... As
it is here in our country, with our great interest in the history of
old, old god, from this point of view our institute translated into
Russian and published many, I may say, literary monuments of great
Indian culture. I will have a pleasure to present you a copy of a
booklet which was written here by me and my colleagues. It's account of
Soviet studies of India. And here there is chapter, chapter second,
"Studies of Ancient Indian Texts in the U.S.S.R.. ." You'll be
interested to discover, we published not all but some, some in
exceptions, Puranas. We published most of them, then some
parts of Ramayana, eight volumes in Russian, Mahabharata...
Prabhupada: Now, amongst these Puranas, the Srimad-Bhagavatam
is called the Maha-purana.
Prof. Kotovsky: Maha-purana.
Prabhupada: Yes. So we have translated in English the
full, with the original Sanskrit text, its transliteration, an English
equivalent for each word, then translation, and then purport,
explanation of the verse. In this way there are 18,000's of verses in Srimad-Bhagavatam.
And the acharyas, the great saintly sages who are the preachers
of this Bhagavatam throughout India, their opinion is
that it is the ripened fruit of the Vedic desire tree. Nigama-kalpa-taror
galitam phalam idam. [Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.3]: "O
expert and thoughtful men, relish Srimad-Bhagavatam the
mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures."] And it is
accepted by all, I mean, Indian scholars, and especially Lord
Chaitanya, He preached this Bhagavata. So we have got
that, complete in English translation. If you want to see some of them,
we can show you...
Prof. Kotovsky: In Leningrad now we have now a branch of
our institute dealing mainly...
Prof. Kotovsky: ...with the history of Asiatic
culture...Here is a sample account of our book. You will find here some
account of what has been translated and what else is being done in the
history of Indian philosophy, and now with this Indian philosophy,
history of Indian religion, and now with this Indian... what is
Hinduism now, just now in India also. It is very simple account of...
Prabhupada: Hinduism is a very complex term. [laughs]
Prof. Kotovsky: Oh, yes, Hinduism. It is not all... It is
really... To my understanding it is not religion from European point of
view. It is a really a way of life...
Prof. Kotovsky: ...religion, Indian, a way of philosophy,
a way of life, a religion, everything...
Prabhupada: No, this Hinduism, Hindu, this word,
is not a Sanskrit word. It is given by the Mohammedans. You know there
is a river, Indus, which is... Sanskrit name is Sindhu. Sindhu.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes. Oh, yes, yes, yes.
Prabhupada: These Mohammedans, they pronounce "S" as "H."
"Hindus," "Hindus." Instead of [sic:] "Hindus," they made it "Hindus."
So Hindu is a term which is not found in the Sanskrit dictionary.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes.
Prabhupada: But it has come into use. But the real
cultural institution is called varnashrama, four varnas
and four ashramas: brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya, shudra—these
four varnas-and brahmachari, grihastha, vanaprastha,
and sannyasa. So according to Vedic concept of life, unless
people take to this system or institution of varna and ashrama,
four varnas and four ashramas, actually he does not
become a civilized human being. One has to take this process, four
divisions of varnas and four... four divisions of social order
and four divisions of spiritual order. That is called varnashrama.
So India's culture is based on these four, eight system, varna
Prof. Kotovsky: Varnashrama.
Prabhupada: Varna, varnashrama. And in the Bhagavad-gita—perhaps
you have read Bhagavad-
gita—there is also the statement, chatur-varnyam maya
srishtam [Bhagavad-gita 4.13]. It is... This system
is created originally by Vishnu. So as everything is creation of the
Supreme, they cannot be changed. That is a prevalent everywhere, like
the Sun. Sun is creation of the Supreme. So sunshine is here in
America, in Russia, in India—everywhere. Similarly, this varnashrama
system is prevalent everywhere in some form or other. Just like the brahmanas.
The brahmanas means the most intelligent class of men, brain,
brain of the society. Then the kshatriyas, the administrator
class. Then the vaishyas, the productive class, and the shudras,
the worker class. These four classes of men are everywhere present in
different names. And because it is creation by the original creator, so
it is prevalent everywhere, varnashrama-dharma.
Prof. Kotovsky: But you know, what is interesting to... It
is the opinion of some European and old, old Russian scholars, this varnashrama
Prof. Kotovsky:...is a bit late creation. If you would
trace the old sutras, texts, of Vedic literature, you would
find much more simple and egalitarian society. And there is an opinion
that this varnashrama system was introduced into Indian society
on the late stage of Vedic era but not from the beginning, about... If
you would analyze scientifically the old texts, you'll find that...
[break]....about the duration of this period because unfortunately the
old classic India we have not so much information.
Prabhupada: But so far... So far we are concerned, this Bhagavad-gita...
It is mentioned in the
Bhagavad-gita, chatur-varnyam maya srishtam [Bhagavad-gita
4.13]. Now, this
Bhagavad-gita was spoken five thousand years ago, and in the Bhagavad-gita
it is said that "This system of Bhagavad-gita was first
spoken by Me to the Sun-god." So if you take estimation of that period,
it comes forty millions of years. So whether the European scholars can
trace out the history of at least for five thousand years together, not
to speak of forty millions?
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes.
Prabhupada: So we have got evidences that his varnashrama
system is current at least for the five thousand years, varnashrama
system. And this varnashrama system is mentioned in the Vishnu
Purana also. Varnashrama charavata purushena parah puman
[Chaitanya-charitamrita Madhya 8.58] [Vishnu Purana
3.8.9]. Varnashrama acharavata. So that is stated in the Vishnu
Purana. And so varnashrama
-dharma is not a... within any historical period calculated in the
It is natural. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam the comparison is
given, just like in your body, in my body, there are four divisions:
the face, facial, or the brain division, and the arms division, the
belly division, and the leg division. Similarly, by nature's way these
four divisions are existing in the social body. You may take history
wherever you begin, but this is existing. A class of men, they are
considered to be brain. A class of men, they are considered to be the
arms, administrators. And a class of men, they are called productive
class. So there is no need of tracing the history. It is naturally
existing from the day of creation.
Prof. Kotovsky: According to so many... You have just told
that in any society there are four divisions, but the case is not so
easy to distinguish. For instance, one can group, one can group, group
together, different social classes and professional groups into four
divisions in any society. There's no difficulty. Only difficulty, for
instance, in socialist society of our country and a socialist society
how can you distinguish productive group and workers?
Prabhupada: Just like you belong to the intelligent class
Prof. Kotovsky: Intelligent, yes, so...
Prabhupada: So this is a division.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, intelligent class, for instance, brahmanas,
if you can put together also with intelligentsia under the brahmanas...
Prof. Kotovsky: Then administrative staff...
Prof. Kotovsky: ...everywhere.
Prof. Kotovsky: From top to... From top to collective
farm, for instance, is kshatriyas. But who would be here vaishya
and who shudra? That is the difficulty because all others will
be workers—factory workers, collective farm workers and so on. So from
this point of view...
Prabhupada: From this point of view...
Prof. Kotovsky: ...there is a great distinction, in my
opinion, between socialist society and all societies preceding
socialist because in a modern western society you can group all social
professions, classes, for instance, practically, very conditionally,
you know, at least you can, the brahmanas, kshatriyas... Excuse
me... Then this
vaishya, this productive class, is owners...
Prabhupada: That is...
Prof. Kotovsky: ...of the means of production...
Prof. Kotovsky: ...these factory owners, for instance.
Prof. Kotovsky: And the shudras are workers,
menial workers. But here you have no vaishyas from this point
of view because you have administrative staff... In fact, there is
administrative staff. You can call them
kshatriyas. And then shudras, that's workers themselves.
But not this intermediate class.
Prabhupada: That is stated, kalau shudra-sambhavah:
"In this age practically all men will be shudras." That is...
That is predicted. But if there are simply shudras, then the
social order will be destroyed. You... Just like in spite of your state
of shudras, a brahmana is found here. And that is
necessity. So if you do not divide the social order in such a way, then
there will be chaos. That is the scientific estimation of the
Vedas. You may... You may belong for the time being to the shudra
class, but to maintain the social order you have to train some of the shudras
to become brahmana, some of the shudras to become kshatriyas.
You cannot depend on the shudras. Then there will be chaos.
Neither you can depend only on brahmana.
Just like to fulfill the necessities of your body there must be a
portion called the brain, there must be a portion called the arms,
there must be a portion called the stomach, or the belly, and there
must be a portion which is called the leg. The leg is also required,
the brain is also required, the arm is also required—for cooperation,
to fulfill the mission of the whole body. So any... any society you
conceive, unless there are these four divisions, there will be chaos.
It will be... not be properly, I mean to say, going on, smoothly going
on. There will be some disturbance. Brain must be there.
So at the present moment there is scarcity of brain. I am not talking
of your state or my state. I am taking the world as it is. The brain...
Formerly the Indian administration was going on in monarchy. Just like
this picture. This picture is a kshatriya king. Before his
death he renounced his, I mean to say, royal order and he came to the
forest to hear about self-realization. So if you want to maintain the
peace and prosperity of the whole worldly social order, you must create
a class of men very intelligent, a class of men very expert in
administration, a class of men very expert in production, and a class
of men to work. That is required. You cannot avoid it. That is the
Mukha-bahuru-padebhyah. They say, mukha... Mukha means
the face. Bahu means the arm. Uru means this... this
[indicates stomach] or waist. And pada. So anywhere, either you
take this state or that state
—doesn't matter—unless there is a smooth, systematic establishment of
these four orders of life, the state or the society will not go very
Prof. Kotovsky: Generally it seems to me that this old varnashrama
system to some extent practiced the nature of division of labor in
ancient society. So now division of labor among people in any society
is much more complicated and sophisticated. So it would be very...
Prabhupada: Not complicated.
Prof. Kotovsky: ...conditionally [?] to group them in four
Prabhupada: The... the confusion, confusion has come into
existence because in India in later days the son of a brahmana,
without having the brahminical qualification, claimed to be brahmana,
and others, out of superstition or traditional way, they were accepted
as brahmana. Therefore the Indian social order has disrupted.
But our, this Krishna consciousness movement, we are picking up from
everywhere brahmanas, everywhere, because the world needs the
brain of a brahmana. Just like here, Maharaja Parikshit,
although he was a monarch, he had a body of learned sages and brahmanas
to consult, advisory body. It is not that the monarchs were
independent. In the history it is found that some of the monarchs were
not in order. They were dethroned by the brahminical advisory
committee. Although the brahmanas, they did not take part in
politics, but they would give advice to the monarch how to, I mean to
say, execute the royal function. Just like not, not very old, very,
say, about... What is the age of, I mean to say, Ashoka? Say about
thousands of years ago.
Prof. Kotovsky: As we call from our... In our terminology
we call, in ancient and medieval India...
Prabhupada: Med... Yes. In medieval India.
Prof. Kotovsky: ...and old and feudal India, you are
right, this was very often. And from brahmanas the major part
of height is [?] religious stuff [?] [rigid stock] in religious
department [?]. Even Mogul emperors, there were brahmanas who
advised modern Mogul emperors...
Prof. Kotovsky: ...in administration...
Prof. Kotovsky: ...and such like.
Prabhupada: Our predecessor acharya, Rupa Gosvami,
he was finance minister in the Mohammedan government. He was. When he
resigned, the Nawab was not very satisfied, that "I cannot relieve you
because you are my right hand man. If you resign all of a sudden in
this way, then I shall arrest you." There is a long history. So that's
a fact. The
brahmanas were kept [as] advisory committee of the king... Now, as
I was going to speak, the latest Hindu king, Chandragupta...is the age
of Alexander the Great because a little before Chandragupta, Alexander
the Great from Greece, they went to India and conquered some portion.
So this Chandragupta, when he became emperor, he had his prime
minister, Chanakya. Perhaps you heard this name, Chanak... Cha-na-kya.
Prof. Kotovsky: Chanakya. Oh, yes.
Prabhupada: Yes. He was a great politician, brahmana. And under
whose name in New Delhi all the foreign embassies, they are flocked
together. Yes. It is called Chanakya Puri.
Prof. Kotovsky: Hm hm. Chanakya Puri, yes, I know.
Prabhupada: So this Chanakya Pandita was a great
politician and brahmana. And as brahmana, he was vastly
learned. He has got some moral instruction. They're very valuable,
still going on. In India school children are taught. So this Chanakya
Pandita, although he was prime minister, he maintained his brahminical
spirit. He was not accepting any salary, yes, because for brahmanas
to accept salary, it is understood that he becomes a dog. That is
stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. He can advise, but he
cannot accept. So he was living in a cottage, but he was prime
minister. So this brahminical culture, the brahminical brain, is the
standard of Vedic civilization... So many things they're changing. But
before this modern age the whole Hindu society was being governed by Manu-smriti.
Prof. Kotovsky: In all periods in India...
Prabhupada: Manu-smriti. Now they are
changing so many. Strictly speaking, the modern Hindus, they are not
strictly according to the Hindu scripture.
Prof. Kotovsky: Oh, yes.
Prabhupada: No. They are not... So our point is, we are
not going to bring back the old type of Hindu society. It is not that.
Prof. Kotovsky: It is impossible.
Prabhupada: It is impossible. Our idea is that best ideas
from the original idea. Just like in the Bhagavata there
is a description of communistic idea, and it is being described to
Maharaja Yudhisthira. So if there is something good, good experience,
why it should not be adopted? That is our point of view... In the
modern civilization the ultimate goal, aim, is sense gratification.
That's all. Beyond that, they do not know anything more. They do not
know what is next life. There is no department of knowledge or science,
scientific department, to study what is there after life, after
finishing this body. That is a great, I mean to say, department of
Prof. Kotovsky: ... What I am most interested in is, for
instance, not a student but a young worker or a young son of a
farmer—he would abstain from his old life and he would be initiated and
join your community into a given center. How he would entertain
himself?... Would he be paid to stay in that center?
Prabhupada: ... This propaganda is meant for creating some
brahmanas all over the world because the
brahmana element is lacking, so one who seriously comes to us, he
has to become a brahmana. So he has to adopt the occupation of
a brahmana, and he has to give up the occupation of a kshatriya
or a shudra.
But if one wants to keep his profession, at the same time wants to
understand also, that is allowed. Just like we have many professors.
There is Howard Wheeler, professor of Ohio University. He's my
disciple. So he is continuing his professorship. But whatever money
he's getting, almost he's spending for our, this Krishna consciousness.
For grihasthas, those who are householders living outside, they
are expected to contribute fifty per cent of the income for the
society, twenty-five per cent for the family, and twenty-five per cent
for his personal emergency. After all, in this world, if we live... So
far we are concerned, we are sannyasi, but you are a professor.
If there is some emergency, you cannot go to beg. But I am a sannyasi
So we have got four orders. Just like he's brahmachari, and
he's grihastha. He has got his wife, children. So he's a grihastha.
He's a brahmachari. Similarly, there is sannyasi. So
that is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's teaching. It doesn't matter whether one
is a grihastha, householder, or renounced order or a
brahmachari or a brahmana or shudra. It doesn't
matter. If anyone understands the science of Krishna, he becomes the
spiritual master. The exact word is, in Bengali:
vipra, kiba nyasi, shudra kene naya
yei krishna-tattva-vetta, sei 'guru' haya [Chaitanya-charitamrita
one is a brahmana, a sannyasi or a shudra—regardless
of what he is—he can become a spiritual master if he knows the science
understands the science of Krishna, he can become...
Prof. Kotovsky: Guru.
Prabhupada: ...the spiritual master.
Prof. Kotovsky: I understand. But in generally, by
creating brahmanas from different social classes of society,
really you deny the old prescription of Hindu script. Because according
to old script, the Puranas, etc., every member of one of
the four classes, these varnas...
Prof. Kotovsky: ...is to be born inside it...
Prabhupada: No, no, no.
Prof. Kotovsky: ...but not appointed.
Prabhupada: No, no, no, no. No, no, no.
Prof. Kotovsky: This is the major...
Prabhupada: No, no... I am sorry...
Prof. Kotovsky: ...foundation of all the varnas.
Prabhupada: You are not speaking correctly... With great
respect I beg to submit, you are, that you are not speaking correctly.
In the Bhagavad-gita it is stated, chatur-varnyam
maya sristham guna-karma-vibhagashah
: [Bhagavad-gita 4.13] "These four orders of brahmana,
kshatriya, vaishya, shudra is created by Me according to quality
and work." There is no mention of birth. There is no mention of birth.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, I agree with you that this was
addition of late brahmanas who tried to...
Prabhupada: No, that, that has killed the Indian culture.
You see? Otherwise there was no necessity of division of this Pakistan.
Not only that, from history, perhaps you know, this whole planet was
Bharatavarsha, and it was controlled by one flag up to Maharaja
Parikshit. Gradually they separated, separated. This is the history.
And lately, they have separated Pakistan. So Bharatavarsha is now
crippled into a small piece of land. Otherwise... according to our
scripture, Vedic scripture, this whole planet is called Bharatavarsha...
Prof. Kotovsky: Have you come across some hostile attitude
teaching from orthodox Hindu, from orthodox
brahmanas in India itself?
Prabhupada: But rather, we have subdued them.
Prof. Kotovsky: Ah, yes.
Prabhupada: ...Any orthodox Hindu may come, but we have
got our weapons, Vedic evidences. So nobody has come...
Prof. Kotovsky: And how many disciples you have in India
itself? From three thousand, how many members of your community you
have in India itself?
Prabhupada: In India?
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes.
Prabhupada: And India, there are many Krishna conscious
persons, hundred thousands, millions. India, there is no question.
There is not a single Hindu who is not Krishna conscious.
Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, I understand, but this, especially,
Prabhupada: Vaishnava. This is called Vaishnava cult. The
Vaishnavas, as you know—you have been in India—there are many millions
Prof. Kotovsky: Oh, yes.
Prabhupada: Many millions of Vaishnavas and... Just like
this gentleman. He is a commander of the Air, India Air Lines. So he's
not my disciple, but he's a Vaishnava, Krishna conscious. Similarly, in
India millions and trillions there are, Krishna conscious persons. And
practically there is not a single... Even there are Mohammedans who are
Krishna conscious. In Allahabad University there is a Mohammedan
professor. He's a great devotee of Lord Krishna.
So this is natural. It is said in the Chaitanya-charitamrita
that Krishna consciousness is everywhere, in everyone's heart. It has
to be awakened only by this process. That's all. It is there in your
heart also. It is not that it is foreign to you. It is not that. In
everyone's heart, there is Krishna consciousness. By this process we
have to awaken that. Shravanadi shuddha chitte karaye udaya.
[From Chaitanya-charitamrita Madhya 22.107: "Pure love
for Krishna is eternally established in the hearts of living entities.
It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is
purified by hearing and chanting, the living entity naturally
awakens."] Udaya. You know this word udaya. Just like
sun rises. It is not that sun all of a sudden comes from somewhere. It
is there, but it rises in the morning. Similarly, this Krishna
consciousness is everywhere, but some way or other, it is now covered.
By this process it is awakened and aroused, by association... The other
day...in Bombay, I think, I was speaking some respectable gentlemen
that "Krishna says:
hi partha vyapashritya
ye 'pi syuh papa-yonayah
striyo vaishyas tatha shudras
te 'pi yanti param gatim [Bhagavad-gita 9.32]
"Even those who are low-born, papa-yoni—the striya,
vaishya and shudra, they are also included—but by accepting
Me, accepting my shelter, they are also elevated to the transcendental
position." Now, why the higher class of Hindu society, they neglected
this injunction of Bhagavad-gita? Suppose one is papa-yoni.
Krishna says that "They can be elevated to the transcendental position
if they accept Me." Why this propaganda was not done by the higher
class people so that the so-called papa-yoni could be elevated?
Why you rejected them? The result was that the Mohammedans... Instead
of accepting them, you rejected them, and they have partitioned, and
they have gone away, and they have become eternal enemy of India. You
So this is the first time that we are trying to elevate to the highest
position of Krishna consciousness, even one is in the papa-yoni.
It doesn't matter because soul is pure. Asango 'yam purushah.
The Vedas says, "The soul is untouched by any material
contamination." Simply, temporarily, he is covered. This covering
should be opened. Then he becomes pure. That is the mission of human
life, to uncover ourselves from this material envelopment and come to
the spiritual understanding, surrender to Krishna.