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Religion? No sign of it. No category or subcategory by that name.
Where has Religion gone?
The world's most respected newspaper in the
world daily dishes out a dose of juicy socialite gossip, crossword
puzzles, obituaries, theater and restaurant reviews ranked right up
there with the latest news that the world has gone to hell due to
global warming, the unaccounted-for $12 billion cash sent to Baghdad
on pallets and the outing of Vista, yet not even a sub-sub category
spot for Religion. Can it be that the 1.5 million on-line readers
and 1.1 million print-edition readers don't even miss it?
Society or Animal Society? In
an interview with India's Bhavan's Journal in August 1976, Srila
Prabhupada asked, "How can there be happiness or peace in animal
society? They want to keep people like animals, and they are making a
United Nations.... simply a dog's race. The dog is running on four
legs, and you are running on four wheels—that's all. And you think that
the four-wheel race is advancement of civilization!"
appears that the world is populated with animals
disguised as humans, with pressed shirt and pants , toilet paper and
telephone. Their behavior, aims and interests are
those of animals. They have no human interests. The human interest is
God and going back to God. The government leaders
have no human interests or spiritual interests; they have doggish
interests. Iran is barking at America; America is barking
at Iran... more
Interviewer: The first question is this: Is
the influence of religion on the wane? And if so, does this factor
account for the increase in corruption and the widespread deterioration
of moral values?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes,
religion is on the wane. This is predicted in the Srimad-Bhagavatam
satyam shaucham kshama daya
kalena balina rajan
nankshyaty ayur balam smritih
"In the Kali-yuga [the present age of quarrel and hypocrisy] the
following things will diminish: religion, truthfulness, cleanliness,
mercy, duration of life, bodily strength, and memory."
are human assets, which make the human being distinct from the animal.
But these things will decline. There will be no mercy, there will be no
truthfulness, memory will be short, and the duration of life will be
cut short. Similarly, religion will vanish. That means that gradually
we will come to the platform of animals.
Interviewer: Religion will
vanish? We'll become animals?
Srila Prabhupada: Especially
when there is no religion, it is simply animal life. Any common man can
distinguish that the dog does not understand what religion is. The dog
is also a living being, but he is not interested in understanding the Bhagavad-gita
or the Srimad-Bhagavatam. He is not interested. That is
the distinction between man and dog: the animal is not interested.
So when the human beings become uninterested in religious things, then
they are animals. And how can there be happiness or peace in animal
society? They want to keep people like animals, and they are making a
United Nations. How is it possible? United animals, society for united
animals? These things are going on.
Interviewer: Do you see any
Srila Prabhupada: At least
they have detected that religion is declining. That is good.
"Declining" means they are going to be animals. In logic it is said
that man is a rational animal. When the rationality is missing, then he
is simply an animal, not a human being. In human society either you
become Christian, Muhammadan, Hindu, or Buddhist; it doesn't matter.
There must be some system of religion. Human society without religion
is animal society. This is a plain fact. Why are people so unhappy now?
Because there is no religion. They are neglecting religion.
One gentleman has written me that Tolstoy once said, "Unless dynamite
is put underneath the church, there cannot be any peace." Even now the
Russian government is very strictly against God consciousness, because
they think that religion has spoiled the whole social atmosphere.
Interviewer: It seems there
could be some truth in that.
Srila Prabhupada: The
religious system might have been misused, but that does not mean that
religion should be avoided. Real religion should be taken. It does not
mean that because religion has not been properly executed by the
so-called priests, religion should be rejected. If my eye is giving me
some trouble on account of a cataract, it does not mean that the eye
should be plucked out. The cataract should be removed. That is Krishna
Interviewer: I think history
shows that many people have misused religion. Isn't that a fact?
Srila Prabhupada: These
people have no conception of God, and they are preaching religion. What
is religion? Dharmam tu sakshad bhagavat-pranitam: [SB
6.3.19] "The path of religion is directly enunciated by the Supreme
Lord." They have no conception of God—they do not know what God is—and
they are professing some religion. How long can it go on artificially?
It will deteriorate.
That has become the present condition. They have no idea of God, so how
will they know what is the order of God? Religion means the order of
God. For example, law means the order of the state. If there is no
state, then where is the order? We have a clear conception of
God—Krishna. He is giving His order, and we accept it. It is clear
religion. If there is no God, no conception of God, no order of God,
then where is religion? If there is no government, then where is the
Interviewer: Well, there
wouldn't be any law. It would be an outlaw society.
Outlaw—everyone is an outlaw, manufacturing his own concocted system of
religion. That is going on.
Just ask—in any religious system, what is their conception of God? Can
anyone tell clearly? No one can tell. But we shall immediately say,
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is adept in playing on His
flute, whose blooming eyes are like lotus petals, whose head is
bedecked with a peacock's feather, whose figure of beauty is tinged
with the hue of blue clouds, and whose unique loveliness charms
millions of Cupids." (Brahma-samhita 5.30)
can give a description of God.
If there is no idea of God, then what kind of religion is that?
Interviewer: I don't know.
Srila Prabhupada: It is
bogus. People have no conception of God, and therefore they have no
understanding of religion. That is the decline, and because religion is
declining, the human beings are becoming more and more like animals.
"Animal" means that one has no memory. A dog comes when there are some
eatables; I say "Hut!" and he goes away. But again he comes—he
has no memory. So when our memory of God is reducing, that means that
our human qualities are reducing. In the Kali-yuga these human
qualities will be reduced. That means that people are becoming like
cats and dogs.
progress means spiritual advancement
Interviewer: Here's the second question:
The traditional charge against Vedic culture is that it is fatalistic,
that it makes people slaves to the belief in predestination, and that
it therefore inhibits progress. How far is this charge true?
Srila Prabhupada: What is
that progress? Is a dog's jumping progress? Is that progress? A dog is
running here and there on four legs, and you are running here and there
on the four wheels of the automobile. Is that progress? That is not the
Vedic system. According to the Vedic system, the human being has a
certain amount of energy, and since the human being has better
consciousness than the animals, the energy of the human beings is more
valuable than the energy of the animals.
Interviewer: Probably no
one would dispute that the human being has more freedom or, I suppose,
responsibility than the animals.
Srila Prabhupada: So human
energy should be utilized for spiritual advancement, not that the
energy should be employed to compete with the dog. The saintly person
is not busy like the dog. Today people think that "dog-ness" is life,
but actual life is spiritual progress. Therefore, the Vedic literature
hetoh prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah
tal labhyate duhkha vad anyatah sukham
kalena sarvatra gabhira-ramhasa
"Persons who are actually intelligent and philosophically inclined
should endeavor only for that purposeful end which is not obtainable
even by wandering from the topmost planet [Brahmaloka] down to the
lowest planet [Patala]. As far as happiness derived from sense
enjoyment is concerned, it can be obtained automatically in the course
of time, just as in the course of time we obtain miseries, even though
we do not desire them." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.18)
Interviewer: Could you explain that a
Srila Prabhupada: The human
being should exert his energy for that thing which he did not get in
many, many lives. In many, many lives the soul has been in the forms of
dogs, or demigods, or cats, birds, beasts, and many others. There are
8,400,000 different types of bodies. So this transmigration of the soul
is going on. The business in every case is sense gratification.
Interviewer: Which means?
Srila Prabhupada: For
example, the dog is busy for sense gratification: where is food, where
is shelter, where is a female, where is defense? The man is also doing
the same business, in different ways. This business is going on, life
after life. Even a small insect is trying for the same thing. Birds,
beasts, fish—everywhere the same struggle is going on. Where is food,
where is sex, where is shelter, and how to defend? The Vedic literature
says that these things we have done for many, many lives, and that if
we don't get out of this struggle for existence, we will have to do
them again for many, many lives.
Interviewer: I'm beginning
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, so
these things should be stopped. Therefore, Prahlada Maharaja makes this
"My dear friends born of demoniac families, the happiness perceived
with reference to the sense objects by contact with the body can be
obtained in any form of life, according to one's past fruitive
activities. Such happiness is automatically obtained without endeavor,
just as we obtain distress." (SB 7.6.3)
dog has a body, and I have a body. So, my sex pleasure and the dog's
sex pleasure—there is no difference. The pleasure derived out of sex is
the same. A dog is not afraid of having sex pleasure on the street
before everyone, and we hide it. That's all. People are thinking that
to have sex pleasure in a nice apartment is advanced. However, that is
not advanced. And they are making a dog's race for this so-called
advancement. People do not know that according to whatever kind of body
one has acquired, the pleasure is already stored up.
Interviewer: What do you
mean, "the pleasure is already stored up"?
Srila Prabhupada: That is
called destiny. A pig has got a certain type of body, and his eatable
is the stool. You cannot change it. The pig will not like to eat halava
[a dessert made of sweetened, buttery, toasted grains]. It is not
possible. Because he has a particular type of body, he must eat like
that. Can any scientist improve the standard of living of the pig?
Interviewer: I doubt it.
Therefore, Prahlada Maharaja says that it is already stored up. The
pleasure is basically the same, but a little different according to the
body. The uncivilized man in the jungle is having the same thing.
Now people are thinking that civilization means constructing skyscraper
buildings. But Vedic civilization says, No, that is not advancement.
The real advancement of human life is self-realization, how much you
have realized your self. Not that you have constructed skyscraper
Interviewer: But wouldn't
what you're saying make sense to most people?
Srila Prabhupada: Sometimes
people misunderstand. In a high-court, a judge is sitting soberly,
apparently doing nothing, and he is getting a high salary. Someone else
is thinking, "I am working so hard in the same court,
rubber-stamping-and not getting one tenth the salary of the judge." He
is thinking, "I am so busy, working so hard, and I am not getting as
good a salary as the man who is just sitting on the bench." The
situation is like that: the Vedic civilization is meant for
self-realization, not for a dog's race.
Interviewer: Still, isn't
it usually considered honorable to work hard, to struggle, and
eventually "get ahead" in life?
Srila Prabhupada: The karmis,
fruitive workers, have been described in the Bhagavad-gita
as mudhas, asses. Why are they compared to the asses? Because
the ass works very hard with loads on his back, and in return his
master gives him only a little morsel of grass. He stands at the door
of the washerman and eats grass while again the washerman loads his
back. He doesn't have the sense to think, "If I go out of the cottage
of the washerman, I can get grass anywhere. Why am I carrying so much?"
Interviewer: That brings to
mind some people I know.
Srila Prabhupada: The
fruitive worker is like that. He is very busy in the office, and if you
want to see him he will say, "I am very busy." So what is the result of
your being so busy? He takes two pieces of toast and one cup of tea.
And for this purpose you are so busy? He does not know why he is busy.
In the account books he will find that the balance was one million
dollars and now it has become two million. He is satisfied with that,
but he will take only two pieces of toast and one cup of tea, and still
he will work very hard. That is what is meant by karmi.
Asses—they work like asses, without any aim in life.
But Vedic civilization is different. The accusation is not
correct—people in Vedic civilization are not at all lazy. They are busy
for a higher subject matter. Prahlada Maharaja stresses that this
busy-ness is so important that it should begin from one's very
childhood. Kaumara acharet prajñah: one should not
second's time. That is Vedic civilization. The asses see, "These men
are not working like I am"—like dogs and asses—and they consider that
we are escaping. Yes, escaping your fruitless endeavor. The Vedic
civilization is meant for self-realization.
standard of living
Interviewer: Could you give us more of an
idea what the Vedic civilization is like?
Srila Prabhupada: The Vedic
civilization begins from the varnashrama system. In the varnashrama
system there is this arrangement: brahmanas [intellectuals,
advisors], kshatriyas [administrators], vaishyas
[merchants, farmers], shudras [workers], brahmacharis
[celibate students], grihasthas [householders], vanaprasthas
[retired married people], and sannyasis [renounced monks].
The ultimate goal is that Krishna, the Supreme Lord, should be
worshiped. So if you worship Krishna, then you fulfill all your
occupational duties, either as a brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya,
shudra, brahmacari, anything. Take to it immediately—take to
Krishna consciousness. This is so important.
Interviewer: If people
really knew about a life-style that was more natural, more fulfilling,
what would be the problem? They actually would, as you say, take to it.
Srila Prabhupada: But they
do not know, and therefore there is no religion, simply a dog's race.
The dog is running on four legs, and you are running on four
wheels—that's all. And you think that the four-wheel race is the
advancement of civilization.
Therefore, modern civilization is practically said to do nothing.
Whatever is obtainable by destiny you will get, wherever you are.
Rather, take to Krishna consciousness. The example is given by Prahlada
Maharaja that you do not want anything distasteful and yet it comes
upon you. Similarly, even if you do not want happiness which you are
destined, it will come upon you. You should not waste your energy for
material happiness. You cannot get more material happiness than you are
Interviewer: How can you be
so sure of that?
Srila Prabhupada: How shall
I believe it? Because you get some distressful condition, although you
do not want it. For instance, President Kennedy died by the hand of his
own countryman. Who wanted it, and why did it come? He was a great man,
he was protected by so many, and still he was destined to be killed.
Who can protect you?
So if the distressful condition comes upon me by destiny, then the
opposite position—happiness—will also come. Why shall I waste my time
for this rectification? Let me use my energy for Krishna consciousness.
That is intelligent. You cannot check your destiny. Everyone will
experience a certain amount of happiness and a certain amount of
distress. No one is enjoying uninterrupted happiness. That is not
Just as you cannot check your distress, so you cannot check your
happiness. It will come automatically. So don't waste your time for
these things. Rather, you should utilize your time for advancing in
Interviewer: Would a
Krishna conscious person not try for progress?
Srila Prabhupada: The thing
is that if you try for progress vainly, then what is the use of that?
If it is a fact that you cannot change your destiny, then what is the
use of trying? We will be satisfied with the amount of happiness and
distress we are destined.
Vedic civilization is meant for realization of God. That is the point.
You'll still find in India that during important festivals many
millions of people are coming to take bath in the Ganges, because they
are interested in how to become liberated. They are not lazy. They are
going thousands of miles, two thousand miles away to take bath in the
Ganges. They are not lazy, but they are not busy in the dog's race.
Rather, they are busy right from their childhood trying to become
self-realized. Kaumara acharet prajño dharman bhagavatan
iha [SB 7.6.1]. They are so busy that they want to begin the
business from their very childhood. So it is the wrong conception to
think that they are lazy.
Interviewer: Then the
question may be raised that if destiny cannot be checked, then why not
let every newborn child simply run around like an animal, and whatever
is destined to happen to him will happen?
Srila Prabhupada: No, the
advantage is that you can train him spiritually. Therefore it is said, tasyaiva
hetoh prayateta kovidah: you should engage your energy for
self-realization. Ahaituky apratihata: devotional
service, Krishna consciousness, cannot be checked. Just as material
destiny cannot be checked, your advancement in spiritual life cannot be
checked if you endeavor for it.
Actually, Krishna will change destiny—but only for His devotee. He
says, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokshayishyami: "I shall
give you all protection from all reactions of sinful activities." (Bhagavad-gita
For instance, if one is condemned by the law court to be hanged, no one
can check it. Even the same judge who has given this verdict cannot
check it. But if the defendant begs for the mercy of the king, who is
above all the laws, then the king can check it.
Therefore, our business is to surrender to Krishna. If we artificially
want to be more happy by economic development, that is not possible. So
many men are working so hard, but does it mean that everyone will
become a Henry Ford or a Rockefeller? Everyone is trying his best. Mr.
Ford's destiny was to become a rich man, but does it mean that every
other man who has worked as hard as Ford will become a rich man like
Ford? No. This is practical. You cannot change your destiny simply by
working hard like an ass or a dog. But you can utilize that energy for
improving your Krishna consciousness.
consciousness movement the cure
Interviewer: Exactly what is Krishna
consciousness? Could you tell us more?
Srila Prabhupada: Love of
God—that is Krishna consciousness. If you have not learned to love God,
then what is the meaning of your religion? When you are actually on the
platform of love of God, you understand your relationship with God—"I
am part and parcel of God." Then you extend your love to the animal,
also. If you actually love God, then your love for the insect is also
there. You understand, "This insect has a different body, but he is
also part and parcel of my father; therefore, he is my brother." Then
you cannot maintain a slaughterhouse. If you maintain a slaughterhouse
and disobey the order of Christ, "Thou shalt not kill," and you
proclaim yourself Christian or Hindu, that is not religion. Then it is
simply a waste of time—because you do not understand God; you have no
love for God, and you are labeling yourself under some sect, but there
is no real religion. That is going on all over the world.
Interviewer: How can we
cure the situation?
Srila Prabhupada: Krishna
is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If you do not accept that
Krishna is the supreme entity, then try to understand. That is
education: there is someone supreme; Krishna is not Indian; He is God.
The sun rises first in India, but that does not mean that the sun is
Indian; similarly, although Krishna appeared in India, now He has come
to the Western countries, through this Krishna consciousness movement.