Talks with Professor Kotovsky on Varnashram Dharma, 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 system.
PRABHUPADA: 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: It seems to me that in the Moscow and Leningrad libraries we have nearly all major texts of ancient Indian culture, beginning from Vedas, original text in Sanskrit. For instance, we have in Lenin Library nearly six or eight editions of Manu-smriti. Especially in Leningrad. 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 “Sindus,” 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—four ashramas. 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 social order and four divisions of spiritual order. That is called varnashrama. So India’s culture is based on these four, eight system, varna and ashrama.
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 system…
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 [4.13]: chatur-varnyam maya srishtam. 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 this 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 [Vishnu Purana 3.8.9, cited in Chaitanya-charitamrita Madhya 8.58]. Varnashrama acharavata. So that is stated in the Vishnu Purana. And so varnashrama-dharma is not a… within any historical period calculated in the modern age.
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 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 of men.
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 Vedic conception. 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 smoothly.
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: …confusing to group them in four classes because…
PRABHUPADA: 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 been 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 two thousands of years ago.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: As we call from our… In our terminology we call, in ancient and medieval India…
PRABHUPADA: Yes. In medieval India.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: …and old and feudal India, you are right, this was very often. … 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… in 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, Chanakya?
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, very valuable. This is 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. Just like Manu-smriti. You do not know. You cannot trace out the history, when Manu-smriti was written. But Manu-smriti is considered so perfect that it is the Hindu law. The Hindus are governed by Manu-smriti. There was no need of passing daily a new law by the legislative assembly to adjust this social order. You see? The law given by Manu was so perfect that it can be applicable for all the time. This is perfect. Tri-kala-jnah. The word is there, tri-kala-jnah—past, present, future.
PROF. KOTOVKSKY: But… I am sorry to interrupt you, but originally, to my knowledge, original Indian society, when, in the second half of Indian society, when in Calcutta by order of British administration was codified, so-called, you know, remember, “Jantu Law,” they called, a big digest of Hindu law, there was a lot of change…
PROF. KOTOVKSKY: …called in.
PRABHUPADA: Yes, they manufactured another…
PROF. KOTOVKSKY: And this, the actual Hindu law which was used by Hindus, they’re quite different from original Manu-smriti.
PRABHUPADA: No, they have now made changes. Just like our late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He made some Hindu code. He introduced in that Hindu code the right of divorcing husband and wife. But these were not in Manu-samhita. And, of course, they are changing. If you like, you can change. But the social order also not exactly the same as it was before.
PROF. KOTOVKSKY: Oh, yes.
PRABHUPADA: And so many things. So 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.
And besides that, in the modern civilization they are missing one point: the aim of human life, scientifically. The aim of human life is self-realization, atma-tattvam. It is said, parabhavas tavad abodha-jatah yavan na jijnasa atma-tattvam. Unless the human society comes to the point of self-realization, whatever they are doing, they are being defeated, parabhava. I think you know this word, parabhava. Parabhava. Parabhavas tavad abodha-jatah. So actually it is happening so. The modern society, human society, there is advancement, economic advancement, so many things, advancement. Still, in the matter of keeping peace and tranquility there is fight, individually, socially, politically, nationally. So if we think very cool-headed, then in spite of so much improvement in so many branches of knowledge, we are keeping the same mentality of quarreling. That is also visible in lower animal society. So our conclusion, according to Srimad-Bhagavatam, that this body, human body, it is not meant for working very hard for sense gratification. 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 knowledge.
In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that dehino ‘smin yatha dehe [Bg. 2.13]. Dehe. Deha means this body. So there is a dehinah who owns the body, dehi. So dehino ‘smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara. The dehi, the owner of the body, is within, and the body’s changing from one form to another. The body of a child, baby, a certain type of form, it changes into another type of form when he’s child, another type when boy, another type when he’s young, another type, he’s old. This is going on, but the owner of the body existing. Similarly, when this body will be completely changed, another body he will accept. So people do not understand this. As we are accepting different body even in this present life from babyhood to childhood, from childhood to boyhood, from boyhood to youthhood… That’s a fact. Everyone knows it. I was a child, but that childhood body is no more. I have got a different body. Similarly, what is the difficulty to understand: when this body will be no more, I’ll have to accept another body? It is great science.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: As you know, there is two ultimate, two quite, I may say, opposite approaches to this problem. One approach is slightly different by different religions but in the same time, any religion recognizes in such or such form the change…
PRABHUPADA: Take place.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Change of place of a spirit.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Called transmigration of spirit, etc. As in Christian religion and in Buddhism and Hindu religion.
PRABHUPADA: No, I’m not talking of religion or belief.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Yes. Yes.
PRABHUPADA: I’m talking of science and philosophy.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Yes, yes.
PRABHUPADA: That is…
PROF. KOTOVSKY: If we can… So science and philosophy. But another…
PRABHUPADA: One religion may accept. One may not. That is not our purpose. We are talking on the point of that if the owner of the body is permanent in spite of different change of the body, then what is the difficulty to understand that when this body will be changed, the owner of the body will have another body?
PROF. KOTOVSKY: But another approach is that there is no separate owner, there is no separate… no two phenomena, owner of the body and body.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: The body and owner of the body is the same.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: When body dies, the owner also dies.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: There is no separate…
PRABHUPADA: That… Why? Why there is no department of knowledge in university to study this fact scientifically? That is my proposition.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Yes.
PRABHUPADA: So that means they are lacking. It may be as you say, or it may be as I say, but there must be a department of knowledge, what is the… Now, recently one cardiologist, a doctor, he has accepted that there is soul—in Montreal or Toronto. I had some correspondence with him. So he is strongly in belief that there is soul. So that is another point of view, but we accept knowledge from authority. Authority. Just like this statement is given by Krishna. Krishna is accepted as the authority by all the acharyas, in Bhagavad-gita. Bhagavad-gita is studied amongst the scholarly circle and philosophical circle still, all over the world. And this statement is given by Krishna:
dehino ‘smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
dhiras tatra na muhyati
Just like the childhood, now, giving up the childhood body, the soul is coming to the boyhood body, from boyhood, youth…, similarly, the soul, giving up this body, he accepts another body. This statement is given by Krishna, the greatest authority according to our tradition of knowledge.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Yes, I know.
PRABHUPADA: So suppose we accept such statement without any argument. That is the way of Vedic understanding. Vedic understanding means you have to accept whatever is stated in the Vedas without any argument.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: So forget about Vedas. Our approach is we don’t believe in anything without argument. We can believe only on anything based on argument.
PRABHUPADA: Yes, that…
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Here is the basic…
PRABHUPADA: No, no, that is allowed.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: …objection.
PRABHUPADA: That is allowed. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita [Bg. 4.34], tad viddhi pranipatena pariprashnena sevaya. Pariprashna, argument, is allowed, but not with a challenging spirit. With a spirit to rightly understand. Pranipatena pariprashnena. That… Argument is not denied. But so far Vedic statements are there, they are infallible. Infallible. And the followers of the Vedas, they accept in that way. For example, just like cow dung.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Yes.
PRABHUPADA: It is the stool of an animal. Now, the Vedic statement there is: “As soon as you touch the stool of any animal, you are impure. You have to purify yourself by taking bath.” Even your own stool. According to Hindu system, if you go to evacuate, after coming you have to take bath.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: This is quite intact with modern medicine knowledge…
GUEST: …that you must clean yourself.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Yes, that’s right.
PRABHUPADA: But another place it is stated that “Cow dung, although it is the stool of an animal, it is pure.” Even if you apply in an impure place, you become purified. Now, this is superficially contradicting. In one place it is said that “The stool of an animal is impure. As soon as you touch, you have to be purified,” and another place it is said that “Cow dung is pure.” So according to our knowledge, it is contradictory.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Yes.
PRABHUPADA: But those who are followers of the Vedas, they are accepting. Is not cow dung pure? Cow dung pure, it is accepted by the followers of Vedas?
GUEST: That is.
PRABHUPADA: And if you analyze chemically, you’ll find the cow dung contains all antiseptic properties.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: This I don’t know.
PRABHUPADA: You do not know, but there is a…
PROF. KOTOVSKY: I have to test. This I do not know, but…
GUEST: Yes, one must try to realize it…
PRABHUPADA: Yes, that… That… One Dr. Ghosh, professor of medical college, Lal Mohan Ghosh, he… I was medically connected in my previous life. So that Lal Mohan Ghosh analyzed it, and, it is his statement, it is full of, I mean to say, antiseptic properties. So Vedic statements, even sometimes you find it is contradictory, but if you analyze scrutinizingly, you find it is correct.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: But maybe…
PRABHUPADA: There may be some exceptions, but, I mean to say, just like the cow dung is stool—this is an exception—but why this exception is accepted, that if you scientifically examine, analyze, you find it is correct?
PROF. KOTOVSKY: That is due to analyze. That’s right. That’s from common sense point of view.
PRABHUPADA: Similarly, another, another instance is there. Just like conchshell. Conchshell is the bone of an animal. So according to Vedic instruction, if you touch the bone of an animal, you become impure. You have to take bath. You become impure. But this conchshell is kept in the deity room because it’s accepted as pure by the Vedas. So my point is that we accept Vedic laws in such a way, without argument, accept because it is stated in the Vedas, and that is the principle followed by scholars. If you can substantiate your statement by quoting from the Vedas, then it is accepted. You do not require to substantiate in other ways if you prove by Vedic quotation. Shruti-pramana. It is called shruti-pramana. There are different kinds of pramana, evidences. Just like in the legal court if you can give quotation from the law books, your statement is accepted, similarly, all statements which you give, if they are supported by shruti-pramana… I think you know. The Vedas are known as Shrutis.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Hm hm.
PRABHUPADA: Shruti-smriti-puranadi-panccaratriki-vidhim vina [Brahma-samhita 1.2.101]. Any system we accept, it must be supported by the evidences of shruti-smriti-puranadi-pancharatriki. Aikantiki harer bhaktir utpatayai. Anything which is not supported by em>shruti-smriti… Just like Manu-smriti. This is Smriti. And Vedas are Shruti. Shruti-smriti-puranadi pancharatriki-vidhim vina, aikantiki harer bhaktir utpatayaiva kalpate. Whichever is not evidence, which is not true by these pramanas, then it is disturbance.
GUEST: But I mean to say one thing is, like in Vedas, whatever is written could have been proved like in a scientific way, today. Suppose there is a lab which is scientific. Whatever is said by that lab, that “This is truth,” accepted without going to argue into the propriety of it… suppose you have a scientific knowledge shop or a place, and if this workshop or this scientific institution states, “This is not good. This is not good,” a general body accepts, take it for granted, “Yes, scientific body has said so. It is understood. It’s…”
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Hm. Yes.
PRABHUPADA: Personally he hasn’t got to examine, himself. He takes the statement of an authority and believes him.
GUEST: Common person, a common man.
PRABHUPADA: So Vedic authorities, authoritative statement, are accepted by the acharyas. Just like India is governed by the acharyas, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, and Shankaracharya. They accept in that, and the followers accept them. The benefit is that whether cow dung is pure or impure, I do not waste my time, but because it is stated in the Vedas, I take it, so I save my time. Shruti-pramana. In that way there are different statements in the Vedas for sociology and politics and anything because Vedas means knowledge. Vedas means knowledge. Vedaish cha sarvair aham eva vedyam [Bg. 15.15]. Vetti veda vido jnane. Vid-dhatu, when it is used for knowledge, it is called Veda.
GUEST: But today, I think, the scientific knowledge people will not accept all this, what you are saying only. They would perhaps like to try it once more, and perhaps, after going through the process of examination of theirs, they accept it if it is true.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Yes, well correct. As I have already said our approach, the approach of people today, new era of knowledge everywhere in the world…
GUEST: Try once more.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Try once more. You are right. And also nobody would believe in anything without argument.
PRABHUPADA: No… arguments are allowed.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Yes, arguments. Nobody would believe because it was written in this or other script. Evidence, evidence and evidence has to be given to believe.
PRABHUPADA: …Our preaching method is on the basis of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. So people are responding from every part of the world, especially the American boys. They are especially interested. And England also, and Germany, and France. From here I shall go to Paris. There we have got center. What is the name of that place? Paris? Recently they have taken.
SHYAMASUNDAR: Oh. In some suburb, Fontenay Rose, Fontenay aux Rose.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Ah, near Paris?
PROF. KOTOVSKY: In Fontaine Bleau?
PRABHUPADA: Yes, yes. They have taken a whole house, nice house.
So our process is very simple. We ask our students to refrain from four prohibitive principles.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: From? I’m sorry. From four?
PRABHUPADA: Prohibitive. No illicit sex life, no meat-eating, meat or fish or eggs, no, and no gambling, and no intoxication, including cigarette, tea, coffee. These also we take as intoxicants. So these four principle one has to obey, and let him chant Hare Krishna maha-mantra. And by this process only, you’ll find, how these boys and girls are improving quickly. Process is very simple. Besides that, we have got books, volumes of books, just like Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita. I have given them. Throughout all these years I have written so many books. And they have got ample stock for reading, the whole life. We have got … big books, about one dozen books: KRSNA in two parts, Srimad-Bhagavatam in six parts, Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, one part, Nectar of Devotion, one part. In this way I am… And these are… We are publishing every month one chapter, Srimad-Bhagavatam, with this detailed information, giving a heading like this, “The First Step in God Realization.” Here is also. The heading is: “Purusha-shukta Continued.” Purusha-shukta is a Vedic stotram. So we are trying to push this Krishna consciousness. Just like in your country there is Lenin consciousness, similarly, it is also a different type of consciousness. Krishna consciousness. Krishna is also historical personality as much as Lenin is also historical personality. So His philosophy… Just like you are trying to understand his philosophy, we are trying to understand Krishna’s philosophy. In this way this Krishna consciousness movement is going on.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: And have you many participants…
PRABHUPADA: Oh, yes.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: …in these fifty-five branches?
PRABHUPADA: Oh, yes, more than three thousand, three thousand initiated. And outside admirers, there are many, many. And this means these three thousand who have accepted the principles, just like these boys. So there are fifty-five branches. In each branch we are maintaining twenty-five to hundred students. So just imagine.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: But does that mean the students, they abstain? For normal West European universities their own, all their… How to explain it? Their… For instance, can a normal student from, for instance, from one of the best universities, who is attending lectures in normal way, etc., also be initiated and admitted to your community?
PRABHUPADA: No, both ways. Both ways. If you want to be initiated, you are welcome. If not, you come. Try to understand our philosophy. Read our books. There are so many books, magazines. And question, answer. Try to understand the philosophy. It is not that all of a sudden a student comes and becomes our disciple, no. They first of all come, associate, try to understand. Then… We do not canvass. When he voluntarily says that “I want to be your…”
PROF. KOTOVSKY: No, yes.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. There is no canvassing.
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:
kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, shudra kene naya
yei krishna-tattva-vetta, sei ‘guru’ haya
[Chaitanya-charitamrita Madhya 8.128]
“Whether 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 of Krishna.”
Anyone who 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 scripture, 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. Formerly it was named Ilavritavarsha, but since the Emperor Bharata ruled over this planet, it is called Bharatavarsha from Maharaja Bharata. So this culture, Krishna consciousness, Vedic culture, was existing [so far back in time]. Now any religion you take, Christian religion, Mohammedan religion or Buddhist religion, they are utmost two thousand, three thousand old, years old. But this Vedic scripture, you cannot trace out where is the beginning, where is the beginning. It is therefore called sanatana, eternal. And this culture is for the whole human society. It is not a departmental religious faith. Religious faith you can change, but real dharma you cannot change. Just like… You try to understand. Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, He says:
yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
tadatmanam srijamy aham
vinashaya cha dushkritam
Dushkritanam, dharma-samsthapanarthaya yuge yuge sambhavami. Now, Krishna came to establish the religious principles, and in the last stage of speaking He says, sarva-dharman parityajya mamekam sharanam vraja [Bg. 18.66]. And that is real dharma: to surrender to the Supreme. That is real dharma. We are surrendering. Anyone, just like you or me, anyone, we are surrendering to somebody. That’s a fact. Our, our life is by surrender. Is it not? Do you disagree with this point?
PROF. KOTOVSKY: To some extent you surrender.
PRABHUPADA: Yes, to the full extent. Just like you…
PROF. KOTOVSKY: You are required to surrender to the society, for instance, to the whole people.
PRABHUPADA: Yes, just… Whole people or the state or the king or the government, whatever you say—this surrender must be there. It may be different.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: I’m sorry. Only there’s a difficulty. We can’t agree that you have surrender to government or surrender to a king. There’s a principle difference of surrender to a king, to a person, or surrender to a society.
PRABHUPADA: No, that is… That is a change of color only. But the surrender is there. The principle of surrender is there. Either you surrender to monarchy, either you surrender to democracy or aristocracy or, what is called, dictatorship, you have to surrender. That’s a fact. That’s a fact. Without surrendering, our life is… There is no life. That is not possible. So we are educating persons to surrender to the Supreme wherefrom you get all protection. Just like Krishna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam sharanam vraja [Bg. 18.66], aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokshayishyami. So surrender is there. Nobody can say, “Now I am not surrendering to anyone.” There is not a single person. Difference is where he is surrendering, where he is surrendering. The ultimate surrendering objective is Krishna. Therefore in the Bhagavad-gita it is said, bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate: [Bg. 7.19] “After surrendering to so many things, birth after birth, when he’s actually wise he surrenders unto Me.” Vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah: [Bg. 7.19] “Such kind of mahatma [great soul] is very rare.”
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Yes. But at the same time, it seems to me that surrender… surrender is to be accompanied with revolt. The history of mankind has proved but by only revolt against some kind of surrender…
PRABHUPADA: Yes, yes.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: …mankind has been developed from medieval age. Like French Revolution, it was revolt against surrender. But this revolt also was surrender itself to the rank and file of the people.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: But so it is not enough to put a full stop on surrender.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Surrender is to be accompanied with revolt against surrender of other.
PRABHUPADA: Yes, therefore the surrender will be full stop when the surrender is to Krishna.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Ah ha ha, yes.
PRABHUPADA: That is full stop, no more surrendering.
GUEST: Final surrendering.
PRABHUPADA: Other surrender you have to change by revolution, but when you come to Krishna, then it is sufficient. You are satisfied. Just like… I’ll give you one example, that a child is crying, and people changing laps, “Oh, you are crying.” It is not stopping. But as soon as the small baby comes to the lap of his mother, he stops: “Yes, full satisfied.”
GUEST: Final satisfaction of…
PRABHUPADA: So these changes, this surrendering, will go on in different categories. Actually all the surrenders-sum total is surrender to maya. Therefore in theBhagavad-gita it is said, daivi hy esha gunamayi mama maya duratyaya [Bg. 7.14]. So this surrender is going on, going on. It is mayara vaibhava, paraphernalia of maya—either you surrender to this or to that. But final surrender—mam eva ye prapadyante, mayam etam taranti te—the final surrender to Krishna. Then he is happy. Surrender will stay. His process of surrender is there, but this surrender keeps him quite satisfied, transcendental.
PROF. KOTOVSKY: Have you come across some hostile attitude to your 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. But even Christian priest… Even Christian priests in America, they love me. They say that “These boys… our boys… they are Americans, they are Christians, they are Jews. And these boys are so much after God, and we could not deliver them?” They’re admitting. Their fathers, their parents, come to me. They also flatly offer their obeisances and say, “Swamiji, it is our great fortune that you have come. You are teaching God consciousness.” So on the contrary, I have got reception from other countries. And India also, as you inquired of India, all other sects, they’re admitting that before me many hundreds of swamis went there, but they could not convert to Krishna consciousness a single person. They are admiring that. And so far I am concerned, I don’t take any credit, but I am confident that because I am presenting the Vedic knowledge as it is, without any adulteration, it is being effective. That is my contribution. Just like if you have got a right medicine and if you administer to a patient, you must be sure that he’ll cure.
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: In 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, specifically?
PRABHUPADA: Vaishnava. This is called Vaishnava cult. The Vaishnavas, as you know—you have been in India—there are many millions of Vaishnavas.
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 with some respectable gentlemen that Krishna says:
mam hi partha vyapashritya
ye ‘pi syuh papa-yonayah
striyo vaishyas tatha shudras
te ‘pi yanti param gatim
Krishna says, “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 [so-called brahmanas] 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 see?
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.