excerpt from conversation with American contemporary poet Allen Ginsberg, 12 May 1969, Columbus, Ohio
ALLEN GINSBERG: …It becomes more and more widespread and is more and more acceptable to people… I don’t know how… It’s difficult for me to conceive everybody in America…
PRABHUPADA: Nothing is accepted by everybody.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Or even a vast, vast, vast number of people living a Hindu-language-based, Hindu-food-based, monastic life in America. Yes. And many of us, like, do you remember Gary Snyder, who is the Buddhist boy, I think we met in New York?
KIRTANANANDA: San Francisco.
ALLEN GINSBERG: In San Francisco, was it? Yes. …have all been thinking what form of religious practice, what form of simple meditation exercises could be set forth in America that could be adopted by a great, great, great, great many people on a large scale. We haven’t solved the problem. One thing I’ve noticed is that the Krishna temples have spread and are firmly rooted and solidly based. There are a number of them now. So that really is a very solid root. So I think that will continue.
ALLEN GINSBERG: But I’m wondering what future is there? What’s the future of a religious observance so technical as this? So complicated as this? Requires so much sophistication in terms of diet, daily ritual, arati, ekadasi, all, the whole thing that you’ve been teaching, how far can that spread by it’s very complexness…
PRABHUPADA: Yes. All are complex. The whole idea is to keep the devotees always engaged in Krishna consciousness. That is the program. Gradually, we shall introduce more and more so that he has no scope to go outside Krishna consciousness.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Well then the question is…
PRABHUPADA: First of all you have to understand that we are trying to make people Krishna conscious. So how he can remain twenty-four hours Krishna conscious, that is the program.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Well, the orthodox Jews have a very heavy, complicated, moment by moment ritual daily existence in that, for that same purpose. It was to keep them conscious of their religious nature. And that has maintained a small group of Jews over the centuries as an integral unit, but has tended to disappear in the later generations now simply because modern life does not allow that much Krishna consciousness or Jewish consciousness or religious consciousness and attention, act by act throughout the day. So my question is how far can total Krishna devotion, act by act all day, spread? How many people can that encompass in a place like America? Or are you intending only to get a few devotees, like several hundred or a thousand who will be solid and permanent.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Yes. That is my program. Because Krishna consciousness is not possible for everyone. Because in the Bhagavad-gita we learn, bahunam janmanam ante [Bg. 7.19]. After many, many births one can come to this. So it is not possible that a mass of people, a large quantity of people will be able to grasp it. You see? Bahanam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate [Bg. 7.19]. Another place it is said in the Bhagavad-gita, manushyanam sahasreshu [Bg. 7.3]. After many thousands of men, one may be interested how to liberate himself. And out of many such liberated persons, one may understand what is Krishna. So understanding of Krishna is not very easy thing. But Lord Chaitanya is so munificent that He has given us a… I mean to say, easy process. Otherwise Krishna consciousness is not easy. Because Krishna is the last word of Absolute Truth.
Generally, people are just like animals. Out of many such persons, one becomes interested in the scriptures. And out of many such persons, if they’re attracted to the scriptures, they’re attracted to the ritualistic ceremony for improving their economic condition. You see? Just like Christians, they go to… Not Christian; everyone. They take up religion with a motive that they may improve their economic position. Dharma, artha. Artha means money. And then why artha? Why you want money? Now, to satisfy senses, kama. Dharma, artha, kama. And when one becomes frustrated in sense gratification, then liberation, to merge. These four things are going on. Dharma, artha, kama. The Bhagavata says that dharma is not meant for acquiring money. Money is not meant for satisfying senses. Sense gratification should be accepted simply to maintain this body. That’s all. The real business is tattva-jijnasa, to understand. The human life is meant for understanding the Absolute Truth. Jivasya tattva-jijnasa nash cheha yat karmabhih. Kamasya nendriya-pritir labho jiveta yavata [Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.10]. Kamasya, sense gratification, does not mean you have to increase the volume of sense gratification. No. Jiveta yavata, you have to accept sense gratification so far as you can live very nicely. The real business is jivasya tattva-jijnasa. Every human being should be inquisitive to know the Absolute Truth. That is the real business of human life. So to come to that business, you won’t find mass of people. It is not possible. You don’t expect.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Your plan here in America, then, is to set up centers so that those who are that concerned can pursue their studies and practice a ritual?
PRABHUPADA: My… Personally, I have no… I mean to say, ideal or ambition.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Yeah.
PRABHUPADA: But it is the mission of human life to come to that point. So at least there must be some center or institution who may give them this idea. It is not that everyone will come. Just like there are many educational departments. I know in Calcutta in our boyhood age, at that time Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee was vice-president. So he opened some classes in the university. In each class there were four or five professors, and at that time the professors’ salary was 1300 dollar, 1400 dollar. And the fees were collected, at most thirty-six dollar per month. You see? But still the classes were to be maintained because the ideal must be there. So our mission is the intelligent persons of the world may know that this is not, simply seeking after sense gratification is not the aim of human life. Human life is meant by… Just like Bhagavata says, jivasya tattva-jijnasa. Vedanta says, athato brahma jijnasa. The same thing. Bhagavata
is nothing but explanation of Vedanta. So Vedanta says that this human form of life is meant for inquiring about Brahman. Atha atah. Now. Atha means now. Atah, hereafter. That means after passing through all animalistic way of life, when a man comes to the stage of civilized life, perfect civilized life, at that time his business is to inquire about the Absolute Truth, what is the Absolute Truth. That is the whole Vedanta philosophy, “What is that Absolute Truth?” The same thing is explained in Bhagavata, jivasya tattva-jijnasa. Jivasya means all living entities. The main business is to inquire about the Absolute Truth.
So people, by education they are misled. Instead of getting them to the highest topmost stage, to the platform of inquiring about the Absolute, they are giving facilities how you can satisfy your senses nicely.
ALLEN GINSBERG: O.K., but now in America there is a bankruptcy of sense satisfaction. Everybody agrees.
PRABHUPADA: Must be there. Must be there.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Everybody agrees that our civilization has come to the end of its possibilities materially. So everybody understands that. It’s in New York Times editorials as well as in the editorials of ISKCON journals. Both. And there is a population explosion, as you’ve noted and as the middle class has noted. So everybody then is looking for an alternative to material extension.
PRABHUPADA: They should inquire about the Absolute Truth.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Okay. So my original question was: Is the complicated ritual and the Sanskrit language…
PRABHUPADA: No, no. Now we are placing so many things in English language. Our all books are being published in English. Our magazine is in English.
ALLEN GINSBERG: But the question is, is the mode of life that you are proposing adaptable to many, many, many people?
PRABHUPADA: That I say that is not for many, many people.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Yeah. But there are, there is a thirst by many, many people for an alternative answer. For a better alternative system.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. So if they are actually thirsty, if they are actually thirsty, then they can adopt this. What is the difficulty there? There is no difficulty. So many American boys they have already adopted. They are not feeling any difficulty. They are feeling relief. What is difficulty? In what point it is difficult? Hare Krishna chanting you are chanting.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Yes.
PRABHUPADA: It is all in Sanskrit. What difficulty you are feeling?
ALLEN GINSBERG: I don’t feel too much difficulty, except aesthetically I do feel a difficulty. Yes, there is. The difficulty I feel is that there should be some flower of the American language to communicate in rather than…
PRABHUPADA: Therefore we are seeking your help.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Yeah. Well I haven’t found a way, I still just stay chanting Hare Krishna.
PRABHUPADA: Therefore why I have come to you? That is also my view. I have come to America with this view, that America is on the summit of material civilization. They are not poverty-stricken. You see? And they are seeking after something. Therefore I have come, that “You take this, you’ll be happy.” That is my mission. And if the Americans take, then all other countries will take because America is leading at the present moment. So persons, exalted persons like you, you try to understand. What is the difficulty? There is no difficulty. Chanting Hare Krishna, anyone can chant. Even the child is trying. There is no difficulty. And so far what is our modes of living?
ALLEN GINSBERG: Mere chanting without the practice of a philosophy and a daily ritual…
PRABHUPADA: Philosophy is there. We are teaching Bhagavad-gita. We are talking on Bhagavata philosophy, we are talking on Chaitanya’s philosophy.
ALLEN GINSBERG: And you have a daily ritual.
PRABHUPADA: We are distributing papers. And… Everything is there.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Okay. So my question then, as it was originally when you first asked me, what do I think…
ALLEN GINSBERG: Is the Chaitanya-Krishna ritual, as you have it here in this house and in the other ashramas, is that something that a large mass of people can enter into?
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Why not?
ALLEN GINSBERG: In America?
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Because we have seen. All my students are Americans. So it has to be… And it is spreading.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Yes, but what it requires is an adaptation of Indian dress and an adaptation…
PRABHUPADA: That is not very important.
ALLEN GINSBERG: And an adaptation to Indian food.
PRABHUPADA: No, no. Indian food… It is not Indian food. Are you not eating fruits?
ALLEN GINSBERG: Yes, yes.
PRABHUPADA: Then that is Indian food? Do you mean to say it is Indian food?
ALLEN GINSBERG: Well, the curries.
PRABHUPADA: Curries you may boil only. That doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that you have to take our taste. No. That is not the program, that to become Krishna conscious you have to change your taste. No. We say from the Bhagavad-gita… Krishna says, patram pushpam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati [Bg. 9.26]. “Anyone who is offering Me with devotion these vegetables, fruits, flowers, milk, I accept that.” But we are going to satisfy Krishna. Therefore we are selecting foodstuff from this group. That you are all already accepting. Don’t you take vegetables? Don’t you take fruits? Don’t you take grains? So where is the new item? Now, so far cooking, you can cook in your own taste. But the group must be this. Not meat. Because Krishna does not say. That is our program. So you are already taking grains, you are eating fruits, you are drinking milk. So where is the difference? I don’t find any difference.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Well, I suppose not. You could say there is no difference because the food is basically the same materially. It’s just a question of the style.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Now you take… Style may be different. That’s all right. Besides that, to maintain your body and soul together, you require eating, you require sleeping, you require mating, you require defense. We don’t say that you don’t do this. Krishna was… Arjuna was defending. Rather, he wanted to be nonviolent. “Oh, what is the use of fighting?” Krishna said, “No. It is required. You should.” So where is the difference? There is no difference. Simply we are adjusting things so that you may become happy. Any intelligent man will take it. We are not prohibiting, but we are adjusting. So there is no difficulty. Simply intelligent persons like you should try to understand and take it and administer because your country is wanting this.
ALLEN GINSBERG: But there is a limit to how much the pronunciation of Krishna will spread I think. There’s a limit.
PRABHUPADA: Hm? No limit. You can pronounce in any way Krishna. K-r-i-s-h-n-a. That’s all. Any way. Niyamitah smarane na kalah.
ALLEN GINSBERG: The limit is people’s prejudice…
PRABHUPADA: So we don’t say that why you are chanting Krishna like this? We never say that. We simply say, please try to chant Krishna.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Or let us say there would be a limit until the word Krishna became as common in English as any other English word.
PRABHUPADA: It is already in the dictionary. It is already in the dictionary. All dictionaries you will find Krishna. What do you want more?
ALLEN GINSBERG: Something that will not disturb truckdrivers.
INDIAN WOMAN: They can say Christ, they can say Krishna. It is same.
ALLEN GINSBERG: That is true… True. But they don’t say Christ. [laughs]
PRABHUPADA: Now Krist… I have read one book, Aquarian…
KIRTANANANDA: Aquarian Gospel?
PRABHUPADA: Gospel, yes. In there it is explained that Krist means love. Christ means love. And Krishna also means love. So there from Krishna this word Krist has come. And in India somebody says Kristha. Instead of Krishna, they say Kristha.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Where?
PRABHUPADA: And in apa-bhramsha, has come Kestha. Generally they talk, instead of pronouncing very nicely Krishna… Somebody’s name is Krishnachandra. “Hey, Kesthara.”
ALLEN GINSBERG: Where is this?
PRABHUPADA: In India everywhere. Kestha. So Kestha, Kristha or Krishna, they’re on the same group, aiming the same group. It is not difficult.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Of course, Catholicism in the West operated in Latin.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Catholicism in the West operated in Latin for centuries.
PRABHUPADA: Latin is from Sanskrit. Yes. Latin is from Sanskrit. Professor Rowe and Webb of Presidency College in Calcutta, they have got a grammar. They have said the Sanskrit language is mother of all languages. They were big English scholar, professor, Mr. Rowe and Webb. We had to read their grammar in our childhood. They have said that Sanskrit language is the mother of all languages. And in the dictionary you’ll find Indo-European language practically all from Sanskrit. The original word matri-shabda—the “mater,” no?
ALLEN GINSBERG: But the question I’m posing still is this. You accept the possibility of a series of Krishna consciousness centers in the United States.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Provided a man is not adversely inclined. Otherwise it is very simple.
ALLEN GINSBERG: But what I’m wondering is how far beyond exclusive centers, how far beyond that can it go in the United States? How far beyond a special study cult centers can a Krishna consciousness movement or any religious movement grow? ‘Cause the need is for a large single unifying religious movement in America.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. So here is Krishna. All-attractive. You now find out… You can say, “Why I shall accept Krishna?” You can say like that. Your first question is the unifying agent. I say here is Krishna. Now we can analyze, “Why you shall accept Krishna?” Then I shall reply, “Why you shall not?” What do you want, expect from the Supreme or the unifying, what do you expect? Everything is there in Krishna. Opulence-Krishna. Beauty-Krishna. Wisdom-Krishna. Renunciation-Krishna. Strength-Krishna. Everything in Krishna. Whatever you want you’ll find in Krishna. That is the unifying center. That I will convince you. He is the unifying center actually. And Bhagavad-gita it is said, mama vartmanuvartante manushyah partha sarvashah. “Everyone is trying to come to Me. Everyone is trying to come to Me.” Ye yatha mam prapadyante [Bg. 4.11]. “But he’s realizing Me in My different phases. But everyone is trying.”
So so far unifying religion is concerned there are three groups: impersonalists, personalists, and localized. Some are trying to understand the Absolute Truth in impersonal way. The mental speculators, they are trying to understand the Absolute in impersonal, without any personal form. And the yogis, they are trying to find out Krishna within their heart, meditation. And some are trying to find out the Absolute Truth in person by reciprocating love. So all these things are in Krishna. And Bhagavata says after explanation of that verse that it is the only business of human being to find out the Absolute Truth.
Now, the next verse, the Absolute Truth is explained, analyzed, vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam yaj jnanam advayam [SB 1.2.11]. Now, Absolute Truth is always one. There is no… Absolute Truth cannot be two. Then it is relative truth. Absolute Truth means one. So the knowledge of the Absolute Truth is one. Vadanti tat tattva-vidas [SB 1.2.11]. Tattva-vidas means those who are in knowledge of the Absolute Truth, they say that Absolute Truth is one. But He’s realized in three phases. Brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti shabdyate. Brahman means impersonal, and Paramatma is localized, and Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So these are different stages. Just like the sun. The first experience of sun is this impersonal effulgence all over the sky. But that is not very important than the sun globe. Because it is from the sun globe the effulgence is coming. So anyone will understand that this sunshine is not so important as the sun globe. And if you approach the sun globe and if you penetrate into the sun, if you have got strength to go into the… Just like you are trying go to the moon planet. If you have got really scientific strength to go within the sun planet, then you’ll find there is sun-god. That information we get from Bhagavad-gita. Imam vivasvate yogam proktavan aham avyayam [Bg. 4.1]. “I told the sun-god Vivasvan first.” So therefore there is a person. And why not a person? Your imagination is not ultimate truth. We get information from Krishna, there is a person, Vivasvan. So there is a person, he’s sitting there. Person, globe, sun, sunshine. Which is important? Which is important?
ALLEN GINSBERG: The person, the globe or the sunshine?
ALLEN GINSBERG: [laughs] I don’t know.
PRABHUPADA: Why you don’t know? You cannot say? Which of them? These three things are presenting. The sunshine, the sun globe, and within the sun globe, the sun-god. Who is important?
ALLEN GINSBERG: If we could apprehend it in terms of person, the person.
ALLEN GINSBERG: But if we could apprehend it only in terms of the globe, then the globe.
PRABHUPADA: So that means your approach may be up to globe, but that is not finished.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Yes.
PRABHUPADA: That is not finished. You have to go… That is… Upanisad says that, he’s praying that “Please wind up Your effulgence so that I can see Your true face.” The Upanishad says. You see in the Upanishad. And he’s praying that “Please wind up Your this glaring effulgence so that I can see Your real face.” So real face is there. And Bhagavad-gita says, brahmano ‘ham pratishtha. “This impersonal Brahman is standing on My existence.” And Brahma-samhita [5.40] says:
yasya prabha prabhavato jagad-anda-koti-
kotishv ashesha-vasudhadi vibhuti-bhinnam
tad brahma nishkalam anantam ashesha-bhutam
govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami
This Brahman effulgence is nothing but His bodily effulgence. You see whenever we put Krishna, there’s a bodily effulgence. Within that bodily effulgence every creation is there. Just like this effulgence of sun. Within the sunshine all these planets are moving, all this vegetation, everything growing, coming. The whole thing is existing on the sunshine. Similarly, sarvam khalv idam brahma. Everything existing on brahmajyoti. And in the Bhagavad-gita it is said maya tatam idam sarvam jagad avyakta-murtina. “This impersonal exhibition of this whole manifestation, it is I.” Mat-sthani sarva-bhutani [Bg. 9.4]. “Everything existing in Me.” Naham teshu avasthitah. “But I am not there.”
So we have to study everything intelligently. I want some intelligent persons from America. Then it will be done. It is not bluff. It is real science. Authority. One has to understand simply. That’s all. Therefore in the Chaitanya-charitamrita it is said, Krishna yei bhaje sei bada chatura. Unless one is very, very intelligent he cannot come to Krishna consciousness. He must be very intelligent. So if we find one or two intelligent persons, ekash chandras tamo hanti na cha tara… then one moon is sufficient to eradicate all darkness. There is no need of millions of stars. Krishna consciousness is so beautiful. You call any intelligent person, we are prepared to convince him. Any intelligent. He must be little intelligent. That’s all. We don’t want…
ALLEN GINSBERG: Yes, but I’m not even convinced.
ALLEN GINSBERG: I mean, everything you say is beautiful, but…
PRABHUPADA: No. You are very intelligent boy. Why not you are intelligent? You are recognized poet, you are popular poet. Why you… I take you are intelligent. You are first-class intelligent. You are chanting.
ALLEN GINSBERG: But that’s almost a physical body movement—the chanting—rather than a…
PRABHUPADA: Maybe, but your intelligence is sufficient. That is… If that standard of intelligent men I get, that is my fortune. You see. Now, at least I request you, you try to understand this Krishna consciousness philosophy. It is not sentiment. It is not bluffing. It is not a money-making business that I give you some…
ALLEN GINSBERG: No. Obviously not.
PRABHUPADA: You see? You know from the very beginning. I came here single-handed. I chanted. That’s all. I never asked anybody money.
ALLEN GINSBERG: That was never in question.
PRABHUPADA: So I never said that “I’ll give you Krishna consciousness or this…” No, I mean to say… So it is not bluff. It is purely scientific, transcendental science. So I want some American gentlemen to understand this.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Well, Howard does.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. So we want many Howards. [laughs] Your country is so big.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Actually, what I got into, you were saying so everything stands on “My,” Krishna’s personality. And then there was a twist there: “But I am empty.” Is that what you said before? Do you remember? Just about eight minutes ago you concluded the description of the sun and the…
PRABHUPADA: Sun globe, sun, and the sunshine.
KIRTANANANDA: Krishna says that “Everything is depending on Me and still I am not in them.”
ALLEN GINSBERG: Oh, oh. I guess that’s where I… “Everything is depending on Me, yet I am not in them.”
PRABHUPADA: “Everything is resting on Me. But I am not there.” Just like this is Krishna. Without Krishna it has no existence. But it is not Krishna. The pantheist will say “I… Everything is Krishna, then I worship this.”
ALLEN GINSBERG: So who is Krishna?
PRABHUPADA: Krishna is Krishna.
ALLEN GINSBERG: If He’s not apprehensible by senses…
PRABHUPADA: No. Why not senses? This is Krishna. This is Krishna. But at the same time… This is the philosophy of Lord Chaitanya. Achintya-bhedabheda, simultaneously one and different. That is very easy… Suppose this is gold. But this gold is not the gold mine. There is a difference. It is gold. Similarly, everything is Krishna, but still is different from Krishna. That is explained in Vishnu Purana. Parasya brahmanah shaktih sarvedam akhilam jagat. Eka-sthani sthitasyajner jyotsna vistarini yatha, parasya brahmanah shaktih sarvedam akhilam jagat. The same example, that the sun. The sun is, sun-god is situated one place, but it is fiery. Blazing fire. Its heat and light is expanded. You see practically, the heat and light. So whatever this material existence is the sunlight, sunshine. Everything existing on sunshine. It is scientific. Your electricity, your this, that̬whatever you take, it is all sunshine. All these planets are moving, rotating on the sunshine. Heat. If heat is taken away immediately whole thing spoiled. Therefore everything is resting on the energy of the sunshine, but if you say that “Then let me find out the sun-god in the sunshine,” that you will have to go there.
HAYAGRIVA: The Christians, I think they say, God is more than His creation.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Certainly. This creation is only a part of manifestation of His energy. Insignificant. That is explained in Bhagavad-gita [10.42]:
atha va bahunaitena
kim jnatena tavarjuna
vishtabhyaham idam kritsnam
ekamshena sthito jagat
“The whole material existence is simply a partial manifestation of My energy.” Ekamshena. Vishtabhyaham. Aham. “I have entered into this whole material creation and that is My partial manifestation of energy.” Just like what is your… this body? The body is the, a manifestation of your energy. The seed, living entity, is put into the mother’s womb and he expands. This body is expanding. But because you are limited, so much. That’s all. Three feet or six feet. That’s all. No more. You cannot expand more than that. This is crude example. But He’s unlimited. He’s expanding. Brihatvad brimhanatvad iti brahma. Brahman means nothing is greater than Him and nothing can expand like Him. Brihatvad brimhanatvad iti brahma.
So everything is there scientific. Simply we have to administer. We have got authoritative scripture, description, answerS. Everything is there. It is not blind following. It is not religious fanaticism. It is actually solid ground. Simply one has to understand nicely. That’s all. And there is no difficulty. So simple. Now, this… Our recommendation is simply, chant Hare Krishna. So far the Sanskrit word is, that is not a problem. Everyone is chanting. So what is the difficulty? Bring any religious principle. You cannot find so easy. We don’t recommend the ritualistic. That is… That is not very important thing. We are giving, say, simply chant. Ritualistic performance a little more helping. That’s all. It is helping. It is not required. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says that all the strength and all the beauty, all the wisdom, everything is there in the name. Simply by chanting we get all, everything. But just to help it. It does not… If somebody does not want our ritualistic, that is not an important thing. We don’t say. We simply recommend that “You please chant.” That’s all. I requested you to chant. Not that I requested that you adopt our means. So that we are requesting. Let them chant. Make an experiment. It is not very difficult thing.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Well, the chanting is easy. The chanting is easy. That’s true.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Let them do that. Don’t come to the ritualistic performances. Let them chant as far as possible and see the result. This is the easiest method of transcendental realization. But if you recommend, oh, that will be accepted by many. And if we…
ALLEN GINSBERG: No. You see, I recommend it quite a bit but it isn’t accepted by very many.
PRABHUPADA: (laughs) No, no. Then I say, you are American. You are popular leader. You have got some voice. I am a foreigner. I have come new, and who cares for me? That is a different thing.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Well, that’s why I’m asking you very specifically, ’cause I’ve been chanting for five years, six years. Since 1963, ’64. Since the fall of 1963, I’ve been chanting Hare Krishna on this continent, beginning in Vancouver in July, 1963. And I am finding there is a limitation to how many people will join that chant. Or I have found a limitation. Part of the limitation is the fact that it is strange and new to people here.
PRABHUPADA: But there is no loss.
ALLEN GINSBERG: As it becomes familiar, it might spread a little. Part of the limitation is just a natural resentment or resistance, people wanting a prayer in their own tongue, in their own language. I don’t know… So that is, for the same reason an American Indian chant would not take hold or even a Latin chant would not take universal hold.
PRABHUPADA: Mantra, mantra means…
ALLEN GINSBERG: So that many of us will say, “Is it possible to find an American mantra?”
PRABHUPADA: Mantra means the transcendental sound. You see. Just like Omkara.
ALLEN GINSBERG: So you think the very nature of the sound… Okay, but now, Om is an absolutely natural sound from the throat to the mouth. And yet even Om, natural as it is, sounds foreign.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Therefore it is a pranama. It is accepted.
ALLEN GINSBERG: That also sounds foreign here. It’s hard to get people to say Om even. ‘Cause I tried in Chicago with Om and with Hare Krishna.
PRABHUPADA: But there is no other alternative.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Well, we haven’t been able to think of one yet, I’ll tell you that.
PRABHUPADA: That is his misfortune if they…
ALLEN GINSBERG: Many people here have said, “What about ‘God, God, God, God, God.’ ” But that doesn’t have the right…
HAYAGRIVA: No, that doesn’t make it.
KIRTANANANDA: You couldn’t do that [recite “God”] for five minutes.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Well, you could almost do, “Amen, Amen.”
HAYAGRIVA: That’s not English.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Yes, that’s not English. [laughter] But it’s known in English. And maybe Krishna could become as well known as God and Amen, or something like that.
PRABHUPADA: No, Krishna is in English dictionary.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Yes. Now in the dictionary?
ALLEN GINSBERG: He infiltrated the dictionary.
HAYAGRIVA: Although as an incarnation of Vishnu.
PRABHUPADA: English dictionary.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Let’s see what it says in the English dictionary.
HAYAGRIVA: “Eighth incarnation of Vishnu.”
INDIAN WOMAN: [speaking Bengali]
PRABHUPADA: Just see. Here is an intelligent statement. Yes. You can explain in English.
INDIAN WOMAN: I was saying that when the question of knowledge came and Western education was high tops, still it is, thousands of people from other countries like Africa, and India, and all the people, they deliberately learned from the beginning, from childhood, to speak. They started saying Mama and Papa and they’re still coming to the higher education in these universities. And when the question comes of ultimate knowledge and the Western civilization doesn’t want to take, only the word, just the word, so that is their limitation. They don’t want to know.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Okay. Partly the fear of that, is that the study of Krishna consciousness will become as bureaucratized in America as the examination system has made the study of higher Western knowledge in India.
INDIAN WOMAN: Yes. But the only difference is that that Krishna consciousness is unlimited. It glorifies the Lord and it makes unlimited. But this education is just limited. See? Limited education other people can come and learn and take their language of their own mother tongue.
PRABHUPADA: Takes so much trouble. Simply for uttering one Krishna they are not prepared to take little trouble?
INDIAN WOMAN: Liberation. The whole life, whole human life liberation. They don’t take, they don’t like to take because it is started in Indian language. Or it is not Indian language. Krishna is not Indian language. Om isn’t Indian language. It’s the ultimate God’s name.
PRABHUPADA: Neither Krishna says that He is Indian.
INDIAN WOMAN: He didn’t say, “I am Indian.” It’s universal. It’s not Indian. Om is not Indian. Anybody who wants to know Om, how to say Om. See?
PRABHUPADA: So you have to accept little trouble to utter Krishna. That’s all.
ALLEN GINSBERG: I’m willing.
PRABHUPADA: We have taken so much trouble for understanding English language. And simply for our transcendental understanding…
ALLEN GINSBERG: It’s next to Santa Claus in the dictionary.
INDIAN WOMAN: Yes, Krishna is Santa Claus. He is everything. He gives everything.
PRABHUPADA: Very good.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Have you seen that? Krishna’s next to Kris Kringle.
PRABHUPADA: What is the, what is the Krishna? What does he say?
KIRTANANANDA: “Eighth avatar of Vishnu. From Sanskrit Krishna. The widespread form of Hindu worship.”
HAYAGRIVA: That’s the usual. That’s in all the dictionaries.
INDIAN WOMAN: Only the Indian people are lucky that still they are holding it tight. That’s all. Now other people have forgotten. But it’s all universal.
PRABHUPADA: Krishna said in the Bhagavad-gita that “I am the father of everyone.” Sarva-yonishu kaunteya [Bg. 14.4]. Not only human being. All animals, trees, plants. So Krishna is universal.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Now, for instance, in America many of the black people are tending toward Allah and toward Muhammadanism.
PRABHUPADA: That is another thing. Somebody is inclined to some thing, somebody is inclined to some thing. That is going on, and it will go on till the end of the creation. [laughing]
ALLEN GINSBERG: [Kali] Yuga.
PRABHUPADA: But our process is that, you are searching after the center, here is the center. That is our proposal.
ALLEN GINSBERG: But what do you do when different religious groups claim to be the center? What do you do when different religious groups…
PRABHUPADA: No, we welcome every religion. We don’t decry any religion. Our point is the love of Godhead. Or Krishna is love, all-attractive. So we want to be attracted by Krishna. Just like a magnetic force and iron. Unless iron is rusty, it is automatically attracted by the magnetic force. Similarly, we are contaminated by material coverings. So we are trying to make it rustless so that immediately we shall be attracted. This is the program. Krishna is all-attractive. That is a fact. And we are attracted. But being covered with this rust, we are, instead of being attracted by Krishna, we are being attracted by maya. This is our whole program. So our central program is how to love Krishna, or how to love God. So we want to see… That is the Bhagavata definition, that how much you have enhanced your love of God. You call Krishna or something else, that doesn’t matter. Phalena parichiyate. The result. Your religious principle, what is the result? Are you enhancing your love for God or dog? That we want to see. If you are enhancing your love for God, it is all right. We don’t say anything. But if… People should learn how to love. That is the perfection of life. That we are teaching.
ALLEN GINSBERG: If you’re identifying love, however, with the shabda Krishna, what of those people who identify love with the shabda Allah?
PRABHUPADA: If that shabda, of course, identifies with God, we have no objection. That Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said that namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-shaktis. God has many names. God is attractive, His name is also attractive, because He’s not different from His name. If you have got exactly the same attractive name, we have no objection. We simply say, “You chant God’s name, holy name.” Then you become purified. That is our program. We don’t say that you change your Christianity. No. We don’t say. If you have got a nice name, all-attractive name, in your scripture—don’t manufacture but authorized—then you chant that. We simply request, “You chant.”
ALLEN GINSBERG: Well, then how would you adapt the Krishna chanting to Christianity? By seeing Krishna as Christ or Christ as Krishna and sounding Christ’s image in Krishna’s name?
PRABHUPADA: Krishna, Christ… Of course, this question was several times put to me. Christ says that “I am son of God.” And Krishna says “I am God.” So there is no difference. Son of God and God, we respect everyone. If I respect your father, I respect you also. Do you mean to say if I disrespect your father, you’ll be pleased upon me? No. That is our philosophy. So Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says that I am servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna [Chaitanya-charitamrita Madhya 13.80]. So if anyone loves Krishna, he must love Lord Jesus Christ also. And if one perfectly loves Jesus Christ he must love Krishna. If he says, “Why shall I love Krishna? I shall love Jesus Christ,” then he has no knowledge. And if one says, “Why shall I love Jesus Christ? I shall love…”, then he has also no knowledge. If one understands Krishna, then he will understand Jesus Christ. If one understands Jesus Christ, you’ll understand Krishna.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Well, then do you think that the Hare Krishna chant could serve as an intermediary to link the religious tendencies of both of Christianity and Muslim religions?
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Yes. Any religion. Any religion. If he’s serious about religion. If he takes the religion as a scapegoat, that is different thing. If he wants to understand religion and if he takes seriously to religion, then he will understand. We want serious persons. Now, according to Srimad-Bhagavatam, religion means creation of the laws of God. Dharmam tu sakshad bhagavat-pranitam [SB 6.3.19]. Laws of God. Who will deny it? Who will deny it? Any religion, Christian, Muhammadan or any. Who can deny that religion is the laws of God? Simple explanation. If you ask what is meant by religion, religion is laws of God. That’s all. And if you want to know what is God, that is also replied. “The original source of everything.” So one should try to understand in this way. But if one wants to remain in his compact ideas and does not want to go further, then it is very difficult. He should be open-minded and appreciating. Then everything is all right. We say… Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, it is not that you are necessarily to chant Krishna, but if you have no suitable name, then chant Krishna. Why do you make differentiate? Every name is the same.
ALLEN GINSBERG: So if you have no other suitable name, chant Krishna.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Chant Krishna.
ALLEN GINSBERG: That’s Chaitanya’s…?
PRABHUPADA: Yes, yes.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Did He feel there were other suitable names? Did He feel or did He think that…
PRABHUPADA: Yes. He said many thousand millions names there are. But if you are serious about God, then… You may have many names by your friends, but any name will do.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Okay. So the problem I was posing before is, which I leave open, I don’t know. What is the most attractive and suitable name here in this material country?
PRABHUPADA: Now, take for example the Muhammadan name Allah. Allah means the greatest. So God is greatest. So that greatest conception is this Brahman conception. And so far Christian, I don’t think they have got any particular name. They say God.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Yes. Lord, God. That is the basic one.
PRABHUPADA: Controller. God means controller. Is it not?
ALLEN GINSBERG: What is the etymology of God? Do you know?
HAYAGRIVA: I don’t know.
PRABHUPADA: God is the equivalent of ishvara. Ishvara means controller.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Then the Jews, which were my background, had a prohibition…
ALLEN GINSBERG: They had Jehovah, but they had a prohibition of pronouncing the highest names. ‘Cause they felt that God was imageless, and therefore should not be pronounced or painted. My background is I guess what would be impersonalist.
HAYAGRIVA: The Jews are personalist.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Well, what are they? Impersonalists or personalists?
WOMAN: Impersonalists. They believe in just the Absolute. That’s all.
PRABHUPADA: That was the difference in Jesus Christ. He was a personalist.
DEVOTEE: Hasidics are personal.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Yes. They put their devotion into the rabbi or the guru. The ancient Hebrew… I guess you must know about that. The ancient Hebrew teaching was that the name of God should never be pronounced.
PRABHUPADA: Now we come to know…
ALLEN GINSBERG: J-H-V-H.
PRABHUPADA: Anyway why God’s name…
ALLEN GINSBERG: Pictures should not be made. Pictures should not be made. Because it would limit God to human conception.
PRABHUPADA: That is another thing. That is in Muhammadan. That means God is not material. That is the idea. Because here the idea is when I make something image or picture, that is material. So there is a prohibition of accepting God as material. But if you go to a higher stage, then you’ll understand that if God is everything then there is no material. That is Vaishnava philosophy. If God is everything, then where is material? He is spiritual. Material means when you cannot understand God. That is material. Everything is sky. When it is covered by cloud we call it is cloudy. Similarly, cloud has no existence. It comes only to cover sometimes, but the sky is eternal. Similarly, God is eternal. When you are covered by some maya, you cannot see, you cannot understand God, that is material. So any philosophy which does not help understanding God, that is material. That is material. Otherwise, there is no material. Where is material if God is everything? Sarvam khalv idam brahma. You see?
HAYAGRIVA: All spirits.
PRABHUPADA: All spirit. All the sky. Everywhere is sky, but when it’s covered it is called cloud. Similarly when God is covered by some nonsense ideas, then it is material. Otherwise, there is no material. Therefore those who are too much absorbed in materialistic way, there is a restriction but don’t attempt. Because he will be to think that God’s name is just like my son’s name my daughter’s name. Therefore that restriction.
RANADHIR: I think when they worship, they’re allowed to say God’s name, it’s just when they’re not, when they’re talking about Him outside the temple that they have to use different name.
HAYAGRIVA: We’ve got to tune some harmoniums.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Yes, we have to work on the music boxes. We have to start material preparations for the evening.
PRABHUPADA: That is not material. [laughter] We have no…
ALLEN GINSBERG: A shabda preparation.
PRABHUPADA: Yes, shabda is originally spiritual, shabda-brahman.
ALLEN GINSBERG: We have to find out if all the…
PRABHUPADA: Simply you have to understand that there is nothing material, everything is spiritual. That is required. So long you do not understand that everything is spiritual only, that is our defect.
ALLEN GINSBERG: Well, then even sexuality is spiritual?
PRABHUPADA: Yes, that is said in the Bhagavad-gita: if you use sexuality for giving birth to nice child, not cats and dogs, that is spiritual. But people are using sexuality for other purposes. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, shastra-viruddho. According to religious ritualistic way, if one, when one uses sex life that is [indistinct]. That is, therefore in the, according to Vedic system, therefore, having sex life with wife, there is a great ceremony which is called garbhadhana ceremony, and all the higher caste, brahmana, kshatriyas, shudra, or vaishyas especially, they are to observe ten kinds of reformative process. The first process is while giving birth to a child there is a great ceremony, garbhadhana.
ALLEN GINSBERG: I would rather dogs and cats being Krishna’s though.
ALLEN GINSBERG: But if all matter is Krishna?
PRABHUPADA: That’s all right, but when Krishna is covered, when Krishna is covered, naham prakashah sarvasya yoga-maya-samavritah [Bg. 7.25]. The same example: cloud is sunshine, but it covers. What is the cloud? This is creation of the sunshine as these trees and everything is creation of sunshine. Cloud is also. Mind is also Krishna’s. In that sense Mind is also Krishna, but it has a covering spirit.
WOMAN: The element, its quality.
HAYAGRIVA: It’s a whole spirit but in certain circumstances we tend to forget this…
PRABHUPADA: Material energy that’s said by Krishna apara, inferior energy. Bhumir apo, bhumir apo analo, prakritir me bhinna ashtadha. Apareyam itas tu viddhi me prakritim para [Bg. 7.5]. So material energy is the covering energy, is also Krishna. Just like police department is also government, but it is not very convenient because putting under police department. [laughter] That is also government department. For government the university department and the police are equally important. They are spending equally, are taking care of both the, but for us, “Oh, police department horrible.” This man is under police department, police custody, and that man is in education.
WOMAN: That’s much better.
PRABHUPADA: But when you go to the government state, they are equally important. They are distributing the finance everywhere. So similarly either you take material energy or spiritual energy or marginal energy, all energy of God’s, Krishna’s, but they are acting differently. So, so far I am marginal energy, if I am under the control of the material energy, that is my misfortune. But if I am controlled by the spiritual energy, that is my fortune. Therefore in the Bhagavad-gita it is said, mahatmanas tu mam partha daivim prakritim ashritah [Bg. 9.13]. They take shelter of the spiritual energy. They are mahatma, and what is their symptom: bhajanty ananya manaso, simply engaged in devotional service. That, that is required.
PRABHUPADA: Hare Krishna. [END]