excerpt from interview with French journalist, August 10, 1973, Paris:
PRABHUPADA: Now here is economics, politics and everything. So by Krishna consciousness movement we want to see that everyone is getting nicely the necessities of life. That is economic. Is it not?
REPORTER: It is economic in a very, in a very…
PRABHUPADA: Brotherhood. Actually, we develop economics for getting the necessities of life. Is it not? That is economics.
REPORTER: Yeah. But the point is that these necessities of life is a frontier, you know, … which is always farther, and farther and farther, always more pushed, pushed away, pushed away by new things. So…
PRABHUPADA: No, no. That is artificial. That is artificial. We are not concerned with artificial things. Just like you require to eat. Now artificially you can increase so many things for eating purposes. But you must eat. That is the economic question. It is not that you should starve. It is not our proposal that you become Krishna conscious by starving. No. You must have sufficient necessities of life.
REPORTER: All right. So… The purpose for economic plan of all the planet, for the world would be everybody can eat, and I suppose just, just eating and some clothes and some roof to be, if you are in a cold country…
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Eating, sleeping… Sleeping requires roof, apartment. So it includes your housing, your eating, your sex urge, and your defence. Everything should be nicely… So arrangement should be made that people are not harassed for these necessities of life.
REPORTER: And all the rest is superfluous. Is too much.
REPORTER: All the rest is superficial, is superficial.
PRABHUPADA: What is superficial?
DEVOTEE: Extra. Not needed.
YOGESVARA: Anything beyond these four basics is…
PRABHUPADA: That is necessities of life. Because you have got this body, so you must supply the necessities of the body. That we supply. Not only that. We want to keep men in so peaceful condition that he’s not disturbed by mental anxieties, bodily disease, natural disturbances and fighting or quarreling with other living entities. So when he’s perfectly in peaceful condition of life, he can save time for advancement in spiritual consciousness.
REPORTER: Sure, so…
PRABHUPADA: But aim is that his life, everyone’s life is meant for spiritual realization. So to, in order to achieve this end of life he must be kept in peaceful condition of life.
YOGESVARA: He asks: “In order to achieve these goals is it our intention to do like the Christians and make everyone convert to Krishna consciousness?”
YOGESVARA: In order to achieve our goals, do we intend doing like the Christians tried to do, making everyone convert to their side. Is that what we want to do, make everyone convert to Krishna?
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Why not? If Krishna consciousness is good, why everyone should not take to it?
YOGESVARA: Ah. This is an important question. He says seeing the world as it is today, what is the most preferable social organization from the Krishna conscious point of view?
YOGESVARA: How should society be organized in order to achieve these goals?
PRABHUPADA: Yes. You organize that there should be division of different classes of men. The first class men, the second class men, the third class men, fourth class men. The first-class men means the most intelligent class of men. Second-class men means those who are dealing in politics. Third-class men means those who are dealing in economics, industry, trade. And fourth-class men means they have no intelligence to take up all these things, but they work only. But all of them should cooperate. For the general benefit of the whole human society. We have got engagement for the first-class men, second-class men, third-class men, fourth-class men. Just like we have got in our body the brain, the arms, the belly, and the legs. But all of them are cooperating for keeping the body fit. Similarly, the first-class, second-class, third-class, fourth-class men should cooperate for achieving the end, Krishna consciousness.
BHAGAVAN: It’s not that one class is feeling exploited by another class.
PRABHUPADA: No. No. Helping. Just like when there is some pain in my leg. My brain is working how to cure it. It is helping. It is not exploiting. Similarly, my brain wants to go somewhere to see something. My leg is helping to carry me there. Just like you wanted to see me. Your brain said that: “I must see this man.” Your leg carried you. This is cooperation. You have got some capacity. You do it for the benefit of the society so that he may become Krishna conscious. This, this plan is perfect socialism. Socialism, socialism means everyone is working for elevation of everyone to Krishna consciousness. Because that is the highest perfection of life.
BHAGAVAN: Another question?
REPORTER: No, I think it’s all right. You have a speech tomorrow? You will have a speech tomorrow?
BHAGAVAN: Yes, here, yes.
DEVOTEE: Here, it’ll be.
BHAGAVAN: Here. In the afternoon you are scheduled to…
PRABHUPADA: Yes. What is the subject matter? Any ….
BHAGAVAN: As you like.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. So it is the most refined socialism. Krishna consciousness movement… Our socialism means centering around Krishna. Just like Russian socialism is around the ideas of Marx or Lenin. So we have got also similar leader. As the communist has got the leader, Marx or Lenin, similarly we have also got the leader, Krishna.
BHAGAVAN: There is, there is kind of socialist or communist philosophy that says that everyone must be able to do the same work in order to be equal.
PRABHUPADA: That is not possible. That is rascaldom. We have divided already four classes of men. Even in Russia… Even in Russia, I have seen, they have created two classes, the worker class, the manager class. I have seen it. Yes. So you cannot say that everyone will do the same work. That is not possible. I have given already the example, the brain, the arms, the abdomen and the leg. The leg cannot do the work of brain. Leg can cooperate with the brain, but cannot do the work of brain. This is natural position.
YOGESVARA: He asks: In our society do these four divisions also exist?
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Yes.
YOGESVARA: In ISKCON, are there these four divisions?
PRABHUPADA: No, we are transcendental to all these material divisions. This is material division.
YOGESVARA: In that case, in which of these four divisions are we?
PRABHUPADA: First-class. That is the beginning. But we go above the first-class. [break] Similarly, socially also, you must have four divisions. The reason is the material nature is working under three divisions, goodness, passion and ignorance. In our body also, the brain is working under goodness quality. The arm is working under the influence of passion. The belly is working in between passion and ignorance. And the leg is working under ignorance. Leg cannot work unless there is direction by the brain. At the present moment, the society’s working under the influence of passion and ignorance. The brain is lacking now. Therefore we are creating Krishna conscious men who has got real brain. Intelligent class of men. So other classes of men who are acting under influence of passion and ignorance, they should take direction from us. And for our directing business, we don’t charge anything. And if they follow our direction, they have no loss.
BHAGAVAN: It can be tested.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Therefore this movement is the most important movement. For giving direction, we don’t charge, and by following our direction, they don’t lose anything. So why not make an experiment and see the result? The result is already there. Any intelligent man can see. It is not bluff.
BHAGAVAN: We are living, sixty, seventy people in this house, cooperatively, like this. That is a very great thing.
PRABHUPADA: And they are living very happily. You can see from their face. Yes. They are known as bright-faced. Yes. Many, I mean, Christian priests, they came to congratulate me: “Swamiji, how you have made your disciples so jolly and bright-faced?” The government in America, they are surprised, that even after spending millions of dollars, they could not drive away LSD intoxication. And as soon as a intoxicated person comes to our camp, he not only gives up LSD and liquor, he gives up even smoking, drinking tea and coffee. So why not experiment this movement. The greatest socialist movement. If you want to get the socialistic idea, we can give you. Would you like to take?
REPORTER: Oh, I don’t trust. I could trust. Yeah. But…
PRABHUPADA: Our socialistic idea, you can note down…
REPORTER: I have nothing to lose but do you think you could manage all society very complex, as our…
REPORTER: It’s more than…
PRABHUPADA: We can, we can make the society perfect if they take our advice. Because we are working as the brain.
BHAGAVAN: He can see Prabhupada’s books. Our philosophy is not small philosophy.
REPORTER: Just a last question. Just… You were saying, minute before that the socialism, your socialism is that Krishna is your Marx, sort of.
REPORTER: Yeah. But… It will be my last question. What about you in that? Would you be, you are a spiritual chief. Would you be…?
PRABHUPADA: I am not spiritual chief. Krishna is spiritual chief.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. I am simply explaining what Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita. I am acting on His behalf. I am acting on His behalf. Just like Krishna says that there is no more higher authority than Him. I am speaking to my students: “There is no more higher authority than Krishna.” So, in other words, there is no difference between Krishna’s statement and my statement.
REPORTER: I understand. But you know that if you want for changing society you must have a force…
YOGESVARA: You need the strength to change society.
YOGESVARA: You have to have sufficient strength to change society.
PRABHUPADA: I may not have sufficient strength. I can… If I can convert a dozen of people, that is my success.
REPORTER: I think, I think…
PRABHUPADA: And if you want
to know our socialistic idea, I can give you.
REPORTER: Yeah. Because I thought you know, it was just an idea of your… But I shall never think it was so, so much clear.
YOGESVARA: He never thought that our program was quite so detailed.
PRABHUPADA: It is most scientific program.
BHAGAVAN: We have also economic position.
PRABHUPADA: Everything, I have explained. Now our socialist idea is: God is the father of all living beings. And whatever there is on the surface of the globe, on the sea, on the sky, everything belongs to God. And all the sons of God has equal right to enjoy it. But nobody is allowed to take more than he requires. If one takes more than he requires, he’s to be punished. This is our socialist idea. As we think all living entities sons of God, therefore even a lizard in my room should not starve.
BHAGAVAN: He should not starve is the point.
BHAGAVAN: He should not be allowed to go hungry.
PRABHUPADA: Even a snake is there, he should not also starve. He must have food. We do not support such rascal philosophy that you give food to the man, and send the animals to the slaughterhouse. We do not support this rascaldom, our philosophy is: as human being has got the right to take share of God’s property and live, similarly all other living entities, they have got right.
REPORTER: Have you a point of view about the demographic problem and the problem of …[speaks French]?
YOGESVARA: [translates] Do we have a viewpoint on contraception?
PRABHUPADA: That is most sinful activity. Because a child is coming to live at the expense of God’s property, and the rascal father is thinking of overpopulation.
YOGESVARA: Or, as Prabhupada was saying, he’s thinking there’s overpopulation.
YOGESVARA: [translates] But he says but this is a fact, this overpopulation.
PRABHUPADA: That is another wrong impression. Foolish impression. The whole world has got sufficient place to produce food for ten times the population as it is now. The Americans, they throw grains in the water. So if they send the excess grain to the place where grain is not sufficient, then it is God consciousness. If the so-called overpopulation is spread all over the world, there is sufficient place in Africa, Australia, America. The overpopulation can grow their food in these vast uncultivated land.
YOGESVARA: He says that only resolves the problem for a few years.
PRABHUPADA: That is nonsense. We don’t believe it. That is not…
YOGESVARA: Why. Why is it that this program…?
PRABHUPADA: Why do they think that it is for few years?
YOGESVARA: He’s thinking that the Earth is not capable of providing enough…
PRABHUPADA: What does he know about Earth? His knowledge is not sufficient. He, he’s speaking like a woman who saw in the marketplace in the morning thousands of people have gathered, and she began to cry: “Where I shall give place to these men?” So her son came: “My dear mother, don’t cry. You come in the evening. We shall find some solution.” So when she came in the evening, there was nobody.
YOGESVARA: You can translate that story? [speaks French] [to Prabhupada:] She went there to buy her foodstuffs?
PRABHUPADA: Yes, yes.
YOGESVARA: [translates in French for reporter]
PRABHUPADA: So you are thinking in that way. “How I shall provide this population?” That is the old woman’s crying. Without sufficient knowledge. We do not believe in this, all rascaldom. We believe in God. If God can create… just like animals. They do not cry. They’re increasing. The hogs and dogs, even lower animals… This is demonic economy. A man is holding thousands of acres of land and he’s thinking of overpopulation. Why not he distributes the thousands of acres of land to the people? They would produce their own food. That is the, that is the defect of so-called socialism. But here we give a right type of socialism.
YOGESVARA: He thinks he has a fairly clear idea of what our program is now.
REPORTER: Thank you very much for this [indistinct].
PRABHUPADA: Thank you.