Room Conversation with Woman Sanskrit Professor

Type:
Room Conversation
Date:
February 13
Year:
1975
Place:
Mexico City

Professor: …of the knowledge. Of a…

Prabhupāda: Theory? Theory of?

Professor: Knowledge. And the ways to approach nature.

Prabhupāda: So what is your decision? What is the position of the living entities?

Professor: Well, [laughing] I want [indistinct] especially on relation with the theory of knowledge with the lower [indistinct]. Both their knowledge [indistinct] reality.

Prabhupāda: [aside:] Hmm? I don’t…

Hṛdayānanda: [explaining] She says she’s… They’re more or less concerned with the theory of knowledge, rather than actually having some knowledge.

Prabhupāda: What is that theory of knowledge?

Professor: Yes. I had been studying the Sanskrit, the texts of Śaṅkara especially, the bhāṣya of Badarāyaṇa.

Prabhupāda: No, theory of knowledge, how it is explained?

Professor: [professor laughs] Put me in a rather particular postion you know, only way that…[indistinct].

Prabhupāda: Every living being has got knowledge. What is that theory of knowledge?

Professor: Well, as far as I interpret myself, it is how the individual is…

Prabhupāda: Every individual being has knowledge. Even a small ant, it has got knowledge.

Professor: Yes. But how you can…

Prabhupāda: Knowledge… Of course, development of knowledge according to the body, but a living entity, even the trees, they have got knowledge. They grow. When there is some block, they do not grow that side; they grow this side. Is it not?

Professor: Yes.

Prabhupāda: So every living being has got knowledge. The basic knowledge, how to maintain, everyone has got.

Professor: But how you can discriminate by the knowledge that your senses are being given to you and the real knowledge of the of truth.

Prabhupāda: No, knowledge… Living entity, by constitutional position, has got knowledge. But in the… in connection with this material world, when this living entity comes to this material world, so according to the body, the development of knowledge differs.

Professor: If one is following the different stage, status of knowledge…

Prabhupāda: Yes. Different stage of knowledge means different types of body. Just like a child. A child is talking in some way. The same child, when he will get a different body, youthful body, he’ll talk differently. What do you think?

Guest (1) [German man]: I would like to ask you a question. Once Leibniz, who is one of the fathers of the Western tradition, formulated the question which was the beginning of metaphysics in a way, Western metaphysics. The question is, “Why there is anything?” What is your stand about this classic point?

Prabhupāda: Why…?

Guest (1): Why there is anything?

Prabhupāda: Anything?

Hṛdayānanda: Why anything exists? What is the reason for the existence of…?

Professor: Existence of him.

Prabhupāda: [chuckles] “Why anything exists?” [laughter] What do you mean by “anything”?

Guest (1): Well, that’s precisely the point. What is the purpose? What is the sense, if there is any, or does the very question make sense?

Prabhupāda: No, no, unless understand what is that “anything…” First of all, you have to understand what is that “anything.” Anything… Just like this book, this table, this bell, the electric, they are so many things. So you can take any one of them; that is anything. What is your idea of “anything”?

Guest (1): Oh, reality. Material, external reality to our ego; our internal reality as well.

Prabhupāda: Internal reality and external reality?

Guest (1): Both. For me, the word “anything” covers both.

Prabhupāda: Yes. So that also we understand, “anything.” There are so many varieties of things, and you can take any one of them. That is “anything.” But your question should be, “Wherefrom these things coming?” That should be the proper question.

Professor: What is the reason of the existence of anything?

Prabhupāda: Yes. There are so many things, and you can take any one of them. That is “anything.” But the real question should be, “Wherefrom all these things are coming?” That is real question, “What is the origin of all these things?”

Guest (1): Well, origin, that is more on the theoretical side. It’s a question… question, “Why?” But I am, rather, after the purpose.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is a nice question. But there is the real source of everything. That is the Vedānta-sūtra. Perhaps you have read. Vedānta-sūtra, first question is, “Wherefrom all these things come?” So the answer is that janmādy asya yataḥ [SB 1.1.1]: “Brahmān. The original thing is Brahmān, or the Absolute Truth, and from Him, everything is emanating.” Just like physical… The sun is there, and whole material world is product of the sunshine. What your physical science says? [laughter] Eh? Eh? Do they not say? It is a fact that sunshine… Due to the sunshine all these material things are there.

Guest (1): Well, it’s more involved than just saying that. Sun is just a big complex of hydrogen and helium, a big pile of rubbish really, but it develops this marvelous reactions which causes it, work as a big nuclear reactor. That’s an entirely different story, what the vision of science, of the present science, about the meaning of celestial bodies and the meaning of, in particular, of sun and moon and so on. We are extremely realistic about this world. We don’t, we can’t see, assuming all the glory of that what happens on the earth due to the existence of those bodies, we do not try to look inside of the structure of these things as something meant for us. Just universe as it is. And this question, like Nietzschean question which I am repeating—that’s not my point—this big question is… Western philosophy presently does not answer, one does not ask this question. I think that this scientist who did ask it has quite a point. This question expresses this quest of the human race for some meaning, for some sense, for some sense. That’s what religion is now offering us, or philosophies, or… Rarely, directly, we hear the direct answer to that.

Prabhupāda: What is your direct answer?

Guest (1): Oh, I don’t have any. If I would have, I wouldn’t ask you.

Prabhupāda: That means your knowledge is insufficient.

Guest (1): Precisely. Precisely. That is the beginning of [indistinct] wisdom We know we don’t know. I am aware of that.

Prabhupāda: Therefore, if you have no answer… That’s all right. That “We don’t know” means our knowledge is insufficient. But knowledge means must be progressive. We should not remain in insufficient knowledge. We must make further progress to get sufficient knowledge. Inquiry.

Guest (1): But you referred to some other, more direct ways of acquiring knowledge than just the standard study.

Prabhupāda: No, because we have got insufficient knowledge, we cannot approach directly. It is not possible. We have to take knowledge—who has got sufficient knowledge, from him. Because you have got insufficient knowledge, so you cannot make progress. Just like beyond this wall, you cannot say what is there. That is insufficient knowledge. But that does not mean there is nothing. Because you cannot say what is beyond this wall, that does not mean that there is nothing beyond this wall. Your knowledge is insufficient. Is it not?

Professor: Well yes but, this is, his was more or less like reaching a question I think…

Prabhupāda: Just try to hear. Then…

Professor: If Indian philosophy proposes…

Prabhupāda: No, no, it is no “Indian” or “American.” It is the philosophy. It is philosophy. The philosophy is not Indian or American. Truth is truth, not Indian truth or American truth. That is not truth. That is relative truth. The Absolute Truth is absolute. That is neither Indian nor American nor…

Guest (1): But in what sense you use the concept “truth” here? Is it in the ontological sense, or is it in somehow in a more pragmatical, human sense, refers to human beings or…?

Prabhupāda: Yes, it is pragmatic, that you cannot see beyond this wall. That is your insufficient knowledge or your senses are insufficient. You cannot go beyond this wall. But that does not mean there is nothing beyond this wall. So if you want to know what is beyond this wall, you have to know from a person who knows it.

Professor: Yes, that is correct. Yes.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Because you cannot see, you cannot know, that is not the end. There must be something.

Guest (1): Why?

Prabhupāda: Eh? It is actual fact. That is pragmatic. It is actual fact. There is… So many things there are, but you do not know because your senses are imperfect. Your eyes are imperfect, your touch, imperfect, the gathering senses… The senses which gathers knowledge… Just like eyes… We can see and gather knowledge. We can hear; we gather knowledge. We can taste; we gather knowledge. So, because your senses are imperfect, therefore your knowledge gathered, that is imperfect.

Professor: But for instance in the case of a mystical man that has been able to see… [indistinct]… man has been able to see… [indistinct]…. yes.

Prabhupāda: There is no question of mystic. First of all we have to admit that on account of our senses being imperfect, whatever knowledge we gather, that is imperfect. That is imperfect. Therefore, if you want to possess real knowledge you have to approach somebody who is perfect.

Professor: Yes, yes.

Prabhupāda: You cannot… Huh?

Guest (1): How can we know that somebody is perfect?

Prabhupāda: That is another thing. But first of all, the basic principle is we have to understand that our senses are imperfect, and whatever knowledge we gather by this imperfect senses, there imperfect. So if we want perfect knowledge, then we have to approach somebody who is, whose senses are perfect, whose knowledge is perfect. That is the principle. That is the Vedic principle. Therefore the Vedic principle says, tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet [MU 1.2.12]. You know Sanskrit, yes? “In order to know that perfect knowledge, one should approach guru.” So who is guru? Then the next question will be. Your question is that, “How I can?”

Guest (1): How can I know that…?

Prabhupāda: That I am coming. That I am coming. Guru… That is next line. It is said, śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham. Guru means who has properly heard the Vedas, śruti. Śrotriyam. And as a result of his hearing he is firmly convinced in the existence of the Absolute Truth, God.

Professor: Well, this is… We’ve only come to one of the, as I mentioned, the theories of knowledge, I think, śabda.

Prabhupāda: Sata?

Professor: Śabda.

Prabhupāda: Śabda, yes, śabda-brahman. Yes.

Professor: Then if you are able to communicate to have this knowledge through śabda, what?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Śabda-brahman. Just like many thousands of miles away we are getting some radio message and we learn that “Something is happening there. Something is there.” Therefore śabda. This is… Śabda means sound. Sound. Sound vibration. So that is the real source of knowledge. That is the real source of… Śabda-brahman.

Professor: One of the sources of knowledge, of the only one?

Prabhupāda: No, that is the only one. There are others; they are subordinate. But the śabda, knowledge received, śabda, through śabda, śabda-brahman, that is perfect knowledge. Just like the same example: beyond this wall I cannot see, but if somebody there says, “This is the position here”—the sound comes—that is perfect. You cannot see what is going on, but if somebody says…, sends radio message or any message, sound, then you know. Therefore śabda-pramāṇa, śabda, knowledge received through śabda, that is perfect knowledge.

Professor: That means that through śabda, and through other means you can have a direct intuition, but you can’t intact… Direct intuition of things.

Prabhupāda: Intuition is different. Direct perception. Śabda, you can direct perception. It is not intuition; it is perception. Therefore the word is used, śrotriyam brahma-niṣṭham [MU 1.2.12]. So our process is to receive knowledge through śabda-brahman, Vedic. Just like eko nārāyaṇa asit. Eko nārāyaṇa asit: “Before creation there was only Nārāyaṇa.” Na brahmā na īśaḥ: “There was no Brahmā; there was no Śiva.” So this is śabda-pramāṇa, śabda-pramāṇa, that “In the beginning there was God; nothing else.” So in this way our Vedic principle is: when your knowledge is corroborated by the Vedic version, then it is perfect.

Professor: But according to Śaṅkara, if I am interpreting well, it is not only way that you can approach truth. You can also approach through deduction.

Prabhupāda: There are many ways. Just like hypothesis. Hypothesis. Yes. History, history. Hypothesis, history. Then direct perception. There are many. But the, of all these, śabda-pramāṇa is taken as best. Śabda-pramāṇa, evidence through the sound. That is the best.

Professor: Yes, but… I’m coming again to [indistinct]. According to, if I am correct, I want to know what the use is, if one prove, can prove the value, existential value of a thing, through deduction… If it is possible or not only through intuition, through direct intuition of the reality of the thing?

Prabhupāda: Value by intuition?

Professor: Knowledge of the existence of a thing, of anything.

Prabhupāda: Yes. The knowledge of existence, that nityaḥ-śāśvato ‘yam [Bg. 2.20], nityaḥ ṣāṣvataḥ, that is knowledge of existence. So you have to learn which is nitya and which is not nitya from the authority. “This is nitya, and this is anitya.” So nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām [Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13]. These are the Vedic versions: “There is one chief nitya amongst the many nityas.” Just like we, we living entities, we are nityas, eternal. First of all try to understand eternity. You were a child or I was a child. Now that body, child body, is no longer existing. But I understand, I know, that I had a body, child. That I am nitya. I am existing. The body has gone, but I am existing. Therefore I am eternal, nitya. Is it clear?

Professor: Well, I remember one other explanation, that when you are sleeping and you have a dream…

Prabhupāda: No, when I am sleeping I am working.

Professor: …and you have a dream, and then, when you are coming back from sleep…

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Professor: …you can remember your dream.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Professor: That means that you are conscious of your existence even on the suppression of consciousness. [laughs] Normal… [indistinct].

Prabhupāda: I am not only conscious, but the consciousness depends on me. Because I am there, therefore consciousness. So I am nitya. This is the proof of nitya, that many changes have taken place, but the changes, the phenomenal changes, they have gone out. They are no more existing. Therefore they are not nitya. Just like dream. At night I saw one dream, but the dream is no more existing, but I remember that last night I saw the dream. Therefore I am nitya and the dream is anitya. The dream is anitya. Similarly, this phenomenal world, when I am not sleeping, but I am so-called awakened, so I am seeing. I am seeing you, I am seeing this table, this book, you see, but… [aside:] Don’t… But when I am asleep I forget all these things. I forget. I am in a different world. I am seeing different things. So this is also dream, and the dream at night, that is also dream. But I, the seer of this dream and that dream, I am the eternal.

Professor: But this is not to make depending on the conscious of any individual the existence of things.

Prabhupāda: Existence of thing… I say that at night, when I am dreaming, I do not see existence of these things. And at this time, in daytime, when I am seeing these things, I do not see the existence of the dream. So the conclusion should be both these things I see in daytime and I see at night, they have no existence. They are phenomenal. But I am the seer; I am eternal. I am existing. This is the proof. Because at night I am seeing and daytime I am seeing, so therefore I am eternal. But the phenomenal manifestation, they are temporary. We don’t say it is false. Temporary. The Māyāvādī philo… Śaṅkara said it is false. Brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā. Mithyā means false. We don’t say false. We don’t say that this book is false. It has got reality, but temporary. This book has come into form at a certain date, and it will exist for certain days, and when it will be worn out or old, there will be no existence. Therefore the formation of this book is temporary. But I am the reader of the book; I am eternal. So two things are there: temporary and eternal. The temporary existence, somebody says “False,” but we say, “It is not false; it is temporary.” But there is an eternal existence. Just like I am eternal. That is… We have to learn from śabda, vibration. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre [Bg. 2.20]. You understand Sanskrit. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre. That eternal thing is exist, existing, it will continue to exist. Even after the destruction of this temporary body, it will continue to exist.

Professor: But coming again to the question that Dr. [indistinct] put to you, but it is possible to understand all those things [indistinct] and hear in the sense of [indistinct]?

Prabhupāda: You have to understand… I have already said that we have got our imperfect senses. We cannot understand. But we have to understand from a person who has got perfect knowledge.

Professor: But why the existence of all these things, why the existence of all these things [indistinct]… knowledge.

Prabhupāda: So? Why? Then the answer will be: “Why there shall not be existence?” First of all you answer this. If you question like that—“Why there is existence?”—then I shall inquire, “Why there shall not be existence?” Therefore the decision should be taken from the Absolute. Your question, my answer, will not solve. If you say, “Why there is existence?” I can ask you, “Why there shall not be existence?” And who will decide this?

Guest (1): If I may say something, this basic question, I suppose, may be asked only on the level of all religion, all philosophy, which does not put a line of division between practice in life…

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Guest (1): …and abstract investigations. Now, in normal Western thinking we do deny the very purpose of that question. As a matter of fact, we never ask it. Since time was when Leibniz did ask this question we all forgot it, or deliberately we suppress it. We simply say, “All right, let’s be concerned only with those things which we can deal with effectively in material world. And the question of purpose, let’s leave aside.” Now, I suppose that within this system of thought which you have…

Prabhupāda: I may tell you two things. The purpose is… That is experienced by every one of us, what is the purpose of life, what is the purpose anything. That, everyone, we can understand very easily. The purpose is ānanda, pleasure.

Professor: [indistinct].

Prabhupāda: That is the purpose. There is no difficulty to understand what is the purpose. The purpose is pleasure-seeking. Or purpose is pleasure. One who hasn’t got the pleasure, he’s seeking after it. That is the purpose. Purpose is ānanda. Ānandamayo ‘bhyāsāt [Vedānta-sūtra 1.1.12]. That is the Vedānta-sūtra. Every one of us, seeking ānanda. The scientific knowledge, philosophy, or even driving the car or whatever you are doing—the purpose is ānanda. That is a common factor. Purpose is… Why I am eating palatable dishes? I can eat anything, but I am seeking that “This sort of foodstuff will please me.” That is ānanda.

Guest (1): That is driving force and motivation of most of human activities. But the question, purpose, which Leibniz was asking for, he was asking on higher plane, in abstraction.

Prabhupāda: Higher plane means you are seeking after pleasure, but that is being obstructed. That is your position. You are seeking pleasure, but it is not unobstructed. Therefore you are seeking higher, where there is no obstruction. Pleasure is the purpose, but when you speak of higher plane, that means you are experiencing obstruction in getting pleasure. So you are seeking a platform where there is no obstruction. But the purpose is the same.

Guest (1): Must it necessarily be so? That would be so, supposing that we human beings are precisly the center of existence, and all criteria should be applied, measuring everything what exists. Now, the question, “Why there is anything?” is asked on the more higher, I said higher, level, in the sense, trying to forget about this anthropocentric thinking. This why…

Prabhupāda: No, thinking…

Guest (1): Why everything relates to everything what may exist—other beings, other intelligences. That is… [indistinct]

Prabhupāda: This is a fact, that intelligent or not intelligent, that doesn’t matter. Everyone is seeking pleasure, ānanda. The Sanskrit word is ānanda. So ānanda… Suppose I am constructing big a house to live there, but before the construction is finished I am, by nature, I am taken away, I die. Just like Napoleon. That, in France, that Arc in Paris?

Devotee: Arc de Triomphe.

Prabhupāda: He could not finish it. You see? There are so many things. We are thinking, “By finishing this, we shall be happy,” but that is sometimes hampered. So ānanda is checked. So this is the position. So higher means where ānanda is not checked. That is higher position. The purpose is ānanda, but in this material world we are experiencing ānanda being checked. Just like nobody wants to die. That’s a fact. Why he shall die? I already discussed that I know that I was a child, I was a boy, I was a young man, and now I have got this body, old man’s body. It is now going to finish. So I am little anxious. Now, whatever ānanda I was drawing in my living condition, now it is going to be finished. But if we think properly, that “I am eternal, so although the body will be finished, I’ll not be finished…” This is very natural, which, “I was not finished. Because my childhood body was finished, so I was not finished. My boyhood body was not finished; I was not finished. My youthhood was finished, but I was not finished.” Similarly, the conclusion should be: “Even though this body will be finished, I’ll not be finished.” That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā: tathā dehāntara prāptir dhīras tatra na muhyati [Bg. 2.13]. Dhīra, one who is intelligent, he is not disturbed. Dhīras tatra na muhyati.

So dhīra, one who is dhīra, sober, philosopher, he knows that “I am not going to be finished. I shall have to accept another body.” Now, whether that body will be ānanda? That is the consideration. I’ll get another body, just like I have got this body, after changing so many bodies. Moment after moment, we are changing body. That is the medical science, changing of blood corpuscles. So this body will be changed again. Then I will have to enter the mother’s womb and packed up for at least ten months in suffocated condition. This is scientific, all. Then again I’ll come out when the body is prepared nicely to come out and exist. So that period of formation of body is not ānanda. To remain compact in this way for ten months, it is not ānanda. It is not ānanda; just opposite ānanda. Then when we die… Die, death means the miserable condition is so great that we cannot live. We have to go out. So there is no ānanda. Then, when we have got this body, changing, there is no ānanda because we are sometimes diseased, and to become old man, that is also not ānanda.

Therefore I am eternal; I’m seeking after something which is eternal ānanda. Therefore next considerance should be that “Whether this condition of repetition of birth, death, old age and disease can be changed?” That is next question. And if there is possibility, then we shall try for that. But there is possibility here. The conclusion is: so long we get this material body… Because matter is not eternal. Anything you take, material—earth, water, fire, air, sky, mind, intelligence and false ego, these are all material things. So these material things, they are not eternal, none of them. This table is created; it is not eternal. It will be finished at a certain date, anything you take. But I am eternal. So if I transfer myself in another nature which is eternal, then my ānanda will be eternal. That is the purpose of life.

Professor: Not that the, [indistinct] identity between ātmān and…, in the sense of the ātman…

Prabhupāda: Yes, I am ātmā. You are ātmā. Ātmā.

Professor: …the ātman of the world, let’s say, the absolute ātmā.

Prabhupāda: Yes. The ātmā and Paramātmā, Paramātmā. As I was speaking, nityo nityānām. We are all nityas, eternal, but there is one chief nitya. Just like leader. Anywhere we go, we have got a leader. Now this, your Mexico state, there is a president. You cannot avoid it. In your college there is principal. There must be a leader. Similarly, the whole thing taken together, there must be one leader. You have to speak from experience that in your physical department or in your religious department there is a chief, leader, professor. Or you may be. But that is the way. Therefore Vedic information is that we are eternals, but there is another eternal who is chief eternal. That is God. He is eternal; we are also eternal. Then what is difference? The difference is that eko yo bahūnāṁ vidadhāti kāmān: “That one eternal, chief eternal, He is maintaining all the subordinate eternals.” So both the eternals are eternal and… The purpose is pleasure. Just like a small example: a family man. The father is the chief man in the family. The mother is there, the children are there, all together. But the father is the chief man in the family. He is maintaining the family, and there is ānanda, pleasure. Similarly, ānanda is the aim of both…, all the eternals, the chief eternal or the subordinate eternal. But the supplier is the chief eternal. So when we come together, the chief eternal and the subordinate eternals, and enjoy together, that is the purpose of life. [pause]

Professor: According to existential philosophy… Indian philosophy I am thinking about, like for instance the Ramakrishna and Vivekananda and all these…

Prabhupāda: They are not philosopher.

Professor: They are all [indistinct] variations.

Prabhupāda: They have no philosophy.

Professor: Eh?

Prabhupāda: They have no philosophy.

Professor: I said you are also proposing the possibility to acquire knowledge through contact.

Prabhupāda: Our position is—I have already explained—that we are all imperfect. Therefore we have to take knowledge from the perfect. So God is perfect, or Kṛṣṇa is perfect, so we have to receive knowledge from Him. Then our knowledge is perfect. And so long we shall speculate, that is not perfect. Because you are speculating with imperfect instruments, what is the use?

Professor: [indistinct]… Thing that the only way to aquire… through śabda.

Prabhupāda: If I want to cut this table, I must have proper instrument. If I want to cut this table with this book, “Let me cut this,” how it will be possible? You must know that for cutting this table it requires this instrument.

Professor: Yes, they say that the only way to acquire knowledge is through śabda.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Śabda-pramāṇa.

Professor: And I think other pramāṇas will be also possible according to those.

Prabhupāda: Just like I am trying something, and some experienced man says, “Do like this.” This is śabda-pramāṇa. The śabda-pramāṇa, one who is…, knows, he says, “Do like this.” The “Do like this” means śabda, sound, and it enters your ear, and you do adjustment. Therefore śabda-pramāṇa. Just like you are sleeping, and one is…, another man is coming to kill you. And another friend says, “Get up, get up, get up! There is enemy. He is coming to kill you.” Then you wake up. Therefore the sound is the pramāṇa there was enemy. These are crude examples. When you are asleep, you cannot understand. You have got eyes, you have got hands, you have legs but no experience, but the ear gives you warning even if you are sleeping. There is enemy—your eyes cannot see, your hand cannot touch, but the ear can give you evidence, “Yes.” As soon as you are awakened you say, “Yes, here is enemy. He is coming to kill me.” Therefore the aural reception, sound reception, is the evidence. Knowledge received through authentic sound vibration, that is perfect.

Professor: [laughing] Make another question?

Guest (1): Perhaps I would like to ask a question this way. We don’t doubt what you said, the assumption that individual ego is eternal and also subordinate to that which is eternal, hierarchically higher, nevertheless is the part of that what is the eternal reality. And that is I understand Vedic [indistinct], that what you later developed. Question: Is this statement what you made a statement of fact based on direct perception, or it is something what rather follows traditional belief and is just the axiomatic basis of your philosophy, or similarly as other philosophies have axiomatic bases.

imperfect. So you, by speculation, cannot have perfect knowledge. This is axiomatic truth.

Guest (1): With that epistemological truth, all right, we may go along, and, as a matter of fact, doubt about the truths of direct sensual perception is the basis, one of models of the scientific activity.

Prabhupāda: Direct perception…

Guest (1): My question is, rather, this statement, this basic statement about eternal ego and so on, is a statement which you somehow give to us as revealed message, something what is…

Prabhupāda: Yes, revealed.

Guest (1): …or is…? Yes. Yes.

Prabhupāda: Revealed. It is revealed. Hmm? Just like in the Bhagavad-gītā the vibration is coming from Kṛṣṇa. Now, you practically realize it: “Yes, what is said is correct.” That is direct perception. First of all you receive the message, and then apply your logic and see that it is fact. Therefore it is perfect. When you receive the knowledge and when you directly apply it to your perception, when you see it is correct, that is the proof that the message which you received, that is correct.

Professor: Very difficult to have proofs of that, then, where the eternality of your own ātman, for instance, things of that kind of…

Prabhupāda: That is called realization.

Professor: Yes, only in that case.

Prabhupāda: Yes. First of all you receive the sound, then apply your instruments. And when you find it, it is correct—that is the realization. So our process is to receive knowledge from the perfect. That’s all. We are not perfect. But the knowledge we are getting, that is perfect. So according to that perfect direction, if we mold our life, then we are successful. Otherwise you go on experimenting, speculating. Ciraṁ vicinvan. Ciram, you understand, “perpetually”; vicinvan, “thinking.” Ciraṁ vicinvan.

athāpi te deva padāmbuja-dvaya-
prasāda-leśānugṛhīta eva hi
jānāti tattvaṁ
na cānya eko ‘pi ciraṁ vicinvan
[SB 10.14.29]

What is the use of speculating with imperfect senses? Useless waste of time.

Professor: Never the less they will say that many of the…

Prabhupāda: But that is the tendency of modern world.

Professor: No, that’s even of ancient Indian…

Prabhupāda: They do not accept that their senses are imperfect.

Professor: Well they find some… [indistinct]

Prabhupāda: They want to see something, distant place, with microscope… What is called?

Hṛdayānanda: Telescope.

Prabhupāda: Telescope. Telescope. But the telescope is manufactured by you. It is imperfect.

Professor: I would say that even in India, where ancient tradition… There were several proposals of how to arrange our periscope to be able to see more correctly…

“Your eyes should be the śāstra.” There is another crude example. Just like who is your father? How to understand? Through the vibration of the mother. The mother says, “He is your father,” you accept it. Otherwise there is no experiment. So things which are beyond your perception, beyond your defective senses, that should not be speculated. Na tāṁs tarkeṇa yojayet. Acintyā khalv ye bhāvā na tāṁs tarkeṇa yojayet. These are the injunction. What is beyond your perception, beyond your speculation, don’t waste your time, so-called argument and logic. What is argument? Mother says, “He is your father.” Where is the argument? You cannot apply any argument.

Professor: No, I said old tradition in India has been going into argument since…

Prabhupāda: No, argument you can go on, but if you want to know the truth it will not be attained by argument, because argument is also within your thinking power: thinking, feeling, willing. So if your thinking, feeling, willing is imperfect, what is the use of your argument? What is the use of your so-called advancement of knowledge? Basically, if the senses, knowledge-acquiring senses, are imperfect, then how you can get perfect knowledge?

Professor: How, what do we do with all techniques, all systems, that have been developed? I am thinking only in India, I am not thinking other places, and on your own tradition, since Śaṅkara onwards, of different ways to think, to study, to go deep to all these relations between… truth…

Prabhupāda: Śaṅkara has interpreted. Śaṅkara has interpreted by his limited knowledge. So that is not perfect knowledge. Therefore we don’t accept Śaṅkara’s philosophy.

Professor: Yes, but I said he belongs to the same tradition, and you belong to the other…

Prabhupāda: That tradition is nothing. Tradition is just temporary. You make your tradition; he makes your tradition. That is another thing. But…, fact is fact. That is not dependent on tradition. Tradition we can make, tradition. “We believe.” Just like somebody says, “We believe.” What is the use of such saying, “We believe”? You may believe something which is not fact.

Professor: Yes, but we could say that since Upaniṣads and later on, all things [indistinct] have been sustaining the thing you have just said a moment ago, that there exists an identity between ātman and Brahmān.

Prabhupāda: Identity is there. That, therefore, I have already said: nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānaṁ. Both of them are identical so far nitya is concerned or cetana is concerned, but one is dependent and other is maintainer. That is difference.

Professor: Yes, but I said also all [indistinct], it has been said that truth and… [indistinct]. And you are saying also the same.

Prabhupāda: Both of them are truth. Both of them truth. You are truth; I am truth. You are living; I am living, existing. This is truth. This is truth. But you are professor and I am something else. That is temporary. But so far you are, as living being, and I am, as living being, that is truth. But your dress and my dress, that is temporary. So we have to understand like that. In this material world we are mixed up with temporary and eternal. The living entity is eternal, but his body is temporary. This is the position. So the problem is: why the eternal has got temporary things? That is the… that is hampering his ānanda. Just like I am sitting here. Now, if somebody says, “Now you’ll have to die and accept another body,” this is not very pleasing to me. Or even I am sitting in this apartment, and somebody…, “No, you change your apartment. Come. Come here.” Again I change another apartment. So I’ll seek after “Why I am changing this apartment? Is it not possible to get an eternal apartment?” That should be the brahma-jijñāsā. That is… Vedānta-sūtra first says, athāto brahma jijñāsā. “Why I am subjected to this change?” That is intelligence. “Why not eternal apartment if I am eternal?” That is intelligence.

Professor: Did you say that for the ātman, as far as he is eternal and. For the ātman, it is a need for the things for the purpose, of ānanda.

Prabhupāda: Ānanda, yes.

Professor: That means he is required…

Prabhupāda: Nature, nature ānanda.

Professor: This other thing, they have it because of līlā, pleasure, playing.

Prabhupāda: That is also ānanda.

Professor: Yes, but that means that he needed it…

Prabhupāda: Just like somebody goes within the water. Nowadays it has become a fashion. What is that? Go within the water?

Devotee: Diving. Diving.

Prabhupāda: But he does not belong to the water, but he takes some pleasure.

Professor: He needs the pleasure. [laughs]

Prabhupāda: Therefore he’s seeking pleasure. That is the real aim. Therefore he’s going into the water. He has no business to go to the water, but because he is seeking pleasure—“Let me see if there is some pleasure. Experiment.” That’s all. But he does not get… Just like they are going to the moon planet, moon planet: “Let us see.” Because there is no ānanda, he is seeking another type of ānanda. And now they have failed. Now they’re going to Venus, or what?

Devotees: Mars.

Prabhupāda: Mars. This is going on. Bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate [Bg. 8.19]. He’s not seeking after where is eternal happiness. He’s… Temporarily, he’s seeking here, seeking there. Bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate. In this way his life is finished, seeking ānanda, and he gets another body, another term. So his intelligence is not coming to the point that “What is this ānanda? I am eternal. I am seeking eternal ānanda. Why this ānanda? Sometimes this body, sometimes this position, sometimes that position—what is this?” That is intelligence.

Professor: I understand it very well from the point of view of particular individual and ātmans, you know, but supreme ātma…

Prabhupāda: Individual, we are part and parcel. The same thing: the supreme eternal, and we, means subordinate eternal. We are of the same quality. Quality is the same but quantity different. Therefore our knowledge quantity and His knowledge quantity, different. Therefore we should take knowledge from Him who has large quantity of knowledge. We have got teeny quantity of knowledge. This is the difference. He is also cognizant, I am also cognizant, but His knowledge is vast, unlimited; my knowledge is teeny. Therefore, if I want to know more, we should know from Him. That is perfect knowledge. Tad-vijñānārtham sa gurum evābhigacchet śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham [MU 1.2.12]. This is the process.

Professor: May I ask a personal question?

Prabhupāda: Hmm?

Professor: I heard that you were a chemist before.

Prabhupāda: I was not chemist, but I was manager in a big chemical factory. Therefore, automatically, I learned something of chemist. And later on I started my own chemical factory.

Professor: You were belonging to Bengal? You are of Bengali origin.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Professor: And you were having also a guru there?

Prabhupāda: Oh, yes, certainly. Without guru, how can you…

Professor: Yes, naturally. I asked you, but…

Prabhupāda: He is my guru. Show the photo.

Devotee: It’s just above you, Śrīla Prabhupāda.

Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. He is my guru.

Professor: But as far as I see somewhere you are of the same line of Puruṣottama no? You are the same sign… the same line of Puruṣottama Sarasvatī, of the great philosopher, and writer of.

Prabhupāda: Puruṣottama Sarasvatī? No, my Guru Mahārāja was Sarasvatī, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī.

Professor: Oh, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī. But that’s the same line, no?

Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. But there is… That receiving the perfect knowledge, there is paramparā. Just like I have got perfect knowledge; I tell you. Then you get the perfect knowledge; you tell him. This is called paramparā.

Professor: I read a succession, or something like that.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā: evam paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ [Bg. 4.2]. Without that paramparā, the knowledge is not perfect. [aside:] Give them prasāda. Hmm?

Hṛdayānanda: We’re going to bring you some prasādam? Spiritual food.

Professor: [to devotees:] You prepared [indistinct]. You have traveled in all Latin America now?

Prabhupāda: Yes. I have traveled all over the world in eight years. Eight years?

Hṛdayānanda: About eight years.

Prabhupāda: From 1967, eight years. So eight years I have traveled around fourteen times, or more than that. No, twice in a year, almost.

Professor: [laughs] As you say, you have [indistinct].

Prabhupāda: No, this time, I started from India. Then I went to Hong Kong, from Hong Kong to Tokyo, from Tokyo to Honolulu, from Honolulu to Los Angeles, and from Los Angeles here, Mexico. And then where?

Hṛdayānanda: Caracas.

Prabhupāda: Caracas.

Hṛdayānanda: And then Puerto Rico. Then Miami, Atlanta, New York, London.

Prabhupāda: And then, from London, I may go directly to Bombay, or I may visit some other European cities where we have got temple. In Paris, in Geneva, in Rome, in Amsterdam, we have got so many temples, like this.

Professor: [indistinct] very little about Hare Kṛṣṇa.

Prabhupāda: You have seen all our books? These are our books.

Professor: I have seen them. I had a [indistinct] somewhere with…

Prabhupāda: We have got our small and big book. Fifty books we have got. All about Kṛṣṇa.

Professor: I understand that music plays an important role also in the preparation of your people, or not?

Hṛdayānanda: [explaining] If music is important to us?

Prabhupāda: No, first of all, our basic principle is pleasure. So whatever gives pleasure, we accept. That is natural. But in the material world, they take material pleasure, but we are for spiritual pleasure. So as soon as we speak of pleasure, there must be varieties. Without… “Variety is the mother of enjoyment.” So the only thing is that the material pleasure, that is temporary. It is finished after certain period. And spiritual means eternal. So our endeavor is to transfer ourself from this material pleasure to the spiritual pleasure. But the pleasure is the aim, either in this material world or in the spiritual world. This is… Ānandamayo ‘bhyāsāt [Vedānta-sūtra 1.1.12]. This is the Vedic… Our position is ānandamaya, to remain in pleasure. But here in this material world, the body is temporary, and everything is temporary. Therefore pleasure is temporary.

Professor: You could also, I think, kind of a yoga system for…

Prabhupāda: Yes, this is bhakti-yoga. Yes, bhakti-yoga. Bhakti-yogena manasi. Bhakti-yogena manasi [SB 1.7.4]. There is a verse in Bhāgavata. Real yoga means bhakti-yoga.

yoginām api sarveṣāṁ
mad-gatenāntarātmanā
śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁ
sa me yuktatamo mataḥ
[Bg. 6.47]

Of all the yogīs… There are different kinds of yogīs. We receive this authorized version, that yoginām api sarveṣāṁ. Of all the yogīs, the first-class yogī is he who is thinking of Kṛṣṇa always within the heart. Mad-gata antarātmanā, antarātmanā śraddhāvān bhajate. That is our process. We are chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, so we’re thinking of Kṛṣṇa. This is the first-class yoga system. Dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā paśyanti yaṁ yoginaḥ [SB 12.13.1]. In the Vedic… Yes. Dhyāna, meditation, means thinking of the Supreme. And that is real yoga, not this gymnastic.

Professor: Not that. [laughs] We were not thinking of the gymnastics.

Prabhupāda: That is physical.

dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena
manasā paśyanti yaṁ yogino
yasyāntaṁ na viduḥ surāsara-
gaṇā devāya tasmai namaḥ
[SB 12.13.1]

[prasādam being served] [break] …learned scholars, professors. Try to understand this movement, and let us cooperate. It is very important, scientific movement. It is not a mental concoction. Based on Vedic principle.

Hṛdayānanda: [serving prasādam] This is called halavā. It’s very nice.

Guest (1): The question is, well, Vedic idea that knowledge, human knowledge, is imperfect, does that not then go along… Of course, we are limited by…, all time by biological limitation and so on. But this statement, that there is perfect knowledge, that it can be acquired, and that there are some people who did acquire it, that’s very strong statement indeed. And my question is of the practical nature. How one can know that given source of a supposed spiritual truth is an actual truth? Is there any technique how one can get to it, apart from…

Prabhupāda: That I have already said, that you take the vibration from the Vedic knowledge and you experiment it. Observation and experiment, that is scientific. So first of all observation and then experiment. And when you are satisfied by experiment, then it is perfect knowledge.

Guest (1): If I am satisfied? Can I rely that much on myself?

Prabhupāda: Anyone can do, provided he knows the art how to do it. It is a technique also. You cannot make experiment as a crude man. You must be expert.

Professor: Because I [indistinct]… maybe one of the [indistinct]… so one of the presentations of words that add more…

Prabhupāda: But it is… In our Caitanya-caritāmṛta you’ll find it, there is a statement, caitanyera dayāra kathā karaha vicāra: “Just try to make an experiment on the mercy of Lord Caitanya.” Vicāra karile citte pabe camatkāra: “When you make an experiment, then you’ll be awe-full, ‘Oh, it is so nice.’ ” It is not to be accepted blindly.

Professor: When you… If one can one perceive by their own senses, what is that…?

Prabhupāda: No, you have to see through the eyes of the śāstra. But God has given you the instrument by which you can make an experiment. Yes. The same thing, as it is stated… [aside:] Find out that verse from Bhagavad-gītā, Bhagavad-gītā, dehino ‘smin yathā dehe [Bg. 2.13]. [break] This is the statement. Now you make experiment. You have got physical laboratory. [laughter]

Professor: You can make an experiment of the [indistinct].

Guest (1): It would be rather difficult, I’m afraid.

Prabhupāda: That you must know the, how it can be experiment. It is given. The example is given that… What is that? “As the child is passing”?

Hṛdayānanda: “As the embodied soul continually passes in this body from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death.”

Prabhupāda: That’s it. Now, this is a fact. Everyone knows that body is changing. Now, how the last body’s changed? That you make experiment, how it is passing. Yes. To make experiment means you have to know the science how to make experiment.

Professor: Was an experiment of [indistinct]

Prabhupāda: That is knowledge. You take the basic principle of knowledge, and then you make your experiment, and you’ll know this is perfect.

Guest (1): Is there any direct line of division between that which you would call knowledge and that what is religion?

Prabhupāda: Religion, as it is passing on at the present moment, “a kind of faith,” this is not religion. This is not religion. According to… Religion means dharma, the characteristic. Just like you are eating something salty, something sweet. So the sugar, the characteristic, it is sweet. That is religion. And the salt is salty. The chili is pungent. So these characteristic is religion. So you’ll have to find out religion, what is your real characteristic. That is religion. Now, religion is going, “I believe in this way.” That is another thing—sentiment. Religion without philosophy is sentiment, and philosophy without religion, mental speculation. Those two things must be combined: philosophy and sentiment. Then it is religion. [end]

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