meditation solve our everyday problems? Is there life after death?
Can drugs help us achieve self-realization? During a visit to
South Africa in 1976, Srila Prabhupada answered these and other
questions for interviewer Bill Faill of the Durban Natal Mercury.
Srila Prabhupada: Krsna is a name for God that means
"all-attractive." Unless one is all-attractive he cannot be God.
So Krsna consciousness means God consciousness. All of us are
small particles of God, equal in quality with Him. Our position as
living entities is like that of a small particle of gold in
relation to a large quantity of gold.
Mr. Faill: Are we something like sparks in a fire?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Both the fire and the spark are fire, but
one is big, and the other is very small. Unlike the relationship
between the spark and the fire, however, our relationship with God
is eternal, although at the present moment we have forgotten that
relationship due to contact with the material energy. We are
facing so many problems only because of this forgetfulness. If we
can revive our original God consciousness, then we shall become
happy. This is the sum and substance of Krsna consciousness. It is
the best process by which to revive our original God
consciousness. There are different processes of self-realization,
but in the present age of Kali, people are very fallen, and they
require the simple process of Krsna consciousness. Now they are
thinking that so-called material advancement is the solution to
their problems, but this is not a fact. The real solution is to
get out of the material condition entirely by becoming Krsna
conscious. Because God is eternal, we are also eternal, but in the
material condition we are thinking, "I am this body," and
therefore we must repeatedly change from body to body. This is due
to ignorance. Actually we are not our bodies but spiritual sparks,
parts and parcels of God.
Mr. Faill: Then the body is just like a vehicle for the soul?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. It is just like a motorcar. Just as you go
from one place to another in a car, so due to mental concoction in
the material condition of life, we are going from one position to
another, trying to become happy. But nothing will make us happy
unless we come to our real position, which is that we are all
parts and parcels of God and that our real business is to
associate with God and help all living entities by cooperating
with Him. Civilized human life species of life. So if we don't
take advantage of this civilized human life to understand who God
is, who we are, and what our relationship is, but instead simply
waste our life like cats and dogs, going here and there looking
for sense gratification, then we will have missed a great
opportunity. The Krsna consciousness movement is meant to teach
people how to take full advantage of the human form of life by
trying to understand God and our relationship with Him.
Mr. Faill: If we don't make the most of this life, do we get a
second chance, in another life?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. According to your desires at the time of
death, you get another body. That body is not guaranteed to be a
human body, however. As I've already explained, there are
8,400,000 different forms of life. You can enter any of them,
according to your mental condition at death. What we think of at
the time of death depends on how we act during our life. As long
as we are in material consciousness, our actions are under the
control of the material nature, which is being conducted in three
modes: goodness, passion, and ignorance. These modes are like the
three basic colors--yellow, red, and blue. Just as one can mix
red, yellow, and blue to produce millions of colors, the modes of
nature are being mixed to produce many varieties of life. To stop
the repetition of birth and death in different forms of life, we
must transcend the covering of material nature and come to the
platform of pure consciousness. But if we do not learn the
transcendental science of Krsna consciousness, then at death we
must transfer to another body, either better or worse than our
present one. If we cultivate the mode of goodness, then we are
promoted to the higher planetary system, where there is a better
standard of life. If we cultivate the mode of passion, then we
will remain at the present stage. But if out of ignorance we
commit sinful activities and violate nature's laws, then we will
be degraded to animal or plant life. Then again we must evolve to
the human form, a process that may take millions of years.
Therefore a human being must be responsible. He must take
advantage of the rare opportunity of human life by understanding
his relationship with God and acting accordingly. Then he can get
out of the cycle of birth and death in different forms of life and
go back home, back to Godhead.
Mr. Faill: Do you think transcendental meditation is helping
Srila Prabhupada: They do not know what real meditation is. Their
meditation is simply a farce--another cheating process by the
so-called svamis and yogis. You're asking me if meditation is
helping people, but do you know what meditation is?
Mr. Faill: A stilling of the mind--trying to sit in the center
without swinging either way.
Srila Prabhupada: And what is the center?
Mr. Faill: I don't know.
Srila Prabhupada: So everyone is talking very much about
meditation, but no one knows what meditation actually is. These
bluffers use the word "meditation," but they do not know the
proper subject for meditation. They're simply talking bogus
Mr. Faill: Isn't meditation valuable just to get people thinking
Srila Prabhupada: No. Real meditation means to achieve a state in
which the mind is saturated with God consciousness. But if you do
not know what God is, how can you meditate? Besides, in this age
people's minds are so agitated that they cannot concentrate. I
have seen this so-called meditation; they are simply sleeping and
snoring. Unfortunately, in the name of God consciousness or
"self-realization," many bluffers are presenting nonstandard
methods of meditation without referring to the authorized books of
Vedic knowledge. They are simply practicing another type of
Mr. Faill: What about some of the other teachers, like Ouspensky
and Gurdjieff? In the past they brought to the West a message
similar to yours.
Srila Prabhupada: We would have to study the particulars of their
teachings to know whether they meet the Vedic standard. God
consciousness is a science, just like medical science or any other
science. It cannot be different because it is spoken by different
men. Two plus two equals four everywhere, never five, or three.
That is science.
Mr. Faill: Do you feel that others may have possibly taught the
genuine method of God consciousness?
Srila Prabhupada: Unless I study their teachings in detail, it
would be very difficult to say. There are so many bluffers.
Mr. Faill: Just doing it for money.
Srila Prabhupada: That's all. They have no standard method.
Therefore we are presenting the Bhagavad-gita as it is, without
any personal interpretation. This is standard.
Mr. Faill: Yes, if you begin dressing things up, you inevitably
Srila Prabhupada: Krsna consciousness is not a new process. It is
very, very old--and standard. It cannot be changed. As soon as you
try to change it, then the potency is lost. This potency is just
like electricity. If you want to generate electricity, you must
follow the standard regulations, arranging all the negative and
positive poles properly. You cannot construct the generator
whimsically and still produce electricity. Similarly, there is a
standard method of understanding Krsna conscious philosophy from
proper authorities. If we follow their instructions, then the
process will act. Unfortunately, one of the dangerous diseases of
modern man is that everyone wants to do things according to his
own whims. No one wants to follow the standard way. Therefore
everyone is failing, both spiritually and materially.
Mr. Faill: Is the Krsna consciousness movement growing?
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, yes, very much. You may be surprised to know
that we are selling books in the tens of thousands. We have about
fifty books, and many librarians and college professors are very
appreciative of them, because until their publication there was no
such literature in existence. It is a new contribution to the
Mr. Faill: Krsna consciousness seems to involve shaving the head
and wearing saffron robes. How can an ordinary man caught up in
family life practice Krsna consciousness?
Srila Prabhupada: The saffron robes and the shaven head are not
essential, although they create a good mental situation, just as
when a military man is dressed properly he gets energy--he feels
like a military man. Does that mean that unless he is in uniform
he cannot fight? No. In the same way, God consciousness cannot be
checked--it can be revived in any circumstances--but certain
conditions are helpful. Therefore we prescribe that you live in a
certain way, dress in a certain way, eat in a certain way, and so
on. These things are helpful for practicing Krsna consciousness,
but they are not essential.
Mr. Faill: Then one can be a student of Krsna consciousness while
going about normal daily life?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Mr. Faill: How about drugs? Can they help in the process of God
Srila Prabhupada: If drugs could help God realization, then drugs
would be more powerful than God. How can we accept that? Drugs are
chemical substances, which are material. How can something
material help one realize God, who is all-spiritual? It is
impossible. What one experiences from taking drugs is simply a
kind of intoxication or hallucination; it is not God realization.
Mr. Faill: Do you think the great mystics down through the ages
have actually seen the spiritual spark you mentioned earlier?
Srila Prabhupada: What do you mean by "mystic"?
Mr. Faill: It's just a name given to people who have had an
experience of another level of reality.
Srila Prabhupada: We don't use the word mystic. Our reality is God
realization, which occurs when we come to the spiritual platform.
As long as we have a bodily concept of life, our understanding is
sense gratification, because the body is made of senses. When we
progress from the bodily platform and we see the mind as the
center of sense activity, we take the mind as the final stage of
realization. That is the mental platform. From the mental platform
we may come to the intellectual platform, and from the
intellectual platform we can rise to the transcendental platform.
Finally we can rise above even the transcendental platform and
come to the mature, spiritual platform. These are the stages of
God realization. However, in this age, because people are so
fallen, the sastras [scriptures] give the special recommendation
that people come directly to the spiritual platform by chanting
the holy names of God: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare
Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. If we cultivate
this practice on the spiritual platform, then immediately we can
realize our spiritual identity. Then the process of God
realization becomes successful very quickly.
Mr. Faill: Today a lot of people are saying that we must look
inward for the truth rather than outward into the world of the
Srila Prabhupada: Looking inward means knowing that you are a
spirit soul. Unless you understand that you are not the body but a
soul, there is no question of looking inward.
First we have to study, "Am I this body, or am I something
within this body?" Unfortunately, this subject is not taught in
any school, college, or university. Everyone is thinking, "I am
this body." For example, in this country people everywhere are
thinking, "I am South African, they are Indian, they are Greek,"
and so on. Actually, everyone in the whole world is in the bodily
conception of life. Krsna consciousness starts when one is above
this bodily conception.
Mr. Faill: So the recognition of the spiritual spark comes first?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Recognizing the existence of the spirit
soul within the body is the first step. Unless one understands
this simple fact, there is no question of spiritual advancement.
Mr. Faill: Is it a question of just understanding it
Srila Prabhupada: in the beginning, yes. There are two departments
of knowledge: theoretical and practical. First one must learn
spiritual science theoretically; then, by working on that
spiritual platform, one comes to the point of practical
Unfortunately, today almost everyone is in the darkness of the
bodily conception of life. Therefore this movement is very
important, because it can lift civilized men out of that darkness.
As long as they are in the bodily conception of life, they are no
better than animals. "I am a dog," "I am a cat," "I am a cow."
Animals think like this. As soon as someone passes, a dog will
bark, thinking, "I am a dog. I have been appointed here as
watchdog." Similarly, if I adopt the dog's mentality and challenge
foreigners--"Why have you come to this country? Why have you come
to my jurisdiction?"--then what is the difference between the dog
Mr. Faill: There is none. To change the subject a little, is it
necessary to follow certain eating habits to practice spiritual
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, the whole process is meant to purify us,
and eating is part of that purification. I think you have a
saying, "You are what you eat," and that's a fact. Our bodily
constitution and mental atmosphere are determined according to how
and what we eat. Therefore the sastras recommend that to become
Krsna conscious, you should eat remnants of food left by Krsna. If
a tuberculosis patient eats something and you eat the remnants,
you will be infected with tuberculosis. Similarly, if you eat
krsna-prasadam, then you will be infected with Krsna
consciousness. Thus our process is that we don't eat anything
immediately. First we offer the food to Krsna, then we eat it.
This helps us advance in Krsna consciousness.
Mr. Faill: You are all vegetarians?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, because Krsna is a vegetarian. Krsna can
eat anything because He is God, but in the Bhagavad-gita (9.26) He
says, "If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower,
fruit, or water, I will accept it." He never says, "Give Me meat
Mr. Faill: How about the tobacco question?
Srila Prabhupada: Tobacco is also an intoxicant. We are already
intoxicated by being in the bodily conception of life, and if we
increase the intoxication, then we are lost.
Mr. Faill: You mean things like meat, alcohol, and tobacco just
reinforce bodily consciousness?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Suppose you have a disease and you want to
be cured. You have to follow the instructions of a physician. if
he says, "Don't eat this; eat only this," you have to follow his
prescription. Similarly, we also have a prescription for being
cured of the bodily conception of life: chanting Hare Krsna,
hearing about Krsna's activities, and eating krsna-prasadam. This
treatment is the process of Krsna consciousness.