“Philosophy and Religion Should Be Combined”
A conversation with His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Srila Prabhupada: You are concerned about the relationship between one man and another man. But if the central point is missing, then there is practically no relationship. For instance, if you are American and another man is American, both of you feel some relationship, because the center is America. In the same way, unless both of us understand God, the central point, you cannot understand what I am, nor can I understand what you are. So we have to first of all reestablish our lost relationship with God; then we can talk of universal brotherhood. Otherwise, there will be discrimination.
For instance, in your country, or any country, a “national” means a man born in that land. Is it not? But humans do not take the animals as nationals. Why do the animals have no right to be regarded as nationals? That is imperfect knowledge. There is no God consciousness; therefore, they think only the human born in this land is a national—not others.
Interviewer: That is not necessarily based on religious principles, of course.
Srila Prabhupada: That is a philosophical principle.
Srila Prabhupada: And religion without philosophy is sentimentality.
Interviewer: Don’t you think there are very good reasons for the existence of these rules and regulations in this respect?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The rules and regulations of society must be established on the basis of philosophy. Otherwise, the whole thing is sentimentality. Defective. Religion without philosophy is sentimentality—and philosophy without religion is mental speculation. Philosophy and religion should be combined. Then the situation will be perfect.
Interviewer: I think that in this … in this part of the world—in the Western world, at least as much as I am aware of it—we do place a good deal of emphasis on religion.
Srila Prabhupada: Everything should be based on philosophy.
Interviewer: Well, as to religion, what I would like to highlight, what I would like to emphasize, is that we place a good deal of emphasis on religion in the way it gets one man to deal with another man. The ethic of religion. Now, in the Krishna consciousness movement…
Srila Prabhupada: One moment. We must be clear.
Interviewer: Beg your pardon?
Srila Prabhupada: We are not concerned about how one man deals with another man.
Interviewer: Not as part of your Krishna consciousness movement?
Srila Prabhupada: No, no.
Interviewer: Because we…
Srila Prabhupada: No. This is not important, because we know, as soon as one understands how to deal with God, he’ll automatically deal with other men very nicely.
Interviewer: But, you know, let’s take the Christian religion, for an example.
Srila Prabhupada: I do not know.
Interviewer: You know the Ten Commandments, for example.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Yes.
Interviewer: There is a heavy emphasis in the Ten Commandments on the relationships between one human being and another, you know. “Thou shalt not kill.” “Thou shalt not steal.” You know. That sort of thing.
Srila Prabhupada: But Jesus Christ never said that “Thou shalt not kill” protects only human beings. Where is the evidence? Jesus Christ never said “Thou shalt not kill” protects only human beings. Thou shalt not kill any animals, either.
Interviewer: Any life.
Srila Prabhupada: Do not take any life. That is religion.
Interviewer: It has never been interpreted that way.
Srila Prabhupada: You have interpreted it the wrong way. But Jesus affirmed the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” He never said, “Thou shalt not kill human beings.” Why do you interpret in that way?
Interviewer: How would I recognize a true follower of the Krishna consciousness movement by his behavior? What would his traits be? What would his outward expressions be?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Yes. He would be a very perfect gentleman. That’s all. You would not be able to find any fault in him. That is Krishna consciousness, perfect Krishna consciousness. Therefore, it is stipulated not to eat meat.
Interviewer: Not to eat meat?
Srila Prabhupada: Correct. And therefore, there is a prohibition against illicit sex. Therefore, there is a prohibition against intoxication. A Krishna conscious person does not smoke, even—what to speak of other intoxication. And therefore, there is a prohibition against indulging in gambling. So if people can observe these four rules and regulations, they will become perfect men. Simple.
Interviewer: Or women, I presume.
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, men or women.
Interviewer: Men or women?
Srila Prabhupada: Anyone.
Interviewer: There is a place for women in Krishna consciousness too, isn’t there?
Srila Prabhupada: Men and women have got the same right. For instance, we are getting married boys and girls as our disciples. They are following the same principles. The same principles. These are the four pillars of perfect life. Now, if we indulge in those sinful things—illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication, and gambling—then those become the four pillars of sinful life. And if we take the sinful things away, then the prohibitions become the pillars of perfect life.
Interviewer: Now I would like to ask you one more question, and I would like to ask you to end the program by chanting your mantra of Hare Krishna. One more question, though. In the six years that you have been in this country, in the United States, have you been encouraged or discouraged?
Srila Prabhupada: I am encouraged.
Interviewer: Encouraged? Why?
Srila Prabhupada: Because so many devotees are coming daily.
Interviewer: “So many? You say so many. You know, we have maybe—what?—two dozen people sitting here.
Srila Prabhupada: We have got sixty centers.
Interviewer: There are roughly two hundred ten million Americans.
Srila Prabhupada: But when you sell diamonds, you cannot expect that everyone will purchase. There must be bona fide customers for diamonds. You cannot expect that diamonds are going to be purchased by everyone among the mass of people. You cannot expect it.
Interviewer: Do you in general approve of this society, or do you have major complaints about it—the American society that you now live in?
Srila Prabhupada: I have no complaint. These boys and girls—they are very nice. I am, rather, encouraged that these boys and girls are so much inquisitive about Krishna. So it is the best field for this movement, the best field anywhere. But anyway, these boys and girls—I can understand they were hankering after something nice. They were frustrated. So now they have got the things they have been hankering after, and they’re coming to this movement.
Interviewer: All right. I would like to thank you very sincerely for giving us a very brief insight into the teachings of the Krishna consciousness movement. May I ask you to ask your followers who are present here with us tonight to join you in the chanting of the mantra for just a minute to close out the program? Please?
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, yes. We can chant.