Reporter: Have you ever had people come to you who had previously been involved with a fake guru?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, there are many.
Reporter: Were their spiritual lives in any way spoiled by the fake gurus?
Srila Prabhupada: No, they were genuinely seeking something spiritual, and that was their qualification. God is within everyone’s heart, and as soon as someone genuinely seeks Him, He helps that person find a genuine guru.
Reporter: Have the real gurus like yourself ever tried to put a stop to the false gurus—that is, put pressure on them to put them out of business, so to speak?
Srila Prabhupada: No, that is not my purpose. I started my movement simply by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. I chanted in New York in a place called Tompkins Square Park, and soon people began to come to me. In this way, the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement gradually developed. Many accepted, and many did not accept. Those who are fortunate have accepted.
Reporter: Don’t you feel that people are suspicious because of their experience with fake gurus? If you went to a quack dentist and he broke your tooth, you might be suspicious about going to another dentist.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Naturally, if you are cheated, you become suspicious. But this does not mean that if you are cheated once, you will always be cheated. You should find someone genuine. But to come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, you must be either very fortunate or well aware of this science. From the Bhagavad-gītā we understand that the genuine seekers are very few: manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu kaścid yatati siddhaye (Bg. 7.3). Out of many millions of people, there may be only one who is interested in spiritual life. Generally, people are interested in eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. So how can we expect to find many followers? It is not difficult to notice that people have lost their spiritual interest. And almost all those who are actually interested are being cheated by so-called spiritualists. You cannot judge a movement simply by the number of its followers. If one man is genuine, then the movement is successful. It is not a question of quantity, but quality.
Reporter: I wondered how many people you think might have been taken in by fake gurus?
Srila Prabhupada: Practically everyone. There is no question of counting. Everyone.
Reporter: This would mean thousands of people, wouldn’t it?
Srila Prabhupada: Millions. Millions have been cheated, because they want to be cheated. God is omniscient. He can understand your desires. He is within your heart, and if you want to be cheated, God sends you a cheater.
Reporter: ls it possible for everyone to attain the perfectional stage you spoke of previously?
Srila Prabhupada: Within a second. Anyone can attain perfection within a second—providing he is willing. The difficulty is that no one is willing. In the Bhagavad-gītā (18.66) Kṛṣṇa says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: 'Simply surrender unto Me.' But who is going to surrender to God? Everyone says, 'Oh, why should I surrender to God? I will be independent.' If you simply surrender, it is a second’s business. That’s all. But no one is willing, and that is the difficulty.
(Science of Self-Realization, Chapter 2)