(Click to enlarge photo of Srila Prabhupada and Allen Ginsberg, Mantra Rock Dance, 1967)

A Conversation with Allen Ginsberg

Prabhupāda: ...I have come to America with this view, that America is on the summit of material civilization. They are not poverty-stricken. You see? And they are seeking after something. Therefore I have come, that "You take this, you'll be happy." That is my mission. And if the Americans take, then all other countries will take because America is leading at the present moment. So persons, exalted persons like you, you try to understand. What is the difficulty? There is no difficulty. Chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, anyone can chant. Even the child is trying. There is no difficulty. And so far what is our modes of living?

Allen Ginsberg: Mere chanting without the practice of a philosophy and a daily ritual...

Prabhupāda: Philosophy is there. We are teaching Bhagavad-gītā. We are talking on Bhāgavata philosophy, we are talking on Caitanya's philosophy.

Allen Ginsberg: And you have a daily ritual.

Prabhupāda: We are distributing papers. And... Everything is there.

Allen Ginsberg: Okay. So my question then, as it was originally when you first asked me, what do I think...

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Allen Ginsberg: Is the Caitanya-Kṛṣṇa ritual, as you have it here in this house and in the other āśramas, is that something that a large mass of people can enter into?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Why not?

Allen Ginsberg: In America?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Because we have seen. All my students are Americans. So it has to be... And it is spreading.

Allen Ginsberg: Yes, but what it requires is an adaptation of Indian dress and an adaptation...

Prabhupāda: That is not very important.

Allen Ginsberg: And an adaptation to Indian food.

Prabhupāda: No, no. Indian food... It is not Indian food. Are you not eating fruits?

Allen Ginsberg: Yes, yes.

Prabhupāda: Then that is Indian food? Do you mean to say it is Indian food?

Allen Ginsberg: Well, the curries.

Prabhupāda: Curries you may boil only. That doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that you have to take our taste. No. That is not the program, that to become Kṛṣṇa conscious you have to change your taste. No. We say from the Bhagavad-gītā... Kṛṣṇa says, patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ yo me bhaktyā prayacchati [Bg. 9.26]. "Anyone who is offering Me with devotion these vegetables, fruits, flowers, milk, I accept that." But we are going to satisfy Kṛṣṇa. Therefore we are selecting foodstuff from this group. That you are all already accepting. Don't you take vegetables? Don't you take fruits? Don't you take grains? So where is the new item? Now, so far cooking, you can cook in your own taste. But the group must be this. Not meat. Because Kṛṣṇa does not say. That is our program. So you are already taking grains, you are eating fruits, you are drinking milk. So where is the difference? I don't find any difference.

Allen Ginsberg: Well, I suppose not. You could say there is no difference because the food is basically the same materially. It's just a question of the style.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Now you take... Style may be different. That's all right. Besides that, to maintain your body and soul together, you require eating, you require sleeping, you require mating, you require defense. We don't say that you don't do this. Kṛṣṇa was... Arjuna was defending. Rather, he wanted to be nonviolent. "Oh, what is the use of fighting?" Kṛṣṇa said, "No. It is required. You should." So where is the difference? There is no difference. Simply we are adjusting things so that you may become happy. Any intelligent man will take it. We are not prohibiting, but we are adjusting. So there is no difficulty. Simply intelligent persons like you should try to understand and take it and administer because your country is wanting this.

Allen Ginsberg: But there is a limit to how much the pronunciation of Kṛṣṇa will spread I think. There's a limit.

Prabhupāda: Hm? No limit. You can pronounce in any way Kṛṣṇa. K-r-i-s-h-n-a. That's all. Any way. Niyamitaḥ smaraṇe na kālaḥ.

Allen Ginsberg: The limit is people's prejudice...

Prabhupāda: So we don't say that why you are chanting Kṛṣṇa like this? We never say that. We simply say, please try to chant Kṛṣṇa.

Allen Ginsberg: Or let us say there would be a limit until the word Kṛṣṇa became as common in English as any other English word.

Prabhupāda: It is already in the dictionary. It is already in the dictionary. All dictionaries you will find Kṛṣṇa. What do you want more?

Allen Ginsberg: Something that will not disturb truckdrivers.

Lady: They can say Christ, they can say Kṛṣṇa. It is same.

Allen Ginsberg: That is true... True. But they don't say Christ. (laughs)

Prabhupāda: Now Krist... I have read one book, Aquarian...

Devotee: Aquarian Gospel?

Prabhupāda: Gospel, yes. In there it is explained that Krist means love. Christ means love. And Kṛṣṇa also means love. So there from Kṛṣṇa this word Krist has come. And in India somebody says Kristha. Instead of Kṛṣṇa, they say Kristha.

Allen Ginsberg: Where?

Prabhupāda: And in apa-bhraṁśa, has come Kestha. Generally they talk, instead of pronouncing very nicely Kṛṣṇa... Somebody's name is Kṛṣṇachandra. "Hey, Kesthara."

Allen Ginsberg: Where is this?

Prabhupāda: In India everywhere. Kestha. So Kestha, Kristha or Kṛṣṇa, they're on the same group, aiming the same group. It is not difficult.

Allen Ginsberg: Of course, Catholicism in the West operated in Latin.
Prabhupāda: Huh?

Allen Ginsberg: Catholicism in the West operated in Latin for centuries.

Prabhupāda: Latin is from Sanskrit. Yes. Latin is from Sanskrit. Professor Rowe and Webb of Presidency College in Calcutta, they have got a grammar. They have said the Sanskrit language is mother of all languages. They were big English scholar, professor, Mr. Rowe and Webb. We had to read their grammar in our childhood. They have said that Sanskrit language is the mother of all languages. And in the dictionary you'll find Indo-European language practically all from Sanskrit. The original word mātṛ-śabda—the "mater," no?

Allen Ginsberg: But the question I'm posing still is this. You accept the possibility of a series of Kṛṣṇa consciousness centers in the United States.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Provided a man is not adversely inclined. Otherwise it is very simple.

Allen Ginsberg: But what I'm wondering is how far beyond exclusive centers, how far beyond that can it go in the United States? How far beyond a special study cult centers can a Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement or any religious movement grow? 'Cause the need is for a large single unifying religious movement in America.

Prabhupāda: Yes. So here is Kṛṣṇa. All-attractive. You now find out... You can say, "Why I shall accept Kṛṣṇa?" You can say like that. Your first question is the unifying agent. I say here is Kṛṣṇa. Now we can analyze, "Why you shall accept Kṛṣṇa?" Then I shall reply, "Why you shall not?" What do you want, expect from the Supreme or the unifying, what do you expect? Everything is there in Kṛṣṇa. Opulence-Kṛṣṇa. Beauty-Kṛṣṇa. Wisdom-Kṛṣṇa. Renunciation-Kṛṣṇa. Strength-Kṛṣṇa. Everything in Kṛṣṇa. Whatever you want you'll find in Kṛṣṇa. That is the unifying center.

(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, May 12, 1969, Columbus, Ohio)

Full conversation here
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