(Reprinted from Back to Godhead magazine, February 1979)
Journalist: So your disciples don’t just bite their tongue or their lip and say, "I won’t touch her (or him)." There is a substitute?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, a higher taste. That is Krsna consciousness. And it is working: I’m already teaching Western men and women how to control their sexual impulse. My disciples that you see here are all Americans. They are not imported from India.
Journalist: One thing I want to know is what you think about people like this famous mantra-selling guru, who turned me off and so many other people. My daughter was very involved in that kind of thing for awhile. She’s terribly disillusioned.
Srila Prabhupada: The psychology is that the Western people, especially youngsters, are hankering after spiritual life. Now, if somebody comes to me and says, "Svamiji, initiate me," I immediately say, "You have to follow these four principles—no meat-eating, no gambling, no intoxication, and no illicit sex." Many go away. But this mantra seller—he did not put any restrictions. That’s just like a physician who says, "You can do whatever you like; you simply take my medicine and you’ll be cured." That physician will be very popular.
Journalist: Yes. He’ll kill a lot of people, but he’ll be very well liked.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. [Laughs.] And a real physician says, "You cannot do this. You cannot do that. You cannot eat this." This is a botheration for people. They want something very cheap. Therefore the cheaters come and cheat them. They take the opportunity—because people want to be cheated. "Oh, let us take advantage!" You see? So the rascals advise people, "You are God—everyone is God. You just have to realize yourself—you have simply forgotten. You take this mantra, and you’ll become God. You’ll become powerful. There is no need to control the senses. You can drink. You can have unrestricted sex life and whatever you like."
People like this. "Oh, simply by fifteen minutes meditation I shall become God, and I have to pay only thirty-five dollars." Many millions of people will be ready to do it. For Americans, thirty-five dollars is not very much. But multiplied by a million, it becomes thirty-five million dollars. [Laughs.] We cannot bluff like that. We say that if you actually want spiritual life, you have to follow the restrictions. The commandment is, "You shall not kill." So I shall not say, "Yes, you can kill—the animal has no feeling, the animal has no soul." We cannot bluff in this way, you see.
Journalist: This kind of thing has disenchanted an awful lot of young people.
Srila Prabhupada: So please try to help us. This movement is very nice. It will help your country. It will help the whole human society. It is a genuine movement. We are not bluffing or cheating. It is authorized.
Journalist: Authorized by whom?
Srila Prabhupada: Authorized by Krishna, God. In India this Krishna consciousness philosophy has millions and millions of followers—eighty percent of the population. If you ask any Indian he will be able to tell you so many things about Krishna consciousness.
Journalist: Do you really think, from a very practical standpoint, that your movement has a chance to make it here in America?
Srila Prabhupada: From what I’ve seen it has a great chance. We don’t say, "Give up your religion and come to us." We say, "At least follow your own principles. And then if you want to, study with us." Sometimes it happens that although students have received their M.A. degree, they go to foreign universities to study more. Why does it happen? They want more enlightenment. Similarly, any religious scripture you may follow will give you enlightenment. But if you find more in this Krishna consciousness movement, then why should you not accept it? If you are serious about God, why should you say, "Oh, I am Christian," "I am Jewish," "I cannot attend your meeting"? Why should you say, "Oh, I cannot allow you to speak in my church"? If I am speaking about God, what objection can you have?
Journalist: Well, I couldn’t agree with you more.
Srila Prabhupada: I am prepared to talk with any God conscious man. Let us chalk out a program so that people may be benefited. But they want to go on in their stereotyped way. If we see that by following a particular type of religious principle one is developing love of God, that is first-class religion. But if one is merely developing his love for mammon, then what kind of religion is that?
Journalist: Right you are.
Srila Prabhupada: That is our test—you have to develop love for God. We don’t say that you must follow Christianity, or Muhammadanism, or Judaism, or Hinduism. We simply look to see whether you are developing your love of Godhead. But they say, "Who is God? I am God." You see? Everyone is taught nowadays that everyone is God.
Journalist: Have you seen pictures of a smiling man with a mustache and a pushed-in nose? Before he died, he said he was God.
Srila Prabhupada: He was God? He was another rascal. Just see—this is going on. He was making propaganda that he was God. That means that people do not know what God is. Suppose I come to you and say that I am the President of the United States. Will you accept me?
Journalist: [Laughs.] No, I don’t think I would.
Srila Prabhupada: These rascals! The people are accepting them as God because they do not know what God is—that is the problem.
Journalist: It’s just absolutely absurd that somebody comes along and tells you he’s God.
Srila Prabhupada: But whoever accepts him as God is just as much a rascal. The man who says he’s God—he’s rascal number one. He’s a cheater. And the man who is cheated—he’s also a rascal. He does not know what God is. He thinks that God is so cheap that you can find Him in the marketplace.
Journalist: Of course, the Western concept is that man is created in the image of God. Consequently, God must look somewhat like man.
Srila Prabhupada: You have got so many scientists. So just find out what the actual image of God is, what His form is really like. Where is that department? You have got so many departments—research department, technology department. But where is that department that researches what God is? Is there any such department of knowledge?
Journalist: There’s no God department working tonight—I’ll tell you that right now.
Srila Prabhupada: That is the difficulty. But the Krishna consciousness movement is the department of how to know God. If you study with us, then you’ll not accept any rascal as God. You’ll accept only God as God. We are teaching about another nature beyond this material nature. This material nature is coming into existence and again dissolving, but God and His spiritual nature are eternal. We living entities are also eternal—without any end or any beginning. This Krishna consciousness movement is teaching how we can transfer ourselves to that eternal, spiritual nature where God is residing.
Journalist: That’s man’s quest.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is the quest. Everyone is trying to be happy, because that is the living entity’s prerogative. He is meant by nature to be happy, but he does not know where he can be happy. He is trying to be happy in a place where there are four miserable conditions—namely birth, old age, disease, and death. The scientists are trying to be happy and make other people happy. But what scientist has stopped old age, disease, death, and rebirth? Has any scientist succeeded?
Journalist: I don’t think so.
Srila Prabhupada: So what is this? Why do they not consider, "We have made so much improvement, but what improvement have we made in these four areas?" They have not made any. And still they are very much proud of their advancement in education and technology. But the four primary miseries remain as they are. You see?
The scientists may have made advancements in medicine, but is there any remedy that can allow us to claim, "Now there is no more disease"? Is there any such remedy? No. So then what is the scientists’ advancement? Rather, disease is increasing in so many new forms. They have invented nuclear weapons. What good is that? Simply for killing. Have they invented something so that no more men will die? That would be to their credit. But people are dying at every moment, and the scientists have simply invented something to accelerate their death. That is all. Is that to their credit? So there is still no solution to death.
And they are trying to stop overpopulation. But where is their solution? Every minute the population is increasing by three persons. These are the statistics. So there is no solution for birth. There is no solution for death. There is no solution for disease. And there is no solution for old age. Even a great scientist like Professor Einstein had to undergo old age and death. Why could he not stop old age? Everyone is trying to remain youthful, but what is the process? The scientists do not care to solve this problem—because it is beyond their means. They are giving some kind of bluff, that’s all. But Krishna consciousness is the solution, and the whole thing is described in Bhagavad-gita. Let them try to understand it. At least let them make an experiment.