Room Conversation with David Lawrence — July 12, 1973, London

Prabhupāda: Anybody else is coming? No. Somebody’s coming?

Devotee (1): There’s supposed to be two gentlemen coming, some men coming, and…

Devotee (2): School? Soon from the school?

Devotee (1): No. More boys will come.

Prabhupāda: Eh?

Devotee (1): They were from the same… Those boys all came from the same school as those teachers. They’re just up the road. They’ll all come now.

Prabhupāda: They are understanding our philosophy?

Devotee (1): Very nicely, yeah.

Prabhupāda: Oh!

Devotee (1): They like. They had never come to the temple before. Just first time they came up. I said, “It is very difficult to understand.”

Prabhupāda: So Bhagavān dāsa has gone?

Haṁsadūta: Yes, he went this morning.

Devotee (1): Two gentlemen were supposed to come, but I think they were afraid.

Prabhupāda: Huh?

Devotee (1): I think they were afraid.

Prabhupāda: Afraid? Why?

Devotee (1): Well, guru, they have to surrender to guru. They must surrender. So it’s difficult sometimes for them to come.

Prabhupāda: But it is compulsory? [laughter] They can come. It is not the question of surrender.


David Lawrence: [reading from report] “…used to be involved heavily with that. The booklet itself is to be produced in color, black and white, by means of one of the most modern printing systems in the world, and the color plates should be of very good quality.” You know, I was thinking about the beautiful pictures of the Bhagavad…

[break] …really produce those. “It’s hoped to market the thirty-page booklets for about thirty pence. The publisher, Marshall’s Educational, is a long-established publishing house, which is Marshall, Morgan and Scott, specialized in theological and devotional books. They are now turning their attention to the production of much-needed religious education books.

“Financial basis of the series: David Lawrence has undertaken the commission with the agreement that they must be produced as cheaply as possible. The author receives no expenses and is receiving payment on the lowest rate of royalty only.” So it means I’ve just about covered my expenses. “The purpose of the series of booklets:

To offer the opportunity for students to see the spiritual way as relevant today. 2. To show how God loves and how we should respond with devotion. 3. To produce a booklet so cheaply that it will easily be available in schools and to any other interested inquirers, to the latter by means of national outlets such as W.H. Smith.” They’re an enormous chain of booksellers throughout the country. “4. To allow each movement to speak for itself so that at every point the representatives will feel that they themselves are behind the booklet.

This will give the youngsters full opportunity to make up their own minds as to the bona fide nature or not of a devotional organization.” Your specific booklet: “An essential part of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness booklet and a revolutionary concept in religious education publishing will be the production of the teacher’s pack. The aims of producing this pack are: 1. To arm the normally conservative R.E. teacher with such a battery of audio-visual aids that he will feel fully dressed to embark upon a series of lessons on Kṛṣṇa consciousness. 2. To give the teacher…”

[pause] [people coming in or out of room]

Prabhupāda: Yes, go on.

David Lawrence: “2. To give the teacher all the information,” uh, right, “he or she may need to find out more than the booklet can include, for example, to satisfy the really interested inquirer. 3. By a total sense experience, the cultural gap, which may unnecessarily alienate the students and therefore hamper a worthwhile consideration of the movement. 4. By offering a wide variety of approaches, the student will not feel that he is simply studying another textbook. 5. A booklet on Kṛṣṇa consciousness without the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra in a living form would be an absurdity, so the contents of the teacher’s pack:

A. The 45 r.p.m. record of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. B. A glossy poster of Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa. C. A map of the devotional centers of Kṛṣṇa. D. A list of additional films, filmstrips and records likely to help the student, both from the center and from elsewhere. E. Sample literature from the organization, e.g. Back to Godhead. F. A pack of Spiritual Sky incense. G. A filmstrip”—the enclosure of the filmstrip depends on the costing; R.E. departments are always very poor in this country—“H. Recipes and notes on the meaning of ārati. I. several sheets of objections to Kṛṣṇa consciousness and the rebuttals of these objections. J. Suggestions for the teaching of the subject.”

Then I’ve gone on to say a little bit about the structure of the booklet. “Hopefully, the first section would establish the claims of the relevance of the spiritual life in 1973, and then the claims of Kṛṣṇa consciousness to be the true pathway to the eternal. This we would like to do by means of holding up a respected example of somebody who is already walking the path, e.g. an ideal way would be by the examination of the beliefs of George Harrison, and more especially of those expounded on ‘Living in the Material World.’ ”

Then go on to the history of the movement: “Lord Caitanya, Śrī Sarasvatī…,” apologies for the way I pronounce the names, “Śrī Prabhupāda’s commission to the Western world, the growth of ISKCON, the establishment of the London center,” you know, to bring it locally, if you like, then on to “a typical devotee, his day…” This, I’ve said, will help to personalize the whole idea, you know.

They can relate to the person concerned with this. Then “A section on the sacred scriptures of the Vedas, a background, and then quotations of frequently used texts. Then onto the beliefs of the devotees, based mainly upon the eight principles of ISKCON, and the Introduction of the Bhagavad-gītā As It Is.” Our hopes are to, you know, work very hard from that section because it’s…, that introduction has got everything. I’ve been working on it a week, and I think, uh, I’ve gone back over…

Prabhupāda: The Bhagavad-gītā?

David Lawrence: Oh, yes. I’ve gone back over it about forty times now already, you know. So I think I’m beginning to get hold of it. And then there would be lastly a reference section which would include all addresses that they would find useful, a glossary of the terms used, and an index, etc.

Prabhupāda: Very good. This…

David Lawrence: That…

Prabhupāda: …synopsis is very nice.

David Lawrence: You like the idea, do you?

Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. Very nice.

David Lawrence: The thing that I felt strongly about really was the teacher’s pack. You see, in this country, being an R.E. teacher of long standing, there is so little that really communicates an experience, and I think the teacher’s pack can help, through the senses, for these young people to experience something, you know, so that, perhaps, if they feel alienated…

Prabhupāda: We have, we have got a verse in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam:

kaumāra ācaret prājño
dharmān bhāgavatān iha
durlabhaṁ mānuṣaṁ janma
tad apy adhruvam arthadam
[SB 7.6.1]

From the very childhood, kaumāra… Kaumāra is the age from five to fourteen years, or fifteen years. This is kaumāra age.

David Lawrence: Yes.

Prabhupāda: So Prahlāda Mahārāja, he was a devotee when he was only five years old. And his father was atheist number one. So there was great misunderstanding between the father and the son. The father was insisting the son that “You give up this line of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. You become politician. You have to control over the kingdom and so on, so on…” But he could not give up.

This is the misunderstanding between the father and the… So at, at the age of five years only, he was preaching. But how he was preaching? He was preaching… Because the father instructed the teachers, “Just look over this boy that he may not take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Strictly. That is my order.” So teachers were not allowing him. But he was taking opportunity in their tiffin hour.

Śyāmasundara: What?

Prabhupāda: Tiffin hour.

Śyāmasundara: Tiffin hour. [laughter]

Prabhupāda: What is…

Śyāmasundara: Oh.

Prabhupāda: Recess. When the teachers gone and students are free to move. So he was calling his class friends and other, and he was preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Śyāmasundara: Tiffin hour.

Prabhupāda: So… We call “tiffin hour” in India. Because we, we take some tiffin in the school, and we eat during that…

David Lawrence: Hmm. Hmm.

Prabhupāda: So he was preaching that kaumāra ācare… The other boys, they were insisting, “Prahlāda, why you are so much anxious about preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness? Let us play. It is our time to play.” So, “No, no.” He said, “No. This is the time to learn Kṛṣṇa consciousness.” Because you are teaching, therefore…

David Lawrence: Yes.

Prabhupāda: …I am relating. “That kaumāra age, from five years to fifteen years, that is the right age for educating Kṛṣṇa consciousness.” This is the word of… Kaumāra ācaret prājño dharmān bhāgavatān iha, durlabhaṁ mānuṣaṁ janma [SB 7.6.1]. He says that “This human form of body is very rarely gotten, and it is a rare opportunity for awakening our Kṛṣṇa consciousness.”

Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or God consciousness, is there in every human being, especially in civilized… So it is not an artificial thing. Just like my, all my students, they are Europeans, Americans. Four or five years ago, they did not know anything about Kṛṣṇa, neither they knew the name of Kṛṣṇa. But now you can see how they’re absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So it is not an artificial thing.

David Lawrence: No.

Prabhupāda: If it…, had it been an artificial, they would not have been so serious. But it is a dormant consciousness. I have simply awakened. I have awakened. Otherwise… That is the statement in Caitanya-caritāmṛta, that everyone is Kṛṣṇa conscious. Some way or other, it is now snuffed down. They have forgotten.

But if an opportunity is given, then it can be awakened. So this movement is giving opportunity to arouse that dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness which is already there in everyone. So if you take that process and allow this Kṛṣṇa consciousness among the student, oh, it will be great service to the humanity. As a teacher, you will give the greatest service.

David Lawrence: Yes, I agree.

Prabhupāda: Kaumāra ācaret prājño dharmān bhāgavatān iha [SB 7.6.1]. And this is the only opportunity of awakening our Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So if we do not give that opportunity to the human being from the childhood, it is a jealous… Jealousy means that you have got some opportunity, but if I do not allow you to take that opportunity, this is called jealous. So every human being has got the potency of awakening his God consciousness, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, in this human form of body.

So if we do not give that opportunity, it is jealousy. Therefore students must be educated, and if you’re writing such nice book, I think you will get…, give a great service to your nation and to the human society in England. Because durlabhaṁ mānuṣaṁ janma, this human form of life… Unfortunately, people do not understand what is the distinction between this human form of life and animal form of life. That is another…

David Lawrence: Very often nothing, is it, in the material world?

Prabhupāda: So you give… Yes. That is the… The only difference is that in human form of life you can awaken your Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In the animal form… Here we are sitting with all human form of life, gentlemen, civilized men. I cannot call cats and dogs and sit here, and to understand what is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is not possible. Therefore this opportunity should be given.

This opportunity should be given. And especially, you are English nation, recognized, great nation, respectful, you are respected… Especially in India, we have got very good respect for English nation. We had connection for so many years. And the politicians, they spoiled. Otherwise, the…, I, we liked the British Empire, means unity of the human being all over the world. That can be revived again. That can be revived again. If you come to this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, your Queen comes to that…

There is process. There is process. You can revive your British Empire. It is not story. If you people take little advice from me, I can help you. Yes. You are intelligent nation. So kindly do this service to the students and awaken their dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It will be a great service. And we are meant for helping you all. So you can inquire. You are at liberty to come at any time and inquire.

David Lawrence: Thank you very much.

Prabhupāda: Any question.

David Lawrence: We’re working predominantly with the older age group, of course. And, uh… Fourteen, fifteens.

Prabhupāda: But first thing is, our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is based directly on the instruction of Kṛṣṇa. Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is nothing but to accept Kṛṣṇa’s instruction as it is. That is the…

David Lawrence: Yes. Yes.

Prabhupāda: So Kṛṣṇa’s instruction is there. It is open to everyone. It is not only open to us. Everyone. Bhagavad-gītā. It is widely read literature in the world. But unfortunately, they have been misinterpreted.

David Lawrence: It was very interesting to read one of the very Western versions, that of Professor Zaehner of Oxford. And on one or two points of contention between yourself and other translators of the Bhagavad-gītā, in fact, he, nearly always, went with you. Now, he’s reckoned to be one of the foremost Western Sanskrit scholars. And he every time emphasized the devotional tone of your translation. Nearly every time. I was very impressed by that.

Śyāmasundara: We talked with Professor Zaehner, and he may come. He’s trying… He’s going to see…

Prabhupāda: That is only interpretation: Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna. Kṛṣṇa is speaking to Arjuna. He is plainly speaking that “I am speaking to you this Bhagavad-gītā because you are My devotee.” Bhakto ‘si priyo ‘si me rahasyaṁ hy etad uttamam [Bg. 4.3]. So first condition to understand Bhagavad-gītā is to become a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. So in the Bhagavad-gītā, the only talk is about devotion. There is no other talk. There are other talks, but they are subordinate. They are not principal talk. The principal talk is to understand Kṛṣṇa through bhakti-yoga. Bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ [Bg. 18.55]. You understand Sanskrit? You…?

David Lawrence: Yes, yes, I’m there.

Prabhupāda: So if He says, “One can understand Me only through bhakti…” He has spoken about jñāna, yoga, karma, everything, but if anyone wants to know Kṛṣṇa, then He says, it is His direct order, bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ [Bg. 18.55]. Tattvataḥ, “In truth, what I am, if anyone wants to know, that can be known through bhakti-yoga. No other method.”

David Lawrence: I was very interested this last week to be reading a book which really was trying to defend Orthodox Christianity, and it was by a very devotional Christian writer, and he, in fact, was making exactly the same points as yourself about the God consciousness of Jesus. I read the Ratha-yātrā magazine, and saw how, I think it was a nun that asked you about the position of Jesus on this, and you quite rightly said, “Well, of course, Jesus never claimed to be God.” I do wish that some Christians would realize that. He was God conscious, wasn’t he?

Prabhupāda: Yes.

David Lawrence: The churches in this land seem to have forgotten that. He never claimed to be God.

Prabhupāda: No, how he could claim? He’s a devotee of God, he’s servant of God. How he can claim? Of course, there is no difference between God and His servant. Yes. That we say. Sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair uktas tathā bhāvyata… . Because a devotee, like Lord Jesus Christ, means confidential servant of God, there is no difference between God and himself. Just like any political representative or business representative, he’s, if he’s a confidential representative, there is no difference between the king or the proprietor of the firm, so long he represents rightly.

Similarly, anyone who represents God or the cause of God, he’s not different from God. We should offer respect to such person exactly like God. That is our instruction of the ācāryas. Sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair uktaḥ. In every śāstra the spiritual master is recognized as personally the Supreme Lord. But in… Why he is recognized? Kintu prabhor yaḥ priya eva tasya. Because he’s the most dear servant of the Lord.

And that is natural. Suppose some representative of some firm comes, and if I know that he is the most confidential representative, I must respect him very nicely so that he may be impressed and he may report, “These people are very nice.” [laughter] Oh. So this is the ordinary etiquette, what to speak of the actual representative of God. Sākṣād-dharitvena samasta-śāstrair uktaḥ. Uktaḥ means “it is already said.” Tathā bhāvyata eva sadbhiḥ. Those who are advanced in devotional service, they accept this principle. But why? Kintu prabhor yaḥ priya eva tasya. Because he is the most confidential servant, representative. Vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam. This is, we pray, offer our prayers to our spiritual master.

So it is very nice, you are attempting. I am very glad. So you can inquire from me anything. The first thing I shall request you, the first principle of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or the first A-B-C-D of spiritual education, is to understand the constitutional position of the living entity. He is…, he is spirit soul. He’s not this body. The spirit soul is living within this body, but the, the body’s not the spirit soul. This thing must be understood very clearly. You know, in the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, dehino ‘smin yathā dehe [Bg. 2.13]. Dehinaḥ, the proprietor of the body, is within this body.

Dehinaḥ asmin dehe yathā. And the body is changing, from childhood to boyhood, boyhood to youthhood, like that. So when this body will be useless, we will take another body. Tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ. This first education of spiritual life should be understood first. Then one can make progress. Then one can understand what is the constitution of God, what is our relationship with Him. But if…, so long we shall remain under the bodily concept of life, this subject matter will remain difficult.

David Lawrence: Hmm. There’s one matter that I’d love to ask you about, which is I found personally difficulty, because perhaps I haven’t had the Bhagavad-gītā As It Is as long as I should have done, is to really feel that I’ve got to grips with the idea of the spiritual sky. I couldn’t quite understand whether there was any form, any form at all of symbolism coming into the idea of the various stages of planets and so on, or whether, in fact, this was a very physical…

Prabhupāda: [aside:] Bring Bhagavad-gītā.

Śyāmasundara: Here.

Prabhupāda: Hmm. Find out this verse: paras tasmāt tu bhāvo anyo… [Bg. 8.20]. Why not call Paṇḍita Mahāśaya [Pradyumna]?

David Lawrence: Paras tasmāt…?

Prabhupāda: Paṇḍita Mahāśaya.

Śrutakīrti: [aside:] Can you get Pradyumna?

Prabhupāda: Yes. We have got nice index in this book.

David Lawrence: Yes, indeed.

Prabhupāda: You can find out any verse. Paraḥ tasmāt tu bhāvaḥ anyaḥ avyaktaḥ avyaktāt sanātanaḥ.


paras tasmāt tu bhāvo ‘nyo
‘vyakto ‘vyaktāt sanātanaḥ
yaḥ sa sarveṣu bhūteṣu
naśyatsu na vinaśyati
[Bg. 8.20]

Prabhupāda: Translation?

Śrutakīrti: “Yet there is another nature, which is eternal and is transcendental to this manifested and unmanifested matter. It is supreme and is never annihilated. When all in this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is.”

Prabhupāda: So that is spiritual world. This material world is created. The spiritual world is not created; it is eternal.

David Lawrence: Yes.

Prabhupāda: So we have given an idea of the picture.

Haṁsadūta: He’s coming.

Prabhupāda: So there is another nature, which is called spiritual nature. Paras tasmāt tu bhāvaḥ anyaḥ [Bg. 8.20]. Paraḥ. That is also admitted by all the ācāryas. Just [like] Śaṅkarācārya… You have heard the name of Śaṅkarācārya?

David Lawrence: Hmm. Hmm.

Prabhupāda: He also says, nārāyaṇaḥ paraḥ avyaktāt. Nārāyaṇaḥ paraḥ. So there is paraḥ. Paraḥ means superior. Nārāyaṇa belongs to that superior nature. That means spiritual nature. Yes.

David Lawrence: This is an annoying habit of the Western mind, you know, to think in spatial terms, and it’s possibly hang-ups from Christian theology, in a sense, that I wanted to persist with this questioning even further about, you know, the real nature, as far as the Bhagavad-gītā gives it to us.

Prabhupāda: No, you have to become little free from the biased ideas of Christian philosophy.

David Lawrence: This is what I thought, yes. This is what I thought.

Prabhupāda: Otherwise you cannot make progress.

David Lawrence: Yes, yes.

Prabhupāda: Otherwise it is impossible.

David Lawrence: Yes. It’s humility…

Prabhupāda: You have to come to the platform of general, common sense.

David Lawrence: Yes. [laughs]

Prabhupāda: If you become biased, then it will be impossible.

David Lawrence: Yes.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Then you cannot make progress. You have to come to the platform… Now, the common sense is that can you distinguish between matter and spirit? Can you distinguish?

David Lawrence: In what…, in what respect?

Prabhupāda: That I was speaking, that the distinction between matter and spirit: the spirit is the vital force…

David Lawrence: Yes.

Prabhupāda: …or you call spirit soul, or ātmā. That you can distinguish. As soon as the vital force is off from this body, this body is a lump of matter. Therefore even if you do not know the spirit soul, any sane man can guess that something is missing in this body. Therefore this body is called dead. Now, that something is described definitely, is soul.

So we can distinguish between the spirit and soul, in some way or other. So as there is material world, there must be some spiritual world. Otherwise, how the spirit is there? The spirit is there, the soul is there. That is spiritual. So two things we are experiencing: spirit and matter. So as we are experiencing this material world, so similarly there must be a spiritual world. There must be a spiritual world. Otherwise wherefrom the spirit comes?

David Lawrence: Yes. Yes.

Prabhupāda: Now, this spirit is eternal. That is the first understanding. Tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ [Bg. 2.13]. This spirit is occupying a material body at the present moment. And the next, when this… Just like I am in this apartment. If I find some inconvenience, I go to another apartment. Or the lease is expired, I have to leave it. Some way or other, I change. Similarly, the… You can change your coat.

So these are explained in the Bhagavad-gītā. Vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya [Bg. 2.22]. Ex…, very nicely exemplified. So we are changing this apartment or dress and accepting another. This is going on. This is the material world. But I, the spirit soul, eternal. Nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaṁ na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre [Bg. 2.20].

[aside:] Find out this verse. Na jāyate mriyate vā kadācit. Na jāyate mriyate vā kadācit. Second Chapter.

Everything is there in the Bhagavad-gītā. If you can introduce, study some Bhagavad-gītā amongst the student, oh, it will, it will be a great service.

David Lawrence: I think it would be a great deal more popular than studies of the Bible.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

David Lawrence: Because there isn’t the [indistinct].

Prabhupāda: Now, there is psychology. There is philosophy.

David Lawrence: Yes, indeed.

Prabhupāda: Everything is there. And religion without philosophy is sentiment. And philosophy without religion is mental speculation. Yes. Two things must be combined.

David Lawrence: Yes, yes.

Prabhupāda: That is Bhagavad-gītā. Yes.

Śrutakīrti: “For the soul there is never birth or death”?

Prabhupāda: Hmm? First of all find out the verse.

Śrutakīrti: Na jāyate…

Prabhupāda: Read it. Read it.

Śrutakīrti: Na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin.

Prabhupāda: Let him.


na jāyate mriyate vā kadācin
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śāśvato ‘yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre
[Bg. 2.20]

Prabhupāda: Yes. Now read the meaning, translation.

Pradyumna: “For the soul there is never birth nor death…”

Prabhupāda: This, this is the nature of the soul.

Pradyumna: “Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.”

Prabhupāda: This thing first of all must be understood: immortality of the soul, transmigration of the soul. Then other things will be easier. And because this is eternal, therefore there is another, spiritual world, which is also the same nature, eternal. That is explained. What is that verse? Find out. Paras tasmāt tu bhāvo ‘nyo…, sarveṣu naśyatsu na vinaśyati [Bg. 8.20]. The spiritual world existing eternally.

This material world being annihilated, dissolved, that is not dissolved. Exactly like this body being annihilated, the soul is not annihilated. Similarly, the material world, it is bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate [Bg. 8.19]. It takes place at a certain date, and it is annihilated at a certain… Exactly like this body. Anything material, it has got a date of creation, and it has got a date of annihilation. But as the spirit soul is not annihilated even after the annihilation of the body, similarly there is another, spiritual world, which is never annihilated even after annihilation of this material world. Hmm. What is that?


paras tasmāt tu bhāvo ‘nyo
‘vyakto ‘vyaktāt sanātanaḥ
yaḥ sa sarveṣu bhūteṣu
naśyatsu na vinaśyati
[Bg. 8.20]

Prabhupāda: Hmm. Sarveṣu bhūteṣu naśyatsu na vinaśyati. What is the meaning?

Pradyumna: “Yet there is another nature, which is eternal and is transcendental to this manifested and unmanifested matter. It is supreme and is never annihilated. When all in this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is.”

Prabhupāda: This matter which you are seeing, this is manifested. But there is material stock, unmanifested—a stock of water, stock of fire, stock of earth. Layer. This universe is covered by different layers, and each layer is ten times bigger than the other layers. That is unmanifested. That is unmanifested. Therefore vyakto ‘vyaktāt.

This, what we see, this is manifested, but the stock… Just like from the stock of your, I mean to say, stone and lime and cement and brick, you make a skyscraper building, manifested. But the stock is also there. Stock is also there. Similarly, this manifested material world is there. It is taken from the stock. The stock is…, a huge stock there is. We get information, layer, the universe. And penetrating all these layers, we have to go to the spiritual world.

David Lawrence: Yes.

Prabhupāda: In the Bhāgavata there is that Kṛṣṇa took Arjuna, His friend, penetrating the layers to the spiritual world. He, He took him. You have read that in the Kṛṣṇa book? There is… You have read?

David Lawrence: Yes.

Prabhupāda: Yes. He could take. So Arjuna was fortunate to go in this body, to go to the spiritual world and see it and come back again.

David Lawrence: One other thing that interested me was the idea that Arjuna was in some way…

Prabhupāda: Friend.

David Lawrence: …deliberately, if you like, deliberately misguided, planned almost to be misguided in the Bhagavad-gītā. How…, how does this work, if you like…?

Prabhupāda: If he does not be… He was purposefully misguided so that he could put question like a misguided man…

David Lawrence: Yes.

Prabhupāda: …and the right answer may come from Kṛṣṇa. It is for our benefit. He’s not misguided.

David Lawrence: No.

Prabhupāda: But he played the part of misguided.

David Lawrence: Yes. What we would say and…

Prabhupāda: Yes. Just like a person is playing in the stage as a fool, but he may be very educated man. So… But for the dramatic expression of talks, he might play as a fool. Similarly, Arjuna’s position is… How…? He cannot be misguided; he’s personal friend of Kṛṣṇa.

David Lawrence: Yes.

Prabhupāda: He cannot be misguided.

David Lawrence: But it was for our benefit.

Prabhupāda: But… And nobody can talk with Kṛṣṇa, also. Nobody is so qualified. So somebody who would talk with Kṛṣṇa who must be very qualified, but he’s playing the part of a befooled man. Otherwise, he’s not misguided. He knows everything. Yes.

David Lawrence: One other point—and again a practical point really, this one—this is about the nature of the book. I suggested early on that I hoped that I might get the cooperation of somebody like George Harrison. What would you think about this? Do you think, with your knowledge of the young mind, particularly the young Western mind, that this might be a good means through to the young people…?

Prabhupāda: It is not the question of Western mind, Eastern mind. Any sincere student will take to.

David Lawrence: No, I was thinking in terms of the Western mind with its culture, more than of philosophy.

Prabhupāda: Hmm. Western mind… I, I do not find any difference between Western mind and Eastern mind. Because so many Western mind is changed. Yes. So there was no difficulty. “Two…, two plus two equal to four” is to be understood by the Western mind and the Eastern mind. You cannot say, because you are Western mind, you’ll say, “No, two plus two equal to five.”

You cannot say that. So there may be some influence of the culture, but that is superficial. When you speak the real truth, science, that is equally applicable to the Western mind and Eastern mind. There is no difference. If you speak the real truth… Two plus two equal to four, mathematical calculation, nobody will deny it, either Western mind or Eastern mind. Yes. So he must be reasonable. That’s all.

David Lawrence: Yes. That’s it.

Prabhupāda: So we expect every human being, rational. Eastern, Western, there is no difference.

David Lawrence: As you see from my plans, really what we hoped to do was to, if there was any cultural difference, to some extent eliminate that cultural difference.

Prabhupāda: Then the first thing is therefore you have to understand that “I am not this body.” The cultural difference is on account of this bodily conception of life.

David Lawrence: Yes. Yes.

Prabhupāda: But if we transcend the position of our bodily concept of life, we come to the spiritual platform. So there is no difference.

David Lawrence: The difference is irrelevant then.

Prabhupāda: No. There is no difference. Just like we are talking. You have got a coat. I have no coat. That does not make any difference. We are talking as gentlemen. That’s all. The last time when I was in Calcutta I was invited by the Indo-American Cultural Society, and they gave me the subject matter “East and West.” So I talked, “We don’t find any such distinction ‘East and West’ when we come to the spiritual platform. This is all material platform.”

David Lawrence: We find when we’re teaching, you know, really secular youngsters that it’s terribly difficult to get off this cultural veneer, you know.

Prabhupāda: Therefore one has to understand first that “I am not this body.”

David Lawrence: That’s it. And you’ve got to believe… The teacher… This is the big thing, isn’t it? The teacher has got to be God conscious.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

David Lawrence: So he believes that there is the God conscious experience.

Prabhupāda: He must realize that he’s not this body. He is different from body. “But I am encaged now in this body under certain condition.” So at least this… This is called jñāna. Jñāna. So long one is in the bodily concept of life, he is affected with so many things. So many things. So this bhakti-yoga begins when one is purified from the bodily concept of life.

Sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ tat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. Now these boys, they are coming from different nations, but they never think that one is Englishman, another is American, another is Indian, another is African. No, we don’t think like that.

David Lawrence: No.

Prabhupāda: At least, we have surpassed that stage. If we have not advanced in any other way, [laughter] at least we have advanced in this respect. We don’t consider on the bodily concept of life. What do you think?

Śyāmasundara: Yes.

Prabhupāda: That is our qualification. Yes.

David Lawrence: Unfortunately, as we find, the youngsters that, certainly that I teach, have got such materialistic views of their…

Prabhupāda: If you keep the students as English boys or American boys, then it will be difficult. Then the, the cultural question will come up.

David Lawrence: Yes, yes. We try to bring in as much… In fact, now we have a new course… This is the sort of thing that’s happening in England…

[break] …the Jewish-Christian scriptures which do not, you know, just don’t lend themselves in any way to the right sort of feelings being created and the right sort of experience being created. We found that this year’s course—it’s the first year—has been tremendously helpful. We brought the boys… I can’t think anybody was here, but we brought the boys up to the London temple, and…

Prabhupāda: Here?

David Lawrence: Yes. Well, no, in the Bury Place. And they were thrilled to bits. We had one or two who made the usual silly comments, you know, which you’d expect. But they were embarrassed, you know. Everything that came over, which was interesting, was that they found that all the devotees were very kind, very loving and very sincere. This…, this came from even really the most secular of boys with a very, very low intelligence. He could see and perceive and understand that this was how it was.

Prabhupāda: That is our general certificate, everywhere. Even the Americans, they are surprised. They inquire, “Are you Americans?” [laughter]

David Lawrence: Yes.

Prabhupāda: The, the priest also, he’s surprised, that “They are our boys. They did not come to church, never cared for religion. And now they are after God, mad after God. What is this?” They are surprised.

David Lawrence: Well, I think a lot of our boys could understand it, having been to a service, you know, attended ārati, and they…

Prabhupāda: So that is, that is due to our strict following the principles. That is making them stout and strong in spiritual platform.

David Lawrence: Yes. This is surely it, that so much, so many other movements, as such, and sectarian groups have compromised so much, haven’t they? They, they… If one goes past the average English church, which is these boys’ experience of religion, they pass the biggest cars in the neighborhood on a Sunday morning. This is, this is what they see. And, of course, when they came to the temple, they found people living out a life-style which, even though was so totally alien from their own, they could feel that it was worthwhile.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

David Lawrence: It was tremendous. In fact, one boy we found listening to the George Harrison record. You can tell George this if you like. He was listening to the record quietly in the music room that we have in our school with the big speakers, you know. Lots of noise. And he was reading these words. And he put the words down. And I was watching him…

Prabhupāda: “I am in material world.”

David Lawrence: Yes. “Living in the material world.”

Prabhupāda: That is a very nice song.

David Lawrence: And he sat there, and he was praying. And I didn’t interfere. And he came out of the room after having turned the record player off. I said, “Well, you know, what were you doing in there?” And he said, “This, this record has been a complete experience to me.” And that, if George could know that… It was tremendous, really tremendous to see this happening. George’s record is so devotional, you know. It’s really beautiful.

Prabhupāda: I talked with him about this material world in his house… When?

Śyāmasundara: Oh, it was last August, I think. Or July.

Prabhupāda: Last… I went to his house at Henley on the Thames.

David Lawrence: Henley on Thames.

Prabhupāda: He’s a nice boy, very nice boy. His wife is also very nice. Pattie?

David Lawrence: Pattie, yes.

Prabhupāda: She’s also devotee.

David Lawrence: [to Śyāmasundara] Pass that on, please, to George. [laughs] He should be very excited, I think, about that. This is very good. I’d like to thank you very much for giving of your time.

Prabhupāda: You are welcome, because you are sincere student searching after… I am prepared to help you any time.

David Lawrence: I do hope that anything I produce will…

Prabhupāda: Yes.

David Lawrence: …you know, very adequately represent the movement. I’m going to give it to…

Prabhupāda: Your, these students, they’ll be benefited if you…

David Lawrence: I think so.

Prabhupāda: They will benefit. Yes, actually.

David Lawrence: I hope so.

Prabhupāda: And it is the duty of the guardians to see that the children are actually spiritually benefited. There is a verse… Pitā na sa syāt gurur na sa syāt [SB 5.5.18].

[aside:] You have got Bhāgavata?

Pradyumna: It’s upstairs.

Prabhupāda: Bhāgavata? Find out that, Fifth Canto, Fifth Chapter, how it is instructed. If you introduce these literatures in the schools for study—because you are religious teacher—oh, it will play…

David Lawrence: I think so. And, you know, we hope to…

Prabhupāda: …a revolution in the spiritual ideas.

David Lawrence: We hope to produce it so cheaply that schools will buy it readily, you know. Almost be, well, you know, not free, but handed out…

Prabhupāda: No, we can give you paperback, cheap edition.

David Lawrence: Yes.

Prabhupāda: Yes. We can… If you… We can… A very cheap edition. Or we’ll print here, cheap.

David Lawrence: The Kṛṣṇa books? Kṛṣṇa books?

Prabhupāda: Yes.

David Lawrence: I have an order that I have to get tonight of those…

Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇa books?

David Lawrence: Yes. Some of my boys saw my copy, and they were reading it, and, er…

Śyāmasundara: How old are they?

David Lawrence: These are fourteen-year-olds, these ones.

Śyāmasundara: Fourteen.

David Lawrence: And I’ve got an order for Back to Godhead and…, besides this.

Prabhupāda: Hmm. And here is a verse, the guidance to the guardians: pitā na sa syāt… What is? Gurur na sa syāt.

Pradyumna: [flipping pages] Is it…, is that in Fifth Canto?

Prabhupāda: Yes, Fifth Canto, Fifth Chapter. Na mocayed yaḥ samupeta-mṛtyum.


gurur na sa syāt sva-jano na sa syāt
pitā na sa syāj jananī na sā syāt
daivaṁ na tat syān na patiś ca sa syān
na mocayed yaḥ samupeta-mṛtyum
[SB 5.5.18]

Prabhupāda: Samupeta-mṛtyum. So the idea is one should not become spiritual master. Gurur na sa syāt. Then?

Pradyumna: Sva-jano na sa syāt.

Prabhupāda: One should not become his kinsman. This is negative side, going on. One should not become a spiritual master, one should not pose himself as kinsman… Gurur na sa syāt sva-jano na sa syāt. Then?

Pradyumna: Pitā na sa syāt.

Prabhupāda: One should not become a father. And pitā na sa syāt, jananī na sā syāt. One should not claim to become mother. Then?

Pradyumna: Daivaṁ na tat syān.

Prabhupāda: One should not… Because somebody worships some forms of God. So that gods should not be also worshiped. Then? Go on.

Pradyumna: Na pitaś ca sa syān.

Prabhupāda: Na pitā?

Pradyumna: Oh, na patiś ca sa syān.

Prabhupāda: Ah, na patiḥ. And one should not become husband also. Because husband is supposed to be instructor to the wife. Husband is the guardian of the wife. So he’s responsible for her spiritual advancement. As much as the father is responsible for the spiritual advancement of his child, the spiritual master is responsible…

Anyone who is claiming to be superior, he should be responsible for the inferior’s spiritual advancement of life. So the conclusion is that they should not claim to become such and such unless they are able to save the subordinate from the imminent danger of death. Because death is there so long one is not spiritually advanced. As soon as one is spiritually advanced, he goes to the spiritual world, transferred. Mad-yājino ‘pi yānti mām [Bg. 9.25]. Spiritually advancement means to be transferred to the spiritual world.

So this is the main business of the father, of the husband, of the spiritual master, of the king, of the guardian, of kinsmen. Everyone should be alert: “Whether I am helping my subordinate in the spiritual advancement of life.” Because that will save him from the repetition of birth and death. And otherwise, what benefit you can do? If he’s under the laws of karma, if he’s going to become a cat or dog in next life, what help you have given to him? If he’s under the laws of karma, then your help is no use. Your help is no use.

David Lawrence: It’s a tremendous responsibility.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Tremendous responsibility. So everyone should be responsible to save his subordinate from the laws of karma. So laws of karma can be broken. Karmāṇi nirdahati ca bhakti-bhājām [Bs. 5.54]. One who has taken to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, bhakti, devo…, bhakti-yoga, he’s no longer under the laws of karma. And that is also… Take Bhagavad-gītā.

māṁ ca avyabhicāreṇa
bhakti-yogena yaḥ sevate
sa guṇān samatītyaitān
brahma-bhūyāya kalpate
[Bg. 14.26]

Find out this verse.


māṁ ca yo ‘vyabhicāreṇa
bhakti-yogena sevate
sa guṇān samatītyaitān
brahma-bhūyāya kalpate
[Bg. 14.26]

“One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down in any circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.”

Prabhupāda: Simply by devotion. Anyone who is always engaged in devotional service, he’s not in this material platform. He’s in the spiritual platform. This is the technique. You remain always Kṛṣṇa conscious; you are no longer living in the material world. Brahma-bhūyāya kalpate [Bg. 14.26].

brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
[Bg. 18.54]

So study this Bhagavad-gītā thoroughly, and be benefited and do good to others. This should be the mission.

David Lawrence: I was so overawed when I came in that I didn’t put this on. [about tape recorder] [laughs]

Prabhupāda: Hmm?

David Lawrence: I was so overawed when I came in that I didn’t put the…

Śyāmasundara: You can get a copy.

Prabhupāda: Ācchā?

David Lawrence: Can I get a copy from you?

Prabhupāda: Yes. You can, you can stop this and…

[break] …material energy. Then we do some service.

David Lawrence: Indeed. I say this to some of my teaching colleagues who say, “You’ll never achieve anything in teaching.” And I say, “If it is one person, the job has been done.”

Prabhupāda: Yes.

David Lawrence: “Because the service has been rendered.”

Prabhupāda: They do not know how much they are suffering in this material condition of life. So if somebody is saved, then it is a great service. What is…, what is your name?

David Lawrence: David Lawrence.

Prabhupāda: David Lawrence. He was also David, that sculptor?

Śyāmasundara: David Wynne.

David Lawrence: There’s another David over there as well, who’s come here. That is David.


Śyāmasundara: You can come again anytime you like.

David Lawrence: Thanks very much.

Śyāmasundara: After four, any evening you can come.

Prabhupāda: [aside:] Have you, have you got any knife? Give me.


So you are living in this village?

David Lawrence: London, you mean? [laughs]

Prabhupāda: You live London.

David Lawrence: No, I’m just here for the evening, in fact. I’ll be taken back this evening, hopefully, to London. I live on the shores of the English Ganges, you know, the Thames. [laughter] No, it’s very difficult by transport at night. And I haven’t got a car, you see.

Śyāmasundara: No, we’ll take you back. Don’t worry.

David Lawrence: Right. It’s always a thing…

Prabhupāda: There is no subway?

David Lawrence: Sometimes it runs.

Prabhupāda: Oh, [laughs] sometimes?

David Lawrence: The subway’s all right. It’s the main line that I have to get, going back, you see.

Prabhupāda: Oh.

David Lawrence: This is the problem. If one is late at night, it’s difficult.

Śyāmasundara: No, we’ll take you.

David Lawrence: That’s great.


Prabhupāda: [Prabhupāda hums]

[referring to fruit:] How to cut it?

Śyāmasundara: Pull. Pull the two halves…

David Lawrence: Wise man. Hand it on. It’s always the stones that are the problem.

Śyāmasundara: Yeah. It clings.

David Lawrence: The carpet is going to be sticking people to it.

Śyāmasundara: It’s really stuck on there.

David Lawrence: Yes, try force. That’s it. It’s a wonder that technology… I suppose technology has produced a machine that does it.

Prabhupāda: Hmm. The technology is here in the teeth. [laughter] God has given.

Śyāmasundara: Yes. You’ll have to eat the whole thing.

Prabhupāda: Yes, you have to eat. That is the technology.

David Lawrence: Perhaps a parrot’s beak would be a very good thing to grow.

Prabhupāda: So give them this… You use your technology.

David Lawrence: Thank you. You know, I think that later on it may well happen, you know.

[eating] Our boys don’t eat meat, anyway. They eat baked beans the whole time. We have a generation in our country who could eat virtually anything, but they insist on sugar drinks and baked beans. Have you come across these strange English things, baked beans? Most peculiar.

Prabhupāda: Baked beans?

Śyāmasundara: Baked beans.

Prabhupāda: What is that?

Śyāmasundara: Beans…

Devotee: Haricot beans, put them in a tomato sauce.

David Lawrence: Haricot beans.

Śyāmasundara: In the oven.

David Lawrence: This is one of the English spiritual journeys. You know, they believe this is one of the greatest things to do, don’t they?

Prabhupāda: Sometimes invite them all and give them prasādam. Nice boys.

Śyāmasundara: Have them all out here, yeah. [break]

Prabhupāda: You just work little, produce your food, eat, and save time, and try to understand Kṛṣṇa. This is the nature’s arrangement. Anywhere, any part of the world, you can produce your food. Simply you require a little land and some cows.

Everything is complete. You take milk from the cows and just till the field and get some food grains. That is sufficient. Whole economic question solved. And save time for developing Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is the arrangement.

David Lawrence: It was interesting to see a recent television program in this country…

Prabhupāda: Yes.

David Lawrence: …on farming, and it was talking about the so-called modern methods of farming which have destroyed the earth in this country, really, in great areas. And it showed an Englishman and his son who believe in the old methods, with cows on the land. And he is not only doing better economically, but he was so happy. The two men were so happy.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

David Lawrence: They were just working with nature, not against nature.

Prabhupāda: Just like so much field is there. You, if you take the all village people, you can produce enough food for them in this village. So much land is lying there. Simply you keep cows and till ground, get your food grains. Enough. And if you take the whole planet as it is, you can feed ten times population. There is so much prospect. Australia, Africa, so much vacant land. You can produce enough quantity of milk and food grains.

David Lawrence: Yes, I think this was the clinching argument in this program…

Prabhupāda: But they are doing… What they are doing? They’re taking the milk and slaughtering the animal and sending to foreign countries for trade. New Zealand, Australia, they are doing that. Just see.

David Lawrence: Or they’re throwing down the surplus milk down coal mines.

Prabhupāda: Eh?

David Lawrence: They throw surplus milk down coal mines.

Prabhupāda: That’s it.

David Lawrence: When there are people without any…

Prabhupāda: How they are wasting! You see? And they’re putting the overstocked grain into the sea, America.

David Lawrence: Dumping tomatoes, bananas, all these things.

Prabhupāda: What kind of civilization? And producing Nixon on the head. [laughter] Just see.

David Lawrence: Yes.

Prabhupāda: And they want to be happy. This is their position.

David Lawrence: They’ll give…

Prabhupāda: The head of the administration is Nixon, and the activities is killing and throwing the grains in the sea. And they are civilized. Just see. Where is civilization? They have no common sense even.

David Lawrence: The thing is, the economic system now runs the heart. The heart is not allowed to beat in the right way. It’s completely controlled.

Prabhupāda: It is a soul-killing civilization. We have to fight against it, to save at least a few men. So you are thoughtful young man. You try to understand this philosophy, and you try to spread. You have got good field for teaching students.

David Lawrence: I feel that students need to be able to see that somebody who is God conscious can really, really enjoy life.

Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. Certainly. That is life. This is not life. Harāv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guṇāḥ. Life means with high qualities. So one who is not God conscious, they cannot have any good qualities. It is not possible. Harāv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guṇāḥ [SB 5.18.12].

He’s simply hovering on the mental plane. Asato dhāvato bahiḥ. And he has to come to these non-permanent things, material things. Asato. Asato mā sad gama. The Vedic injunction is, “Don’t stick to this asato. Try to come to the sat, eternal.” Tamasi mā jyotir gama. These are the… “Don’t remain in the darkness. Come to the light.”

David Lawrence: That was one track on George’s record which really, really got through to our boys, I think. “Light,” is it? “Light of the World.”

Śyāmasundara: “Light, there is, Light of the world.”[?]

David Lawrence: Really…

Prabhupāda: So his record has become very successful.

Śyāmasundara: Number one everywhere. In America.

Prabhupāda: Now, even they are appreciating.

David Lawrence: Very successful even with one boy, you see. That’s success, isn’t it?

Prabhupāda: Yes, yes.

Śyāmasundara: He likes to hear you.

Prabhupāda: “I am in material world.”

Śyāmasundara: We get letters from all over the world addressed to George Harrison care of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Temple, London. [laughter] From Poland, from behind the Iron Curtain even. Russia, China, every place, they send. One came…

Prabhupāda: And he has mentioned my Bhagavad-gītā in my name also.

David Lawrence: Yes.

Prabhupāda: In the in…? What is that?

Śyāmasundara: In the insert, in the record insert.

David Lawrence: Yes. In fact, when they picked up my copy of the Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, which was on my desk, two or three boys immediately said, “Ah, that’s on the George Harrison L.P.”

Prabhupāda: He has very intelligently connected…

David Lawrence: Yes, yes. It was there.

Prabhupāda: …this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement with his…

Śyāmasundara: He doesn’t want to do it overtly, because they will think he is crazy. So he’s doing gradually.

David Lawrence: Very gradually.

Śyāmasundara: Yes.

Prabhupāda: And what is that song, “I am not the same…”?

Śyāmasundara: Something. “I’m not the same…”

Prabhupāda: “I have changed.”

David Lawrence: Oh, yes. “I’ve changed.”

Śyāmasundara: “Somehow I’m…”

David Lawrence: “Somehow I’ve changed.”

Śyāmasundara: Yes. “My friends all criticize me for the change, but I don’t care.”

Prabhupāda: But he’s not loser.

David Lawrence: He’s the winner.

Prabhupāda: He’s gainer. [laughter] He’s gainer. That he can understand. And he’s determined. He says, “Even if I am loser, I don’t mind.”

David Lawrence: If commercial success went, he wouldn’t worry.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

David Lawrence: Well, I mean these sort of riches is just unfathomable, aren’t they?

Prabhupāda: Hmm. [break] [end]

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