Room Conversation with Yoga Student and Other Guests

Type:
Room Conversation
Date:
March 14
Year:
1975
Place:
Tehran

Devotee: …to chant the names of Nitāi-Gaurāṅga before we encourage them so much to chant the mahā-mantra? 

Prabhupāda: No. Why not? Now, what is the difference, Nitāi-Gaurāṅga and Hare Kṛṣṇa? Nitāi-Gaurāṅga and Hare Kṛṣṇa, there is no difference. Nitāi-Gaurāṅga is also nice. Whatever he finds convenient, let him chant. 

Yoga student: This country, which was…, once at one time followed the Āryan path of Zoroastrianism, which is now…, practices primarily Islam although having absorbed many of the original elements in it. Do you have a recommendation as to how people of this country might feel the grace of Kṛṣṇa, perhaps even within the forms of their own traditional practice? 

Prabhupāda: What is that traditional practice? 

Yoga student: They’re in… Apart from Zoroastrianism, the majority of traditional practice now is of Islamic, of the Shiite sect. 

Prabhupāda: What is that philosophy? 

Yoga student: That involves the prayer five times a day… 

Prabhupāda: Eh? 

Yoga student: That involves the prayer of three to five times a day of the Shias… 

Prabhupāda: Prayer five times? 

Yoga student: Well, it’s the Islamic prayer five times a day, but the Shias compress it to three times. It’s the same prayer. 

Prabhupāda: Why? 

Yoga student: Because they are permitted to say two of the prayers at noon and two of the prayers in the evening at one time, rather than spreading them through the afternoon and the… 

Prabhupāda: So why they are disobeying the order of Muhammad? 

Yoga student: Yes. The… They follow… It’s essentially the same practice as the majority… 

Prabhupāda: No, you cannot amend on the words of Muhammad if you are a true Mussulman. 

Yoga student: I don’t think they have to amend it. They’re… 

Prabhupāda: Why? There was five. Why they have made three? That is amendment. You cannot do that. 

Yoga student: It has been maintained that Ali…, that this was the practice of Ali. 

Prabhupāda: What is that? 

Yoga student: That Ali prayed at noon, in the afternoon… 

Ātreya Ṛṣi: Ali, the representative of Muhammad. 

Yoga student: He’s the brother-in-law…, the son-in-law… Hazrat Ali. 

Prabhupāda: Ali, Ali. Ali Hussain. No. 

Yoga student: Hussain is his son. Ali is the cousin and the son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad. But can they feel the grace of Kṛṣṇa within this framework, within the framework of their dietary laws and their…, in opening up the experience of Kṛṣṇa to them? 

Prabhupāda: No, no. If one wants to follow Koran, let him follow strictly that. No halfway mixing. 

Yoga student: Then preaching in Iran should be essentially to those people who are fallen away from their traditional path. 

Prabhupāda: Yes. Everyone is fallen. They are simply amending, and concoction. That is not good. Why they should amend? [break] …himself in what relationship with God? 

Yoga student: With God? He presented himself as the last expression of the divine revelation in the West. 

Prabhupāda: No, what was his relationship? Just like Christ, he presented himself as the son of God. So what is the position of Muhammad? 

Yoga student: He presented himself as a man, as considered by Muslims as the perfect man. 

Prabhupāda: Yes. 

Ātreya Ṛṣi: The disciple of God. 

Yoga student: And he was the perfect expression of the divine manifestation in human terms. He was not a divine figure as Christ or Kṛṣṇa. He was simply a man, and who was the mouthpiece of the divine word. 

Prabhupāda: What is the meaning of Allah-u akbar? 

Yoga student: It means “God, the greatest.” 

Prabhupāda: Greatest. 

Yoga student: Yes. Akbar is being the superlative of kabirsh[?]. 

Prabhupāda: And Muhammad is the greatest? No. He is subordinate. 

Yoga student: No. And in fact Muslims object to their religion being called Muhammadanism because it implies that they worship Muhammad, whereas in fact they feel that they go straight to God, to Allah, which…, and that Muhammad simply was a messenger. 

Prabhupāda: That’s good. 

Yoga student: And they regard… They call their religion Islam, which means “submission.” 

Prabhupāda: That’s very good. 

Yoga student: The Muslim is he who submits. 

Prabhupāda: Then God is the greatest, and we are finite, limited. We are not greatest. And our business is to serve Him. What is that? 

Yoga student: Our business is to serve Him. Precisely as was said last night, our business is to satisfy Him. 

Prabhupāda: That’s it. 

Yoga student: There is a tradition, and there’s a body of forty traditions, which are called the sacred traditions, one of which says that these are the words of God as enunciated through Muhammad, one of them saying that “The more you strive towards Me, the more you love Me, the closer I come to you.” 

Prabhupāda: Oh, that’s it. Then the ultimate goal is how to love God. 

Yoga student: Yes. 

Prabhupāda: Then very good. That is our philosophy. Sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhokṣaje [SB 1.2.6]. Premā pumārtho mahān. This is the highest goal of life, how one has developed his love for God. And Bhāgavata says, “That is first-class religion which trains the followers how to love God and serve Him.” That is first-class religion. Then Islam is Vaiṣṇava dharma in a crude form like the Christian. So we can amalgamate them all if they are sane men. I suggested that there are many churches vacant. If they give us these churches we shall install Deity—Gaurasundara, Nitāi-Gaura and Pañca-tattva—and along with them we shall worship Lord Jesus Christ also. Similarly, we can do Muhammad. There is no harm. But they are against this Deity worship, eh? Muhammadans? 

Yoga student: Yes, they are. That sort of expression. And yet, amongst the Sufi poets… 

Prabhupāda: Deity is also expression. Form is also expression. But they do not understand it. 

Yoga student: But the Sufis do, because in the Sufi… 

Prabhupāda: They have got form worship, Sufis? 

Yoga student: They don’t worship form as such, but they speak of it in the poetry. They say… In one poem of Hafez there’s a meeting between Hafez and the spiritual master. And he asks the spiritual master [recites verse in Parsi]. He asked, “I asked him, ‘What was this current, this chain of idols that we must worship?’ And he replied, ‘So that thy heart might moan, lament about the dark night…’ ” 

Prabhupāda: “Dog night”? 

Yoga student: “…the dark night of ignorance of…” 

Prabhupāda: Oh, “dark night.” 

Yoga student: “…separation from God.” So that he used the form of expression of worship, the expression… 

Prabhupāda: Separation, how it is possible? Separation is expressed when there is separation between man to man or man to woman—person. Otherwise what is the meaning of separation? 

Yoga student: Separation from one’s divine… 

Prabhupāda: Divine? This means must be person. They do not believe in the Personality of Godhead? 

Yoga student: They believe… The Sufis see the personality of Ali… 

Prabhupāda: No, I am not talking of the Sufis. I am talking of the original Islam. 

Yoga student: Well, the Sufis claim to be the original Muslims. 

Prabhupāda: Do the all the Muslims accept them? Then? 

Parivrājakācārya: There are about 780 different schools of Islam and different ideas. 

Prabhupāda: Then? We have to take the original. Otherwise misled. 

Yoga student: Well, I think the original path must be found in Sufism, because that is the… 

Prabhupāda: Then if the original path is followed, why it is named Sufism? 

Yoga student: Because there are those who have fallen away from it, just as in the Hindu… 

Prabhupāda: Who has fallen, the Islam or the Sufist? 

Yoga student: I think the formalists have fallen away, like the jñānīs in Hinduism. Just as there’s a dispute between the Shaivites and the Vaiṣṇavaites. 

Prabhupāda: So who are fallen, the original Islam or the Sufist? 

Yoga student: The Sufis are the original Islam. 

Prabhupāda: Eh? 

Yoga student: The Sufis are the original Muslims. 

Prabhupāda: Sufis? What? I do not follow. Sufis? 

Nitāi: Sufis are the original… 

Prabhupāda: Original cult? 

Nitāi: Yes, that’s what he said. 

Prabhupāda: Before Muhammad? 

Yoga student: No, springing from Muhammad. 

Prabhupāda: Then how you can say it is original? 

Yoga student: It is original. All the schools of laws, they’ve developed… 

Prabhupāda: No, if is the original, why they named differently? 

Yoga student: Because there are those who have fallen away from it, and they are the ones who use this name. The Sufis don’t use the name about themselves. It’s used by others who wish to… 

Prabhupāda: What is the meaning of Sufism? Literary meaning? 

Yoga student: Well, Sufism in a sense is what bhaktism is in the Hindu context. 

Prabhupāda: Bhakti mean to offer service to the Lord. Does it mean? 

Yoga student: Absolutely. 

Prabhupāda: So then if the Lord is to be served, then He must be a person; otherwise where is the question of service? 

Yoga student: Well, the Sufis do see that, the personal aspect of the Lord… 

Prabhupāda: Unless one is person, how can I serve him? I cannot serve the air or the sky. I must serve a person. Love does not exist in the sky or in the air. It must be a person. Man or woman, it doesn’t matter. Otherwise where there is love? Whom to love? 

Yoga student: The Sufis find love in these figures… For example, the Sufi Ibn ‘Arabi, through of the face of a beautiful woman… 

Prabhupāda: Through the face of beautiful woman? 

Yoga student: Yes. 

Prabhupāda: So there the materialists also find. 

Yoga student: That is the material aspect, absolutely. 

Prabhupāda: Therefore in Islam religion the form is rejected because it will come to that. As soon as they think of form, they think of this material form, beautiful face of woman. That is degradation. Therefore you are strict not to conceive material form. That is Vedic conception. Apāni-pādaḥ javano grahītā: “He has no legs and no hands.” This is…, denying the form. And next he says, the Vedas say, javano grahītā: “He can accept whatever you offer to Him.” That means God has no material form, but He has form; otherwise how He can accept? How He can understand my love? So therefore in the original Islamism the form is not accepted. So that is Vedic description, form and formless. Formless means no material form, and form means spiritual form, simultaneous. Just like I am; you are; we are. I am within the body, but I am not this body. This form is not “I am.” But wherefrom the form of the body came into existence? Because I have got form. The sweater has got hand because I have got hand. The sweater is the covering. If I haven’t got form, then how the sweater has got hand, the pant has got leg? So the pant practically is not the leg. The real leg is within the pant. Similarly, this is not my form; this is like pant, leg of the pant or hand of the coat. Real form is within, asmin dehe. That is not material form. If the real form I could see, you could see, then there was no controversy, the spirit. But they cannot see. Therefore they say “formless.” If it is formless, then how the outer form comes out? How it can be? The tailor makes the coat because the man has got form. As the coat has got hands, so it is concluded that the man for whom the coat is made, he has got form. How you can say without form? The difficulty is that we can see the form of the coat, but we cannot see the form of the man. That is my defect with the eyes, not that the God is formless. God is not formless. 

Yoga student: God is seen in the form of the saints. 

Prabhupāda: That is another. That is secondary. But God has got form. That is the conclusion. But we cannot see with our present eyes. That is described, ataḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmādi na bhaved grahyam indriyaiḥ [Brs. 1.2.234]. By your these blunt senses… The same thing, just like I see you. What I see you? Your body. You see me—my body. And when the body is there and the soul is not there, then it is lump of matter. You kick it out and nobody will protest. If a dead body you smash with your legs and boots, nobody will say that “Why you are doing this?” But so long the soul is there, if somebody is smashed like that, immediately there will be protest from all side, “Why you are doing this?” So the people have no knowledge about the real form. Therefore they say formless. 

Ātreya Ṛṣi: When the body changes, Śrīla Prabhupāda, [break] how is it…? When our coat, size of the coat changes because our body grows bigger, the size of the coat is bigger, shirt is bigger. 

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is spiritual form. It can take… It can become bigger, smaller, like that. 

Ātreya Ṛṣi: But the form is the same. [break] 

Prabhupāda: This has been… Body has been described as the dress. So the form of the dress cannot be there unless there is form of the person who puts on the dress. How can you deny it? Because the dress has got form, the person who puts on the dress must have form. How can you deny this argument? You cannot say “formless.” It may be you cannot see it. That is different thing. But it must be form, and individual. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, that Kṛṣṇa says, “Arjuna, you and Me and all these persons who are here, they were existing like that in the past, they are now existing, and they will exist in the same way.” Therefore all are individual. 

Yoga student: With Kṛṣṇa can one say that Kṛṣṇa is the form that presents itself, of Godhead, which presents itself to man, and Bhagavān is the essential aspect? 

Prabhupāda: Bhagavān? Yes, in the original. 

Ātreya Ṛṣi: Same as Kṛṣṇa. 

Prabhupāda: Just like the sun. Sunshine is very big, and the sun globe is not so big. But which is important—the sunshine or the sun globe? 

Yoga student: But it’s the glow which reaches man. 

Prabhupāda: Eh, these are example. 

Yoga student: He can’t touch the globe because he would be consumed. 

Prabhupāda: That is another thing, the qualitative change. But it is… There are five elements, so it is made of fire, that’s all. As your body is made of earth, that sun globe or the sun-god, the body is made of fire, that’s all. There are other planets also, the body is made of air. Because you do not find more than these five elements, earth, water, air, fire, sky-gross; and subtle—mind, intelligence and ego. So subtle, the same, but gross—somewhere the fire is prominent; somewhere water is prominent, the air is prominent; somewhere earth is prominent. So here in this world, in this planet, the earth is prominent. 

Yoga student: The distinction between permanent and the eternal? 

Ātreya Ṛṣi: Is prominent. 

Yoga student: Oh, prominent. 

Ātreya Ṛṣi: Earth is prominent. 

Yoga student: It’s the prominent form in this material world. 

Ātreya Ṛṣi: In this earth, in this planet, earth is the prominent of the five elements. 

Prabhupāda: Whole world, whole universe, they are made of these five elements. 

Ātreya Ṛṣi: All the creation, the material creation, is made of five elements. 

Yoga student: What is the fifth besides earth, air, fire and water? 

Prabhupāda: Ether. 

Yoga student: Ether. How does ether distinguish… 

Prabhupāda: The sky. Ether is… Presence of ether by sound. 

Yoga student: How is ether distinct from air? 

Prabhupāda: Ether you cannot feel touch. Air you can feel touch. 

Parivrājakācārya: Based on the sense perception. On this planet, the bodies are made of earth. But there are other places, other planets, where the physical body is composed of a different combination. So one is predominantly air, another can be fire, another water, ether. 

Yoga student: But is ether a gross element as well? 

Parivrājakācārya: Ether is space. 

Prabhupāda: Yes, space. 

Yoga student: So in that sense it’s a gross element. 

Ātreya Ṛṣi: It’s a material element. 

Prabhupāda: Yes. 

Parivrājakācārya: It’s perceivable by the senses as sound. 

Yoga student: As sound. 

Prabhupāda: Ether is perceived by sound, air is perceived by touch. Then… Ether, air… Then fire you can see by vision. Then next, water, you can taste, and the earth you can smell. These five senses are there to appreciate these five kinds of elements. All right. Hare Kṛṣṇa. [break] [end]