Śrutakīrti: [introducing recording] The following is an interview which took place on May 25, 1975, in Lautoka, Fiji, which was later broadcast on a local radio station.
Interviewer: Why did you choose to go to America and propagate the teachings of Lord Kṛṣṇa in a Western country?
Prabhupāda: Because Indian people, being subjugated for at least one thousand years, they have lost their original culture. And, being poverty-stricken, they are simply after money, by hook and crook. So in the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that bhogaiśvarya-prasaktānāṁ tayā apahṛta-cetasām [Bg. 2.44]. Persons who have lost their consciousness on account of being too much attached to material enjoyment, they cannot understand Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So I thought that America, they have enjoyed enough of this material happiness, money and women, and they are now becoming disappointed. So they are at least on the platform of renunciation. They don't want any more like their fathers and grandfathers. Of course, they are not guided. Therefore I preferred to go there to guide them. So almost fifty percent of my devotees are..., they are collected from these disappointed persons, young men. They are going astray. So they appreciate that I have saved them. Therefore they are after me, this younger generation, and they are helping me in broadcasting this Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So I think my attempt was successful.
Interviewer: This Oriental philosophies generally, and in particular the Kṛṣṇa consciousness, has found a lot of devotees in the Western civilization. What is the main reason for this?
Prabhupāda: You are thinking this is Oriental civilization, but that is not the fact. The fact is this is human civilization. There is no question of East and West. Every living being, not only human being, even other beings---there are 8,400,000's forms of life---and Kṛṣṇa claims that,
sarva-yoniṣu kaunteya
sambhavanti mūrtayaḥ yāḥ
tāsāṁ mahad yonir brahma
ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā
[Bg. 14.4]
So Kṛṣṇa is for the aquatics, the animals in the water. The vast sea, there are so many animals. Then, from the water, the trees are coming out. Jalajā nava-lakṣāṇi sthāvarā lakṣa-viṁśati [Padma Purāṇa]. In this way evolutionary process is going on. But all of them, living entities, and part and parcel of God, Kṛṣṇa. So by the evolutionary process they come to the human form of life. Now there is developed consciousness. Now the human being has to decide which way he has to go---again to the lower species of life or higher forms of life.
The higher forms of life are there in the upper planetary system. Their duration of life, material standard of living, very, very comfortable, thousand times better than here. So Kṛṣṇa says that if you like to go to the higher planetary system, you can go there. That it is said, yānti deva-vratā devān [Bg. 9.25]. If you cultivate yourself for going to the higher planetary system... But first of all we have to understand that we are eternal, part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa. We are simply changing body. This is material condition. Either lower grade of bodies or higher grade of bodies, but we have to change. Tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ [Bg. 2.13]. Just like we are changing our bodies from childhood to babyhood, babyhood to boyhood, boyhood to youthhood, then old age, similarly, when this body will be finished, no more usable, then we'll have to accept another body.
But we... The present civilization is so foolish they do not know---even big, big professor, I have talked---that there is life after death. They do not know, although it is very evident. That they have no such knowledge, even common sense. And they are big, big educationist. Anyway, there is no such department which deals with the transmigration of the soul. That is the defect of the modern civilization. So there is transmigration of the soul. By evolution, by transmigration of the soul, we have come to this human form of life. Now here we have to decide again. Because we are part and parcel of God, a small particle of the same quality... So God is fully independent. We have got also a little independence. So God does not interfere with our independence. Now here we have to decide which way again we shall go. We have come by the evolution, by nature's way. Prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ [Bg. 3.27]. Nature has brought us and given us a chance, whether we shall go to our original spiritual life or we shall remain in this material world by changing body one after another. That is to be decided. Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is educating people that "Stop your so-called material advancement. You come again, back to home, back to Godhead."
Therefore our paper's name is Back to Godhead. Don't make any false advancement. You will never be happy. This is our propaganda. It is called nivṛtti-mārga. Nivṛtti-mārga means stop material way of life; begin spiritual way of life and come to Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, back to home, back to Godhead. Tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti [Bg. 4.9]. If you cultivate spiritual life, then, after giving up this body... We have to give up. This is material body. And after giving up this body, we can accept..., we can continue our spiritual body or we can accept again material body. That will require our sense how to cultivate. So if we cultivate spiritual life some percentage---not that everyone will be able---at least the higher class, higher section of the society, if they cultivate spiritual life and remain ideal, so others may follow. This is our propaganda.
Interviewer: Coming back to this question of the Western type of civilization, do you feel that the success of the movement in the Western society is an indication of the need being felt by the Western man that he has been lacking in spiritual ideologies?
Prabhupāda: Yes, yes. But the thing is that they are very intelligent. There is no doubt about it. Materially, they are always advanced. Materially, when they are manufacturing machine of the airship, in India we are manufacturing sewing machine or cycle. I have seen in the World Fair the Indians were very proud of manufacturing cycle and sewing machine, whereas the Americans and Europeans, they were showing the how subtle machine of this jet plane are there. So materially, they are advanced. There is no doubt about it. Hundred years. But spiritually they are not. Therefore---I am an Indian, poor Indian---they are coming to me. Because they understand that spiritually... Not only me, any svāmī who go, they crowd to him, "If there is something spiritual?" Unfortunately, the other svāmīs, they go to exploit them, to cheat them. They do not... Neither they do know what is spiritual life; neither they could give them. For example, for the last two..., hundred years or more than that the svāmīs are going; not a single person was a Kṛṣṇa devotee in the history in the Western countries. But now we are putting Bhagavad-gītā as it is, hundreds and thousands are coming.
Interviewer: Swāmījī, it's been said sometimes that India has too much philosophy and the West has too much materialism.
Prabhupāda: Yes.
Interviewer: Where is the right balance in this modern world?
Prabhupāda: Balance is that you should be reciprocal exchange. What you haven't got, you give me; what I haven't got, I give you. This should be the process of exchange. Then the world will be united, when there is exchange of gifts. But our India followed the principle for begging. "Give me men. Give me money. Give me wheat. Give me rice. Give me war materials." Simply begging. So we must give something. This is the first time we are giving something. Otherwise, India was a beggar simply to the Western countries. For their technical education they are going to this, and when there is war, they are asking America, "Please give us war materials." And when they give war materials to Pakistan we become envious. But you are also taking rice, ḍāl [indistinct]. So why should you remain beggar?
Interviewer: Finally, Swāmījī, what is the relevance of Kṛṣṇa consciousness in our modern society?
Prabhupāda: Hmm?
Interviewer: What would be the relevance of Kṛṣṇa's teaching in...
Prabhupāda: Relevance mean you are spirit soul. You are not this body. This thing first you have to understand. Ahaṁ brahmāsmi. That is India's philosophy, that "I am spirit soul." And if you realize brahmāsmi, brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā na śocati na... [Bg. 18.54]. As soon as you realize that you are not this material body, you are spirit soul, then immediately you become jolly, prasannātmā. Prasannātmā means na śocati na kāṅkṣati. He has no more any hankering for things which he does not possess, no more any lamenting which he has lost. Take, for example, that we have lost our portion of country as Pakistan and fighting since... This was a plan by the British government, that "Divide them in such a way. They will perpetually fight. They will never be happy." This was their plan. That has been successful. But we are lamenting. Both... Pakistan is lamenting or not, I do not know, but Hindustan is lamenting. Gandhi was against this partition. But Jawaharlal Nehru, just to become prime minister, immediately divided. So these things are going on. So lamenting, we have lost our... But if you take this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement very seriously, you can make the whole world Hindustan.
Interviewer: Thank you.
Prabhupāda: Hare Kṛṣṇa. [end]