John Nordheimer: Who created māyā, man or God?
Prabhupāda: The government may create a prisonhouse, but why do you go there? Does the government invite you there? No, you become a criminal and go there. The prisonhouse is there and the university is there. Why do some people go to prison rather than the university? The government is not partial to people; it does not say, "You live in this university and be educated, and you go to the prison and live there." It is in the individual's choice. Similarly, God has created so many things, but it is our duty to follow God's instructions. God says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: (BG 18.66) "Just give up all nonsense and surrender unto Me. I shall give you all protection." That is God's declaration. Why don't you take to that? God is all powerful, and He may create so many things for some purpose, but why don't you follow God's instructions? God says, "Surrender unto Me," so why not surrender? Why surrender to māyā? That is the individual's choice. Another example: the government does not want the youth to become hippies, but they are abandoning a wealthy life just to lie down in the street. In London I've seen many boys lying on the street. Why? We Indians may lie on the street because we are poor, but they are not poor, nor the Americans. Why has some of the younger generation accepted this way of life? You have enough food, enough house, enough money, facilities, machines—everything. Why are they accepting this kind of life?
John Nordheimer: They reject what they see.
Prabhupāda: Yes, but they are coming from respectable fathers, from a respectable nation. Why are they rejecting this mode of civilization?
John Nordheimer: They don't really find it respectable.
Prabhupāda: Therefore everyone has his choice. That you have to accept. Why do you forget it? God has given us everything, and now it is up to us to make our choice. So God is good, and if we follow His instructions, we become good.
John Nordheimer: What problems do you have in making His word, His instructions reach the ears of everyone in the world?
Prabhupāda: We are not preaching our own words; we are preaching God's words. Now it is up to you to make your choice. God says to give up all engagements and just surrender unto Him. God says:
- man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
- mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
- mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam
- ātmānaṁ mat-parāyaṇaḥ
- (BG 18.65)
"Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me." I am a member of the political party and am always thinking of Mr. Such and such, my leader. I become a staunch follower of that leader, worship him and offer obeisances to him. So many people are sacrificing their lives simply by following a political leader, and for party superiority they are doing so many things, always thinking of party's activities, always offering obeisances and worshiping the party's principles. If all these things are transferred to God, they become good. God says, "Think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer obeisances unto Me." If we transfer these activities to God, we can become Kṛṣṇa conscious. That is what we are teaching. We advise that what you are doing for some nonsense, do it for God. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is not difficult. But if I want to love a dog and become a dog in my next life, instead of loving God and becoming like God in the next life, that is my choice. The prison and university are open to everyone, and by making our choice, we can make our future destiny. These boys and girls are worshiping God, and people criticize them, but when a man worships a dog, he is not criticized. In this way society has progressed. When one worships God, he is criticized, and when he worships dog, he is considered a gentleman. So it is folly to be wise where ignorance is bliss.
John Nordheimer: What is the role of women in Kṛṣṇa consciousness?
Prabhupāda: There is no distinction between men and women.
John Nordheimer: I keep hearing about certain propensities women have that would separate them from propensities men have.
Prabhupāda: Well, it is still man's duty to become the husband and woman's duty to become the wife; so these propensities are there. But all this can be adjusted. I have many students and am getting them married, and they are living peacefully and advancing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Not that everyone is brahmacārī. We have many gṛhasthas and children. In this way the propensities of the women and those of the man are adjusted. A man wants a woman, and a woman wants a man, so we say, "All right, take it. Live peacefully, but don't change partners." We don't allow divorce; once they're married there is no separation. Nor do we allow boys and girls to live together as friends. If a man wants a woman and a woman wants a man, they should become united by marriage, live peacefully and advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is our proposal. In this way all facilities are there in this movement. Our program is to make people become godly, and everyone should help us. Every sane man should help this movement for the good of society.
John Nordheimer: What about the United States government?
Prabhupāda: Yes, it should come forward. My students here are all United States citizens. I have not imported them from India. They are Americans, and they are in difficulty. So why shouldn't the government come forward? Their character is being formed, and they are becoming God conscious by participating in this movement. The government is spending millions of dollars to stop LSD and other drug intoxication, but my students are giving up everything simply by following my word. So why isn't the government coming forward to help me?
John Nordheimer: They don't care about the people, Prabhupāda.
Prabhupāda: But don't they want good for their own men? I am stopping American boys and girls from taking LSD and other drugs, and the government is spending millions of dollars to do this. It is only practical that they come forward to support this movement.
John Nordheimer: Understanding is needed, for I know some of the misconceptions that exist about your movement.
Prabhupāda: Are the misconceptions cleared?
John Nordheimer: I hope so.
Prabhupāda: Yes, we invite everyone to come here to listen to our philosophy, take prasādam and sing and dance with us. This program is very nice. We do not make distinctions in human society. We do not say that we shall serve the Indians and not the Americans or the Americans and not the Africans. We are going everywhere with this movement. We take all human beings to be part and parcel of God. Not only human beings, but every living entity—animals also.
John Nordheimer: How many followers do you have?
Prabhupāda: Well, this is a very difficult job, naturally. We don't have a large number of followers. As soon as you try to sell a diamond, you cannot expect many customers. Nonetheless, a diamond is a diamond, even if there are no customers. The number of customers is not the test. The customer must pay the value of the item. In this society we propose that you give up illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling. When people hear this, they go away saying, "Oh, Swamiji is very conservative." But I cannot become liberal and tell everybody, "Go ahead and do all nonsense and you can become God conscious." I cannot possibly recommend that. Therefore my first condition is that if someone wants to become my student he has to follow these four regulative principles. Consequently I do not have many followers, but I do have a select few. Because they are select, they will bring about a revolution in the world. One moon is sufficient to dissipate darkness. If there is one moon, there is no need for millions of stars. It is useless to expect a large number of followers. We want only one good follower. If I can get one man to become Kṛṣṇa conscious, I will consider my mission fulfilled. If you talk to whatever small number of followers I have, you will find that they talk better than any great philosopher, better than any scientist or politician. That is the quality of my students. What's the point in talking nonsense? One's words may be simple, but they should be valuable. Every day your employer is printing so many newspapers. On Sunday, especially, the paper is so big that one can hardly carry it. But after reading it an hour, people throw it away. Here is this book, Bhagavad-gītā, and people keep it and read it for a lifetime, and in this way it has been read for the past 5,000 years. Give such literature that will be taken and kept forever.