Conversartion with John Lennon, Yoko Ono and George Harrison at Tittenhurst, England
Prabhupāda: Would you like to record or not?
George Harrison: Don’t mind.
Prabhupāda: Give this garland.
George Harrison: Thank you. Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: This Kṛṣṇa’s blessings.
George Harrison: Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: Yes. There is a verse in Bhagavad-gītā,
yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas
itaras tad anuvartate
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute
lokas tad anuvartate
The idea is that anything which is, I mean to say, accepted by the leading persons, ordinary persons follow them. Yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas. Śreṣṭhas means leading persons. Ācarati, acts. Whatever leading persons act, people in general follow them. Sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute. If the leading person says, “It is nice. It is all right,” the others also accept it. So by the grace of God, Kṛṣṇa, you are leaders. Thousands of young men follow you. They like you. So if you give them something actually nice, the face of the world will change. So our, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, it is not a manufactured new thing. It is, from historical point of view, at least, it is five thousand years old. Because Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement means Bhagavad-gītā as it is.
And Bhagavad-gītā… Of course, it is supposed to be Indian religious book, but it is not like that. It is not Indian or Hinduism. It is for all the people of the world. Not only for the human being, but also other than human being, because in the Bhagavad-gītā there is a verse. Kṛṣṇa says, sarva-yoniṣu kaunteya sambhavanti mūrtayo yāḥ BG 14.4 . In all species, all kinds of form… The living entities, they are in different forms. Just like we are sitting here, so many ladies, gentlemen, boys. We have got different forms. Similarly, you Europeans, you have got different color, or Indians, we have got different… So this whole world is full of varieties. So Kṛṣṇa says, “All the varieties of life, it doesn’t matter. I am their father.” Ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā BG 14.4 . Pitā means father. So Kṛṣṇa claims all living entities as His sons. But we may say that “Kṛṣṇa is Indian,” “Kṛṣṇa is Hindu,” or “Kṛṣṇa something.” But no. Kṛṣṇa is actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement was started by Kṛṣṇa Himself. Man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru BG 14.4 . In the Ninth Chapter, last verse, it is said, Kṛṣṇa says, that “You always think of Me.” Man-manā bhava. Mana means mind. “Let your mind be always engaged in Me, Kṛṣṇa.” Man-manā bhava. “Just you become mad-bhakta. Just become My devotee.” Mad-yājī: “If you want to worship, just worship Me.” Man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru: BG 14.4 “If you want to offer obeisances, you just offer Me. And if you do like this, then without any doubt you’ll come to Me.” So this is very simple method. Always thinking of Kṛṣṇa. There is no loss, but the gain is very great. Suppose if I chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. Materially I do not commit any offense or undergo any loss, but if there is any gain, why not try it? There is no expenditure. (laughs) Everything has got some expenditure. So this mantra, Kṛṣṇa or His later succession, do not sell or distribute. Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, everyone. Dance in ecstasy. It is very nice thing. So I have come to your country, come to your place. It is very good. So my request is that you are intelligent boys. Try to understand this Kṛṣṇa consciousness philosophy with your all reason, arguments. It will not to be accepted blindly. Caitanya-caritāmṛta-kaj, the author of Caitanya-caritāmṛta, he says, caitanyera dayāra kathā karaha vicāra: “Just put into your judgement the mercy of Lord Caitanya.” Vicāra karile citte paibe camatkāra: “And if you scrutinizingly judge over it, you’ll find it is sublime.”
So we are putting this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement not as a force, but to the judgement of the people. Let them judge. It is not a sectarian movement. Not any religious movement. It is a science. So we put this philosophy to your judgement, and you judge it scrutinizingly with your all intellects, and you’ll find it sublime. And if you find it sublime, then why not put it to the world? You are also anxious to bring some peace in the world. I have read sometimes your statements. You are anxious also. Everyone, every saintly person, should be anxious to bring in peace in the world. But we must know the process. According to Bhagavad-gītā, the idea of peace is… Kṛṣṇa says,
jñātvā māṁ śantim ṛcchati
People can be peaceful by knowing three things. If he perfectly understands only three things, then he’ll become peaceful. What is that? Bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ. All the sacrifices, austerities, penances, whatever people are undertaking for perfection, the enjoyer of such activities, Kṛṣṇa says, “I am.” “I am.” Just like your activities. This is also a kind of austerities. Your artistic songs, they have become popular because you have undergone some austerities. You have come to the perfection. That requires penance and austerities. Or any scientific discovery, that requires austerities. So every nice thing presented in the world, that requires austerity. Very devout, painstaking. Then it becomes successful. That is called yajña. Tapasya. So Kṛṣṇa says, “The result of the tapasya enjoyer, I am.” He is claiming. “The result of your tapasya should come to Me.” Then you’ll be satisfied.
Bhoktāraṁ yajña-tapasāṁ sarva-loka-maheśvaram BG 5.29 . People are claiming, “This is my England,” and “This is my India,” “This is my Germany,” “This is my China.” No. Everything belongs to God, Kṛṣṇa. Sarva-loka. Not only on this planet. We have divided this planet in so many states. Actually this planet was not divided. From the history of Mahābhārata we understand. This planet, there was only one king, one emperor, in India, Hastinapur. Even up to five thousand years ago, there was only one king, Mahārāja Parīkṣit, one flag. And he came out for touring over his kingdom, and he found somebody near Sindh, a black man killing a cow. And he immediately arrested him: “Oh, in my kingdom you are killing cow?”
So actually the whole planet was under one flag, one suzerainty. Gradually it has become small, small, small, small, small. Just like in our, very recently, twenty years ago, India became divided, Pakistan and Hindustan. Actually India was one, but we see now it is Pakistan. And some day another “stan” will be divided. So this is going on. So sarva-loka, in all planets, all the planets, actually that is God’s place. Nobody’s place. We come here empty-handed; we go empty-handed. How we can claim? Suppose you have given me this place to stay. I stay for one week, and if I claim, “Oh, this is my room,” is that very nice thing? (laughs) There will be immediately some disagreement, trouble. But you have kindly spared this room. I am living here. I can comfortably live, enjoy. And when my necessity… When I go, there is no trouble. Similarly, we come here in the kingdom of God empty-handed; we go empty-handed. Why we trouble that “This is my property, this is my country, this is my world, this is my planet”? Why we claim like that? Is it not insanity? Wherefrom the claim comes? So Kṛṣṇa says that sarva-loka-maheśvaram: “I am the Supreme Lord of every place.”
And suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ BG 5.29 . And He is the real friend of every living entity. Īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe ‘rjuna tiṣṭhati BG 5.29 . As a friend, He is sitting within your heart. He’s so nice friend. In this material world we make friendship. It breaks. Or the friend lives somewhere, and I live somewhere. But He’s so nice friend that He’s living within, with me and within my heart. He is so nice friend. Sarva-bhūtānāṁ. He’s not only selected friend. No. Even the most insignificant creature, he is living there. Paramātmā. So if these three things are understood clearly, then he becomes peaceful. This is the peace formula. So everything is there in the Bhagavad-gītā and Vedic literature. Simply one has to learn. Just like in arithmetic. There is all mathematical calculation, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, this or that, fraction. One has to learn. So Bhagavad-gītā is so nice book and it is accepted. Not that because we are preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we are advocating for Bhagavad… No. It is accepted by scholarly section, religious section, not only in India, but all over the world. Perhaps you know. In every country there are thousands of Bhagavad-gītā translation, in every language, in English, in French, in German, all languages. And even Mohammedans… Of course, scholarly Mohammedans, they also read very nicely Bhagavad-gītā. I know one Mohammedan professor in India. He was a great devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa. He did not disclose that he was a devotee, but he was observing Janmāṣṭamī fasting day and he was writing one article on Kṛṣṇa every Janmāṣṭamī day. There are many. They read. And in our childhood… Not childhood, we were young man at that time. So one Englishman was a tenant in Calcutta, my friend’s house. So he was vacating the house. We went to take possession of that house, and he had many books, and there was a book, Bhagavad-gītā. So that, my friend, Mr. Mullick, he was a little astonished that “He is Englishman, he’s Christian. How is that, he has got Bhagavad-gītā?” So he was touching that book, and that gentleman thought that “He is my landlord. He may like that book.” So he immediately said, “Oh, Mr. Mullick, I cannot present that book to you.
This is my life and soul.” He said like that. So Bhagavad-gītā is accepted by scholarly section, by philosophers. So I think people should have one scripture, one God, one mantra, and one activity. One God, Kṛṣṇa. One scripture, Bhagavad-gītā. And one mantra, Hare Kṛṣṇa. And one activity, to serve Kṛṣṇa. That’s all. There will be peace. There will be actually peace all over the world. So I request you to, at least to understand this philosophy to your best knowledge. And if you think that is nice, you take up. You are also willing to give something to the world. So you try this. You have read our books, this Bhagavad-gītā As It Is? No.
John Lennon: I’ve read bits of the Bhagavad-gītā. I don’t know which version it was. There’s so many different translations.
Prabhupāda: There are different translations. Therefore I have given this edition, Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. There are interpretations. In manytranslations they have got interpretations. Not only in other parts of the world, but in our own country also. Just like Mahatma Gandhi. He was a great man. He has also interpreted. But the point is interpretation where required. Now, here is a fountain pen box. Everyone knows this is a fountain pen box. But if I say, “No, this is something else.” That is my interpretation. Is that very nice thing? (Chuckling) Similarly, interpretation is required when things are not understood clearly. If everybody can understand this box is a fountain pen box, where is the necessity of interpretation? This is the first thing. So Bhagavad-gītā is so clear. It is just like sunlight. Sunlight does not require any other lamp. For example, I’ll give you, in the first verse,
māmakāḥ pāṇḍavāś caiva
kim akurvata sañjaya
The, dhṛtarāṣṭra uvāca. The father of Duryodhana is asking his secretary, Sañjaya. His secretary’s name was Sañjaya. “Sañjaya, my boys…” Māmakaḥ. Māmakaḥ means “my sons,” and pāṇḍava, “the sons of my younger brother.” His younger brother’s name was Pāṇḍu, and therefore his sons are known as Pāṇḍava. So mamaka, pāṇḍava. “My sons and my younger brother’s sons, they assembled together for fighting.” Yuyutsava. Yuyutsava means “with fighting spirit.” And dharma-kṣetre kuru-kṣetre BG 1.1 , on the place known as Kurukṣetra, which is a place of pilgrimage, dharma-kṣetra. Kim akurvata: “After assembling there, what did they do?” That was his question. Now, this Kurukṣetra place is still existing in India. You have been in India? No.
John Lennon: Have I been there?
Prabhupāda: You have been there?
John Lennon: Yes. Not to that place. Hrishikesh we went to.
Prabhupāda: Oh, Hrishikesh. Hrishikesh is also one of the pilgrimage. And there is similarly Kurukṣetra near Delhi. Still that place is there. And that is a place of pilgrimage from the Vedic times. In the Vedas also it is stated, kuru-kṣetre dharmam yajayet. If you want to function in a religious ceremony, just go to Kurukṣetra. So it is a place of pilgrimage. Now the name is there. The adjective dharma-kṣetra, it is from Vedic age. Then the Pāṇḍavas and the Kauravas, they are historical persons. The history is there, Mahābhārata. Then where is the question of interpreting Kurukṣetra as “this body,” and the Pāṇḍavas as “the senses”? Where do you get this opportunity to interpret? So these things are going on. But we object, “Why should you interpret in that way when the facts are there?” That means Bhagavad-gītā is very popular book. One has got his own philosophy. He wants to prove it through Bhagavad-gītā. This is going on. There are so many interpretations, 664. Everyone thinks that “I can interpret in my own way.” Why? Why this should be? We say, “No. You cannot interpret.” Then what is the authority of Bhagavad-gītā? The author of Bhagavad-gītā did not leave it for being interpreted by a third-class man. He is Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Lord. He said everything clearly. Why an ordinary man should interpret His word? That is our objection. Therefore we present Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. The MacMillan Company wanted to shorten. (Chuckling) Because they are merchants. They wanted to minimize. Otherwise the book was very big. They wanted to make it only four hundred. Therefore half of the ślokas was not nicely explained. But next time we are going to publish in large and revised edition of Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. We must explain everything. So the Bhagavad-gītā is very, very high-class philosophy and theology. Social, political, science—everything is there. It is very nice. And everything is clear. It is explained by Kṛṣṇa. So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement means to present Bhagavad-gītā as it is. That’s all. We have not manufactured anything.
Devotee: Come in.
Devotee: Hare Kṛṣṇa.
John Lennon: This is Don’s wife Jill who lives here with us too.
Prabhupāda: Oh, very glad to see you. Be happy and make all others happy. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Sarve sukhino bhavantu. That is Vedic idea. Everyone be happy. That is the benediction. Sarve sukhino bhavantu. Caitanya Mahāprabhu says also the same thing, that let this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement be preached in every village, in every town of the world. People will be happy. That is His foretelling. So any missions, any high ideals, should be preached just to make everyone happy. Because in the material existence, there is no happiness. That is a fact. There cannot be any happiness. This place is not meant for happiness because in the Bhagavad-gītā you’ll find the Lord Himself says this is a place, duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam BG 8.15 . It is a place of miseries, this material world. And aśāśvatam, and temporary. Everything is temporary. Even if you accept, “All right. Whatever miserable is there, I’ll accept this,” that is also, has no value. Even if you accept, nature will not allow you to accept it and remain there. Aśāśvatam. You have to leave. So Kṛṣṇa says, mām upetya kaunteya duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ: BG 8.15 “If somebody comes to Me, then he hasn’t got to return back to this miserable condition of life which is not only miserable but temporary.” So we should understand that. Nature is so cruel. In America, President Kennedy, he was thought to be the most fortunate man, happy man, young man, was elected President, nice wife, children, honor all over the world—(snaps finger)—within a second, finished. Temporary. Now what is his condition? Where he is? If life is eternal, if living entity is eternal, where he has gone? What he is doing? Is he happy or he is distressed? Or he’s born in America or China? Nobody can say. But it is a fact that as living entity, he’s eternal, he’s existing. That is the beginning of Bhagavad-gītā philosophy. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre BG 8.15 . After destruction of this body the living entity is not destroyed. He is there. That we can understand. Just like in your childhood, you had a small body. That body is no more, but you are existing. So it is natural, when this body will not exist, I will exist in another body. It is not very difficult to understand. So this theory that body is eternal…, soul is eternal and body is temporary, that’s a fact. Therefore this life, this present life, is meant for manufacturing the next body. That is Vedic knowledge. We are creating… Just like a boy. He is studying very nicely. So he’s creating next body, a very educated young body. By education he can get nice job, nice place, nice position. So he’s creating his next body. Similarly, we are creating our next body according to our karma. So Kṛṣṇa says that “You create a body so that you can come to Me.” Mad-yājino ‘pi yānti mām. The whole Vedic philosophy is that if you want to go to some planet—just like people are trying to go to moon planet. So you have to create a body like that. You cannot go in this body. They’re attempting to go with this body. That will be failure. It will be not possible. In every planet the atmosphere, the…, everything is different. So you have to create a different body to go to a particular type of planet. There are millions and thousands of planets. Moon planet is one of them. Kṛṣṇa says,
yānti deva-vratā devān
pitṛn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
bhūtejyā yānti bhūtāni
mad-yājino ‘pi yānti mām
(chuckling) Mad-yājino: “Those who are in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they’ll come to Me.” And what is the benefit of going to Kṛṣṇa? He says, mām upetya: “If anyone comes to Me,” mam upetya kaunteya duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam BG 8.15 , “he does not come back again to this miserable condition.” And aśāśvatam, temporary. Why? Samsiddhim paramam gataḥ. Oh, he has attained the highest perfection, to go back to Kṛṣṇa, mad-yājino ‘pi mām, “one who comes to Me.” So this is the greatest benediction to the human society, to train them to go back to Kṛṣṇa and dance there with Kṛṣṇa in rasa-līlā. You have seen Kṛṣṇa’s rasa-līlā dancing? You have not seen?
John Lennon: Which? This picture?
Gurudāsa: Rasa-līlā dancing with the gopīs. That’s the…, with Rādhā. Dancing with Rādhā. Pictures like that.
John Lennon: Walls of the temple room?
Prabhupāda: So we can go there. Join with Kṛṣṇa and dance happily without any botheration.
Hayagrīva : Haribol.
Prabhupāda: (laughs) We can have so many connection with Kṛṣṇa, as friend, as servant, as parents, as lover, whatever you like. Ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham BG 4.11 . You cultivate that consciousness, how you like Kṛṣṇa. He is prepared to accept you in that capacity. And that makes a solution of all problems. Here nothing is permanent, nothing is blissful, and nothing is full of knowledge. Here… This year we held examination on bhakti-śāstrī, and here is the answer of a girl, Himavati. She has written very nice. I have read it. So we are training these boys and girls to Kṛṣṇa consciousness according to the Kṛṣṇa science. Anyone can take advantage of it. It is a very nice thing. So you also try to understand, and if it is nice, you take it up. You are after something very nice. Is my proposal unreasonable? (chuckles) You are all intelligent boys. Try to understand it.
Gurudāsa: Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: And you have got a very good talent, music. Na vidyā sangīta uttamam. The Vedic mantras were all through music. Sāma Veda. Sāma Veda is full of music.
stunvanti divyaiḥ stavair
gāyanti yaṁ sāmagāḥ
Sāmagāḥ. Sāmagāḥ means the followers of Sāma Veda. Gayānti. They are always in music. Through musical vibration they are approaching the Supreme. Sāmagāḥ. Gāyanti. Gāyanti means singing. So Vedic mantras are sung. This whole Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, can be sung very nicely. And it is Vedic mantra, chanting. Simply by hearing the vibration, people will be benefited. Even they do not understand. You have got that, this mantra you chant? You just play it. [break] Huh?
Devotee : Begin any time.
Prabhupāda: (singing slowly:)
na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ
durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninaḥ
andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānās
te ‘pīśa-tantryām uru-dāmni baddhāḥ
matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ svato vā
mitho ‘bhipadyeta gṛha-vratānām
adānta-gobhir viśatāṁ tamisraṁ
punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām
matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ svato vā
mitho ‘bhipadyeta gṛha-vratānām
adānta-gobhir viśatāṁ tamisraṁ
punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām
na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ
durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninaḥ
andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānās
te ‘pīśa-tantryām uru-dāmni baddhāḥ
naiṣāṁ matis tāvad urukramāṅghriṁ
spṛśaty anarthāpagamo yad-arthaḥ
mahīyasāṁ pāda-rajo ‘bhiṣekaṁ
niṣkiñcanānāṁ na vṛṇīta yāvat
na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ
durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninaḥ
andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānās
te ‘pīśa-tantryām uru-dāmni baddhāḥ
Na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ… [break] The whole effort here is [break] Veda mantra. Sa jñāta na vṛtti. Vedānta-sūtra-śabdat. Simply by transcendental vibration of sound, everything can be achieved. (long pause) What kind of philosophy you are following? May I ask?
John Lennon: Following?
Yoko Ono: We don’t follow anything. We are just living.
George Harrison: We’ve done meditation. Or I do my meditation. I have a mantra meditation.
Prabhupāda: This is also mantra.
John Lennon: It’s not the song, though.
George Harrison: No, no. It’s chanting.
John Lennon: We heard it from Maharishi. A mantra each.
Prabhupāda: His mantra is not public.
George Harrison: Not out loud. No.
John Lennon: No. It’s a secret. (laughs)
Prabhupāda: There is a version by Rāmānujācārya. Rāmānujācārya, he was a great ācārya of this Vaiṣṇava sampradāya. His spiritual master gave him mantra: “My dear boy, you chant this mantra silently. Nobody can hear. It is very…” So then he asked, “What is the effect of this mantra?” He said, “By chanting this mantra, by meditation, you’ll get liberation.” So he immediately went out and in a public, big meeting he said that “You chant this mantra. You’ll be all liberated.” (laughter) So he came back to his spiritual master, and his spiritual master was very angry that “I told you that you should chant silently.” He said, “Yes, I have committed offense. So whatever punishment you like, you can give me. But because you told me that this mantra will liberate, I have given it publicly. Let everyone hear and be liberated. Let me go to hell. I don’t mind. I have disobeyed your order. Let me go to hell. I am prepared. But by this chanting mantra, if anyone is liberated, let it be publicly distributed.” His spiritual master embraced him: “You are greater than me.” You see? So if a mantra has so power, why it should be secret? It should be distributed. People are suffering. So Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “Chant this Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. Anyone who will hear… Even the birds and beasts will hear and they will be liberated.” That’s all.
Yoko Ono: If Hare Kṛṣṇa is such a strong, powerful mantra, is there any reason to chant anything else? For instance, you talked about songs and many different mantras. Is there any point in chanting other songs or mantra?
Prabhupāda: No, no. These mantras are also… But Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is specially recommended for this age. And the Vedic mantras, they are also chanted, I told you, with musical, tampura, and they sit down and chant. Nārada Muni, he’s chanting always. So chanting through musical instruments, mantras, it is not new introduction. It is from time immemorial. And Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, especially in this age, that is recommended in many Vedic literature, Brahmanda Purāṇa, Kali-santaraṇa Upaniṣad, Agni Purāṇa, like that. And apart from the statement in the Vedic literature, Lord Caitanya Himself, He preached this mantra. Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa… And people, public, followed Him. Yes. [break] So anything… Just like a scientist. When he discovers something, it becomes a public property. People may take advantage of it. Similarly, if mantra has got potency, all people should take advantage of it. Why it should be secret?
George Harrison: All people can get the mantras that we have, but it’s just they must get it from somebody else. We can’t give it to them, but it is available for everybody.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Mantra, if it is valuable, it is valuable for everybody. Why it should be for a particular person?
John Lennon: If all mantras are… All mantras just the name of God. Whether it’s a secret mantra or an open mantra, it’s all the name of God. So it doesn’t really make much difference, does it, which one you sing?
Prabhupāda: No. Just like in drug shop they sell all medicine for disease, curing disease. But still, you have to take doctor’s prescription to take a particular type of medicine. They will not supply you. If you go to a drug shop and you say, “I am diseased. You give me any medicine,” that is not… He’ll ask you, “Where is your prescription?” So similarly, in this age, in Kali-yuga age, this mantra, Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, is recommended in the śāstras, and great stalwart—we consider Him the incarnation of Kṛṣṇa-Caitanya Mahāprabhu, He preached this. Therefore our principle is everyone should follow. Mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ CC Madhya 17.186 . We should follow the footprints of great authorities. That is our business. The Vedic mantra says, tarko ‘pratiṣṭhaḥ. If you simply try to argue and try to approach the Absolute, it is very difficult, simply by argument and reasoning, because our arguments and reason are limited because our senses are imperfect. [break] So tarko ‘pratiṣṭhaḥ śrutayo vibhinnāḥ. And scriptures, there are different kinds of scriptures. Nāsau munir yasya mataṁ na bhinnam. Philosophers, every philosopher has got a different opinion, and unless a philosopher defeats other philosopher, he cannot become a big philosopher. So therefore philosophical speculation also will not make a solution. Dharmasya tattvaṁ nihitaṁ guhāyām. So it is very secret. Then how to get that secret thing? Mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ CC Madhya 17.186 .
You simply follow great personalities, how they have achieved success. So our, this Vaiṣṇava philosophy is to follow the great personality, just like Kṛṣṇa or Caitanya Mahāprabhu or ācāryas of His succession, to take shelter of authority and follow. That is recommended in Vedas, that you follow great authorities. That will take you to the ultimate goal. Mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ. So… Kṛṣṇa also recommends in the Bhagavad-gītā, Fourth Chapter, evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ CC Madhya 17.186 . This science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness was understood by disciplic succession. Paramparā-prāptam. Imaṁ vivasvavate yogaṁ proktavān aham avyayam: “My dear Arjuna, don’t think that this Kṛṣṇa consciousness science I am speaking to you is something new. No.” Imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ proktavān aham avyayam: CC Madhya 17.186 “It is eternal, and first I spoke to sun-god.” Vivasvate. Vivasvān manave prāhuḥ: “And Vivasvān said to his son, Manu.” Manur ikṣvākave ‘bravīt: “And Manu also transferred this knowledge to his son, Ikṣvāku.” Evaṁ paramparā-prāptam: CC Madhya 17.186 “In this way, by disciplic succession, it is coming on.” Sa kāleneha yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa: “But in due course of time it is now broken. Therefore I am speaking to you again.” So a mantra should be captured from the disciplic succession. According to Vedic injunction, sampradāya-vihīnā ye mantrās te nisphala mataḥ: “If the mantra does not come through disciplic succession, then it will not be active.” Viphala. Mantrās te viphalāḥ. Viphala means “will not produce result.” Mantrās te viphalāḥ mataḥ. So mantra has to be received through the channel; then it will act. Mantra cannot be manufactured. Mantra must be from the original Supreme Absolute, coming down through disciplic succession, channel. It has to be captured in that way, and then it will act. Sampradāya-vihīnā ye mantrās te nisphala mataḥ. So according to our Vaiṣṇava sampradāya, the mantra is coming down through four channels. One is coming through Lord Śiva, one is coming through goddess Lakṣmī. Not one, different. One thing is coming in different channel. One through the channel of Brahmā, one through the channel of Lord Śiva, one through the channel of Lakṣmī, and one through the channel of Kumāras. So they are called four sampradāyas. So one has to take mantra, either of these four sampradāyas. Then that mantra is active, and if we perform that mantra in that way, it will act. Sampradāya-vihīnā ye. And if one does not receive this mantra in either of these sampradāya, channels, then viphala, it will not act. It will not give fruit.
Yoko Ono: If the mantra itself has such power, does it matter where you receive it, where you take it?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Yes. That is a fact. The example is given just like milk. Milk is nutritious. That’s a fact. Everyone knows. But if the milk is touched through the tongue of a serpent, it is no more nutritious. It is poison.
Yoko Ono: Well, milk is material.
Prabhupāda: No, material. You want to understand through your material senses, we have to give…
Yoko Ono: Well, no. I don’t have, you don’t have to tell me material senses. I mean mantra is not material. It should be something spiritual, and therefore nobody can spoil it, I don’t think. I mean, I wonder if anybody can spoil something that is not material.
Prabhupāda: But the thing is that if you don’t receive the mantra through the proper channel, it may not be mantra.
John Lennon: But how would you know, anyway? How are you able to tell, anyway? I mean, for any of your disciples or us or anybody that goes to any spiritual master, how are we to tell…
Prabhupāda: Not any spiritual master.
John Lennon: True master. How are we to tell one from the other?
Prabhupāda: It is not that any spiritual master. Sampradāya. Sampradāya means a particular line of disciplic succession.
John Lennon: But, you see, Maharishi said exactly the same thing about his mantra’s coming from the Vedic, with seemingly as much authority as you, and he was probably right. So how… It’s like having too many fruits on a plate, and you can’t only eat two of them.
Prabhupāda: No. If mantra is coming down in that way, then it is potency; the potency is there.
John Lennon: But Hare Kṛṣṇa is the best one.
Yoko Ono: Well, if Hare Kṛṣṇa is the best one, what is the reason why we have to bother to even say anything else other than this one?
Prabhupāda: You don’t require to bother to say anything else. We say that Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is sufficient for one’s perfection.
George Harrison: Surely isn’t it like flowers? If somebody may prefer roses and somebody may like carnations better… Isn’t it really a matter for the devotee, that one person may find Hare Kṛṣṇa is more beneficial to his spiritual progress, and yet somebody else, some other mantra may be more beneficial? Isn’t it like just a matter of taste? Like judging a flower. They’re all flowers, but some people may like one better than the other.
Prabhupāda: But still, there is distinction. The rose flower is considered better than simply a flower without any flavor.
Yoko Ono: In that case I can’t…
Prabhupāda: Just try to understand this flower example.
Yoko Ono: Yes.
Prabhupāda: It is all right. You are attracted by some flower, I am attracted by some flower, but amongst the flowers there are distinctions. There are many flowers which has no flavor and many flower has flavor.
Yoko Ono: Is that flower that has flavor better than…
Prabhupāda: So therefore attraction for any flower is not the solution of the question. That is also stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham BG 4.11 . Kṛṣṇa is Supreme Absolute. Anyone wants Him in any way, He also presents Himself in that way. Just like the same example. If you want a yellow flower, never mind whether there is any scent or any flavor or not, so that flower is there. It is for you. That’s all. But if anyone wants rose flower, Kṛṣṇa gives him rose flower. But when you make a comparative study which one is better, then rose will be considered better. (chuckling) So ye yathā māṁ prapadyante. That means the Absolute is realized… Of course, varieties there are, but the original division of the Absolute is three: Brahman, Paramātmā, and Bhagavān. Now, Brahman, Paramātmā, and Bhagavān is the same Absolute.
Different names. The jñānis, or the empiric philosophers, they reach or they aim at Brahman, impersonal Brahman. The yogis, they, I mean to say, focus on the Supersoul, Paramātmā. And the devotees, they aim at Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Now, this Kṛṣṇa and the Supersoul and the impersonal Brahman, they are not different. They are light. They are not darkness. But in the light also, there is difference The example is given: just like sunlight, sun globe and the sun-god. Everywhere you find light. In the sunshine there is light. In sun globe there is light. And what to speak of the predominating deity in the sun-globe? He also must be light; otherwise wherefrom this light comes? So so far light is concerned, everywhere there. But you cannot say because sunshine has come through your window in your room, you cannot say the sun has come. That will be mistake. Sun is many, many miles away. But so far light is concerned, now there is question of degrees of light, intensity of light. So the degrees of spiritual realization in Brahman, degrees of spiritual realization in Paramātmā, and degrees of spiritual realization in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they are different.
Yoko Ono: But you said about if the milk goes through a serpent’s mouth it will produce poison, and, for instance, George just told us about a week ago a very interesting story about a man who had a face of Christ, and in twenty years’ time he had a face of Judah. And the Catholic Church and all those churches first probably had good words, and now it’s deteriorating. Now, how would you decide, really, that brāhmaṇas are always in a pure state that you speak of, that they would never turn into serpents?
Prabhupāda: That you have to become a serious student.
Yoko Ono: Well, I mean, what do you mean by serious student? Maybe everybody, all of us are serious anyway. I mean, we’re born serious or born, you know, unserious.
Prabhupāda: Then you must know what is distinction between Brahman, Paramātmā, and Bhagavān, if you are serious student.
Yoko Ono: But does it depend on knowledge? I mean, the final judgement that you make?
Prabhupāda: Everything depends on knowledge. Without knowledge how can we make progress?
Student means to acquire knowledge. Serious student means to acquire knowledge.
Yoko Ono: But not always the knowledgeable one are the ones who…
Prabhupāda: Yes. You cannot know completely. That is because our knowledge is very imperfect. But still, so far our knowledge is concerned, as far as possible, we should try to understand. Avāṅ mānasa gocaraḥ. This Absolute is so great and unlimited that it is not possible for us to know Him completely. That is not possible. Our senses does not allow. But as far as it is possible, because, after all, we are part and parcel of the Absolute, so all the qualities of the Absolute are there in us, but it is in minute quantity. So that minute quantity is also very great in comparison to material knowledge. Material knowledge is practically no knowledge. It is covered. But when one is liberated, liberated knowledge is certainly very, very great than material knowledge. So Brahman, Paramātmā, and Bhagavān. These are the statements of Bhāgavata. Brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdyate SB 1.2.11 . It is… Śabdyate means sounded as Bhagavān, Paramātmā, and Brahman. Now, what are the difference or degrees of knowledge? Brahman knowledge, Paramātmā knowledge, and Bhagavān knowledge. The same thing. The knowledge of sunshine, the knowledge of sun globe, and the knowledge of this predominating deity in the sun globe. So knowledge of sunshine is not knowledge of the predominating deity of the sun globe. There is another example in this connection. Just like if you see one hill from a long-distant place, first of all you see just like it is a cloud. Then, if you proceed further, you’ll see something green. And if you enter into that hill you’ll see, oh, there are so many varieties. There are animals, there are men, there are trees. But from the distant, you’ll see just like a cloud. So although the same thing… Similarly, Absolute, when visioned from the Brahman point of view, it is just like cloud. Absolute when visioned as Paramātmā, it is just like something green. And Absolute when realized as the Supreme Person, it is just like you enter into the hill and see everything in detail. So although the focus is the same, the Brahmavādī and the Paramātmāvadī and the devotee’s focus is the same, but due to their respective position the realization is different. These things are very nicely explained in the Bhagavad-gītā. Therefore Bhagavad-gītā you’ll see,
ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo
mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate
iti matvā bhajante māṁ
“I am the source of everything.” This sarvaṁ means Paramātmā, Brahman, everything. These are clearly stated. Brahmaṇo ‘ham pratiṣṭhā. So Brahman knowledge or Paramātmā knowledge is within Kṛṣṇa knowledge. If one has got Kṛṣṇa knowledge he has got Paramātmā knowledge, Brahman knowledge. He has got the effect of yogic principle, meditation, he has got the effect of empiric philosophical speculation, and he is situated personally in the service of the Lord. So if you make comparative study, then this Kṛṣṇa knowledge includes all knowledge. The Vedas also confirm it, yasmin sarvam evaṁ vijñātam bhavati. If you understand the Supreme, then all knowledge becomes automatically revealed. Yasmin vijñāte sarvam evaṁ vijñātam bhavanti. And in the Bhagavad-gītā also it is stated, “Knowing this, you’ll have nothing to know anymore.” In the ninth chapter there is. So first of all we have to seriously study. Therefore I’m asking that to become serious student, what is the difference between Brahman, Paramātmā, and Bhagavān? Paramātmā is localized aspect of the Absolute Personality of Godhead. Īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe ‘rjuna tiṣṭhati BG 18.61 . And Brahman is the effulgence of the Absolute. And Parambrahma, or Bhagavān, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is Kṛṣṇa. So if you have full Kṛṣṇa knowledge, then you have got Brahman knowledge and Paramātmā knowledge. But if you have got simply Brahman knowledge or Paramātmā knowledge, you have no Kṛṣṇa knowledge. The same example can be… If you are in the sunshine, then you do not know what is sun globe and the predominating deity in the sun. But if you are by the side of the sun deity, you know what is sun globe and what is sunshine. Therefore impartially it is recommended that one should know the science of the Absolute Truth, or Kṛṣṇa. That will include all other knowledge. Bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate BG 18.61 . This is also a verse from Bhagavad-gītā. Kṛṣṇa says, “After many, many births’ cultivation of knowledge, when one is actually wise, jñānavān…” Jñānavān means has attained wisdom. Bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate: BG 18.61 “He surrenders unto Me.” Why? Vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti: BG 18.61 “He understands, ‘Oh, Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa is everything.’ ” Sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ: “Such great soul is very rare.” And in the tenth chapter,
ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo
mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate
iti matvā bhajante māṁ
“I am the origin. I am the source of everything. Everything emanates from Me. One who knows this science perfectly, he is budhā, he is intelligent, and he becomes engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.” And the Vedānta-sūtra also, the first aphorism is athāto brahma jijñāsā : “Now it is the time for inquiry about the Absolute, Brahman.” So what is Brahman? The next aphorism is janmādy asya yataḥ: SB 1.1.1 “Brahman, the Absolute, is that from whom everything is coming, emanating.” That Absolute is personally saying, mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate: “Everything is emanating from Me.” So if you study Vedic literature very scrutinizingly, then you come to this conclusion, that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme. Therefore Kṛṣṇa consciousness will include all other knowledge. Just like if you have got million dollar, ten dollar is included, five hundred dollar is included, thousand dollar is included. But one who has got ten dollar or five hundred dollar, he cannot claim that he has got million dollar. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa science means full spiritual knowledge. That is accepted by the ācāryas. And even you are speaking of Maharsi. He has written some book on Bhagavad-gītā?
John Lennon: Yes. That’s the one we’ve read.
Prabhupāda: So why he’s taking Kṛṣṇa’s book as authority? Bhagavad-gītā is Kṛṣṇa’s book. Everyone knows. Why he’s taking Kṛṣṇa’s book?
George Harrison: Well, he didn’t. He just translated it into English.
Prabhupāda: Why? Unless he has got some respect for that book?
John Lennon: But I’ve also read another, part of another translation by Yogananda, Paramahamsa Yogananda.
Prabhupāda: Everyone will have to take Kṛṣṇa’s book first to prove their authority.
Yoko Ono: But, er… What…
Prabhupāda: Vivekananda has taken, Aurobindo has taken, Dr. Radhakrishnan has taken, Mahatma Gandhi… There are thousands and thousands. So why do they take Bhagavad-gītā?
George Harrison: So that we can read it in English.
Prabhupāda: No, no. It is not the question of English. It is the question of the thoughts. English it may be or Parsee it may be. That doesn’t matter. Why do they take shelter of the thoughts of Bhagavad-gītā unless they accept Bhagavad-gītā as authority? Why they quote from Bhagavad-gītā? So why not directly Bhagavad-gītā? If Bhagavad-gītā is the authority for everyone, why not Bhagavad-gita as it is? That is our proposition.
George Harrison: But Bhagavad-gītā as it is is Sanskrit.
Prabhupāda: No, we have made English.
George Harrison: Yes, but they all make it English.
John Lennon: But that must be also a translation, mustn’t it? Whoever puts it into English. I mean…
Prabhupāda: So you also read any Bhagavad-gītā translation only. You don’t read the original.
George Harrison: Well, which is the original? It’s the same as the Bible.
Prabhupāda: Original is there. Origin is Sanskrit.
Yoko Ono: It’s in Sanskrit, but we don’t read Sanskrit.
John Lennon: Yes, but it’s pointless, me reading Sanskrit, because I don’t understand Sanskrit.
Prabhupāda: Therefore you have to take translation.
George Harrison: So then there’s all, a hundred translations.
John Lennon: And interpretations.
George Harrison: Which is again like all the roses and all the different flowers. It’s a matter of taste as to which one. Because everybody claims their version is the best. All the versions I’ve read, they all say… And sometimes I get something from one which I don’t get from something else.
Devotee: Did you ever read any without any commentary at all? Just straight?
George Harrison: Just straight translation?
Devotee: Without any commentary.
George Harrison: Just the Sanskrit, you mean?
Devotee: No. Just the translation.
George Harrison: Well, that’s really what they are, you know. They all have a translation. Some of them have a commentary as well, on top of that. But just again the translations, you know, it depends on who’s translating as to what the translation is.
Devotee: That’s all right. So you have to go through an authority. Someone who’s…
John Lennon: But how do you know one authority from the other?
George Harrison: The world is full of authorities, really, you know. (Prabhupāda chuckling)
Yoko Ono: There’s five hundred authorities, you know, who…
John Lennon: I found that the best thing for myself is to take a little bit from here and a little bit from there and a little bit from there. (Prabhupāda chuckles)
Yoko Ono: I mean, we’re not just saying that. We want to ask your advice on that. In other words, what is your answer to that. Your saying there’s five hundred versions.-gītā is seven hundred verses.
Yoko Ono: All right, so seven hundred. I don’t know. But what I mean is you use the word authority, saying why would he translate that into English without authority? Now, what is the authority and who has the authority?
Prabhupāda: Authority is the original text.
Yoko Ono: Yes, but everybody’s translating from the original text, I’m sure you know.
Yoko Ono: So what’s the difference between one and the other?
Prabhupāda: Therefore we say that sampradāya-vihīnā ye mantrās te viphala mataḥ. If we then don’t take from the disciplic succession of the authority… Just like Kṛṣṇa. Now, take for example. We have explained this in our introduction, that nobody is authority. Don’t care. Kṛṣṇa is authority because Bhagavad-gītā is spoken by Kṛṣṇa. That you cannot deny. Can you deny that?
Yoko Ono: Is Kṛṣṇa translated…
Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇa is authority. Kṛṣṇa is authority.
Yoko Ono: Yes, all right. Did He translate it into English?
Prabhupāda: Just hear me.
Yoko Ono: Yes.
Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇa is authority, you accept?
Yoko Ono: Yes.
Prabhupāda: Is that all right?
John Lennon: Yes.
Prabhupāda: Then you see what Kṛṣṇa says. That is authority. Why should you hear anyone else? Now, what Kṛṣṇa has said, to understand that, that you have to search out if you are serious student.
John Lennon: How do we know if somebody else, Yogananda, Maharsi, and all these different people that have translated it, how are we to tell that their version isn’t Kṛṣṇa’s word from your version?
Prabhupāda: Therefore I say if you are serious student, then you study Sanskrit, original.
John Lennon: Study Sanskrit? Oh, now you’re talking.
George Harrison: But Vivekananda said that books and rituals and dogmas and temples are secondary details, anyway. He said they’re not the most important thing, anyway. You don’t have to read the book in order to have the perception.
Prabhupāda: Then why Vivekananda wrote so many books? (laughter)
George Harrison: Well, it’s the same as in the Gītā.
Prabhupāda: No, no. He said there is no use of books. Then why he wrote so many books?
George Harrison: But in Hrishikesh, when we meditated for a long time, one man got tired of meditation, and he thought… He made the excuse to read the Gītā so he could come out of meditation, and he opened the Gītā and it said, “Don’t read books. Meditate.”
Prabhupāda: Who says?
George Harrison: The Gītā said it.
Prabhupāda: “Don’t read books”?
George Harrison: It said, “Don’t read books. Meditate.”
Yoko Ono: No, but you see, you…
Prabhupāda: He said, brahma-sūtra-padaiś caiva hetumadbhir viniścitaiḥ BG 13.5 . He refers that “This scientific knowledge, the Absolute Truth, is explained very nicely in Brahma-sūtra, Vedānta-sūtra.” He refers to the book. Another place Kṛṣṇa says,
yaḥ śāstra-vidhim utsṛjya
na sa siddhim avāpnoti
na sukhaṁ na parāṁ gatim
“Anyone who does not follow the scriptural injunction, his attempt will be failure. He’ll never be happy. And what to speak of being promoted to the spiritual world.?” These things are there. How you can say Kṛṣṇa has not recommended to read books?
Yoko Ono: Then, in that sense, you see, for instance… I see the same pattern in what you have said. For instance, you said that Hare Kṛṣṇa is the most superpowerful word, and if that is true, then why do you bother to utter any other words? I mean, is it necessary? And why do you encourage us, saying that we’re songwriters and all,…
Yoko Ono: …to write any song but Hare Kṛṣṇa?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is cleansing process.
Yoko Ono: Yes.
Prabhupāda: So actually one who chants Hare Kṛṣṇa regularly, he hasn’t got to do anything. Actually it is the position. He doesn’t require to read any book.
Yoko Ono: Yes. Then why do you say that it’s all right and all that? I mean is it a compromise or what?
Prabhupāda: What is that?
Yoko Ono: I mean the fact that we are doing songwriting and all that. It’s a waste of time, isn’t it? Without Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: No, not waste of time. Just like Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Caitanya Mahāprabhu was chanting simply. Even He was criticized by great sannyāsīs that “You have taken sannyāsa. You do not read Vedānta. You are simply chanting and dancing.” He was criticized. But the thing is, when Caitanya Mahāprabhu met such stalwart scholars, He was not lagging behind. Similarly, Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is sufficient. There is no doubt about it. But if somebody wants to understand this Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra through philosophy, through study, through Vedānta, we are not lacking. We have got books. It is not that Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is insufficient, therefore we are recommending books. No. Not like that. Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is sufficient. But… Just like Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He was chanting, but when there was a Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, when there was a Sarvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, oh, He was ready to argue with him with Vedānta. So we should not be dumb. If somebody comes to argue with Vedānta philosophy, then we must be prepared. When we are preaching, there will be so many people, different types of people will come. Otherwise Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is sufficient. Sufficient. It does not require any education, any reading, anything. Simply chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa and you get the highest perfection. That’s a fact.
Śyāmasundara: You were saying earlier today that we can also supplement our Kṛṣṇa consciousness while we’re working, hammering the nails.
Śyāmasundara: So chanting along with devotional service, performing our duties while concentrating on Kṛṣṇa, is also part of the process, isn’t it?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Anything, any way. The whole idea is manāḥ kṛṣṇe niveṣayet. Mind should be fixed up in Kṛṣṇa. That is the process. Either you go through philosophy or through arguments or through chanting. Any way. That is recommended in the Bhagavad-gītā. Yoginām api sarveṣāṁ BG 6.47 . Of all kinds of yogis. In the… You might have read it. Yoginām api sarveṣāṁ. I think Maharsi has translated this Bhagavad-gītā, and in the sixth chapter…? You have read it?
George Harrison: Oh, his translation of Gītā?
Devotee: Sixth chapter, he’s asking.
George Harrison: Yes. I haven’t read all of it. Part of it.
Prabhupāda: So in the sixth chapter, last verse, you’ll find yoginām api sarveṣāṁ mad-gatena… You have got our Bhagavad-gītā As It Is here? No? How is that, you don’t keep Bhagavad-gītā? You’ll find it is clearly stated that all yogis, the one yogi whose mind is fixed up in Kṛṣṇa, he is first-class yogi. Yoginam api sarveṣāṁ. Sarveṣāṁ, of all yogis. There are different kinds of yogis. So yoginām api sarveṣāṁ mad-gata: “One whose mind is fixed up in Me,” or Kṛṣṇa, āntarātmanā, “within the heart,” śraddhāvān, “and is devotee,” and bhajate, “and serves Me, oh,” sa me yuktatamo mataḥ, “he is the first-class yogi.” Tama. Tama means most, supermost. Yuktatamo. Yogi, better yogi and the supermost yogi.
John Lennon: Whose is that little purple paperback Gītā that we all have? A light grey purple?
Devotee : That’s the one.
John Lennon: Oh, that’s the one? I’ve got that in my office. There’s another one by that guy, that Spanish guy? (indistinct)
Śyāmasundara: One thing that Prabhupāda was explaining, I think, that didn’t quite get cleared up was how do we discern which translation of the Gītā is most authoritative. Well, he answered when he said that Kṛṣṇa is the authority. So we have to take it in a channel from Kṛṣṇa, and there are only four lines of disciplic succession that come from Kṛṣṇa. And of these, only one is existing now, or is it two?
Yoko Ono: What do you mean by “channel”? Is it through hereditary or what?
Śyāmasundara: Lines of disciplic succession. Yes, it’s hereditary. Swamiji’s spiritual master…
Prabhupāda: Just like channel you’ll understand very easily. You send some money order to your friend. So from which channel he’ll receive? He’ll receive through the post office, not through any other channel. So if the postal peon delivers it, you are confident, “Yes, the money has come.” So why you give the importance to the postal peon? Because he’s representative of the post office. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa is the original authority. So the Kṛṣṇa’s representative is the authority. And who is Kṛṣṇa’s representative? Who is a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. So therefore the devotee of Kṛṣṇa is authority, at least of Bhagavad-gītā. So you have to receive through the devotee of Kṛṣṇa about Bhagavad-gītā. One who does not know anything about Kṛṣṇa, how he can preach Bhagavad-gītā? This is common sense.
Jill: Will you excuse me? I must put my baby to bed. Good night.
Prabhupāda: (Chuckles) Take some prasādam.
Jill: Oh, thank you.
John Lennon: Well, who says who’s in the line of descent? You know, I mean, it’s just like royalty. Who’s who? (All talk at once)
Yoko Ono: That’s what I was talking about.
John Lennon: I mean Yogananda claims…
George Harrison: His guru’s, guru’s, guru’s…
John Lennon: All his guru’s, guru’s, guru’s, gurus, like that. Maharsi claimed all his guru’s guru’s gurus went back. I mean, how are we to know? I mean, it’s a matter of just deciding, you know.
Prabhupāda: But Maharsi does not say anything about Kṛṣṇa.
George Harrison: Doesn’t he? No, his guru is the Śaṅkarācārya.
John Lennon: Which is Śaṅkara’s teaching? But they all talk about God, and Kṛṣṇa’s just a name for God, isn’t it?
Prabhupāda: Anyway, whatever he may be, he does not go up to Kṛṣṇa. (chuckles)
George Harrison: Personality, anyway, of…
John Lennon: Well, that’s what he used to say in exactly the same way, about anybody else.
Prabhupāda: No, no. He cannot be because he does not speak about anything Kṛṣṇa. A peon comes, he does not know anything about post office—what kind of peon he is?
Yoko Ono: No, but his post office… He was talking about his post office.
Prabhupāda: No, you cannot create post office. Post office one. Government post office.
Yoko Ono: Yes, of course. I’m sure there’s only one post office.
Prabhupāda: You cannot create that he is… Somebody says, “I belong to another post office.” Then he is at once unauthorized. (Everyone talking at once)
Yoko Ono: No, no. He saying that his post office is the one post office.
Devotee: Then why… Obviously not satisfied yet with what they found in (indistinct) that post office. Why have you come here, then? If you have been satisfied with that… You have to test.
John Lennon: Yeah, we’ve gotta go around. Yoko never met Maharsi. We’re asking advice of how to, you know, how to stop. You can go on forever. I know people that have been wandering around for years, seeking gurus and spiritual teachers. I mean it’s doing them all quite well.
Prabhupāda: Bring prasādam.
John Lennon: I mean, we can only judge on a material level by looking at your disciples and looking at other peoples’ disciples and looking at ourselves, you know. And, of course, if there’s thirty disciples, seven of them look fairly spiritual, another ten look okay, and the others just look as though they’re having trouble… You know. So there’s no…
Yoko Ono: It’s the same thing.
John Lennon: We still have to keep sifting through like sand to see whose got the best matter, or…
Prabhupāda: Try to understand this, that regarding authority, you say that how to find out the authority. To answer this question, Kṛṣṇa is authority. There is no doubt. Because if Kṛṣṇa is an authority, Maharsi takes also Kṛṣṇa’s book and Aurobindo takes Kṛṣṇa’s book, Vivekananda takes Kṛṣṇa’s book, Dr. Radhakrishnan takes Kṛṣṇa’s book. So Kṛṣṇa is authority. Śaṅkarācārya also takes Kṛṣṇa’s book. You know Śaṅkarācārya’s commentary on Kṛṣṇa? And in that commentary he accepts, kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam SB 1.3.28 , sa bhagavān svayam kṛṣṇaḥ: “Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” He accepts. You say that Maharsi accepts Śaṅkarācārya. Śaṅkarācārya accepts Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
George Harrison: Yes, but it’s like the Bible which came…
Prabhupāda: Now, don’t go to Bible. We’re talking of Kṛṣṇa. (laughter) Just try to understand.
Yoko Ono: Yes, but, you see, the religion is bringing out (indistinct)
Prabhupāda: Just see that Kṛṣṇa is the authority. He’s accepted by everyone. You say Maharsi belongs to the Śaṅkara sampradāya. Śaṅkarācārya accepts Kṛṣṇa. Not as authority… He says, “Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” He says this very word in his commentary.
Gurudāsa: Bhaja govindam bhaja govindam bhaja govindam.
Prabhupāda: So authority means one who has accepted Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Lord. Then he is authority.
Yoko Ono: Now, who said that?
Prabhupāda: Everyone says. All authorities. Śaṅkarācārya says. Rāmānujācārya says. Those who are really authorities, those disciplic succession is going on. In India, there are five sects. Actually two sects. Vaiṣṇava and Śaṅkara. So the Vaiṣṇava accept Kṛṣṇa as the authority, and Śaṅkara accepted Kṛṣṇa authority. There are no third sect. Practically, actually, there is one sect, the Vaiṣṇava. Anyway, later on, later ages, Śaṅkarācārya established his sect. But Śaṅkarācārya accepts that kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam: SB 1.3.28 “Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead,” in his writing. And at his last stage of his life he said, “You rascal fools, what you are dealing with? That will not save you.” Bhaja govindam: “You just worship Kṛṣṇa.” Bhaja govindam bhaja govindam bhaja govindam mūḍha-mate. Mūḍha-mate means “You rascal.” (laughter)
John Lennon: Means what?
Gurudāsa: “You rascal.”
Prabhupāda: “You rascal, just worship Kṛṣṇa and become devotee of Kṛṣṇa, Govinda.”
bhaja govindam bhaja govindam
bhaja govindam mūḍha-mate
prāpte sannihite kāle
na hi na hi rakṣati dukṛñ-karaṇe
“When your death will come, all this grammatical jugglery of words will not save you. Kṛṣṇa can save you. So you bhaja govindam.” That is instruction of Śaṅkarācārya.
Yoko Ono: But every sect says that…
Prabhupāda: No, there is no question, “every sect.” Kṛṣṇa is the center of every sect. If Kṛṣṇa is the center, then there is no question of every sect. Only Kṛṣṇa sect.
John Lennon: Does Kṛṣṇa mean God?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Kṛṣṇa means God, and God means Kṛṣṇa.
John Lennon: So for the Bible or any other holy book, they all talk about one God, but they all have many ways of…
Prabhupāda: That’s all right.
George Harrison: Personalities.
John Lennon: Yes.
Prabhupāda: That’s all right.
John Lennon: It’s still just the one Being everywhere, in all the books. But they all have… Why isn’t Hare Kṛṣṇa or something similar in the Bible, then? I mean, that’s the only other one I know because I was brought up with the Bible.
Gurudāsa: It is. In the 150th Psalm it says, “Praise the Lord with every breath. Praise the Lord with drum and flute.”
John Lennon: But they haven’t got very good tunes, you know. I mean, they haven’t been passing on any good chants, have they?
Mukunda: They don’t have the aural disciplic succession with the Bible. It’s broken. It’s just a matter of archetype (?). I mean, would it be as effective to chant, “Lord Jesus, Lord Jesus, Hail Lord Jesus”?
Devotee: If you’re sincere, sure.
John Lennon: But it’s a waste of time of doing it unsincerely, isn’t it?
Yoko Ono: Yeah, it depends on sincerity.
Prabhupāda: No, no. Lord Jesus says that he is son of God. He’s son of God.
Yamunā: Your cab’s here, Śyāmasundara. Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: What is that? You want to hear? Come on, sit down. So there is no difference. Lord Jesus Christ says that he is son of God. So there is no quarrel between God and God’s son. So he says that “Love God,” and Kṛṣṇa says, “Love Me.” The same thing. (laughs) If you say that “You love me,” and your wife says that “Love my husband,” there is no difference of opinion.
Yoko Ono: But about the knowledge, I’m a bit worried about it, if you have to, you know, learn Sanskrit and all that, and that’s the only way to get enlightenment… I mean, what do you do about people who are not sort of skillful in learning languages and things like that? Would that not at all… I mean, I thought that it…
John Lennon: It’s translated, anyway.
Prabhupāda: Translation is there.
John Lennon: So you’ve got to take a risk.
Yoko Ono: But he said, then why don’t you go and…
John Lennon: So then you’ve got to take the risk of reading a translated one.
Gurudāsa: So you see many devotees of the authority, and then you decide which is the most sincere devotee. And just like in the ninth chapter He says, “You will come to Me.” Now, if I asked you for a glass of water and you poured it on the wall, I’d think you were silly. But if you brought it to me, then I knew you were in knowledge, we were having a reciprocal relationship. Therefore, if the devotee is saying, “Worship Kṛṣṇa,” and not putting so much of his own ideas in, but just saying, “Worship Kṛṣṇa,” all throughout, as Swamiji does, then you can know he’s a sincere devotee.
Prabhupāda: No, no. One thing you try to understand. Why these people, if Kṛṣṇa is not the supreme authority, why they are taking Kṛṣṇa’s book and translating? Why don’t you try to understand?
George Harrison: I’m not saying Kṛṣṇa isn’t the Supreme. I believe that.
Prabhupāda: No, no. I mean to say, even there are other sects, as you say, Maharsi. They accept also indirectly Kṛṣṇa as the supreme authority. Because if we say Maharsi belongs to Śaṅkara sampradāya…
George Harrison: Yeah, but we had a misunderstanding before about the translation of the Sanskrit Gītā into English, and I was saying that there’s many versions, and I think we thought you were trying to say that your version, your translation, was the only authority and that the other translations… But we didn’t really have understanding as to the identity of Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: That’s all right. If you believe Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord, if that is your version, then you have to see who are much addicted to Kṛṣṇa directly. For argument’s sake. That these people are twenty-four hours chanting Kṛṣṇa, and another person who has no, not a single word Kṛṣṇa, how he can become devotee of Kṛṣṇa? How he can become representative of Kṛṣṇa, who does not utter even the name of Kṛṣṇa? If Kṛṣṇa is authority accepted, therefore who are directly addicted to Kṛṣṇa, they are authorities.
( Kīrtanas follow, George Harrison leading)
690911rc.lon – September 11, 1969
(Conversation With John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and George Harrison at Tittenhurst)