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Ignorance is no excuse
- 1 Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
- 2 Lectures
- 3 Conversations and Morning Walks
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Nectar of Devotion
Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures
Nectar of Devotion Lectures
Pradyumna: "...due to ignorance. But ignorance is no excuse for evading the reaction—sinful activities."Prabhupāda: Yes. Generally we commit sinful activities knowingly; if not knowingly, unknowingly. Just like we are walking on the street, we are killing so many ants, unknowingly. So that is also sinful activities. You do not know, you do not want to kill the ants, but still, unknowingly, you are killing. When you take water from the jug, there are so many animals encircling the water jug, and when you take water some of them die. When we make paste on the pestle and mortar, spices, so many small insects die. That is going on. So knowingly or unknowingly, we are committing sinful activities. So how to save? That is replied in the Bhagavad-gītā: yajñarthe karma anyatra loko 'yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ [Bg. 3.9]. If you do not act, or if you do not engage yourself in Kṛṣṇa consciousness business, then you are becoming implicated with so many sinful activities. That is sure. Therefore one has to take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness without fail. Otherwise he'll be entangled, karma-bandhanaḥ. Even if he's doing pious activities, he's becoming entangled in karma-bandhanaḥ, in bondage. He has to take birth. Pious activities means he has to take birth in nice family, rich family. That is also bandhana. He has to enter into the womb of the mother and live there for ten months, in compact, air-tight, compact bag. That is not very good living condition. But we forget all these things, neither we do not care for all these things. But actually fact is, knowingly or unknowingly, we are becoming implicated. But if we simply take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness and if we engage ourself in His unalloyed devotional service, if we try to understand Kṛṣṇa, His activities, His form, His name, His quality, His paraphernalia, then the result will be, as Kṛṣṇa says, tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti [Bg. 4.9]. There is no question of reaction. Because Kṛṣṇa says... Even we are doing... That we are bound to do, as I have already explained, that, knowingly or unknowingly, we are committing sinful activities. But Kṛṣṇa gives His assurance: ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi [Bg. 18.66]. So if he ... Of course, a devotee never does anything knowingly sinful, but unknowingly, he's doing. But Kṛṣṇa is taking charge of him. Ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi. So there, there is no question of grief.
Conversations and Morning Walks
1972 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: Just like cats and dogs. They have sexual desire in certain period of the year. But a man, although he is trying to be animal, but he has no restriction. He has sexual desire anytime. Therefore he is worse than animal.
Ātreya Ṛṣi: Man eats and kills everything.
Ātreya Ṛṣi: The animals kill just their own quota.Prabhupāda: Yes. So therefore, if a man wants to become animal, he becomes worse than animal. A tiger, a tiger eats meat and he has got equipments in his body, what is called, nails, teeth, immediately pounce upon any animal and kills and eats. But a man cannot do that, but his teeth is different, he has no nails; therefore he has to kill animal in different way, by slaughterhouse. So he is worse than animal. You kill one animal for your eating purpose, that is one thing, but if you keep slaughterhouse for business, then you are more (indistinct). Therefore for a human being to try to become animal is worse than the animals, because... Just like you are now grown up. If you imitate that "I want to become child, so I enter anyone's house, "the law will not allow you. And if you say that "My philosophy is to become a child; therefore I enter this man's house, "the law will say, "All right, first of all you'll be punished." (laughter) You cannot say that. Because you are grown up you cannot act as a child. Similarly, because you are human being, if you act as an animal you'll be responsible for your acts. And you'll be punished if you do something wrong. You cannot say, "No, I have made my philosophy to become a child." That may be your personal philosophy, but law will not allow you. Ignorance is no excuse. (long pause) It has become a philosophy now to become like animals.
1974 Conversations and Morning Walks
Richard Webster: I mean a Roman, perhaps, has never heard of Kṛṣṇa before. He breaks all your five rules, does he not, every day. Is that a sin in him? If he drinks wine...
Dhanañjaya: He's saying, all the people in Rome who have never heard of Kṛṣṇa...
Richard Webster: They drink wine and do all the things which are... Well, perhaps not all, but anyway, some of them. Would that be...
Prabhupāda: I do not...
Dhanañjaya: He's asking if they're very sinful if they don't have any knowledge of Kṛṣṇa or any of the rules of our movement.Prabhupāda: Yes. Kṛṣṇa... Ignorance is no excuse. If there is law and if you do not know the law, and you commit offense, that is no excuse, that you do not know the law. Similarly, human life is meant for understanding God. That is the main business of human life. If one does not know this law, then he is sinful.
1975 Conversations and Morning Walks
Śrutakīrti: Are the lower human species responsible for sinful activities?
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. As soon as one is human being, he is responsible. Just like your state laws. Suppose a aborigine comes and does something criminal, will he be excused? Animal may be excused, but the man will not be excused.
Australian devotee 7: Śrīla Prabhupāda, they mightn't excuse him, but they mightn't treat him as harshly as they would treat somebody in knowledge. Is this the same with the activities that these people perform?
Prabhupāda: What is that?
Śrutakīrti: He said he wouldn't be treated as bad because an aborigine is not considered...
Australian devotee 7: He hasn't got the knowledge. He's ignorant.
Prabhupāda: Still he is not excused by the law.
Australian devotee 6: He would be treated leniently.
Australian devotee 7: Would he be treated more leniently than someone that has knowledge.
Prabhupāda: I do not know that. But ignorance is no excuse.
Australian devotee 8: Or that example, Śrīla Prabhupāda. You said that the people in India are being punished more because they are in knowledge. They have the Vedas.Prabhupāda: Hm.
1976 Conversations and Morning Walks
Devotee (2): Most of the karmīs think that if you believe in the law of karma, it applies to you, but if you do not believe...
Devotee (2): Most of them think that if you believe in the law of karma, it applies to you.Prabhupāda: When it is law, you believe or not believe, rascal, it will be effective, if it is a law. You believe, I don't believe, if I commit theft I'll not be punished. So what is your belief? As soon as you commit theft, you'll be punished. You believe or not believe. That is law. What is the value of your belief? Rascal may believe that "I'm not going to be old man. I shall remain young man." Believe or not believe, must become old man. What is the value of your belief? Trust no future. You believe or not believe, there is future. What is value of your belief? Where do you.... You have complete control? Here the law is "Keep to the right." You don't believe. Now "Why shall I keep to the right? I shall go to the left." Immediately you'll be punished. You have to believe. I'll do wrong way, see the result. Immediately there's ticket. So what is the value of your belief? The law is law. Ignorance is no excuse for law. You have committed something wrong, and in the court you're going to be punished. If you say the clerk, "Sir, I did not know that by committing this act how I shall be, I will have to be punished." That is not excuse. Your ignorance they do not believe; you must go. That is the law. It is called foolishness. "They believe," "I think," "It may be." This is science. This is their proposition: "It may be," "I think," "I believe." What is the value of this? And everywhere you'll find all these philosophers, scientists, and they'll talk like this, nonsense: "I believe," "It may be." Believe in the words of Kṛṣṇa. But he believes himself. You see? Kṛṣṇa says it is this. That he doesn't believe. But he has become more than Kṛṣṇa, he'll believe something is correct. This is his foolishness. Mūḍha. You believe in the words of Kṛṣṇa, who is worshiped by everyone. Hm? But you won't. You believe in your conviction, "I believe." So what you are? First consider in comparison to Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: God can do anything. He is all-powerful. That is only...
Indian man (1): But does He interfere... Does he intervene in our actions?
Indian man (1): I mean, God, does He...Prabhupāda: Hare Kṛṣṇa. God interferes if you are a devotee. Otherwise, you have to undergo the laws of nature. Karmāṇi nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhājām [Bs. 5.54]. Karma, according to your karma, you are conducted by the laws of nature. Just like if you touch fire, the laws of nature is: it will burn. Even a child touches the fire, there is no excuse. The laws of nature will not excuse a child, that "This child does not know it has touched the fire. Let it not be burned." No. Ignorance is no excuse. You cannot surpass or avoid laws of nature. It is not possible. If you can eat one chātā,(?) and if you eat little more, then there will be trouble.