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Could you tell me something about your altar?

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Expressions researched:
"Could you tell me something about your altar"

Conversations and Morning Walks

1976 Conversations and Morning Walks

Which altar? This Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Lord Nityānanda, we are worshiping Him.
Interview with Newsweek -- July 14, 1976, New York:

Interviewer: Are you prepared to die?

Prabhupāda: What is this question?

Bali-mardana: Are you prepared to die?

Prabhupāda: You are not prepared? Why don't you answer?

Interviewer: Pardon me?

Prabhupāda: You are not prepared to die?

Interviewer: I haven't thought about it too much.

Prabhupāda: Why you are asking me, "Why"? Because you are afraid. You are not prepared to die.

Interviewer: Perhaps that's the reason.

Prabhupāda: Everyone will die. You prepare or not prepare, you'll die. It doesn't matter whether you are prepared or not. Death must be there.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: "Sure as death."

Rāmeśvara: Our philosophy, as Prabhupāda said in the beginning, is that spiritually there is no end. There is no such thing as death for the soul, self-realized soul. There is simply death of the body.

Prabhupāda: These things are discussed. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre (BG 2.20). Find out this verse. It is an educational movement, it is not a religious movement, sentiment. One requires to be educated; then he is completely on the spiritual platform.

Interviewer: Let me ask you one more question before he reads the passage.

Prabhupāda: No, first of all about death.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: The translation is, "For the soul there is never birth nor death nor having once been does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain."

Prabhupāda: So there is no question of death for a spiritually realized person.

Interviewer: Is there any method for dissent within your movement? Or change?

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Reform, you mean? Changing the teaching perhaps, to fit the times?

Rāmeśvara: Just like in the church, as the public mood is changed, they have compromised on certain issues like abortion, homosexuality, priests getting married. So she wants to know if in our movement there will be this arrangement also. (laughter)

Interviewer: Well, I didn't necessarily mean the specifics.

Bali-mardana: In other words the purity is maintained by... The system is perfect to begin with so it remains perfect by being unchanged. If the system is imperfect, you may always be questioning.

Prabhupāda: Yes. When the system is imperfect, then it has to be changed according to time and circumstance. But if the system is itself perfect, there is no question of... Just like the perfect system: the sun rises from the eastern side. So for millions and trillions of years the system is going on because the system is perfect. It doesn't require change, neither you can change. You cannot ask the sun to rise from the western side. So if the soul is eternal, it does not die or it is slain after the body is finished. But that is eternal fact. Destined in the past present and future, everything.

Interviewer: How important is your physical environment to you? If this room is very lovely—it has light and space and air and flowers—is this important at all or would it be the same to you to be sitting out on the street?

Prabhupāda: No, why shall I sit if I can sit down on the open space anywhere, on the bank of the river, on the bank of the ocean. There are so many open spaces. You can sit down there.

Bali-mardana: Her question was, "Is your physical place important, surroundings"?

Prabhupāda: Yes. So long I have got this physical body, I have to give some physical facility. Yukta-vairāgya. If I can write my books in a comfortable place, why shall I voluntarily go to a dark place? Material facilities, either dark place or lighted place, it is the same thing, but I'll have to accept which is favorable for me.

Rāmeśvara: In other words, our system is, as I explained out there, we are not averse to using material facilities in our service to Kṛṣṇa.

Bali-mardana: We're not dependent upon them.

Rāmeśvara: We're not dependent on them, but if they are available, we must use them for Kṛṣṇa.

Bali-mardana: Prabhupāda has undergone great difficulties...

Prabhupāda: After all, anything, material or spiritual, that is Kṛṣṇa's arrangement.

Interviewer: That is what?

Rāmeśvara: Kṛṣṇa's arrangement, after all. Anything material or anything spiritual, it's His arrangement.

Prabhupāda: What we say material, that is not aloof from Kṛṣṇa. That is also Kṛṣṇa's energy. Just like darkness and light. Both of them are related to the sun. Is it not? What is darkness? Absence of light. Is it not?

Interviewer: Can you tell me what this painting up here is?

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Painting of the spiritual sky.

Prabhupāda: Explain.

Interviewer: Painting of the spiritual sky?

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yes, it's a picture of the entire creation. It shows many different... Each of these spheres is a planet. And you may notice that on the right hand bottom corner there is a darker area. That darker portion is known as the material world. By world we don't mean just mean this planet; we mean a composite of all of the material universes. But these only make up one small portion of the entire creation. Just for our understanding it's said to be about one fourth of the creation, the entire composite of all the material universes. The other three-fourths are made up of spiritual planets, which are self-illuminating. There's no need of sunshine, or moon, light or electricity. (break) ...and full of knowledge. Whereas here life is very temporary and it's not always blissful and there's a lot of ignorance also.

Interviewer: But you are living in a spiritual planet here?

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Well, this planet is part of the material universe, but because our consciousness is Kṛṣṇa conscious, or God conscious, practically we are not affected very much by the conditions of the material world. Just like one of the conditions is fearfulness of death. But because we're...

Prabhupāda: I can give one example. Just like royal throne. The king is there, and a bug is there.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: On a royal throne there's a king...

Prabhupāda: And the bug.

Rāmeśvara: Also a mosquito may be there also.

Prabhupāda: But the mosquito is mosquito, and the king is king, although they are sitting on the same place.

Bali-mardana: Both sitting on the throne.

Rāmeśvara: Everyone is here on this planet. Some people are affected by the material conditions...,

Prabhupāda: He's mosquito.

Rāmeśvara: He's the bug.

Prabhupāda: This is the best example. On the throne, both of them are sitting, but king's consciousness and mosquito's consciousness are different. It is not because they are on the same throne, therefore of the same conscious. Mosquito's business is to bite, and king's business is to rule over.

Rāmeśvara: Another important thing to note about this painting is that the material world is said to be a reflection of the spiritual world. Just like here in this universe there are many planets, similarly there are many planets in the spiritual world. But it is a perverted reflection.

Prabhupāda: And besides that, even we are claiming to be very materially advanced, we do not know everything of the material world. Just like so big universe, material, what do you know about that? We have no knowledge practically. Even of the material world we have no sufficient knowledge, what to speak of the spiritual world.

Interviewer: Could you tell me something about your altar?

Prabhupāda: Which altar? This Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Lord Nityānanda, we are worshiping Him.

Rāmeśvara: The two figures on the throne of the altar represent an incarnation of God named Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityānanda, and They both appeared in India approximately five hundred years ago. They are incarnations of God, God Himself, who descends into this world. So those forms represent the Supreme Lord. Therefore we are worshiping Them. And below, on the step, are the pictures of the spiritual masters coming in the disciplic succession from Lord Caitanya when He appeared in this world five hundred years ago.

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Lord Caitanya started this movement, chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa congregationally. It was predicted five thousand years ago in the Vedic scriptures that in this age, the present age, the Lord would appear and would teach the real religious process for this age which is chanting of the holy names.

Rāmeśvara: This is very traditional in India, temple worship and the figures are on the altar. It's very very traditional. It goes back many thousands of years.

Interviewer: Let me ask you one more question. Why are you returning to India? Had you ever considered staying here in the United States?

Prabhupāda: I have got branches everywhere. Just like I am coming here after traveling so many branches, similarly I am going to India.

Rāmeśvara: Prabhupāda has no fixed home.

Prabhupāda: I want to see that every center, things are going on nicely.

Interviewer: Oh, I see. I thought you were not returning to the United States.

Cyavana: He has traveled the world sixteen times around?

Prabhupāda: Yes, sixteen times.

Cyavana: Sixteen times around in ten years. So this is a common thing for Prabhupāda to do.

Prabhupāda: Just to inspect things, how they are going on.

Rāmeśvara: Just to inspect things.

Interviewer: But you might want to come back to the U.S.?

Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. Why not.

Rāmeśvara: He might. But there are many projects in India now. That we can talk about.

Prabhupāda: Every year, almost six to seven months, I pass outside India.

Rāmeśvara: Wanda, do you have any more questions you'd like to ask?

Interviewer: I'm looking. (pause)

Rāmeśvara: We've taped the conversation, and we're going to transcribe it for you and send it to your office.

Interviewer: Oh, we would certainly appreciate it. (break)

Prabhupāda: They are on the same plane, but different consciousness.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: I don't think she was the senior editor that was supposed... (break) ...someone like her that...

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: The first time they've ever heard such things in any case. Even if they are religious by Western standards, they've never heard such things before, "I'm not this body." She'd never heard it.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: No one has any knowledge at all about religion.

Prabhupāda: Mūḍha. That is the general statement, mūḍha.

Cyavana: They see our movement as being material.

Prabhupāda: Because they have no other conception than material.

Cyavana: They don't see the spiritual aspect at all.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: They have no other conception. They can't recognize.

Prabhupāda: They have no other conception. Therefore they misunderstand.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Even in India nowadays they are confused also.

Prabhupāda: Yes. In Caitanya-bhāgavata there is a word, vaiṣṇavera kriyā-mudrā vijñe nā bujhāya: "The activities of a Vaiṣṇava, even the most intelligent person of this world cannot understand." Vaiṣṇavera kriyā-mudrā vijñe nā bujhāya.

Hari-śauri: I remember reading in the Kṛṣṇa Book, you mention that to the ordinary man a Vaiṣṇava appears to be crazy.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Prabhupāda, if they are going to have another interview at one, I think perhaps you can take rest now. (end)

MadhuGopaldas +  and Rishab +
August 12, 0011 JL +
May 8, 0012 JL +
BG: 0 +, SB: 0 +, CC: 0 +, OB: 0 +, Lec: 0 +, Conv: 1 +  and Let: 0 +