Interviewer: You came here ten years ago, or eleven years ago. You were almost seventy at the time...
Prabhupāda: Yes, actually I came here at the age of seventy years.
Interviewer: What had you been doing previously?
Prabhupāda: Previously? I was family man. I retired in 1954. My Guru Mahārāja asked me to take this task seriously when I was twenty-five years old.
Interviewer: Who asked you?
Prabhupāda: Twenty-five years old.
Rāmeśvara: His spiritual master.
Prabhupāda: So I was at that time family man, so I thought, "Let me adjust my family affairs. Then I shall take it." So by doing the adjustment it took me long years. So I retired at the age of fifty-eight. Then I took up seriously. And when I was seventy years old, then I came here.
Interviewer: Were you a businessman?
Prabhupāda: Yes, I was connected with some chemical industry. I was manager in a big chemical industry. Then I started my own business. In this way I was family man.
Rāmeśvara: But at the same time, Śrīla Prabhupāda was always Kṛṣṇa conscious.
Bali-mardana: And He was writing.
Rāmeśvara: And also he was writing transcendental or spiritual books even at that time.
Rāmeśvara: It's not that he has adopted a new occupation now.
Rāmeśvara: He has always been Kṛṣṇa conscious.
Prabhupāda: This Back to Godhead was started in 1944, when I was still a family man.
Interviewer: You started that in India.
Prabhupāda: India. The first copy is here, some copy?
Hari-śauri: The first copy is in the Library of Congress in Washington.
Interviewer: Your family, your blood family, are they Kṛṣṇa conscious as well?
Prabhupāda: Not very much. Therefore I had to leave them and create another family. (laughter)
Interviewer: How many children do you have.
Prabhupāda: I have got two daughters and two sons. My wife is also still living.
Interviewer: Is she Kṛṣṇa conscious?
Prabhupāda: Not very much. Naturally women are after worldly opulence.
Interviewer: Was it difficult for you to give up what you had been doing in order to devote full time.
Prabhupāda: No, it is the Vedic system that at a certain age they should give up family connection and completely devote for God consciousness. In the beginning, twenty-five years, he should learn from guru about Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Then, if he is able, he does not become a family man, but if he is unable or circumstantially, he may become a family man. So he can remain a family man up to fiftieth year and then he retires from family life. He travels in holy places with his wife, and sometimes he comes home and sometimes he goes home. In this way, when he's practiced to give up family attachment, then the wife goes back home to the care of her elderly children, and the man takes sannyāsa, and he remains alone simply for spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is Vedic system.
Rāmeśvara: Vedic system means very traditional, from ancient India.
Interviewer: Yes. Now, you are not practicing the Vedic system, then, here, are you? Or are you?
Rāmeśvara: We are following.
Prabhupāda: No, it is all Vedic system. It is Vedic system.
Interviewer: Is it better to do it the way you did it or to start from a very early age in the, er...?
Rāmeśvara: In other words, some of our members are sannyāsa at an earlier age.
Prabhupāda: No, if... The purpose is to train a person in brahmacārī, not to enter into the entanglement of this material life. That is Vedic system. Basic principle is that don't be entangled with this material energy. So at the early age, up to twenty-five, he's trained up. If he can, he can continue as brahmacārī. He directly can take sannyāsa. But if he's unable, so let him go by step by step. Let him become a family, householder life, then retired life, then... But sannyāsa at the end, that is compulsory, not that unless he is shot down by somebody, he's not going to give up family life. That is not Vedic system.
Interviewer: But young men don't tend to be wise, do they?
Interviewer: Young men do not generally possess a great deal of wisdom.
Prabhupāda: No, if he's trained up. Just like here we have got so many young men. They are trained up. So there is no prohibition that a young man cannot become a sannyāsa. If he's able, he can take sannyāsa from the very beginning. But if he's not able, let him enter into household life and then remain as householder up to fiftieth year, then retire, then take sannyāsa. It is not an enforcement. A gradual process. But the ultimate end is to become free from all material attachment and completely devote life for Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is the ultimate end. Because human life is meant for that purpose, self-realization or spiritual realization, that opportunity must be given to all human beings. Unfortunately at the present moment the civilization has no scope for spiritual realization. They live like other animals, eating, sleeping, mating and defending. That's all. They do not know there is another life, spiritual life, and neither there is any education or institution to educate them. Now we are trying for that purpose.