Prof. Hopkins: In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. And this I know is very important to you and to the Caitanya tradition.
Prabhupāda: You have seen all the parts published? Books and... Which Canto you have read?
Prof. Hopkins: I'm not thinking so much of the specific Cantos as the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as a whole. Is that, for you, as you see it, more important than Bhagavad-gītā?
Prabhupāda: No, Bhagavad-gītā is the preliminary study of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Prof. Hopkins: So you would see the two related to each other.
Prabhupāda: Yes. If one can understand Bhagavad-gītā then he becomes a bona fide student of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Prof. Hopkins: Oh.
Prabhupāda: Because in the... You have read Bhagavad-gītā?
Prof. Hopkins: Oh yes, I have.
Prabhupāda: So Bhagavad-gītā, last instruction is sarva dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja. (BG 18.66) "You give up all kinds of occupation and just surrender unto Me." If one can take it very seriously, understand, then he can enter into the study of Bhāgavatam. The Bhāgavatam begins from the point where Kṛṣṇa left Bhagavad-gītā. So he advised that "You surrender to Me," and Bhāgavata begins, satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi (SB 1.1.1), "I am worshiping the Supreme Truth." And next verse is dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo 'tra (SB 1.1.2), "All cheating type of religious system is rejected." So this is rather revolting. Kṛṣṇa says sarva dharmān parityajya (BG 18.66), "Give up all kinds of religious system, just surrender to Me." And from that point Bhāgavata begins, "All cheating type of religious system is rejected." It is meant for the paramahaṁsa. Paramo nirmatsarāṇāṁ. Those who are envious, for them is not Bhāgavata. So any materialistic person, he is envious. It is not meant for the materialistic person. Those who are spiritually advanced, one who has understood that "I am not this body, I am spirit soul, my direct connection is with God, therefore my only business is to serve God." One who has come to this conclusion, he is called paramahaṁsa. Haṁsa means swan. A swan, it has got a quality that if you give the swan to drink milk mixed with water, she will drink the milk and reject the water. She has got the capacity. So paramahaṁsa means one who has taken the essence of the existence, Absolute Truth, he is called paramahaṁsa.
Prof. Hopkins: So you would see the Bhagavad-gītā then as accessible to a wide range of people, at an elementary level or beginning level, whereas Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam would be for more advanced, more advanced people.
Prabhupāda: Not only advanced, completely advanced. Because so long one will be, stay on the material platform, he will be envious of others only, animal propensity, dog. Dog does not like another dog is coming. So unless one is spiritually realized, the dog mentality will remain there. It is said nāsau munir yasya mataṁ na bhinnam, even amongst the topmost thinkers, if he does not refute other thinkers, he is not a good thinker. That enviousness. He will not be established a good thinker if he cannot... If a scientist, if he cannot refute the previous scientist, he is not a scientist. This is material world. Everyone is envious of the other. So Bhāgavata meant for who is no more envious. Simply loving.
Prof. Hopkins: Why, why is that more necessary for Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam than for Bhagavad-gītā?
Prabhupāda: More... Bhāgavatam, I told you, it is a counterpart. Just like when you have passed the school examination then next you admit yourself for degree or graduate degree. Similarly, Bhāgavata is the end of education. Everyone is progressing. When one comes to Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and understands it then his education is complete.
Prof. Hopkins: Then would it be, would it be dangerous for someone who is not at that level to study Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam or would they simply not understand it?
Prabhupāda: Dangerous means if one is not completely educated of self-realization he has the risk of degradation.
Prof. Hopkins: He has what?
Prabhupāda: The risk of degradation. Now I have got human form of body, I may degrade to animal. Because transmigration of the soul. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, tathā dehāntara prāptir, after death one gets another body. Now, what kind of body, that depends on his work. Ūrdhvaṁ gacchanti sattva-sthāḥ (BG 14.18). If he has done very nicely, in goodness, then he will be promoted to the higher planetary system. And if he has not done anything nice then he will remain here or he will be degraded to the lower planetary system.
Prof. Hopkins: That is... How does that relate to the question of studying the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam?
Prabhupāda: Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam or Bhagavad-gītā, if one realizes properly then he gets promotion back to home, back to Godhead. He is no more a person to live in this material world. Material world means ups and down, ups and down. And spiritual world means steady life of knowledge and bliss.
Prof. Hopkins: But if one were to study, read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam who was not ready for this, not prepared for it, this might throw them into confusion then, or this would be...
Prof. Hopkins: Would it be bad for them or would they simply not learn from it.
Prabhupāda: No, as I told you the... Our only business is to know the Absolute Truth. If you do not try for this then you remain animals. Animal cannot know the Absolute Truth. So to remain animal means varieties of life. Sometimes cat, sometimes dog, sometimes demigod, sometimes this, sometimes that, sometimes American, sometimes something else. This will go on. Bhūtvā bhūtvā pralīyate (BG 8.19). In this life we are living, we are making the next body. So if we work nicely then next body may be the higher planetary system or above this material world, in the spiritual world.
Prof. Hopkins: And the way to progress then is to take, to study, to learn these things in order, in the proper order.
Prof. Hopkins: I remember when I first, when I first met Brahmānanda in New York. I came there initially in part to, because I had been studying Bhāgavatam and I wanted to talk to people in the temple about Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. And they said, "What is this?" (laughs) "We've heard Swamiji speak of this but we don't know it." A few years later you were all sitting around reciting verses from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Was this... You did not begin to teach Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam when you first came to the U.S.
Prabhupāda: No, I taught Bhagavad-gītā first of all, then Bhāgavata.
Prof. Hopkins: So you prepared, you prepared them with...
Prabhupāda: Oh yes.
Prof. Hopkins: Bhagavad-gītā and then Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Prabhupāda: You have seen yesterday's procession?
Prof. Hopkins: I didn't get to the one yesterday, no.
Prabhupāda: So, unless we have prepared groundwork, it is not possible.
Prof. Hopkins: A related question, which is a practical question also. I am collecting material for a kind of sourcebook, readings in Hinduism, contemporary as well as classical, and would like to include in these readings some of the things that you have written. Of the things that you have written what do you consider most important?
Prabhupāda: Premā pumārtho mahān: The most important thing is how to love God.
Prof. Hopkins: And where of the things that you have written would that come?
Prof. Hopkins: Where in the... In the things that you've written, where would that message come through most clearly?
Prabhupāda: In Vedānta philosophy, the most important philosophy.
Brahmānanda: He's asking which one of your books?
Prabhupāda: Bhāgavata, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Brahmānanda: Which of your books do you consider to be the most important?
Prabhupāda: Well, beginning from the First Canto.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Janmādy asya yataḥ (SB 1.1.1). It is step by step. First of all Bhagavad-gītā study nicely so we can get the idea of Absolute Truth, and then by studying Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, you understand more and more, more and more, more and more.
Prof. Hopkins: But is there, is there any one, one of the translations or one of the purports or of a series of purports of the things that you've published that you think is more clear, more...
Prabhupāda: Every śloka we are describing word to word. So every śloka you will find new idea, new idea. There are 18,000 verses.
Prof. Hopkins: (laughs) I would react the same way if anyone asked me a question like that. But you've... In the beginning of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam you did discuss the general story(?).
Prabhupāda: Oh yes, you have not seen it?
Prof. Hopkins: Yes, I've seen it. I'm just wondering what your judgment is on what... If you had to say to someone who was going to collect one small section of your work, what would you want them to collect?
Prabhupāda: That is stated in few verses, you find out this. Dharmasya hy āpavargyasya (SB 1.2.9).
Brahmānanda: In the First Canto?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Dharmasya hy āpavargyasya nārtho 'rthāyopakalpate. The first thing is that people become religious. Just like in your Christian religion they go to the church to get some material profit. "Oh God, give us our daily bread." This is material profit. Similarly, Hindus or Muslims, they become religious, dharma artha kāma mokṣa (SB 4.8.41, Cc. Ādi 1.90), the material activities. Those who are actually advanced... Those who are not even human beings, their philosophy is different. Those who are human beings, their dharma, religion. Then artha, economic development, and then kāma, sense gratification, and then mokṣa, liberation. These four things are taken as general activities. So Bhāgavata says your dharma... Religious principle means the ultimate goal is how to become liberated, not artha. Artha means economic development. So then question may be if you do not, if we are not economically developed then how we shall live? The Bhāgavata says that you can make economic development as far as it maintains your body and soul together. Not that making whole life economic development and real purpose of life forget. This is foolishness. So dharma, artha. Dharma means, religious advancement means how to get out of this material condition. Not that I go to temple and chant, "God, give me millions of dollars, and this, and that." This is not possible. It is good that one has gone to God to ask some help, that much credit is there. You have found out the verse?
Prabhupāda: Dharmasya hy āpavargyasya. Read it.
- dharmasya hy āpavargyasya
- nārtho 'rthāyopakalpate
- nārthasya dharmaikāntasya
- kāmo lābhāya hi smṛtaḥ
- (SB 1.2.9)
"All occupational engagements are certainly meant for ultimate liberation. They should never be performed for material gain. Furthermore, one who is engaged in the ultimate occupational service should never use material gain to cultivate sense gratification."
Brahmānanda: We have already discussed that pure devotional service to the Lord is automatically followed by perfect knowledge and detachment from material existence. But there are others who consider that all kinds of different occupational engagements, including those of religion, are meant for material gain. The general tendency of any ordinary man in any part of the world is to gain some material profit in exchange for religious or any other occupational service. Even in the Vedic literatures, for all sorts of religious performances an allurement of material gain is offered, and most people are attracted by such allurements or blessings of religiosity. Why are such so-called men of religion allured by material gain? Because material gain can enable one to fulfill desires, which in turn satisfy sense gratification. This cycle of occupational engagements includes so-called religiosity followed by material gain and material gain followed by fulfillment of desires. Sense gratification is the general way for all sorts of fully occupied men. But in the statement of Sūta Gosvāmī, as per the verdict of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, this is nullified by the present śloka.
One should not engage himself in any sort of occupational service for material gain only. Nor should material gain be utilized for sense gratification. How material gain should be utilized is described as follows.
Prabhupāda: People are after material gain. They have no spiritual information even, what is spirit, what is the need of spiritual realization, they do not know. Therefore they have been described as mūḍhas: fools and rascals. Those who are after material way of...
Prof. Hopkins: Do you... Do you think then that that, that message is the most important message that you have to convey?
Prabhupāda: This is the most important message. Because you are not this material body. Suppose you have got this shirt. If you simply try to maintain this shirt, is that very good intelligence, without taking care of your person? Similarly, if we are spirit soul and the body is just like dress, so the whole material world is, everyone is engaged to take care of the body. Nobody knows what is spirit soul, what is this need. Nobody knows. All these educational institutions, they are blind. Andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānās (SB 7.5.31). And the whole system is also blind. If a blind man leads another blind man what is the benefit? No benefit. Therefore in your country, every country, it is a blind education. No spiritual enlightenment.
Prof. Hopkins: What is the solution? What is the solution? Devotion to God...
Prabhupāda: First of all you know what is spirit. Then as soon as you know that you are spirit then wherefrom the spirit comes, or wherefrom everything comes? Then it comes to the question of God. And then we understand what is our relationship with God. And then if we act according to that, then it is perfect life.
Prof. Hopkins: So that you would... You would see the Gītā then as a guide to understanding.
Prof. Hopkins: It starts in Chapter Two with the question of what is ātmā?
Prabhupāda: In Chapter Two it is said... Arjuna was lamenting that "I shall fight and the other party they are my brother, so I will be sinful. So many problems will come." He was thinking like that. So Kṛṣṇa first gave him lesson that "Why you are thinking on the bodily concept of life? You are not body. You are spirit soul." Then He gave spiritual education.
Prof. Hopkins: So you must start with what the Gītā calls sāṅkhya-yoga then, but go on, and go on to bhakti-yoga.
Prabhupāda: Bhakti-yoga is said last. Sarva dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja (BG 18.66). People are not prepared to take the sublime lesson immediately. Then he has to go step by step. So that is the system of Bhagavad-gītā.
Prof. Hopkins: Are there other ways besides Kṛṣṇa consciousness to reach that same goal?
Prof. Hopkins: Or is that the only goal?
Prabhupāda: That is only. That is stated in Bhagavad-gītā. Bhaktyā mām abhi... If you want to know God and your relationship with God then only through bhakti, no other. That is stated in the... Bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ (BG 18.55). Otherwise you will never be able to understand.
Prof. Hopkins: If the highest reality is Puruṣottama and Puruṣottama is manifested in many different ways in the world, can people come to Puruṣottama through various paths?
Prabhupāda: Various path means bhakti is the only path. Now all other paths they must come to bhakti. Without bhakti there is no possibility.
Prof. Hopkins: But must bhakti be directed to Kṛṣṇa only or...
Prabhupāda: Because Kṛṣṇa is Bhagavān. Bhakti means our transaction with Bhagavān. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam (SB 1.3.28). So original Bhagavān is Kṛṣṇa.
Prof. Hopkins: What about those who would worship Rāma, say?
Prabhupāda: Rāma is Kṛṣṇa.
Prof. Hopkins: Rāma is Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Another form of Kṛṣṇa. Rāmādi mūrtiṣu kalā-niyamena tiṣṭhan (Bs. 5.39).
Prof. Hopkins: What about those who would worship Śiva?
Prabhupāda: Śiva is just like milk and yogurt. The yogurt is milk but it is not milk.
Prof. Hopkins: In another form then. So, ah...
Prabhupāda: You will not derive the benefit of milk from yogurt.
Prof. Hopkins: But do you get benefits?
Prabhupāda: Benefit there must.
Prof. Hopkins: Benefits there are but not the same.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Lord Śiva means you get material opulence but not salvation.
Prof. Hopkins: So you would see Śiva as more related to material.
Prof. Hopkins: There is a passage in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, I forget where, where Viṣṇu is asked "Why is it that the followers of the ascetic Śiva are all wealthy and prosperous people and the followers of You who are the Lord of the universe are all poor?" Is that the way you would see it then, that those that follow Śiva are after more material gain?
Prabhupāda: More material gain means you become more implicated.
Prof. Hopkins: More what?
Prabhupāda: Implicated. Our problem is birth and death, old age and disease. (break) ...this birth, death, old age and disease. For them, liberation, the ultimate liberation is to transfer oneself to the spiritual world.
Prof. Hopkins: So you see... You see a clear difference there between those who follow the Vaiṣṇava tradition, which is less worldly, more spiritual...
Prabhupāda: That is the ultimate goal of life. That is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam: na te viduḥ svārtha gatiṁ hi viṣṇum (SB 7.5.31). People do not know what is his self-interest. The self-interest is to approach Viṣṇu.
Prof. Hopkins: What about Christian, Christian.
Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇa is Viṣṇu.
Prof. Hopkins: What about Christians?
Prabhupāda: Christian also, that is nice, giving instruction to go back to God. It is not? What is the ultimate goal of Christianity? What do they desire?
Prof. Hopkins: Hard to answer. There's no clear single goal. (laughter)
Prabhupāda: What is the goal, single or plural, doesn't matter.
Prof. Hopkins: Well, some Christians would say the vision of God, the ultimate goal is to be with God.
Prabhupāda: That is really, to realize God. Not only Christian, any religion. That is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhokṣaje (SB 1.2.6). There may be different types of religious systems but that system is first class which directly leads one to understand what is God and how to love Him. That's all. That is perfect religion.
Prof. Hopkins: So the question... The question in one sense is not whether it's Christian or Śaivite or Vaiṣṇavite but whether it is directed to a knowledge of God, a devotion to God or not.
Prabhupāda: That is first-class.
Prof. Hopkins: But you would feel that there, what, it is easier to reach that goal by worshiping Kṛṣṇa?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Kṛṣṇa is the ultimate goal.
Prof. Hopkins: But is it easier or better to be a devotee of Kṛṣṇa...
Prof. Hopkins: A Kṛṣṇa bhakta than to be a Christian, say?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Anything genuine is easy. Anything hodgepodge, that is not good. We don't recommend hodgepodge.
Prof. Hopkins: So the advantage then, or the greater value is that it is focused and clear rather than a hodgepodge where the goal and the activities are not clear.
Prabhupāda: The hodgepodge has killed the whole world, that so many pseudo-religious systems. People are misled.
Prof. Hopkins: So the truth may be there somewhere...
Prabhupāda: Truth is everywhere.
Prof. Hopkins: But you can't find it.
Prabhupāda: Just like there is butter in the milk but the milk is not butter. You churn it and then the butter will be there. Similarly, in every religious system... Every milk there is butter, but churning the milk and giving direct delivery of butter, that is the Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā and Bhāgavata.
Prof. Hopkins: And it's more... It's more clear there, you would say, than it is in any other tradition.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Now God... Ask any religious system "What is God?" he cannot... What is God? They cannot explain. And we are saying, "Here is God, Kṛṣṇa." So which is better? If you search after gold and you do not know what is gold... Eh? And if you... If some authorized friend gives, "Here is gold. You take it." That is easier.
Prof. Hopkins: So the strength and the value is in knowing...
Prabhupāda: Oh yes.
Prof. Hopkins: Knowing what gold is.
Prabhupāda: That is the only business of human being, to know the Absolute Truth, God. That is the only business. Otherwise what is the difference between cats and dogs and human being? They do not care to know what is God. So if human being also in the same status, doesn't care to know what is God, then what is the difference between dogs and human being?
Prof. Hopkins: People, various people read your writings, your commentaries, and they, they react to them sometimes with reservation because they see your writings as dogmatic.
Prof. Hopkins: They see your writings... Some people see your writings as dogmatic.
Prabhupāda: Or "He is dogmatic." (laughter)
Prof. Hopkins: They say, "He is dogmatic," okay. Do you feel that you are dogmatic or...
Prabhupāda: No. You find out any passage in my book dogmatic, then you say dogmatic. Any page you open, where is dogmatic?
Prof. Hopkins: Well, dogmatic, to call someone else dogmatic means to start with that you don't agree with what they are saying. If I agree with you and you...
Prabhupāda: No, you have to agree. You open any passage of my book.
Prof. Hopkins: Well, some people would say to insist that Kṛṣṇa is the only way, that Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the only way...
Prabhupāda: No, no. The only thing that God is one, that you have to accept. God cannot be many. If God has got competitor, then he is not God.
Prof. Hopkins: Okay.
Prabhupāda: So if we don't admit Kṛṣṇa is the only God then you present who is only God. You say me. Either you have to learn from me or I have to learn from you.
Prof. Hopkins: So to insist...
Prabhupāda: If you do not know what is God you cannot say, "Kṛṣṇa is not God." As soon as you say, "Kṛṣṇa is not God," that means you must know what is God. You present. But if you cannot present, you say, "No, I do not know God," then you cannot say, "Kṛṣṇa is not God."
Prof. Hopkins: All right.
Prabhupāda: So they are dogmatic. Dogmatically they are saying, "Kṛṣṇa is not God." He does not know God and he says, "Kṛṣṇa is not God." So what is this nonsense? You do not know God. How you can say Kṛṣṇa is not God?
Prof. Hopkins: I agree with you, I just... I want to get... (laughter) If we're dogmatic, we're on the same side.
Prabhupāda: We are not dogmatic. Those people who are talking us as dogmatic, he is dogmatic. He does not know God, and when God is presented before him, he says, "No, He is not God." That is dogmatic.
Prof. Hopkins: Would you... Do you feel that those who've had genuine religious, spiritual understanding would not have that kind of argument?
Prabhupāda: Yes. One... We say... I do not say, in the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that... Find out this verse,
- na māṁ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ
- prapadyante narādhamāḥ
- āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ
- (BG 7.15)
Find out. Seventh chapter.
- na māṁ duṣkṛtino mūḍhāḥ
- prapadyante narādhamāḥ
- āsuraṁ bhāvam āśritāḥ
- (BG 7.15)
"Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons, do not surrender unto Me."
Prabhupāda: As soon as one denies Kṛṣṇa is not God, then he comes within those categories: miscreant, rascal, lowest of the mankind, his knowledge is taken away by māyā, and he's a demon.
Prof. Hopkins: (laughs) That's a strong statement.
Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇa is God. If he does not know, then he must be amongst these groups.
Prof. Hopkins: What if someone says, "Śiva is God?"
Prabhupāda: He may say, but śāstra doesn't say.
Prof. Hopkins: So you...
Prabhupāda: Just like in the Bhagavad-gītā you'll find, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya (BG 7.7), "Nobody or no principle is greater than Me." Then who can be God? God is great. Here the great says, "There is no more greater principle than Me." Then who can be God? People generally know God is great. Kṛṣṇa says, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat (BG 7.7). Not only He says but it is confirmed by great authorities like Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Viṣṇu Svāmī, all the big, big ācāryas, Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Vyāsadeva, authorities. Kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam (SB 1.3.28). So how you can deny?
Prof. Hopkins: You refer to Rāmānujācārya as an important person. Where does he... Where does he fit into your, the Caitanya tradition? He's accepted as an authority. His, the Śrī Bhāṣya is studied, accepted...
Prabhupāda: Rāmānujācārya has written comment on Bhagavad-gītā. You know that?
Prof. Hopkins: No.
Prof. Hopkins: No.
Prabhupāda: In the Bhagavad-gītā Caitanya philosophy is discussed.
Prof. Hopkins: So you would see no basic difference between Rāmānuja's position and...
Prabhupāda: They cannot be different because both of them are Vaiṣṇava. So this is the common point, that Caitanya Mahāprabhu is preaching Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Lord. Rāmānujācārya was preaching Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Lord. So where is difference?
Prof. Hopkins: Well, I don't see a difference, but...
Prabhupāda: People know it. Things equal to the same thing are equal to one another.
Prof. Hopkins: What about certain other traditions; Ishnamadeva(?), Tukārāma, some of the poet saints of Maharastra. Where...
Prabhupāda: Yes, Tukārāma accepted Viṣṇu as the Supreme. He accepted the process of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He accepted Caitanya Mahāprabhu as his guru so there is no difference between Tukārāma and Caitanya.
Prof. Hopkins: So Tukārāma, you would say, is teaching the same thing as Caitanya?
Prabhupāda: Yes, saṅkīrtana. And Kṛṣṇa is teaching the same thing. Satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ (BG 9.14). Find out.
Prof. Hopkins: So by saying that the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism is, and Caitanya, are the central way of... You are not excluding...
Prof. Hopkins: You would not...
Prof. Hopkins: You are not excluding the Pandarpur tradition of Tukārāma, Rāmanitoba, (indistinct), you are not excluding the Alavars and Rāmancha, but you are saying all of these groups, all of these teachers.
Prabhupāda: Tukārāma accepts Caitanya Mahaprabhu as his guru. Then where is the difference?
Prof. Hopkins: So that Lord Vitoba and Kṛṣṇa...
Prabhupāda: Is the same.
Prof. Hopkins: You see as the same.
Prabhupāda: Vitoba means Viṣṇu. They call Vitoba.
Prof. Hopkins: And the Alavars, the Alavars of Tamil Nadu.
Prof. Hopkins: Alavar.
Prabhupāda: Yes. That is also Vaiṣṇava.
Prof. Hopkins: You would accept their teachings also?
Prabhupāda: Oh yes.
Prof. Hopkins: So the real question then is Vaiṣṇavas and others.
Prof. Hopkins: The central teaching...
Prabhupāda: Vaiṣṇava and non-Vaiṣṇava.
Prof. Hopkins: Vaiṣṇava and non-Vaiṣṇava. So it's not a question of sectarian differences within Vaiṣṇavism. (break) And you would see the worshipers of Śiva as impersonalists?
Prof. Hopkins: You would see... All of them.
Prabhupāda: The Śaivites, the Śaṅkarācārya.
Prof. Hopkins: Śaṅkarācārya, I know he is.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Śaṅkarācārya's theory is the ultimate, the Absolute Truth is impersonal. And one can imagine a personal form for the benefit of the worshiper.
Prof. Hopkins: But there are some worshipers of Śiva who would be personalists.
Prof. Hopkins: You would deny that.
Prabhupāda: They are all impersonalists. They are pañcopāsana. Pañcopāsana means the ultimate, Absolute Truth is impersonal and Śaṅkarācārya recommended that you cannot worship the impersonal, so you conceive a personal form. So that he recommended five: the sun-god, Lord Śiva, Durgā, and Gaṇeśa, and? What else? And Viṣṇu.
Prof. Hopkins: Viṣṇu. Pañca (indistinct)
Prabhupāda: But after you are per..., become, you are perfect, then you merge into the impersonal. That is Śaṅkara.
Prof. Hopkins: You would see all worshipers of Śiva as following basically that idea.
Prabhupāda: No, there are devotees. Just like we, we offer all respect to Lord Śiva. We consider Śiva as the best of the Vaiṣṇavas. Vaiṣṇavānām yathā śambhu. And we have got sampradāya from Śiva. He is considered one of the authority of Vaiṣṇavism.
Prof. Hopkins: So you would, you would include...
Prabhupāda: Our conception of Śiva is different.
Prof. Hopkins: Where would Basavana fit in?
Prof. Hopkins: Where would you place Basavana in relation with...
Prof. Hopkins: Basavana.
Prof. Hopkins: Lingayat. Lingayat teacher. The Śaivite, Śaivite...
Prabhupāda: He is impersonalist.
Prof. Hopkins: You would say impersonalist.
Prabhupāda: Oh yes. They say Śivāham, "I am Śiva." They are impersonalist. If you are Śiva then why you worshiping Śiva? That is impersonalist.
Prof. Hopkins: So any position which would deny the difference between the devotee and God, you would see...
Prabhupāda: He is impersonalist.
Prof. Hopkins: Is impersonalist.
Prabhupāda: The impersonalist theory is that I am now devotee. As soon as I become perfect I become one."
Prof. Hopkins: Oh.
Prabhupāda: That is their theory. Then there is no more difference. In the preliminary stage, when I am not perfect, I am worshiping some imaginary form of God. But when I become perfect there is no need of worshiping, I become one with God. This is impersonal. Now, actually, the Supreme has no form so they recommend whichever form you like to worship you can select out of these five. But their destination is the same. So somebody likes "I worship Śiva," somebody says "I worship Gaṇeśa," somebody says, "I worship Durgā," and Sūrya, or somebody says, "I worship Viṣṇu." So this Vaiṣṇava is impersonalist. You'll find amongst smārta brāhmaṇas there are also some of them Vaiṣṇavas, but they are impersonalists.
Prof. Hopkins: So you would... You would say that those, those smārtas say, and I know smārta brāhmaṇas who are worshipers of Viṣṇu. You would say they still are impersonalists in some ultimate sense because at some point they would deny...
Prabhupāda: No, it is very difficult to pick them out. Most of the so-called Vaiṣṇavas, they are impersonalists.
Prof. Hopkins: Some, I suspect, are more Vaiṣṇavas than they are smārtas.
Prabhupāda: So, satataṁ kīrtayanto mām?
- satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ
- yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ
- namasyantaś ca māṁ bhaktyā
- nitya-yuktā upāsate
- (BG 9.14)
"Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion."
Prabhupāda: Perpetually. It is not that I am worshiping now and when I am perfect I become one. That is impersonal.
Prof. Hopkins: But someone who sees devotion as the not just a stage...
Prabhupāda: They say everything one; no devotee, no devotion, and no person. Everything becomes one.