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My question is, what is it that made you bring your movement into a culture and a religious ethos which is hostile to begin with, with most of your major assumptions?

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"My question is, what is it that made you bring your movement into a culture and a religious ethos which is hostile to begin with, with most of your major assumptions"

Conversations and Morning Walks

1976 Conversations and Morning Walks

So this is education. The Western people are not educated in the spiritual life. So our predecessors, our gurus, they are for educating people in the spiritual life. Caitanya Mahāprabhu, five hundred years ago, He advised Indians to go, first of all, make his life..., Indian should make his life perfect, and then he should go outside India and preach the perfectional life, how to become perfect in life. That was His mission.
Interview with Trans-India Magazine -- July 17, 1976, New York:

Interviewer: Prabhu, you, in this country you have a whole body of religious thought which does not subscribe to the Hindu assumptions about the transmigration of the soul, and the culture itself is a very secular kind of culture.

Prabhupāda: Which one?

Interviewer: The American. And about eighteen months ago or more, if I remember right, there was a film, a documentary, on your school in Texas, on the National Broadcasting Company's program, which was very hostile, if not vicious, attack on your whole movement, the rearing of the small children. So my question is, what is it that made you bring your movement into a culture and a religious ethos which is hostile to begin with, with most of your major assumptions?

Prabhupāda: So this is education. The Western people are not educated in the spiritual life. So our predecessors, our gurus, they are for educating people in the spiritual life. Caitanya Mahāprabhu, five hundred years ago, He advised Indians to go, first of all, make his life..., Indian should make his life perfect, and then he should go outside India and preach the perfectional life, how to become perfect in life. That was His mission. He said pṛthivīte āche yata. You understand Bengali?

Interviewer: Yes.

Prabhupāda:

pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma
sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma
(CB Antya-khaṇḍa 4.126)
bhārata-bhūmite haila manuṣya-janma yāra
janma sārthaka kari' kara para-upakāra
(CC Adi 9.41)

So Indian life means para-upakāra. They are in the darkness, others, in the darkness. They have no such culture, spiritual culture. India has got that culture, this Bhagavad-gītā. So one should make his life a practically Bhagavad-gītā life. That is Kṛṣṇa conscious movement. And preach it to the world. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu's order. And this order was not only... Because Caitanya Mahāprabhu happened to be a Bengali... He appeared in Nadia district, a district in Bengal. But He does not say the Bengalis; He said the bhāratīs. Bharata-varṣa janma haila yāra. So it is India's mission to become exactly on the line of Bhagavad-gītā. That is also spoken by Caitanya Mahāprabhu, that perfection of life means to understand Bhagavad-gītā. He said āmāra ājñāya guru hañā tāra' ei deśa: (CC Madhya 7.128) "You just become a guru and deliver this country." "This country" means wherever you are living—it doesn't matter whether in India or America or anywhere else—you just deliver them. So to become guru means to save a person from the conditional life of matter. So long you become a materialistic person, that means you are under condition of material nature. So you have to get your freedom from the laws of material nature. That is your perfect life. But people in the Western countries, they do not know much of this freedom. India knew it, or some of Indians, they know it. But at the present moment they, being conquered or influenced by the Western culture, they are also losing their identity. Therefore my Guru Mahārāja ordered me to do something about the spiritual life in the Western countries. On account of this I came here.

Interviewer: Can you briefly tell us what the difference, how your approach is different from the approaches of the other gurus who have come? You seen to have rather a unique place in...

Prabhupāda: First of all, we do not accept anyone as guru if he's not competent to understand Bhagavad-gītā and preach it also. He's not a guru. The guru's definition given in the Bhagavad-gītā, imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ proktavān aham avyayam (BG 4.1), in the Fourth Chapter you'll find, vivasvān manave prāha manur ikṣvākave 'bravīt.

evaṁ paramparā-prāptam
imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ
sa kāleneha mahatā
yogo naṣṭaḥ parantapa
(BG 4.2)

Kṛṣṇa said to Arjuna, "My dear Arjuna, this Bhagavad-gītā philosophy or yoga system, first of all I spoke to the sun-god. And then he spoke to his son, Manu. Then Manu spoke to his son Ikṣvāku." In this way the knowledge comes down from the spiritual master to the disciple or from the father to the son. So unless one comes in this disciplic succession, he cannot become guru. Therefore I do not know all of them. All the swamis and yogis who came here, they do not belong to this paramparā system, so therefore they are not bona fide guru. They are presenting themselves as guru, but they are not guru. Therefore people are misled. People are misled, and this is the first time that we presented India's traditional philosophy and life as it is understood by the paramparā system. Therefore it is being so well received. Vivekananda came here, as you said, 1893, before my birth. I was born in 1896. But they have worked for, say, eighty-five years. What they have done? But I have worked here for seven or eight years. And it is now worldwide movement. Why? Because we presented the things as they are. Evaṁ paramparā-prāptam (BG 4.2). Therefore it is effective. So if the things are presented as they are, the customers will automatically come.