Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Anyway, his question is, "Swami Vivekananda has given a positive suggestion that one of the best ways for harijanas to command respect among all sections of people is to learn Sanskrit, the study of which is being neglected even by brāhmaṇas today. What incentives can be given to harijanas to learn Sanskrit, the repository of Indian culture and religion?"
Prabhupāda: That is another misgiving. They will never be able to learn Sanskrit, and neither it is possible that by learning Sanskrit they will be elevated. There are many Sanskrit scholars. So how they are elevated? They are rotting. It is not a good suggestion, this. If the harijana actually becomes harijana, then it will benefit. That training we can give. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is that we can make a harijana, a so-called, I mean to say, cāmāras, bhangis . . . Now they understand harijana means he must be a cāmāra or bhangi. But that is not the actual . . . Harijana means devotee, "the man of Hari." So in spite of their illiteracy in Sanskrit language, we can make him harijana, actually. So why do you take the trouble of learning Sanskrit? Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā, māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye 'pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ (BG 9.32). Pāpa-yoni means low-grade birth. So anyone, that includes the cāmāras, bhangis, they can be purified if they take to the shelter of Kṛṣṇa. Because Kṛṣṇa says, ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi. The best thing is to induce them to come to Kṛṣṇa. Then they will be purified. And the simple method is recommended by Kṛṣṇa Himself and Caitanya Mahāprabhu, His incarnation: this kīrtana. Engage them in saṅkīrtana movement, which is being pushed by this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, and they will be purified. They don't require to learn Sanskrit even. As it is. Let them chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and they will be purified. And if you want to teach them Sanskrit, it will take three thousand years. (laughter) That is impossible.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: It is a fact, though, that the repository of Indian culture and religion is Sanskrit. So are you saying then that the harijanas, or these class of people . . .
Prabhupāda: Yes, it is Sanskrit, but the Vedic mantras are received not by learning Sanskrit, but by hearing from the authorized person. Therefore it is called śruti. It is in Sanskrit because there was no other language. Sanskrit was the only language. So now they're being translated into English. So it doesn't matter whether it is in Sanskrit or English, one has to learn it by hearing from the proper person. That is wanted. It is . . . The Vedic mantras are called śruti, not sanskriti. (laughter). It is called śruti. Śruti means the first business is hearing. Tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet (MU 1.2.12). What is the purpose of going to guru? Means to . . . guru is the authorized person from hear . . . from him hear. So it doesn't require that one has to learn Sanskrit. We have got so many disciples. It is not that they first of all learned Sanskrit. They heard. It may be in Sanskrit language or in English language. It doesn't matter. Let him hear the real fact. That is wanted. So although the Vedic mantras are in Sanskrit, the process to understand is to hear. To hear, it may be any language, to hear and understand; then he becomes perfect. It is not the Sanskrit language. It is the hearing which is important.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: So will this bring respect . . .?
Prabhupāda: Śravanaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇu. Hear and chant about Viṣṇu. That is wanted. Not kṛn pratyaya, di-pratyaya, du-pratyaya. No. That is not wanted. Na hi na hi rakṣati du-kṛn-kāraṇe (Śaṅkarācārya). This will not save you. If you have become a Sanskrit scholar, du-pratyaya, di-pratyaya, da-pratyaya, that will not save you. Na hi na hi rakṣati dukṛn-kāraṇe, bhaja govindaṁ bhaja govindaṁ bhaja govindaṁ mūḍha mate. So this, they are thinking by learning Sanskrit they will become perfect. In the Bhagavad-gītā I don't find that "You learn Sanskrit, then you become perfect." "You surrender unto Me, then you become perfect." That is wanted. If you learn Sanskrit, there is no harm, but it is not the only condition, that "You have to learn Sanskrit, then you will be able." Who knows in our camp Sanskrit? Who knows Sanskrit? How many?
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Pradyumna.
Prabhupāda: He may know little. (laughter) Sanskrit language . . . that is . . .
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: His question here, Śrīla Prabhupāda, especially is that the harijanas are very downtrodden, and . . .
Prabhupāda: Downtrodden, you keep them downtrodden. You manufacture wine and let them drink, and he will be uplifted. One side, (chuckles) you are manufacturing wine and advertising, "Come on, take here," and you remain . . . become harijana. How it is possible? You must stop all this nonsense—the slaughterhouse, the liquor shop, or the breweries, or the prostitute quarter. You stop this. But that cannot be also stopped. Anyone who wants to become harijana, he can become in spite of all these things. He can defend himself.