John Nordheimer: How many followers do you have?
Prabhupāda: Well, this is a very difficult job, naturally. We don't have a large number of followers. As soon as you try to sell a diamond, you cannot expect many customers. Nonetheless, a diamond is a diamond, even if there are no customers. The number of customers is not the test. The customer must pay the value of the item. In this society we propose that you give up illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling. When people hear this, they go away saying, "Oh, Swamiji is very conservative." But I cannot become liberal and tell everybody, "Go ahead and do all nonsense and you can become God conscious." I cannot possibly recommend that. Therefore my first condition is that if someone wants to become my student he has to follow these four regulative principles. Consequently I do not have many followers, but I do have a select few. Because they are select, they will bring about a revolution in the world. One moon is sufficient to dissipate darkness. If there is one moon, there is no need for millions of stars. It is useless to expect a large number of followers. We want only one good follower. If I can get one man to become Kṛṣṇa conscious, I will consider my mission fulfilled. If you talk to whatever small number of followers I have, you will find that they talk better than any great philosopher, better than any scientist or politician. That is the quality of my students. What's the point in talking nonsense? One's words may be simple, but they should be valuable. Every day your employer is printing so many newspapers. On Sunday, especially, the paper is so big that one can hardly carry it. But after reading it an hour, people throw it away. Here is this book, Bhagavad-gītā, and people keep it and read it for a lifetime, and in this way it has been read for the past 5,000 years. Give such literature that will be taken and kept forever.
John Nordheimer: (laughing) It's already been suggested that we (the New York Times) are not divinely inspired. At any rate, this book-
Prabhupāda: If one gets a diamond, he possesses something valuable. But in this civilization you are simply making plastic plates and plastic cups. Indeed, in Japan I have seen pasteboard homes. And everyone is thinking that he is advanced. Formerly people used to have golden and silver utensils, but now they have plastic ones, and still they are very proud to be so materially advanced. What is your position? You have a bunch of paper and think, "I am a millionaire." What is the value of that paper? Is that not cheating? However, if we possess gold or diamonds worth a million dollars, that is actual wealth. But we are educated in such a way that we think we are millionaires by paper only. As soon as there is some catastrophe, millions of such dollars could not buy bread. This actually happened in Germany; millions of marks could not purchase one piece of bread. All this is going on in the name of advancement of civilization, and the real purpose of life, God consciousness, is missing. So every thoughtful man should come forward to understand this movement and take it seriously. Why are the people being misled? We just have to try to understand this philosophy, the basic principles of God consciousness.