[Srila Prabhupada points at a dead tree with his cane.]
Srila Prabhupada. Formerly leaves and twigs were growing from this tree. Now they are not. How would the scientists explain this?
Karandhara. They would say the tree’s chemical composition has changed.
Srila Prabhupada. To prove that theory, they must be able to inject the proper chemicals to make branches and leaves grow again. The scientific method includes observation, hypothesis and then demonstration. Then it is perfect. But the scientists cannot actually demonstrate in their laboratories that life comes from matter. They simply observe and then speak nonsense. They are like children. In our childhood, we observed a gramophone box and thought that within the box was a man singing, an electric man. We thought there must have been an electric man or some kind of ghost in it. [Laughter.]
Dr. Singh. One of the popular questions that arises when we start studying biology is “What is the difference between a living organism and that which is not living?” The textbooks say that the chief characteristics that distinguish the two are that a living being can move and reproduce, whereas dead matter can do neither. But the books never talk about the nature of the soul or about the consciousness of the living entity.
Srila Prabhupada. But consciousness is the primary indication that life is present. Only because of consciousness can a living being move and reproduce. Because a person is conscious, he thinks of marrying, and begetting children. And the original consciousness is described in the Vedas: tad aiksata bahu syām (Chāndogya Upanisad 6.2.3). This means that God, the original conscious being, said, “I shall become many.” Without consciousness, there is no possibility of by-products.
The Individual Living Force
Srila Prabhupada. The gardeners supply water to the green trees, so why don’t they supply water to this dead tree and make it green?
Dr. Singh. From experience they know that it will not grow.
Srila Prabhupada. Then what is the element that is lacking? Scientists say that chemicals are the cause of life, but all the chemicals that were present when the tree was alive are still there. And these chemicals are still supporting the lives of many living entities such as microbes and insects. So they cannot say that life energy is lacking in the body of the tree. The life energy is there.
Dr. Singh. But what about the life energy of the tree itself?
Srila Prabhupada. Yes, that is the difference. The living force is individual, and the particular individual living entity that was the tree has left. This must be the case, since all the chemicals necessary to support life are still there, yet the tree is dead. Here is another example. Suppose I am living in an apartment, and then I leave it. I am gone, but many other living entities remain there—ants, spiders and so forth. So it is not true that simply because I have left the apartment, it can no longer accommodate life. Other living entities are still living there. It is simply that I—an individual living being—have left. The chemicals in the tree are like the apartment: they are simply the environment for the individual force—the soul—to act through. And the soul is an individual. I am an individual, and therefore I may leave the apartment. Similarly, the microbes are also individuals; they have individual consciousness. If they are moving in one direction but are somehow blocked, they think, “Let me go the other way.” They have personality.
Karandhara. But in a dead body there is no personality.
Srila Prabhupada. This indicates that the individual soul has left that body. The soul has left, and therefore the tree does not grow.
Dr. Singh. Within the living body, Srila Prabhupada, there are innumerable small living entities, but the individual self who owns the body is also living there. Is that correct?
Srila Prabhupada. Yes. In my body there are millions of living entities. In my intestines there are many worms. If they become strong, then whatever I eat, they eat, and I derive no benefit from the food. Therefore those who are full of hookworms eat very much but do not grow. They become lean and thin, and they are very hungry, because these small living entities are eating their food. So there are thousands and millions of living entities in my body—they are individuals, and I am an individual—but I am the proprietor of the body, just as I may be the proprietor of a garden in which many millions of living entities reside.
Student. So if I eat Krishna-prasāda [food offered to Lord Krishna], are the living entities in my body also eating prasāda?
Srila Prabhupada. Yes. You are very benevolent. [Laughs.] You take Krishna-prasāda for others.
Karandhara. Welfare work.
Srila Prabhupada. Yes, but there are so many things within you for them to eat that you do not need to make a separate endeavor to feed them.
Minimum Words, Maximum Solution
Srila Prabhupada. The individual soul is never lost. He does not die, nor is he born. He simply changes from one body to another, just as one changes garments. This is perfect science.
Dr. Singh. But why don’t scientists accept this?
Srila Prabhupada. They are not nice men. They are rascals. They are not even gentlemen. Under appropriate circumstances, gentlemen will have some shyness or some shame. But these men are shameless. They cannot properly answer our challenges, yet they shamelessly claim that they are scientists and that they will create life. They are not even gentlemen. At least I regard them like that. A gentleman will be ashamed to speak nonsense.
Dr. Singh. They do not think before they speak.
Srila Prabhupada. That means that they are not human beings. A human being thinks twice before saying anything. Krishna makes the presence of life within the body so easy to understand. He says:
dehino ‘smin yathā dehe kaumāram yauvanam jarā
tathā dehāntara-prāptir dhīras tatra na muhyati
[“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Bg. 2.13)]
In these two lines, Krishna solves the whole biological problem. That is knowledge. Minimum words, maximum solution. Volumes of books expounding nonsense have no meaning. Materialistic scientists are like croaking frogs: ka-ka-ka, ka-ka-ka. [Srila Prabhupada imitates the sound of a croaking frog, and the others laugh.] The frogs are thinking, “Oh, we are talking very nicely,” but the result is that the snake finds them and says, “Oh, here is a nice frog!” [Srila Prabhupada imitates the sound of a snake eating a frog.] Bup! Finished. When death comes, everything is finished. The materialistic scientists are croaking—ka-ka-ka—but when death comes, their scientific industry is finished, and they become dogs, cats or something like that.
[The above is an excerpt from the book “LIFE COMES FROM LIFE” available at your nearest Hare Krishna Centers]