Śrīla Prabhupāda: The so-called scientists are putting their faith in a fraudulent theory. Krishna says, aham sarvasya prabhavah: “I am the origin of everything.” (Bg. 10.8) Krishna is life; Krishna is not a dead stone.
Dr. Singh: So matter is caused by life?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, and matter grows upon life; my body grows upon me, the spirit soul. For example, I have put on this overcoat, which is made according to the size of my body. But I would be foolish if I thought, “I am this overcoat.”
Student: Śrīla Prabhupāda, mineralogists have proven that mountains are growing by sedimentary activity. Is this growth due to the presence of the spirit soul?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam describes mountains as the bones of God, and the grass as the hair on His body. So, in this sense, God has the biggest body.
Dr. Singh: Śrīla Prabhupāda, what is the difference between the transmigration of souls in animal bodies and the transmigration of human souls?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Animals transmigrate in only one direction—upward—but human beings can transmigrate to either a higher or a lower form of life. The body is awarded according to the living entity’s desire. The lower animals have one kind of desire, but the human being has thousands and millions of desires—animal desires as well as human desires. By nature’s law, the lower species are coming up from animal forms to the higher, human forms. But once you come to the human form, if you don’t cultivate Krishna consciousness you may return to the body of a cat or dog.
Dr. Singh: The scientists have no information that there is evolution up or down from the human platform.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Therefore I say they are rascals. They have no knowledge, yet they still claim to be scientists. Real science is in the Bhagavad-gītā, where Krishna says, yānti deva-vratā devān pitèn yānti pitr-vratāh (Bg. 9.25). This means that whatever one worships in this life will determine the type of body he gets in his next life. But if one worships Krishna, he ends the process of transmigration entirely. Yam prāpya na nivartante tad dhāma: “When one goes to that supreme abode of Mine, he never returns (to this material world of birth and death).” (Bg. 8.21) Promotion to the spiritual world (samsiddhim paramām) is the ultimate perfection of human life. Read Bhagavad-gītā; everything is there. But the scientists have no idea of this perfection; they do not even believe in the existence of the living entity apart from the gross body.
Dr. Singh: They do not speak of the living entity; they speak only of bodies.
Student: Their conception is something akin to Buddhism. The Buddhists say that the body is like a house. Just as a house is put together with wood, the body is put together with chemicals. And when the body dies, it is just like a house that falls apart. Just as the house becomes simply pieces of wood and then there is no more house, so the body becomes simply chemicals, and there is no more body and no more life.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That state is called nirvāna. And then, with the ingredients, you can build another house or another body. That is Buddhism. The Buddhists do not have any information regarding the soul.
Destiny and Karma
Student: Some scientists argue that there are several souls within each body. They use the earthworm as an example. If you cut it in half, both parts will live. They say this proves that two souls occupied the original worm’s body.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No. It is simply that a new soul has come to occupy the other half of the worm’s body.
Dr. Singh: Must the spirit soul necessarily have a body—either spiritual or material?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The soul already has a spiritual body, which the material body covers. My material body grows upon me—my spiritual body—but my material body is unnatural. The real body is spiritual. I am accepting various bodies that are unnatural to my constitution. My real, constitutional position is to be the servant of Krishna. As long as I do not come to that position, I remain a servant of matter and get many material bodies according to the laws of material energy. I get one body and then give it up. I desire something else and again get another body. This process is going on under the strict laws of material nature. People think they completely control their destinies, but they are always under nature’s law of karma:
prakrteh kriyamānāni gunaih karmāni sarvaśah
ahankāra-vimūdhātmā kartāham iti manyate
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities that are In actuality carried out by nature.” (Bg. 3.27) The source of this bewilderment is that the living entity thinks, “I am this body.”
īśvarah sarva-bhūtānām hrd-deśe ‘rjuna tisthati
bhrāmayan sarva-bhūtāni yantrārūdhāni māyayā
In this verse the word yantra, or “machine,” means that in any species of life, we are traveling in bodies that are like machines provided by material nature. Sometimes we are moving to higher species, sometimes to lower species. But if, by the mercy of the spiritual master and Krishna, one gets the seed of devotional service and cultivates it, he can become free from the cycle of birth and death. Then his life is successful. Otherwise, he has to travel up and down the different species of life, becoming sometimes a blade of grass, sometimes a lion, and so forth.
Advertising Ignorance as knowledge
Student. So it is our desire to enjoy that causes us to take on these material bodies, and our desire to achieve Krishna that brings us to our natural position?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.
Dr. Singh: But there seems to be a constant struggle with our lower nature. We are constantly fighting our desires for sense gratification, even though we want to serve Krishna. Does this continue?
Student: The body is almost like a dictator from within.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. That means you are strongly under the control of material energy, or māyā.
Dr. Singh: Even though we also desire to serve Krishna?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. A thief may know that if he steals he will be arrested and put into jail—he may have even seen others being arrested—yet he still steals. Even though he is aware that he is under the authority of the state, he still acts according to his desires. This is called tamas, or ignorance. Therefore, knowledge is the beginning of spiritual life. In Bhagavad-gītā, Krishna gives Arjuna knowledge. He teaches, “You are not this body.” This is the beginning of knowledge. But where is the university that teaches this knowledge? Dr. Singh, can you tell me where that university is that teaches this knowledge?
Dr. Singh: There is none.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is the position of education: there is no knowledge. They simply advertise ignorance as knowledge.
Dr. Singh: But if the scientists knew that they were not their bodies, their whole outlook would change.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, we want that.
Student: But they don’t want to admit their failure.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Then that is further foolishness. If you are a fool and you pose yourself as intelligent, that is further foolishness. Then you cannot make progress. And if you remain in ignorance and advertise yourself as a man of knowledge, you are a great cheater. You are cheating yourself and cheating others. People are so mad after the material advancement of civilization that they have become exactly like cats and dogs. For instance, they have set up an immigration department, and as soon as you enter a country these dogs go “Woof, woof, woof! Why have you come? What is your business?” This is a watchdog’s activity. A first-class gentleman is being searched for a revolver. People cannot be trusted, and now there are so many educated rogues and thieves. So what is the meaning of advancement? Can we say that education means advancement? Is this civilization?
Fighting Ignorance With Arguments and Knowledge
Student: Some people say that one reason for the Vietnam war was that the Communists were atheists. It was a dispute between the theists and the atheists. At least that is one excuse given for the war.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: We are also prepared to kill the atheists. But that killing is by preaching. If I kill your ignorance, it can also be called killing. Killing doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone has to take the sword.
Dr. Singh: A new method of warfare?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, fighting ignorance with arguments and knowledge has always existed. The bodily conception of life is animal life. The animal does not know about matter and spirit. And one who is under the bodily conception of life is no better than an animal. When an animal “talks,” the intelligent man laughs. Such “talk” is nonsense. The animal is not talking knowledge.
Student: At least the animals live by certain codes. They do not kill unnecessarily, and they only eat when necessary, whereas humans kill unnecessarily and eat unnecessarily. So in one sense humans are lower than animals.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Therefore we must suffer more than animals. Krishna consciousness is not a bogus, sentimental religious movement. It is a scientific movement designed to alleviate human suffering.
Dr. Singh: Scientists and other people say that everything in the universe is happening by chance.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: So, are they also writing books on the subject by chance?
Karandhara: The books are also written by chance, they say.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: So, what is their credit? By chance, anything can be written.
Dr. Singh: The French scientist Dr. J. Monod got the Nobel Prize in 1965. He says that everything started by chance—that by chance certain chemicals combined and formed the basic molecules.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: But where did the chemicals come from?
Dr. Singh: According to him, they were created simply by chance, and when the necessity arose, molecules of the chemicals reoriented themselves.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: If everything was happening by chance, how can there be necessity? How can he speak of chance and necessity in the same breath? It is nonsense. If everything is directed by chance, why do people send their children to school? Why not let them grow up by chance? Suppose I break a law. If I say, “Well, it just happened by chance,” will I be excused?
Dr. Singh: So, is crime caused by ignorance?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. That is the cause: my ignorance.
Student: It would certainly be stupid to say that a beautiful instrument like a violin was made by chance.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. It is most regrettable that such a rascal can get recognition. He is talking foolishness and getting recognition.Recorded on May 13, 1973 in Cheviot Hills Park, Los Angeles An excerpt from Life Comes From Life – available at all Hare Krishna Centers
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