In conversation with His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Reporter (1): Some of the objections are that the followers of the Hare Krishna sect are, on the streets or in the airports, are bothering people.
Prabhupāda: The airport itself is a botheration, so much sound, so much accident. So why this little botheration they cannot tolerate? That means intolerance. It is full of botheration, and because we are chanting, they very much disturbed? We don’t chant in the airport, but we ask people that “Here is a very good book. You will benefit. If you like, you can take.” So what is the wrong there? Tell me what is the wrong? If I give you something very nice, is that, I mean to say, wrong? You read any book. We have got fifty books. You find out any fault in that. If we are distributing something bad literature which is against the social welfare, then you can object. But you see. Bring all our books here, and you will see. Any page you open and you will find something good. Why are you denying to distribute such literature for the benefit of the people in general? What is the wrong there?
Reporter (1): One of the things that people say is that the devotees are asking for donations, not just distributing books but asking for money, that that’s a bother.
Prabhupāda: But he pays. If he feels botheration, why does he pay? One who feels botheration, he does not pay. But one who thinks that “Here is a nice book. All right, let me take it,” why you take this botheration? If it is botheration, how are they purchasing? They are paying their money, hard-earned money. Do you think they are bothered at the same time they pay? (laughter)
Reporter (1): Yes. That’s a fact.
Prabhupāda: These are all manufactured things.
Reporter (2): Could you tell me how much you do derive from the airport solicitations in the United States?
Prabhupāda: That I do not know, but we sell, on the whole, about $300,000 worth, books, every month.
Reporter (2): At airports alone?
Prabhupāda: I do not know.
Devotees: That’s everywhere, all over the world.
Bahulāśva: Here in San Francisco we distribute 1,000 of these magazines per day.
Reporter (2): What is the budget of the movement in the United States annually? How much do you need to operate?
Prabhupāda: Our program is whatever collection is there, half is spent for our establishment—we have got about more than one hundred centers all over the world—and half we spend for reprinting the books. That’s all.
Reporter (2): How many members in the United States? I’m told two thousand. Is that correct approximately?
Prabhupāda: That they can say.
Jayatīrtha: Well, our published figure is that worldwide membership is ten thousand. How much of that is in the United States isn’t exactly broken down.
Reporter (2): I did a story on this movement five years ago and the figure at that time was two thousand in the United States also.
Prabhupāda: It is increasing.
Reporter (2): It is increasing?
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. Definitely.
Jayatīrtha: I said that the worldwide figure is ten thousand.
Reporter (2): Yes, I understood. Could you tell me how old you are?
Jayatīrtha: He wants to know your age, Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Prabhupāda: After one month I will be eighty.
Reporter (1): Eighty?
Prabhupāda: Eighty years old.
Reporter (2): What will happen…
Prabhupāda: I was born in 1896, now you can calculate.
Reporter (2): What will happen to the movement in the United States when you die?
Prabhupāda: I will never die.
Devotees: Jaya! Hari bol! (laughter)
Prabhupāda: I shall live from my books, and you will utilize.
Reporter (2): Are you training a successor?
Prabhupāda: Yes, my Guru Mahārāja is there. Where is my photo of Guru Mahārāja? I think… Here is.
Reporter (2): Why does the Hare Krishna movement not engage in social protest?
Prabhupāda: We are the best social worker. People are fools and rascals. We are teaching them nice idea of God consciousness. We are the best social worker. We will stop all crimes. What is your social work? Producing hippies and criminals. That is not social work. Social work means the population must be very peaceful, wise, intelligent, God conscious, first-class man. That is social work. If you produce some fourth-class, fifth-class, tenth-class of men what is social work? We are producing that. Just see. Here is first-class man. They do not have any bad habit, illicit sex, intoxication, meat eating, or gambling. They are all young men. They are not addicted to all these things. This is social work.
Bhaktadāsa: Śrīla Prabhupāda, they want to know what will be the political effect of the Hare Krishna movement?
Prabhupāda: Everything will be polished if Hare Krishna movement is taken. Yasyāsti bhaktir bhagavaty akincanā sarvair gunais tatra samāsate surāh [SB 5.18.12]. If this God consciousness is spread, then everyone will be brilliantly qualified. And without God consciousness, the so-called education as we were discussing in the morning, there is no value in it. Simply they are talking. What is the subject matter we were talking?
Bahulāśva: Psychology this morning.
Prabhupāda: The result is the students are falling down from the tower in disappointment. And they are protected with glass.
Bahulāśva: In the bell tower on Berkeley campus, students, in the 60’s, would jump from that tower to kill themselves. So they put glass there to stop the students from jumping. So Prabhupāda was explaining that is their education, that after getting their education, they have to jump to commit suicide. (laughter)
Prabhupāda: This is not education. Vidyā dadāti namratā. Educated means he is humble, gentle, sober, full of knowledge, practical application in life of knowledge, tolerant, control of the mind, control of the senses. That is education. What is this education?
[An excerpt from a Press Conference, San Francisco, July 16, 1975]