By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
For attaining Krishna consciousness, there are several stages. The first stage is faith or inquisitiveness. Just like you have come to me. This is the first stage, out of inquisitiveness or some faith, that “These people are teaching Krishna consciousness. We have heard it is very nice. Let us see what it is.” This is the first stage. One should be inquisitive and have a little faith or a little respect for Krishna consciousness. “It is very nice, they are speaking, doing nice work.” This is the first stage.
If you find it interesting in the first stage, then the second stage is to associate with us to understand more. Just like we are having our classes three days in a week. We are having morning classes daily, but for public we are holding classes in the evening from seven to nine in our temple. Perhaps you know. You have been there yesterday? So we are holding classes there and discussing on this book, having kirtana, distributing prasadam. So it is very nice. There is no labor. Simply you come, you hear nice songs, you dance, you take nice food, you hear nice philosophy, and you think over, and you may go home.
We don’t ask anybody that “You press your nose like this, you make your head down like this, make exercise like this.” We don’t ask anybody. But people automatically like to dance with us. Although dance is labor, but they like it. So the next stage is to associate with us, to understand more and more. This is the second stage, to associate.
First stage, faith and respect, and second stage, association. The third stage, if by association one becomes serious, that “I shall become a regular student of Swamiji,” that is third stage. That is called initiation. Just like these boys. They are initiated. So in that stage they are guided by me. They follow strictly. For the initiated students we have got we have got four principles.
- We do now allow illicit sex life. No, we do not allow these boys or girls sex life without being married. This is one regulation.
- We don’t allow them to take anything which is not offered to the Deity. So we offer foodstuff to the Deity – grains, fruits, flowers, milk products – in that way; no meat, no egg, nothing of the sort. Simple food. They are nutritious. We don’t kill animals, we don’t kill birds. But we make very nice preparations. So this is one of the restriction – that you cannot take anything which is not offered to Krishna.
- And the third restriction is no intoxication—no smoking, no drinking, even no tea taking, no coffee taking, nothing: These American boys are accustomed to all these habits very naturally, but they have given up. They don’t take. In our temple there is no tea-taking, no coffee-taking, no cigarette smoking, nothing of the sort, you see. This is the third restriction.
- And the fourth restriction is that you cannot take part in gambling or some unnecessary sporting because you have to utilize your time. Your time is very short. If you miss this opportunity of human form of life… Because we do not know when death is coming. It is not that because I am old, I am nearing death, and you are young, you are not nearing death. Who knows that you may die before me? So there is no certainty. So the principle is that because this human form of life is so important to perfect oneself in Krishna consciousness, he should not waste even a minute. You see? So therefore we don’t allow unnecessary sporting. You see? This is simply waste of time.
So no illicit sex life, no meat-eating or animal food, no intoxication, no gambling. Every student has to follow these four principles. Otherwise I don’t initiate. I don’t take cheap students; that “You can do whatever you like, and you pay me some money. I give you some mantra, and you become God.” I don’t say like that. I don’t bluff like that. I have not come to earn money from your country, but I have come to your country to give you something sublime, not to take from you, not to exploit you, but to give you something sublime.
So that is the third stage, initiation. And then, if you are situated in the third stage nicely—that means if you follow the regulative principles under my direction—then the fourth stage automatically comes. After this third stage, the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, up to eighth, automatically comes. That is gradual development. So in the third stage, if you follow the regulative principle and chant with some prescribed number, numerical strength, then your all misgivings will be over automatically.
[An excerpt from an interview in San Francisco, March 9, 1968]