His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Founder and Acharya of the world-wide Hare Krishna Movement, Brahma Sampradaya Acharya
Srila Prabhupada spoke to Father Emmanuel (garlanded),
as Bhaja Hari and Harernamananda (on the monks right)
and Hansadutta, Prithu, Chakravarti, and other guest listened.
In 1974, near ISKCON's center in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany, Srila Prabhupada and several of his disciples took a morning walk with father Emmanuel Jungclaussen, a Benedictine monk from Niederalteich Monastery.
Noticing that Srila Prabhupada was carrying meditation beads similar to the rosary, Father Emmanuel explained that he also chanted a constant prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, be merciful unto us." The following conversation ensued.
Srila Prabhupada: What is the meaning of the word Christ?
Father Emmanuel: Christ comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning
"the anointed one."
Srila Prabhupada: Christos is the Greek version of the word Krsna.
Father Emmanuel: This is very interesting.
Srila Prabhupada: When an Indian person calls on Krsna, he often says,
"Krsta." Krsta is a Sanskrit word meaning "attraction." So
when we address God as "Christ," "Krsta," or "Krsna,"
we indicate the same all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead. When Jesus
said, "Our Father, who an in heaven, sanctified be Thy name," that name
of God was "Krsta" or "Krsna." Do you agree?
Father Emmanuel: I think Jesus, as the son of God, has revealed
to us the actual name of God: Christ. We can call God "Father," but
if we want to address Him by His actual name, we have to say "Christ."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. "Christ" is another way of saying Krsta,
and "Krsta" is another way of pronouncing Krsna, the name of God. Jesus
said that one should glorify the name of God, but yesterday I heard one theologian
say that God has no name-that we can call Him only "Father." A son may
call his father "Father," but the father also has a specific name. Similarly,
"God" is the general name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose
specific name is Krsna. Therefore whether you call God "Christ," "Krsta,"
or "Krsna," ultimately you are addressing the same Supreme Personality
Father Emmanuel: Yes, if we speak of God's actual name, then
we must say, "Christos." In our religion, we have the Trinity: the Father,
Son, and the Holy Spirit. We believe we can know the name of God only by revelation
from the Son of God. Jesus Christ revealed the name of the father, and therefore
we take the name Christ as the revealed name of God.
Srila Prabhupada: Actually, it doesn't matter-Krsna or Christ-the name
is the same. The main point is to follow the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures
that recommend chanting the name of God in this age. The easiest way is to chant
the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare
Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Rama and Krsna are names of God, and Hare is the energy
of God. So when we chant the maha-mantra, we address God together with His energy.
This energy is of two kinds, the spiritual and the material. At present we are
in the clutches of the material energy. Therefore we pray to Krsna that He may
kindly deliver us from the service of the material energy and accept us into the
service of the spiritual energy. That is our whole philosophy. Hare Krsna means,
"O energy of God, O God [Krsna], please engage me in Your service."
It is our nature to render service. Somehow or other we have come to the service
of material things, but when this service is transformed into the service of the
spiritual energy, then our life is perfect. To practice bhakti-yoga [loving service
to God] means to become free from designations like "Hindu," "Muslim,"
"Christian," this or that, and simply to serve God. We have created
Christian, Hindu, and Muhammadan religions, but when we come to a religion without
designations, in which we don't think we are Hindus or Christians or Muhammadans,
then we can speak of pure religion, or bhakti.
Father Emmanuel: Mukti?
Srila Prabhupada: No, bhakti. When we speak of bhakti, mukti [liberation from material miseries] is included. Without bhakti there is no mukti, but if we act on the platform of bhakti, then mukti is included. We learn this from the Bhagavad-gita (14.26):
mam ca yo 'vyabhicarena / bhakti-yogena sevate
sa gunan samatityaitan / brahma-bhuyaya kalpate
"One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down under
any circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes
to the level of Brahman."
Father Emmanuel: Is Brahman Krsna?
Srila Prabhupada: Krsna is Parabrahman. Brahman is realized in three aspects: as impersonal Brahman, as localized Paramatma, and as personal Brahman. Krsna is personal, and He is the Supreme Brahman, for God is ultimately a person. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.11), this is confirmed:
vadanti tat tattva-vidas / tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
brahmeti paramatmeti / bhagavan iti sabdyate
"Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual
substance Brahman, Paramatma, or Bhagavan." The feature of the Supreme Personality
is the ultimate realization of God. He has all six opulences in full: He is the
strongest, the richest, the most beautiful, the most famous, the wisest, and the
Father Emmanuel: Yes, I agree.
Srila Prabhupada: Because God is absolute, His name, His form, and His
qualities are also absolute, and they are nondifferent from Him. Therefore to
chant God's holy name means to associate directly with Him. When one associates
with God, one acquires godly qualities, and when one is completely purified, one
becomes an associate of the Supreme Lord.
Father Emmanuel: But our understanding of the name of God is
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, we are limited, but God is unlimited. And because
He is unlimited, or absolute, He has unlimited names, each of which is God. We
can understand His names as much as our spiritual understanding is developed.
Father Emmanuel: May I ask a question? We Christians also preach
love of God, and we try to realize love of God and render service to Him with
all our heart and all our soul. Now, what is the difference between your movement
and ours? Why do you send your disciples to the Western countries to preach love
of God when the gospel of Jesus Christ is propounding the same message?
Srila Prabhupada: The problem is that the Christians do not follow the
commandments of God. Do you agree?
Father Emmanuel: Yes, to a large extent you're right.
Srila Prabhupada: Then what is the meaning of the Christians' love for
God? If you do not follow the orders of God, then where is your love? Therefore
we have come to teach what it means to love God: if you love Him, you cannot be
disobedient to His orders. And if you're disobedient, your love is not true.
All over the world, people love not God but their dogs. The Krsna consciousness movement is therefore necessary to teach people how to revive their forgotten love for God. Not only the Christians, but also the Hindus, the Muhammadans, and all others are guilty. They have rubber-stamped themselves "Christian," "Hindu," or "Muhammadan," but they do not obey God. That is the problem.
Visitor: Can you say in what way the Christians are disobedient?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The first point is that they violate the commandment
"Thou shalt not kill" by maintaining slaughterhouses. Do you agree that
this commandment is being violated?
Father Emmanuel: Personally, I agree.
Srila Prabhupada: Good. So if the Christians want to love God, they
must stop killing animals.
Father Emmanuel: But isn't the most important point-
Srila Prabhupada: If you miss one point, there is a mistake in your
calculation. Regardless of what you add or subtract after that, the mistake is
already in the calculation, and everything that follows will also be faulty. We
cannot simply accept that part of the scripture we like, and reject what we don't
like, and still expect to get the result. For example, a hen lays eggs with its
back part and eats with its beak. A farmer may consider, "The front part
of the hen is very expensive because I have to feed it. Better to cut it off."
But if the head is missing there will be no eggs anymore, because the body is
dead. Similarly, if we reject the difficult part of the scriptures and obey the
part we like, such an interpretation will not help us. We have to accept all the
injunctions of the scripture as they are given, not only those that suit us. If
you do not follow the first order, "Thou shalt not kill," then where
is the question of love of God?
Visitor: Christians take this commandment to be applicable to human
beings, not to animals.
Srila Prabhupada: That would mean that Christ was not intelligent enough
to use the right word: murder. There is killing, and there is murder. Murder refers
to human beings. Do you think Jesus was not intelligent enough to use the right
word-murder-instead of the word killing? Killing means any kind of killing, and
especially animal killing. If Jesus had meant simply the killing of humans, he
would have used the word murder.
Father Emmanuel: But in the Old Testament the commandment "Thou
shalt not kill" does refer to murder. And when Jesus said, "Thou shalt
not kill," he extended this commandment to mean that a human being should
not only refrain from killing another human being, but should also treat him with
love. He never spoke about man's relationship with other living entities, but
only about his relationship with other human beings. When he said, "Thou
shalt not kill," he also meant in the mental and emotional sense-that you
should not insult anyone or hurt him, treat him badly, and so on.
Srila Prabhupada: We are not concerned with this or that testament but
only with the words used in the commandments. If you want to interpret these words,
that is something else. We understand the direct meaning. "Thou shalt not
kill" means, "The Christians should not kill." You may put forth
interpretations in order to continue the present way of action, but we understand
very clearly that there is no need for interpretation. Interpretation is necessary
if things are not clear. But here the meaning is clear. "Thou shalt not kill"
is a clear instruction. Why should we interpret it?
Father Emmanuel: Isn't the eating of plants also killing?
Srila Prabhupada: The Vaisnava philosophy teaches that we should not even kill plants unnecessarily. In the Bhagavad-gita (9.26) Krsna says:
patram puspam phalam toyam / yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam / asnami prayatatmanah
"If someone offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or a little water, I will accept it." We offer Krsna only the kind of food He demands, and then we eat the remnants. If offering vegetarian food to Krsna were sinful, then it would be Krsna's sin, not ours. But God is apapa-viddha-sinful reactions are not applicable to Him. He is like the sun, which is so powerful that it can purify even urine-something impossible for us to do. Krsna is also like a king, who may order a murderer to be hanged but who himself is beyond punishment because he is very powerful. Eating food first offered to the Lord is also something like a soldier's killing during wartime. In a war, when the commander orders a man to attack, the obedient soldier who kills the enemy will get a medal. But if the same soldier kills someone on his own, he will be punished. Similarly, when we eat only prasada [the remnants of food offered to Krsna], we do not commit any sin. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (3.13):
yajna-sistasinah santo / mucyante sarva-kilbisaih
bhunjate te tv agham papa / ye pacanty atma-karanat
"The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because
they eat food that is first offered for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for
personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin."
Father Emmanuel: Krsna cannot give permission to eat animals?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes-in the animal kingdom. But the civilized human
being, the religious human being, is not meant to kill and eat animals. If you
stop killing animals and chant the holy name Christ, everything will be perfect.
I have not come to teach you, but only to request you to please chant the name
of God. The Bible also demands this of you. So let's kindly cooperate and chant,
and if you have a prejudice against chanting the name Krsna, then chant "Christos"
or "Krsta"-there is no difference. Sri Caitanya said: namnam akari bahudha
nija-sarva-saktih. "God has millions and millions of names, and because there
is no difference between God's name and Himself, each one of these names has the
same potency as God." Therefore, even if you accept designations like "Hindu,"
"Christian," or "Muhammadan," if you simply chant the name
of God found in your own scriptures, you will attain the spiritual platform. Human
life is meant for self-realization-to learn how to love God. That is the actual
beauty of man. Whether you discharge this duty as a Hindu, a Christian, or a Muhammadan,
it doesn't matter-but discharge it!
Father Emmanuel: I agree.
Srila Prabhupada [pointing to a string of 108 meditation beads]:
We always have these beads, just as you have your rosary. You are chanting,
but why don't the other Christians also chant? Why should they miss this opportunity
as human beings? Cats and dogs cannot chant, but we can, because we have a human
tongue. If we chant the holy names of God, we cannot lose anything; on the contrary,
we gain greatly. My disciples practice chanting Hare Krsna constantly. They could
also go to the cinema or do so many other things, but they have given everything
up. They eat neither fish nor meat nor eggs, they don't take intoxicants, they
don't drink, they don't smoke, they don't partake in gambling, they don't speculate,
and they don't maintain illicit sexual connections. But they do chant the holy
name of God. If you would like to cooperate with us, then go to the churches and
chant, "Christ," "Krsta," or "Krsna." What could
be the objection?
Father Emmanuel: There is none. For my part, I would be glad
to join you.
Srila Prabhupada: No, we are speaking with you as a representative of
the Christian church. Instead of keeping the churches closed, why not give them
to us? We would chant the holy name of God there twenty-four hours a day. In many
places we have bought churches that were practically closed because no one was
going there. In London I saw hundreds of churches that were closed or used for
mundane purposes. We bought one such church in Los Angeles. It was sold because
no one came there, but if you visit this same church today, you will see thousands
of people. Any intelligent person can understand what God is in five minutes;
it doesn't require five hours.
Father Emmanuel: I understand.
Srila Prabhupada: But the people do not. Their disease is that they
don't want to understand.
Visitor: I think understanding God is not a question of intelligence, but a question of humility.
Srila Prabhupada: Humility means intelligence. The humble and meek own
the kingdom of God. This is stated in the Bible, is it not? But the philosophy
of the rascals is that everyone is God, and today this idea has become popular.
Therefore no one is humble and meek. If everyone thinks that he is God, why should
he be humble and meek? Therefore I teach my disciples how to become humble and
meek. They always offer their respectful obeisances in the temple and to the spiritual
master, and in this way they make advancement. The qualities of humbleness and
meekness lead very quickly to spiritual realization. In the Vedic scriptures it
is said, "To those who have firm faith in God and the spiritual master, who
is His representative, the meaning of the Vedic scriptures is revealed."
Father Emmanuel: But shouldn't this humility be offered to everyone
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but there are two kinds of respect: special and
ordinary. Sri Krsna Caitanya taught that we shouldn't expect honor for ourselves,
but should always respect everyone else, even if he is disrespectful to us. But
special respect should be given to God and His pure devotee.
Father Emmanuel: Yes, I agree.
Srila Prabhupada: I think the Christian priests should cooperate with
the Krsna consciousness movement. They should chant the name Christ or Christos
and should stop condoning the slaughter of animals. This program follows the teachings
of the Bible; it is not my philosophy. Please act accordingly and you will see
how the world situation will change.
Father Emmanuel: I thank you very much.
Srila Prabhupada: Hare Krsna.
"Thou Shalt Not Kill" or "Thou Shalt Not Murder"?
Cardinal Jean Danielou 1905-1974
At a monastic retreat near Paris, in July of 1973, Srila Prabhupada talked with Cardinal Jean Danielou: "... the Bible does not simply say, `Do not kill the human being.' It says broadly, `Thou shalt not kill.'... why do you interpret this to suit your own convenience?"
Srila Prabhupada: Jesus Christ said, "Thou shalt not kill." So why is it that the Christian people are engaged in animal killing?
Cardinal Danielou: Certainly in Christianity it is forbidden
to kill, but we believe that there is a difference between the life of a human
being and the life of the beasts. The life of a human being is sacred because
man is made in the image of God; therefore, to kill a human being is forbidden.
Srila Prabhupada: But the Bible does not simply say, "Do not kill
the human being." It says broadly, "Thou shalt not kill."
Cardinal Danielou: We believe that only human life is sacred.
Srila Prabhupada: That is your interpretation. The commandment is "Thou
shalt not kill."
Cardinal Danielou: It is necessary for man to kill animals in
order to have food to eat.
Srila Prabhupada: No. Man can eat grains, vegetables, fruits, and milk.
Cardinal Danielou: No flesh?
Srila Prabhupada: No. Human beings are meant to eat vegetarian food.
The tiger does not come to eat your fruits. His prescribed food is animal flesh.
But man's food is vegetables, fruits, grains, and milk products. So how can you
say that animal killing is not a sin?
Cardinal Danielou: We believe it is a question of motivation.
If the killing of an animal is for giving food to the hungry, then it is justified.
Srila Prabhupada: But consider the cow: we drink her milk; therefore,
she is our mother. Do you agree?
Cardinal Danielou: Yes, surely.
Srila Prabhupada: So if the cow is your mother, how can you support
killing her? You take the milk from her, and when she's old and cannot give you
milk, you cut her throat. Is that a very humane proposal? In India those who are
meat-eaters are advised to kill some lower animals like goats, pigs, or even buffalo.
But cow killing is the greatest sin. In preaching Krsna consciousness we ask people
not to eat any kind of meat, and my disciples strictly follow this principle.
But if, under certain circumstances, others are obliged to eat meat, then they
should eat the flesh of some lower animal. Don't kill cows. It is the greatest
sin. And as long as a man is sinful, he cannot understand God. The human being's
main business is to understand God and to love Him. But if you remain sinful,
you will never be able to understand God-what to speak of loving Him.
Cardinal Danielou: I think that perhaps this is not an essential
point. The important thing is to love God. The practical commandments can vary
from one religion to the next.
Srila Prabhupada: So, in the Bible God's practical commandment is that
you cannot kill; therefore killing cows is a sin for you.
Cardinal Danielou: God says to the Indians that killing is not
good, and he says to the Jews that...
Srila Prabhupada: No, no. Jesus Christ taught, "Thou shalt not
kill." Why do you interpret this to suit your own convenience?
Cardinal Danielou: But Jesus allowed the sacrifice of the Paschal
Srila Prabhupada: But he never maintained a slaughterhouse.
Cardinal Danielou: [Laughs.] No, but he did eat meat.
Srila Prabhupada: When there is no other food, someone may eat meat
in order to keep from starving. That is another thing. But it is most sinful to
regularly maintain slaughterhouses just to satisfy your tongue. Actually, you
will not even have a human society until this cruel practice of maintaining slaughterhouses
is stopped. And although animal killing may sometimes be necessary for survival,
at least the mother animal, the cow, should not be killed. That is simply human
decency. In the Krsna consciousness movement our practice is that we don't allow
the killing of any animals. Krsna says, patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya
prayacchati: "Vegetables, fruits, milk, and grains should be offered to Me
in devotion." (Bhagavad-gita 9.26) We take only the remnants of Krsna's food
(prasadam). The trees offer us many varieties of fruits, but the trees are not
killed. Of course, one living entity is food for another living entity, but that
does not mean you can kill your mother for food. Cows are innocent; they give
us milk. You take their milk-and then kill them in the slaughterhouse. This is
Student: Srila Prabhupada, Christianity's sanction of meat-eating
is based on the view that lower species of life do not have a soul like the human
Srila Prabhupada: That is foolishness. First of all, we have to understand
the evidence of the soul's presence within the body. Then we can see whether the
human being has a soul and the cow does not. What are the different characteristics
of the cow and the man? If we find a difference in characteristics, then we can
say that in the animal there is no soul. But if we see that the animal and the
human being have the same characteristics, then how can you say that the animal
has no soul? The general symptoms are that the animal eats, you eat; the animal
sleeps, you sleep; the animal mates, you mate; the animal defends, and you defend.
Where is the difference?
Cardinal Danielou: We admit that in the animal there may be the
same type of biological existence as in men, but there is no soul. We believe
that the soul is a human soul.
Srila Prabhupada: Our Bhagavad-gita says sarva-yonisu, "In all
species of life the soul exists." The body is like a suit of clothes. You
have black clothes; I am dressed in saffron clothes. But within the dress you
are a human being, and I am also a human being. Similarly, the bodies of the different
species are just like different types of dress. There are soul, a part and parcel
of God. Suppose a man has two sons, not equally meritorious. One may be a Supreme
Court judge and the other may be a common laborer, but the father claims both
as his sons. He does not make the distinction that the son who is a judge is very
important and the worker-son is not important. And if the judge-son says, "My
dear father, your other son is useless; let me cut him up and eat him," will
the father allow this?
Cardinal Danielou: Certainly not, but the idea that all life
is part of the life of God is difficult for us to admit. There is a great difference
between human life and animal life.
Srila Prabhupada: That difference is due to the development of consciousness.
In the human body there is developed consciousness. Even a tree has a soul, but
a tree's consciousness is not very developed. If you cut a tree it does not resist.
Actually, it does resist, but only to a very small degree. There is a scientist
named Jagadish Chandra Bose who has made a machine which shows that trees and
plants are able to feel pain when they are cut. And we can see directly that when
someone comes to kill an animal, it resists, it cries, it makes a horrible sound.
So it is a matter of the development of consciousness. But the soul is there within
all living beings.
Cardinal Danielou: But metaphysically, the life of man is sacred.
Human beings think on a higher platform than the animals do.
Srila Prabhupada: What is that higher platform? The animal eats to maintain
his body, and you also eat in order to maintain your body. The cow eats grass
in the field, and the human being eats meat from a huge slaughterhouse full of
modern machines. But just because you have big machines and a ghastly scene, while
the animal simply eats grass, this does not mean that you are so advanced that
only within your body is there a soul and that there is not a soul within the
body of the animal. That is illogical. We can see that the basic characteristics
are the same in the animal and the human being.
Cardinal Danielou: But only in human beings do we find a metaphysical
search for the meaning of life.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. So metaphysically search out why you believe
that there is no soul within the animal-that is metaphysics. If you are thinking
metaphysically, that's all right. But if you are thinking like an animal, then
what is the use of your metaphysical study? Metaphysical means "above the
physical" or, in other words, "spiritual." In the Bhagavad-gita
Krsna says, sarva-yonisu kaunteya: "In every living being there is a spirit
soul." That is metaphysical understanding. Now either you accept Krsna's
teachings as metaphysical, or you'll have to take a third-class fool's opinion
as metaphysical. Which do you accept?
Cardinal Danielou: But why does God create some animals who eat
other animals? There is a fault in the creation, it seems.
Srila Prabhupada: It is not a fault. God is very kind. If you want to eat animals, then He'll give you full facility. God will give you the body of a tiger in your next life so that you can eat flesh very freely. "Why are you maintaining slaughterhouses? I'll give you fangs and claws. Now eat." So the meat-eaters are awaiting such punishment. The animal-eaters become tigers, wolves, cats, and dogs in their next life-to get more facility.
Conversation with Professor Karlfried Graf Dürckheim