The following conversation between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place in September 1975 during an early-morning walk in Vrindavan, India.
Srila Prabhupada: Life can be easily maintained by agriculture and cow protection. But no, with great difficulty the leaders of the so-called modern civilization build big, big mills and factories to produce motor cars, skyscrapers, and so on. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna calls this ugra-karma, horrible activities. Unnecessarily creating problems, one after another.
For example, formerly paper was used only to print books of Vedic knowledge. Now paper is used for so many useless publications—volumes and volumes of newspapers, magazines, and sex books. Simply creating agitation of the mind. And if you explain these things, people will say, “These are all primitive ideas.” The modern idea is that one must work very hard day and night just to get a little piece of chapati.
Disciple: If a person doesn’t work hard day and night, they say, “You are just living off society.”
Srila Prabhupada: Pigs are also working day and night. Then what is the difference between the pig and me, if I am also working hard like the pig?
Disciple: There’s no difference.
Srila Prabhupada: Then why do you say that you have an advanced civilization? Kashtan kaman na arhate: the Srimad-Bhagavatam says it is not desirable; it is not good. You have been given a body different from that of the hogs so you can live peacefully and happily. Why should you accept kashtan kaman, so much hardship?
Actually, people do not want to work hard, Otherwise, why do the proprietors, the capitalists, leave the factory and go to a solitary place in the country whenever they can?
Disciple: They don’t find any happiness in the hard work.
Srila Prabhupada: Then the other workers think, “This rascal has engaged us in hard work, and he’s enjoying. Let us drive him out! Kill him!” This is communism. Everyone wants comfort and peaceful living. Therefore this civilization of hard work is condemned. If hard work is desirable, why are the capitalists avoiding it?
Disciple: They say they worked hard to get the comforts of life. Now they are relaxing.
Srila Prabhupada: I am also relaxing. Why are you inducing me to work hard? Chant Hare Krishna and take a little prasada. That’s all. Why are you inducing me?
Disciple: They say you have to earn your relaxation. You’re not entitled to it unless you work very hard.
Srila Prabhupada: But earn or not earn, I am enjoying relaxation. If I am already enjoying, why should I pay for it? I have already paid for it. By my karma in my previous life I have already paid for it.
Disciple: They don’t believe in the law of karma.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore they are rascals, and this is a rascal civilization. On one side they promote contraceptives, and on the other side they encourage women to marry three times a week. This is their civilization. If you want to stop increasing the population, why are you inducing people: “Indulge in sex”? Everything is contradictory. And it is all based on sense gratification.
Disciple: If a person is not satisfying his senses, they think he is crazy.
Srila Prabhupada: But who is actually satisfying his senses? You are crazy. In your attempt to satisfy your senses, you are repeatedly being kicked by nature, and your senses will never be satisfied. Still, you are trying for that. Even the eighty-year-old man is going to the nightclub. When will his senses be satisfied?
But if somebody is relaxing, calmly chanting Hare Krishna and avoiding sense gratification, they will condemn him; “Oh, you are escaping reality.”
Disciple: Misery loves company.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The world is working so hard, but where is the peace and happiness?
Disciple: It’s coming.
Srila Prabhupada: [Laughs.] When will it come? That is unknown.
Disciple: Maybe at the end of this century.
Srila Prabhupada: Or maybe at the end of your life. Just like an insurance policy. You work hard and go on paying the premium, thinking you’ll be happy after death. But if one is going to be a dog after death, how will he be happy?
Disciple: It is evident that the miseries of this age are becoming greater and greater.
Srila Prabhupada: That must be, because people are all under nature’s laws. How can they avoid the miseries? According to how they work in this life, they will get the result. Karmana daiva-netrena: There is a superior power to supervise how they are working. Everyone is bound up tightly by the reactions of his previous work (karma-bandhana).
But people do not know this. They have a poor fund of knowledge. So Krishna comes to inform these rascals:
“You are all the lowest of men—fools.” That is Krishna’s declaration. Therefore Krishna says, “Surrender unto Me.” This is the whole purpose of the Bhagavad-gita.
As Krishna sees, we see. This is Krishna consciousness. We are not perfect. But we are perfect so long as we follow Krishna. That’s all. Suppose that I am a blind man: I am not perfect. But if you have got eyes—if you take me, and I follow you—then I am perfect. Krishna assures, “Surrender to Me, and I will make you free from all dangers,” and we accept Krishna. Our method is very easy.