This conversation between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place at ISKCON’s farming village in New Vrindaban, West Virginia, on June 24, 1976.
Srila Prabhupada: Thanks to modern so-called education, people have become asses – no sense of the distinction between the body and the soul.
Are our children here getting enough milk?
Disciple: Yes, as much as they want.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Children must get at least two cups of milk a day. If they drink plenty of milk, their body becomes stout and strong, and they develop a keen brain for understanding the distinction between their body and their soul.
Do people see how our simple, natural way of life benefits society? Do they see we are not killing our children through abortion, but rather maintaining them with buckets and buckets of milk? Is this not a better civilization?
Just consider. Due to selfishness, or fear of “overpopulation,” people are killing children – mothers are killing their own children. Is that civilization?
Disciple: In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna says that those in the mode of ignorance take irreligion to be religion, and religion to be irreligion.
Srila Prabhupada: Religion? For these modern rascals, there is no religion. And there is no morality. For instance, here we have so many children, but never do we say, “We cannot maintain these children – kill them.” We never say that.
So many children? Never mind. Let them all be trained as Krishna conscious, God conscious citizens. Let them live comfortably and drink their milk.
So, which is the better civilization? Running around in motorcars – put-put-put-put-put – and killing your own child. Is that civilization?
Disciple: In a sense, many of the children here are not even our own. When, say, a mother with no husband comes here to live with us, naturally we also welcome her children.
Srila Prabhupada: That is compassion. We welcome children – and the modern rascals kill children. So why do people not see the distinction between our traditional civilization and their so-called modern civilization?
Disciple: They don’t have any good argument against our civilization and our compassion, except that they want to be free to do as they like. No hindrances. Complete freedom.
Srila Prabhupada: But they’re not free. Rather, they’re fools. They’re not free. Who can be free of nature’s law? But still they’re thinking, “We’re free.” This is simply foolishness.
If you were actually free, that would be another thing. But by nature’s law you are not free. You are responsible for even your tiniest act. Commit even the tiniest misdeed, and you are responsible.
So where is your freedom? Ahankara-vimudhatma kartaham iti manyate: “Identifying falsely with his material body, the bewildered soul thinks himself freely doing activities that the body and nature’s modes carry out by themselves.” [Gita 3.27] Of course, because the soul wants to think himself the independent doer, because he wants to take credit and be “responsible,” he becomes responsible. Because he chooses to act not on God’s account but on his own account, he becomes accountable.
Again, where is your freedom? The Lord’s material energy – this energy we call “nature” – goes on working, with or without your approval. If you are free, then why is your body growing old and preparing to die? If you are free, then do not die.
No one wants to die – unless he’s a madman. So how can these modern rascals think they’re free when they have to die? What is the answer?
Disciple: They will spout some nonsense. “I accept death as part of life.”
Srila Prabhupada: Death is “part of life”?
Disciple: Yes. “It’s natural.”
Srila Prabhupada: Well then, rascal, when there is some danger of death, why do you go away? Sit down and die. [Laughter.]
In truth you don’t accept death. You’re simply bluffing, talking foolishly. You don’t want to die. That is a fact. You’re talking foolishly – “I accept death” – but you don’t accept it. No, not at all. But because you have no choice, then you say, “I accept death.” The real fact is this: You do not wish to die. Unfortunately, you find you have no alternative. “Oh, then I accept. All right.” [Laughter.]
So you can talk like that – foolishly. [Laughing.] But an intelligent man does not want to die. He wants to become spiritually realized and then return to the spiritual world and live with God. He wants to find the way to avoid death forever.
Disciple: One time a college student bragged to me, “Death? I’m not afraid of death.” But when I made as if to strike him, naturally he cringed in fear. “See?” I told him. “You are afraid.”
Srila Prabhupada: Even a dog is afraid of death. What to speak of a man. When animals are taken to be slaughtered, they wail with fear. Even animals are afraid of death. So of course man is afraid of death. Everyone is afraid of death.
Disciple: Sometimes people say, “We’re enjoying life. Why are you always bothering us about death?”
Srila Prabhupada: Why? Because I love you. And I am intelligent enough to understand that when you die, when you leave your body, you may get a degraded body and spend your next life as a dog. I have concern for you: “Please, friend, don’t become a dog.”
Let’s say a child is flying a kite from the roof of some building, and a gentleman sees him – running carelessly this way and that, coming closer and closer to falling over the edge. Naturally the gentleman will say, “Hey! You’re going to fall!” That is his duty.
Now, the child may scream, “Leave me alone! Why are you bothering me? [Laughter.] Why are you bothering me?”
“Because I am a human being,” the man will say, “and you are a foolish child. Therefore, I am bothering you.”