This conversation between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and reporters took place in Melbourne, Australia, on June 29, 1974.
Srila Prabhupada: Religion means to abide by the laws of God. That’s all. It cannot be “Hindu,” “Muslim,” “Christian.” Take the state law: in the state there are many persons, many citizens of the state – but the law does not stipulate that “This is for the Christians,” “This is for the Jews,” “This is for the black men,” “This is for the white men.” The law is not like that.
The law is the same for everyone. You cannot say, “This is the black law,” “This is the white law.” No. That is not very scientific. The scientific understanding is that God is there and we are all under His law. God is great, we are His subordinates, and we have to obey His orders. That is the genuine spiritual platform. That is genuine religion. Am I right or wrong?
Reporter: You’re right.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore you cannot say “Christian religion,” “Hindu religion,” “Muslim religion.” Religion is religion. God is neither Christian nor Hindu nor Muslim. God is God. God is one.
God is one. But we understand Him from different angles of vision. And those different angles of vision may be called “the Christian angle of vision” or “the Hindu angle of vision” or “the Jewish angle of vision” or “the Muslim angle of vision.” But that is simply an angle of vision.
Now, let us take the example of the sun. Here in Australia, June is a cooler month, and we may see the sun as not so warm. But you ask some African friend whether the sun is warm. “Oh, it is very warm.”
So his appreciation of the sun from his angle of vision is different from your appreciation here.
But factually, the sun is one and the same. There is no such thing as the “Australian sun” or the “African sun.” So factually, there is no such thing as “Hindu religion,” “Muslim religion,” “Christian religion.” You see? These conceptions are all due to our sophisticated mind.
Just as God is one, religion is one: you must know what God is, and you must know what His order is – and you must abide by it. Then you are religious. That’s all. We are preaching like that.
Reporter: So it seems you are saying, then, that by holding to their conception of a “Muslim” or “Jewish” or “Hindu” or “Christian” God, people are not actually realizing God. And yet one of the most important purposes of human life is to realize God, correct?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That is the only purpose. Except for fulfilling that purpose, anything we are doing is animalism. We are simply jumping about, just as the dog is jumping about, that’s all.
If we do not realize God, what is the difference between our life and a dog’s? A dog is thinking, “I am a very stout bulldog.” And a man is thinking, “I am a very well-to-do Dutchman.” So what is the difference between the dog and the man?
Their mentality is the same. The dog is thinking, “I am this body,” and the man is equally thinking, “I am this body.” But when one understands, “I am not this body – I am a spirit, and I emanate from the supreme spirit,” that is humanity.
Reporter: So, Your Divine Grace, have you realized God?
Srila Prabhupada: What do you think? What is your opinion?
Reporter: I can’t say.
Srila Prabhupada: Then if I say “Yes,” what will you understand? If you are not yourself expert, then even if I say “Yes; I am God realized,” how will you take it as truth? If you do not know what God realization is, then how can you ask this question, and how will you be satisfied with the answer?
Reporter: Well, what is God realization?
Srila Prabhupada: First make sure you understand this idea.
Now, for instance, if one medical man asks another man, “Are you a medical man?” and the other man says “Yes,” then the first man will understand by their exchange of technical terms whether the second man is truly a medical man. But unless one is himself a medical man, what is the use of asking another man, “Are you really a medical man?”
So for you it is useless to ask about my having realized God, unless you are prepared to accept my answer. Are you?
Srila Prabhupada: Then it is all right. I am God realized. I am seeing God at every moment.
Reporter: Your Divine Grace, do you see meditation as a means to God realization?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, meditation is also a means, but you cannot meditate now, because you do not know what God is. Meditation means meditation upon something or someone. But if you do not know what God is, upon what or whom will you meditate?
First of all, you must know about God. For instance, we know about God, Krishna, and in the Bhagavad-gita Krishna says, man-mana bhava mad-bhaktah: “Always think of Me.” So we meditate upon Krishna. This is perfect meditation – because meditation means to think of God. But if you do not know what God is, how will you think of Him?
Reporter: Your Divine Grace, it is written in many scriptures that God is light.
Srila Prabhupada: God is everything. God is darkness, also. Therefore the Srimad-Bhagavatam clearly defines God as “that being from whom emanates everything that exists.” Light exists, yet darkness also exists. So just as light emanates from God, darkness also emanates from God.
Reporter: Is meditation a way to see God inside yourself?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That is the proper definition of meditation. Dhyanavasthita-tad-gatena manasa pashyanti yam yoginah: by concentrating their mind upon God, the yogis try to see Him within their heart.
But to concentrate your mind on God and ultimately see Him, you must first know what God is. In our institution, for instance, our students first learn what God is – God’s attributes. In that way they can think of God. But if you have no idea of God, how will you think of Him?