The Demoniac Mentality

This conversation between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place in New Vrindaban, West Virginia, on June 26, 1976.

Srila Prabhupada [to disciple]: Go on reading.

Disciple [reading Bhagavad-gita 16.10]: Kamam ashritya dushpuram dambha-mana-madanvitah/ mohad grihitvasad-grahan pravartante ’shuchi-vratah: “Taking shelter of insatiable lust and absorbed in the conceit of pride and false prestige, the demoniac, thus illusioned, are always sworn to unclean work, attracted by the impermanent.”

Purport, by Srila Prabhupada: “The demoniac mentality is described here. The demons have no satiation for their lust. They will go on increasing and increasing their insatiable desires for material enjoyment. Although they are always full of anxieties on account of accepting nonpermanent things, they still continue to engage in such activities out of illusion. They have no knowledge and cannot tell that they are heading the wrong way. Accepting nonpermanent things, such demoniac people create their own God, create their own hymns, and chant accordingly. The result is that they become more and more attracted to two things – sex enjoyment and accumulation of material wealth. The word ashuchi-vrtah, ‘unclean vows,’ is very significant in this connection. Such demoniac people are attracted only by wine, women, and meat-eating; those are their ashuchi, unclean habits. Induced by pride and false prestige, they create some principles of religion which are not approved by the Vedic injunctions. Although such demoniac people are most abominable in the world, by artificial means the world creates a false honor for them. Although they are gliding toward hell, they consider themselves very much advanced.”

Srila Prabhupada: There are so many religious systems – “Yes, you can do whatever you like; you can eat whatever you like” – and still it is considered religion. This is demoniac. This will be explained further. Pravrittim cha nivrittim cha jana na vidur asurah: “The demoniac do not know what to do and what not to do.” Why? Because they do not take any standard idea. They manufacture their own ideas.

Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, in the Catholic Church the early fathers upheld the principle of no flesh-eating. That’s part of the historical record. In time, though, the leaders became lax and changed the restriction to no flesh-eating on Fridays. Within our lifetime, they’ve changed their standard again.

Disciple 2: They’ve changed so many things. When I was a boy, no one would have dreamed of defending homosexuality or abortion. Such things were utterly condemned. Now even some priests and nuns are openly promoting these things. The Church has lost much of its austerity and spiritual strength.

Srila Prabhupada: That is why they are selling churches. So many people are losing interest. For example, in London there are so many churches closed for lack of interest.

Disciple: Reportedly, on account of the Pope’s taking such a firm stand against abortion and contraception, as many as one quarter of practicing Catholics may have reduced their practice – or may have left the Church entirely.

Srila Prabhupada: Where have they gone? [Laughter.]

Disciple: Well, they have given up going to church, at least.

Disciple 2: Their life has become hopeless.

Srila Prabhupada: No. Why do you say “hopeless”? There is certainly hope: there is Krishna consciousness.

Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, this verse really captures today’s situation. The ashuchi-vratah – those who have made an unclean, materialistic vow – receive much respect. And yet genuine devotees of the Lord receive little, if any.

Srila Prabhupada: It is very fortunate that the materialists are not crucifying devotees. Lack of respect is one thing. But they crucified Lord Jesus Christ – they were so respectful. Because he was preaching God consciousness, he was crucified. What was his fault? He was talking of God: therefore he was crucified, with government approval.

Srimad-Bhagavatam predicts, dasyu-dharmabhih: as this age progresses, the government itself will consist of rogues and thieves. And just as rogues and thieves take your property away by force, so the government will take your property away by excessive taxation. Already, so many innocent people are being harassed.

Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, if we all naturally desire to live, why do people perform so many horrible acts that will destroy both others and themselves?

Srila Prabhupada: They are thinking that they can go on existing by putting others out of existence. In this material world everyone has to struggle for existence. But they do not know how to exist. That is their foolishness. Everyone wants to go on existing, because actually he is eternal. He doesn’t want to be destroyed. That is his natural inclination. But he does not know how to go on existing eternally. So we are giving the formula: if you want to exist eternally, come to Krishna consciousness. We are giving the right information. But people want to go on existing in the wrong way. That is not possible.

Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, why does a demoniac person seem to want to exist by putting others out of existence?

Srila Prabhupada: That is simply the demoniac mentality. They are happy when others are unhappy. And when others are happy, they are unhappy.

But the devotee of the Lord is para-duhkha-duhkhi – he’s happy only in seeing the happiness of others, and unhappy only in seeing the unhappiness of others. That is Krishna consciousness. That is natural.