In a meeting with Franciscan monks Srila Prabhupada
speaks on the common platform of religion.
The Great Transcendental Adventure
Srila Prabhupada was scheduled to speak at St. Paschal’s Franciscan Seminary. St. Paschal’s Franciscan Seminary was a college for training Friars for the Franciscan Order in the Roman Catholic Church. The Yarra Theological Union (YTU), a separate entity from the Franciscan Order, was one of the accredited faculties of theology which conducted courses and granted degrees in Christian Theology in Victoria.
A large group of black-robed Franciscans, both young and old, trainee priests and YTU private students, stood alongside the chanting devotees to greet His Divine Grace. Father Green, the host, formally greeted Srila Prabhupada. Father Green had hinted on the common platform of religion in his speech, and Prabhupada took his lead from there.
“Common platform is not very difficult to understand because religion means to know God and abide by the orders of God. That is religion. You take any type of religion these three things are there, that we must try to know God, to know His desires and to fulfill them. It doesn’t matter whether it is in India or America or Australia. Any human being, if he tries to satisfy God and read the scriptures whether the Bible, Bhagavad-gita or Bhagavata then he will understand God.”
Prabhupada explained the benefits of understanding God. “Yenatma suprasidati then you will be fully satisfied and pleased. If you are engaged in the service of the Lord without any motive and without being impeded spontaneously loving then you will feel complete satisfaction.” Prabhupada gave the example of the famous Dhruva Maharaja who, as a five-year-old, had gone to the forest to find God in order to receive a boon. After meditating in the forest for six months, Dhruva Maharaja did see God. But on seeing God, his mind had changed. He said: “My Lord, I am now fully satisfied. I don’t want any benediction from you. Svamin krtartho ‘smi varam na yace. That is the real realization of God. God realization means there is no more want. All demands, all wants, are finished. Therefore it is said, yenatma suprasidati. Because we want something, there is demand. So long as there is demand, we will never be satisfied. When there is no demand, when on is fully satisfied, that is God realisation. So the common platform is there. At the present moment people are suffering. Not just at the present moment, always. Anyone who is in this material world is full of anxieties, because material wants cannot be satisfied at any time. They simply increase. So unless one comes to God conscious, there is no possibility of satisfaction. Yenatma suprasidati. Prasidati means fully satisfied, no more want.”
After speaking for some time, Srila Prabhupada brought the talk back to its original theme: the common platform of religion. Prabhupada suggested to his attentive audience that submitting to the spiritual energy of God would enable them to reach the spiritual platform. Such submission would entail getting free from false designations.
“What are those designations? ‘I am Hindu,’ ‘I am Muslim,’ ‘I am Christian,’ ‘I am American,’ ‘I am Indian,’ ‘I am this,’ ‘I am that’ these are designations. And to become free from designation means: ‘I do not belong to any of these categories. I am eternal servant of God.’ If you come to that position, then that is the common platform. Let everyone perceive that he is the eternal servant of God. Then all the problems will be solved.
“So in this Krsna consciousness movement, we are chanting the holy name of God, and we are recommending others to also chant the holy name of God. God must have some name. In the Bible also it is said: ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.’ So there is name; God’s name is there. God’s name is Christ or Kristo or Krsna. So we can chant together. Where is the difficulty? So those who are professing Christianity, never mind. You have got the name of God. Otherwise why Jesus recommended, ‘You glorify the name of God’? That is chanting. So let us together glorify the name of God. That is common platform. Thank you very much.”
The priests and seminarians present expressed their appreciation by applauding Srila Prabhupada for some time.
SON OF GOD
One priest asked a question: “How would His Grace see Jesus Christ?”
Prabhupada’s obvious veneration for Lord Jesus moved the audience. “Jesus Christ, Lord Jesus Christ he is son of God, the best son of God. So we have all respect for him. Yes. Anyone who is teaching people about God consciousness, he is respectable to us. It does not matter in which country, in which atmosphere, he was preaching. It does not matter.”
Another priest asked: “St. Francis, the founder of this particular order, expounded upon the teachings of Christ and seeing God everywhere. He even spoke of ‘Brother Dog’ and ‘Sister Cat,’ ‘Sister Water’ and ‘Father Wind.’ How would Your Grace respond to this?” The room was tense and quiet.
Srila Prabhupada opened his eyes very wide and nodded. “This is real God consciousness. Not that ‘I am God conscious, and I kill the animal.’ That is not God consciousness. To accept the trees, plants, lower animals, even the insignificant ants as brothers is real God consciousness. This is explained in Bhagavad-gita (18.54), samah sarvesu bhutesu. Samah means equal to all living entities. One must see the spirit soul. Anyone, whether he’s a cat, dog, tree, ant, insect, or a big man, is part and parcel of God. Each is simply dressed differently. One has the dress of a tree, one has the dress of a king and one has the dress of an insect. It is also explained in Bhagavad-gita, panditah sama darsinah. ‘One who is a pandit, learned, sees with equal vision.’ So if St Francis was thinking like that, he had a higher standard of spiritual understanding.”
It appeared that Prabhupada was giving an insight into St. Francis that perhaps many had never understood before. It became clear to those present, Christian and devotee alike, that Prabhupada had as much, or even more, appreciation for St. Francis than the Franciscans had themselves.
After a short kirtana, Srila Prabhupada rose to leave, and the successful program was completed.