Here we continue an exchange that took place in Paris, on June 15, 1974, between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, two priests, and two Christian scholars.
Srila Prabhupada: So all you nice gentlemen and ladies should accept what the Vedas say, because the Vedas emanate from God. In the words of Vedanta-sutra, janmady asya yatah: "Everything is an emanation from God." Whatever exists has emanated from God. In the Bible, also, there is the statement, "Everything that has been made comes from God." So whatever exists emanates from God.
Another Vedic injunction says it even more forcefully. Sarvam khalv idam brahma: "Ultimately, everything is the Supreme Brahman." Everything is the Supreme Lord, in His impersonal feature. So the impersonal feature we are seeing all around us is an expanded energy of God, just as the sunshine is an expansion the bodily rays of the sun-god.
Therefore, the Bhagavad-gita says, brahmano hi pratisthaham: "The foundation or source of the impersonal energy is God, Krsna." [To his Sanskrit editor:] Find this verse, brahmano hi pratisthaham.
Sanskrit editor: Yes, Srila Prabhupada. From the fourteenth chapter of Bhagavad-gita:
brahmano hi pratisthaham
sasvatasya ca dharmasya
And the translation of Lord Krsna's words: "I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is the constitutional position of ultimate happiness, and which is immortal, imperishable, and eternal."
Father Fransad: Your Divine Grace, will you tell us how old are the oldest of the Vedic scriptures? How long have the Vedas existed?
Srila Prabhupada: They have existed from before the creation tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye. [To his Sanskrit editor:] Find this verse: janmady asya yato 'nvayad itaratas carthesu abhijnah svarat tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye muhyanti yat surayah.
Sanskrit editor: Srila Prabhupada, that will be in the first chapter of Srimad-Bhagavatam, echoing Vedanta-sutra:
janmady asya yato 'nvayad itaratas carthesu abhijnah svarat
tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye muhyanti yat surayah
tejo-vari-mrdam yatha vinimayo yatra tri-sargo 'mrsa
dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi
And here is the translation: "I offer my obeisances unto Lord Sri Krsna, the son of Vasudeva, who is the supreme, all-pervading Personality of Godhead. I meditate upon Him, the transcendent reality, who is the primeval cause of all causes, from whom all manifested universes arise, in whom they dwell, and by whom they are destroyed. I meditate upon that eternally effulgent Lord, who is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations and yet is beyond them. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge into the heart of Brahma, the first created living being."
Srila Prabhupada: So this is Vedic knowledge. [Again to his Sanskrit editor:] Now read another verse, aham adir hi devanam.
Sanskrit editor: In the tenth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna says, aham adir hi devanam maharsinam ca sarvasah: "Neither the hosts of demigods nor the sages know My origin, for in every respect I am the source of the demigods and the sages."
Srila Prabhupada: Aham adir hi devanam maharsinam ca "I am the source of the demigods and sages," says the Supreme Lord. Similarly, in the Bible it is said, "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God." That is Vedic knowledge. That word that divine sound is the Vedas. So before the creation the Vedas were there. You cannot find the beginning of the Vedas. If you could find out when the creation began, then before that the Vedas were already there.
Father Fransad: According to our understanding, God revealed Himself little by little, and then at a certain moment He revealed Himself in His totality. But in the Vedic literature it is said that the whole knowledge was given at the beginning everything together.
I very deeply respect your vast learning, and yet I'm asking that we should not say that the contents of these two bodies of literature the Bible and the Vedas are the same. The Bible and the Vedas are two different things.
For another example, the verse you referred to "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God" that is similar to what is taught in the Vedas, but if we take that verse and the rest of that chapter from the Bible and look at them closely, we find discrepancies, differences.
Srila Prabhupada: What discrepancies do you find?
Father Fransad: For example, in that same verse and chapter the Bible also says that the word of God became flesh and this flesh was the son of God, Lord Jesus Christ.
Srila Prabhupada: That simply means that although Jesus Christ appeared in the material world, he is transcendental, not of the material world.
Father Fransad: But we think that Lord Jesus was a human being. He was spiritual, but he was also part of the material world.
Srila Prabhupada: No. If anything, the material world is part of Jesus Christ, but Jesus Christ is not part of the material world.
Father Fransad: We beg to disagree. We feel that Jesus had a human body, a material body.
Srila Prabhupada: That body appears human, but Jesus did not have material flesh and blood. If Jesus had had a material body, then how could he have manifested his resurrection?
Father Fransad: Well, we would say that God could create a glorious resurrection of someone's material body by His inconceivable power.
Srila Prabhupada: That is beside the point. These rascals who wanted Jesus Christ dead why did they think they could actually accomplish this? Because they themselves also thought, "Jesus has a material body." So Jesus bewildered them more, so that they would remain rascals. They would go on thinking that Jesus had succumbed to death at their hands and that he had a material body.
Madame Siaude: Jesus bewildered them?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, he bewildered them more, by saying, "All right, go on thinking like that." That is their punishment. They remain always in darkness, thinking, "Jesus had a material body."
Father Fransad: Again, we respect your explanation, but we have another explanation.
Srila Prabhupada: But to give an explanation, we must rely on reason and evidence. You cannot explain all this whimsically. If Jesus Christ is the son of God, that means he has a spiritual body.
Madame Siaude: Yes, we accept that Jesus Christ has a spiritual body, but we say that he also assumes a material body.
Srila Prabhupada: No. And another thing. You accept Jesus Christ as God's only son. Do you not? And yet when you pray in the church you address God as "Our Father." Then why do you say Jesus Christ is God's only son, when you say in your prayer that everyone is God's son? If you want me to address God as my Father, then I am also God's son. So why do you say that Jesus Christ is God's only son?
Madame Siaude: Yes, we say that we are "adopted sons." All of us are also God's sons, but by adoption.
Srila Prabhupada: So therefore these adopted sons' bodies and Jesus' body cannot be equal. The adopted son not the real son has a material body.