The following conversation between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and members of the United Nations World Health Organization took place in Geneva on June 6, 1974.
Srila Prabhupada: All over the world, or anywhere in the world, you can make this experiment, just as we are doing. Live very simply. Be self-sufficient; get your necessities not from factories but from the farmland. And glorify God’s holy names.
In this industrial set-up, capitalist or communist, only a few big men can be happy – so-called happy – at the expense of the other people. And because the others are being exploited or simply left unemployed by this corrupt few, the others also become corrupt. They try to avoid all work and sit idly. Or else they do not work honestly. And so many other things.
So the only remedy is that everyone should live naturally and chant God’s holy names. Become God conscious. This remedy is simple, and here you can see some of the results. My young European and American students had been addicted to drugs and drinking and smoking and so many other modern bad habits. But now, just see how sober they are and how they are glorifying the Lord’s holy names.
You can change the world and make everything all right, provided you take this instruction. There is no other remedy. If you choose not to listen, what can be done? The remedy the right medicine – is there. But if you don’t take the medicine, how will the disease be cured?
WHO member: You referred earlier to the unfortunate departure of villagers to the city. You pointed out that in city life the villagers become factory workers and then so many evils follow. And you suggested as a solution that if we live in the villages and work the land for a mere three months we’ll have food to eat for the whole year. But I’d like to point out that there is such a vast amount of unemployment in our towns and villages. Many people there are feeling doomed. They cannot produce enough food for themselves, because they do not have access to the land. The mercantile people use it for their own purposes. And this is why so many of the ordinary people are unemployed. This is why they go into the cities. It is not necessarily that “the good life” in the city attracts them, but that they don’t have access to the land. The land is not used by the mercantile group, and the ordinary people are not able to live in the villages as free men and grow enough food for themselves.
Now, the mercantile group are exploiting. They are exploiting. So unless there is some kind of revolution by which you can curb the power of this mercantile group, how can you hope that someday people will be able to live in their villages and grow their own food on the land?
Srila Prabhupada: The thing is, the government has the duty to see that nobody is unemployed. That is good government.
In the Vedic system, society has four natural groupings. The brahmaṇas, or thoughtful group, instruct and advise. The kṣatriyas, or dynamic group, protect and organize. Then the vaisyas, or mercantile group, look after the land and cows and see to food production. And the sūdras, or laboring group, assist the other groups.
Now, this means that the government should be composed of dynamic kṣatriyas, who will protect everyone else and make sure the various groupings are doing their duties. The government has to see that everyone is properly employed. Then the whole problem of unemployment will be solved.
WHO member: But at present the mercantile group are also in the government. In fact, they are entrenched. They have a very strong voice in the government, and in many instances they are outright officials in the government.
Srila Prabhupada: No – that means bad government.
WHO member: Yes, that is . . . that is true.
Srila Prabhupada: That is bad government. The mercantile group should have nothing to do with the government. Otherwise, how can the government see – with no ulterior motives – about everyone’s employment?
The government should encourage the mercantile group to use their ingenuity freely, but not to devise unnatural industries that come and go and leave people unemployed. The government has to see that everyone is properly employed.
WHO member: That’s what I am looking forward to – the day when the Krishna consciousness movement can become a real revolutionary movement that will change the face of society.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. I think it will bring revolution, because the American and European people are taking it to heart. I have introduced it to them, and they’re very intelligent – they take everything very seriously.
We have been working only a few years, and yet we have spread this movement all over the world. If people take it seriously, it will go on, and there will be revolution. Because we are not working whimsically, capriciously. We are taking authoritative direction from the sastra, the scripture. There is so much information here. People can read all these books and get information. If they take it seriously, it will bring revolution.