A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada

Here we continue an exchange that took place in Perth, Australia, on May 9, 1975, between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Carol Cameron, then a doctoral candidate in anthropology.

Carol: Your Divine Grace, how would you go about teaching this idea of love [of God]?

Srila Prabhupada: Love means that just as I want to eat something, so if I love somebody then I will see that my beloved also eats. Also, naturally the lovers present things. For instance, when a boy loves a girl, he presents something, and she should also give him something. And if I have got some confidential thing in mind, I should disclose it to the lover, and the lover is also expected not to keep anything secret. She should disclose it. If I love you just because you are beautiful for my sense gratification but I keep everything secret, that is not love. That is sense gratification. Lust.

So these are the six kinds of reciprocation or exchange between the lover and the beloved. These are the signs of love.

dadati pratigrhnati
guhyam akhyati prcchati
bhunkte bhojayate caiva
sad-vidham priti-laksanam

Priti means "love," and these are love's symptoms: give and take, eat and give to eat, disclose your mind and know the other party's mind. This is love. The more you increase these six kinds of loving exchange, the more you increase the love.

Carol: If a man wants to perfect his love, should he withdraw from the world?

Srila Prabhupada: First of all, we have to understand that love exists not just within one person love must be between two. Then you can expand the love. But first we should know, love requires two the lover and the beloved. So the transaction begins between the two; then it expands.

Carol: Do you look at the "two" as, say, the creator and the person? Would that be the two that you have in mind?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The creator and the created. Do you believe in the creator?

Carol: An impersonal creator, yes.

Srila Prabhupada: Impersonal?

Carol: Yes.

Srila Prabhupada: Oh. What kind of philosophy is that "impersonal creator"?

Carol: Without any attributes.

Srila Prabhupada: Creator is an attribute. Being the creator that is an attribute. If I create this bell, I know the art of how to create a bell. Knowing this creative art is my attribute. So how can you say the creator is without attributes? This is false philosophy. I know how to create this bell. That is my artistic sense. That is my attribute. So how can you say I am without attributes? As soon as you say "creator," then that creator has got many attributes.

Carol: How can ignorance be removed?

Srila Prabhupada: The ignorant people can learn from the learned. If you have got this idea that the creator is impersonal, that means you are not learned; you have no knowledge. And this is the simple answer. As soon as you say "creator," you can understand He has so many attributes or qualities.

Suppose I am ringing this bell. Now, if the bell's spring is loose, the bell will not sound. So others may not know what to do, but the person who has created the bell knows "Oh, the spring is loose. Now I'll tighten it again." That means the creator knows the ins and outs of whatever he has created. That is the nature of one who creates something.

So just imagine: The one who has created everything that exists He is cognizant of everything that exists. How can He be impersonal? What is this philosophy? Hmm? Answer. You are a philosopher.

Carol: Well, He would incorporate personal attributes, not be governed by them.

Srila Prabhupada: Hmm? She says "He." But "He" has to remain impersonal. [Laughter.]

Carol: Yes. [Laughs.] It's true that creation does imply intellect and perhaps emotion.

Srila Prabhupada: Such vague ideas. And yet in this nonsensical culture, these vague ideas are passing as philosophy. "He" contradicts your impersonal idea. You say "He." And still, you insist that "He" is impersonal.

Carol: At the emotional level, it's a very personal …

Srila Prabhupada: Why should you be emotional? You are a philosopher. You should talk very rationally.

Carol: Oh. I … don't philosophize. My sense is that God is impersonal but He incorporates personal features. If God is in everything, then the personal attributes must be part of "Him," "it," or whatever. But God is not just limited to being a person.

Srila Prabhupada: You have no idea of God. He must be a person. As soon as you say, "He knows everything," "He creates," and so many other things, then these all mean He is personal. Repeatedly you say "He." These are all personal.

Carol: This is only our idea of God.

Srila Prabhupada: That means you have no clear idea of God, only a vague idea. So you have to learn what God is.

Carol: You think you can know the nature of God?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. You can know, also.

Carol: In an intellectual way?

Srila Prabhupada: You can know, also.

Carol: You might know something in your heart but not be able to express it.

Srila Prabhupada: Why not be able to express it? You can express it. Whatever is within your heart if you cannot express it, then you are not perfect. You must express what is within your heart very clearly. Not that I have got something within my heart but I cannot express it. That means my knowledge is imperfect.

Carol: So often, our understanding moves sort of separately through the heart, through feelings and emotion.

Srila Prabhupada: Emotion is not required for scientific knowledge of God. Emotion is not required. Useless. Knowledge of God must be factual. Emotion is of no use. Emotion is useful in highly developed stages of ecstatic love. But it is not that for preliminary scientific study of God you require emotion. No.

Carol: And yet in the bhakti way of doing things, this emotion and love actually are very closely intertwined, aren't they?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but that is a higher stage. Not in the beginning. In the beginning, devotion means I should be devoted to God very rationally. To start with, why should I be devoted to God unless He is worthy? For instance, Krsna says, "You surrender unto Me." So unless I understand that Krsna is worthy of my surrendering to Him, why shall I surrender to Krsna? If I had demanded of you, as soon as you arrived here, that you surrender, would you have liked to do that? Unless you are fully aware of my abilities, qualities, why should you surrender?

So before surrendering, one has to study the person to whom he is going to surrender. Then he surrenders. That is real surrender. But blind surrender will not last.

Similarly, blind surrender to God will not last. So since our first business in this human life is to surrender to God, we must know who and what God is. Then you must surrender. And then, when it is based on solid knowledge, your emotion is good. That means you are advanced. If you understand that God is giving us everything, emotion based on that understanding is very good. If, even from the very beginning, one understands and becomes emotional "Oh, God is so kind, God is so great. He is giving us all our necessities, so I must serve Him" then this emotion is very good.

But for the ordinary man, this emotion does not come. He needs to study who God is, what God is. And later, when he fully understands, "Oh, God is so great," then that emotion is very nice. That is genuine emotion. Otherwise, his surrender to God is merely sentimentality. It will not stay. It will not last. It is temporary.