This conversation between His Divine Grace A. C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and the mother of one of his students, along with a Jesuit priest, took place in the garden at Bhaktivedanta Manor, near London, England, on July 25, 1973.

Srila Prabhupada (with an airliner roaring overhead): The airplane botheration was not in Switzerland. They do not fly so low, for fear of the mountain peaks. That was the only place in the world where there was no such sound. Otherwise, everywhere. In America we have got so many temples. Even in West Virginia, quite a hilly tract, there is also the sound of airplanes, although less loud. Anyway, here it is near London, so there must be this sound. Yes. Formerly, people were satisfied to remain in their village. That is the defect of the modern civilization.

Back To Godhead - Prabhupada

Mother: In India, you mean. You're talking of India now.

Srila Prabhupada: Everywhere.

Mother: Everywhere.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Everywhere.

Mother: What about India? I mean, do they believe in this Vedic culture the villagers?

Srila Prabhupada: In India, actually, they do so.

Mother: Yes.

Srila Prabhupada: The villagers have cows and land. That is sufficient for their economic problem. But the industrialists are alluring them: "To get more money, come here."

So the villagers are going to the cities. And the food production in the village is neglected. And therefore the grain price is rising. Actually, everyone should be engaged to produce food, but the modern setup of civilization is that few people are engaged in producing food, and others are eating.

The industrialists are artificially getting money. And they are offering paper: "Here is one hundred dollars." Although it is simply a piece of paper cheating. The ordinary people are captivated by cheating. They are thinking, "I have got now one hundred dollars."

What is this hundred dollars? It is paper. So some people are cheating, and some people are being cheated. This is the society.

Mother: But I think one has to be clever enough not to let people cheat you.

Srila Prabhupada: "Clever" means that the person must stay on his own land. He should not be cheated by the paper and go to the city.

Mother: But we have to teach our young to be able to define between those who cheat and those who . . . be able to tell people who . . .

Srila Prabhupada: The whole civilization is a plan for cheating others. That's all. And they're all sinful. According to our Vedic understanding, there are four things sinful, four pillars of sinful life: illicit sex, unnecessary killing of animals, intoxication, and gambling.

Mother: But you can lead a very happy life, still.

Srila Prabhupada: Our students are trained in that way.

Mother: There are a lot of very good people in the world.

Srila Prabhupada: Just see. You can see from your son. These devotees can sit down anywhere. They can lie down. There is no artificial living. They are satisfied with nice foodstuffs made from vegetables and milk. And chanting Hare Krsna, the holy name of God.

Mother: I see my son Michael is happy. But, you know, he came from a very happy home. So he should be happy, shouldn't he?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Mother: Very happy home. Brothers and sisters. And we've all been very happy. And I hope he will remain happy.

Srila Prabhupada: Now he's even happier.

Mother: Yes, I can see.

Srila Prabhupada: He was happy; now he's happier. That is the difference.

Mother: Yes. Oh, I don't think he's happier. [Laughter as she glances at her son, who is nodding in the affirmative.] You are? I didn't think it was possible.

Srila Prabhupada (playfully): You are not happier.

Mother: I didn't think it was possible.

Srila Prabhupada: Because your son has come here, you may not be happier. But he's happier.

Mother: Oh, you're saying this. I'm not saying this. I'm very disappointed that he is not continuing with his education. I'm not sorry that he's happy. I'm happy for his happiness, wherever he is.

Srila Prabhupada: But what is the purpose of education?

Mother: You're a cultured man. You're educated.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Mother: Did you not learn? Who gave you the talent to translate your Vedic scriptures?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Mother: Who gave you the talent, Father?

Srila Prabhupada: No. I'm asking, What is the best part of education? So far as my schooling or college education is concerned, that is not being perused here.

Mother: Oh, but you're cultured. You in your old age are getting tremendous comfort from being able to read and to understand what the world is doing the goodness of your books and you're able to understand the spiritual way of life.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Mother: If you couldn't, if you hadn't been educated, Father, well, how would you be able to have achieved all these things?

Srila Prabhupada: No, education is required.

Mother: Now, I am so happy that my son is happy, truthfully. But I am very distressed. [To devotees on hand:] And, little boys, don't laugh, because this is serious. Um. I am very distressed that none of these boys continue their education. [In fact, Srila Prabhupada encouraged his academically inclined students to complete their university training. Ed. Note.] What is going to happen to them when they are like you, when they're older, but they have no talents?

Srila Prabhupada: But your educational system in the Western countries, you have got big universities. Why are the students becoming hippies?

Mother: Oh, well, there are always a certain amount becoming hippies, in America, anywhere. But we must develop the good ones that have talent. We must develop them. You have the power to give these boys . . .

Srila Prabhupada: I mean to say that in India for the most part there are no such big, big universities, such big facilities, but in your Western countries you have got nice universities, a nice teaching system. Why is the result hippies?

Mother: Oh, but we're talking of you. You have got the power. People follow you because they believe in you. So you have the power to educate them. And you and your people are not hippies, are you?

Srila Prabhupada: My point is that this education simply for eating, sleeping, mating, and defending this sort of education will not satisfy.

Mother: Well, you're educated, you see.

Srila Prabhupada: No, I am educated.

Mother: Yes, but how many of these are?

Srila Prabhupada: But I am not educated only on this platform eating, sleeping, sex life, and defense. I am educated on a different platform.