Here we continue a conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and the mother of one of his students, along with a Jesuit priest. It took place in the garden at Bhaktivedanta Manor, near London, England, on July 25, 1973.
Srila Prabhupada: I have to live. We agree that we have to live by eating another living entity. Jivo jivasya jivanam. But if I eat this grass, and if I eat some animal, do you think they are equal?
Jesuit Priest: Yes.
Srila Prabhupada: They are equal? Then why don't you kill your child your own child?
Jesuit Priest: Because there's a . . . I mean . . . that's logical. I just tried to show you the difference between vegetative life, sensitive life, and rational life.
Disciple: Animals have got rationality.
Jesuit Priest: No, they haven't.
Disciple: Modern psychologists will display to you rational life in the monkeys . . .
Jesuit Priest: No, no.
Disciple: . . . and so many other animals. Rats.
Jesuit Priest: No.
Disciple: They make rational decisions.
Jesuit Priest: No, they don't. All I can say is, this idea that animals have rationality has not been accepted by many Western philosophers.
Srila Prabhupada: So because some animal is not very intelligent, you are right to kill?
Jesuit Priest: No, no, no. We're not talking about killing. Your disciple's theme now is that there's no difference between us and the unintelligent dog.
Srila Prabhupada: No, no. But even if the animal is not intelligent, you cannot kill him. The fact that your child is also not intelligent does not mean you can kill your child.
Jesuit Priest: Oh. But, Master, nobody would for a second think of killing an innocent child.
Srila Prabhupada: Still, that is not a very good reason that because the animal is not intelligent, he may be killed. That is not a very good reason.
Jesuit Priest: Oh, no. That isn't the reason. That isn't the reason why we kill it. We kill the animal because we need it for a means of living.
Srila Prabhupada: No.
Jesuit Priest: As food.
Srila Prabhupada: You "need" it. For instance, if you can get nice fruits, grains, milk, why do you need some animal? You have to eat. You have to eat to live. You do not have to kill. In this way, if you can prepare nice foodstuffs from grains, from fruits, from flowers, from vegetables, from milk, why should you kill the animals? A reasonable man, a religious man he should have discrimination, that "If I get my foodstuffs from here, why shall I kill a big animal?"
Mother: Well, I always think it's not for me to condemn people, whatever they do. All I ask for in life is . . . I'm not condemning you, but, uh . . .
Srila Prabhupada: No, we are thinking in that way. It is all right that we have to eat some living entity, but there is a difference. If we can get our foodstuffs without killing an animal . . . Besides that, when you get the grains, it is not actually killing. When you get the fruits I am getting these fruits from the tree it is not killing. The fruits are there; I take them. They fall down; I take them. The grains, also. It is not killing.
Mother: Well, I think . . . No, well, I don't think we're really worried about whether we kill or you
Srila Prabhupada: So, similarly, if I take milk from the cows, that is also the cows' blood, but I don't kill them. So if I can live in such a nice way, without killing, if I get the fruits and flowers and the milk and the grains, why should I kill the animals?
Mother: There are a great number of people being vegetarians today.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Mother: You're not the only people. I mean, a lot of people just have decided . . . Yes, they do this.
Srila Prabhupada: That is nice. That is nice, very nice. They should be vegetarian.
Mother: But we don't condemn people who eat meat.
Srila Prabhupada: Being vegetarian will make them less sinful. And that will qualify them to go back to home, back to Godhead. If they remain sinful, they cannot go.
Jesuit Priest: Would you say that because we and I talk about myself because I have meat and bacon and so on, I am a . . . does that make me sinful? If I didn't eat those, I would be less sinful?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Yes. That is our philosophy.
Jesuit Priest: So if I give up eating meat and bacon and sausages and things, I'll suddenly become a different person.
Srila Prabhupada: Then you become pure. You become pure.
Jesuit Priest: That's very interesting.
Disciple: Recently, a gentleman told me exactly that. He's a businessman here in London, about forty years old, and a member of the Mensa Society, you know, for geniuses. And three months ago, he decided because he had learned, had heard this from Prabhupada's followers he decided to become a vegetarian. And a few weeks later, he said, "It's amazing the difference in my consciousness." He said, "I've become a completely different man."
Srila Prabhupada: Well, yes. In the Vedic literature it is said the animal killers cannot understand God.
Mother: Well, this is very good, sir, that you find this. Of course, this is not my viewpoint.
Srila Prabhupada: No, no. From any viewpoint, animal killing is not practical. I have seen the animal killers. They do not understand what is God. That is a fact. Nor have they got the brain to understand it.
Mother: But for yourselves, you don't need a brain if you're not going to study the sciences or to do anything further.
Srila Prabhupada: No, we are studying. And because we are preaching, we are studying the science of God. But the animal eaters they cannot have any conception of God. Their brain is so dull.
Mother: What about your followers' children? Do they go to school?
Srila Prabhupada: Why not?
Mother: And do they go to college?
Srila Prabhupada: They are now little children. But we don't wish to send them to college. We have got sufficient books.
Mother: So you'll cut off their education like that?
Srila Prabhupada: What is this nonsense education?
Mother: Now, do you think that's not cruel to them?
Srila Prabhupada: We don't care for this.
Disciple: We cut off this nonsensical education, this evolution propaganda, that dead matter gives rise to life and consciousness, so no need for a creator. We get our education from the Vedas and our spiritual master. We learn how to read and write and handle numbers, and whatever we need practically for our work. And we learn the science of God from Srila Prabhupada, our spiritual master. And we find that sufficient
Jesuit Priest: But you're depending on other people, then, to do the other side of your life for you.
Srila Prabhupada: We are not depending on anyone.
Jesuit Priest: What happens if somebody gets very ill tomorrow morning?
Srila Prabhupada: So we give them medicine.
Mother: You call the doctor.
Srila Prabhupada: So do you mean to say that because we may sometimes require a medical man, we have to take the education of a medical man?
Mother: But you don't train people to be medical men.
Srila Prabhupada: Our training is . . .First of all, try to understand. For instance, you have got four divisions in your body for maintaining the body. So you have the brain division, the arm division, the belly division, and the leg division. The leg is doing its own work, walking. The hand is doing its own work. And the belly is doing its own work. And the brain is doing its own work. When the brain is working, it may require the help of the leg. But the brain does not require to learn the business of the leg. This is the idea. The brain sometimes requires the help of the leg. But this does not mean that the brain has to learn how to walk, also.