This discussion between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and a reporter took place at ISKCON's center in Melbourne, Australia.
Interviewer: Your Divine Grace, is the purpose of human life to realize God?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes that is the only purpose.
Interviewer: Srila Prabhupada, have you realized God?
Srila Prabhupada: What do you think? What is your opinion?
Interviewer: I can't say.
Srila Prabhupada: Then if I say yes, what will you have understood? If you are not expert, then even if I say, "Yes, I am God-realized," how will you take it? If you do not know what God-realization is, then how can you ask this question, and how will you be satisfied by the answer? Therefore, you should not ask this question. It has no value unless, of course, you are prepared to accept whatever answer I give. Are you prepared?
Srila Prabhupada: Then it is all right. I am seeing God every moment. [Pause] But unless you are prepared to take the answer, you should not ask such questions.
Interviewer: Your Divine Grace, is meditation a means to realize God?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Meditation is one means, but you cannot meditate now, because you do not know what God is. So how will you meditate? If you do not know what God is, upon whom will you meditate? First of all, you must know. We know God Krsna and Krsna says, man-mana bhava mad-bhaktah: "Always think of Me." So we meditate upon Krsna. That is perfect meditation, because meditation means to think of God. But if you do not know what God is, how can you think of Him?
Interviewer: It is written in many scriptures that God is light.
Srila Prabhupada: God is everything. God is darkness, also. We say that God is that person from whom everything comes. So light comes from God, and darkness also comes from God.
Interviewer: Do you think that meditation is a way to see God inside yourself?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That is the description of meditation.Dhyanavasthita tad-gatena manasa pasyanti yam yoginah: by concentrating his mind, the yogi tries to see God within. So you must know what God is. Consider our ISKCON institution, for example. My disciples know what God is, so they can think of God. But if you have no idea of God, how will you think of Him?
Interviewer: This path of devotional yoga, bhakti-yoga is this the path for the present age?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, bhakti-yoga is the real yoga. You'll find that when the yoga system is described in Bhagavad-gita, the Lord says, "The first-class yogi is he who is always thinking of Me, Krsna, within himself." So our students are being taught to think of Krsna always, twenty-four hours a day, without stopping. That is first-class yoga.
Interviewer: If you are to think about something, you first have to see it. Do you show your devotees Krsna?
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, yes. Certainly.
Interviewer: Then what … well … what is Krsna? What does He look like?
Srila Prabhupada: See here is Krsna.
Interviewer: But that's a painting.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, it is a painting. But suppose a painting of you were there. Could I not say, "Here is Mr. such-and-such"?
Srila Prabhupada: Then what is the wrong there? Is your picture not yourself?
Interviewer: Yes, it is.
Srila Prabhupada: Similarly, this is Krsna's painting. But the difference is that we cannot talk with your picture but we can talk with Krsna's picture. That is the difference.
Interviewer: But still, somebody must have seen Krsna to actually paint Him.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. When Krsna was present on this earth, so many people saw Him. And since then, there have been so many temples of Krsna's Deity, Krsna's form. The same form described in the Vedic literature appeared personally, and the devotees made statues. These forms of Krsna are being worshiped regularly. There are thousands and thousands of Krsna temples.
Interviewer: But has anybody actually seen Krsna?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, yes just as your father has seen your grandfather. You may not have seen him, but your father can describe him "My father was like this." What is the difficulty?
Devotee: He asked if anyone now has seen Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada: How can one see Him now? One has to see through theparampara, the disciplic succession. You have not seen your grandfather, so how do you know who he was?
Interviewer: Your parents tell you.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. So you have to receive knowledge about God from the authorities, from the parampara.
Interviewer: But supposedly Krsna is eternal, so surely He exists today.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, Krsna is existing. At night the sun is existing, but you have no eyes to see it. That does not mean the sun does not exist. It is your deficiency you cannot see.
Interviewer: So we need divine sight?
Srila Prabhupada: You require qualification. Krsna is always existing, but you require the qualification to see Him. That is described in the Vedic scriptures. Premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santah sadaiva hrdayesu vilokayanti: those who are saintly persons in ecstatic love with Krsna can see Him always, twenty-four hours a day. That is not very difficult to understand. If you love someone, you see him always. Is it not so? You need the qualification of love. Then Krsna will be visible twenty-four hours a day and talk with you. So you have to qualify yourself to hear Krsna, to see Krsna. But Krsna is always present.