Here we continue an exchange that took place in Paris, on June 15, 1974, between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, two priests, and two Christian scholars.
Madame Siaude: Your Divine Grace, one who is not inclined toward study can he or she attain God by directly surrendering unto Him?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Certainly. It does not require education, scholarly knowledge, or anything. If one agrees to surrender to the lotus feet of God, then his life is perfect. That is stated in the Vedic literature. Aradhito yadi haris tapasa tatah kim: "If one has surrendered himself to the lotus feet of God and is worshiping Him, there is no more need of austerity and penances." And by the same token, naradhito yadi haris tapasa tatah kim: "If one has not learned how to surrender to God and worship Him, then all his austerities and study are useless."
Further, antar bahir yadi haris tapasa tatah kim: "If one can see God within and without, then where is the necessity of austerity?" And by the same token, nantar bahir yadi haris tapasa tatah kim: "If one has not learned to see God within and without, then where is the value of his austerity and penances?" Therefore, God realization is the only business of the human being.
Madame Siaude: We agree totally with what you are saying.
Father Fransad: At the same time, Your Divine Grace, we seem to have a contradiction. A few minutes ago you were saying, "First we must learn about God, and then we will know how to pray to God." But now you seem to be saying, "If one surrenders to God, one has no need to learn about Him first."
Srila Prabhupada: We say, "Religion means to love God and you cannot love God unless you learn what God is." That means you have to learn about God. Only then can there be real religion.
Father Fransad: So even if we are without scholarly knowledge, God can reveal Himself to us directly?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That is a fact. If you are actually a devotee, then God will reveal Himself. That is stated in the Vedic literature. Atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih: you cannot understand the form, name, attributes, and pastimes of God by these blunt senses. These present material senses cannot realize God. Then how can you realize God? Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau: when you serve Him with your tongue, then gradually God reveals Himself.
Now, you can do two businesses with the tongue. One is talking, and the other is eating. So if you engage your tongue in glorifying God, and if you eat only food offered to God, then you realize God. Therefore, these young boys and girls from Europe and America are being taught, "Use the tongue for Krsna. Chant Hare Krsna, and eat Krsna-prasada, food offered to Krsna."
And as a practical result, although they are very young, still they have realized God, Krsna. They are far more advanced than anyone else. They have forgotten all material things illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication, gambling. They are simply devoted to the service of Krsna. So, because they have engaged their tongue in chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, they have forgotten all kinds of nonsense, including meat-eating and intoxication. The American government spent millions of dollars to stop their LSD habit. Yet it could not stop even one man. But as soon as these young people came to Krsna consciousness, immediately they gave up all this nonsense.
Madame Siaude: We are glad to see how successful you have been.
Srila Prabhupada: Thank you very much. So let us join together and push forward this movement: chanting the holy name of God. I don't say, "You must accept the name Krsna." If you have got any other name, you can chant that.
Father Fransad: So when you are glorifying God, we hope you will think of us and when we are glorifying God, we will think of you.
Srila Prabhupada: Thank you very much.
Father Canivez: Yesterday evening, during your lecture, I was very sad when there were some people making noise.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is the difficulty. Gradually, the population of the world are becoming urchins. Very degraded. Before all of you arrived today, I was discussing the Twelfth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, which predicts how people in this age will become degraded. And this is due to a lack of God consciousness.
Father Canivez: Your Divine Grace, it seemed that the young people who made so much disruption were finding your lecture very hard to accept.
Srila Prabhupada: That is because the young people are gradually becoming degraded. They do not accept authority.
Disciple: Yes. When they saw, Srila Prabhupada, that you were speaking authoritatively, they rejected it. They reacted.
Srila Prabhupada: So that is due to their degradation. They cannot accept any authority. And one cannot advance in knowledge without accepting authority.
Father Canivez: Surely.
Srila Prabhupada: But one more thing I may say is that the disobedience to authority has begun from their fathers.
Father Canivez: From whom?
Srila Prabhupada: From their fathers. Yes. Because in the Bible it is said, "Thou shalt not kill." And yet the fathers indulge in the killing business. So naturally the next generation has become degraded.
Father Canivez: Did many stay after the meeting last night?
Disciple: Oh, yes. They stayed until midnight. The total attendance yesterday was roughly two thousand people, and at least one thousand stayed until twelve o'clock.
Srila Prabhupada: Oh? Twelve o'clock?
Disciple: Yes, Srila Prabhupada. The manager of the hall was pleading with us to ask them to leave. He wanted to go home.
Father Canivez: It's very good that so many stayed to find out more information, to ask questions and discuss with your followers.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, any reasonable man will find this subject matter interesting. In Caitanya-caritamrta it is stated, sri-krsna-caitanya-daya karaha vicara: "Just ponder the mercy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and then give your judgment." It is never recommended to take it blindly. Karaha vicara: "Just consider with all reason and argument." And vicara karile citte pabe camatkara: "If you consider it with logic and reason, you'll find it sublime."
Disciple: So to understand a scripture, whether it be the Bible or Bhagavad-gita, we have to rely on logic and reason?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. For instance, in the Bible it is said, "In the beginning was the word." So in the beginning there was only the Lord's word. Which means that this word is not a word of this material creation.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, many of the so-called spiritual teachers today say, "You cannot chant the name Krsna or any other of God's names, because any sound is simply a material sound."
Srila Prabhupada: That's it. These rascals do not understand what this sound is. They do not see that even before the creation there existed this sound, the Lord's holy name.
Madame Devi (newly arrived): Your Divine Grace, do you think that in the future all religions will come together and form one group?
Srila Prabhupada: There is no "all religions." There is only one religion. One who deviates he creates another religion. Religion means there is God and we should be obedient to God. This is religion.
Madame Devi: So it is not necessary to go by one's special path?
Srila Prabhupada: No. There is no "special path." There is only one path: that God is there, God is great, and we are all subordinate to God. That's all.