The following conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and a journalist took place in Los Angeles on December 30, 1968.
Journalist: The biggest problem preventing men, at least American men, and women from loving God or following the Ten Commandments is the sexual problem. And there is nothing in Western culture that teaches or helps a young person cope with this very difficult problem. I went through it. We all have. Now, do you in your message give young people something to hang on to, and if so, what?
Srila Prabhupada: I ask all my disciples to get married. I don't allow this living with boyfriend, girlfriend. No, you must get yourself married. Live like a gentleman. Treat your wife as an assistant. Treat your husband as your provider. In this way, I am teaching them. This boy was married just four days ago. He is a professor. So I have got so many of my disciples married, and they are living very happily. This girl is married. Formerly, they were living as boyfriend, girlfriend. I don't allow that.
Journalist: Let me get a little more basic. How about when someone is fourteen, fifteen, sixteen years old?
Srila Prabhupada: We teach our boys to become brahmacari. Brahmacari means to lead a life of celibacy.
Journalist: Yes, I understand.
Disciple: Brahmacari means control of the senses. He teaches us how to control the senses. Generally, marriage doesn't take place until a boy is about twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-five.
Journalist: You mean in Indian culture?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. We select a girl, say, about sixteen, seventeen years old, and boys not more than twenty-four years old. I get them married. And because their attention is diverted to Krsna consciousness, they have very little interest simply for sex life. They have got better engagement. Param drstva nivartate. We give a substitute. We don't simply say, "You don't do it." But we give them something better. Then automatically the "don't" comes.
Journalist: At the right time.
Srila Prabhupada: Immediately. We give some better engagement.
Journalist: What is that?
Srila Prabhupada: Our boys and girls are all engaged in the business of Krsna consciousness—in temple work, in painting, in typing, in recording, so many things. And they are happy. They are not going to the cinema, they are not going to clubs, they are not drinking, they are not smoking. So practically, I am teaching them how to control their senses. And this means it is possible. These boys and girls are all Americans. They are not imported from India. Why have they taken to this? The system is so nice that they like it. If you spread this system, everything will be solved.
Journalist: So then it …
Srila Prabhupada: We don't prohibit men from mixing with women. We don't say that you should stop sex life. But we make everything regulated under Krsna consciousness. The aim is higher.
Journalist: Well, the answer seems to be very pat, so to speak, and if it's that simple …
Srila Prabhupada: If you cooperate, then I can change the whole thing in your country. The people will be very happy. Everything will be nice. This Krsna consciousness movement is so nice. But nobody is cooperating. These boys, they have kindly come to me, and they are cooperating. So my movement is progressing, but very slowly. But if the leaders of the American people understand and introduce this system, your country will be the nicest country in the world.
Journalist [to disciple]: From a practical point, how has this sexual thing the swami is talking about affected you? Have you found there is efficacy in what we have been talking about? To me it's a very paramount problem in terms of young people.
Disciple: Well, there are desires, and we have so many desires. And the sexual desire is perhaps one of our strongest desires.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, yes.
Disciple: So these desires are channeled, so to speak. They are redirected toward Krsna.
Journalist: I understand that. But I'm saying is it efficacious? Does it work?
Disciple: Yes, it works. But you have to stick with it. It can be very difficult, especially at first, but it works.
Journalist: Now, I want to understand this thoroughly. In other words, it's nothing that you feel that you're giving up.
Disciple: No, it's that when you see something better …
Journalist: That's what I mean.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, you are accepting something better.
Journalist: Better, yes. Not by just biting your tongue or your lip saying, "I won't touch it, I won't touch it." There's a substitute.
Disciple: It's very human not to give up something unless you have something better. So you have to get something better than what you want to give up.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.