Perfect Questions / Answers
Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.” (Bhagavad-gita 4.34)
According to this instruction there are three qualifications for the novice:
1. Visit the guru.
2. Inquire without challenging.
3. Assist the guru in some way.
The Gita suggests that the guru can “impart knowledge” when these three conditions are met.
My intention in visiting Srila Prabhupada was to explore rather than contend. After meeting and studying many self-proclaimed instructors, I was extremely skeptical, yet Srila Prabhupadada’s followers intrigued me.
Once I got past their zealousness, I found a genuine blend of mysticism and renunciation along with convincing explications. I resolved to spend my time with Srila Prabhupada learning rather than challenging. Later on I could always decide to accept or reject what I had heard.
In this way I met the first and second of the Gita’s three credentials. The famine relief program of the Krishna movement also occupied my day, so I was able to meet number three as well.
From Srila Prabhupada’s point of view I was following the Gita’s edicts: hence Perfect Questions. Meanwhile, Srila Prabhupada answered my questions based on the prescription from the Gita (4.2): “This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way.”
Srila Prabhupada answered my questions based on the ancient system of disciplic succession–repeating what he had heard from previous authorities, and not making anything up. Thus I had Perfect Answers for my respectful questions, presented by a humble messenger of his predecessors.
… May reading my conversation with Srila Prabhupada lead you to your own perfection.
– Excerpt from the Introduction by Bob Cohen
Krsna, thhe All-Attractive
Bob: What is a scientist?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: One who knows things as they are.
Bob: He thinks he knows things as they are.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: What?
Bob: He hopes he knows things as they are.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, he is supposed to know. We approach the scientist because he is supposed to know things correctly. A scientist means one who knows things as they are. Kṛṣṇa means “all-attractive.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. So unless God is all-attractive, how can He be God? A man is important when he is attractive. Is it not?
Bob: It is so.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: So, God must be attractive and attractive for all. Therefore, if God has any name, or if you want to give any name to God, only “Kṛṣṇa” can be given.
Bob: But why only the name Kṛṣṇa?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Because He’s all-attractive. Kṛṣṇa means“all-attractive.”
Bob: Oh, I see.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. God has no name, but by His qualities we give Him names. If a man is very beautiful, we call him “beautiful.” If a man is very intelligent, we call him “wise.’ So the name is given according to the quality. Because God is all-attractive, the name Kṛṣṇa can be applied only to Him. Kṛṣṇa means “all-attractive.” It includes everything.
Bob: But what about a name meaning “all-powerful”?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes…. Unless you are powerful, how can you be all-attractive?
Śyāmasundara: [an American devotee, Śrīla Prabhupāda’s secretary] It includes everything.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Everything. He must be very beautiful, He must be very wise, He must be very powerful, He must be very famous…
Bob: Is Kṛṣṇa attractive to rascals?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Oh, yes! He was the greatest rascal also.
Bob: How is that?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: [laughing] Because He was always teasing the gopīs.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Sometimes when Rādhārāṇī would go out, Kṛṣṇa would attack Her, and when She would fall down—“Kṛṣṇa, don’t torture Me in that way”—They would fall down, and Kṛṣṇa would take the opportunity and kiss Her. [He laughs.] So, Rādhārāṇī was very pleased, but superficially Kṛṣṇa was the greatest rascal. So unless rascaldom is in Kṛṣṇa, how could rascaldom be existent in the world? Our formula of God is that He is the source of everything. Unless rascaldom is in Kṛṣṇa, how can it be manifest… because He is the source of everything. But His rascaldom is so nice that everyone worships His rascaldom.
Bob: What about the rascals who are not so nice?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, rascaldom is not nice, but Kṛṣṇa is absolute. He is God. Therefore His rascaldom is also good. Kṛṣṇa is all-good. God is good.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Therefore, when He becomes a rascal, that is also good. That is Kṛṣṇa. Rascaldom is not good, but when it is practiced by Kṛṣṇa, because He is absolutely good, that rascaldom is also good. This one has to understand.
Bob: Are there some people who do not find Kṛṣṇa attractive?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No. All people will find Him attractive. Who is not attracted? just give an example: “This man or this living entity is not attracted to Kṛṣṇa.”Just find such a person.
Bob: Somebody who wishes to do things in life that he may feel are wrong but who wishes to gain power or prestige or money…
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.
Bob:… may find God unattractive. He may not find God attractive, because God gives him guilt.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, not God. His attraction is to become powerful. A man wants to become powerful or rich—is it not? But nobody is richer than Kṛṣṇa. Therefore Kṛṣṇa is attractive to him.
Bob: If a person who wants to become rich prays to Kṛṣṇa, will he become rich?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Oh, yes!
Bob: He can become rich through this means?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. Because Kṛṣṇa is all-powerful, if you pray to Kṛṣṇa to become rich, Kṛṣṇa will make you rich.
Bob: If somebody lives an evil life but prays to become rich, he may still become rich?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Praying to Kṛṣṇa is not evil.
Bob: Oh, yes.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: [chuckling] Somehow or other he prays to Kṛṣṇa, so you cannot say that he is evil.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā, api cet sudurācāro bhajate mām ananya-bhāk. Have you read it?
Bob: Yes. The Sanskrit I don’t know, but the English I do.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Hm-m.
Bob: “Even if the most evil man prays to Me…”
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.
Bob: “… He will be elevated.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. As soon as he begins to pray to Kṛṣṇa, that is not evil. Therefore He is all-attractive. It is said in the Vedas that the Absolute Truth, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the reservoir of all pleasure—raso vai saḥ. Everyone is hankering after someone because he realizes some mellow in it.
Bob: Excuse me?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Some mellow. Suppose a man is drinking. Why is he drinking? He is getting some mellow out of that drinking. A man is hankering after money because by possessing money he gets a mellow out of it.
Bob: What does mellow mean?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: [to Śyāmasundara] How do they define mellow?
Śyāmasundara: Taste, pleasure.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Pleasing taste. So the Vedas say, raso vai saḥ. The exact translation of mellow is rasa. [Mālatī, Śyāmasundara’s wife, enters with a tray of food] What is that?
Mālatī: Eggplant, fried.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Oh! All-attractive! All-attractive! [Laughter.]
Śyāmasundara: How is Kṛṣṇa the greatest scientist?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Because He knows everything. A scientist is one who knows a subject matter thoroughly. He is a scientist. Kṛṣṇa—He knows everything.
Bob: I am presently a science teacher.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, teaching. But, unless you have perfect knowledge, how can you teach? That is our question.
Bob: Without perfect knowledge, though, you can teach—
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is cheating; that is not teaching. That is cheating. Just like the scientists say, “There was a chunk… and the creation took place. Perhaps. Maybe…” What is this? Simply cheating! It is not teaching; it is cheating.
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