Conversation with Father Emmanuel
In 1974, near ISKCON's center in Frankfurt am Main, West
Germany, Srila Prabhupada and several of his disciples took a
morning walk with father Emmanuel Jungclaussen, a Benedictine
monk from Niederalteich Monastery. Noticing that Srila Prabhupada
was carrying meditation beads similar to the rosary, Father Emmanuel
explained that he also chanted a constant prayer: "Lord
Jesus Christ, be merciful unto us." The following conversation
Srila Prabhupada: What is the meaning of the word Christ?mam ca yo 'vyabhicarena
Father Emmanuel: Christ comes from the Greek word
Christos, meaning "the anointed one."
Srila Prabhupada: Christos is the Greek version of the
Father Emmanuel: This is very interesting.
Srila Prabhupada: When an Indian person calls on Krsna,
he often says, "Krsta." Krsta is a Sanskrit word meaning
"attraction." So when we address God as "Christ,"
"Krsta," or "Krsna," we indicate the same
all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead. When Jesus said,
"Our Father, who an in heaven, sanctified be Thy name,"
that name of God was "Krsta" or "Krsna."
Do you agree?
Father Emmanuel: I think Jesus, as the son of God,
has revealed to us the actual name of God: Christ. We can call
God "Father," but if we want to address Him by His
actual name, we have to say "Christ."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. "Christ" is another way
of saying Krsta, and "Krsta" is another way of pronouncing
Krsna, the name of God. Jesus said that one should glorify the
name of God, but yesterday I heard one theologian say that God
has no name-that we can call Him only "Father." A son
may call his father "Father," but the father also has
a specific name. Similarly, "God" is the general name
of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose specific name is
Krsna. Therefore whether you call God "Christ," "Krsta,"
or "Krsna," ultimately you are addressing the same
Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Father Emmanuel: Yes, if we speak of God's actual
name, then we must say, "Christos." In our religion,
we have the Trinity: the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. We
believe we can know the name of God only by revelation from the
Son of God. Jesus Christ revealed the name of the father, and
therefore we take the name Christ as the revealed name of God.
Srila Prabhupada: Actually, it doesn't matter-Krsna or
Christ-the name is the same. The main point is to follow the
injunctions of the Vedic scriptures that recommend chanting the
name of God in this age. The easiest way is to chant the maha-mantra:
Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare
Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Rama and Krsna are names of God,
and Hare is the energy of God. So when we chant the maha-mantra,
we address God together with His energy. This energy is of two
kinds, the spiritual and the material. At present we are in the
clutches of the material energy. Therefore we pray to Krsna that
He may kindly deliver us from the service of the material energy
and accept us into the service of the spiritual energy. That
is our whole philosophy. Hare Krsna means, "O energy of
God, O God [Krsna], please engage me in Your service." It
is our nature to render service. Somehow or other we have come
to the service of material things, but when this service is transformed
into the service of the spiritual energy, then our life is perfect.
To practice bhakti-yoga [loving service to God] means to become
free from designations like "Hindu," "Muslim,"
"Christian," this or that, and simply to serve God.
We have created Christian, Hindu, and Muhammadan religions, but
when we come to a religion without designations, in which we
don't think we are Hindus or Christians or Muhammadans, then
we can speak of pure religion, or bhakti.
Father Emmanuel: Mukti?
Srila Prabhupada: No, bhakti. When we speak of bhakti,
mukti [liberation from material miseries] is included. Without
bhakti there is no mukti, but if we act on the platform of bhakti,
then mukti is included. We learn this from the Bhagavad-gita
sa gunan samatityaitan
"One who engages in full devotional service, who does
not fall down under any circumstance, at once transcends the
modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman."vadanti tat tattva-vidas
Father Emmanuel: Is Brahman Krsna?
Srila Prabhupada: Krsna is Parabrahman. Brahman is realized
in three aspects: as impersonal Brahman, as localized Paramatma,
and as personal Brahman. Krsna is personal, and He is the Supreme
Brahman, for God is ultimately a person. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam
(1.2.11), this is confirmed:
tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
bhagavan iti sabdyate
"Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth
call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma, or Bhagavan."
The feature of the Supreme Personality is the ultimate realization
of God. He has all six opulences in full: He is the strongest,
the richest, the most beautiful, the most famous, the wisest,
and the most renounced.patram puspam phalam toyam
Father Emmanuel: Yes, I agree.
Srila Prabhupada: Because God is absolute, His name, His
form, and His qualities are also absolute, and they are nondifferent
from Him. Therefore to chant God's holy name means to associate
directly with Him. When one associates with God, one acquires
godly qualities, and when one is completely purified, one becomes
an associate of the Supreme Lord.
Father Emmanuel: But our understanding of the name
of God is limited.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, we are limited, but God is unlimited.
And because He is unlimited, or absolute, He has unlimited names,
each of which is God. We can understand His names as much as
our spiritual understanding is developed.
Father Emmanuel: May I ask a question? We Christians
also preach love of God, and we try to realize love of God and
render service to Him with all our heart and all our soul. Now,
what is the difference between your movement and ours? Why do
you send your disciples to the Western countries to preach love
of God when the gospel of Jesus Christ is propounding the same
Srila Prabhupada: The problem is that the Christians do
not follow the commandments of God. Do you agree?
Father Emmanuel: Yes, to a large extent you're
Srila Prabhupada: Then what is the meaning of the Christians'
love for God? If you do not follow the orders of God, then where
is your love? Therefore we have come to teach what it means to
love God: if you love Him, you cannot be disobedient to His orders.
And if you're disobedient, your love is not true.
All over the world, people love not God but their dogs. The Krsna
consciousness movement is therefore necessary to teach people
how to revive their forgotten love for God. Not only the Christians,
but also the Hindus, the Muhammadans, and all others are guilty.
They have rubber-stamped themselves "Christian," "Hindu,"
or "Muhammadan," but they do not obey God. That is
Visitor: Can you say in what way the Christians are disobedient?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The first point is that they violate
the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" by maintaining
slaughterhouses. Do you agree that this commandment is being
Father Emmanuel: Personally, I agree.
Srila Prabhupada: Good. So if the Christians want to love
God, they must stop killing animals.
Father Emmanuel: But isn't the most important point-
Srila Prabhupada: If you miss one point, there is a mistake
in your calculation. Regardless of what you add or subtract after
that, the mistake is already in the calculation, and everything
that follows will also be faulty. We cannot simply accept that
part of the scripture we like, and reject what we don't like,
and still expect to get the result. For example, a hen lays eggs
with its back part and eats with its beak. A farmer may consider,
"The front part of the hen is very expensive because I have
to feed it. Better to cut it off." But if the head is missing
there will be no eggs anymore, because the body is dead. Similarly,
if we reject the difficult part of the scriptures and obey the
part we like, such an interpretation will not help us. We have
to accept all the injunctions of the scripture as they are given,
not only those that suit us. If you do not follow the first order,
"Thou shalt not kill," then where is the question of
love of God?
Visitor: Christians take this commandment to be applicable to
human beings, not to animals.
Srila Prabhupada: That would mean that Christ was not
intelligent enough to use the right word: murder. There is killing,
and there is murder. Murder refers to human beings. Do you think
Jesus was not intelligent enough to use the right word-murder-instead
of the word killing? Killing means any kind of killing, and especially
animal killing. If Jesus had meant simply the killing of humans,
he would have used the word murder.
Father Emmanuel: But in the Old Testament the commandment
"Thou shalt not kill" does refer to murder. And when
Jesus said, "Thou shalt not kill," he extended this
commandment to mean that a human being should not only refrain
from killing another human being, but should also treat him with
love. He never spoke about man's relationship with other living
entities, but only about his relationship with other human beings.
When he said, "Thou shalt not kill," he also meant
in the mental and emotional sense-that you should not insult
anyone or hurt him, treat him badly, and so on.
Srila Prabhupada: We are not concerned with this or that
testament but only with the words used in the commandments. If
you want to interpret these words, that is something else. We
understand the direct meaning. "Thou shalt not kill"
means, "The Christians should not kill." You may put
forth interpretations in order to continue the present way of
action, but we understand very clearly that there is no need
for interpretation. Interpretation is necessary if things are
not clear. But here the meaning is clear. "Thou shalt not
kill" is a clear instruction. Why should we interpret it?
Father Emmanuel: Isn't the eating of plants also
Srila Prabhupada: The Vaisnava philosophy teaches that
we should not even kill plants unnecessarily. In the Bhagavad-gita
(9.26) Krsna says:
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
"If someone offers Me with love and devotion a leaf,
a flower, a fruit, or a little water, I will accept it."
We offer Krsna only the kind of food He demands, and then we
eat the remnants. If offering vegetarian food to Krsna were sinful,
then it would be Krsna's sin, not ours. But God is apapa-viddha-sinful
reactions are not applicable to Him. He is like the sun, which
is so powerful that it can purify even urine-something impossible
for us to do. Krsna is also like a king, who may order a murderer
to be hanged but who himself is beyond punishment because he
is very powerful. Eating food first offered to the Lord is also
something like a soldier's killing during wartime. In a war,
when the commander orders a man to attack, the obedient soldier
who kills the enemy will get a medal. But if the same soldier
kills someone on his own, he will be punished. Similarly, when
we eat only prasada [the remnants of food offered to Krsna],
we do not commit any sin. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita
bhunjate te tv agham papa
ye pacanty atma-karanat
"The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds
of sins because they eat food that is first offered for sacrifice.
Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily
eat only sin."
Father Emmanuel: Krsna cannot give permission to
Srila Prabhupada: Yes-in the animal kingdom. But the civilized
human being, the religious human being, is not meant to kill
and eat animals. If you stop killing animals and chant the holy
name Christ, everything will be perfect. I have not come to teach
you, but only to request you to please chant the name of God.
The Bible also demands this of you. So let's kindly cooperate
and chant, and if you have a prejudice against chanting the name
Krsna, then chant "Christos" or "Krsta"-there
is no difference. Sri Caitanya said: namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktih.
"God has millions and millions of names, and because there
is no difference between God's name and Himself, each one of
these names has the same potency as God." Therefore, even
if you accept designations like "Hindu," "Christian,"
or "Muhammadan," if you simply chant the name of God
found in your own scriptures, you will attain the spiritual platform.
Human life is meant for self-realization-to learn how to love
God. That is the actual beauty of man. Whether you discharge
this duty as a Hindu, a Christian, or a Muhammadan, it doesn't
matter-but discharge it!
Father Emmanuel: I agree.
Srila Prabhupada [pointing to a string of 108 meditation
beads]: We always have these beads, just as you have your
rosary. You are chanting, but why don't the other Christians
also chant? Why should they miss this opportunity as human beings?
Cats and dogs cannot chant, but we can, because we have a human
tongue. If we chant the holy names of God, we cannot lose anything;
on the contrary, we gain greatly. My disciples practice chanting
Hare Krsna constantly. They could also go to the cinema or do
so many other things, but they have given everything up. They
eat neither fish nor meat nor eggs, they don't take intoxicants,
they don't drink, they don't smoke, they don't partake in gambling,
they don't speculate, and they don't maintain illicit sexual
connections. But they do chant the holy name of God. If you would
like to cooperate with us, then go to the churches and chant,
"Christ," "Krsta," or "Krsna."
What could be the objection?
Father Emmanuel: There is none. For my part, I
would be glad to join you.
Srila Prabhupada: No, we are speaking with you as a representative
of the Christian church. Instead of keeping the churches closed,
why not give them to us? We would chant the holy name of God
there twenty-four hours a day. In many places we have bought
churches that were practically closed because no one was going
there. In London I saw hundreds of churches that were closed
or used for mundane purposes. We bought one such church in Los
Angeles. It was sold because no one came there, but if you visit
this same church today, you will see thousands of people. Any
intelligent person can understand what God is in five minutes;
it doesn't require five hours.
Father Emmanuel: I understand.
Srila Prabhupada: But the people do not. Their disease
is that they don't want to understand.
Visitor: I think understanding God is not a question of intelligence,
but a question of humility.
Srila Prabhupada: Humility means intelligence. The humble
and meek own the kingdom of God. This is stated in the Bible,
is it not? But the philosophy of the rascals is that everyone
is God, and today this idea has become popular. Therefore no
one is humble and meek. If everyone thinks that he is God, why
should he be humble and meek? Therefore I teach my disciples
how to become humble and meek. They always offer their respectful
obeisances in the temple and to the spiritual master, and in
this way they make advancement. The qualities of humbleness and
meekness lead very quickly to spiritual realization. In the Vedic
scriptures it is said, "To those who have firm faith in
God and the spiritual master, who is His representative, the
meaning of the Vedic scriptures is revealed."
Father Emmanuel: But shouldn't this humility be
offered to everyone else, also?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but there are two kinds of respect:
special and ordinary. Sri Krsna Caitanya taught that we shouldn't
expect honor for ourselves, but should always respect everyone
else, even if he is disrespectful to us. But special respect
should be given to God and His pure devotee.
Father Emmanuel: Yes, I agree.
Srila Prabhupada: I think the Christian priests should
cooperate with the Krsna consciousness movement. They should
chant the name Christ or Christos and should stop condoning the
slaughter of animals. This program follows the teachings of the
Bible; it is not my philosophy. Please act accordingly and you
will see how the world situation will change.
Father Emmanuel: I thank you very much.
Srila Prabhupada: Hare Krsna.