Följande är ett utdrag från ett samtal mellan Srila Prabhupada och Dr Kneupper:
Dr Kneupper wanted to know what Prabhupada thought about other religions, pointing out that there may be many different types of faith.
Srila Prabupada's reply made it clear that he is not criticizing those who belive in God. "Religion you may have. Religion means to try to understand God. Any religion - you take Christian religion or Hindu religion or Mohammedan religion - there is little attempt to understand God. So any religion which gives you knowledge of God and you understand what is relation with God, that is perfect religion. We have no quarrel."
Dr Kneupper was going to ask something about all the different religions combining, but before he could complete his question, Prabhupada wanted to ensure that their understanding of religion was the same. Going beyond the commonly held sectarian definitons, he offered an understanding of religion in its essence. "Religion means to understand God and to follow God's order. That is religion. Just like government and government law. So if the citizen understands what is the law of the government and abides by it, then he's a good citizen. Similarly, any person who understands God and abides by the order of God, then he is religious. You may be Christian; I may be Hindu; he may be Mohammedan. it doesn't matter. Everyone should understand God and the relationship with God, and act accordingly. Then it is perfect religion. And if there is no conception of God, no carrying out order of the God, that is not religion. That is cheating."
There is a problem, he went on, in that people take the name of a particular religion but neither belive in God nor follow their scriptural tenets, and in the name of religion they simply fight with each other.
Dr Kneupper asked whether there is a special way that Hinduism regards the universe. Once again Prabhupada brought things to a more definitive level. "The Hindu religion is a vague term. It s not clear. Real term is, it is called, "Vedic principle". And in the Bhagavad-gita it is said, Vedic knowledge means to understand God. Vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyam (Bg 15.15) So anyone who tries to understand God, he is in the Vedic line. "Veda" means knowledge, so as you get the stock of knowledge, that is called "Veda". But as soon as we say "Veda" they think it is Hindu. Mathematics is a science. So any scientific man will accept mathematics. Where is the question of Hindu mathematics? Gold is gold. If it is in the hand of Hindu, it is Hindu gold? Hindu, Muslim gold? Gold is gold. When we give the Vedic knowledge, they think it is Hindu idea."
Dr Kneupper wondered if the knowledge of the Vedas, then, appears in other religions such as Christianity and Mohammedansim.
"No, no. I say that every religion, there is an attempt to understand God," Prabhupada replied. The problem, he said, is that now that modern man has science, he is decrying God and saying that God is dead. "In every step they are trying to kill God. That's all."
Dr Kneupper felt that nevertheless there are many sincere seekers. Prabhupada agreed. But even among the sincere, he said, very few actually understand clearly what is the meaning of God. He used a familiar example. "Just like in America they say, "We trust in God". But what is God, he does not know. So what is the meaning of this "I trust in God"?
"It probably means many things," Dr Kneupper offered.
Prabhpada continued to press his point. "If I say, "What do you mean by God", they cannot give any clear definiton. And our Krishna consciousness movement is "Here is God; take Him". But they have no knowledge. They will say, "They are presenting some Hindu god," and then they do not accept Him."
"What do you understand by that word "God"? Dr Kneupper asked thoughtfully.
"God" means supreme controller," Prabhpada told him without hesitation.
"The master of the universe," Dr Kneupper rejoined.
"That's it," Prabhupada confirmed.
Dr Kneupper was politely probing. Perhaps he perceived Srila Prabhpada's assured and direct presentation as a little dogmatic. "Do you think that this concept is the special insight of the Vedic?" he asked.
But Srila Prabhupada responded so as to make it clear that there was no question of the view he was expounding being in any way narrow or doctrinal. "No, no. You, as a philosopher, you can understand that there is supreme controller. Can you deny it?"
"Only with great difficulty, it seems to me."
"Yes," Prabhupada nodded. "You cannot deny. But they foolishly deny it. Therefore they are rascals. So how you can convince the rascals the right way? If you give me a dozen dogs, can I convince him that what is God?"
"Hardly," Dr Kneupper smiled. "They have no capacity to understand."
Prabhupada nodded again. "But they have no capacity," he said referring to modern civilization. "We are creating dogs and hogs, so how they will understand God?"
Dr Kneupper asked if Prabhupada felt that there will always be few who understand, and Prabhupada affirmed. "Certainly. But if there is a class of men, ideal, who understand God, then people will follow. We require one moon. Then the darkness will be dissipated. But if in the millions of stars, what is the use?" Then he added with a smile so as not to offend his scholarly guest, "So they are creating millions of rascals, not one sane man, the modern civilization, the so-called philosophers, so-called scientists. Don't mind. This is the fact.
When Dr Kneupper asked if he rejects modern civilization, Prabhupada said no, he just feels that people are badly trainded due to a bad educational system. There is hope for change provided people accept the correct way.
"But would you say the right way would have to be, let's say, to be a follower of Krishna?" Dr Kneupper asked.
It was clear from his line of questioning that Dr Kneupper was still wary that Prabhupada might be an advocate for a particular party line. To allay his fears and establish the commonlity of his view, Prabhupada immediatley replied, "God means Krishna." And he referenced the Visnu-purana: "Krishna" means "all-attractive". So God must be all-attractive, full controller. Our definiton of God is aisvaryasya samagrasya viryasya yasasah sriyah/jnana-vairagyayos caiva sannam iti bhagam itinganah (VP 6.5.47) - all wealth, all power, all intelligence, all beauty, all renunciation. In this way."
Stressing that he is simply trying to give people a proper idea of God, Prabhpada raised another challenge that he faces in his attempts to help others. "Now in India another danger is that so many rascals, they are declaring, "I am God." And this India, people have become so fallen down, they accept these rascals as God."
In the West, Prabhupada told him, the problem is people's conception that "there is no God," while in India the problem is their conception that "I am God," or everyone has their own idea of God. But no one knows what God is in fact.
One of Prabhupada's other visitors, an Indian gentleman, was tipping his head from side to side in satisfaction with Prabhupada's words, appreciating his non-sectarian stance. "That is the real philosophy. That is not only Indian philosophy; this in universal philosophy."
"Yes," Prabhupada affirmed, pleased to see his message getting through. "God is for everyone."
"God the almighty powerful," the man agreed.
"God is not Hindu God, Muslim God, Christian," Prabhupada said. "God is God."
Still, Dr Kneupper wasn't clear in his mind that what Srila Prabhupada was saying was free of any kind of sectarian concept. "Do you think if a person is to be a real believer in God he has to also worship Krishna or speak of Him?"
"No," Prabhupada assured him. God means Krishna. He has to understand it. Therefore so many books. God has many names, millions, of which Krishna name is the most important. Krishna means "all-attractive". Then you have to understand the science of Goid. How Krishna is God, that you have to understand."
The focus of the conversation changed a little when one of the guests observed that now people generally don't want answers to their questions; they want only to become rich. Prabhupada agreed and pointed out that no matter what one gains in this life, he has to change his body and immediately it is all finished. "Either you become Napoleon, Hitler, or Gandhi, or this or that; any moment everything will be taken away. "Get out." Not only that, tatha dehantara-praptih (Bg 2.13), you have to accept another body."
Dr Kneupper asked whether it is possible to escape the conditions of being in the body. Prabhupada told him yes, by Krishna consciousness.
"What is the purpose of there being a body?" the professor asked.
"What is the purpose of being in the jail? Is there any purpose?" Prabhupada returned.
"Yes. So because we are punished, therefore we are getting this body."
Dr Kneupper was thoughtful and asked the age-old question, "Why does the soul come into the body in the first place?"
Srila Prabhupada repeated that it is simply for punishment.
But Dr Kneupper wanted to know why the soul is being punished.
And Prabhupada readily answered, in the same way that he has many times before. "You want to enjoy. Can you understand this? Everyone is trying to enjoy. So enjoy independently means that you don't care for God. So because they don't care for God, therefore they are punished: "You take care of your body." Mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti (Bg 7.14). So God, therefore, teaches us how to get out of this body."
Dr Kneupper, a student of the Gita, asked if that is moksa.
Prabhupada confirmed it is. Moksa, he told his guests, means to get back one's original body, and bondage means to get a body according to one's desire for independent enjoyment, such as that of a pig or a tiger.
All along it seemed that Dr Kneupper, while very polite and respectful, was laboring under some preconceptions he had picked up from previous contact with devotees. There was a certain reserve that Srila Prabhupada had sensed at the beginning of their exchange and had repeatedly tried to address, a resistance based on Dr Kneupper's mistaken impression that Prabhupada is trying to introduce a restrictive, sectarian approach to religion. Prabhupada pinpointed it once again without getting too personal. Explaining that the word "Veda" means "knowledge" Prabhupada told him, "Knowledge is for everyone. Why do they take, "Oh, Vedas, oh it is Hindu"? Immediately you reject."
"I don't think it's so much a question of rejecting the Vedas," Dr Kneupper said.
"No, Vedas - they do not know what is Vedas. They think it is Hindu. This is the difficulty. As soon as you say, "Bhagavad-gita", "Oh, it is Hindu idea." But that means they do not know what is the meaning of Bhagavad-gita, what is the meaning of Vedas. Unnecessarily they put some obstacle. ... So this difficulty. If I say, "Here is a person who knows mathematics," why there should be objection? Any person who is interested in mathematics will welcome him. So similarly, here is Vedic knowledge. Vedic knowledge means real knowledge. Here is Bhagavad-gita, the knowledge of God, but they misunderstand. They think, "Oh, we have got another God." How God can be another?"
"Many people do accept," Dr Kneupper assured him.
"But as soon as we say it, "Oh, this is Hindu idea!" Reject immediately. This is a science, and they are taking "Hindu idea""
The favorble Indian gentleman had a clear grasp of Prabhupada's points. "The problem is that identification only. Otherwise it is universal philosophy."
Prabhupada nodded, raising his eyebrows in acknowledgment. "It is universal, but they are taking it as Indian. Knowledge is knowledge. It may be Indian or American. It doesn't matter. Just like university. Some students from India go to university in America to study higher knowledge. So that means that because he has gone to America, that is American knowledge? Knowledge is knowledge."
As there are many different Gita translations, Dr Kneupper inquired how he could distinguish which was correct.
"That depends on your philosophy," Prabhupada told him. "You are reading so many books. How do you select, "This is nice." That depends on your philosophy. But if you accept it that it is spoken by God, then there is no argument. But why should you accept it, spoken by God? You read it, whether how much logical, how much full of knowledge. Then you can say. The same thing. Just like Krishna says, tatha dehantara-praptih (Bg 2.13): "Within this body there is the soul, and because the soul is there, therefore body is changing." So any layman can understand; there is no difficulty. If we take "Oh this description, the transmigration of the soul - Hindu idea,"why Hindu idea? It is science. As soon as we consider it "Hindu", then it becomes sectarian. Then you will say, "I have got my Christian idea. Why shall I take your Hindu idea?"
This addressed Dr Kneupper's earlier misgivnings directly and prompted him to ask about Srila Prabhupada's opinion of Christianity. Prabhupada responded that the problem is in knowing which branch of Christianity is authentic. Apart from that, he said that although the Ten Commandments say "Thou shall not kill," all Christians eat meat.
"Not all of them, " Dr Knaupper said dubiously.
"99 %," Prabhupada told him. "They are maintaining all big, big slaughterhouse, all Christians. And Lord Jesus Christ ordered, "Thou shall not kill," but they are killing. What kind of Christian he is? Disobedience to the order of Christ? And still he is Christian? These things are going on. Then again, party, this ism, that ism, that ism. First of all, all of them are disobeying the Ten Commandments, and then there are parties. So which one you'll accept?"
Dr Kneupper asked if there is no such diversity of interpretation of the Bhagavad-gita.
But Prabhupada kept to the point in dicscussion. "No, no, apart from Bhagavad-gita, I am talking of Christianity. How you can disobey the orders of Christ and you become Christian at the same time?"
Dr Kneupper said that there are always people falling short of their religious tenets.
"That's it," Prabhupada said. "That means they are all useless. If you are Christian, how you can defy the order of Christ? You will disobey the orders of Christ; still you are Christian? Just like in India, they are all denying the Vedic culture, and still they are Hindu? All these rascals. So therefore, I say, the whole world is full of rascals. If the Christians accept this word, that Lord said, "Thou shall not kill; why shall we kill?" Welcome. Never mind whether Christian or Hindu. Welcome. Similarly, in India, if they accept Bhagavad-gita, welcome. But everyone is rascal, mudha. Nobody cares for God; nobody cares for God's messenger. All rascals. This is the position. They are creating God. They are creating religion. They are creating sect. This is going on. "
November 6th 1976
Hari Sauri Das: Transcendental Diary, Volume 5