Syamasundara: [...] John Dewey says that the object of inquiry or asking questions is belief; that because we want to believe something we often ask questions in order to find something to believe in. This is the nature of inquiry.
Prabhupada: So that is the Vedanta-sutra: to find out the ultimate cause of everything, the inquiries about the Absolute Truth. So these inquiries should be made to the person who knows; otherwise, what is the use of inquiring? That is the Vedic injunction. If you want to inquire about truth, then you must approach the bona fide spiritual master, guru. Guru means bona fide.
But because there are so many pseudo gurus at the present moment, therefore we have to add this word “bona fide.” Otherwise, guru means bona fide. One who is not bona fide, he cannot be guru. But people are misled by persons, pseudo or false gurus; therefore you have to add this word “bona fide.” Otherwise there is no necessity of adding this word.
Syamasundara: John Dewey believes that it is the nature of inquiry itself to want to believe something, even on the small, everyday level. If I want to know who put these flowers here, because I want to believe the truth about these flowers, I ask, I inquire.
Prabhupada: So inquiry means to know the truth. Therefore our inquiry should be made to a person who knows the truth. Otherwise the inquiry has no valid position. Tad vijnanartham sa gurum eva abhigacchet [MU 1.2.12]. That is Vedic injunction. The inquiry should be genuine and the answer should come from a genuine person. Then it is all right.
Syamasundara: John Dewey says that the final outcome of inquiry is the fulfillment of human needs by practical action, to change the external environment.
Prabhupada: Yes. A human being, unless he is inquisitive about the Absolute Truth, he is not considered sufficiently developed in human form. Unless this enquiry is there, about self, what I am, he is not considered sufficiently developed in his consciousness. He is still in ignorance.
Syamasundara: But his perspective is that by inquiring, we find out what is wrong with our environment, our external environment.
Syamasundara: And we take practical actions to change that environment and thus fulfill human needs.
Prabhupada: Yes. That is nice. That inquiry will clear everything. If the person is serious, if he inquires what is the aim of human life, then he is supposed to be intelligent. Otherwise, the animals, they cannot inquire what is the aim of life. They are simply eating, sleeping. That’s all. But a human being must be inquisitive what is the value of life.
Syamasundara: But is our… Is the result of our inquiry to change the external environment?
Prabhupada: Yes. If you are seriously inquiring and if you know things as they are, then we can change our activities. What we are preaching? That your business is to know Krsna.
So if people actually take this movement seriously, then his mode of life will be changed. That is practically happening. All our students, they were leading a certain type of life, and since they have come to Krsna consciousness, their whole program has been changed.
Syamasundara: We have come to the same question we were discussing with Marx: whether changing external environment is prerequisite to improvement or changing the consciousness is prerequisite. And you answered before, in Marx’s case, that if we change the consciousness, then the environment becomes changed…
Syamasundara: …rather than vice versa. Also, to a certain extent the other way. If we change the environment, the consciousness changes.
Prabhupada: It is the cause and effect. One is the cause of the other; other is the cause of the other. But actually it is the consciousness that requires to be changed—either by hearing from authority or by circumstances. There are two processes to achieve knowledge. This, in Bengali it is said, dekhe sekhara, teke sekhara.
When one is actually in an awkward circumstances, that’s a fact. So “This kind of way of life is not good. I have to change it.” This is called tekhe sekhara. When he is actually in danger, he takes precautions of danger. But one who is intelligent, he understands by hearing that “If you do like that, then you will fall in danger.”
So that man is intelligent who learns by hearing from the authorities. And one who actually experienced the awkward position, and then he changes his consciousness… That is also one of the processes, but this is better.
Therefore our process is to approach the bona fide teacher and learn from him everything. That is brahmacari life. Not by practical experience. That is Vedic knowledge. The experience is already there. You simply hear and take it. Then it becomes easier. But if you expect that “First of all let me fall down into the ditch, then I shall cry…”
Better man is, he takes advice, “Don’t go there. You’ll fall down in the ditch.” Just like Kalidasa. Kalidasa was in the beginning he was a great fool. So he was cutting a tree, sitting on the branch. So some intelligent men was going around, “What you are doing, nonsense? You shall fall down.” He didn’t care, but cutting, he actually fell down. Then, “Oh, you are very intelligent! How did you say? How did you foretold?” Then they saw that he was a first-class fool.
So “This boy should be taken to the king’s daughter to become her husband.” The girl was so intelligent that the challenge was that “Any man who will defeat me in argument, I shall marry.” But she was so intelligent that nobody could defeat. So all the learned scholars, the father was asking, “Bring me an intelligent boy to marry her.”
So they did not find any intelligent boy. Whoever comes, he is defeated. So they decided “Now, because she is so determined to have a very nice husband, we shall make this boy her husband, this fool number one.” So they took him there and instructed that “That girl…” and he will show his finger like this. “You’ll show this.” So he was a fool, so “All right, I’ll do that.”
So when he was brought to the girl, the girl held up one finger and he showed two fingers, and then the all the panditas, “Oh, the answer is given him. Your girl says eka brahma, ‘Brahman is one.’ ” And he immediately answered (indistinct), “There is no two Brahma. Brahman is one.” The girl also thought, “Yes, this boy is a genius.”
So in this way this foolish man was made her husband, and at night, when she came to understand that he was fool number one, she kicked him and asked him, “Get out of my room.” So he became very insulted: “My wife has kicked me. I am so fool. So I shall make suicide by drowning in the water.” He was crying and remembering the goddess of learning, that “I am so foolish, my dear mother Sarasvati. You did not favor me, so I shall kill myself.” With great lamentation he was going to die.
At that time, Sarasvati became very kind and she appeared, “Kalidasa, why you are drowning this way?” “My mother, this is my position. I have been insulted by my wife because I am a fool.” “All right, from henceforward you shall be very learned.” “Oh, but I do not know…” “No, whatever you say, it will be all right.” He got this benediction from mother Sarasvati.
He came back, then he was knocking the door. The wife said, “Who are you?” He replied, hastigrati vada visesana, “Somebody who can speak very learnedly.” Then whatever he was replying, he became, by the grace of Sarasvati, he became highly learned scholarly speaking. So Kalidasa, with these four words he wrote four books that is very famous: the Kumara-sambhava.
He began with this word hasti, and the word raghu-vamsa kascid. In this way he was (indistinct), and he became very famous by this. Hasti uttarasyandesa himalayanarna naradi rajan uddhva paro toyanidhi balaja stita pratijnan eva mana danda . This is the beginning of Kumara-sambhava.
Kumara-sambhava means Lord Siva’s marriage with the daughter of Himalaya. He begins describing Himalaya: hasti uttarasyandesi himalayanamadira uttare syan dese (indistinct), in the northern side there is a king of mountains known as Himalaya. Somebody interprets it that is Arctic region. Urdhva pare yato nidhi upa rajan .
North and east, there are two oceans—I think this is Atlantic and Pacific—abagajan— touching—sthita pratijnana eva mana gandha —as the whole. In this way he became… He became famous poet by the grace of Sarasvati. In the beginning he was cutting the same branch on the tree on which he was sitting.