Every year the world spends more
money on crime prevention and control. Yet despite these efforts
crime rates are soaring, and notably in American public schools,
crime has reached almost uncontrollable levels. In this July
1975 discussion with Lieutenant David Mozee, media relations
officer for the Chicago Police Department, Srila Prabhupada
proposed an amazingly simple yet practical solution to the
seemingly insurmountable problem of crime.
Lieutenant Mozee: I understand you
have some ideas that could help us in our efforts to prevent
crime. I'd be very interested to hear them.
Srila Prabhupada: The difference between a pious man and a
criminal is that one is pure in heart and the other is dirty.
This dirt is like a disease in the form of uncontrollable lust
and greed in the heart of the criminal. Today people in general
are in this diseased condition, and thus crime is very
widespread. When the people become purified of these dirty
things, crime will disappear. The simplest process of
purification is to assemble in congregation and chant the holy
names of God. This is called sankirtana and is the basis of our
Krsna consciousness movement. So, if you want to stop crime,
then you must gather as many people as possible for mass
sankirtana. This congregational chanting of the holy name of God
will dissipate all the dirty things in everyone's heart. Then
there will be no more crime.
Lieutenant Mozee: Do you have any feelings about crime here in
the United States as opposed to the crime in your own country of
Srila Prabhupada: What is your definition of crime?
Lieutenant Mozee: Any trampling on the rights of one person by
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Our definition is the same. In the
Upanisads it is said, isavasyam idam sarvam: " Everything
belongs to God." So, everyone has the right to utilize whatever
is allotted to him by God, but one may not encroach upon others'
property. if one does so, he becomes a criminal. Actually the
first crime is that you Americans are thinking this land of
America is yours. Although two hundred years ago it was not
yours, you have come from other parts of the world and claimed
it as your land. Actually it is God's land, and therefore it
belongs to everyone, since everyone is a child of God. But the
vast majority of people have no conception of God. Practically
speaking, everyone is godless. Therefore they should be educated
to love God. In America, your government has a slogan: "in God
we trust." Is that correct?
Lieutenant Mozee: Yes.
Srila Prabhupada: But where is the education about God? To trust
is very good, but simple trust will not endure unless it is
backed up with scientific knowledge of God. One may know that he
has a father, but unless he knows who his father is, his
knowledge is imperfect. And that education in the science of God
Lieutenant Mozee: Do you feel that it's lacking only here in the
Srila Prabhupada: No. Everywhere. The age we live in is called
Kali-yuga, the age of forgetting God. It is an age of
misunderstanding and quarrel, and the people's hearts are filled
with dirty things. But God is so powerful that if we chant His
holy name we become purified, just as my disciples have become
purified of their bad habits. Our movement is based on this
principle of chanting the holy name of God. We give everyone the
opportunity, without any distinction. They can come to our
temple, chant the Hare Krsna mantra, take a little prasadam as
refreshment, and gradually become purified. So if the
governmental authorities give us some facilities, then we can
hold mass sankirtana. Then, without a doubt, the whole society
Lieutenant Mozee: If I understand you correctly, sir, you are
saying that we should emphasize a return to religious
Srila Prabhupada: Certainly. Without religious principles what
is the difference between a dog and a man? Man can understand
religion, but a dog cannot. That is the difference. So if human
society remains on the level of dogs and cats, how can you
expect a peaceful society? If you bring a dozen dogs and put
them together in a room, will it be possible to keep them
peaceful? Similarly, if human society is filled with men whose
mentality is on the level of dogs, how can you expect peace?
Lieutenant Mozee: If some of my questions sound disrespectful,
it is only because I do not completely understand your religious
beliefs. I mean no disrespect whatsoever.
Srila Prabhupada: No, it is not a question of my religious
beliefs. I am simply pointing out the distinction between human
life and animal life. Animals cannot possibly learn anything
about God, but human beings can. However, if human beings are
not given the facility to learn about God, then they remain on
the level of cats and dogs. You cannot have peace in a society
of cats and dogs. Therefore, it is the duty of the governmental
authorities to see that people are taught how to become God
conscious. Otherwise, there will be trouble, because without God
consciousness there is no difference between a dog and a man:
the dog eats, we eat; the dog sleeps, we sleep; a dog has sex,
we have sex; a dog tries to defend itself, and we also try to
defend ourselves. These are the common factors. The only
difference is that a dog cannot be instructed about his
relationship with God, but a man can.
Lieutenant Mozee: Wouldn't peace be a precursor to a return to
religion? Must we not first have peace?
Srila Prabhupada: No, no, that is the difficulty. At the present
moment, no one actually knows the meaning of religion. Religion
means to abide by the laws of God, just as good citizenship
means to abide by the laws of the government. Because no one has
any understanding of God, no one knows the laws of God or the
meaning of religion. This is the present status of people in
today's society. They are forgetting religion, taking it to be a
kind of faith. Faith may be blind faith. Faith is not the real
description of religion. Religion means the laws given by God,
and anyone who follows those laws is religious, whether a
Christian, a Hindu, or a Muslim.
Lieutenant Mozee: With all due respect, isn't it true that in
India, where religious customs have been followed for centuries
upon centuries, we are seeing not a return to but a drawing away
from spiritual life?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but it is due only to bad leadership.
Otherwise, the vast majority of the Indian people are fully
conscious of God, and they try to follow the laws of God. Here
in the West, even big college professors do not believe in God
or in life after death. But in India, even the poorest man
believes in God and in a next life. He knows that if he commits
sins he will suffer and if he acts piously he will enjoy. To
this day, if there is a disagreement between two villagers, they
will go to the temple to settle it, because everyone knows that
the opposite parties will hesitate to speak lies before the
Deities. So in most respects, India is still eighty-percent
religious. That is the special privilege of taking birth in
India, and the special responsibility also. Sri Caitanya
Mahaprabhu has said,
janma sarthaka kari' kara para-upakara
Anyone who has taken birth in India should make his life
perfect by becoming Krsna conscious. Then he should distribute
Krsna consciousness all over the world.
Lieutenant Mozee: Sir, there is a Christian parable that says it
is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for
a rich man to come before the throne of God. Do you think the
wealth of the United States and other Western countries is a
block to spiritual faith?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Too much wealth is a block. Krsna states
in the Bhagavad-gita (2.44):
samadhau na vidhiyate
If one is materially very
opulent, he forgets God. Therefore too much material wealth is a
disqualification for understanding God. Although there is no
absolute law that only the poor man can understand God,
generally if one is extraordinarily rich, his only ambition is
to acquire money, and it is difficult for him to understand
Lieutenant Mozee: In America, those who belong to the Christian
faith also believe these things. I don't see any vast
differences between the spiritual beliefs of one religious group
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, the essence of all religion is the same.
Our proposal is that whatever religious system one follows, he
should try to understand God and love Him. If you are a
Christian, we do not say, "That is no good; you must become like
us." Our proposition is that whether you are a Christian,
Muslim, or Hindu, simply try to understand God and love Him.
Lieutenant Mozee: If I could return to my original purpose for
coming, might I ask what advice you could give to assist us in
reducing crime? I recognize that the first and foremost way
would be a return to God, as you say--there's no doubt about
that--but is there something that we could immediately do to
diminish this spreading criminal mentality?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. As I've already outlined in the beginning
of our talk, you should give us the facility to chant the holy
name of God and distribute prasada. Then there will be a
tremendous change in the population. I came alone from India,
and now I have many followers. What did I do? I asked them to
sit down and chant the Hare Krsna mantra, and afterward I
distributed a little prasadam. If this is done on a mass scale,
the entire society will become very pleasing. This is a fact.
Lieutenant Mozee: Would you want to start the program in an area
of affluence or an area of poverty?
Srila Prabhupada: We do not draw such distinctions. Any place
easily available to all kinds of men would be very suitable to
hold sankirtana. There is no restriction that only the poor men
need the benefit but the rich do not. Everyone needs to be
purified. Do you think criminality exists only in the poorer
section of society?
Lieutenant Mozee: No. But I meant to ask whether there would be
more of a beneficial influence--more of a strengthening of the
community--if the program were held in a poorer area rather than
an affluent area.
Srila Prabhupada: Our treatment is for the spiritually diseased
person. When a person is afflicted with a disease, there are no
distinctions between a poor man and a rich man. They are both
admitted to the same hospital. Just as the hospital should be in
a place where both the poor man and the rich man can easily
come, the location of the sankirtana facility should be easily
accessible to all. Since everyone is materially infected,
everyone should be able to take advantage.
The difficulty is that the rich man thinks he's perfectly
healthy, although he's the most diseased of all. But as a
policeman, you well know that there's criminality among rich men
and poor men alike. So our chanting process is for everyone,
because it cleanses the heart, regardless of the man's opulence
or poverty. The only way to permanently change the criminal
habit is to change the heart of the criminal. As you well know,
many thieves are arrested numerous times and put into jail.
Although they know that if they commit theft they will go to
jail, still they are forced to steal, because of their unclean
hearts. Therefore without cleansing the heart of the criminal,
you cannot stop crime simply by more stringent law enforcement.
The thief and the murderer already know the law, yet they still
commit violent crimes, due to their unclean hearts. So our
process is to cleanse the heart. Then all the troubles of this
material world will be solved.
Lieutenant Mozee: That's a very difficult task, sir.
Srila Prabhupada: It is not difficult. Simply invite everyone:
"Come, chant Hare Krsna, dance, and take sumptuous prasadam."
What is the difficulty? We are doing this at our centers, and
people are coming. But because we have very little money, we can
hold sankirtana only on a small scale. We invite everyone, and
gradually people are coming to our centers and becoming
devotees. If the government would give us a large facility,
however, we could expand unlimitedly. And the problem is big;
otherwise why are there national news articles asking what to
do? No civil state wants this criminality. That's a fact. But
the leaders do not know how to stop it. If they listen to us,
however, we can give them the answer. Why crime? Because people
are godless. And what to do? Chant Hare Krsna and take prasadam.
If you like, you can adopt this process of sankirtana.
Otherwise, we will continue conducting it on a small scale. We
are just like a poor medical man with a small private practice
who could open a big hospital if he were given the facility. The
government is the executor. If they take our advice and adopt
the process of sankirtana, then the problem of crime will be
Lieutenant Mozee: There are many Christian organizations in the
United States that give the holy communion. Why doesn't this
work? Why is this not cleansing the heart?
Srila Prabhupada: To speak frankly, I find it difficult to find
even one real Christian. The so-called Christians do not abide
by the Bible's order. One of the ten commandments in the Bible
is, "Thou shalt not kill." But where is that Christian who does
not kill by eating the flesh of the cow? The process of chanting
the Lord's holy name and distributing prasadam will be effective
if carried out by persons who are actually practicing religion.
My disciples are trained to strictly follow religious
principles, and therefore their chanting of the holy name of God
is different from others'. Theirs is not simply a rubber-stamped
position. They have realized the purifying power of the holy
name through practice.
Lieutenant Mozee: Sir, isn't the difficulty that although a
small circle of priests and devotees may follow the religious
principles, those on the fringe deviate and cause trouble? For
example, assume that the Hare Krsna movement grows to gigantic
proportions, as Christianity has. Wouldn't you then have a
problem with people on the fringe of the movement who professed
to be followers but were actually not?
Srila Prabhupada: That possibility is always there, but all I am
saying is that if you are not a true Christian, then your
preaching will not be effective. And because we are strictly
following religious principles, our preaching will be effective
in spreading God consciousness and alleviating the problem of
Lieutenant Mozee: Sir, let me thank you for your time. I will
deliver this tape recording to my superiors. Hopefully, it will
be effective, as you are effective.
Srila Prabhupada: Thank you very much.