July 9, 2020
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Conversations Srila Prabhupada

Room Conversation with Mr C. Hennis of the International Labor Organisation of the U.N. – May 31, 1974, Geneva | PART 01

Prabhupāda: Give him chair. Hare Kṛṣṇa.

Devotees: Hare Kṛṣṇa.

C. Hennis : Your disciples were kind enough to call on me and invite me to come and have a talk with you.

Prabhupāda: That is very kind of you.

C. Hennis : Thank you very much. I come from the International Labor Organization which is an organization in the United Nations family. It’s the second organization after the United Nations itself, and it’s interested in every form of labor, every form of activity connected with labor, and the protection of the worker, the welfare of the worker. And in many respects, of course, our preoccupations must overlap with yours in certain respects of the activities, of man in general and his protection and his well-being.

Prabhupāda: So according to our Vedic conception, the labor class man is supposed to be the fourth-class man. First-class man, intelligentsia, very intelligent, learned. Or intelligent—one who can understand up to God. To understand God requires great intelligence. So first intelligent class of men, up to, so they are called brāhmaṇa. The next intelligent class man, those who give protection to the society, kṣatriya. And the third class, those who produce food and distribute. They are third class. And other, all others, they are fourth class.

C. Hennis : My organization is in fact concerned with the well being of all four classes. It is not only with the laboring man. It’s also primarily with the producers, but also with the managers, leaders, and to a certain extent also with the protective classes in that we are interested in the well-being of policemen, hospital personnel, doctors, nurses, that kind of social security workers, and that kind of person. We are interested in the intelligentsia in that they are professional workers, often independent, whose professional rights and obligations need to be safeguarded and codified. That’s a standard laid down in the form of international labor standards. One of our activities, not perhaps now the most important, but one of the first.

Prabhupāda: No. My point was, point is that… Because one is fourthclass, therefore we are not interested in that—it is not my point. My point is that there are four classes of men: first-class, second-class, third-class, fourth-class. And our point of view, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, is meant for taking care of all classes of men. Although by natural division there are four classes of men, first-class, second-class, third-class, fourthclass, but the example we generally give, just like in your body there are four divisions: the head division, the arm division, the belly division and the leg division, but all of them meant for keeping the body fit. And body is meant for giving supply to everyone of them. But if you comparatively make division, the head comes the first division, the arms comes the second division, the belly comes the third division, and the legs comes the fourth division. So we should organize in such a way that all the classes of men in the society be happy, not that we simply take care of the head. The same example: In your body it is not your business just simply take care of the head or the legs. No. All these different divisions of your body, you take care. That is healthy body. When your brain is working nicely, when your arms are working nicely, your abdomen is working nicely and legs are working nicely, then you are fit. If you simply take care of the legs, not of the brain, that is not a good healthy body.

C. Hennis : Yeah. I think…

Prabhupāda: Just let me finish. So United Nation is taking care of the fourth class department of the society. What they are taking care of the first-class department? That is my question?

Nitāi: He is asking what are they doing to care for that first division.

Prabhupāda: At the present moment in the society, there is very, very little care for the first-class intellectual class of men.

C. Hennis : The International Labor Organization has as one of its major aims to promote social justice, and that means that every class of worker, if you like to accept the four categories that you mentioned—the intellectual, the productive, the protective, and the laboring classes should each have their proper place in society, should each have a full measure of human dignity, and should each have a proper share in the rewards for labor, both clearly material rewards and honors and dignity and leisure and time for, free time for meditation and so on. In the International Labor Organization, we are not like UNESCO devoted to the more philosophical and cultural and educational aspects for the intelligentsia, but I would draw your attention to the fact that the UNESCO is very much concerned with looking after the head part of society.

Prabhupāda: Yes. So that is my request to you.

C. Hennis : That’s UNESCO. That I can’t answer upon very fully. But I would suggest that they are, in that way UNESCO, United Nations through UNESCO, is very active in promoting culture and in stimulating philosophical thought. We are, on our side are more concerned with the place of the worker in society, and our organization is conceived along a peculiar model which we call the tripartite system. The members of our organization are states, not governments, but states, and each state is represented in our conference by two government delegates, one delegate of the employers and one delegate of the workers. And so the decisions that are reached, the same pattern goes down through the other organs of the organization. But the decisions that are reached in the International Labor Organization are thus not decisions which are only those of the government or the governing classes. They are decisions which represent a very broad consensus of opinions between both the employers and the workers as well as governments. And to that extent we do hope to find resolutions that have a very wide basis of ratification. After they are agreed upon by these three different elements of society represented in our International Labor Conference and in the other organs of the International Labor Organization, we endeavor to get the decisions ratified by national governments. Nevertheless the people who are here go back to their countries and try and get the decisions ratified so that a measure of uniformity in social justice and in the treatment of labor and protection of labor and in social security and in occupational safety and health and of all these things which are bound up with work and also payments to professional workers such as architects, nurses, doctors, people who work on a quite independent basis without being employed. It’s not necessarily employees. Veterinarians and so on. The conditions of employment…

Prabhupāda: According to Vedic conception, the higher class of men, first-class, second class, third class, they are never to be employed. They remain free. Only the fourth class men, they are employed.

C. Hennis : Well the third-class would be what kind of typical worker?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Third-class men means making provision for the society for eating. That is… It is stated, kṛṣi-go-rakṣyavāṇijyam [Bg. 18.44]. Kṛṣi means agriculture, and go-rakṣya means cow protection, and vāṇijyam means trade. That means the third-class men, they would give protection to the cows, produce enough food grains, and if there is excess, then it can be traded. So this is the business of the thirdclass men.

C. Hennis : But that would cover businessmen and tradesmen and farmers.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Yes. Farmers means… Nowadays especially in the western country, I see the farmer means they are raising cows for being killed. There is no cow protection.

C. Hennis : That may well be the case. That may well be the case. As it is not by any means…

Prabhupāda: I have seen. I have seen in England, I have seen in America, they simply raise the cows for being killed in future. You see? But the duty of the agriculturist, they should give very, very protection to the cows especially.

C. Hennis : This doesn’t apply to bulls and bullocks and male animals generally does it?

Prabhupāda: No, bullocks also. Cow means bullock also.

C. Hennis : Oh, is it?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Cow is feminine, bullock is the masculine, that’s all.

C. Hennis : So it’s the whole bovine race that’s protected, and not just the cows themselves, not just the female cows?

Prabhupāda: No, both the male and female. The bullocks are used for so many other purposes. They can till the field. They can be used for transportation, so many other purposes. Or even we are spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness. During Kṛṣṇa’s time… Kṛṣṇa was born of a very well-to-do father, but at that time the bullocks were engaged for transportation from one village to another, one village to another. Or for carrying goods. Actually the United Nations should now think how the whole human society can live peacefully for a purpose of life, not whimsically, without any purpose of life. Now, anywhere… We are preaching. We are going everywhere. If I ask any gentleman, any philosopher, any scientist , if I ask him that “What is the purpose of life?” he cannot explain. That means there is lack of intelligent class of men. Nobody knows what is the purpose of life.

C. Hennis : Well, I think that the International Labor Organization is devoted to the reduction of inequalities between the different classes of men with a view to getting them all a better share of the good things of life, and by that, they may begin to reach a greater degree of human happiness, as they understand it, as the people themselves understand it. It may be that they don’t understand it well.

Prabhupāda: No. Nature’s way is not better share, but equal share. Just like when you take foodstuff, put it in the stomach, and when it is easily digested and transformed into different secretion and comes to the heart and becomes blood, there is equal distribution. Not that because brain is first-class, therefore the blood transformation to the brain should go more. No. Then it will be blood pressure, high blood pressure. This is nature’s way, that… But when the energy goes to the brain, it acts differently. When the energy goes to the hands, it acts differently. The electricity energy is the same, but sometimes by working on the dictaphone, sometimes on the microphone, sometimes in electric heater, sometimes in refrigerator… The different apparatuses are there, but the energy is the same, equal. In that sense, the communistic idea that whatever energy is there, whatever resources are there, they should be equally distributed, that is nature’s way. From the body we can understand that when the foodstuff turns into secretion, it goes to the heart and becomes blood. The blood is transfused through different veins to different parts of the body, and you will find everybody is satisfied.

C. Hennis : When you say equal shares, in certain things like food, I think that would probably be true of the general approach of…

Prabhupāda: I am not speaking of the food. I am speaking of the benefit. Benefit should be equally shared. Now, benefit means… Suppose you can eat more than me. You can eat, say, half a pound of foodstuff, or I can eat one pound, foodstuff. So to give me food, one pound, and to give you food, half pound, that is equal because I require so much. Similarly, the benefit must be equal, as far as you require, I require. Therefore we call it benefit. There is not, I mean to say discrimination in deriving the benefit out of the energy produced in the body. Then everything will be all right. And if the brain works nicely, if the arms work nicely, if the stomach works nicely and the legs work nicely, then you are healthy body. You can do everything very nicely.

C. Hennis : And then, in taking the analogy in terms of the world society, we have a society which is properly integrated and properly balanced. This is an idea which is by no means alien to the…

Prabhupāda: My original point was that if we take simply care of the fourth-class division of the society, do not take care of the first-class division of the society, then, in spite of taking care of the fourth-class society, it will not grow very nicely. Because the brain is not in order.

C. Hennis : Yes. I think that in fact my organization is really intimately concerned…

Prabhupāda: That was my point, that you are taking of the laborer class. That is just like the legs.

C. Hennis : Well “labor,” in fact means any kind of work, any kind of activity, any kind of occupational activity.

Prabhupāda: But you cannot say the… Any kind of activities, but everyone has got particular type of activity.

C. Hennis : Quite so.

Prabhupāda: You cannot say, “I can do any kind of work.” I can give you advice about spiritual life, but if you require medical advice, then you have to go to somebody else. You cannot expect medical advice from me. So this is not a fact, that everyone can do everything. No.

C. Hennis : No, no, I agree. I agree.

Prabhupāda: There must be division. There must be division, and each division must be maintained very nicely. Then the whole society is all right.

C. Hennis : That I would agree with. And my organization…

Yogeśvara: Perhaps one difference is that when we speak about the first-class, or the head division, the intellectual class, we are speaking about a class that is people who belong to that class by qualification, not simply that they have some title, that they are professor or that they are scholar. They have to be properly qualified.

C. Hennis : It’s difficult to be a professor or a doctor unless you may have some type of qualification.

Yogeśvara: Well, he says it’s difficult to be any kind of doctor or professor unless you are properly qualified.

Prabhupāda: No, from this point of… He is right. Unless he has got the medical degrees, unless he is educated… We also say that thing, that unless one is sufficiently educated in medical science or legal science, he cannot be said a medical man or a legal man.

C. Hennis : You see, my organization represents all the states in the world practically, all the states of any importance in the world, with the exception of a few like Monaco and San Marino and Andorra and that kind of place. And through my organization, the states of the world, and that doesn’t only mean governments, express their concern and endeavor to improve the lot of all of the people who are active in some way in the economy and in modern society, these may be professional workers. We don’t deal with medical doctors because that is the problems of the World Health Organization. We don’t deal with teachers and university professors and philosophers and so on because that is more the problem of UNESCO, and they deal with it very thoroughly. We don’t deal by any means fully with the actual production of foodstuffs. This is the FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization who does it. What we do do, we look after the rewards the people get for the work they do in the ordinary way of life as employees in offices, in banks, in commerce, in shops, trading. We are very interested in developing rural areas and in improving the lot of the rural worker so that the rural worker will no longer be under a disadvantage by comparison with the workers in the towns, so that they will have proper facilities, proper leisure and proper opportunities for self-improvement.

Prabhupāda: I may say in this connection, in America, the laborer class is very highly paid. Anyone, any labor class man can earn $25, $50, daily, very easily. But because there is no direction of the brain, these labor class of men—I have seen—they—especially these Negroes—51%, they are drunkards. They spend their money in drinking. They do not know how to utilize the money. Because the brain is not giving direction. Or they have no brain. “I have got so money. How I shall utilize it?” As soon as he gets money, he use it, he uses it for drinking. You may think that you are sufficiently paying to the labor class, worker class, but because he is not guided by brain, he is misspending the money.

C. Hennis : We are interested in that, too. We are interested in that, too. We don’t want to tell people how to spend their money. We think that this would be…

Prabhupāda: You haven’t got to say. But because he hasn’t got brain, because he is not guided by the brain, he will misspend and create disturbance in the society.

C. Hennis : Well, we try to look after that in an indirect way. We don’t, as I said, we don’t tell people how to spend their money. We don’t tell them what to do in their free time. We do try to make sure that they have proper facilities for leisure, that they have proper opportunities, sports grounds, swimming pools and so forth, although that’s not our primary concern. But what we do try to do, and this will interest you very much, we have a very big program concerned with worker’s education. We endeavor to provide programs of education to the worker in teaching him how to understand the problems of modern industry, to understand the problems of management, the people on the other side of the table, of the bargaining table; to understand how to read a balance sheet, for example, in a company, or understand what are the problems that face the management as distinct from the workers in a firm; to understand of the basic rudiments of economics and finance and that kind of thing. This is a very highly developed program which is addressed to adult workers. Now, clearly if a man wants to drink, he wants to drink. But we feel… We are not interested in the drink particularly, except in that it represents a hazard of work. When it represents a hazard at work, and it may be dangerous to the man in his occupation. There, of course, we are interested in it. We try to limit it in such ways as it is possible to limit it.

Yogeśvara: This is a man’s story, if I may mention in this connection. Rūpānuga Mahārāja, one of our students, before joining the movement was a social worker. And he told me once a story about a particular case of a woman who was in a very destitute position. Her husband was in the hospital, she had five children, and one was… So many problems were there. And Rūpānuga was going and giving her her weekly money from the government, welfare check. And one day he came unexpectedly because part of his job was to see how they were using the money. And he found her there in her apartment with a strange man and drugs and alcohol on the floors and the children running naked, and he was obliged to stop giving her the money. Simply because there had been no proper use of it, there was no point in giving it. It was not doing her any good. To improve her situation superficially wasn’t improving the situation at all.

Prabhupāda: You understand that?

C. Hennis : Yes. Well, of course it’s only by a long term of general program of cultural improvement that you can hope to overcome that kind of problem. On the other hand, it would be, I think, wrong to argue from that experience that the provision of welfare benefits to all people who are destitute should be stopped, you see. It is true that…

Prabhupāda: No, we don’t want to say that.

C. Hennis : It’s true these are abused, but the fact that a good thing is abused doesn’t turn it into a bad thing.

Prabhupāda: No that is not the point. Point is that everyone should be guided by the brain. Therefore the brain must be maintained. That is our point

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