(Click to enlarge a rare photo of Srila Prabhupada speaking on the telephone)
"Now, whole modern materialistic civilization is depending on the motorcars and aeroplanes, transportation. So if the petroleum supply is stopped, then what will be the condition of the society? Formerly there was no need of going to see a friend thirty miles away, because every friend was within the village. Now, because we have got motorcar, we create friendship with a man who lives fifty miles away. We accept a job fifty miles away. In Hawaii our Gaurasundara was going to attend office fifty miles off. By fifty miles off... In big, big cities like New York, Calcutta, we have seen people are coming to attend their office from hundred miles off. I have seen also in aeroplane there are many people... I have seen in England. Many workers or gentlemen, they are coming from Glasgow to London for working, by aeroplane.
So we have created a civilization that... We have created a facility for transport by motorcar or by aeroplane, but side by side, we have created another difficulty, that a man has to go to his work three hundred miles away. Side by side. Formerly, a man used to work on his field, a few steps from his house. Now we have created facility of transport; therefore we have to go to work three hundred miles away from home. This is the position. But they have no brain. They're thinking they're advancing. (laughs) Advancing in this way, that 'For my livelihood I have to go three hundred miles, three hours at least, not less than three hours. Or six hours I have to spoil. Then I can go to my office. Then I work there whole day, and again come, again six hours. Then I come at night to sleep along with my family for three hours.' Yes. This is our facility. Yes.
One... There is a story. Not story, it is a fact. One day, one grown-up child was asking his mother, 'Who is this gentleman?' The father was there. So the mother said, 'He is your father, my dear child.' So he did not see his father until he grew three years or four years old. Because when he was child, the father was rising early in the morning. At that time, child was sleeping. And he was going to office, and when he comes back, the child was sleeping. So unless the child grew four years old, he could not see his father. Is it not the position of this? It is a story or an instruction, because the man, the gentleman, was going office early in the morning... There are still. They start at six o'clock from home to catch the first train. We have seen in Calcutta. First train is seven o'clock, and they come in Calcutta after two hours, nine o'clock. Then attends office, and again he catches another train, five o'clock. He goes, late at night. In Bombay also, big, big cities. This is the position.
So we are advancing in science, but at the same time, the so-called science, at the same time we are creating many disadvantages. Many disadvantages. From practical experience I say that when I came to your country... In India it is very difficult to get a telephone. You have to wait in the waiting list at least for two years or you have to bribe the authorities, say, five thousand, two thousand, like that. So when I got this facility of telephone... Because as soon as I deposited forty dollars... Forty dollars? The next day the telephone was in my room. So I was very glad. But after getting my telephone, I was disturbed always. (laughter) Some of my students asking, phoning me, (telephone sound) cling, cling, and 'Swamiji, how you are feeling?' At twelve o'clock at night. (laughter). Yes. So I asked him, it is the time to inquire? I am very sorry. Not only one, I become so much disturbed. Then I asked them, get out this telephone. Yes.
So try to understand. The so-called facility of the modern science means creating so many difficulties also. That is the position. Just like formerly, a preacher could not come to your country, say, fifty years or a hundred years ago. So he was preaching within his limit. But we have got now facilities, so we are preaching everywhere. So from Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we can utilize all facilities in the proper channel. But not materially. Now, we are utilizing this facility of aeroplane; that means we are getting good chance for serving Kṛṣṇa. But others, materialists, they are getting this facility so that his child cannot recognize him. So we can take all facilities... So therefore we are actually utilizing the scientific improvements for the benefit of the people; the karmīs, they cannot. They are in difficulties."
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Los Angeles, September 16, 1972)