January 17th, 1976
After a walk in a nearby park, Śrīla Prabhupāda set off for Māyāpur at 7:30 a.m. With Prabhupāda, Madhudviṣa Swami, Tamal Krishna Goswami, and Jayapatāka Swami were in the lead car; Śrīdhara Swami, Harikeśa, Caitya-guru, who has come from Bombay to associate with Śrīla Prabhupāda, and I followed in another.
Two hours later and seven kilometers before the town of Ranaghāṭa our party stopped to take breakfast in a large grove of several hundred mango trees. The grove has become a regular resting point for Śrīla Prabhupāda whenever he goes to Māyāpur. Seated on a folded chaddar on the leaf-strewn grass, with the spreading arms of the huge trees forming a pleasant canopy above, Prabhupāda seemed completely at ease in the natural setting. We had brought various fruits, baḍa, fried cashew nuts, and sweets. The sannyāsīs sat in a row alongside His Divine Grace, while Caitya-guru and I served the prasādam out on leaf plates. After a relaxed half an hour, hands and mouths washed, we proceeded on to our destination, the birthplace of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
A large gathering of ISKCON Māyāpur devotees, led by Bhavānanda and Sudāmā Mahārājas, were eagerly waiting to greet Śrīla Prabhupāda when we arrived around 11:00 a.m.
As we approached we saw that the construction of a beautiful and impressive gatehouse had been completed at the entrance to our property. The gatehouse is fifteen feet thick, with three archways. The center archway is wide and high enough for a truck to pass under, while the two side ones are for pedestrians. Above the archways sit five domes, the large central one capped with an ornate, brass spire reaching some fifty feet or so into the air. There are several small rooms in the domes on either side. The entire structure is attractively painted, the domes in saffron and maroon with yellow on the facing wall. Large footprints of Lord Caitanya adorned with a tulasī leaf sprig and surrounded by lotus flowers are emblazoned on the front, with the words SRI MAYAPUR CANDRODAYA MANDIR below them.
Prabhupāda got out of the car on the main front road. As everyone looked on in great delight, he stepped forward and cut a large ribbon, officially opening the gateway. The formal ceremony over, the metal gates were opened, and he happily walked through the arch and entered the temple compound, followed by a stream of devotees. He moved steadily along the road, past the original thatched hut where he first stayed when he got the land, past flower beds and crops, toward the main building.
All the while he was surrounded by a dancing, chanting party of about twenty or thirty young Bengali brahmacārīs, all Vaiṣṇavas, heads shaven and decorated with tilaka, loudly chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. These are all privileged residents of Lord Caitanya’s holy dhāma, whose greatest joy in life is clearly the presence of the Lord’s pure devotee.
Entering the ground-floor temple room Prabhupāda greeted the beautiful brass forms of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava. Śrī Śālagrāma-śīlā is also present, Māyāpur being one of the few ISKCON temples in which Śrīla Prabhupāda has so far sanctioned His worship.
After a lively guru-pūjā Prabhupāda gave a short talk, describing the benefits of life in the holy dhāma. “It was Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s aspiration that the Europeans, Americans, and Indians all together dance jubilantly and chant ‘Gaura Hari.’ So this temple, Māyāpur Candrodaya temple, is meant for transcendental United Nations. What the United Nations has failed, that will be achieved here by the process recommended by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma/ sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma. So you have come from all parts of the world and are living together in this temple.
“So train these small boys. I am very glad especially to see the small children from all other countries, and Indian, Bengalis, all together, forgetting their bodily consciousness. That is the greatest achievement in this movement, that everyone forgets the bodily conception of life. Nobody thinks themselves here as European, American, Indian, Hindu, Muslim, Christian. They forget all these designations, and simply they are ecstatic in chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. So kindly what you have begun do not break it. Continue it very jubilantly. And Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the master of Māyāpur, He will be very much pleased upon you. And ultimately you will go back to home, back to Godhead. Thank you very much.”
To the loud cheers of the devotees he went upstairs to his rooms on the second floor.
Śrīla Prabhupāda is obviously extremely happy to be in Māyāpur. The entire project is well-managed and progressing wonderfully. Built to Prabhupāda’s own specifications, the central guest house building has good facilities. He especially likes the wide verandas encircling the three upper stories, giving the guest house a spacious, palatial effect. On each of the two upper floors there are eight rooms, each measuring twenty-two by fourteen feet and twelve feet in height, split into groups of four by a central stairway. Most are equipped with two ornate, wood-frame beds, a table, and a chair. At either end of the floor are large bathrooms with four shower stalls, toilets, and sinks.
Prabhupāda’s own quarters have two interconnected rooms, one for working and giving darśana, the other for sleeping. The rooms are very simply furnished. His sitting room has only a raised wooden āsana and a low desk, and the floors are covered with white-sheeted cotton mattresses and bolsters. In the bedroom there is an almirah, a small table with a very beautiful Deity of Lord Caitanya on it, and Śrīla Prabhupāda’s bed, exactly the same type as in the guest rooms. He also has the bathroom at the end of his floor reserved for his exclusive use.
Next door to Prabhupāda, Caitya-guru and me share the servant’s room. The first thing I did after setting up Śrīla Prabhupāda’s dictaphone was install the summoning bell, the lead of which is long enough to reach from his desk right to my bedside. Prabhupāda has only to push a button to instantly alert me when he needs something.
As we unpacked, Śrīla Prabhupāda chatted with the sannyāsīs for a few minutes. He expressed his satisfaction with the enthusiasm of the devotees, the beautiful grounds, and the spiritually vibrant atmosphere.
He glanced around his room. His eyes rested for a moment on an intricately carved, three-dimensional, wooden plaque on the far wall. It depicts Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and was a gift from an admirer in Indonesia. On the wall beside him hung a large canvas oil painting depicting the Māyāpur foundation-stone-laying ceremony. It shows him sitting with some of his Godbrothers while disciples and admirers stand around. Above and behind him, dioramas of the Paṣca-tattva perched on a shelf. In such a perfect setting I was struck by how the simplicity and deep spirituality of his surroundings seem to perfectly compliment Śrīla Prabhupāda’s own transcendental nature.
Later, giving Prabhupāda his massage, I surveyed the beautiful gardens and the wide-open expanse of fields from the veranda’s vantage point. All around I could see rice fields in various stages of development: hues of emerald green maturing to yellow-gold. Clumps of dāl, strips of vegetables, nearly ripened wheat, and small green forests dotted the distant skyline. In the clear sky kingfishers flashed brilliant blue, green parrots flitted here and there in pairs, and cranes stalked the flooded paddies. It was a beautiful vision. Following the line of the road toward the Gaṅgā and Jalāṅgī Rivers were the maṭhas, temples established by the followers of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī. Their spires and domes reach to the sky, sentinels and reminders of real progress in human life. The sweet melodious kīrtana of the Bengali devotees floated out from the temple below us, pervading the entire atmosphere.
In this environment Śrīla Prabhupāda is clearly more relaxed and happy than I have seen him so far, like someone who has returned home from afar. Māyāpur struck me as idyllic, and as I rubbed the mustard oil into his lotus feet, I suggested that it would be a fine place for his retirement. He mused for a moment and then replied, “Either Vṛndāvana or Māyāpur. No other place, that is for sure.”
* * *
Early in the evening Harikeśa came in to see Śrīla Prabhupāda, looking very glum. He admitted that he had left the almirah in Prabhupāda’s Calcutta room open. Śrīla Prabhupāda was very angry with him. He could not understand how he had been so careless.
Prabhupāda keeps many important items locked up in his rooms—in cupboards or almirahs—especially in main centers where he has permanent rooms like Bombay, Vṛndāvana, Calcutta, or Māyāpur. Because Harikeśa has been traveling with Prabhupāda for quite some time, Prabhupāda entrusts him with keeping records of the banking as well as other transactions, but he said that now this carelessness meant he cannot be trusted.
Harikeśa felt he should immediately ring Calcutta. But Prabhupāda made it clear: the only solution was for Harikeśa immediately to leave for Calcutta to personally lock up the almirah. That was the only way to be certain. Harikeśa immediately made the arrangements and left soon after.
Apart from this incident, the evening was very pleasant. Prabhupāda sat relaxed and happy in his room. Both doors were left open on either side of him, allowing a gentle breeze to flow through, while the sounds of an ecstatic sundara-ārati kīrtana led by Sudāmā Mahārāja reverberated in the night air.
There were no visitors. After a hot cup of milk from our own cows, Prabhupāda took rest at ten o’clock before starting his night’s translation work.
January 18th, 1976
First thing this morning Śrīla Prabhupāda went on a tour of all the buildings on our property. He inspected the entire grounds, beginning at the new pukkur, a small reservoir near the main gate dug out over the last year and now partially landscaped. He said fruit trees should be planted on the high banks surrounding it and a path made all around.
While walking Prabhupāda discussed accommodations for the devotees who would be visiting during the festival. Jayapatāka Mahārāja suggested building temporary grass cottages on the open land, but Prabhupāda objected. He said it was better to spend money on something permanent. He told Jayapatāka instead to build rooms along the entire length of the northern boundary wall and to have them ready for the festival—a whole new guest house building.
With the festival only six weeks away, Jayapatāka expressed doubts how it could be completed in time. Prabhupāda told him if they engage at least one hundred men it could be done. Then Bhavānanda Mahārāja raised the objection that there was no money. Prabhupāda told him that if that was the only problem, he would give him the money. But he said they must start immediately. Jayapatāka, however, was still apprehensive. He said there was a shortage of bricks. Nevertheless Prabhupāda pushed him to begin construction. He told them that they should do whatever they can, but the work must begin immediately.
Leaving the pukkur we hesitated to go down the steep incline of the embankment. Jayapatāka, however, had no problem running down, even in his wooden shoes. Śrīla Prabhupāda laughed. “Victorious flag—Jaya-patākā,” he called out, appreciating his disciple’s dexterity.
Walking south along the inner road Śrīla Prabhupāda inspected the boundary-wall rooms. Some were being used for living quarters, and some were being used for storage.
At the dispensary Prabhupāda said that he would give some herbal formulas for minor ailments. He also suggested that the devotees keep a stock of general medicines for curing common complaints without the need for a doctor.
At least five or six rooms were being used for weaving. Looking in at the looms, Prabhupāda revealed a little of his vision of a spiritual society in Māyāpur. He said, “Some envious persons might criticize, ‘Oh, this is temple and they are weaving. They are not worshiping?’ And yet others may accuse us as religionists—parasites. But in the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa says sva-karmaṇā tam abhyarcya siddhià vindati mānavaḥ. Whatever a person knows, he can work in that way and get perfection, provided he is Kṛṣṇa conscious. Because they are preparing the cloth for the devotees and not for business, they are therefore serving Kṛṣṇa.”
Prabhupāda suggested that some of the rooms be turned into shops where cloth, books, prasādam, mṛdaṅga drums, and karatālas could be sold.
Then he turned back to inspect the gurukula on the northern side of the main gate. Prabhupāda was disturbed to see clay dioramas from last year’s festival now lying broken and neglected in some of the rooms. He wanted to know why other temples could keep their dolls for years, but ours have been destroyed within one year. When Jayapatāka Mahārāja offered “vandalism” as the excuse, Prabhupāda strongly criticized him for allowing vandals to come in. “You are so careful—that is the defect!” Prabhupāda told him sarcastically. “We have so many enemies, and you do not take care of it.” He repeated this several times as he continued his tour. With mild sarcasm he called his disciple “the most foolish person in the whole world” for not securing them properly.
Walking out the main gate and down to the far south-westerly corner of our property, Prabhupāda inspected the outside of the boundary wall. Its surface is being plastered and sculpted into a series of decorative panels. They will then be painted by our artists with advertisements for Prabhupāda’s books.
At the end of the wall we arrived at the new prasādam hall where our free-food program regularly serves free meals to many thousands of local people. At its side a large, metal turnstile has been specially installed. This is an invention borrowed from the New York subways, but new in these parts. Its purpose is to prevent the villagers from crushing in all at once when coming to take prasādam. The hall itself is big enough to hold 1,200 people at once. Prabhupāda was impressed. Looking at its cavernous interior and high, corrugated-iron ceiling, he laughingly said it resembled the Bombay railway station.
Nothing escaped his sharp eyes. Outside, he saw a broken-down three-wheeled vehicle. He wanted to know why it was occupying valuable space. Told that it was a donation from someone who had joined our āśrama, he quoted an old Bengali saying. “‘A blind cow given in charity to a brāhmaṇa.’ When something is useless—all right, charity!” He ordered it to be removed, right then and there, from our land. “We do not require such charity,” he said.
From there he inspected the kitchen area, a separate building with accommodations for householders on the upper floor. He was not pleased to see dirt on the steps. He said they looked as if they had not been cleaned “for three hundred years,” and he demanded to know why. When told the place was cleaned every night, he retorted, “What is the use of such cleaning, if it is dirty the next morning?”
One of the managers said it was difficult to get the devotees to clean in the early morning because they all wanted to complete their japa. Prabhupāda, however, said cleaning must come first, and the chanting of japa another time. He stressed that unless they are prepared to work, no one should be allowed to join us. “Śrī-vigrahārādhana-nitya-nānā-śṛṅgāra-tan-mandira-mārjanādau. This is all temple. This is not ordinary hotel, free hotel. If they cannot take care as temple, they must go away. Simply eating, sleeping, that’s all, not working. See that they do not make it a free hotel for eating and sleeping. Don’t allow this. It should be clean. Why in the evening? Every morning it should be cleaned and washed and mopped. They must give up japa; first of all clean. In the name of japa they are dozing, and everything is unclean. This nonsense should not be allowed. Ask them, ‘Stop jap-ing. First of all clean. Then make japa.’
“Under a plea of japa they are simply dozing,” he said. “You should not give shelter to persons who, in the name of so-called japa, take advantage of free board and lodging. You should be very careful. Everyone should be, according to his capacity, engaged to some work. Do not allow this stupidity.”
His inspection was thorough and penetrating, delving into every aspect of management, from the buildings to the crops. He was pleased to hear that the devotees are growing sugarcane and making gur from it. With good humor and practical intelligence he encouraged the devotees to continue working hard for Kṛṣṇa, for the development of both Māyāpur and their own spiritual lives.
On his return to the temple he greeted the Deities, received guru-pūjā, and circumambulated Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava three times before returning to his room.
Morning prasādam for the devotees was date juice and puffed rice, the main meal being served at 11:00 a.m. For his breakfast Prabhupāda took only a small amount of fruit and baḍa. Jayapatāka Mahārāja brought him the season’s first jug of date rasa, the clear sweet sap of the date palm. He drank a small amount from his cup, appearing to enjoy it.
Prabhupāda called for me at 9:30 a.m. to begin his massage. He wanted to have it early because the sun was shining on the veranda outside his room. Whenever possible and if not too hot, he enjoys having his massage while exposed to the health-giving rays of the sun. It was finished by 11:00 a.m., and after bathing, he sat on his āsana in his room. With his eyes closed he remained in an upright position for about forty-five minutes. Occasionally his lips moved as he silently chanted or said something. He appeared to be completely absorbed—I wondered, perhaps, in Goloka Vṛndāvana?
Māyāpur is definitely not the material world. There is a transcendental aspect, tangible even to a neophyte like me. After months of arduous travel on behalf of Lord Caitanya, Prabhupāda has come here to recuperate and relax. Always completely immersed in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa, who knows what he actually sees and hears?
* * *
A letter came from Sweden written by Dwarakeśa dāsa. In it he explained that he was a Hungarian who had escaped from Hungary several years ago, later becoming a devotee. Now the Hungarian government was allowing illegal emigrants back, although once returning, it would be difficult to get out again. He felt he should go back and attempt to deliver Kṛṣṇa consciousness to his countrymen. The devotees in Sweden already had contacts with a yoga club there, and he was enthusiastic to preach.
Prabhupāda encouraged him. After so many recent conversations and discussions on Communism it seemed like Kṛṣṇa responding to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s desire to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the Communist countries. “If there is possibility to preach amongst the Communists,” he wrote, “you must do it immediately. The intelligent Communist people will very easily understand our philosophy. We can convince them on the basis of samah sarvesu bhutesu, a Krsna conscious person is equally disposed to every living entity. (Bg. 18.54)”
Prabhupāda explained that communism is no better than capitalism because both exploit the animals and other living beings. He told Dwarakeśa he should make the present imperfect idea of communism perfect by following the description of perfect communism given in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. “It is stated that you feel for the poor animals as well as the human beings. Srimad-Bhagavatam instructs that even if there is a snake or a lizard in the house, it is the duty of the householder to see that they are also eating, not starving. So you have to begin your preaching with such broader idea of communism... .
“So far as coming out of Hungary once you enter, if you can preach, what is the need of coming out?”
Mahāàsa Swami wrote. He is having difficulty persuading the two sisters in Nellore to relax the conditions on the deed of gift of land.
Prabhupāda responded, “We are not at all interested to be dictated by them.” He told him that because we have already installed the foundation stone, “We do not wish to go back.” To this end he stated his willingness even to purchase the land and still allow the two ladies to carry on living in one portion of the building, as devotees. He was adamant, though, that we shall not concede to any special conditions.
* * *
In the early evening, just on dusk, a few of the senior devotees and myself were sitting with Prabhupāda in his room, conversing. From a distance and gradually drawing nearer, we heard the loud trumpeting of a conch shell accompanied by bell ringing and the chanting of mantras. Bhavānanda Mahārāja laughed and told Prabhupāda it was Anantarāma Śāstri, an Indian devotee in his mid-twenties who joined us last year with three other śāstrīs. Unfortunately the others left, but he has stayed on. As his name implies, he is very knowledgeable in the scriptures and well-versed in the performance of various types of pūjā. He can also quote practically any Sanskrit verse from memory.
Bhavānanda explained that each evening as the sun goes down, he tours the building, floor by floor, with a bell, conch, and a large, clay incense burner, chanting various mantras to keep away ghosts and other subtle beings.
The sound grew louder and Prabhupāda smiled in welcome as Śāstri entered his room in a cloud of frankincense, the reverberations of the conch temporarily drowning out our conversation. It was an impressive ritual, made more so by Śāstri’s ability to both blow air through his mouth and suck it in through his nose at the same time, thus keeping the conch blowing uninterruptedly for several minutes. He walked around both rooms, waving a bamboo fan over his clay bowl to disperse the fragrant smoke. It also acts as an effective mosquito repellent. After a couple of minutes he respectfully backed out the door and continued his nightly round.
The pūjā triggered Prabhupāda’s remembrance of his time in Allahabad in 1945. He told us he was paying only two hundred rupees for a whole house then. But the place was famous as a ghostly haunted house. Nobody would rent it, but Prabhupāda took it. “I don’t care for ghosts,” he said, smiling. “Actually there was a ghost, and all the servants, they were met. But I was chanting.”
Later Madhudviṣa Swami and I sat with Prabhupāda as he talked about how the British knew the art of ruling. By giving Indians control as supervisors they were able to rule a large, populous continent with only a few thousand men. In general the Indians appreciated them. But after innocent people were shot at an anti-British rally in Amritsar, Gandhi’s movement was able to gain momentum, and the British lost their respectability.
Speaking about governments in general, Prabhupāda said that even bad or demonic governments are allowed by Kṛṣṇa in order to punish people for sinful activity. He explained that Kṛṣṇa is behind everything. He emphasized this point by playing back to us on his dictaphone some of his latest translation work from the Seventh Canto, in which he was making the same point.
Madhudviṣa also asked a few managerial questions regarding ISKCON Fiji. Deoji Punja, who was instrumental in establishing ISKCON there, is chanting the mahā-mantra and following the regulative principles. He is channeling money from his supermarket and other shops into building a Kṛṣṇa temple, but meanwhile he is still selling meat and liquor in the stores. Madhudviṣa expressed uncertainty about whether to tell him to cease such sales or not.
Śrīla Prabhupāda said that he should be allowed to continue, and not forced to give it up. He quoted Bhagavad-gītā (18.48): “Every endeavor is covered by some sort of fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work which is born of his nature, O son of Kuntī, even if such work is full of fault.” Prabhupāda expressed confidence that if he is chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, these things will soon be properly adjusted.
January 19th, 1976
Jayapatāka Mahārāja has been busy initiating the work on the new building for the northern boundary. As Prabhupāda walked down the road to nearby Hoola Ghat Jayapatāka reported that they could get up to 250,000 bricks within a month. So the work on the new building is to begin immediately.
Arriving at the ghāṭa Śrīla Prabhupāda made a quick inspection of our newly acquired boat. He went on board and carefully inspected the interior, as Sudāmā Mahārāja explained the setup. Prabhupāda was pleased and agreed to install the Deities of Śrī Śrī Gaura-Nitāi in a few days’ time when preparations are complete.
From there he visited the gośālā, where he inspected the cows and calves. Pippalai, a devotee from Mexico, is nicely managing everything.
Crossing the fields to return to the temple, Prabhupāda questioned Jayapatāka Mahārāja how each field is being utilized, stressing that every bit of land must be used. They discussed purchasing new land. Prabhupāda told him that about seventeen-hundred rupees per bigha (one third acre) is a reasonable price, not the four or five thousand that some farmers are demanding.
* * *
For breakfast Prabhupāda again had some of the season’s first produce, some sugarcane juice from our own fields. He is very happy to see our men using the land to grow foodstuff. The dāl we drink daily is home-grown, and the capātīs are made from our own wheat.
* * *
During the day Bhavānanda Mahārāja came in to ask for advice about how to deal with the married couples and children in the āśrama. The girls especially have become a problem because in the villages they are generally married by the time they reach puberty, but in our āśrama there are not enough young devotee men available. Prabhupāda said that the young girls in Māyāpur can be married to local men, and that we will give a dowry of five hundred rupees. These men can then be invited to live with us, but our brahmacārīs should be kept single.
Prabhupāda agreed with Bhavānanda that finding out suitable husbands for the single women is a problem throughout our ISKCON society. We are training boys to remain celibate brahmacārīs. Since women in Kali-yuga form the majority of the population, who, then, will marry them? Prabhupāda suggested that a man could have more than one wife. He laughed, “The idea is he is already spoiled, so he may as well take more!” However, he feels that public reaction would not be good, so it is doubtful whether this idea can ever be implemented.
* * *
As evening ārati went on downstairs Prabhupāda talked in his room with his Godbrother Dāmodara Mahārāja, Harikeśa, and a few other visitors about the difficulties of preaching. Dāmodara Mahārāja is a rather simple person, younger than Prabhupāda’s eighty years. He is reported to spend his time flitting from one Gaudiya Math to another without any particular preaching goal. He has a reputation for indulging in gossip and is apparently not taken very seriously by his Godbrothers. But Śrīla Prabhupāda treats him with respect.
Speaking sometimes in Bengali and sometimes English, they discussed how there are so many envious men who want to impede the spread of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is a fact that even Prabhupāda’s own Godbrothers display jealousy at his apparent sudden success. Especially here in Māyāpur, there have been many instances of obstacles being created to deliberately hinder the development of Śrī Māyāpur Candrodaya Mandir.
Prabhupāda showed no surprise, only perhaps some disappointment. Taking a philosophical perspective, he told us that the whole material world is full of jealousy, even in the higher planetary systems. For that reason Lord Caitanya has said one must be very humble. Jealousy will always be present, so one should learn to tolerate. He said that is the best way to deal with it.
Dāmodara Mahārāja recalled that even their spiritual master, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda, was also criticized.
“So if they can talk against Prabhupāda, then what to speak of me,” Prabhupāda told him. “I am nothing to Prabhupāda.”
Dāmodara Mahārāja tried to see the bright side. “That will happen to a preacher. Those who are really preaching, there will be something negative, something positive. There should be light and darkness, both things should be there. Otherwise how we can differentiate good from bad? There should be anti-party, otherwise how we can realize your glories? Maybe one day they will realize it.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda was humble, but frank. “Whether they realize it or not does not matter to me. Whatever my mission, I will continue. I am not going to wait for their realization. I shall continue service to my Gurudeva.”
“I mean to say, many of them have already realized it,” Dāmodara Mahārāja hastened to add. “Those who have realized, they have admitted that it is a noble service; it is a pleasure to us.”
“It is written clearly in Caitanya-caritāmṛta: kṛṣṇa-śakti vinā nahe tāra pravartana. Even if they have no common sense, what can be done?” Prabhupāda said.
Dāmodara Mahārāja agreed. “We have to admit this. That kṛṣṇa-śakti is there.”
Prabhupāda shrugged. “This is something new in the history of the world, and still they are jealous. What can you do? They are just finding faults. In Vṛndāvana Nṛsiàha-vallabha Gosvāmī came to me. He said, ‘So many people are jealous about you.’ I said, ‘First of all you create something like this, then you become jealous.’ They do not have that power.”
Dāmodara Mahārāja said that he had inquired from his Godbrothers, and their feelings were changing. They were becoming more favorable.
Prabhupāda responded evenly. “Whether they change their feelings or not does not matter to me. Sometimes I was amazed at their feelings.”
Prabhupāda felt the problems were due to a lack of understanding of proper Vaiṣṇava dealings. “What bothers me is their dictating mood. Why they should dictate? First of all let them become like me. Equality brings friendship. Whoever is older, he will dictate; and whoever is younger, he will respect the superior. This is the rule. Neither they are equal nor senior, then why they should dictate? Who is superior, he will dictate; and who is equal, he should live like friend; and who is junior, they should follow and obey. This is the Vaiṣṇava rule. Those who are neither equal nor higher, now they can dictate? That is a mistake. Either, first of all become higher then him, then dictate; or become equal with him, then you suggest. You are lower, and you want to dictate. What is this nonsense?”
One of the visitors explained that he had met a local political official who was suspicious and critical of our Society. The guest explained how he had tried to defend ISKCON. “Those who are born in luxury and comforts have left everything for the holy name. And Prabhupāda is the person who had preached this holy name in the Western world and convinced them about spiritual life. It is really a wonderful service. There is something to know and something to realize from this wonderful service... . Unfortunately,” he said, “the politician did not listen.”
In truth, there are many who ascribe Prabhupāda’s success in bringing so many Westerners to India as nothing more than a CIA plot.
The man’s observation pleased Prabhupāda. It is a fact. “All these boys and girls have come all the way from America. I did not bribe them to take up Kṛṣṇa consciousness and to come here. They have come on their own. People call us CIA. Being a devotee by giving up all intoxication, giving up all kinds of desires and smoking, by dancing and chanting in the street, yet they will have the investigation on CIA. What a less common sense these people have! They have not got any common sense.”
When the guests left, Prabhupāda relaxed in his room, reminiscing with Madhudviṣa Mahārāja and me about the years before he came to the West, telling us something of the sequence of the major events of his preaching life.
1950 — Left home
1952 — Lived in Jhansi
1955 — Went to Mathurā. Gave his Deity of Lord Caitanya to Keśava Mahārāja’s temple in Mathurā
1956 — Moved to Vṛndāvana
1958 — Wrote Easy Journey to Other Planets
1959 — Took sannyāsa
1960 — Started Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam translation
1962 — Finished and published Part I, Bhāgavatam First Canto
1963 — Finished and published Part II, Bhāgavatam First Canto
1964 — Finished and published Part III, Bhāgavatam First Canto
1965 — Left Calcutta for U.S.A.
These evening conversations are always sublime. Just being able to sit with Śrīla Prabhupāda and hear him speak is so remarkably satisfying, especially when he recalls his young childhood experiences, the British rule in India, and his efforts to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
As it often does, the electricity went off and we lit the oil lamps, adding to the intimacy of the atmosphere. Sitting in the soft glow of the lanterns, his mood was gentle and at ease, as if he was with the best of friends. At such times, in such an air of informality, we try not to become so familiar lest we forget our position. Nevertheless Prabhupāda makes himself completely accessible, a genuine helper and guide in our struggle for transcendental life. I am realizing more and more that association with a pure devotee is really the essence of spiritual life.
January 20th, 1976
Prabhupāda took his morning walk in the fields to the east of the building, examining the proposed site of the big future temple. Saurabha, our ISKCON architect, is drawing up plans for a structure at least 350 feet high.
* * *
Prabhupāda’s concern for the future development of his gurukula system is growing as more correspondence comes in from the West. The latest arrived from Jayatīrtha, explaining the difficulties they are facing in complying with government regulations in Dallas. Several proposals for the relocation of the school have been touted, but no definite decision has been made.
Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote him a long letter thoroughly outlining his desires for educating the Society’s children. He condemned modern educational systems, saying they meted the greatest violence upon the young by training them as sense gratifiers. He said that the karmī system was producing “cats and dog who feel quite at home in a society of sense gratification.” Therefore they could not appreciate the gurukula system based on vairāgya vidyā, knowledge based on renunciation.
He told him, “They will never accept that one must undergo austerities to break the influence of the modes of material nature upon the living entity in order that he may experience the transcendental bliss on the platform of pure goodness. Therefore they see our school as a threat and a cruel punishment to the children. Complying with the authorities’ requests would mean a gradual watering down of our standards,” he said, “until it becomes unrecognizable and useless.”
His solution was to send the young boys to the newly developing Vṛndāvana gurukula. “To live in Vrindavana and to grow up there is the greatest fortune. To spend even one fortnight in Mathura-mandala guarantees liberation.” He described Krishna-Balaram Mandir as “the finest in the world.” He said that by living there the boys will be able to follow all the practices of brahmacārī life and become very blissful. There are many other advantages also. That fact that living in India is much cheaper would ease the burden on the parents. “Therefore in all ways it is obvious that the best place to have this gurukula is in Vrindavana. This should be done before the US Government starts to cause a disturbance which will harm us, and before we have to waste large sums of money on a risky endeavor, which may turn out to be a complete failure.”
* * *
In the evening His Divine Grace told us more about his life before establishing ISKCON. He explained that when he began publishing Back to Godhead many people appreciated it, including his Godbrother Bon Mahārāja and others. One librarian friend asked him, “Why not write books? Paper is thrown away, but a book is kept.”
So in 1958 he wrote Easy Journey to Other Planets. Then In 1960 he began the First Canto of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, publishing the first part in 1962. In 1963 came Part Two, and by the end of 1964 Part Three. Each printing was 1,100 copies, the cost donated by a wealthy business magnate.
In 1965 he came to Māyāpur to pay respects to his departed Guru Mahārāja. The next day he returned to Calcutta and sailed for the U.S.A. It took twenty seven days via the Suez Canal and the Straits of Gibraltar. For two days at sea Prabhupāda had severe chest pains and thought he might die at any time. Later in New York he became ill with the same complaint, and doctors told him that it was a heart attack. He understood this was the same as the trouble aboard ship, but at that time he did not know what it was. He said that in New York the chanting of the devotees had saved him.
Before leaving India, the American embassy in Delhi had bought nineteen copies of each volume of his Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and given a standing order for all the future volumes. They then sent them to different universities and libraries in America. After Prabhupāda arrived in America he went to a library and offered his books, but they already had them. Then he went to a university in Philadelphia and it also had obtained them.
One teacher paid Prabhupāda’s fare from Butler, Pennsylvania to the main bus terminal in Philadelphia. Prabhupāda went from there to New York, where he rented a small room. At that time he had an idea to get a small temple, so he wrote to a rich man in Bombay asking him for money. The man agreed, but the government disallowed it, although Prabhupāda got special permission to collect funds from resident Indians. Then he went to the Salvation Army asking for help, but they refused.
He wrote to his Godbrother Tīrtha Mahārāja asking for men and mṛdaṅga drums, but he also refused to help. Prabhupāda had originally asked him for funds for going to the West and publishing his books, but Tīrtha refused. Instead, he had indirectly hinted that Prabhupāda should go as his representative. In this way Tīrtha Mahārāja would get the credit if the mission was successful. “I understood his mind,” Prabhupāda told us, “and carefully avoided him after that.”
While on board the ship the captain’s wife, who was a palmist, told Prabhupāda that if he survived his seventieth year he would live to be one hundred years old. Seeing us smile at this he added, “So, somehow or other the heart attacks were not fatal, so now let us see.”
Madhudviṣa Swami said that he had told Mr. Punja in Fiji that Prabhupāda was getting old and couldn’t travel there. Mr. Punja, who hadn’t heard about the prediction, replied, “Oh, don’t worry, Prabhupāda will live to be one hundred!” Madhudviṣa asked him how he knew. He said that he had given Prabhupāda’s birth details and signature, as well as a recording of his voice, to a fortune teller in Fiji who predicted Prabhupāda would live to be one hundred.
“So let us see,” Śrīla Prabhupāda repeated with a noncommittal grin.
He recalled going to a very prominent astrologer in Calcutta when he was a gṛhastha and asked what his future would be. The man laughed and said only, “Oh, this will be your last birth here!”
Prabhupāda also talked about the position of women in Indian society. Formerly a respectable woman would not be seen in public, but remained secluded, traveling only in sedan-chairs and closed carriages. Kṛṣṇa’s wives played tennis on the roofs of the palaces; and Advaitācārya’s wife, Sītā-devī, traveled in a veiled chair. Prabhupāda said that his own mother and his wife did the same. Only prostitutes would be seen publicly.
Formerly a woman’s status could be understood simply by her dress: a married woman kept her head covered, an unmarried woman under her father’s protection had an uncovered head, a widow wore a white sārī with no border, and a prostitute parted her hair on the side, not in the middle. In this way Vedic society was so nicely arranged that one could easily understand another’s status.
Śrīla Prabhupāda seems to know practically everything. No matter how seemingly ordinary the subject matter, he can always offer a completely spiritual perspective. He is like a cornucopia of knowledge, overflowing with truth and wisdom. The warmth and friendliness of his personality make each exchange a completely fulfilling experience. We are indeed extremely fortunate to have his association.
January 21st, 1976
As we walked this morning, Prabhupāda discussed plans for the new temple and the proposed exhibitions it’s to house. It will be a cultural center as well as temple.
His idea is to have displays depicting various levels of material existence. The exhibition is to begin on the lower levels by depicting hellish regions and lower planetary systems. As the visitor ascends the interior of the dome by escalator, various levels of material existence will be revealed, gradually rising to the abodes of the demigods, then Satyaloka, and the Vaikuṇṭha planets. At the very top will be a dazzling display of Kṛṣṇa’s own transcendental planet, Goloka Vṛndāvana.
Tamal Krishna Mahārāja suggested that by charging a rupee per person for the escalator rides alone, most of the maintenance costs could be covered.
Prabhupāda also heard some amusing stories from Tamal Krishna and Sudāmā Mahārājas. They explained that when new devotees joined the Rādhā-Dāmodara TSKP they often donated all their belongings, sometimes to the great chagrin of their friends or relatives.
One young man, a musician, was convinced to join. He returned to his apartment just as the members of his band were departing for an engagement. Since the equipment was his, he took everything, sold it, and donated the proceeds for preaching work. Needless to say, his friends were quite unhappy at the unexpected dissolution of their group. But as Tamal Krishna pointed out, it was the loss of equipment that upset them, not the loss of their friend.
After greeting the Deities and guru-pūjā, Prabhupāda went straight up to his room without giving a class.
* * *
In mid-morning Jayapatāka Swami brought in a Life Member who had come for the day from Calcutta to visit Māyāpur and meet Prabhupāda. Prabhupāda welcomed him and asked what his business was.
The man told him he owned a glass manufacturing factory. When Prabhupāda asked what the glass was made from, he replied, “From silicon, Swamijī, from sand.”
“And who owns the sand?” Prabhupāda asked.
“Bhagavān, God, owns the sand.”
“Oh, you are stealing from Bhagavān?” Prabhupāda challenged.
The man laughed. He was slightly embarrassed but obviously appreciated Śrīla Prabhupāda’s swift exposê and lesson in proprietorship. He thought for a minute, and then, as if to offset the implied criticism, ventured that he gave a lot in charity.
Prabhupāda got him a second time. “Oh, then you are just a little thief,” he said teasingly.
Everyone laughed and the man was happy to be further enlightened as to his real position as subordinate to God.
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s point was that no one can manufacture anything. We are simply taking ingredients supplied by God and transforming them into another form. Yet we think of ourselves as the owners. This is the mistake of the materialists.
Śrīla Prabhupāda explained that real honesty is to use everything in the service of Kṛṣṇa.
* * *
Prabhupāda gave Madhudviṣa Mahārāja a signed letter, sending him to New York as the ad hoc temple president until the Māyāpur GBC meeting. After their conversation in Calcutta about the difficulties in New York, the need for a strong leader, and Prabhupāda’s suggestion that Madhudviṣa take it up, Madhudviṣa Mahārāja told Prabhupāda he was willing to go there.
Rūpānuga prabhu, the current GBC for New York, will be offered Madhudviṣa’s present position in Australia, and Madhudviṣa will take over affairs on America’s East Coast. No devotees in Australia have yet been informed that he is going to New York.
There was some discussion about other possible changes of zones for GBC personnel. Śrīla Prabhupāda said that the GBC members themselves should hold discussions about exchanging zones and then propose a formal resolution at the meetings. On the whole he thought it a good idea for GBC men to swap zones every three or four years. He told us that a change will be refreshing and encourage detachment. It would discourage the tendency for the leaders to think of a particular area as their ‘own’ zone.
* * *
Later in the evening, together with Tamal Krishna Goswami, Śrīla Prabhupāda discussed the position of women in our Society. Recently this has become somewhat of a contentious issue in America, provoking conflict between the gṛhasthas and the celibate sannyāsīs and brahmacārīs.
Tamal Krishna has found himself at the center of the dispute because, along with Viṣṇujana Swami, he is in charge of the Rādhā-Dāmodara TSKP. Their bus parties, composed almost entirely of brahmacārīs and sannyāsīs, regularly visit many temples around America. The temples, in contrast, are generally run by married men.
Tamal Krishna’s idea is to arrange that no women live in the ISKCON temples. He feels their presence creates distractions for those pursuing a renounced way of life, the essence of Lord Caitanya’s movement. He feels that many temples are not serious about sustaining the standards of vairāgyaand are becoming mere extensions of household affairs, much to the detriment of the welfare of the brahmacārīs, who are the real backbone of the movement.
Prabhupāda overcame all his arguments. Although sympathetic to Tamal’s concerns, he said that it is neither desirable nor possible to keep women from coming to join us, nor would it be practical to house them separately. His conclusion is that if we simply preach, then all difficulties will be resolved naturally in due course of time.
* * *
In the evening Saurabha prabhu showed Prabhupāda the preliminary plans for the new temple. He estimates the cost will be at least eighty crores of rupees ($80 million). Saurabha’s drawings revealed magnificent plans for an entire city, centered around a huge temple structure. It will be surrounded by satellite temples, a gurukula campus, a commercial area, bathing ghāṭas, and other facilities. The whole area will be protected from flooding by a latticework of canals. The main feature is to be a gigantic planetarium within the dome of the main temple.
Śrīla Prabhupāda was extremely enthusiastic about the plans. He wants the planetarium to demonstrate the Vedic alternative to modern scientific cosmological propaganda, illustrating the structure of the universe as described in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Impressed with Saurabha’s work, Prabhupāda suggested that the plans be presented to the state government with an application for official acquisition of the land we require. Prabhupāda always thinks big; he even suggested that we try to get them to relocate Calcutta’s Dum Dum airport nearby. For Prabhupāda no vision is impossible, because it is for Kṛṣṇa.
January 22nd, 1976
This morning’s walk took Śrīla Prabhupāda north up the main road toward the Gaṅgā. He looked over the new building site, which Caitya-guru will supervise. Already some laborers are beginning work on the foundation. Prabhupāda instructed Saurabha to make up the site plans for the new residences.
Reiterating the point he made to the manufacturer of sand yesterday, Prabhupāda explained that it is the sense that everything belongs to God that makes the difference between a karmī and a devotee. Ordinary men are constructing big houses to live in, and so are we. The materials, such as bricks, wood, cement, and iron, are all supplied by God. But those who do it for their own benefit are “simply eating their sinful activities.” Our construction, however, is for Kṛṣṇa’s purpose; it is not for our own use.
As he strode down the road Prabhupāda noted storm clouds forming in the distance. He told us that rain at this time of year is good for the food grains. He quoted a verse from a book called Khanāra Vacana: yadi varṣe māghera śeṣa, daṇḍa-rājā puṇya-deśa. “This is the month of Māgha. So at the end of Māgha if there is a little rain, then it is to be understood that the king of that country is very pious and blessed. This time a little rain is required.”
On the way back to the temple for the morning program, Prabhupāda saw that several men were standing around an almost-mature wheat crop. They were banging empty tins in an effort to drive away the birds, lest they eat the entire crop. Prabhupāda disagreed with their strategy. He said that every living being has a right to eat, so the solution is simply to grow more. Then there will be enough to go around. This is the Vedic conception.
Prabhupāda’s ability to relate even the most seemingly ordinary event to śāstra always amazes everyone. Tamal Krishna expressed his appreciation of the scientific nature of the Vedas, and Prabhupāda agreed. “Therefore, we say, ‘perfect,’ śruti-pramāṇam.”
* * *
Satsvarūpa Mahārāja sent a lengthy zonal report for December and the early part of this month. His Library Party is doing especially well. Many professors are taking orders for their own personal libraries, and teachers are placing orders for the abridged paperback Bhagavad-gītā for use in their courses. Altogether, the party has sold over 700 standing orders and is still going strong.
As well as this, there are many important book reviews coming in as a result of the party’s efforts. And Satsvarūpa Mahārāja himself is very actively preaching; he has at least one college engagement every day until the end of February, and on some days as many as five.
He reported increased book distribution in several temples under his direction, notably Gainesville, Miami and Houston.
The Denver temple had previously been trying to develop a jewellery business with the hope of making large profits. But Prabhupāda has recently written, telling them that book distribution should be our only business because other types of business will simply create a bad atmosphere. Kuruśreṣṭha, the president, has closed down the business, and is taking his men out on book distribution. Kuruśreṣṭha admitted that doing business was putting him in mundane consciousness, and the promises of huge amounts of profit coming to the temple never actually came about.
Satsvarūpa summed the situation up perfectly. “The business world is such maya that it entangles one with hopes of tremendous profits that are never finally realized.”
Prabhupāda was happy to hear his thorough report, and he replied emphasizing the book distribution. “Even the proposal to open a new temple in Houston is secondary,” he said. “Book distribution is our first business.” Śrīla Prabhupāda feels that the work of the Library Party is most important, as also is the college preaching. So Prabhupāda encouraged him, “Go on vigorously expanding this preaching. You are proceeding in the right way.”
Jayatīrtha’s November report for the West Coast zone also arrived. His was the top zone for book distribution for that month, remitting $116,000 to the BBT, a new record. However, he admitted that Tamal Krishna Mahārāja’s RDTSKP topped them by $4,000. Yet he expressed his confidence that December would be a different story. They planned to hand in $200,000 and were aiming for a yearly total of $750,000 to the Book Fund.
His letter also included a section describing some newly-formed devotee businesses; but he had a different angle of vision than Kuruśreṣṭha. He pointed out that all business affairs are conducted outside the temple precincts so as not to affect the spiritual atmosphere, and that no temple president is allowed to become directly involved. He felt it important that the temple presidents concentrate solely on spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Jayatīrtha enumerated various reasons why he thought the devotees should be allowed to continue doing business. “I understand from several recent letters from Your Divine Grace to Satsvarupa Maharaja that you are not very anxious to see businesses going on in the Society, except for book distribution business. I understand your objections, but I would like to make a few points in relation to the businesses currently going on in the zone... . The businesses are handled by grhasthas who would generally not be engaged in sankirtana activities otherwise. If they make a request to stop doing business and engage in direct preaching work, we move to facilitate this. The businesses make substantial contributions to the temples, and in this way allow the temples to distribute more books. I have seen that in temples that are depending completely on sankirtana for all expenditures there are usually debts, and at the same time, the preachers are forced to concentrate on collecting money rather than distributing books... . Another advantage is that it provides opportunity to engage grhasthas in activities that are beneficial to the Movement, rather than simply living off the temples. At the same time they are able to associate with other devotees, making it easier for them to maintain their Krsna consciousness than it would be if they had to work at karmi jobs.”
Finally he ended his report with another suggestion for relocation of the Dallas gurukula, this time to a large property in Santa Cruz. It will cost a large amount of money to continue to maintain the Dallas operation and start the new gurukula, and a BBT loan would be required to cover the costs. So he wanted to know what Śrīla Prabhupāda desired in this respect.
Śrīla Prabhupāda had already sent a lengthy outline to him about the gurukula a few days ago, which Jayatīrtha obviously hadn’t received when he wrote this letter. Nevertheless, Prabhupāda answered his questions, presenting a perfect solution to several dilemmas.
He cleverly linked up the business aspirations of the gṛhasthas with their proclivity to have children, who then require education. “You have suggested that some men are best engaged in doing business. I agree. All grhasthas who are interested in doing business should do so in full swing. Yat karosi yad asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat/ yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad arpanam. Let this be the guiding principle. So let all the grhasthas who wish to, execute business full fledgedly in the USA, and in this way support gurukula. Business must be done by the grhasthas, not by the sannyasis or brahmacaris. Neither the sannyasis or brahmacaris can be expected to support gurukula. The parents must take responsibility for their children, otherwise they should not have children. It is the duty of the individual parents. I am not in favor of taxing the temples. The parents must pay for the maintenance of their children. Neither can the BBT be expected to give any loans. Now the BBT 50% for construction is pledged to the projects in India—Bombay, Kuruksetra, Mayapur. The profits from businesses should first go to support gurukula and balance may be given for the local temple’s maintenance. Grhasthas can do business. It is best if the Temple Presidents are either sannyasis or brahmacaris. If the grhasthas want to do book distribution, they should be given a commission of 5 to 10%, of which part must go to the gurukula.”
Prabhupāda told him that important temple personnel can be maintained by the temple. He also suggested that by farming and selling the produce, gṛhasthas can make a living. “I can give good suggestions,” he said, “but it is up to the GBC to practically execute them.”
A third report also arrived, from Jagadīśa, who dwelt mainly on the situation of the gurukula in Dallas. They are drawing up plans for extensive renovation and expansion of the present facilities to bring it in line with government requirements. They are expecting their funds to increase through the new tax imposed on the North American temples. Apparently the school has suffered due to great inadequacies in the previous administration, but Jagadīśa just spent the last four months in Dallas trying to bring things to a higher standard. His letter was optimistic about the future developments. “I am convinced we are making good progress. And what is that progress? That you will be pleased with what we are doing. That is more important by millions of times than any other measure of success.”
Since he had just written a long letter to Jayatīrtha covering these same topics, Prabhupāda did not reiterate his feelings, but referred Jagadīśa to Jayatīrtha’s letter.
However, he did pick up again on the theme of finance, particularly the proposed taxing of the temples, as well as a previous request for a BBT loan. “Actually it is the responsibility of the parents to maintain gurukula. By taxing the temples or taking loan from the BBT the parents are being allowed to avoid their responsibility. Before having a child the parents should see whether they shall be able to pay for their child’s education. The GBC should make an injunction that if they beget children, then whatever the expenses are for supporting gurukula they must pay it.”
He requested Jagadīśa to discuss everything with Jayatīrtha. He is clearly attempting a major restructuring of the gurukula, and wants his GBC to take the burden as much as possible.
* * *
In the early afternoon, immediately after lunch, Tamal Krishna Mahārāja and I sat with Prabhupāda on the sunlit veranda. He sat on a chair and we at his feet, simply relishing his divine presence and the transcendental atmosphere of the holy dhāma.
Prabhupāda looked out through the arched porticos, over his ISKCON compound, and beyond the front gate. In the distance glistening slivers of light danced on the tranquil surface of Mother Ganges as she flowed down to Navadvīpa town and then beyond, on her long pilgrimage from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. It was wonderfully gratifying to see him so perfectly and naturally situated—in his own environment so to speak—and hear him talk about various aspects of the movement as he shared his philosophical insights into the world and life in general.
He seems very much at ease in Māyāpur. He loves to sit and look out over the flat and fertile land, its open fields stretching into the distance, the verdant landscape dotted with small, green trees and occasional temple spires.
A seemingly limitless expanse of rice paddies in every stage of development shows the results of the simple, honest labor of local villagers. Other fields yield carefully cultivated bounties of dāl, sugarcane, vegetables, and other necessities of life. Men and beasts amble slowly up and down the road and along the rutted tracks. It seems the perfect place to meet one’s basic requirements of maintaining body and soul together. And in the midst of this natural opulence we are here; the grateful recipients of the generosity of His Divine Grace, who is so expertly revealing the true spiritual nature of ourselves, the dhāma, and the all-merciful Lord, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
* * *
In the evening a devotee brought the prototype of a new mṛdaṅga to show Śrīla Prabhupāda. Instead of a clay shell it had one of fibreglass, but was still fitted with leather straps and heads. Devotees in the West are working to produce a completely synthetic drum to replace the clay ones, which break easily. Prabhupāda felt the shell was a little too thick and heavy, otherwise he liked it. He even played a little on it himself, although he said he was out of practice.
January 23rd, 1976
Śrīla Prabhupāda took his walk across the fields to the proposed temple site. He discussed with Jayapatāka Swami the possibility of convincing the government to give us the land we need for building the temple.
In pursuance of this idea, he later dictated a letter for Jayapatāka Swami to hand-deliver to his New Delhi airport acquaintance, Mr. Chaudhuri, who works at the Department of Development and Planning in Calcutta. Prabhupāda viewed that meeting as Kṛṣṇa’s arrangement. He wants that the government acquire the land for us, and fortuitously this man works in the department that decides such matters.
After briefly describing to Mr. Chaudhuri the Māyāpur project and his hopes of building an international city based on the Vedic culture, he requested him to visit Māyāpur for further discussion.
* * *
Every day Śrīla Prabhupāda gives an abundance of practical guidance, ranging from advice on purchasing land, setting a daily monetary rate for the painting of the front wall, advising on what goods to sell from the rooms near the front gate, to deciding the conditions of employment for the building construction workers.
Jayapatāka Mahārāja has employed a huge number of men for the new building work, but today Prabhupāda told him that if he can’t get it finished by the festival (which is in six weeks), then he should reduce the number of men to only fifty.
Jayapatāka Mahārāja said he thought everything but the plumbing could be done. Śrīla Prabhupāda said the plumbing and electricity are not important, as long as the place is habitable. He told Jayapatāka to get a guarantee from the contractor that the basic construction would definitely be finished on time.
As he walked, he turned his attention to the situation in Nellore. He confirmed to Gopāla Kṛṣṇa prabhu that the foundation stone should be taken to Madras, which, he said, was a better place for a temple anyway. He also cautioned him that if we accept charity from such fallen women then we will have to share in their sinful activity.
“But our Kṛṣṇa can eat even fire,” he added. “If there is forest fire, Kṛṣṇa can eat. Unless He is able to eat other’s sinful reactions how can He say ahaà tvāà sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi; He is capable, otherwise how can He say like that?”
* * *
The rest of the day Prabhupāda spent quietly in his room. He isn’t lecturing in the mornings here, although he enjoys discussing a wide range of topics with his disciples and a few visitors in his room.
* * *
At lunch Prabhupāda requested that I learn how to cook from Harikeśa.
January 24th, 1976
Each morning at guru-pūjā Prabhupāda is personally giving out sweets to all the children. He sits on the vyāsāsana as each child comes forward to receive his prasādam.
There is a small, two-year-old boy from Australia called Dāmodara, who persistently remains right in front of the vyāsāsana each morning with his pudgy hand held out. Śrīla Prabhupāda gives him half a sweet, which Dāmodara pushes into his mouth. Then he moves his hand over the back of his head, wipes his open palm on his śikhā, and again holds it out.
Again Prabhupāda gives him another piece of sweet, and again Dāmodara repeats the ritual. There are no words exchanged, simply the boy’s chubby palm goes out for the sweet, up to his mouth, over his head, and back again for more. This exchange with Dāmodara has gone on for several mornings now, and Śrīla Prabhupāda laughs to see him wipe his hand in such a fashion. “Who has taught him this?” he asked.
While this is going on the other children leap and dance and chant. Adoration for Prabhupāda and excitement to be in his presence shine in their eyes. It is obvious the young children are spontaneously attracted to Śrīla Prabhupāda because they instinctively understand that he is their best friend.
As he does each morning, at the end of the program Prabhupāda circumambulated the Deities, accompanied by all the devotees and a saṅkīrtana party. He stopped to vigorously ring the bells hanging from the ceiling on either side of the small temple room, causing everyone to loudly chant and jump in ecstasy.
* * *
Mail continues to flow in steadily from around the world. One letter came from Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami in South Africa about the Mercedes car that he had promised to purchase for Prabhupāda. He said that although he intends to pay for it himself, for now he has taken the money from Śrīla Prabhupāda’s book fund to finance the purchase. He intends to repay it later.
Hearing this, Prabhupāda shook his head. Smiling, he told us the story of the disciple who invited his guru to his home and gave him a grand reception with nice decorations, elaborate prasādam, and all. The guru was delighted and amazed at such expenditure.
“Oh, it is all coming from you, O Spiritual Master. It is all your mercy,” said the disciple.
The guru was pleased at this, until he returned home to discover that it really was coming from him. For when he looked in his bank book his balance was now zero!
January 25th, 1976
Prabhupāda decided to take his walk on the roof of the temple building. On the way up he inspected the top floor, where all the brahmacārīs stay. He did not like what he saw—everything was dirty and poorly maintained. Walking around the end of the veranda he saw thick wire strung to the wall as a crude washing line, gouging grooves in the plaster. He was very displeased.
He soon got everyone into action, cleaning and re-arranging everything. He ordered the brahmacārīs to move immediately to the front-wall dwellings, saying that the rooms in the temple building were to be used only for guests. He commented that brahmacārīs means it will be dirty.
Jayapatāka Swami has decorated the rooftop area with potted tulasī plants and various flowers and shrubs. There are two rooms, one on either side of the central stairwell, where he and Bhavānanda Mahārāja stay. The flat roof offers ample space for walking, in addition to a panoramic view. From it one can observe not only our whole compound, but miles of open country.
As we walked around, Anantarāma Śāstri joined us. Śrīla Prabhupāda expressed his satisfaction that such an educated man has joined our movement, and he instructed Bhavānanda Mahārāja to make sure he is well looked after so that he may not go away.
Although a somewhat self-conscious individual, Śāstrijī was eager to recite a poem he had composed for Śrīla Prabhupāda’s pleasure. As we walked, and without asking first, he broke out into melodious verse, singing the praises of Bhagavān Śrī Gopāla—or at least it seemed so. His chanting was impressive to my untrained ear; but Śrīla Prabhupāda was alert. When Śāstri sang nāciye nāciye aile gopāla, “My dear Gopāla, please come to me dancing,” Prabhupāda stopped him. “Don’t manufacture knowledge. Take knowledge from Bhagavān. Don’t order Bhagavān. Just follow Bhagavān. That is not wanted. Do not write concocted poetries. That is not beneficial. Simply follow.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda told him that his singing was sense gratification because he was giving instruction to Gopāla, “please come to me, nāciye, dancing.” He stressed that our process is to take instruction. “It is all nonsense. Why should you ask Gopāla to come to you? You cannot order. You must follow. We are to carry out the order of God, not to order God to carry out my order. That is mistake.”
Prabhupāda went on for some time, condemning the attitude with which people generally approach God. He explained that in India they sing a traditional ārati song which repeats the words sab ko sampatti de bhagavān. De bhagavān means “give me.” And in the West, he explained, the Christians also have the same idea. “The whole world,” Prabhupāda observed, “they have accepted God as order supplier: I order, You supply. The Christian church also, ‘God, give us our daily bread.’”
“And if God doesn’t give, then God is dead,” Tamal Krishna Mahārāja added.
“Dead. This is going on. And our prayer is, ‘I don’t want anything. Simply engage me in Your service.’ This is the real prayer, which is taught by Caitanya Mahāprabhu.”
* * *
Jayapatāka Swami returned later in the day from Calcutta with a favorable report. Mr. Chaudhuri and his family will come to visit Prabhupāda on Sunday, February 1st. The man was very happy to see Jayapatāka Mahārāja and enthusiastic to help.
* * *
Harikeśa is becoming increasingly ill. He looks weak and emaciated and has no strength. It is all he can do just to cook Śrīla Prabhupāda’s lunch.
Prabhupāda observed him going to the toilet just after eating breakfast. He shook his head and quoted a Bengali proverb, “He who cannot sleep immediately upon resting and he who passes stool immediately after eating will very soon be called by Yamarāja. On the other hand, he who passes stool before eating and urine after, the physician cannot make a living from!”
* * *
In the evening I came into Prabhupāda’s room just in time to catch the tail end of an hour-long conversation between Harikeśa and Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Harikeśa was posing questions about the description of Vedic cosmology in the newly published Fifth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Many confusing diagrams and captions have been included by the editors, and Prabhupāda said it will have to be revised because they have made mistakes.
Harikeśa was trying to clarify his own understanding of the position of the sun and moon, the general structure of the universe, and the exact length of one yojana.
I listened intently as Prabhupāda described how the planets move within the universal shell. He pointed to the chandelier hanging from the ceiling and compared the situation of the lights with that of the planets. He explained that all the planets move in unison around the Pole Star, and within that structure the sun has its own orbit.
Harikeśa asked many questions, until our ability to understand his explanations was stretched to the limit, and Prabhupāda finally called a halt. His knowledge appears fathomless.
I sat and watched as he got up from his seat and moved toward the door, smiling all the while. He seemed to have a deep serenity, to be carrying within himself a vast, limitless wellspring of knowledge and understanding and to possess a beautiful sobriety of the soul that attracted my mind more than ever before. I became absorbed in the natural flow of his movements, the gentility of his demeanour, and the soft expressiveness of his features.
Everything within the periphery of my vision, except Śrīla Prabhupāda, began to recede and fade as he seemed to emanate an increasingly bright effulgence, filling the whole room and beyond. It wasn’t an ordinary light, nothing that could be seen like the beams from a torch or bulb. But it was there, more subtle than sunlight, expanding and shining through my mind and intelligence, pervading my consciousness, touching my soul. I became overwhelmed with appreciation of Prabhupāda’s purity and grace. The feeling of wanting absolutely nothing whatever in life, other than to simply serve his lotus feet without any other concern, welled up in my heart.
I have never experienced a satisfaction greater than this. I felt it intensely. For perhaps the first time, I experienced what I can only describe as feelings of unconditional surrender, an unequivocal love, fully devoid of any material distraction or selfish interest. His very being shone and radiated, pervading everything. And I was his eternal servant.
It’s hard to describe. It didn’t seem that Prabhupāda was doing anything more than he ever does. He is himself. But somehow, for once, my own consciousness suddenly opened and became receptive enough to perceive him more clearly than ever before.
And then he disappeared through the door and down the corridor—leaving me once again wondering just who he really is.
January 26th, 1976
Before Prabhupāda took his walk he sat in his room and listened while Bhavānanda Mahārāja read aloud a newly released pamphlet. It was from the neighboring Caitanya Gaudiya Math that is led by one of his prominent God-brothers, Tīrtha Mahārāja. This propaganda piece, written in somewhat convoluted prose, declared the glories of Tīrtha Mahārāja, making several outrageous claims. The tract described him as Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī’s most confidential disciple, “almost a counterpart.” It also stated that his preaching had attracted people from all over the world, that his maṭha stretched for over a mile (which would include ISKCON’s temple), and that twenty-four hour kīrtana is going on there (only our men are doing this). Obviously he was trying to claim a status for himself that he does not deserve.
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s reaction was very cool. He queried that if he is such a great personality, why does he have to advertise it. “Why is he trying to explain?,” he said. “What is the use of explanation? If a great personality is unknown, and he has to be known by explanatory notes, then how is he a great personality?” Displeased with the false propaganda, Prabhupāda told us, “If he is reciting such false things how he can be a Vaiṣṇava? He is simply a pounds and shillings man. He was never very dear to Guru Mahārāja, who feared that if he sent him away he would cause much trouble. Therefore he let him stay as manager, even though so many complaints were there against him.” He shook his head with distaste.
“Whereas others trained their sons to be brahmacārīs and sannyāsīs,” Prabhupāda continued, “he trained his to be a lawyer. They sent their sons to the temple and gurukula, but he sent his to the office because he always intended to go to court to take over the Gaudiya Math proprietorship. His past is very black. I do not wish to discuss it!”
Prabhupāda told Tamal Krishna Mahārāja to keep the paper, “because these rascals they may create some trouble.”
Bhavānanda Mahārāja told a story indicating that they were already creating “trouble” for us. Recently, Bhavānanda was detained and brought to court on kidnaping charges after a Bengali village woman and her son had joined our āśrama against the wishes of her husband. In court, our lawyer, reputedly the best in Nadia, asked Bhavānanda who was behind it all. The lawyer said the husband was a simple village laborer who would not have had the intelligence nor the money to bring such a case. The lawyer was convinced that the man had been put up to it by one of the Gaudiya Math members attempting to harass us.
Recently members from the Caitanya Gaudiya Math proposed that we link with them. But despite Śrīla Prabhupāda having gone there several times, Tīrtha Mahārāja will not visit Māyāpur Candrodaya Mandir. Śrīla Prabhupāda reasoned that he only wants the connection in order to capitalize on Prabhupāda’s preaching success, to claim it for himself. If Western devotees go to his Math, it will increase his prestige.
Obviously disagreeing with the idea that Tīrtha Mahārāja is a senior preacher to himself, Prabhupāda named two other prominent Godbrothers in Navadvīpa, Madhava and Śrīdhara Mahārājas, who have a similar frame of mind. Prabhupāda told us, “That was the policy... That, ‘Although Bhaktivedanta Swami is propagating throughout, he is subordinate to us, under our instruction.’”
He rose and went up onto the roof for his walk. As we walked around the perimeter he talked extensively about Vedic culture, giving fascinating insights into its psychology.
Prabhupāda recalled that formerly, at least before Indian independence, people were still very honorable. He remembered one lawyer whose father had died insolvent, owing many lakhs of rupees. When he became a wealthy barrister he then called all his father’s creditors and repaid them.
He said that this is the law of Manu. If a son inherits all the assets of his father, must also inherit all his debts. However, a father leaving his son large debts means he is an enemy. One would never expect to find an enemy within his own family, but according to Cāṇakya Paṇḍita there are four enemies in the family: a father who dies a debtor, a son who is a rascal, a mother who marries again, and a beautiful wife.
“Now everyone is hankering after very beautiful wife. And Cāṇakya Pandit said, ‘Then you are bringing one enemy.’ Just see what is the type of civilization. Because if you become too much attached to wife, then you’ll never be able to go out of home and take sannyāsa. Of course,” he added laughing, “everyone’s wife is very attractive.”
“Even if ugly!” Tamal Krishna Mahārāja chimed in.
“Yes. It is in one’s eye that she is very beautiful. It does not require others’ recommendation. It doesn’t matter whether she is low caste or high caste; if she is attractive, then it is all right. Therefore, rūpavatī bhāryā śatrur. Cāṇakya Paṇḍita’s instructions are very, very nice.”
Prabhupāda laughed as he recounted how his father had saved him from this material entanglement. “You know my story? My father’s instruction?” he asked us. We smiled eagerly and crowded in a little more to hear. “Yes. My wife was never beautiful to my sight, so I wanted to marry again, and my father advised, ‘Don’t do it. She is your friend, that you don’t like her.’ Just see.”
“But still, Prabhupāda, you said that your schoolwork was a little impeded,” Tamal Krishna said.
“Hmm? No, that is natural. In young time, when there is young girl. That is also said, yauvane kukkarī sundarī. When a woman is in full youth, even she is like dog, she is beautiful.”
Everyone laughed loudly, and Tamal Krishna asked whose statement that was.
“I do not know, but this is going on,” Prabhupāda grinned. As usual, he gave the philosophical underpinning, “It is by nature’s arrangement the woman is given one chance at the time of youthfulness. Otherwise how she will be given protection by a man? They require protection. If somebody is not attracted, then how she gets protection? This is natural.”
He revealed the psychology of arranged marriages, still prevalent in India. In the West this practice is considered objectionable, and no one understands its true purpose. But a spiritually based society is different. “The social system in India is that a boy, say twenty or twenty-five years, and a girl, twelve to sixteen years, they must be married. They must be married. And before marriage the girl should not see any boy, and the boy should not see any woman. Then life is all right. Nowadays it has been practice that the boy goes to see the girl, but formerly it was not so. He should see the girl when the marriage actually takes place, not before that. The psychology is that when they require a man or girl, so whatever she is or he is, they accept and remain chaste. So there is no separation.”
He strongly denounced the defective, cultureless modern civilization, comparing it to a society of pigs, because the pig has no discrimination in the matter of eating and having sex. They eat anything and have sex even with their immediate relatives.
He declared that overall people are acting on the level of animals. He quoted the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam’s description of democracy—people who are like hogs, dogs, camels, and asses glorify and vote in as their leaders other big animals. “Just study whether it is not the civilization of asses and pigs. You have to understand first of all. Is it not?” He gave a succinct one sentence appraisal of modern life: “They are working hard like an ass just to become an ideal pig! Is it not this civilization? Yes. How śāstra has picked up the example, just see. Nāyaà deho deha-bhājāà nṛloke kaṣṭān kāmān arhate vid-bhujāà ye. This is not civilization.
“This is civilization, tapasya: no meat-eating, no this, no this, no that, and become perfect. Ideal brāhmaṇa life. This is civilization. Athāto brahma-jijṣāsā. Unless you become civilized like this, there is no opportunity of brahma-jijṣāsa. And so long you do not inquire about Brahman, that you remain, that pigs and hogs and asses. Whole day and night eat stool, and as soon as you get another opposite party, have sex. Doesn’t matter whether it is daughter or mother or sister. That’s all.
“Take Freud’s philosophy and become highly advanced in civilization! Now Freud’s philosophy is being translated in Hindi and so many other languages. We are advancing in civilization, Indians. They are translating this Freud’s philosophy, pig civilization.” He laughed. “People therefore do not come to us. They avoid us because ‘They [devotees] are not pigs.’”
* * *
A telegram arrived from Mahāàsa Swami in the South: “NELLORE LADY REFUSED RELAXING CONDITIONS. PLEASE ADVISE.”
It seems Mahāàsa hadn’t yet received Prabhupāda’s letter written on the 18th, so Prabhupāda reiterated his clear and simple instructions. There should be no relaxing of conditions on our part. We can either purchase or accept charity, but we cannot accept any of their conditions. When he signed the letter later in the day he added in his own handwriting, “If they decline, then try to acquire the land through Government because we have already installed the Foundation Stone.”
* * *
Sometimes during his evening massage Prabhupāda chats a little before sleeping. This evening as he lay on his bed in the quiet semi-darkness, with me perched cross-legged alongside him, he asked if there were any mosquitoes inside his net. “It is such a cruel animal,” he said.
I asked if the living entity obtained that sort of body because it desired to harm others.
Prabhupāda said, “Yes, it wants to drink the blood of others, so it is given facility. But only a very small body so it can only take less than a drop. It has one pipe, and in less than a second it can immediately penetrate the skin, so wonderful is its creation.” But he added that still, nature has an arrangement whereby before biting, the mosquito buzzes in the ear just to warn its victim: ‘I am here.’ “The scientists cannot make even one such mosquito, yet they claim God does not exist,” he said.
Every night when Śrīla Prabhupāda takes his rest, Ānakadundubhi comes into Prabhupāda’s work room to set up a very large, square net over his desk and āsana so that he can translate in the night without botheration. The net is almost like a small tent, and sometimes mosquitoes get trapped inside it during its erection. Therefore I have developed the habit of checking it after finishing Śrīla Prabhupāda’s massage in the bedroom. I sit inside it for a minute or so and capture and remove any that may have been trapped.
Last evening I was attempting to remove a couple of the unfriendly insects when, to my surprise, Prabhupāda also entered under the protective canopy to begin his night’s work. He was sitting behind his desk unperturbed as I, on my hands and knees on the other side, tracked down one last mosquito. I had his woollen cap in my hand, using it as a swatter. Seeing my prey settled high up in one corner of the net, I swung. “Whap!” The tiny body fell to the ground, apparently dead. I wasn’t too happy at having killed it, but what could be done? If it wasn’t removed, it would bite Śrīla Prabhupāda all night, disturb his translation work, and maybe even give him malaria. I picked up the corpse and tossed it out from under the net. It landed a few inches away on the clean white sheets. Prabhupāda silently watched the whole procedure.
Suddenly, as we both looked on, it stirred, shook its wings and flew off. It wasn’t dead after all. Śrīla Prabhupāda gave a happy exclaim, “Ah! Hare Kṛṣṇa!” He was very pleased to see that I had only stunned my quarry.
I too was happy and became more so when he narrated a similar history of his own. “I also did this. One insect was buzzing; it was very annoying, and I gave it a slap and it fell down.” His face softened with compassion and regret. “Then I was very sorry, ‘Oh! I have killed this poor creature.’ But suddenly it got up and flew off. Oh! Then I was very glad!”
His remembrance gave me another revealing glimpse of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s kindness and concern for every living being, even those that might be aggressors. I felt happy to have escaped an offense to the mosquito and privileged to have shared a moment of intimate confession with Śrīla Prabhupāda.
January 27th, 1976
This morning Mahāmāyā dāsī, one of the Western ladies serving here in Māyāpur, gave me a polite note requesting me to ask Śrīla Prabhupāda a question for her. She wanted to know whether women could be allowed into the temple room during menstruation. “If so,” she asked, “should they wear silken garments?” The reason she asked was because ladies in India generally do not enter the temple during this time.
I broached the subject with His Divine Grace after his morning nap. He immediately became disturbed, and without replying to my question, sent me to get Tamal Krishna Mahārāja. When Tamal came in, Prabhupāda asked him, “What is this? He is brahmacārī, and he is being approached by this woman?”
I explained to Tamal Krishna what the inquiry was, and showed him the note. He then assured Śrīla Prabhupāda that things were not what they seemed. He described the letter as very discreet and polite, having been signed ‘The Matajis of Mayapur.’ “Apart from that,” Tamal Krishna said, “Hari-śauri is actually a householder.” Although I wear white cloth, because I have never once made any reference to my wife, Śrīla Prabhupāda assumed that I was a brahmacārī.
Prabhupāda gave a diffident smile. “Oh, I thought he was brahmacārī, and he is being approached by some woman for this. Now I can understand it is all right.” So he gave his permission for the ladies to attend the temple functions and approved the wearing of silk. Later they were duly informed.
Prabhupāda’s reaction was all the more endearing not just because of the vigilance he demonstrated in protecting his disciple’s spiritual life, but also because he was completely free from any false ego in the matter. He did not become at all defensive when he saw that things were not quite what he had first thought. Rather, he showed his purity and an absence of false ego by his humble and objective response.
* * *
Every day I try to give Prabhupāda a really good workout during his massage. For at least one-and-a-half hours I rub, squeeze, and knead his body while he sits meditatively.
Tamal Krishna Mahārāja mentioned to me that on the day he had given Prabhupāda his massage in Calcutta, he had noticed that when no one else was present, his body was very soft and supple, but as soon as a visitor entered Prabhupāda became alert and his body tensed up. It is a fact. Here in Māyāpur, with no visitors to speak of, he sits so relaxed and quiet that he practically seems unaware that I am massaging him at all. Several times he has inquired, when I have completed my work, whether I was finished or not. It is almost like someone taking their car into a garage for a service, going off for an hour or so, and then returning to inquire whether everything is done.
January 28th, 1976
Śrīla Prabhupāda is enjoying his walks in the mornings. He mentioned today that he finds it especially pleasing that he can take his full exercise without leaving our property. Because it is still a little brisk before the sun rises he is wearing a saffron colored cape to prevent catching a chill. And he enjoys the company of the young gurukula students as they join him on the road to enter the temple for the Deity greeting and guru-pūjā. He derives a great deal of satisfaction from their enthusiastic participation in the dancing and chanting. They share a natural rapport and he returns their affection with smiles and words of encouragement.
* * *
After lunch this afternoon Prabhupāda sat at the end of the veranda, enjoying the view of the Gaṅgā. Suddenly loud shouts and the slam of a door broke his tranquillity. He sent me to investigate.
I found Tamal Krishna Mahārāja sitting in his room before a plate of prasādam, clearly upset. He had just had an argument with Harikeśa over who should get the remnants of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s prasādam. As I stood, Harikeśa came back in and began berating him again.
Several days ago Tamal Krishna had asked Prabhupāda if he could eat the extra that was cooked for him because he found the kind of rice the devotees eat here in Māyāpur too coarse for his digestion. Prabhupāda had approved.
However, Harikeśa had previously received instructions from Śrīla Prabhupāda while we were in Vṛndāvana that all his remnants could not be monopolized by his immediate servants, but should be distributed to other devotees. As cook, Harikeśa resented Tamal Krishna’s acquisition of all the leftovers; while Tamal Krishna argued that he was only taking what was left in the pots and not what was left on Prabhupāda’s plate. Thus the dispute. Tamal Krishna also complained that he should not have been interrupted while he was honoring prasādam.
Prabhupāda called them both onto the veranda. After hearing their arguments, he managed to resolve the issue to everyone’s satisfaction. Prabhupāda said that Harikeśa should not have interrupted Tamal Krishna while he was eating. Respecting prasādam is a very important function, and there should be no disturbance. He said that otherwise one’s appetite is lost and indigestion results.
He gave his permission for Tamal Krishna to eat what was left in the pots, but also confirmed his desire that his prasādam be distributed.
He told us there is absolutely no difference between what is on the plate and what is in the pot. Whether cooked for guru or Kṛṣṇa it is all prasādam and all just as spiritually potent. When I mentioned that in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta there was a distinction made between mahā-prasādam, the remnants of the Deity offering, and mahā-mahā prasādam, which is the spiritual master’s remnants, Prabhupāda said the distinction was made for reference only. It is all prasādam.
Then he went on to explain that the Vaiṣṇava attitude in dealing with one another is one of humility. He gave the example of the pilgrims that come here to Māyāpur. As one man comes along the road, another tries to touch his feet. The former shies away from being so honored because he is thinking, “I am not a Vaiṣṇava, I am just an ordinary man. I am simply trying my best to become a Vaiṣṇava.” On the other hand the person who is touching his feet is thinking that unless he gets the dust of a Vaiṣṇava on his head he will not be able to advance.
“Actually,” Prabhupāda said, “this is a fact. One has to be blessed by a devotee to become a devotee. And he who is the servant of the servant of the servant—one hundred times removed—is not worse than one who directly serves the guru. If one thinks, ‘Because I am direct servant, I am better than others,’ then he is not a Vaiṣṇava. To offer one’s respects to guru and not to his disciples, this is wrong. This is not Vaiṣṇava. One has to be humble and try to serve all Vaiṣṇavas—not some and not others.”
January 29th, 1976
Prabhupāda is taking his morning walk on the roof every day now and following the same daily routine: massage at 10:00 a.m. on the veranda and answering letters; lunch at 1:30 p.m., a rest and return downstairs by 4:00 p.m.
* * *
A short report arrived from Hansadūta, who is now back in Germany. He stated that relations with the government are getting worse. They are harassing the devotees and threatening more raids on the temple. Although after months of investigation and persecution the only offense they can attribute to us is a very minor one of collecting money without permission, on this basis they are freezing our bank accounts and withholding DM700,000. The German devotees are becoming discouraged but are still struggling to distribute books.
In the meantime, since he left our party, Hansadūta has been busily purchasing vehicles for the formation of an all-India village-to-village traveling saṅkīrtana party. Two forty-five-seater Mercedes buses and a van will be driven overland to India to arrive by the festival. As well as this, he has decided to introduce the program in Germany, and two other buses have been purchased for touring there.
Hansadūta expressed his devotional sentiments in his concluding paragraph. “I feel helpless in this matter, and pray to Krsna to give me intelligence to combat these rascals. I know that Krsna can reverse the situation in a minute, and if He likes I may go on struggling a whole lifetime to convince them of the value of your message without success; still I am thankful that by your mercy that I have been awakened to devotional service which is the ultimate goal of life. I shall try to spread your teachings under all circumstances to everyone.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda sent a short reply of encouragement comparing their struggle with the fight between Hiraṇyakaśipu and Prahlāda Mahārāja, and to Kaàsa’s fight with Kṛṣṇa. “Prahlada must come out triumphant,” he told him. So similarly, in this case Kṛṣṇa will come out triumphant without a doubt. Prabhupāda also approved his plan for village preaching.
* * *
For the past few days I have been going down to the kitchen, with Prabhupāda’s approval, to learn how to cook from Harikeśa. We are using Śrīla Prabhupāda’s three-tiered cooker.
Previously Harikeśa timed things so that prasādam was ready for Prabhupāda immediately after he had bathed and dressed. But because he is taking his massage early now, Prabhupāda has agreed to a fixed time of 1:30 p.m. for lunch.
Because of his illness, Harikeśa was late starting today. By the time Prabhupāda was back in his room and prasādam was due, we were still cooking. Foolishly, I did not go up and inform Prabhupāda the reason for the delay, although I thought of doing it. I grew increasingly uneasy as the clock ticked on to 1:35, 1:40 ...Instead I kept thinking, “Another few minutes, another few minutes and he’ll be finished.”
Suddenly Ānakadundubhi, the extremely lanky English devotee who sometimes stands guard at Prabhupāda’s floor, burst into the kitchen. “Hari-śauri! Hari-śauri! Prabhupāda has been ringing the bell for the last ten minutes, and no one is answering. I think you had better go up!”
I zipped up the stairs full of anxiety and opened the door to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s room. I got down to offer my obeisances, but froze halfway as the blast of Prabhupāda’s anger hit me. I have never seen him so furious. He sat with his back stiff and straight. His face was flushed and his top lip quivered as he shouted at me for being negligent. “I’ve been ringing for ten minutes! You didn’t hear? Where have you been? Where is prasādam?”
I tried to explain the reason why we were late, that I was just waiting until his prasādam was ready. But the more I tried to pacify him the more agitated he became as he rammed home his point.
“I don’t want your prasādam! Don’t bring it! You rascal! Now you sit in your room and don’t go anywhere unless I call you!”
His anger had the right effect. Due to dullness I had neglected my duty, which was to serve him and keep him informed about what was happening. His sharp words crashed through the cloud of ignorance covering my brain as I realized that my inattentiveness was simply māyā. I hung my head and stopped trying to defend my position. Finally he relented a little. “Now bring whatever is done. It doesn’t matter, just bring whatever is there.” I ran down and brought up whatever was ready. He accepted it without any further comment and with no sign of any agitation whatsoever. As easily as it had arisen, his anger had abated.
After clearing his plate and wiping the desk down, I retired to my room and did not stir from there for the rest of the day.
There was no personal motive in his chastisement. Whether displaying anger or a soft and gentle humor Śrīla Prabhupāda is always on the transcendental platform. The effect of his instructions are always the same, no matter how they are delivered—one always ends up becoming more Kṛṣṇa conscious.
Śrīla Prabhupāda is mercifully showing me the proper service attitude. In the spiritual world everyone is fully and completely aware of their duty to Kṛṣṇa, at all times, without even a moment’s diversion. Śrīla Prabhupāda is trying to train us to the highest standard. My false ego has taken a battering. And I am left humbled and relieved, with a deeper understanding of what real spiritual awareness is all about.
January 30th, 1976
Gopāla Kṛṣṇa arrived today with news from Nellore. It turns out that the two sisters will not change the conditions on their “gift” of land under any circumstance.
Śrīla Prabhupāda decided on a radical solution to the dispute. He told him to remove the foundation stone from the property in Nellore and send it to Madras. He then sent a letter to Śravaṇānanda and Bhāvabhūti instructing them to find some land immediately, buy it, and begin collecting for a temple.
Gopāla Kṛṣṇa also reported that the contracts for the completion of the work in Bombay are now finalized, and the work is set to go ahead without delay.
In discussing the India projects Tamal Krishna Goswami suggested to Prabhupāda that his RDTSKP could send all their profits above cost, possibly $50,000 per month, directly for the projects in Purī, Māyāpur, Bombay, and Kurukṣetra, rather than through the Los Angeles BBT. Tamal thought that his men would be all the more enlivened if they knew specifically where their collections were going.
Prabhupāda was agreeable and he later sent a letter to Rāmeśvara to confirm these arrangements. At the same time he informed Rāmeśvara that the BBT should immediately send $100,000 to India and then seven lakhs of rupees each month thereafter to Bombay as part of the contract fulfillment with E.E.C.
Caitya-guru has been put in charge of organizing the project of building more rooms along the northern side of the property here in Māyāpur. The work is now going on vigorously. The plans have been drawn up, and already 150 men are digging the foundation. The new building will run the full length of the land from east to west. It’ll be some 1,000 feet long, half the width of the existing guest house, and with the same style of arches and eaves.
Looking across to the building site from his balcony, Prabhupāda tried to instil some sense of urgency into Caitya-guru by stressing that he wants this all to be done by the festival. “It can only be done by your mercy, Śrīla Prabhupāda,” Caitya-guru told him.
Prabhupāda laughed and replied, “And if it is not done, that means I have no mercy?”
January 31st, 1976
For many months a thief named Agarwal has been masquerading as Acyutānanda Swami in several states. He’s been making life members and keeping their fees. Our men only heard about him when the new “members” came to claim their benefits. He was eventually apprehended with stolen life membership forms, rubber stamps, and other paraphernalia. Before being handed over to the police he pleaed for mercy. Thus he was brought here to Māyāpur to see Śrīla Prabhupāda. He admitted to fraudulently using ISKCON’s name to extort funds; but he claimed that he was truly interested in becoming a devotee.
After speaking to him Prabhupāda showed great mercy. Rather than involve the police he decided to give him a chance to reform himself. The man was to stay here in Māyāpur, chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, and render some service.
Agarwal seemed to be serious, even accompanying Śrīla Prabhupāda on some of his walks. Prabhupāda therefore made no further reference to his nefarious activities. However, early this morning he was intercepted at the front gate. He was on his way out with his bags packed.
Jayapatāka Mahārāja asked Śrīla Prabhupāda what should be done with him. Prabhupāda said we should turn him over to the police. Later in the morning Agarwal was taken to the Navadvīpa lockup and formally charged.
It is an excellent example of the term “unfortunate.” Although an outright criminal, Agarwal had somehow or other received the special mercy of a pure devotee of the Lord. But because of his criminal nature he could not take advantage of it. Thus he is now suffering the results of his mischievous deeds.
* * *
Prabhupāda has invited Gaura Govinda Mahārāja, at present in Orissa, to come to Māyāpur and translate his books. Since there are some delays in occupying the newly donated land in Bhuvanesvar, Mahārāja is living there alone without men or money. So Prabhupāda felt it best that Gaura Govinda come here, at least until the festival.
* * *
Prabhupāda continues to follow his usual daily routine. The days are quiet, with no visitors to speak of. It is satisfying to see him getting the well-deserved rest and replenishment he needs.
Harikeśa however, is getting sicker each day. This morning as I massaged Prabhupāda on the veranda, he watched Harikeśa slowly emerge from his room. Harikeśa was pale. He hunched over as he shuffled along the veranda to the bathroom before going downstairs to begin cooking. Though it was 11:00 a.m. he had just got out of bed. Śrīla Prabhupāda asked me what he plans to do.
I told Prabhupāda that Harikeśa thinks his condition is colitis. And he feels that if he stays in India, it will only get worse. He feels that only a return to the West will enable him to get well. But while he feels this way, Harikeśa just doesn’t want to leave Prabhupāda’s service. But Prabhupāda told me that one’s health is primary.
February 1st, 1976
As I laid out the straw mat on the sunlit veranda to prepare for his massage, Śrīla Prabhupāda drew my attention to some sparrows making a nest. They had chosen a hole in the wall behind the electrical circuit box just outside Prabhupāda’s sitting-room window. He said their chirping disturbed him at night while translating his books. So before they could build a complete nest and settle in, I removed the bits of straw they had gathered.
But as I began the massage one of the birds returned and started to rebuild the nest, flying back and forth with small pieces of straw. I crumpled some paper and stuffed it into the hole to block it.
So when the sparrow came back and found its access barred, it pecked, undaunted, at the paper for almost half an hour, trying to open up the hole to continue its home-making. When the bird found this too difficult, it flew off and returned with its mate. Together they worked hard to remove the paper, eventually succeeding. By pecking and tugging in unison, they removed the paper and began to build again. All the while Śrīla Prabhupāda watched them without comment.
When the birds flew away to get more straw, I again filled the hole with the paper, this time forcing it in so tight that the sparrows couldn’t possibly remove it. The sparrows returned and spent a long time trying to regain access, but this time were unsuccessful. Eventually they accepted defeat, gave up, and left.
Prabhupāda then drew an interesting parallel. He told me that even though the birds had eyes, they could not see. Although they were trying so hard to build their house, they couldn’t see that the person who had prevented them stood nearby watching. So they continued on in ignorance, trying to make adjustments and struggling against the superior arrangement.
He explained how, in the same way, the materialistic persons, though having eyes, are unable to see how māyā, the material energy, is supervising all their efforts. They simply struggle on, making adjustments, hoping to improve their lives and secure their place in the material world, not understanding that māyā is watching their every move and defeating them at every step.
* * *
As promised, Mr. Chaudhuri and family arrived. Śrīla Prabhupāda happily received him, like a father receiving his son. Prabhupāda showed him the plans for the Vedic city and the land which he wants the government to acquire for the project. Then with Jayapatāka Swami he looked over the entire compound.
Mr. Chaudhuri promised to help Jayapatāka Mahārāja in every way possible to get the application approved. He clearly has the highest regard for Śrīla Prabhupāda and was impressed with the Māyāpur project. His wife was even more enthusiastic and challenged her husband that if he is truly a Hindu then he must help Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Mr. and Mrs. Chaudhuri took lunch on the balcony. As we served them sumptuous prasādam, Prabhupāda sat to the side in his chair, hosting them graciously. While they ate, he kept the conversation light and jolly, thus allowing them to eat without distraction.
* * *
Harikeśa spent considerable time in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s room this evening trying to persuade Prabhupāda to give him sannyāsa. His chief rationale was that unless one is a sannyāsī it is difficult to get the facility to preach in our Society. He said he has visited many temples but is rarely asked to give a class. Yet he feels that if he was a sannyāsī he would always be offered the opportunity to preach.
Prabhupāda, however, not only did not agree with his viewpoint, he also brought up other practical considerations such as, who would do his service of transcribing his nightly dictations, the cooking, and so forth? After Śrīla Prabhupāda thoroughly defeated all Harikeśa’s arguments he then sent him out.
I was out on the veranda as Harikeśa emerged into the night air, his ego somewhat shattered, but in a quite blissful state. He was satisfied to have been put in his place by the mercy of Śrīla Prabhupāda.
February 2nd, 1976
In the early morning before maṅgala-ārati Prabhupāda sent me to get Tamal Krishna Goswami. He told him that after serious consideration, he had decided that Harikeśa may take sannyāsa. He suggested that Harikeśa travel and preach with the Rādhā-Dāmodara party. He should be trained to eventually take charge of one of the buses.
This was clearly a surprise to Tamal Krishna Mahārāja, who has successfully headed up the RDTSKP for the last three years. During this time he has expanded the party’s operation from one bus doing small festivals in colleges to more than a dozen vehicles with nearly 100 men selling tens of thousands of books each month all over America.
He was a little wary because he and Harikeśa do not always enjoy a smooth relationship; they are a somewhat volatile mix. Nevertheless, Tamal agreed to the proposal because Prabhupāda wants it. He admitted that Harikeśa certainly has the intelligence and qualification to do the job.
As for his own personal services, Prabhupāda thought of a good solution: Dayānanda and his wife, Nandarāṇī. Dayānanda is here in Māyāpur hoping to learn Sanskrit. So Prabhupāda said that if he became his secretary, he could personally teach him Sanskrit. Dayānanda could then assist him with his translation work. Nandarāṇī could transcribe his nightly work as well as cook.
I was sent to inform Harikeśa of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s decision. The unexpected news immediately sent Harikeśa in a mental spin, simultaneously elated and distressed. He had happily accepted his defeat last night and was looking forward to staying with Śrīla Prabhupāda as his menial brahmacārī servant indefinitely. Now, although he is happy about being awarded sannyāsa, it means he will have to leave the party. He lamented to me, “Once you leave Śrīla Prabhupāda’s personal party, everyone knows, you never come back!” The yajṣa is to be held in three days.
* * *
In another discussion later in the day with Bhavānanda Mahārāja, Śrīla Prabhupāda decided that the Deities for the proposed new temple in Māyāpur should be life-size, like the Hyderabad Deities. He wants to install Paṣca-tattva, Lord Caitanya, and His personal associates, with at least five predecessor gurus, Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, and the eight principal gopīs.
February 3rd, 1976
Prabhupāda walked on the roof this morning. Sudāmā Mahārāja told him that many students in the West are now beginning to appreciate his extraordinary feat of spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness all around the world. He said even some yogis and svāmīs hold him in high esteem for what he has done.
Bhavānanda Mahārāja complimented Prabhupāda as the only true resident of Bhāratavarṣa. He explained that is because Prabhupāda is the only one to actually fulfill Lord Caitanya’s instructions. Prabhupāda gracefully conceded. He acknowledged that it is now a matter of history. Then Śrīla Prabhupāda mused for a moment, thinking of the difficulties he has had with some of his Godbrothers. He explained they are unable to recognize his achievements because of envy. But he said that this was not a new thing. Even during the time of his Guru Mahārāja, although they knew Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta liked him very much, they would refer to him as kaca-gṛhastha, “a rotten gṛhastha.” And he said that even now they are thinking, “What is this? This gṛhastha has come out more than us?”
Yet, Prabhupāda said that not all the Gaudiya Math men felt like that. Previously his Godbrother Śrīdhar Swami had rented rooms from him in Calcutta when he was still a family man. He recalled how Govinda, Śrīdhar Mahārāja’s chief disciple, had appreciated him even then. “He always used to say to Śrīdhar Mahārāja that ‘Mahārāja, you are seeing Abhay Babu as gṛhastha, but he is more than many yogis.’”
Continuing his walk down on the ground he went to the front of our land. He wanted to inspect the progress on the new building.
There he questioned Jayapatāka Swami about the Śrī Caitanya Gaudiya Math. They have erected a new building at the gateway to their property, meant to house a Deity of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, the father of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s spiritual master. Prabhupāda wasn’t at all happy about it. He felt that they were going over the head of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta had lived there for many years but had never contemplated such a thing.
Prabhupāda told Jayapatāka he should have challenged them that, “He [Bhaktisiddhānta] could not understand where Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura should be placed. You have understood. You are so intelligent. Over-intelligent! That means rascals. Over-intelligent means rascal. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, he remained so many years, and he could not understand. You have understood to make Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura a gatekeeper. You tell him next time when you go that ‘You are over intelligent.’”
* * *
Hridayānanda Mahārāja arrived from South America to be Prabhupāda’s secretary for the month. Tamal Krishna Mahārāja will return to America and then come back to Māyāpur with his men for the Gaura Pūrṇimā festival.
Two brahmacārīs, Mahāvīra and Viraha, also came with Hridayānanda. Both of them are hoping to take sannyāsa initiation. Boyish and eager, Mahāvīra is from North America but has been successfully preaching in Brazil. Viraha is a somber Venezuelan with little knowledge of English. Both are in their mid-twenties, and Hridayānanda highly recommends them for sannyāsa. He has a huge zone, the whole of Latin America, and is in dire need of sannyāsī assistants to help guide the booming projects.
After settling in, Hridayānanda Mahārāja came to Prabhupāda’s room to give an update on his preaching activities. He read him a book review written by an Indian professor in Mexico, Dr. Vajpeye. The review stated that Prabhupāda’s books are important because “they expose the terrible cheating of bogus svāmīs.”
Prabhupāda was so pleased to hear this assertion he started in his seat. He was excited and happy that such a learned man was able to perceive how true Vedic knowledge is being spoiled by misrepresentation. “This is required,” he said. He requested that 100,000 copies of the review should be made. He wants them distributed throughout India, especially Bombay and Madras where there is so much propaganda from these bogus gurus and yogis. “This is my intention,” he said, “to stop the so-called svāmīs and yogis from cheating the public.”
He feels this can be done by distributing his books. Such charlatans are ruining India’s culture by concocting their own methods of spiritual practice. But now, by reading his books, important men are beginning to realize what is going on.
* * *
During mail time Śrīla Prabhupāda heard from Svarūpa and Raṇadhīr prabhus, who manage the BBT Mail Order Department in Los Angeles. They reported a successful year, with collections of $20,000 for 1975.
In response Prabhupāda requested them to send the pamphlet The Krishna Consciousness Movement is Authorized out to their members along with a book catalog so that they may purchase our books. He also told them that we are going to print many copies of Dr. Vajpeye’s book review and distribute it widely throughout India. “He has got practical experience of how they are cheating the innocent people in foreign countries, and he has written, ‘The authorized edition of Bhagavad-gita will help to stop the terrible cheating of “gurus” and “yogis” who are false and unauthorized.’”
They also reported that the BBT is preparing some blow-ups of the book reviews to be displayed here in Māyāpur during the upcoming festival. Prabhupāda added a postscript to his letter, emphasizing that these blow-ups are “most important.”
Prabhupāda considers these favorable book reviews to be very important. He keeps the most recent ones on file and regularly shows them to his visitors. He is also pleased with the new booklet The Krishna Consciousness Movement is Authorized because it presents the favorable endorsements of many respected professors.
A letter arrived today from Madras that confirmed Prabhupāda’s feelings. It stated that after Prabhupāda’s visit, Svāmī Chinmayananda had gone there and given a ten-day discourse on the Bhagavad-gītā. Afterward one man told our devotees, “What Prabhupāda achieved in two days, Svāmī Chinmayananda failed to do in ten!” Needless to say, Śrīla Prabhupāda is delighted when he hears such accounts.
Prabhupāda is acutely aware of the power of the printed word. Our entire movement is based on his books, and he carefully supervises every aspect of their production and distribution. In a reply to Rādhāballabha in Los Angeles, he approved a new kind of water-resistant cloth cover and gold stamping on the bindings, “if it will increase the appeal.”
He even personally checks and approves the paintings for the books. Before proceeding with their paintings the artists regularly send him their preliminary sketches for him to review. Thus he answered Rādhāballabha’s questions on illustrations for Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Seventh Canto, dealing with Prahlāda Mahārāja. Śrīla Prabhupāda gave the kind of insightful instruction that was possible from only him.
“There should be no effulgence around Prahlada. Hiranyakasipu should not be shown with a pipe. He was a non-smoker.”
“Krsna killing Sisupala took place inside, not outside.”
“Yes, you can show dead bones, skulls, and snakes in the dungeon. Prahlada was not actually attacked with the tridents, just threatened.”
It seems that Śrīla Prabhupāda’s idea of instituting examinations on śāstra has drawn an enthusiastic response from the GBC men, but also some consternation.
Satsvarūpa Mahārāja wrote to ask whether the devotees should be allotted more time to study. He said this would mean less time on saṅkīrtana and other engagements, like cooking, building, managing, and so forth.
Satsvarūpa Mahārāja suggested that we could establish a more structured, college-curriculum style approach to the morning and evening classes which are held in the temples. “My question,” he asked, “is whether the one-verse per class format which you have established could be changed in order to cover more material in a regular outlined way, in preparation for the examinations. I would like to try such an outlined presentation myself, and even suggest it to the GBC for introduction to the whole society, but I am in doubt whether it is your desire and whether I may have the wrong idea on this.”
Prabhupāda informed him that the exams are for those who want some academic qualification. “Just like a brahmana with sastric knowledge and a brahmana without. It is optional; one who wants may take. The real purpose is that our men should not be neglectful of the philosophy.”
Since the exams are not to be held until next year on Gaura Pūrṇimā, Prabhupāda sees no need for the devotees to give up their normal engagements to do more study. And as far as his idea for teaching classes, he wrote, “This should be discussed at the GBC meeting. If it does not hamper our normal procedure then it is welcome.”
February 4th, 1976
In the early morning Prabhupāda took up the topic of cheating gurus again. He told us about some of the nefarious activities of a few so-called gurus. One well know svāmī had been found in bed with his secretary. So his disciples sued him.
He also told us about a Sikh guru in America who enjoys his disciples’ wives. And they consider this a “blessing.”
In Bombay there is a deviant line of Vaiṣṇavas who follow a similar procedure. When a couple gets married the girl spends her wedding night with the guru, so that she becomes “guru prasādam”!
In the course of the conversation, Hridayānanda Mahārāja revealed that he had himself drafted the review from Mexico. Dr. Vajpeye only signed it. But Prabhupāda was not disappointed. The fact that the Dr. signed it showed that he agreed with the statements. Again, Prabhupāda stressed that exposing bogus gurus is an important part of our preaching work. But he said that it can only be done if we are spiritually strong ourselves.
Prabhupāda regretted that sometimes his own men, though knowing the proper standards, don’t always live up to them. In that connection, Hridayānanda also had news of Paramahaàsa Swami, Prabhupāda’s former secretary, who hasn’t been heard of for several months. He has left ISKCON and is now a gas station attendant in Oregon.
Apparently he and another sannyāsī spent a month in Bangkok where they broke all the regulative principles. Paramahaàsa returned to the USA., and the other sannyāsī came to South India where he spent a few days with Śrīla Prabhupāda before going back to Bangkok. This devotee is also reported to have been going to see movies in Japan.
On hearing this Prabhupāda simply commented, “Yes, I could understand it from seeing his face.”
Prabhupāda also mentioned another wayward disciple named Audalomi who had been told by doctors that he would die within a few months. He asked to be given bābājī initiation. Prabhupāda had reluctantly agreed and thus Audalomi Mahārāja came to spend his last days in Māyāpur chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. But when another doctor informed him he would not die so soon, he returned to his wife in the U.S.A., gave up devotional service, and became like a karmī again. He was last seen surfing on the West Coast.
Added to this, another disturbing report was related about one of our sannyāsīs who is currently preaching here in India.
Prabhupāda shook his head regretfully. He said that he is doing his best to push forward this movement with whatever men Kṛṣṇa sends him, although he is aware that some of his men are deviating from the principles he has laid down. Despite this, as long as a person is willing to keep trying, he is willing to engage them in Kṛṣṇa’s service, with the hope that they will eventually become purified and attain success on the spiritual path. In the meantime, they can do something useful for pushing on the movement.
* * *
The acceptance of sannyāsa has become so popular recently that even some of the ladies are asking about it. Āditya dāsī sent an enquiry from Bombay. “I am writing this letter on behalf of myself, as well as the other women in our Society. Sometimes the question has come up, but no one seems to know the real answer, about sannyasinis. I know that sannyasa is the highest order of spiritual life, therefore is it not possible that we can be eligible? Myself, I do not feel like a woman, although I am in this body.”
Prabhupāda’s reply was concise and clear. Quoting from Bhagavad-gītā, he told her the soul is neither man nor woman, and for those engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service, there is no distinction between man and woman. “Anyone acting for Kṛṣṇa, he is a sannyasi or sannyasini. Spiritually everyone is equal. But materially a woman cannot be given sannyasa. But you should not be bothered because you are serving on the spiritual platform.”
Prabhupāda complained to his secretaries that he is constantly being bombarded by requests for sannyāsa from devotees who are not fit to accept such an exalted position. It has become such a problem that he has approved a suggestion made by Tamal Krishna: from now on any request for sannyāsa must be accompanied by a recommendation from another sannyāsī or GBC. The request will then be considered at the annual GBC meeting here in Māyāpur. If accepted, the man will be put on a one-year waiting list and then initiated the following year. Hopefully this will shield Śrīla Prabhupāda from being unnecessarily disturbed and help to further qualify the candidates.
Prabhupāda also told us that he wants the number of GBCs increased to twenty. More and more he is referring new plans for preaching, managerial arrangements, and so forth, to the GBC for discussion, taking a less active part himself. He wants them to become fully responsible for the management of the Society.
* * *
There was a big storm in the evening. The lights went out as huge gusts of wind blew sudden and furious. We had to run to bolt down all the windows and doors.
Prabhupāda sat happily undisturbed in the darkness of his room. The distant heavens meanwhile were lit up by multiple forks of bluish-yellow lightning streaking across the sky, making an awesome display of the power of material nature. Prabhupāda repeated that rainfall at this time of year is considered auspicious and very welcome.
February 5th, 1976
The discussions of the morning walks are getting very lively now with Hridayānanda, Tamal Krishna, and Harikeśa all debating with Śrīla Prabhupāda on the latest scientific theories. They, of course, get soundly defeated.
Hridayānanda presented the theory that although God originally created everything, once things were set in motion, there was nothing else for Him to do. Therefore He is now inactive; God has become dormant.
Prabhupāda replied that being dormant doesn’t mean being out of the picture. Prabhupāda demonstrated this by using himself as an example. “I am walking now, but if I choose not to walk for half an hour, that doesn’t mean I am not active. The capacity to act remains. One simply has to understand how God is acting.”
Prabhupāda explained that when he was a child he wondered how the gramophone was working. He thought there must be a man inside the box, otherwise, how could it work? Although his perception was childish, still he knew there must be some person behind it. Similarly, nature is working, and this indicates an active God behind it. “Just like there was cloud and rain. Now it is not raining,” he pointed out. “So there is activity already. It is being managed. So you cannot say God is dormant. He is acting because his creation is acting. And God says, ‘Under My direction the nature is working.’ How can you say He is dormant?”
Hridayānanda threw in another point of contention. “The main argument among the atheistic philosophers is that, ‘God could not exist, because if He existed, if God were good, then why would we be suffering? God would stop our suffering.’”
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s swift retort exposed the faulty logic. “Because you are criminal. There are so many persons in the state. Not all of them are suffering in the prison-house. Only the criminals. So that is the proof you are criminal.” He concluded by saying that whether we enjoy or suffer is simply a question of the use of our God-given free will.
* * *
After guru-pūjā, Prabhupāda presided over a combined Deity installation and sannyāsa initiation ceremony.
The head pūjārī, Jananivāsa, assisted by newly arrived GBC Jagadīśa dāsa, performed the abhiṣekha of Śrī Śrī Gaura-Nitāi. The beautiful twenty-inch high neem-wood Deities were installed as the proprietors of the oceangoing boat “Nitāi Pada Kamala.” Sudāmā Mahārāja plans to sail up and down the Ganges with Their Lordships and other Māyāpur devotees, preaching from village to village.
After the Deities were installed, Harikeśa and Viraha were awarded sannyāsa. Mahāvīra will wait until Gaura Pūrṇimā.
Śrīla Prabhupāda had the mantra and purport from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 3.6 read aloud: “[As a brāhmaṇa from Avanti-deśa said] I shall cross over the insurmountable ocean of nescience by being firmly fixed in the service of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. This was approved by the previous ācāryas, who were fixed in firm devotion to the Lord, Paramātmā, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
Prabhupāda gave a short talk explaining that sannyāsa is simply a facility to preach and spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness. He awarded the two men their new cloth and tridaṇḍas, the traditional monk’s staffs. Then he told Harikeśa to “simply add Swami” to his name. He renamed Viraha as Viraha Prakaśā Swami. Then he returned to his room while the devotees conducted the fire ceremony.
As soon as he settled in his room Prabhupāda asked Hridayānanda Mahārāja how the two new sannyāsīs would be engaged. He was informed that Viraha Prakaśā Swami plans to stay in Māyāpur for a few weeks to get Prabhupāda’s association before returning to South America. But Śrīla Prabhupāda said that was not good. He should immediately go out and preach.
Hridayānanda Mahārāja explained that Viraha Prakaśā only speaks Spanish, so it would be difficult for him to preach in India. But Prabhupāda promptly called for the two new sannyāsīs and told them, “Leave immediately for somewhere—anywhere—and preach. When there is a fire, if you don’t know the language, somehow you communicate and the message gets through. Even if you cannot speak the language properly it doesn’t matter. Preaching must be done.” He said that the best use of intelligence is to accept sannyāsa and go preach. It is also the best way to associate with the guru. Personal association is not so important, but to associate with the teachings of the guru is essential. Prabhupāda said that he had not seen his Guru Mahārāja for more than ten or fifteen days in fourteen years. Thus his words were of personal encouragement and comfort to Harikeśa Swami as well, since he is now leaving Śrīla Prabhupāda’s personal service.
February 6th, 1976
The two new swamis left for Calcutta this morning. Harikeśa Mahārāja will go to the USA via London. I gave him my quilted cotton jacket, a bagalbundi from Vṛndāvana, because he had no clothes for colder climates.
Before he left he gave me a three page, handwritten list of instructions on how to cook for Śrīla Prabhupāda:
HOW TO COOK FOR SRILA PRABHUPADA
1. Take bottom section of cooker and put perhaps 3 or 4 heaping tablespoons of yellow split mung or toor-dal which has been well washed and immediately let it boil so that you can regulate the temperature to a small rolling boil. Water level should be 5/8 full. Add turmeric (till nice deep color) and salt.
In 2nd section put 4-6 oz rice (nice basmati) and clean and wash 1 or 2 times (not too much) then add twice as much water or slightly less.
In 3rd section whatever vegetables you want to steam should be placed here and do not cover the holes.
Cover with lid and wait 45 minutes.
Vegetables (typical steaming schedule):
Cauliflower, potato, zucchini, loki, eggplant, tomato, (beans or peas), portals etc.
Dahl should be completely merged, not solid, not liquid, chaunched with chili, cumin, asafoetida, either methi or dhanya but never at the same time, sometimes ginger in chaunch is nice.
Boil milk, curdle with yogurt, take out and put in cloth. Press under cloth with heavy weight by forcing out all water. Cut cheese into chunks and deep fry brown. Meantime make masala (as you like) put in water and tomato - then cheese and boil till cheese is very soft.
Masala, add water, turmeric, salt, sometimes yoghurt, then steamed veg - heat and serve.
Masala, add steamed veg, turmeric, salt, fry for short while.
Some masalas -
Cumin; anise; chilli; (hing)
Coriander powder, turmeric, salt, sweet neem (curry leaves) are also used.
As you change the ratios of one spice to another in the masalas you get an infinite variety of tastes.
Recipe for Sukta:
Wok on very low heat with sufficient ghee to fry the vegetables first. Use whatever you like of the below list but kerala (bitter melon) is absolutely essential:
kerala, radish, potato, green banana (plantain), pepper, green tomato, carrots, beets, beans (string beans), mooli.
When little soft add salt-spice by pushing aside vegetables and in the middle cooking cumin, anise, green chili, methi, not very dark, continue frying. When finished add water and boil down. Add turmeric. Mash poppy seeds (white) to paste - add - dry fry methi, anise, cumin, chili and grind - add to top after putting off the heat, serve liquid.
Masala with methi, chili, cumin, anise and add spinach leaves, cover and cook. In the meantime deep fry to brown, badi, and break up into prep with salt - finished (do not add extra water).
Rice cooks automatically in the cooker - just keep it hot.
He went in to take a final leave of Śrīla Prabhupāda and then he was gone.
Dayānanda and Nandarāṇī prabhus, who are both excited at the unexpected turn of events, were familiarized with their new duties. They began immediately.
* * *
It rained early this morning, delaying the construction work on the new building. But later the thick mist and clouds cleared away as the warm sunshine evaporated the haze. Prabhupāda was out on the balcony just after breakfast. He paused to look out over the rail and smiled as the sun’s rays filtered through. “Nīhāram iva bhāskaraḥ!” he quoted from the Sixth Canto. It is a verse that describes how the appearance of the holy name destroys sinful life just as the sun dissipates fog. Everything he sees reminds him of Kṛṣṇa.
* * *
Prabhupāda has been invited to do a program in Dacca, Bangladesh, where he will also accept a gift of land and a temple. Jayapatāka Swami has been negotiating with some Gaudiya Math members there. Apparently they are willing to hand over their small preaching center to ISKCON.
Hridayānanda Mahārāja will go there next week to prepare for the program.
* * *
Just after lunch prasādam, Prabhupāda sat on a chair out on the veranda. Tamal Krishna Mahārāja and myself sat at his feet, eager as ever to share some quiet moments with His Divine Grace. Prabhupāda volunteered to us that he had a dream last night in which he saw a planet where pious Muhammadans go.
We smiled. I asked if such a place actually exists.
Prabhupāda tilted his head from side to side. “Oh, yes,” he said smiling.
* * *
Jagadīśa and Nitāi prabhus have come to Māyāpur to discuss with Prabhupāda their proposals for the formation of the Vṛndāvana gurukula.
Nitāi has been writing regularly with suggestions about curriculum and registration of the school. He feels that our gurukula should be affiliated with other centers of learning, such as Agra University. This will help the students and other devotees to easily get student visas. Thus they will be able to stay in India without difficulty.
Prabhupāda called for the other senior men to discuss their ideas for the school’s curriculum. The two of them gave an elaborate outline of a comprehensive course of study, beginning from first-level grammar school up to Master’s level in graduate studies.
After hearing their proposals Prabhupāda indicated that he considered many of their ideas to be impractical. Nitāi’s scheme seemed too academic and grandiose, and attempted to cram in too much in too short a time.
Prabhupāda emphasized that he wants the children to become devotees, not simply scholars. He is also not keen on the idea of affiliation with other schools, because then we will be required to conform to certain government standards that he doesn’t feel are necessary.
Overall, Prabhupāda’s response to their proposals was not very favorable. So they will reconsider and modify them.
February 7th, 1976
Today is Śrī Advaitācārya’s appearance day, a half-day fast, and the day chosen for the launch of the boat.
In the early morning Prabhupāda was driven in a jeep to Hoola Ghat on the Jalāṅgī River, where he inspected the “Nitāi Pada Kamala.” Its renovations are complete, and the Deities have been installed below deck. The small wooden forms of Śrī Śrī Gaura-Nitāi will be taken on procession through villages whenever the boat lands.
It is a good facility, a 12 ton “Jali” class boat, about forty feet long and fifteen feet wide. It has a shallow draft and was previously used to transport hay, although the maritime authorities have licensed it to carry up to 56 passengers. The devotees have added a cabin above deck along most of its length. Brightly painted in green, yellow, and red, the boat was gaily decorated for today’s occasion with strings of orange marigolds. The high mast is painted in yellow and red strips like a barber’s pole. Inside the cabin the main support beams are bright-yellow and red with lotus-flower motifs.
Tamal Krishna Mahārāja helped Śrīla Prabhupāda on board over the rickety bamboo ramp. Prabhupāda carefully inspected every corner of the boat. Then he sat for a few minutes on a straw mat, while the devotees held kīrtana. Prabhupāda likes the idea of preaching on the boat, and he encouraged Sudāmā Mahārāja to make it a success.
Later in the morning Sudāmā Mahārāja sailed away down the Gaṅgā with seventeen men, including four of the older boys from the gurukula, on their maiden voyage. It was a magnificent sight. Many local villagers lined the shore, eager to witness their departure.
* * *
During his massage Prabhupāda heard a letter from Balavanta dāsa, the temple president in Atlanta, in which he learned that the devotees were making a tea from tulasī leaves. “Immediately stop it!” he exclaimed. He was very disturbed by this news and declared that such “tea” should not be made even for Lord Jagannātha during His yearly convalescence.
Balavanta also questioned whether the devotees on traveling saṅkīrtana could eat bread made by karmīs.
Prabhupāda replied that they may not, unless it is an emergency situation. In any event he said that such food cannot be offered to the Deities. As a substitute he suggested they eat farina fried in a little ghee with sugar added. Or purīs because these would last for three or four days.
* * *
Recently I have been trying to improve my standard of cleanliness because Prabhupāda frequently refers to me as a mleccha. Still, I continue to make mistakes.
Today, as usual, after prasādam Prabhupāda sat out on the veranda in his chair. As Tamal Krishna Mahārāja and I sat at his feet, he admired the vista of Śrī Māyāpur-dhāma, occasionally making short comments.
Prabhupāda asked me for a drink of water, and I reached out for his silver cup. In my eagerness to serve him, I moved too quickly, caught the top edge with my palm and almost knocked it over. In the act of recovery I poked the tip of my finger into the water. I was caught in a dilemma. Should I inconvenience Śrīla Prabhupāda by making him wait while I empty the cup and get fresh water? Or should I offer him the cup even though my finger had touched its contents?
I offered him the glass. A wrong decision. Prabhupāda shook his head and gave me a sour look. Then he laughed and quoted from Bhagavad-gītā, “Pravṛttià ca nivṛttià ca janā na vidur āsurāḥ! You are simply mleccha!”
In an attempt to rectify my bad habits I have begun to take three baths daily: one upon rising, one just before massage, and one in the late afternoon. Still, it seems very difficult to know what a fitting standard of cleanliness is, although due to Prabhupāda’s association I am gradually learning.
The other evening I told Prabhupāda that sometimes I wonder if I will ever come up to the correct standards. Brahminical cleanliness just doesn’t seem to come naturally. I explained that at home, before becoming a devotee, I had been practiced to bathe not more than once a week.
Prabhupāda assured me I will learn gradually. But he also laughingly agreed that for a Westerner to be clean is somehow a very artificial condition.
* * *
Immediately after lunch Prabhupāda went upstairs and took his afternoon nap in one of the rooftop rooms on the roof. He enjoyed the fresh open air. The setting was so peaceful and quiet that he has decided to stay up there every day from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., taking his massage, bath, and lunch all there.
February 8th, 1976
For the first time since we arrived, Prabhupāda gave a class after guru-pūjā, speaking in English on the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam Seventh Canto 9.1. The subject was Prahlāda Mahārāja’s prayers to Lord Nṛsiàhadeva.
After a brief, fifteen-minute discourse, he surprised everyone by requesting a Bengali devotee, Subhāga, to come forward and repeat what he had said in Bengali for the benefit of the local devotees.
Subhāga, a gentle, nervous type of fellow, became a little flustered at the thought of speaking before Śrīla Prabhupāda. He was unable to get out more than a couple of sentences. In his nervousness his mind had gone blank and he couldn’t remember anything Prabhupāda had said. Prabhupāda requested Nitāi-canda dāsa, a young man born here in Māyāpur, to speak instead. He was more successful.
It has put all the bilingual devotees on their toes. They’re all wondering if they will be called upon in future classes.
* * *
The room on the roof facing east has been cleared out and prepared for Prabhupāda. He went up just after taking his morning nap and stayed there until mid-afternoon.
During massage Dayānanda read the English translation and word-for-word transliteration of the two prayers Prabhupāda wrote while on board the Jaladuta when he first sailed to America. The prayers were sent by Jayaśacīnandana dāsa from Los Angeles, who has translated them into English from Bengali.
Śrīla Prabhupāda was pleased with the translations and suggested they be published in the new printing of the song book for all the devotees to learn and sing. One of them was already named Markine Bhāgavata-dharma. Prabhupāda named the other Prayer to the Lotus Feet of Kṛṣṇa.
Yaśodānandana and Acyutānanda Swamis will be arriving here around February 25th. Since Prabhupāda’s visit to Nellore they have been preaching throughout eastern Andhra Pradesh with good success. They reported that Gurukṛpa Mahārāja has sent money for a new traveling saṅkīrtana bus which they are having specially constructed in Bombay. The bus will be ready in time to take them on a tour of Karnataka in April.
* * *
Because his digestion is poor and he is suffering from excess mucus, Prabhupāda has been adjusting his diet. His liver is not functioning properly, and his digestion is not good. He has stopped taking evening prasādam. For breakfast he is eating only fruits, and for lunch he has a variety of vegetable preparations, but no dāl or rice.
Today he decided to take his evening milk in the form of milk sweets like rasagullās or sandeśa made with gur, a local form of brown sugar made from boiled-down cane juice. He reasoned that the sugar would be good for his liver and the solid milk would give him strength to work on his books throughout the night. (As a liquid, milk is too difficult for him to digest.)
He called in his new cook, Nandarāṇī, and explained how to make rasagullās. The curd has to be thoroughly kneaded. Then when rolled, a small piece of rock candy can be placed in the middle. The whole thing has to be cooked until sticky.
February 9th, 1976
On his morning walk Prabhupāda explained that the varṇāśrama system is not necessary for our ISKCON society; it is a material arrangement. When one chants the holy name and performs devotional service one immediately rises above that platform, like using a lift instead of stairs. However, as long as some bodily concept is present, varṇāśrama is useful and it can be utilized.
He talked about various aspects of the Vedic social system and told us that his mother was married at age eight. He gave a few examples of others who were married while as young as five years. In such child marriages the couples would live separately until the girl reached puberty. Then they lived together at the boy’s parents’ house. Prabhupāda’s own wife was eleven at the time of their marriage. At the age of thirteen she moved in with his family, and at fourteen she gave birth.
He said the social system for getting girls married was so strict that in one śāstra it says if a girl is not married by the first menstrual period then the father has to eat the menstrual liquid! Everyone winced at the thought. Prabhupāda explained that of course that is not to be taken literally. But it was meant to stress the importance of properly protecting the girls. By marrying the girls before puberty they would naturally become attached to their husbands and remain faithful throughout their lives. Thus their chastity was preserved, and there was no disturbance in society.
Prabhupāda said that in our ISKCON Society, however, getting married is not so important. That’s because life becomes perfect by serving Kṛṣṇa. He is the real husband.
* * *
It is very pleasant to give Prabhupāda his massage out on the roof. He has me place his sitting mat on a large, wooden table about the size and height of a bed. This provides me just enough room to manoeuvre around, while Prabhupāda sits contentedly in the warm rays of the sun.
On completion of the massage, he bathes outside in his gamchā, sitting on a choṅki, washing off the oil with warm water from a brass bucket. Then he retires inside the room to dress, eat lunch, and rest.
* * *
Dayānanda came up with the day’s mail. A letter from Brahmānanda Swami was included. It was a long, rather depressing missive.
In it Brahmānanda described the struggles that he, Navayogendra, and Nanda Kumāra Swamis are having in trying to restore good relationships with our members. He wrote how collections have become so bad in Nairobi that they could not even buy any fruit or milk, nor post letters, during one five-day period. Furthermore, he explained how some Mombasa devotees had previously visited local prostitutes, later leaving the temple. However, he reported that relations with the local Hindu community are gradually improving. And despite all the problems, he still managed to send $800 to the BBT.
Chayavana Swami, who had been placed in charge of the African yātrā in Brahmānanda’s absence, had left and gone to live with his father in Florida. From there he sent a letter to the White House telling them how our movement could stop the spread of Communism in Africa if they gave us backing.
Prabhupāda didn’t comment at length, but he did compliment Brahmānanda for paying his debts to the BBT.
As far as Chayavana’s letter was concerned, he wasn’t impressed. “That was a foolish letter sent by Chayavana,” he wrote. “He was crazy. These things should not be done without first asking.”
We have heard that Chayavana is now in India and on his way here to see Prabhupāda. So Prabhupāda is hoping that he can be rectified by spending some time in Māyāpur with himself and in the company of other sannyāsīs.
* * *
In the afternoon Śrī Tarun Kanti Ghosh, a West Bengal cabinet Minister, paid a visit. A tall, good-humored man, with an impressive mien and an aura of extravagance, he seemed surprisingly young to have such a high-ranking political position. He is from a Vaiṣṇava family who worships a Deity of Lord Caitanya in their home. And he deeply admires Śrīla Prabhupāda and his disciples.
Although he has been here before, he was taken on a tour. He greatly appreciated the transcendental atmosphere of Māyāpur. Afterward he relished prasādam, then Śrīla Prabhupāda entertained him very graciously in his room for an hour, conversing on various topics. He left paying high tribute to Śrīla Prabhupāda for the great work he is doing in spreading the movement of Lord Caitanya far and wide.
February 10th, 1976
Śrīla Prabhupāda is constantly meditating on the development of ISKCON. He regularly discusses managerial concerns as well as spiritual standards in order to assure that everything in the Society is running efficiently. He is constantly on the watch for signs of mismanagement. It is common for him to call in his GBC men at all hours to garner information and give direction. We are all untrained, both materially and spiritually, and Prabhupāda has to educate us in both realms in order to create a Society with a solid framework for advancement.
Early this morning, before his walk, he sent me to get Tamal Krishna Mahārāja. After some discussion he authorized him to send out the following letter to all the temples and GBCs: “This morning Srila Prabhupada called me into his room. He was concerned over the appropriation of money for use in traveling and communicating between centers by the devotees. More and more His Divine Grace is noticing the frequency of plane flights and trunk calls, both of which are very costly. He has therefore ordered that henceforward no one should take plane flights. If anyone has to go to another temple, he should book a train reservation, but he can not take a plane. With regards to trunk calls, His Divine Grace does not want any more trunk calls booked, except in case of dire emergency. Everything should be done by mail. Telegrams should be utilized only when absolutely necessary. If you consider this desire of Srila Prabhupada carefully, I think you will see that the result will be a huge savings of money and much more cool headed management.”
Prabhupāda told us that one of our Western diseases is that we are so wasteful, especially in regard to spending money. He himself is mindful of every single rupee spent, not out of miserliness, but because he understands perfectly how everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa and how to utilize it in His service.
* * *
While walking on the roof Prabhupāda told us about “ten hands and two hands.” Because Kṛṣṇa is everywhere, in all the ten directions, He is therefore said to have ten hands. In comparison, we limited beings have only two hands. “So my father used to say, ‘When Kṛṣṇa takes your money or possessions in ten hands, how you can protect it with two hands? And when He gives you in ten hands, how much can you take in two hands?’”
He laughed. “So in my case it has become practical. Everything He has taken in ten hands, and now He is giving in ten hands. I am practically experiencing. My Guru Mahārāja ordered me, ‘You do this.’ I was trying to save my business, my family, with two hands, and Kṛṣṇa took it in ten hands. And now, after making me a beggar, He is giving me, ten hands: ‘You take as much as you like.’”
He paused for a moment and reflected aloud on the sagacious advice he had received. Affectionately remembering his father, Prabhupāda recalled how he used to invite saintly persons to his home to solicit their blessings. But his only prayer was that his pet son, Abhay, would be blessed to become a devotee of Rādhārāṇī. Now we can appreciate that his father’s desire was gloriously fulfilled.
Prabhupāda’s readiness to share the intimacies of his past made us eager to solicit more details. We took advantage of the opportunity to find out more about his early days and relationships.
Hridayānanda Mahārāja recalled Prabhupāda saying that he was not much impressed with the saintly persons who came to his house.
Prabhupāda agreed. “Yes. Not all of them were real Vaiṣṇavas. That was my discrimination from the very beginning of my life. I never liked these bogus svāmīs and yogis.” But he said that his father did not discriminate too much about the standards of behavior of his visitors. He even sometimes gave gaṣjā to a sādhu he was friendly with.
When Tamal Krishna questioned his reasoning, Prabhupāda explained that the general Indian public didn’t make too many judgements about those who appeared to be sādhus. Gaṣjā smoking was not considered by them to be such a bad thing for a sādhu. Although it was not done by the higher-class spiritualist, it was for the “bogus svāmīs and yogis.”
Prabhupāda said that the Western hippies had picked up the habit of smoking gaṣjā from people like Allen Ginsberg, who had learned it from these so-called sādhus in India. Prabhupāda said that it was Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī who had taught him that any kind of intoxication was bad. “Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta was very strict,” he said with a chuckle. He stopped for a moment and with a reserved laugh he revealed that as a lifelong celibate, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī was so strict that sometimes he would criticize his father, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, for having married twice. If there was some fight between them, he would tell Bhaktivinoda, “Strī-sangī! You are attached to women!”
Of course this was a transcendental relationship, and Prabhupāda explained it in such a way that we could not misinterpret it. He told us that they had a special relationship, so we should not take it as an ordinary thing. Nor should we advertise it, but he mentioned this to illustrate how strict a brahmacārī Bhaktisiddhānta was.
Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was very outspoken against so-called sādhus—so much so that everyone in the Navadvīpa area feared him. At one point, the Navadvīpa gosvāmīs conspired against him and devised a wicked scheme. They raised a 25,000-rupee bribe, a huge sum of money in those days, and requested the police to kill him. But the police refused to cooperate, informing Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī instead. The police admitted that they did that kind of thing, but not to a sādhu.
Śrīla Prabhupāda then told us a little about his own relationship with his Guru Mahārāja. He explained that he had gone to Mathurā in 1933 to see Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī during the Gaudiya Math’s annual parikrama tour of the Vṛndāvana area.
At that time, Prabhupāda had taken a seat on the same couch as Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī. He was thinking that “he is a respectable gentleman, and I am also a respectable gentleman.” So Prabhupāda could not understand that there would be anything wrong if he sat on the same seat. When he noticed everyone else was sitting on the ground, however, he understood and got down.
But Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī never cautioned him for sitting on the couch, and he simply preached to him about Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It was during that tour that Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta noted Prabhupāda’s eagerness to hear. A short time later Prabhupāda was formally initiated, in Allahabad.
The conversation was fascinating and, at least for me, a privileged insight into Śrīla Prabhupāda’s past. It was one of those especially relishable opportunities that comes along with being in his personal service.
* * *
In class, speaking from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.9.3, Prabhupāda explained that although Prahlāda Mahārāja was an inexperienced young boy, nevertheless the demigods, being unable to pacify Lord Nṛsiàhadeva, asked him to go forward to speak. Even Śrī Lakṣmī-devī, the Lord’s eternal consort, could not approach Him, what to speak of pacify Him. Prabhupāda explained that it was something like putting a small boy in the cage of a lion. But Prahlāda felt no difficulty. He sat at the feet of the Lord, feeling himself completely protected.
Śrīla Prabhupāda stressed the necessity of becoming humble if we want to make advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If a person is proud, then Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not possible. “Those who are very much proud, they do not take Kṛṣṇa consciousness very seriously. They think, ‘These poor fellows, who had no money, no foodstuff, they have come in the name of Kṛṣṇa for begging. So it is for them. It is not for us. I am very rich. I am very opulent. I am very educated. I am very aristocratic. So for me there is no need of.’
“The Indians say like that in your country. ‘Now we have known this Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa. Now it is not needed. Now it is technology.’ So these puffed-up persons cannot understand Kṛṣṇa. One has to become very humble.”
He cautioned us that a devotee must always feel insignificant before guru and Kṛṣṇa. “If somebody thinks that ‘I have become more than my guru, more than Kṛṣṇa,’ then he is finished. Never should we think that ‘I have become very big personality.’ That was the instruction of my Guru Mahārāja, that baḍa Vaiṣṇava: ‘I am very big Vaiṣṇava. Everyone should come and obey my orders.’ This is condemned position. Real position is one should be very humble and meek.”
He also commented about the constant requests he has been receiving for sannyāsa. “It doesn’t require to change. There are so many questions sometimes: Whether it is necessary to take sannyāsa? By the routine work, it is necessary. But if one is serious, so for him it is not necessary —ahaituky apratihatā—because for a serious student of devotion, Kṛṣṇa is in his hand.”
Class was short. Afterward the devotees accompanied him with a lively kīrtana as he circumambulated the Deities in what has now become a regular feature of his morning program. Walking around the Deity room three times Prabhupāda vigorously rang the bells hanging on either side of the temple room. The more he rang them, the more energetic the chanting became. As he came before the Deities he spun clockwise on the spot before moving on around. The kīrtana party accompanied him, in front and behind, and by the end, every one was jumping up and down and singing ecstatically, as Prabhupāda’s face beamed with satisfaction.
* * *
Bhavānanda Mahārāja came in to see Prabhupāda later this morning, requesting permission to join the boat party. He said he was feeling strained from the burden of constant management and felt it would enliven him to go out and preach in the villages.
Śrīla Prabhupāda pointed out that he could not speak Bengali, so how would he preach? Bhavānanda Mahārāja said he had a white body, so if he danced and chanted that would attract many people.
Prabhupāda raised his eyebrows. “Yes!” He agreed it was a good idea. Bhavānanda left immediately.
February 11th, 1976
The observance of Ekādaśī today is coupled with a half-day fast for Lord Varāhadeva’s appearance, although the Lord’s appearance is actually tomorrow.
As Prabhupāda took his morning walk, he had Jayapatāka Mahārāja confirm the observance procedure by reading out from the Gauḍīya Paṣjikā, a yearly Vaiṣṇava almanac the Gaudiya Math produces. Since the auspicious appearance of Lord Varāha falls on Dvādaśī, which is the day for breaking the Ekādaśī fast, the two are combined.
Prabhupāda said that it would suffice to celebrate Lord Varāhadeva’s appearance by singing the appropriate verse describing him from the song of the ten avatāras.
Śrīla Prabhupāda also verbally listed the proper fasting periods to observe for other auspicious days: Lord Nityānanda’s, Śrī Advaita’s, Lord Balarāma’s, and Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s appearances are all half-day fasts. Lord Nṛsiàha and Lord Rāmacandra’s appearances are full-day fasts until sunset, while Gaura Pūrṇimā is a fast until moonrise.
Tamal Krishna Mahārāja inquired about observing the appearance and disappearance days of great Vaiṣṇavas. He described how we observe a half-day fast for our immediate predecessor ācāryas. He wanted to know if we should also do the same for personalities like Śrīla Narottama dāsa and others like him. Prabhupāda said yes, if it is possible. But he added that if devotees are engaged in preaching work, they may not. He said that the main thing is to sing some songs of praise and perform kīrtana.
Tamal Krishna also asked about chanting while observing Ekādaśī. “We should always chant twenty-five rounds on Ekādaśī if initiated?”
“Initiated? Everyone. Why initiated?”
“So that should be standard for our movement on Ekādaśī day?” Tamal asked.
“Standard is sixteen. But if one can chant more, then he is welcome,” Prabhupāda replied.
Tamal Krishna pressed to know if twenty-five was mandatory or not. When Jayapatāka Mahārāja suggested it was “recommended,” Prabhupāda seemed to disagree. “No. Ekādaśī means that, fasting and chanting.”
However, when Tamal Krishna Mahārāja referred to his men going out on book distribution, Śrīla Prabhupāda was quick to clarify. “No, no. That is also preaching work. For that purpose you can stop this. But generally, one who has no preaching work, he can chant extra.”
* * *
Vrindavana Chandra De, Prabhupāda’s second son, arrived today. Prabhupāda is trying to engage him in Kṛṣṇa’s service. Prabhupāda is purchasing a flat in Calcutta for his former family, where they will live as guests. In return, Prabhupāda wants Vrindavana Chandra to sell his books. Vrindavana owns a company called Vrinda Books and has already sold a complete set of the Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta to Calcutta University. Śrīla Prabhupāda encouraged him to distribute them throughout West Bengal.
Vrindavana Chandra wanted Prabhupāda to get them a bigger flat. But Prabhupāda refused. As a sannyāsī he is not obligated in any way; it is simply out of his mercy that he has arranged adequate accommodation for them.
* * *
Chayavana Mahārāja has finally written. He has gone to Vṛndāvana “to rest,” he said. “I have been very ill and traveling too much. So now I am helping to take care of the Deities here.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda was pleased to hear his message. But being aware of Chayavana’s disturbed state of mind, he mercifully offered him a chance for rectification. “I think it will be good if you will live with me and assist me in so many ways. Here there are other GBC and sannyasis like Jayapataka Maharaja, Bhavananda Maharaja, Tamal Krishna Goswami, etc. It will be nice if you stay with experienced men. I hope you will be benefitted this way.”
Svarūpa Dāmodara also sent a letter from America. He is unable to leave for at least six months due to a pending immigrant visa application. So he will not be able to attend the programs planned for early April in Manipur, his home state. He is busy setting up the Bhaktivedānta Institute for preaching in the scientific field in colleges and universities. He, Rūpānuga, Mādhava, Sadāpūta, Ravīndra Svarūpa, and Śubhānanda prabhus are the core members. He wanted to know if he could start up a saṅkīrtana party to fund a proposed college lecture program in the fall.
Prabhupāda discussed the idea with Tamal Krishna Mahārāja, who suggested that since his Rādhā-Dāmodara TSKP is already collecting and has a very solid university program, the Institute members could travel on their buses. This would solve their funding problems and guarantee many opportunities for the type of preaching they want to do.
Prabhupāda liked the idea. He wrote back suggesting Svarūpa Dāmodara accept the offer.
Svarūpa Dāmodara also suggested that the candidates for the titles of “Bhaktivedānta” and “Bhaktisārvabhauma” could submit a thesis on a Vaiṣṇava topic. Some of these scholarly essays could then be published into small books.
Prabhupāda liked the idea and told him, “Regarding publishing books, these books can be published by you and men in your rank. Ordinary men cannot write such books. So therefore if a book is written by one man with ‘Bhaktivedanta’ or ‘Bhaktisarvabhauma’ and it is of high quality, then it may be considered by me for publishing.”
February 12th, 1976
Today is the appearance day of Lord Varāha. There is no fast.
During his massage Prabhupāda talked about his Godbrothers. He is of the opinion that one day the Caitanya Math and others will want to amalgamate with us because they are not able to maintain their buildings and programs properly. He suggested that either we could jointly manage or we would manage and they would run the maṭha. Or we could simply supply their financial necessities and jointly preach. Prabhupāda said it would be ideal if their Indian devotees and our Western devotees went village to village to preach together.
Prabhupāda recalled that when he visited his Guru Mahārāja at Rādhā-kuṇḍa in 1935, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta told him of a “blazing fire” that would occur in the Gaudiya Math and how he wanted to rip up the marble in the Bhag Bazaar temple and use it to sell books. Prabhupāda said that this was when he understood how his Guru Mahārāja could be pleased. He explained that the fight for control of the maṭhas that occurred immediately after Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta’s disappearance was the first aparādha. It was guror-avajṣā, disobeying the orders of the spiritual master. Since then many more offenses have been committed.
He remarked that his Godbrothers are now useless, because instead of combining together to preach vigorously and defeat Tīrtha Mahārāja’s cunning, they were all simply scheming how to become the next ācārya. Thus they could not unite successfully. They all had the same disease that infected Tīrtha Mahārāja. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta never said that one man would be the next ācārya. Otherwise, why did he not directly nominate one? Śrīla Prabhupāda said that some Godbrothers claimed that Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī indirectly indicated Tīrtha should be the next guru. But Prabhupāda said this was just like the impersonalists, who cull indirect meanings from straightforward instructions. What Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī did order was that a twelve-man Governing Body Commission be formed in his absence. But they ignored him.
Prabhupāda’s comments were candid and revealing. It is apparent that among his Godbrothers, Prabhupāda stands out as the one who truly desired to please his Guru Mahārāja by vigorously spreading Lord Caitanya’s movement all over the world. As Śrīla Prabhupāda himself often says, phalena paricīyate, the value of something is judged by the fruit it produces.
* * *
Gaura Govinda Swami sent a letter from Bhubaneswar requesting to be excused from coming to Māyāpur as Prabhupāda suggested in his last letter. He has managed to construct a small brick-and-thatched cottage on our land there and is getting some help to establish ISKCON from some of the local people. Now he has to submit plans to the municipality before he can begin temple construction.
Prabhupāda excused him from attending the festival and offered his full blessings for his project. He told him if he works sincerely, he will certainly be successful. He suggested that he support himself by translating and publishing our books into Oriyan, the local language.
Prabhupāda also sent a letter to Saurabha in Bombay, requesting him to provide Gaura Govinda with suitable plans for the proposed temple complex.
February 13th, 1976
Today is Lord Nityānanda’s appearance, a half-day fast. Nityānanda Prabhu liked urad dāl, so this was one obvious preparation that was made for His feast.
* * *
Pṛthu Putra Swami reported by mail from Kanpur that he is having good success in his preaching work. He is regularly holding programs in the homes of prominent citizens.
He suggested that Prabhupāda attend the upcoming Kumbha Melā festival to be held at Allahabad in February 1977. He mentioned that many people still remember Prabhupāda’s attendance at the Māgh Melā five years ago. He also offered some mellifluous prayers to Prabhupāda, comparing him to Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s flute because it is through him that we receive the words of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda appreciated his sentiments. He asked Pṛthu Putra to go ahead and book a suitable berth at the Kumbha Melā.
* * *
This evening we were very happy to hear Prabhupāda say that he has been feeling well for the last two days.
Nandarāṇī regularly makes fresh batches of rasagullās, which Śrīla Prabhupāda keeps in a jar next to his desk. He has been taking a little milk with rock candy along with a half, or sometimes a whole, rasagullā and also a little sandeśa. His strategy of taking his milk in solid form seems to be working, as his strength is increasing.
In the evening, I came in with a cloth to wipe his desk top after he had eaten some rasagullā. There was a small pool of sugar water on the glass top, and many tiny ants had surrounded it.
As I carefully flicked the ants away with the cloth in order to wipe up without harming them, Śrīla Prabhupāda sat and watched. He looked first at me, then at the ants, then back again at me. “Formerly you would have killed them,” he said, smiling. His comment was as revealing as it was true. My mind flashed back to the days as a young boy when I had delighted in pouring scalding hot water down the nests of ants. I blushed with embarrassment as his observation reminded me of this dark episode in my past. Prabhupāda saw my flushed face, and his smile broadened.
Seeing his pleasure at my reformed character, I reflected how it must be the same as the happiness that Nārada Muni must have felt when transforming the hunter Mṛgāri. A sense of deep gratitude surged through me as I contemplated my good fortune at having also met such a wonderful spiritual master.
February 14th, 1976
The roof is a convenient place for Śrīla Prabhupāda to take his morning walk. Its sizable 45-foot width by 150-foot-long expanse is large enough for him to get sufficient exercise without having to leave the building. It also limits the number of devotees who accompany him to just a few senior men. The panorama from the roof is magnificent. From that single vantage point, Prabhupāda can view what is going on within our entire compound. The perimeter of the roof is profusely decorated with potted plants and tulasī trees, creating a pleasurable, natural ambience.
A peculiar event has been occurring each morning. Just after Prabhupāda arrives on the roof, a very large black bee appears. It flies around Prabhupāda and his party a few times, as if in circumambulation. Then it comes to rest atop a small concrete spire marking the spot where the Deities stand in the temple room, four floors below. Tamal Krishna Mahārāja today remarked that it appears to be just like one of the black bees described in Kṛṣṇa book, which constantly fly around Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa in glorification of His Supreme Personality. He said that now it seems that this particular bee is also coming to offer his respects to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Prabhupāda appreciated his sentiments. He even stopped to inspect the bee for a minute before it flew off.
* * *
Śrīla Prabhupāda called in Hridayānanda Mahārāja to discuss the Māyāpur temple management with him. He is becoming increasingly concerned that things are not being managed properly, especially since Bhavānanda Mahārāja left to join the boat party. Hridayānanda volunteered the services of Mahāvīra dāsa, the Canadian sannyāsa candidate residing in Brazil. He said that Mahāvīra had considerable managerial experience and he does not have any pressing engagement at present.
Mahāvīra was called and after a brief discussion Prabhupāda agreed he could begin helping immediately.
* * *
Bhagavān sent a very encouraging letter from France. He reported that they are opening a new center in Belgium in order to facilitate book distribution. He also stated that the Dutch Bhagavad-gītā is being composed, and many, many books are being sold throughout his southern European zone.
He related some amazing saṅkīrtana stories from France, where they sell books mainly door-to-door. “One devotee went into a hospital and the nurses dressed him up in a white surgeon’s outfit, and he distributed Gitas to the doctors. One nurse even took some Gitas from him, and while he went to the other floors she sold four big Gitas to the patients.
“Another devotee went to a factory and the foreman took orders from all the workers. Later, when the devotee returned to the factory, the foreman had distributed twelve big Gitas for him!”
Bhagavān also suggested some innovations in the forthcoming French edition of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam Canto One, which will go into production shortly. He plans to remove the painting depicting the creation from the front cover and put it inside on the end papers. He wants to put a painting of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma on the cover, which he thinks will help increase the door- to-door sales.
Prabhupāda was all smiles hearing his report. Nothing pleases him more than news of his books being sold or news of how the people of the world are appreciating them. He approved the idea for a new cover and told Bhagavān his ideas were very good. He said that Bhagavān should sell books in huge quantity and then print again.
However, not every GBC man is experiencing such success. Brahmānanda Swami sent yet another disheartening report.
Although he is working hard, fulfilling many roles as GBC, Nairobi temple president, life membership director, correspondence secretary, and so on, he seems increasingly despondent in his preaching attempts in Africa. He has major problems to deal with and few devotees to help him. Nanda Kumāra Swami is there, but he is untrained and cannot cope with more than just the pūjārī work and cooking.
Because of his vast responsibilities in Africa and all the problems he has to face there, he expressed his inability to attend the festival in Māyāpur this year. Out of the seventeen devotees in Africa, only five have missionary visas. The rest will have to leave due to a change in immigration laws. He said most of the local men that had joined have now left, stealing practically everything of value as they went.
“So the question comes to mind,” he wrote, “Why are we here? At least I have little hope that the Africans will ever take seriously to Krsna consciousness.” Brahmānanda said that their primary field for preaching is among the Indian community, but they are also being forced to leave by the government.
He gave a very bleak overview of the potential for preaching in the entire continent. “This is really a disturbed part of the world and offers very little opportunity to spread our Movement. Americans cannot travel to the Congo or Uganda. We are already banned in Zambia. Tanzania has refused our attempt to register, and I have been arrested twice there. Ethiopia, from where I have just returned in December, is very tense and going Communist very rapidly. Mozambique just had a revolution, there is open war in Angola. Our men just returned from Sudan which is incredibly poor and destitute, as so is Chad, Central Africa Republic, etc. Only Nigeria seems to offer any opportunity of establishing a center. All the other GBC’s have civilized areas of the world that are developed, to spread this Movement.”
There were two bright spots though. He has paid off $1,860 from his BBT debt of $12,000. And in Mauritius a small band of brahmacārīs are being well received and are preaching enthusiastically all around the island.
Prabhupāda was sympathetic, but purposeful. In his reply he encouraged Brahmānanda to work vigorously and continue with his efforts to preach. He also suggested he base himself in Mauritius, which Prabhupāda described as “a nice place by the sea.” As for whether he should remain in Africa or not, Śrīla Prabhupāda said that will have to be discussed by the GBC.
February 15th, 1976
In this morning’s class Śrīla Prabhupāda described his ambitious plans for showing the higher regions of the universe in the Vedic Planetarium he’s proposed for Māyāpur.
“There is a Siddhaloka. We shall show how this planet works, Siddhaloka. The description of the Siddhaloka is there in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The Siddhaloka persons, they can go from one planet to another without any machine, or airplane. Like the yogis, those who are perfect yogis, they can go from one place to another without any vehicle. There are many yogis still existing. They take bath in four dhāmas—in Hardwar, in Jagannātha Purī, in Rāmeśvaram. And similarly... yogis can do that. They attain aṣṭa-siddhi, eight kinds of perfection. So the Siddhaloka means they are born siddhas. They haven’t got to practice this mystic yoga system.”
To illustrate this point he gave the simple, effective example of some siddhas that live within our immediate experience. He pointed out how birds and insects can fly automatically, but we cannot; we have to create so many big machines.
Prabhupāda’s idea in having a planetarium is to show that the statements made in the Vedic scriptures are authentic and based on scientific fact, not simply mythology, as commonly misunderstood. “There is no question of disbelieving,” he said. “It is not to be rejected, ‘Ah, there cannot be any... This is unbelievable.’ We have got this information from the śāstras. We are staunch believer: ‘Yes there are siddhas.’ That is called theism. One who believes in the statements of śāstra.
“Very highly intelligent persons, thoughtful persons, philosophers, scientists, mathematicians—they are called also muni. They came also to satisfy the Lord. Not these ordinary munis, but very exalted munis and siddhas from Siddhaloka.
“There are many lokas, Caraṇaloka, others. They are all described. So if there is chance, we shall present these lokas, how they are situated, where they are situated, how they are moving, how the sun is moving around them. The sun is not fixed up; sun is moving.
“All these things, we have got such dream to show. If there is opportunity, we shall do. The modern scientists or astronomers, they say, ‘Sun is fixed up. The earth is moving.’ So we don’t say that. It has got its orbit. So there are so many things to be known still from Vedic literature, it is not yet unfolded, but we are trying.”
* * *
During his massage, Śrīla Prabhupāda heard a letter from Jaśomatīnandana in Ahmedabad. He is preaching steadily, has a rented house for the next three months, and is beginning to make life members.
However, his main focus is on publishing transcendental literature. He has plans to print the Bhagavad-gītā in three parts, and he is beginning to collect subscriptions to a monthly Gujarati edition of Bhāgavata Darśana, the Indian equivalent of Back to Godhead magazine. He described a fairly elaborate idea for raising thousands of subscriptions, even before the magazine comes out.
Prabhupāda was extremely pleased to hear about his preaching efforts. “I am very pleased with your monthly Bhagavata Darsana. That is a solid program. Please continue it steadily.
“Yes, I approve your distribution ideas, namely subscriber agents, news agents. The subscription drive is a solid program. And if you regularly publish and get registered, you can get a one or two paisa charges postal concession. Also in the future there are many cities such as Bombay, Surat, and Calcutta with large numbers of Gujaratis, you may arrange for getting subscriptions there.”
A letter from Mike Darby, a high school student in West Virginia, bore ample testimony to the efficacy of reading Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books. He has written a term paper for one of his high school classes based on the teachings contained in Caitanya-caritāmṛta. In order to continue his work, he requested a personal interview with Śrīla Prabhupāda next time he is in America. He warmly expressed his appreciation. “I have read most of your books on transcendental science and have enjoyed them very much. No, I have not just enjoyed, but tried to base my life on their teachings. What you have written is so perfect because this knowledge has been passed down from the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda is always happy to hear from grateful recipients of his books. He works literally day and night, tirelessly, only for this. If someone reads his books and understands that Kṛṣṇa is God and everyone is meant to serve Him, then, as he often says, his mission is a success.
He told Mike to come see him later this year when he next tours America.
* * *
Hridayānanda Goswami and Subhāga prabhu left for Bangladesh today to examine the property being offered to us there. Prabhupāda doesn’t plan to go there personally, but he said if the offer is suitable to our needs we could send some men there to develop the place.
Sudāmā Mahārāja came back from his travels on the Nitāi Pada Kamala boat. Gurukṛpa Swami, who arrived early in the morning, went to join it for a few days after hearing how successfully they are faring.
The devotees on the boat program have been received enthusiastically wherever they go. After docking at a village, they take Śrī Śrī Gaura-Nitāi ashore and go on a procession through the village, door to door. All the villagers give a rupee and some foodstuffs, and in return they receive a Gītār-gāna. In this way hundreds of books and large amounts of prasādam are being distributed. Everyone traveling on the boat is very enlivened, especially the gurukula boys.
Śrīla Prabhupāda sent Jayapatāka Swami to Calcutta to meet Mr. Chaudhuri. He will help Jayapatāka approach government officials with our request for acquiring land in Māyāpur for our proposed Vedic City.
February 16th, 1976
Last night Prabhupāda had rasagullā and nimkins, tasty homemade biscuits, which are offered to the Deities each evening. He spilled some rasagullā juice on the mat; immediately hundreds of ants came to enjoy. This has happened a few times. Each time as I clean up, Prabhupāda stops to watch me and makes some pertinent philosophical remark.
Prabhupāda often likes to use such simple real-life examples to illustrate philosophical points in his classes. I felt honored when this morning he mentioned me and the ant episode to convey a point he was making in his lecture.
In the verse Prahlāda Mahārāja clearly stated that the Lord is not impressed by any of our material qualifications. He can be satisfied only by devotional service, which even Gajendra the elephant could offer.
Śrīla Prabhupāda described how modern men think themselves very intelligent by building atom bombs or by gaining wealth. However real intelligence is going back home, back to Godhead. “To get some money by hook and crook. That is not intelligence. That intelligence I see, I was telling Hari-śauri, I was explaining that, that even a small ant, as soon as there is a drop of sugar juice, immediately, within a second, hundreds of ants will come: ‘Here is a drop of sugar juice.’ This is nature’s study. This kind of buddhi, intelligence—how to eat, how to sleep, how to have sex, and how to defend—even in the ant is there. That is not buddhi-yoga. The real buddhi-yoga is how to be engaged in devotional service of the Lord. How to become first-class devotee of Kṛṣṇa, that is called buddhi-yoga. How to go back to home, back to Godhead. That is buddhi.
“Everyone has got intelligence. Even the ant has got intelligence. We study sometimes. The sparrow, he has got intelligence. But the perfect intelligence is there when one is searching after the Absolute Truth.”
In conclusion, he explained that material achievement and opulence are not needed in order to approach God. Only the favor of guru and Kṛṣṇa is required.
And with Śrīla Prabhupāda as our guru, clearly we are well favored.
“So don’t be disappointed,” Prabhupāda said, “that ‘Because I am poor, I cannot become devotee.’ Everyone can become devotee, even the children. Just see how the children are dancing. They are chanting. They are offering obeisances. That is bhakti-yoga. Everyone can become a devotee, provided he is properly guided. That is required.
“Kṛṣṇa says, ‘I’ll give you intelligence.’ If one is working under the direction of the spiritual master with love and faith, then Kṛṣṇa, from within as caitya-guru, the guru within the heart, He’ll help you. And He’ll send you bona fide guru to help you externally. So both ways, you’ll be helped, and you’ll become like Prahlāda Mahārāja. Thank you very much. Hare Kṛṣṇa.”
* * *
Śrīla Prabhupāda strongly reprimanded the temple managers this morning. There was no running water in the building again for the third consecutive morning.
The bathroom water system is gravity fed from holding tanks on the roof. The pumps that fill the tanks have to be turned on by hand. As the festival approaches, more and more devotees are arriving, putting a greater demand on the system. But no one seems to be paying attention.
Prabhupāda also corrected Mahāvīra for telling everyone that he is now the temple president and manager of Māyāpur. Mahāvīra has set himself up in an office. Several devotees already are complaining that he is asserting himself as the supervisor of the entire project, demanding that they follow his instructions, although he knows very little about how the Māyāpur management operates.
“First become expert in all departments before becoming manager,” Prabhupāda told him. “You have to be servant of everyone before you can manage. One cannot demand respect.”
* * *
More and more visitors are coming for darśana in the evening, and Prabhupāda has worked out a new system to facilitate them. Most of the guests are simple villagers. They come and sit in his room and simply stare.
So Prabhupāda told us to stand at the door and give out sweets. The guests should not be asked directly to come in, but they also should not be refused entry. If they wish to enter his room they can be escorted to the balcony. There they will be given a seat and prasādam, and then asked to fill in a form giving their name and business. Then Prabhupāda will call them. This, he said, is “screening without a screen.”
Those who simply wish to look can come to the door, offer their praṇāmas and receive some prasādam. They will then go away happy. Those who have something specific to discuss will gladly wait.
It is actually a botheration for Prabhupāda to give darśana to so many people, but he cannot refuse them. So he has decided on this procedure. It will satisfy the people and save him from criticism.
Prabhupāda mentioned one well known yogi who, for the same reason, used to see the public only once a year. Prabhupāda said that he could not do that, but this new system would suffice as a good compromise.
* * *
Hansadūta has really taken Prabhupāda’s desire for village-to-village preaching seriously, and not just in India. A letter from him arrived today telling Prabhupāda that he has managed to purchase four Mercedes buses. Two of them are for use in India. The other two will be used in Germany, despite the current governmental difficulties in preaching there. Hansadūta expects the buses, which are carrying thirty devotees each, to arrive in Vṛndāvana by April 1st.
With his letter Hansadūta enclosed a flier advertising the impending traveling saṅkīrtana program. The flier is intended to persuade devotees to join their party. It has a picture of the four buses across the top and begins with the following heading.
PRABHUPADA’S WORLD SANKIRTANA PARTY
“Entangled in temple life? Burned out on sankirtana?
Then this new program is for you. Simply chanting and dancing and distributing Krishna prasadam.”
To further entice the devotees, it mentions that Śrīla Prabhupāda has promised to travel with the party. An attractive description of the recent tour of Gujarat is also given. His intention is to establish a regular overland bus route between Germany and India so that at all times of the year devotees will have the opportunity to participate in village-to-village preaching. The flier also mentions that a separate party under Gargamuni Swami is also now on its way to India with six Mercedes vans and thousands of dollars of preaching equipment.
Prabhupāda was very happy to see the eagerness and enthusiasm with which Hansadūta has applied himself to establish this preaching program. In his reply Prabhupāda confirmed his intention to participate. “Yes, with great pleasure I will accompany and we shall go village to village. I have seen the pictures, and the buses look very nice. They appear costly.”
Śatadhanya dāsa is in Tokyo. He sent a report explaining how he is working along with Trivikrama Swami to rectify the problems that have arisen there due to Gurukṛpa Mahārāja’s traveling party. Although the Nāma Haṭṭa saṅkīrtana party is enthusiastically collecting funds for the development of Māyāpur, their questionable collecting techniques have caused a barrage of bad publicity. Śatadhanya expressed his feelings that some professional public relations efforts will be required in order to restore our good standing with the Japanese immigration department.
Śatadhanya also mentioned that he and Trivikrama would like to open a temple in the city center. Until now, no real attempt has been made to establish a permanent center and recruit Japanese devotees. At present we have only one Japanese brahmacārī; but meanwhile Christian groups report very good results in recruiting local people.
Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote back encouraging him to try to rectify our position. He said that Trivikrama Swami is “well expert” in Japanese dealings, and if Gurukṛpa Swami is not needed there, he may be sent to Bangladesh.
February 17th, 1976
Instead of going to the roof for his morning walk, Prabhupāda decided to inspect the construction site of the new building.
The work is going on at full speed, with hundreds of men digging, carting, shoring, and stacking. It is an impressive sight. The foundation stretches about 1,000 feet—the entire length of the northern boundary of our property. It will be an extremely long building, two stories high, and built in the same style as the main guest house with a wide veranda and decorative arches. They are building the two floors upon a high plinth, so if the Ganges floods, the rooms will not be affected.
When Prabhupāda asked what would be done with the plinth, Jayapatāka Mahārāja said it will be filled with dirt. Prabhupāda considered this a waste of valuable space; he instructed them to make it into a basement instead. That way there will be extra rooms for storage.
Śrīla Prabhupāda appeared satisfied with the progress of the work, and is hopeful that it will be habitable in time for the festival.
* * *
For class each morning Dayānanda is reading aloud from the unedited transcripts of the prayers of Prahlāda Mahārāja. While not grammatically correct, the Indian-English style of Prabhupāda’s translations have a unique charm and flavor of their own.
Today he read text ten of Chapter Nine: “Prahlāda Mahārāja continued to think that a brāhmaṇa who has qualified himself with all the brahminical qualities, twelve in number, as they are stated in the book known as sanat-sujāta, such a brāhmaṇa, if he is not a devotee and to the lotus feet of the Lord, he is especially lower than a devotee who is a dog-eater even. But his mind, words, activities, wealth, and life—everything—is dedicated to the Supreme Lord. Such a low person is better than a brāhmaṇa as above mentioned because such lowborn person can purify his whole family; whereas a so-called brāhmaṇa falsely in prestigious position cannot purify himself.”
Prabhupāda gave a long talk. At one stage he pointed out that in the Vedic civilization one’s position in human society is determined by what he eats. Generally the meat-eaters, especially pig- and dog-eaters, are considered the lowest, untouchable. But worst of all are those who feast on the cow.
“In India still, generally those who are meat-eaters, they take meat of such animals like goats, lambs, like that. And they never take cows’ flesh, because the cow is protected, go-rakṣya. So in the Bhagavad-gītā, even if you are meat-eater, don’t eat the cow. You can eat other animals: pigs, goats. But don’t eat cows’ flesh. That is very sinful.
“Why it is sinful? Because it’s a very, very important animal in the human society, very important animal. You get milk and milk products. Then your brain becomes very nice, memory sharpened. That is therefore important. Don’t eat.” But Prabhupāda said that in Kṛṣṇa consciousness it doesn’t matter what one’s background is, provided one has adopted the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
“So here it is proof that dog-eaters, or pig-eaters, or any low-grade man is not prohibited to become a devotee. That is our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.
“They say that without becoming a Hindu or born in India, nobody can become brāhmaṇa, nobody can become sannyāsī. But here is the proof. In the śāstra the dog-eater is also highly praised. When? When he sacrifices everything, his body, his mind, his words, only for Kṛṣṇa. This is called tridaṇḍa-sannyāsa.”
* * *
Gurukṛpa and Hridayānanda Swamis arrived back from Calcutta. Hridayānanda Mahārāja has to wait for his visa to go to Bangladesh. Gurukṛpa Mahārāja paid only a quick visit to the boat before deciding to return to Māyāpur to take advantage of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s association.
* * *
During the massage today, Prabhupāda heard a letter and article entitled “Matter Comes from Life,” written by Mādhava dāsa, another of our Ph.D. scientists. The article, which will be published in Back to Godhead magazine, establishes scientifically that matter comes from life. Mādhava is confident that this point can be proven to the scientists by utilizing new-found experimental evidence, documentation, and many logical arguments.
He also submitted a list of four questions that he hoped Prabhupāda would answer because, as he put it, “You are sat, cit, ananda and are thus full of transcendental knowledge.”
The first question was, “Jung has said that matter is just a symbol (or name) that we apply to Reality, but we may as well call it spirit or consciousness or any other name. Is this view consistent with our philosophy?”
Śrīla Prabhupāda replied, “Matter originally is spirit. And when spirit is not distinctly understood, that is matter. Just like a tree is also a manifestation of spirit soul, but the consciousness is covered. When the tree is cut, it does not protest. But the moving entity has stronger consciousness than the tree. There is consciousness in the tree though. Also consciousness in a dormant state is matter; consciousness in a completely developed state is spirit. Matter is the symbol of undeveloped consciousness.”
His second question was in regard to the function of the mind. “Does thinking occur in words, pictures, or what?”
“Thinking is a subtle form of matter,” Prabhupāda answered. “Just like it says in Bhagavad-gita: bhumir apo ’nalo vayuh... Like the ether is subtle, the mind is more subtle—subtle form of matter.”
The third question concerned the external world, which we perceive only through our senses, and thus the mind, and, ultimately, the consciousness. “What does this say about where things are actually happening? Is it in the mind, out there in the world, or in the spiritual world?”
Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote, “Everything is in the spiritual world. Kṛṣṇa is the sum total of spirit, and everything is coming from Him. Matter, spirit, everything comes from Him. He is the Supreme Life, the origin of spirit and life. Therefore matter emanates from life. Nityo nityanam... He is the Supreme Consciousness of all other consciousnesses.”
Finally Mādhava asked for direction on how to prove that the moon is farther away than the sun.
“The moon is situated 1,600,000 miles above the sun,” Prabhupāda replied. “You may refer to the Fifth Canto and read carefully.”
Prabhupāda is extremely eager for this scientific preaching to be developed. He told Mādhava that it must be recognized that we are not just a religious sect.
Recently, Mādhava taught a course at the prestigious MIT, in Boston, entitled “Truth Beyond Relativity.” The course was based on understanding the three aspects of the Absolute, and it was so well received that eight scientists took copies of Bhagavad-gītā. This kind of news delights Prabhupāda, and he ended his reply by telling him, “I am very much pleased with your program. Thank you very much.”
Prabhupāda also stated to Madhava that he wants our ISKCON scientists to publish their research articles in karmī science magazines as well. “If they don’t accept what we say, we will go on explaining. If they do accept, then that is their benefit and our victory.”
Regarding his answer to Mādhava’s question about how to distinguish between spirit and matter, I questioned Śrīla Prabhupāda further on it in mid-afternoon.
He told me, “Yes, everything is Kṛṣṇa’s energy. Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Spirit, and everything is coming from Him. Kṛṣṇa is everything, sarva-bhūta-stham ātmānam. Just like skin and fingernail—both grow from the same source. Yet in one there is feeling and in the other there is none. One can be cut and the other cannot. But it is the same energy, coming from the same source. Matter comes from light, and that light is the brahmajyoti, which is Kṛṣṇa’s bodily effulgence.”
As the massage continued, Prabhupāda listened to a compilation of the best reviews of his books, including ones from Oxford and Harvard Universities.
Hearing these reviews, he became very enlivened. He enthusiastically told Dayānanda and Hridayānanda Mahārāja that he is eager to publicize his books here in India. He wants a special office set up exclusively for this purpose. He said that he will give personal direction if a good man would take up the engagement. Dayānanda was so inspired, he immediately volunteered himself. And Prabhupāda accepted.
* * *
Acyutānanda and Yaśodānandana Swamis arrived in the evening from South India. They gave Śrīla Prabhupāda an encouraging account of their successful preaching activities in many cities. The leaders of the Rāmānuja- and Mādhva-sampradāyas received them well. They even got letters of appreciation from them commending the work that Śrīla Prabhupāda is doing and clearly stating their acceptance of his disciples as genuine Vaiṣṇavas.
* * *
Prabhupāda told us today that everyone should shave up every pūrṇimā, or full moon.
February 18th, 1976
With so many sannyāsīs around I am constantly being asked to run here and there on errands. This distracts me from my service to Śrīla Prabhupāda, but it is difficult to refuse their requests. Therefore I asked Śrīla Prabhupāda during his walk what I should do. His simple quote made things very clear. “Everybody’s servant is no one’s servant.” That settled my mind. I decided to tend to him alone, and the sannyāsīs will have to make their own arrangements.
There is concern among the sannyāsīs that some of the new sannyāsa candidates are not actually qualified for the renounced order. One candidate in particular, Mahāvīra prabhu, is under question.
Without naming any names, Jayapatāka Mahārāja brought up his doubt to Śrīla Prabhupāda. “Brahmacārīs don’t like to take instructions from the elder devotees. And then they want to take sannyāsa, so they think they can be independent and give orders themself and not listen.”
Prabhupāda replied that therefore sannyāsa should not be given all of a sudden. The problem is that they want to become sevya instead of sevaka—served instead of servant.
With a few brief words he exposed the fundamental problem. With a mixture of humor and irony Prabhupāda said, “Yes. And, ultimately, God. When everything failure, then to become God. Everyone, if he wants to become a master, that is materialism.”
* * *
A striking analogy was given in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam verse this morning explaining the relationship between Kṛṣṇa and His devotee. If a face is nicely decorated, so its reflection in a mirror will also be. Prabhupāda explained that if Kṛṣṇa is satisfied, the devotee, as His reflection or reliant part and parcel, is also automatically satisfied. Since Kṛṣṇa is complete in Himself, whatever service we do to please Him is actually for our own benefit.
Śrīla Prabhupāda used our attempts to build a big temple here in Māyāpur as a practical example to illustrate his point, giving us deeper realizations of the nature of our work. “Everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa. Just like we are constructing this temple. We are feeling that ‘I am constructing. We are constructing.’ But actually it is Kṛṣṇa’s.
“The bricks, the iron, or the cement, or anything that we are collecting, that is Kṛṣṇa’s property. The brick is not your property. The earth is not your property. You are taking Kṛṣṇa’s earth, and you are making it a brick. Still, it is Kṛṣṇa’s property. But the endeavor, the energy, which you are giving to Kṛṣṇa, that is taken into account. ‘Oh, he is working for Me. He wants to give Me something.’ That Kṛṣṇa consciousness is important.
“Otherwise by His will He can construct 16,000 palaces for His queens. What this tiny temple will satisfy Him? But still, He’s satisfied. ‘Oh, you have done so much? Very good.’ Recognized. Kṛṣṇa has created the whole universe. He doesn’t require any endeavor. Simply by His breathing, many millions of Brahmās are coming out. And each Brahmā is creating a universe.
“So to create a temple, He doesn’t require our help. He can create millions of temples by His will. There are already. So we should always remember this, that Kṛṣṇa does not require our service. But if we give some service to Kṛṣṇa, that is our benefit. This is the formula.”
* * *
Gopāla Kṛṣṇa sent a letter enclosing samples of the new Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam printed in India on government concessional paper. Prabhupāda was extremely pleased with him for finally getting his books into print here in India. Many other Hindi and English books are to be printed in Delhi at a cost of only ten rupees each for the best quality paper. Bhārgava is production manager, and Amogha will help with university sales.
In response to Gopāla Kṛṣṇa’s requests, Prabhupāda asked Dayānanda to contact Rāmeśvara in Los Angeles. He wants Rāmeśvara to send to India, via the devotees coming for the festival, numerous color separations, the booklet The Krishna Consciousness Movement is Authorized, reviews by professors, and a complete list of universities and colleges that have standing orders for his books.
Śrīla Prabhupāda countersigned Dayānanda’s letter, thus clearly declaring his strong desire for this new phase of preaching in India. “Śrīla Prabhupāda’s scheme is to push these books on a gigantic scale here in India. He is personally organizing and motivating the project. We have especially experienced here that His Divine Grace smiles and is very pleased to hear the comments by the professors. These books are especially Prabhupāda’s glory, and those comments prove that Prabhupāda’s glory and the philosophy of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is being appreciated by the intelligent men of the West.
“Prabhupāda recently said, ‘I know those that are sane, they will accept. No one is distributing so much quantity of religious books. Therefore I challenge all these fools and rascals. After eighty years no one can expect to live long. My life is almost ended... it is ended. So you have to carry on. And these books will do everything.... Simply by bluffing words, these bogus gurus and yogis are nothing. But when the people read our books, then they will get good opinion. Everywhere (India esp.) the book demonstrations and opinions (Professor’s comments) must be widely spread.’
Devotee: ‘Now we are going to flood India with your books just like they have done in America!”
Prabhupāda: ‘Thank you, that I want, then you will be first-class. Organize book distribution here, and I shall be very much obliged.’”
* * *
Jayapatāka Mahārāja returned from Calcutta and reported that his meeting with the government ministers, arranged through Mr. Chaudhuri, was very successful. The land acquisition should be no problem and can be done quickly.
He explained that land acquisition works in this way: if the government is convinced that a major project is important or beneficial enough for the district, then an average price for a parcel of land for the last ten years is calculated. The land owners of the plots required must sell at that price. This prevents artificial inflation of land values, which is to no one’s benefit. Initially, we are asking for only twenty-three acres, and we will ask for more later.
February 19th, 1976
The morning walk was on the roof again, but it has become too hot for Prabhupāda to have his massage in the sun, even when a breeze is blowing. It is, however, still very pleasant to be on the roof during the morning hours, and Prabhupāda seems to enjoy the simple facilities. Because of the heat, he sits in the shade atop the wide, wooden bench in the lee of the room to receive his massage. But for bathing he sits in his gamchā on a choṅki in the sunshine and washes off the oils from a bucket of solar-heated water.
He still takes his meals in the sparsely furnished room. He has a couple of hours entirely to himself, while I stay close by in the adjoining room. Then he goes back down to his quarters at about four o’clock to greet guests and meet with devotees.
* * *
Because the weather has become quite hot, some visiting devotees are buying flavored ice on sticks from the stalls in front of the temple. Jayapatāka Swami asked Prabhupāda if we can make our own iced sherbet drink for the Gaura Pūrṇimā festival. He’s afraid that the devotees will become ill because the local confection is generally made from bad water.
Prabhupāda was disturbed to hear that devotees are eating outside. He quite emphatically said, “No one may buy anything from the market. If they eat these things they will fall down! No one should eat anything not offered to the Deity.”
* * *
Prabhupāda’s son, Vrindavana Chandra, and also his sister, known affectionately to the devotees as Pisimā, Bengali for ‘Aunty,’ arrived in the afternoon. She plans to stay for the whole festival.
February 20th, 1976
Today is the appearance day of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda, which we are all observing with a half-day fast.
The Gaudiya Math down the road has invited the Governor of Pondicherri to speak at its function, which is being held at the samādhi-mandira of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta. Jayapatāka Swami was supposed to ask the governor to visit our temple later, but somehow he failed to do so. The only way it could be arranged at this late date would be for Jayapatāka Mahārāja to go to the Caitanya Math this morning and ask the governor’s aide-de-camp.
Śrīla Prabhupāda decided against this because, as he jokingly put it, “The hosts are host-ile!” The Gaudiya Math didn’t invite Prabhupāda, and we have not invited them. “Anyway,” he said, “one book distributed in America is more important than the visit of any governor. In America we have never approached any politicians for support.”
* * *
Prabhupāda kept his usual schedule today with a walk, greeting the Deities, and class, on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.9.13.
He clearly defined the nature of our movement. “If we want to adjust this chaotic condition, then we require the incarnation of God. That is already there. Nāma-rūpe kali-kāle kṛṣṇa-avatāra. This Hare Kṛṣṇa movement is the incarnation of Kṛṣṇa in the form of name.
“The saṅkīrtana movement which was inaugurated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Kṛṣṇa Himself. So this Hare Kṛṣṇa movement is not different from Kṛṣṇa or Caitanya Mahāprabhu. So if we take shelter of this holy name of the Lord, Hare Kṛṣṇa, then we shall be saved.”
He revealed also how the name of the temple here is a beautiful metaphor. It’s based on the statements of Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, one of the great devotees of Lord Caitanya, describing the temple’s purpose of saving the fallen souls. In Prabodhānanda’s Śrī Caitanya-candrāmṛta Lord Caitanya is compared to the full moon. He said, “The ultimate benefit of life is compared with the moon. So spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness means spreading the moonlight. Therefore we have named this temple Śrī Māyāpur Candrodaya [The Rising Moon of Śrī Māyāpur]. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Gaura-Hari, and Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī said, sādhavaḥ sakalam eva vihāya dūrāt caitanya-candra-caraṇe kurutānurāgam.”
* * *
Prabhupāda sent me down to the temple at 9:00 a.m. to see whether many visitors had gathered for the coming program in honor of his Guru Mahārāja. To my surprise, the temple was empty.
Prabhupāda then called for Hridayānanda dāsa Goswami to discuss why there were no visitors yet on such an important day. Hridayānanda Mahārāja said that it was probably due to the fact that the general public are not aware of the occasion. The festival had obviously not been well-advertised, because at Gaura Pūrṇimā tens of thousands of people come here during the festival week. Prabhupāda wasn’t very satisfied. He thought more should have been done to attract the public.
After an early massage Prabhupāda went down to the temple room at 11:10 a.m. He offered his obeisances to the large painting of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura that had been placed on the vyāsāsana. He seemed very satisfied to see the beautiful decorations. There were long, multicolored drapes hung along the back wall, as well as strands of marigolds draped around the vyāsāsana, and banana trees and leaves were placed all around.
Moving to the front of the vyāsāsana area, he sat comfortably on an āsana on the floor, with his back to the jali-work fence.
Acyutānanda Swami sang songs glorifying Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta, notably Ohe Vaiṣṇava Ṭhākura.
Afterward Śrīla Prabhupāda gave a wonderful lecture requesting the devotees to do two things: help develop Māyāpur and distribute many books. He said this was his Guru Mahārāja’s desire. His Guru Mahārāja’s father, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, had rediscovered the birth site of Lord Caitanya, and it was his attempt to develop it. Then Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura continued the effort. And now he and his Godbrothers were also doing what they could. “We have got great ambition to develop this place nicely and gloriously, and fortunately we are now connected with foreign countries, especially with the Americans. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s great desire was that the Americans would come here and develop this place and they would chant and dance along with the Indians.
“From this place Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu started this movement, and He desired that ‘As many towns and villages are there, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement should be spread.’ So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is now in your hand. Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, he wanted me to do something in this connection. He wanted from all his disciples. Especially he stressed many times that ‘You do this. Whatever you have learned, you try to expand in English language.’”
Prabhupāda told us how in 1935 he had gone to visit his Guru Mahārāja in Rādhā-kuṇḍa. At that time he had received some frank and revealing advice from his spiritual master which formed the basis of all his future endeavors.
“When he was in Rādhā-kuṇḍa, I was at that time in Bombay in connection with my business life. So I came to see him, and one friend wanted to give some land in Bombay for starting Bombay Gaudiya Math. He’s my friend. So that’s a long story. But I wish to narrate this, the Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī’s mission.
“Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda immediately took up the land. He continued that ‘There is no need of establishing many temples. Better we publish some books.’ He said like that.
“He said that ‘We started our this Gaudiya Math in Ultadanga. The rent was very small, and if we could gather two to two-hundred-fifty rupees, it was very nice, going on. But since this J. V. Datta has given us this stone, marble stone ṭhākurbari, our competition between the disciples has increased. So I don’t like any more. Rather, I would prefer to take out the marble stone and sell it and publish some books.’
“So I took that point, and he also especially advised me, ‘If you get money, you try to publish books.’ So by his blessing it has become very successful by your cooperation. Now our books are being sold all over the world, and it is very satisfactory sale. So on this particular day of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s advent, try to remember his words. That he wanted many books should be published about our philosophy, and it should be given to the English-knowing public especially, because English language is now world language. We are touring all over the world. Anywhere we speak English, it is understood, except in some places.
“So on this day, particularly on the advent of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, I especially request my disciples who are cooperating with me that you try to publish books as many as possible and distribute throughout the whole world. That will satisfy Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu as well as Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. Thank you very much.”
After his speech we gathered in front of the vyāsāsana and performed the puṣpaṣjali-pūjā, an offering of flowers. Prabhupāda had Acyutānanda Swami chant the four praṇāma prayers to Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī. Then, following Śrīla Prabhupāda’s lead, we offered a flower to Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī’s picture on the vyāsāsana. This procedure was repeated three times.
Prabhupāda then called for Bhānu dāsa, a Japanese-Canadian brahmacārī from the Nāma Haṭṭa party, to offer the ārati. The special feast cooked in Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta’s honor was brought in and set out on low tables directly in front of the vyāsāsana. Śrīla Prabhupāda stood in front and played his karatālas, while Acyutānanda Mahārāja lead an ecstatic kīrtana, which had us all jumping high in the air.
During the kīrtana Prabhupāda asked me to gather a sample of every preparation onto his plate and take it up to his room. He wanted to check what the devotees had cooked to glorify his Guru Mahārāja. He also wanted to offer his own respects by taking Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta’s remnants.
After the program finished, Prabhupāda returned upstairs and ate the feast. He was happy with all the arrangements, but he again appeared disappointed that only about 100 guests had come. In fact, during his massage, he had criticized the management for erecting such a large building and not inviting anyone to come—only local people, no one from Calcutta.
“Only the Deity program is going nicely,” he remarked. Referring to the two English identical-twin brothers who are the head pūjārīs, Prabhupāda declared, “The two brothers Paṅkajāṅghri and Jananivāsa—there is no comparison. Everyone should know, there is no complaint.”
* * *
In the afternoon two sannyāsīs from the neighboring Gosvāmī Math came to invite Prabhupāda to visit their temple tomorrow.
Earlier in the day, toward the end of the massage, a brahmacārī from his Godbrother Śrīdhar Swami’s maṭha had also visited. He had a short discussion with Prabhupāda about Śrīdhar Swami’s coming here to visit. The brahmacārī returned with a few others in the afternoon and held further discussions.
February 21st, 1976
Early in the morning Śrīla Prabhupāda called for Acyutānanda and Hridayānanda Swamis and requested them to go to the Gosvāmī Math to speak on his behalf. He told them to invite their devotees to come with us and preach from village to village. Since we have the finances and they know the language, it could be a very successful combination. Such a united preaching effort would benefit everyone—ISKCON, the Gaudiya Math, and the general public. He said to tell them that if there is a problem with the management of their temple, we shall provide all the finance necessary. They have only to come preach with us.
He observed that none of them are preaching, rather they are simply begging for money to support their temples. They have no preaching potency, and their forces are dwindling, so why should they not join us?
On his walk he discussed the idea further, stressing that money is no problem. They simply have to come and preach with us. Hridayānanda Mahārāja mentioned that before Prabhupāda went to the West, Indians were not interested in his message. But now that he has money, they are willing to listen. Prabhupāda agreed. “Money is the strength all over the world. America is prestigious. Why? They have got money. So I have got American disciples. Why shall I not have money? If a guru of the Americans remains poor, it is contradictory.”
His emissaries returned later in the day without any immediate response from the Gaudiya Math members. But in the evening a few men from the maṭha came to discuss his offer. Lately, Prabhupāda has been sitting out on the large lawn at the side of the temple in the early evening, and he received them there. Several of them were favorable, provided something could be worked out about looking after their maṭha. It would be a wonderful step toward a unified preaching effort if they agree to do it. It may indicate the beginning of a full merger with all the maṭhas over the next few years.
* * *
The verse for today’s class described how Prahlāda Mahārāja was not disturbed by Lord Nṛsiàhadeva’s killing of his father, just as a saintly person is not disturbed by the killing of a snake or a scorpion. Śrīla Prabhupāda retold an incident from his early involvement with the Gaudiya Math, which directly related to this verse. “A sādhu does not want to kill even an ant. But in the case of vṛścika-sarpa-hatyā, they are happy. Vṛścika, scorpion, and sarpa...
“So long, long ago, sometime in the year 1933 in this Caitanya Math, there was a big snake came out in my front. I was taking bath. Everyone was looking what to do. So Guru Mahārāja was on the upstairs. He immediately ordered, ‘Kill him.’ So it was killed.
“At that time, 1933, I was newcomer. So I thought, ‘How is that? Guru Mahārāja ordered this snake to be killed.’ I was little surprised. But later on when I saw this verse, I was very glad. Modeta sādhur api vṛścika-sarpa-hatyā. It remained a doubt, ‘How Guru Mahārāja ordered a snake to be killed?’ But when I read this verse I was very much pleased, that these creatures, or creatures like the snake, they should not be shown any mercy, no.”
Naturally one might question why saintly persons become glad to see a snake killed, and he explained that snakes are so envious that they will bite an innocent victim, even without provocation; they are so cruel.
Similarly, Cāṇakya Paṇḍita compared an envious man to a snake. “Cāṇakya Paṇḍita says, sarpaḥ krūraḥ khalaḥ krūraḥ sarpāt krūrataraḥ khalaḥ. Such person is called khala, envious, jealous. So there are two living creatures. One is snake, and one is jealous or envious person.
“This man, envious man, is more dangerous than the snake. Why? He’s a human being. Yes, because he’s human being and he has got developed consciousness and he has practiced to use the developed consciousness for becoming jealous, he’s more dangerous than the snake. So therefore Cāṇakya Paṇḍita concludes, mantrauṣādhi-vaśaḥ sarpaḥ khalaḥ kena nivāryate. The snake, although by nature he is so... , still, he can be controlled by mantra and some herbs. In India they still do that. But this khala, the jealous person, he cannot be pacified, any means. Therefore he’s more dangerous than the snake. He cannot be controlled either by mantra or by bribe or this or that, no.
“So Prahlāda Mahārāja said, ‘My Lord, nobody is unhappy, even the saintly person. We common man, we may be unhappy, “Oh, my father is killed.” Or my mother may be unhappy that “My husband is killed.” But be sure, my father was a khala.’”
* * *
During his massage Prabhupāda heard two reports sent by Rūpānuga. Rūpānuga had enclosed a newspaper article describing a major victory in our attempts to preach in the universities. Gabhīra dāsa, in Washington, D.C., after a battle with the university authorities, has now been accepted as an authorized chaplain. He has now been given an office on campus for counseling the students.
Śrīla Prabhupāda was very, very happy to read the article, and he sent a letter to Gabhīra to congratulate him for his efforts. Prabhupāda sees this as an important breakthrough in our preaching work. He asked Rūpānuga to continue to do the same in other universities.
Rūpānuga also informed Prabhupāda that Ravīndra Svarūpa from Philadelphia had just successfully completed his oral examination for a Ph.D. in religion. Prabhupāda was pleased to hear this, and told him that we need many Ph.D.s for the new Bhaktivedānta Institute.
As far as the temples in Rūpānuga prabhu’s zone are concerned, they all seem to be going well, with significant increases in book distribution.
Even within the courts in Atlanta, the devotees have won respect for their preaching activities. He told Prabhupāda that a federal court judge there had remarked that he had never, during his history on the bench, seen such religious fervor. The judge said that it was a new phenomenon in America, and he did not know exactly how to deal with it. “We have had preachers,” the judge said, “but these people are at it twelve hours per day, 365 days a year. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
At one point in the court proceedings the judge asked the city attorney whether he was willing to argue that Kṛṣṇa consciousness was not a genuine religion. “Oh no,” came the reply, “I am not at all willing to argue that point.”
The Atlanta temple has a new farm project in Tennessee, which provides them with milk. Prabhupāda was pleased to hear this. He commented that all our temples should have an auxiliary farm to provide them with milk, vegetables, flowers, and fruits.
And in the northeast USA, a new preaching center has been established in an important college town called Amherst. One of five main universities there now provides sufficient funding for them to hold four programs a week. There is great interest in cooking courses, with up to half the students in one dormitory being vegetarian.
In Washington the temple president recently received an inheritance. Apparently his idea is to use it to provide security for his wife and family, freeing himself for preaching. Prabhupāda didn’t think much of the idea. “I think Brsakapi should follow the example of Rupa Gosvami. Rupa Gosvami took sannyasa and gave 50% in charity, 25% for family use, and he kept 25% for emergency. Krsna wants to see that the life is sacrificed. But also accumulation, money, should be given to Krsna. Life to Krsna, and money to wife, is not a good decision.”
The only problem Rūpānuga reported was with the New York temple. He said that the new twelve-story building is practically a zone in itself, and requires full-time attention from a qualified man. Rūpānuga was hoping to be freed of that responsibility now that now Madhudviṣa Swami is there. Since Prabhupāda has already decided that Madhudviṣa Mahārāja should take charge of New York he was happy to hear that Rūpānuga was in agreement.
Another letter arrived from Yamunā dāsī, indicating that she would like to develop a cow-protection program. The impression given was that they wanted to run their women’s āśrama along the lines of a big temple.
Prabhupāda said in his reply that it is too difficult for women to engage in large-scale cow protection. He recommended that they keep the program small and manageable, with just a few cows for offering milk and sweets to the Deities. He explained that expansion means they will have to take help from men. Therefore he reiterated instructions he had given them previously, “Simply keep yourself aloof from men—chanting, many more times as possible, read books, worship the Deity... . A widow is forbidden to use ornaments, nice sari, decoration, combing the hair nicely. These are forbidden for a woman who is not with husband.”
* * *
Because Prabhupāda has been stressing the great importance of book distribution in India, Acyutānanda and Yaśodānandana Swamis are eager to get some books printed in South India for mass distribution. It seems that book distribution is the next major project for ISKCON India.
Prabhupāda said that once his books have been sold extensively throughout India, we will be able to defeat all the bogus yogis and impersonalists. As well as this, the books will greatly boost the life membership program. “It is not that we are beggars,” he said, “but we must give the public some return. Therefore I have started up this Life Membership program so that people will feel some gain for their contribution and will be encouraged when they see us spread and increase.”
February 22nd, 1976
Before his walk Prabhupāda suggested that Dayānanda and I write to the devotees in London and New Zealand to find out whether we can sell Indian clothes and brassware there. He said that he has some capital in Lloyds Bank, and if we start exporting Indian cloth and other items, the government will think well of us. At the same time we shall make a useful profit. Actually from Māyāpur the devotees are already supplying many ISKCON temples with cloth that has been made on our own hand-looms.
* * *
Sudāmā Vipra Swami arrived from the Philippines in the early morning. He is another sannyāsī who has joined forces with Siddha-svarūpānanda Goswami, although the reports are that he does not follow the principles very strictly any more. Yet Śrīla Prabhupāda was happy to see him and greeted him very warmly.
* * *
Śrīla Prabhupāda is developing a heavy cold. Sometimes the mornings are damp and foggy. Such weather has caused his chest to become full of mucus, making his voice sound thick and muzzled. Still, he is walking in the morning and giving class, although today he didn’t say much.
In this morning’s verse, Dayānanda read out Śrīla Prabhupāda’s translation of a beautiful detailed description by Prahlāda Mahārāja of the fierce appearance of Lord Nṛsiàhadeva. “My Lord who is never conquered by anyone, certainly I am not at all afraid of Your very ferocious mouth, tongue, bright eyes like the sunshine, movement of Your eyebrows, very pinching sharp set of teeth, garland of intestines, hands soaked with blood, fixed up high ears, Your tumultuous sound which causes the elephants to go away to a distant place and Your nails which are meant for killing Your enemies. Undoubtedly I am not afraid of them.”
For a devotee like Prahlāda, the Lord is never to be feared, even when He is in an angry mood. Yet, Prabhupāda said, devotees are afraid of living in the material world. This is the essential difference between the devotees and demons.
“Prahlāda Mahārāja will say that ‘This fierceful attitude of Your Lordship is not at all fearful to me, as it is fearful to me, this material existence.’ This material world is very, very fierceful to the devotees. They are very, very much afraid of.
“This is the difference. Materialistic persons, they are thinking, ‘This world is very pleasing. We are enjoying. Eat, drink, be merry, and enjoy.’ But the devotees, they think, ‘It is very, very fierceful. How soon we shall get out of it?’ My Guru Mahārāja used to say that ‘This material world is not fit for living for any gentlemen.’ He used to say, ‘No gentleman can live here.’ So these things are not understood by the non-devotees, how much pinching this material world is. Unless one becomes detestful of this material world, it is to be understood that he has not yet entered in the spiritual understanding.
“This is the test of bhakti. If one has entered the domain of devotional service, this material world will be not at all tasteful for him. Jagāi and Mādhāi were too much materialistic, woman-hunters, drunkards, meat-eaters... So these things have become now common affairs. But it is very, very fearful for the devotees.
“Therefore we say, ‘No intoxication. No illicit sex. No meat-eating.’ It is very, very fearful. But they do not know it. They indulge in. The whole world is going on on this platform. He does not know that he is creating a very, very fierceful situation by indulging in these sinful activities.”
* * *
During his massage a newly arrived brahmacārī named Ṛkṣarāja asked Prabhupāda if he could take sannyāsa. He mentioned he had worked with Chayavana Swami in Africa.
Śrīla Prabhupāda abruptly retorted, “You know he has gone to hell? That is not recommendation; that is disqualification!” But still he told him that if he was recommended by a GBC member, he could take the vow, although Śrīla Prabhupāda added that for preaching in the West sannyāsa is not recommended, because people there have no respect for a sādhu. But he added that here in India, it is effective for preaching.
On hearing this, Ṛkṣarāja said he would be willing to remain in India to preach if he was given sannyāsa.
* * *
Relaxing in his room in the early evening, Prabhupāda enjoyed hearing Yaśodānandana Swami narrate some stories of his party’s travels in the south. Mahārāja described one place where they saw mūrtis of Lord Nṛsiàhadeva high up in the hillsides. One of them had eight arms and a garland of intestines, with the demon Hiraṇyakaśipu lying ripped open across His lap. Nearby, there was another Deity with a large mouth full of fearsome teeth.
Prabhupāda listened with interest. He enjoyed Yaśodānandana Swami’s descriptions of their successes in the south.
* * *
Jayapatāka Mahārāja reported that the boat program was going well. One day they sold 250 Gītār-gānas, and many people are requesting them to do programs in their villages. They also have three new devotees shaved up and chanting. Upon hearing of their success, Prabhupāda’s eyes grew big and bright. A smile of innocent surprise lit up his face, as if it were something very great and unexpected. His genuine response, almost a childlike wonder, was completely endearing.
Although he is the transcendental overseer of a large international movement, operating with thousands of men, millions of dollars, and selling tens of millions of books every year, he is still so humble and unassuming; the perfect ācārya and pure devotee.
February 23rd, 1976
During class this morning Prabhupāda described the important role the temple plays in helping people to advance in spiritual life by ajṣāta-sukṛti, unknown pious activity. “Sukṛti means the way by which one can approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is called sukṛti. Ajṣāta-sukṛti. This temple means to give chance to the people in general, ajṣāta-sukṛti. Anyone who will come to this temple where the Deity is there, and even by imitating others, if one offers obeisances to the Lord, that is taken into account. That is not useless, because this is Kṛṣṇa’s desire. He gives the four principles, that ‘Always think of Me,’ and ‘become My devotee,’ ‘worship Me,’ and ‘just offer little obeisances.’ These four principles will deliver you from this bondage of material existence, and ‘without any doubt, you’ll come back to Me.’
“So, so simple thing. It is not at all difficult. This child, he can do this. Old man can do this. Learned man can do this, without any knowledge. Even an animal can do it. Very simple. Bhakti-yoga is very simple.”
He stressed that any person can advance, even unknowingly, simply by gaining the association of devotees, and our temples offer that opportunity. “Therefore, somehow or other, if somebody comes into the temple, and even by imitating one offers obeisances... We have seen so many people. Our devotees are offering obeisances. They also think that ‘It is the etiquette. Let me do that,’ by association.
“Therefore it is recommended, sādhu-saṅga. Simply by association, one can be delivered. It is so nice thing. Unfortunately they’ll not associate with sādhu.”
* * *
A telegram came from Los Angeles, saying that Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Sixth Canto, Volume Three has been completed and would be offered to Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta on his appearance day. Prabhupāda was extremely pleased. “Yes, keep this on file,” he told Dayānanda. “It is a very important telegram!”
* * *
From Vṛndāvana, the manager of the Punjab National Bank informed Prabhupāda that the final approval for our new subbranch has been made. The bank is eager to open straight away. He requested Śrīla Prabhupāda to open the branch with an initial deposit of five lakhs of rupees.
Prabhupāda approved, although his suggestion to the manager was that he could have an opening ceremony and personally make the deposit when he goes there in late March, if they so desired.
* * *
Yaśodānandana, Gurukṛpa, Acyutānanda and Sudāmā Swamis all left for Calcutta to visit the Nitāi Pada Kamala.
Gopāla Kṛṣṇa arrived. He informed Prabhupāda that all the planned book printing is now underway. Gopāla Kṛṣṇa has ambitions to distribute books to almost 10,000 libraries throughout India. One book agency that supplies every library has agreed to take the books on a six-months trial basis. Gopāla, however, prefers that our own men visit all the Indian universities. He wants to establish an Indian Library Party along the same lines as the existing Library Party, which has met with so much success in the West.
Śrīla Prabhupāda was very enlivened by his efforts and encouraged him to continue. He said that Gopāla Kṛṣṇa was now fulfilling his strong desire to see all his books printed in Hindi and then widely distributed.
* * *
The construction of the new building here is moving along quite quickly. The foundation and basement level work has been completed, and shuttering work has begun on the first floor. But it is apparent that the building will not be ready for use by the beginning of the festival.
* * *
A government man named Mr. Ganguli arrived in the evening to stay overnight. He is a senior officer from the same department as Mr. Chaudhuri and came to personally see the Māyāpur project and discuss the land acquisition proposal. Prabhupāda talked with him for a few hours, discussing in detail all the plans and requirements for the land.
February 24th, 1976
Because of his cold, Prabhupāda didn’t talk much this morning on his walk.
There was one interesting bit of information. Gopāla Kṛṣṇa, who is trying to develop contacts in Eastern Europe, especially in the Soviet Union, told Prabhupāda he had heard that Harikeśa Swami is trying to go to Hungary, but Gopāla couldn’t elaborate.
* * *
Class was short. It continued with Prahlāda Mahārāja’s theme that the material world is simply a place of suffering. Śrīla Prabhupāda explained why the soul continues to try to enjoy it, even after having come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. “The illusory energy is so strong, even one gets the body of a pig, he thinks, ‘It is very nice.’ This is called prakṣepātmikā-śakti. Māyā has got especially two energies: āvaraṇātmika and prakṣepātmikā. Generally māyā keeps us covered with illusion, and if one is little enlightened, wants to get out of the clutches of māyā, there is another potency of māyā, prakṣepātmikā.
“Suppose one thinks, ‘Now I shall become Kṛṣṇa conscious. This ordinary material consciousness is so disturbing. Let me become Kṛṣṇa conscious.’ So māyā will say, ‘What you will do with this? Better remain in material consciousness.’ This is called prakṣepātmikā-śakti. Therefore sometimes some man comes in our Society. After staying for a few days, he goes away. This is prakṣepāta, thrown away. Unless he’s very sincere, he cannot stay with us; he’ll be thrown away.”
* * *
Mr. Ganguli left in the morning after seeing the general plans for the development of the land, and he seemed very favorable. He told Prabhupāda that we should ask for all the land we need at one time rather than a few acres at a time. So they finally decided to ask for 270 acres.
This is the entire area from the back road in the east up to the Gaṅgā and from the Jalāṅgī in the south to the present temple-boundary wall. The city will cover over one hundred acres. The rest will be used for agriculture and cow protection.
* * *
Tonight Prabhupāda told Dayānanda that he wants the latest reviews of his books published in a new section of BTG, as well as in the Hyderabad-based newspaper Hare Kṛṣṇa Explosion. He is very enlivened by the work of the Library Party and the response of the scholars. He wants to take full advantage of the favorable reviews in order to increase the distribution of his books.
* * *
Gopāla Kṛṣṇa gave the finalized dates for the second half of the festival after Gaura Pūrṇimā. There will be a paṇḍāl in New Delhi from 26–31 March, one day in Modinagar, and then on to Vṛndāvana.
February 25th, 1976
Today is Ekādaśī. More and more devotees are arriving for the festival.
* * *
This morning, before going out for his walk, Śrīla Prabhupāda called Sudāmā Vipra Swami into his room. Sudāmā Vipra, a gangly, loud, and capricious fellow, has a questionable reputation among the devotees. Prabhupāda is aware of this. But Sudāmā Vipra professes to have faith in Śrīla Prabhupāda. So Prabhupāda did not directly reprove him; he merely tactfully hinted at Sudāmā Vipra’s shaky position while encouraging him to do better.
As Śrīla Prabhupāda sat at his desk applying tilaka, he quoted one of his favorite sayings: “Big, big monkey, big, big belly; Ceylon jumping—melancholy!” With a smile he told Sudāmā Vipra, “So don’t become like big, big monkey. In the beginning you were so enthusiastic for sannyāsa, now you must do something.”
Sudāmā Vipra promised he would try.
When Prabhupāda walked out of his room, he was joined by other senior devotees. As they all climbed the stairs and emerged onto the roof, Śrīla Prabhupāda continued to emphasize the actual qualification for a sannyāsa. He said that if one has any thought that a woman is beautiful, that material wealth and comfort are desirable, or if he has any desire to enjoy material life, he cannot take sannyāsa. If one takes sannyāsa simply as a means to beg and fill his belly, he will only cheat himself; others will not be fooled.
Hridayānanda Mahārāja said that outside India such a sannyāsī would starve.
Prabhupāda laughed. He inquired from us, “So I do not know why our disciples are so anxious to take sannyāsa. Everyone comes, ‘Give me sannyāsa.’ What is the idea?”
Although he was in a good humor, it was clearly a complaint, one he has voiced quite frequently over the last couple of months. Nearly every week he receives requests for sannyāsa.
Jayapatāka Swami replied that a brahmacārī who gets tired of taking instructions asks for sannyāsa so he can be independent. Prabhupāda said that this is not good. Sannyāsa is designed for rendering service to everyone. It is not, “I am sannyāsa, you are my servants!”
Jayapatāka Swami asked Prabhupāda if one must be fixed up to take sannyāsa, or does one take sannyāsa to become fixed up?
Prabhupāda replied that the four āśramas are meant to fix one up gradually so that ultimately he becomes free of material desires and actually becomes sannyāsa. If one has material desires he must become a gṛhastha and accept sannyāsa later in life.
The conversation turned to Sharma dāsa, an American devotee who came here after serving in Africa. Disturbed by the misbehavior and poor standards there, he came to Vṛndāvana to see Śrīla Prabhupāda late last year, saying he only wanted to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. Prabhupāda allowed him to come here to Māyāpur.
At present he is living at the gośālā, chanting 150 rounds a day and eating only the remnants of foodstuffs left by the devotees.
Recently he came to see Prabhupāda to get permission to build a tree hut to live in, so that he could avoid seeing anyone. He complained that he was being disturbed because devotees coming to see him interrupted his chanting. But Prabhupāda condemned his idea, which he said was “living like a monkey.” He said that Sharma’s so-called renunciation was actually only another form of sense gratification. It was also based on selfish interest, even if it was only a small display of it.
Prabhupāda gave the example of two thieves, one who stole a diamond and the other who stole a cucumber. Prabhupāda explained that simply because one steals in a small way, it does not mean that he is not a thief.
Jayapatāka Swami asked if gṛhastha life was meant for the one who steals cucumbers. Prabhupāda laughed. “Yes. Kṛṣṇa is giving allowance for stealing cucumber.”
Prabhupāda conceded that Sharma at least wasn’t doing anything bad. But he said that active service is better. Prabhupāda was not displeased with him, as something is better than nothing. He allowed him to stay here because if he leaves he may end up going elsewhere to practice something other than Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Some of the senior men also felt that Mahāvīra was not mature enough to take sannyāsa. As Prabhupāda circumambulated on the roof, he turned and smiled at Mahāvīra, whose name is another name for Hanumān. “So, Mahāvīra prabhu,” he asked, “do you still want to take sannyāsa? But don’t be like this big, big monkey!”
“I will try to jump, Śrīla Prabhupāda.”
“Don’t try. Do it! Sannyāsa means one must turn out successful.”
Later, just before entering the temple for the morning program, Śrīla Prabhupāda saw some light cane-work construction lying at the side of the road. He asked what it was. Sudāmā Vipra explained that he was building a hut from split bamboo. He has arranged to rent some land on our banana plantation for $2,000 per year. He wants to stay in Māyāpur, yet in a little seclusion, apart from the main body of devotees. Prabhupāda didn’t comment much, he was simply pleased that Sudāmā Vipra Mahārāja is here in the dhāma.
* * *
In the mail today was an update from Dīna Dayal on his preaching in Greece. He has acquired an apartment in a good area of Athens, just near the British embassy. Bhaktijana and Rohiṇī Kumāra have joined him. They held a grand opening in an auditorium. They obtained police permission to hang a poster with Prabhupāda’s picture on it all around the city to advertise the opening. Over 150 people attended. Dīna Dayal has begun translating prayers and articles from Back to Godhead into Greek. He asked which book Prabhupāda wanted translated first.
Prabhupāda was satisfied with his attempts to preach. He advised him to maintain his efforts, increasing gradually. He asked him to translate Bhagavad-gītā As It Is first.
Nitāi prabhu also wrote to inform Śrīla Prabhupāda about his attempts to gain affiliation for our gurukula with two Sanskrit colleges, one in Delhi and one in Benares. His idea was to adapt their curriculums to our needs.
Prabhupāda wasn’t too concerned from the academic standpoint, but he wrote back approving his idea because it may help our students get visas.
* * *
Bilvamaṅgala dāsa brought the finished plans for the Māyāpur temple from Saurabha in Bombay. The total area required has again been revised; now we will apply for 320 acres.
February 26th, 1976
During the morning walk, Jayapatāka Mahārāja commented that it seemed easier to preach and make devotees in Bengal than other places in India.
Prabhupāda agreed, telling us that Bengali culture is much adored all over India. The guru of Mahātmā Gandhi had even said, “Whatever Bengal does today, other provinces will think tomorrow.” He said that many leading figures in recent Indian history were actually Bengalis, then he named a few: Surendranath Bannerji, who started the Congress party in 1887, Vivekananda, Ravindranath Tagore, and Aurobindo Ghosh.
Prabhupāda said that Aurobindo was actually born in England, but later he turned against the British. At one time Aurobindo seriously practiced yoga. However, later he had some connection with a French woman and became quite fat. Prabhupāda said that meant that from a yogi he became a bhogī, or a sense enjoyer. He said that then the next stage is rogī, diseased. So yogi, bhogī, and rogī.
That reminded me of something amusing I had been told when I first joined the Sydney temple in 1972. I brought it up to see if Prabhupāda would confirm it. “A yogi passes stool once a day, a bhogī twice, and a rogī more.”
Prabhupāda stopped and smiled. He raised his eyebrows quizzically. “Who told you?”
Jayapatāka laughed. He said that some of the devotees deliberately held their stool until the next day in order to be a yogi, even though it gave them stomach ache. Everyone laughed, Śrīla Prabhupāda as well, but with a little surprise. “Acchā?”
As usual, and much to everyone’s delight, he had a phrase and a story to enlighten us further on the foolishness of imitation. “That is called makṣi manda kanāni. A clerk was making a ‘fair book’ [good copy] from the ‘rough book.’ So he went to the toilet room and he was... like this.” At this point he made grabbing motions in the air. “So all of a sudden his boss came. ‘What are you doing here?’
“‘Sir, I am trying to capture one fly.’
“‘No, I am making the fair copy of the book. But in the original book, there is a fly smashed. So I have to paste one fly.’”
We all laughed heartily as Prabhupāda chuckled and added, “There are such fools. Makṣi manda kanāni. There is a fly pasted. So in the fair copy there must be a fly, paste.”
* * *
Śrīla Prabhupāda often quotes the teachings of Prahlāda Mahārāja in his conversations and letters, and he seems to derive great inspiration from his prayers.
In this morning’s Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam verse, Prahlāda Mahārāja declared that only Kṛṣṇa can give us permanent protection. Loving parents cannot save a child, a physician cannot save a patient, and a boat cannot save a drowning man. Śrīla Prabhupāda gave many appropriate analogies to elaborate upon Prahlāda’s statements.
“The human life means if somebody is being killed, so he should be immediately taking warning, ‘Oh, my turn is coming. Let me go away.’ There is one story in this connection. Not story, these are facts. A hunter spread his net. So some little birds, they fell down in the net and they are crying. So the father, mother when they came, they saw that their children are in danger. ‘It is caught by the net of the hunter.’ So mother immediately jumped over it to save the children, and she was also captured. Then the father saw. ‘If I go to save them, I’ll be captured. Let me go away. Let me take sannyāsa. That’s all.’”
We all laughed.
“That is intelligence. You cannot give protection to your family, to your society, to your... No, you cannot give. That is not possible. They must die. They must be captured by the network of māyā. You cannot save them. If you want to save them, then make them Kṛṣṇa conscious. That is the only remedy.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda emphasized his point by describing practical examples from his disciples’ preaching and from his own life. “And udanvati majjato nauḥ. Everyone is drowned, either you take figuratively or really. In the sea, ocean, there are always waves. So your tiny boat or big ship, that is not safe side.
“We have got experience. When I was going to New York on ship, I had no money to go by plane. So in the deep sea ocean, especially in the Atlantic Ocean, it was nothing, like a small ball, tottering like this. At any moment it can be capsized. Although very big ship with very big load, but it is nothing in the sea. So that is not sure. There is no surety that because you are in a big ship you’ll be saved—no.
“In your country, it happened, say, fifty, sixty years, the Titanic. In the first voyage, everyone was drowned, all big, big men. So nature’s freak is so strong, that you cannot say that ‘Because I have got a nice ship, I’ll be saved.’ No, that is not possible. Without Kṛṣṇa’s protection, all these counteracting measures will be all useless. Therefore teach people how to take shelter of Kṛṣṇa.”
* * *
There was a very amusing incident in mid-morning, when Prabhupāda had a visit from a yogīnī, Yogashakti Ma. She came smiling into Prabhupāda’s room, her long hair streaming over saffron clothing, accompanied by three male followers. She wanted to invite Prabhupāda to a World Yoga and Peace Conference they plan to hold. The address they gave was an apartment in Calcutta.
She expressed her hope that leaders of various yoga and peace groups could get together and exchange their different experiences to everyone’s benefit, so that the world could be a better place to live, where everyone could become happy. Of course, she would be at the center of it, as the organizer.
To this end she had issued a leaflet. One of her men read it out. It proclaimed “Health, Harmony, Happiness” through jṣāna, dhyāna, bhakti, karma, and so on. In other words, it was a hodgepodge of ideas with no real focus. She finished by saying that their goal was to serve God and humanity.
Hearing the bit about serving God, Prabhupāda called her bluff. “Who is God?” he asked her.
But neither she nor any of her followers could answer. One of them mumbled, “Hari Oà.” Another said something about the Creator and “love of us all.”
Prabhupāda continued in his matter-of-fact, simple, and direct manner. “If there is a toilet,” he said, “and you go there and throw some scent, does that make it a nice place? Trying to make the toilet a nice place is less intelligent. Kṛṣṇa says duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam. This material world is temporary and full of suffering, so trying to be happy here is simply a waste of time.”
He was going to continue but couldn’t. His analogy visibly shocked them. Yogashakti Ma had conjured up an image of attaining bliss on earth, and Prabhupāda frankly and abruptly shattered her sentimental vision.
They all took it like a slap in the face. One of the men became visibly disturbed. Speechless, he began to shake. Agitated and disturbed in mind, he wouldn’t stay a moment longer. He simply offered his respects, uttered “Hari Oà,” and got up and left. Yogashakti Ma and the others followed.
Śrīla Prabhupāda continued to sit at his desk, a smile gracing his face. He wasn’t concerned that his words had disturbed their idealistic notions. They were typical Māyāvādīs—in māyā. He had spoken the truth as revealed by God Himself, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. If they couldn’t take it, it was no fault of his. He laughed. “By their yoga-śakti,” he told me, “they have one flat in Calcutta. We have no such śakti, and we have a hundred centers like this [Māyāpur]!”
Prabhupāda is simply wonderful. Others may or may not appreciate, but he cannot compromise the truth for anyone. His only interest is in serving Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa’s mission—nothing else. By Kṛṣṇa’s grace he is enjoying world-wide success. He has neither the need nor desire to have his name associated with anything that deviates from the strict principles of bhāgavata-dharma.
* * *
Kīrtirāja just arrived from Europe. He had traveled overland in the convoy of Mercedes vans with Gargamuni Swami. He has been preaching in Poland. A few people there have shown genuine interest in our movement. He said that the Polish people live very austere lives, as no luxury items are available. But they are avid readers. Therefore Kīrtirāja planned to print and distribute as many books as possible.
Prabhupāda was so eager to see this program started that he offered to give him a loan to begin printing books in Polish and Russian.
As for preaching in Europe, a letter from Mukunda and Bhaja Hari in London conveyed some interesting news. They confirmed that Harikeśa Swami has gone to Hungary on a two-week tour of yoga schools and clubs. Hansadūta spoke to him shortly after his arrival in London, and the next day he was off. The British devotees want him to remain in England and Europe to preach in the universities and colleges.
Prabhupāda approved. He expressed confidence in Harikeśa’s speaking and said that he could stay there. He also said that Harikeśa could read more books and preach now that he is a sannyāsī.
Their letter also mentioned several recent meetings with ex-Beatle George Harrison, who has allowed us the use of his large country estate, Bhaktivedanta Manor, at Letchmore Heath. Mukunda was one of the first devotees to meet with him, in the late sixties. The devotees are eager to arrange a more permanent arrangement with him.
George’s business manager advised him not to donate the property for tax reasons. So our men proposed he give us a ninety-nine year lease at £1 per year. George was agreeable to the idea but perhaps favored a shorter period.
Prabhupāda requested that they send him the lease agreement for approval.
* * *
As Prabhupāda relaxed on the balcony, Hridayānanda Mahārāja came out to see him. This is his first extended visit to India. He’s beginning to understand the significance and magnitude of the projects Prabhupāda has begun here.
He expressed his new-found enthusiasm and realization to Prabhupāda. “Your American disciples are beginning to appreciate the importance of India, Śrīla Prabhupāda. When we first arrived we could not understand why you were so busy here, but now we can see that it is the most important place on the planet!”
Prabhupāda looked at him gravely, raised his eyebrows, and replied decisively, “It is the most important place in the universe!”
Śrīla Prabhupāda has also instructed Hridayānanda Mahārāja to begin plans for the planetarium, based on the descriptions given in the Fifth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Although the title “Temple of Understanding” has been bandied about as a name for the new temple, Śrīla Prabhupāda rejected it as soon as Saurabha first delivered the plans. This morning, on his walk, he gave a proper title, revealing as well a little of his vision of its importance. He said it will be called the “Temple of the Vedic Planetarium.”
“We shall show the Vedic conception of the planetary systems within this material world and above the material world,” he said. “We are going to exhibit the Vedic culture throughout the whole world, and they will come here.”
In Bombay he had discussed with Dr. Patel the importance of combining culture and education. This is clearly why he has decided to establish the Vedic planetarium along with the temple here in Māyāpur, the world headquarters of his Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. The temple and surrounding city will show people the Vedic culture, and the planetarium will educate them as to the scientific basis of the culture.
He explained, “Just like they come to see the Taj Mahal. They’ll come to see the civilization and the culture—the philosophical culture, the religious culture—by practical demonstration with dolls and other things.”
Jayapatāka Mahārāja suggested that every temple in the world could have a model of the proposed city to advertise the project.
Prabhupāda was enthusiastic. “Yes, actually, it will be a unique thing in the world. There is no such thing all over the world. That we shall do. And not only simply showing museum, but educating people to that idea. With factual knowledge, books; not fictitious.”
* * *
Tatpur dāsa, an Indian devotee stationed in Hyderabad, arrived to take sannyāsa. Previously he had written, requesting it, and Prabhupāda had sent an enthusiastic reply, inviting him to come to Māyāpur for the festival. He said he could then take sannyāsa and preach in Bengal. Prabhupāda is always eager to see his Indian disciples step forward and take up the responsibility of preaching here.
Meanwhile, Mahāvīra prabhu has had second thoughts, both on taking sannyāsa and staying in Māyāpur. He came to the roof during massage to ask Prabhupāda’s permission to return to Brazil. He obviously felt a little awkward, or perhaps embarrassed, that he now wants to leave Māyāpur after having caused so much agitation as a manager.
Timidly he approached Prabhupāda and began, “Prabhupāda, I know that it is the duty of the disciple to satisfy the desire of the spiritual master... ”
Prabhupāda immediately enjoined, “Yes, and it is my desire that you help manage Māyāpur.”
Mahāvīra’s discontent with his new assignment troubled his mind enough that he continued. “But Śrīla Prabhupāda, I think they need me in Brazil. I want to satisfy your desire, but I think I am better suited to Brazil.”
Prabhupāda still indicated that he wanted him here in Māyāpur. But finally, seeing Mahāvīra’s anxiety, he kindly consented to his return to South America. “All right, whether a gopī or a cow, both are serving Kṛṣṇa. Go to Brazil. You may serve there.”
February 27th, 1976
Prabhupāda is not feeling well, yet he continues to receive visitors and take his walks. On top of a bad cold, he now has uremia again, so he is not taking rice.
His sister, who is still staying here, insists on cooking for him. But he complains that she uses too much chili and ghee, or sometimes heavy doses of mustard oil, which cause some digestive problems.
* * *
He didn’t talk much on his walk, but he nonetheless delivered a straight-to-the-point class. The verse described how every living being is acting under the influence of the modes of nature, which comprise Kṛṣṇa’s material energy, called durgā.
“Durgā means “fort.” We are packed up within this fort. You see the round sky. It is just like a football, and within, we are packed up. Duḥ means “difficult,” and gā means “going.” Dur-gā. So just like in the fort, in the jail, if you are put, it is dur-gā, very difficult to come out; very, very difficult. Duḥ means it is not so easy. You cannot enter in the fort or in the jail. Big, big walls, you cannot enter there without permission, and you cannot come out without permission.
“So this durgā-śakti, material energy, is very, very powerful. You cannot come out from this fort of material existence without superior permission. That is Kṛṣṇa’s permission.”
Prabhupāda explained that knowing everything to be Kṛṣṇa’s means we should offer it for His use. It is just like the devotees who bathe in the Gaṅgā; they scoop some water up and offer it back to the Gaṅgā. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa doesn’t need our offering, it is already His. But by our doing so, He becomes pleased with us, and thus we are released. If we don’t do this then we are “fool number one.”
* * *
Jagat Guru dāsa, another candidate for sannyāsa at the upcoming festival, arrived today from Africa via the Middle East. He came to the roof during massage to tell Prabhupāda about his recent preaching activities.
While in Dubai he met two brothers who are followers of the Vallabhācārya-sampradāya. They were impressed with Prabhupāda’s work, especially his books. As a result they had donated $12,000. But they requested their donation be given personally to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Handing the money to Śrīla Prabhupāda, Jagat Guru questioned whether he should inform the Los Angeles BBT to credit the $12,000 to the African book bill. Brahmānanda Mahārāja had sent Jagat Guru through the Middle East specifically to collect money to pay off the BBT debts of the African yātrā, so Jagat Guru assumed the donation would be used for that purpose. Prabhupāda, however, said no. The money was a donation, and therefore separate from other collections. It could not be used to pay off book debts.
Jagat Guru was a little surprised. Because of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s quick response, he could hardly believe that Śrīla Prabhupāda had fully comprehended his statement and request. Shortly after, Jagat Guru repeated himself. But Prabhupāda remained firm. The money was a donation to his book fund, and Śrīla Prabhupāda had accepted it.
As far as the debt in Africa was concerned, he good humoredly said of Brahmānanda Swami, “We will not hang him, but he will have to work to pay off his debt.”
Prabhupāda said that his Guru Mahārāja had continually started big projects and kept the whole Gaudiya Math in debt in order to keep his men active and busy. And the disciple is always indebted to the spiritual master. He said that, anyway, to be in debt is not such a bad thing, because then the men will not become lazy.
* * *
Devotees in Hyderabad have been publishing an English newspaper called the Hare Kṛṣṇa Explosion. Generally a few advance copies of each issue are sent to Prabhupāda.
Some sannyāsīs have complained about a small article that appeared in the latest edition, Volume 21. The article was titled, “Hindus Converted to Muslims.” It explained how Muslims would sometimes convert Hindus simply by sprinkling them with water. Being bound by a very strict caste system, such persons were immediately ostracized from the Hindu community and forced to become Muslims. The article, which was simply a quote from the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, had no explanation, nor was it related to anything else in the paper. Acyutānanda Swami felt it inflammatory, especially in view of the community tensions in Hyderabad.
Prabhupāda agreed. The article was pointless, and he was upset about it. He immediately wrote a letter to Mahāàsa Swami ordering him to stop production. “You must stop circulation of this paper immediately. It is not being properly managed. Who is this rascal who is writing such articles? See to this immediately.”
He also criticized a children’s quiz that was included in the magazine, which offered prizes for participants. Prabhupāda said it was gambling.
February 28th, 1976
Prabhupāda sat at his desk as he put on his tilaka this morning. He told us he was the very same man now as he was before. Previously he had been unable to do anything in India because he had no money. But now with his intelligence and our cooperation, he said that he could do something.
Moving from his room, Prabhupāda climbed up the stairs out onto the roof, picking up a small entourage on the way. As he walked around, glancing over to the new building site, he explained that our concern about money was not ordinary. He expanded his point with a very nice metaphor. He explained that his mission was to reunite Lakṣmī, the Goddess of Fortune, with Nārāyaṇa. In other words, the demoniac want to enjoy the property of God without God, or Sītā without Rāma. Just as Hanumān had worked to release Sītā from Rāvaṇa’s hands, Prabhupāda said that he was also working for the same purpose.
“We are not satisfied that Rāma should remain alone and Sītā should be under the custody of Rāvaṇa. I don’t want,” he said. “Sītā must be released from the custody of Rāvaṇa. With opulence it means we are bringing Sītā nearer, nearer, nearer... . That is wanted. Otherwise, for a sannyāsī, what is the use of these big buildings? No. We want these big buildings for service of Rāma.”
Kīrtirāja’s presence stimulated Prabhupāda’s thoughts about Communism once again. Prabhupāda analyzed the Communists’ attempts to wrest money from the capitalists. Although they claim they want to redistribute the world’s wealth to the poor class, in fact it is simply one Rāvaṇa taking from another Rāvaṇa. He said that there can be no benefit. He added that Communism has already failed. Kīrtirāja agreed. The poor were no better off. In Poland fresh food was scarce and expensive.
Prabhupāda also recalled that on his trip to Moscow in 1971 the only fruit available was strawberries. He concluded that they were being punished by nature, but because they are rascals they cannot see it.
* * *
Down in the temple room, sitting before an increasing number of Western devotees, Prabhupāda described the futility of trying to create unity in the world by mundane methods. Citing the United Nations as an example, he asked, “Where is the unity?”
He explained how previously there had been the League of Nations, then there was war. They made big plans again, but every twenty years or so there is another conflagration, especially in Europe. He said that they are simply demons, and our mission is to save them. “They have to give up the demonic activities. They have to take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Then they will be saved. So we are just trying to introduce the real civilization.
“Actually there is no civilization at the present moment. They are simply cats and dogs fighting one another. There is no civilization. Atheists, demons, they are predominating.
“And because they have got big, big skyscraper building and many motor cars, India has become victimized. ‘Oh, without this motor car and without this skyscraper building, we are condemned.’ They are trying to imitate. They have forgotten their own culture, the best culture, Vedic culture. This is the first time that we are trying to conquer over the demonic culture with this Vedic culture. This is the first time. So it is very pleasing that you have joined this movement.
“If you want to make the human society happy, give them this culture of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is being described by Prahlāda Mahārāja, that saàsāra-cakra. If you become involved in this demonic culture, then the saàsāra-cakra, the wheel of repetition of birth and death, will go on. You cannot stop it. It is not possible. But if you take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then there is possibility. This is the purport of this verse. Thank you very much. Hare Kṛṣṇa.”
* * *
More news on Chayavana Mahārāja arrived today. It appears that he left Krishna-Balaram Mandir to reside in Rādhā-kuṇḍa. There he was behaving very erratically, smoking bidis, clearly not in control of his senses. Finally, due to some immigration problems, he has now been arrested by the police.
During his massage Prabhupāda heard a letter sent by Chayavana from Rādhā-kuṇḍa, written just before he was arrested. He is clearly a very troubled soul. Commenting on his arrest, Prabhupāda said that he should be punished because he has committed so many sins. He said that this punishment would correct him. If he is not punished in this lifetime he will have to suffer in the future, so it is better that it happens now.
He explained how it is like a surgeon having to cut out a boil: it may be painful, but if dealt with immediately then one becomes cleansed. If left untreated, it will only give more trouble.
He said that for a devotee if there is an accidental fall-down Kṛṣṇa will excuse. But if the devotee persistently sins, then Kṛṣṇa will allow some punishment for his correction.
* * *
Around midday Śrīla Prabhupāda was sitting quietly in his room. A large, heavily built young man ran screaming along the veranda right past his window. A half-dozen other devotees, led by Gurukṛpa Swami, followed him.
Prabhupāda’s eyebrows raised in surprise. “What is that?”
I looked out the door and recognized the fugitive as a young American devotee who has been the subject of criticism over the last few days. Over six feet tall and about 250 pounds, he seems a little mentally slow, with a heavy overhanging brow and deep-set eyes that move evasively when he speaks. Although shaven headed and dressed as a brahmacārī, he claims to be a paid-up life member. Therefore, he considers himself exempt from doing any service in the āśrama. He has a room in the guest house, and his persistent refusal to do anything other than read Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books has created some resentment among the other devotees.
Prabhupāda sent me out to find out what was going on. It was quite a scene. The men had him hemmed into one corner of the balcony. He was fending them off and yelling at the top of his lungs, “He-e-elllp!” I saw Gurukṛpa kick him and several others tussling with him.
My presence made them aware that Prabhupāda was being disturbed by the commotion. So things quieted down, and Gurukṛpa came before His Divine Grace to explain what was going on.
The boy had gotten into a violent argument after refusing to do any service. The devotees were trying to forcibly remove him from the building. To avoid them, he tried to take refuge on Prabhupāda’s floor.
Prabhupāda considered the situation and presented his conclusion. He said that if visiting devotees wanted to read and chant exclusively, there was nothing wrong in it, at least here in Māyāpur. That is provided they were actually reading and not just using this as an excuse to sleep. However, he condemned the notion of giving money to the temple and then asking for life membership status. He remarked that this was simply business and not a proper devotional attitude.
Life membership is for uninitiated devotees, he said. If someone actually joins the movement, then he should surrender everything—his money, his intelligence, his life. That is real life membership. The business of the devotee is to give everything to the spiritual master and thus become his menial servant.
He said the boy should be allowed to stay and not be disturbed. Everyone filed out of his room. With a wry smile Śrīla Prabhupāda shook his head. “These boys are too sophisticated,” he concluded, referring to the “life member” brahmacārī.
* * *
A letter from an organizer of the Manipur Gītā Mandal came via Calcutta. They were requesting the names of all those planning to accompany Prabhupāda on his forthcoming trip to Imphal. Any foreigner requires a special “inner line permit” in order to enter Manipur.
After discussing with Śrīla Prabhupāda, Dayānanda sent our names and that of his wife, along with a suggested date of departure from Delhi of April 10th, 1976.
* * *
When he spoke with Kīrtirāja the other day, Śrīla Prabhupāda had approved certain plans for preaching in Poland. But upon hearing that Hansadūta had already formulated another strategy, he canceled his own suggestions. He told Kīrtirāja simply to follow the GBC’s instructions.
This policy of referring things for GBC approval, both individually and collectively, is something he is doing more and more. His Divine Grace often says that he wants to be relieved from management as soon as possible, not when he leaves the planet but long before, so that he can retire and write his books.
* * *
An increasing number of devotees are discovering the sweetness of evening darśanas in Prabhupāda’s room. The devotees rarely have an opportunity to associate with Śrīla Prabhupāda in such an informal and intimate setting.
Prabhupāda has been responding to their eagerness with some blissful recollections of his early days in America in 1965–66, including the difficulties he went through. This evening he told us that when he came to America he had not expected to remain long, as his original visa was valid for only two months. But for a year he continued to extend his stay: two months, two months, two months, each time thinking to remain a little longer and give things a try. He would go to the shipping agency and inquire when the next ship back to India was, but he would never go.
Eventually the clerk, a friendly Indian man, inquired, “Swamijī, you are asking, but actually, when you will go?”
Prabhupāda would laugh and tell him, “No. Actually I don’t want. But sometimes when I am a little disappointed, I think about it.”
Then as preaching opportunities started to unfold, he began paying a lawyer $150 a month to get his visa extended. Eventually he took a man’s advice and went to Montreal to apply for residence. Three months later he re-entered the country with his Green Card via SantaFe, New Mexico, where Subala had begun a center.
He went on to tell about his life on New York’s Second Avenue. He would stroll along the riverbank, unaware that the area was notoriously dangerous. Eventually someone informed him that sometimes snipers shot pedestrians there at random. “I was innocent,” he said. “I didn’t know they were killing people there.”
It was fascinating to listen to him reminisce about the early days of his mission.
Never self-laudatory, and always humble about his success, Śrīla Prabhupāda captivates his audience with his unique and remarkable character. He has a combination of youthful simplicity coupled with an astonishingly deep perceptiveness of human nature and life in general. He attributes everything to Lord Kṛṣṇa’s special mercy rather than to any expertise of his own. This selfless quality makes him irresistibly attractive, an ideal teacher, and our most trustworthy friend.
February 29th, 1976
In his lecture this morning Prabhupāda vividly described how the covering power of māyā influences a person’s sense of enjoyment. He explained that in Burma they have a drink called naphi. People keep special pots into which they place dead bodies of animals, which are then left to decompose. Later, after some years, the fluids are drained and bottled to be drunk at festivals.
When Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta’s men opened a center in Rangoon, they cooked purīs in ghee. The neighboring people actually complained about the “horrible smell.”
* * *
After having spent some time in America and Europe gathering funds, men, and equipment, Gargamuni Swami arrived with his TSKP in a grand style. Their large, blue-and-white Mercedes vans came driving slowly down Bhaktisiddhānta road one after another, with mounted loudspeakers blaring out the mahā-mantra.
When they entered the front gate, Śrīla Prabhupāda came out on the veranda to see the spectacle, and all the devotees eagerly gathered around to greet them.
Gargamuni Swami rushed up to Prabhupāda’s rooms, where he enthusiastically described his future preaching plans. He showed Śrīla Prabhupāda a wonderful new aid for preaching he had bought in America—a portable eight-millimeter film display. It resembled a briefcase but it had a screen inside the lid, which was slotted for cassette films. The machine cost $250 and each cassette the same amount.
Each of his preaching parties is equipped with one. In this way they will be able to walk into any businessman’s office, show him a film about Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and then sign him as a Life Member. Gargamuni’s plan is to launch a bold new membership drive.
Needless to say, Śrīla Prabhupāda was enthusiastic. Fully enlivened, he called all the sannyāsīs to his room and told them to plan a tour route from village to village between the 15th and 26th of March. He said he would also participate.
* * *
Prabhupāda refused to allow Pisimā to cook for him any more—after eating her lunch yesterday he became ill and had to take rest at 8:00 p.m.
He called her in and told her to return to Calcutta. She argued with him. Then Prabhupāda shouted at her in Bengali and she became upset and started to cry. He was telling her to go, and she refused. Finally she got up in tears and left the room.
They have a very special, transcendental relationship. Apart from being Śrīla Prabhupāda’s sister (she even looks like him), Pisimā is also an initiated disciple of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī and a great devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
As he relaxed on his āsana afterward, he told me she should stay in Calcutta and look after their childhood Deities. He shook his head and laughed. “She has some idea of traveling with me. She thinks I am her brother. This is the problem. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu took sannyāsa. Not because it changed Him as a person, but to get away from the family. Generally family members don’t take instruction. I was the same person before taking sannyāsa as after. I took sannyāsa for this reason. Otherwise, I could have done the same things without it.”
March 1st, 1976
There was lively discussion on the walk this morning about modern scientific theories.
Prabhupāda enjoys instigating debates. This way he not only exposes the flaws of the prevalent world view that everything is simply a chance combination of matter, but he also convinces us of the superior nature of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
This morning Hridayānanda Mahārāja brought up a popular concept, commonly referred to as the atomic theory. He explained that this theory states that everything is constituted of different atoms; the ultimate truth is the atomic particle. By different combinations of these particles, different material manifestations are produced. According to this, there is no other cause except this endless combining of atomic particles.
Śrīla Prabhupāda questioned, “Where from the atom comes?” Then he went on to explain that the atomic theory is there in Vedic conception. It is called paramāṇuvāda. “This material, matter, everything, is a combination of atomic particles. Either you take earth or take water or air or fire, everything is a combination of atoms. That’s a fact. But we know that these atoms are coming out as the energy of Kṛṣṇa. Bhinnā. Bhinnā means the quality of different—not the same quality. Apareyam. ‘This is inferior quality, but there is another, superior quality, jīva bhūta, and that is the living entity.’
“So two kinds of atoms are coming from Kṛṣṇa: one is the spiritual atom, and the other is the material atom. So spiritual atoms, they are many, many times greater than the material atoms. And these material atoms are this universal, innumerable universes. Some of the spiritual atoms, when they want to enjoy independently, they are given the chance of enjoying this material atom. So in the material world it is combination of material and spiritual atoms. In the spiritual world, there is no material atom—everything is spirit.”
Prabhupāda said that the physicists have not been able to find out the spiritual atom. They are therefore puzzled, and their scientific research is incomplete. Although Bhagavad-gītā gives them information, unfortunately they will not take it.
Acyutānanda Swami said that because they are so sinful, they cannot see. He compared them to Duryodhana, in that Duryodhana was so sinful that even Kṛṣṇa personally could not convince him. He had no reservoir of pious activities to draw on.
Prabhupāda liked his comparison. He agreed, “The Duryodhana party, and we are Pāṇḍu’s party. So there must be war always, fighting. And they’ll be smashed.” He quoted Bhagavad-gītā (1.19). “Hṛdayāni vyadārayat. You know that? ‘Breaking the heart of Dhṛtarāṣṭra.’ So we have to make preaching in such a way to break the heart of this Dhṛtarāṣṭra company. Then it will be preaching.”
Prabhupāda mentioned that a description of the atom is given in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. There it describes that six aṇus make one paramāṇu. It is this paramāṇu that the scientists are detecting. Prabhupāda concluded, therefore, that no scientist has a proper understanding of the atom.
Acyutānanda Mahārāja asked how they were able to make an atomic bomb if they didn’t know what the atom is.
Prabhupāda’s simple reply effectively removed his doubt. “Suppose if you can make a nice vegetable preparation, that does not mean you know everything of the vegetable. You are still rascal.” He pointed to the new building gradually being made manifest by the hired workers. “Just like this mason worker. They know how to set up the bricks and do nice work. But that does not mean they know where from the brick has come.”
* * *
In the verse for Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam class this morning, Prahlāda Mahārāja explained the futility of striving for a better material situation. People in general aspire for heavenly life, to live longer and enjoy greater standards of material happiness. But even the demigods became afraid merely by the movement of Hiraṇyakaśipu’s eyebrow. Yet Hiraṇyakaśipu was destroyed within a moment by Lord Nṛsiàha.
Prabhupāda told us therefore that we should avoid getting entangled in the pursuit of material enjoyment. Sex life is its pinnacle, but its result is simply troublesome.
There is an ever-increasing number of devotees attending class, many of them brahmacārīs. So when Prabhupāda told us it is better to avoid sex life altogether and remain brahmacārī, there was a collective response of “Jaya! Jaya Prabhupāda!”
“Either illicit sex or legal sex,” he said, “there are many, many sufferings. But those who are miser—miser means one who cannot use the benefit he has got, this human form of life—they know there are so many after-effects; they are not satisfied. “So the whole Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is how to become dhīraḥ, selfless. Then life is successful. And anyway, don’t be involved, entangled, with these material things.
“This morning we were calculating that there are... as many atoms, so many living entities are also there, and there is struggle here. So in this human life the chance is how to get out of this material atomic combination and go back to home, back to Godhead. This is the chance.”
* * *
Hansadūta prabhu arrived in Māyāpur today with Pṛthu Putra Swami. He had stopped off in Vṛndāvana for a few days on his way from Europe by air. Meanwhile his saṅkīrtana buses are being driven overland through Turkey, Iran and Pakistan.
Now that the village-to-village saṅkīrtana program is about to commence, Prabhupāda is becoming more and more enthusiastic. Very keen “to do something wonderful in India,” he again called a meeting of all the senior men to make plans for traveling saṅkīrtana.
* * *
Jayapatāka Mahārāja purchased a concrete mixer for 17,000 rupees to help speed up construction of the new building. The work is now so far behind that Prabhupāda has ordered a double shift to begin immediately. He wants it to be ready for the festival, at least as far as sleeping accommodation goes, but it doesn’t appear possible at the present rate of progress.
* * *
I have contracted a heavy cold, the skin on my heels is deeply cracked, and I have a cut on my hand. Moreover, my left thumb joint is bruised, and my knees have become swollen and sore, with sacks of fluid on them, making it painful to kneel. I therefore have to use a pillow to cushion my knees when I massage Prabhupāda’s head. The physical discomfort is making it hard for me to focus my mind on my service. I must be more attentive to avoid offenses at Prabhupāda’s lotus feet.
Evening massage is also becoming difficult to perform. It has been getting increasingly longer each night. Every evening after the pūjārīs fumigate Prabhupāda’s bedroom with incense to drive out the mosquitos, Ānakadundubhi dāsa and I drape a large net around the bed. When Prabhupāda lies down to take rest at about 10:00 p.m., the lights go out. I slip under the net and perch cross-legged at his side to massage up and down his legs and feet as he softly slumbers.
Previously the massage lasted between a half an hour and forty-five minutes. But here in Māyāpur the sessions have been going on for an hour, or longer. Tonight it went on for over two hours, the longest ever. I left Prabhupāda’s room just after midnight.
I find it very difficult to sit in the dark, sweating under the mosquito net, breathing air thick with incense smoke with no breeze for relief, and with not a sound save Śrīla Prabhupāda’s soft snoring. It is difficult to stay awake on the job. Occasionally I do drift off, only to snap suddenly back to consciousness without knowing how long I have been out.
But tonight, by Kṛṣṇa’s grace, I was able stay awake by chanting ślokas within my mind. I remembered that in the Gītā, Kṛṣṇa called Arjuna Guḍākeśa, the “conqueror of sleep.” My little experience is giving me a glimpse of what a high degree of sense control is required to earn the title of Guḍākeśa.
Serving Śrīla Prabhupāda personally is sometimes very demanding; but it is extremely rewarding and always fully satisfying to the heart.
March 2nd, 1976
The sannyāsī/gṛhastha controversy continues to simmer, although in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s presence the criticism’s are muted. Even among the sannyāsīs there is no clear consensus.
When Prabhupāda brought it up for discussion on his walk this morning, Hridayānanda Mahārāja said he doesn’t think the gṛhasthas are such a burden on the Society. But Gurukṛpa, Yaśodānandana, and Gargamuni Mahārājas disagreed and were quite pushy. They feel that the presence of many women and children in the temples is creating an atmosphere of laziness.
Prabhupāda agreed that the women and children could live on farms. There the children could be brought up as devotees and the women engaged in small cottage industry. The city centers could then be used simply for preaching.
Gurukṛpa doubted the gṛhasthas would agree to such a proposal.
Prabhupāda’s response was quick and straight to the point. “Then don’t allow. Don’t allow that... . Unless they follow the rules and regulations, what is the use?” He was concerned that all the devotees be conscientious about their service and spiritual practices, and he was satisfied to hear from Gargamuni that in general, most devotees do attend all the programs in the temple.
Prabhupāda’s main point was that all devotees must be fully engaged in service. He doesn’t want any laziness.
He brought up the same point again at the end of his Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam lecture. He told us that the disease of everyone in the material world is the desire to be a master. Whether a person has charge of one or two family members or the entire universe like Lord Brahmā, the disease is the same. So when people come to our Kṛṣṇa conscious Society, the leaders have to be alert to see to the treatment of this disease.
“Prahlāda Mahārāja has understood this so-called false prestigious position of becoming a master. He says that ‘I am quite aware of this false thing. Kindly engage me... Nija-bhṛtya-pārśvam, means just like apprentice. One apprentice is engaged to one expert man. By and by, the apprentice learns how to do the things. Therefore he says, nija-bhṛtya-pārśvam. ‘Not that immediately I become very expert servant, but let me... ’
“Our institution is for that purpose. If somebody comes here, he must learn how to serve. Those who are serving, one should learn from him how he’s serving twenty-four hours. Then our joining this institution will be successful. And if we take it that ‘Here is an institution where we can have free hotel, free living, and free sense gratification,’ then the whole institution will be spoiled. Be careful. All the GBCs, they should be careful that this mentality may not increase. Everyone should be very eager to serve, to learn how to serve. Then life will be successful.”
* * *
About 10:30 a.m. he heard some disconcerting reports about the Vṛndāvana temple from Hansadūta and Pṛthu Putra Swami. They said the devotees in Vṛndāvana are eating three large meals a day and they even owe money for food supplies. Akṣayānanda Mahārāja is spending all his time in management at the temple. Consequently there is no preaching program going on.
Prabhupāda wasn’t happy to hear about this. He told Gurukṛpa Swami to go there immediately with instructions to reorganize everything and to send Akṣayānanda out preaching to raise funds through Life Membership.
* * *
In the evening Śrīla Prabhupāda called all the sannyāsīs, and whatever GBC men were present, to discuss the position of women in our Society. He is concerned that a major conflict seems to be looming between the sannyāsīs and gṛhastha temple presidents. They appear to be at odds on many issues.
There are reports that some sannyāsīs are not allowed to preach in certain temples in America because they are speaking out against marriage and are almost exclusively supporting brahmacārī life. There are also allegations that large buildings are being purchased, simply for use as residences. Thus difficult monetary obligations are being incurred, and it is the brahmacārī saṅkīrtana members who end up paying for them. Preaching programs have begun to suffer as a result.
And some sannyāsīs are objecting that brahmacārīs are being told to get married if they feel some sexual agitation, rather than being encouraged to strive for higher principles of austerity and celibacy. They argued that the presidents prefer to get them married off in order to keep them in their temples for fund-raising rather than let them travel and preach with sannyāsīs.
Prabhupāda heard the complaints but said that all things must be decided by the GBC and no one can go against their decision. He declined to make a final statement one way or the other, but he again suggested the women and children could live on ISKCON farms and help develop small-scale cottage industries. He said that our whole preaching program is detachment from material enjoyment: stopping sex life altogether. Gṛhastha life is a concession to those unable to give up sex immediately. But he added that in actuality, marriage is not at all required. It is simply burdensome. Licit or illicit, the after-effects of sex simply mean difficulty.
March 3rd, 1976
In the morning Śrīla Prabhupāda met with two of his Godbrothers, Govinda Mahārāja and one other, who came from the Caitanya Gaudiya Math to see him. Prabhupāda referred to Govinda Mahārāja as an old friend. After Tīrtha Mahārāja, who is now apparently crippled, he is second in command at the Caitanya Math. Prabhupāda gave him a copy of his translation and commentary on the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi-līlā Volume One. He also discussed his book production and distribution with Govinda Mahārāja. Their meeting was short but pleasant. It seems Prabhupāda will reciprocate with a visit to their maṭha.
* * *
With the evening came disturbing news that Jagadīśa prabhu, who is now back in America, has sent all the Dallas gurukula children and teachers home without consulting anyone. It so disturbed Prabhupāda that he immediately called all the sannyāsīs and GBCs into his room for discussion. Jagadīśa was here in Māyāpur just a short while ago, but he had not mentioned that he was contemplating such radical action.
Prabhupāda was incredulous. He said that the gurukula must be continued at all costs. He knew of the difficulties in conforming to government regulations and of the devotee’s attempts to find another place, but he never anticipated Jagadīśa’s drastic decision. He was extremely perturbed and feared that everything there would be finished. So after consulting with his GBC men and sannyāsīs, he ordered Dayānanda prabhu, who was formerly the headmaster there in Dallas, to return tomorrow. He gave him instructions to take charge and keep the school open.
Even when I reminded Śrīla Prabhupāda that Jagadīśa will be arriving here in a few days for the GBC meetings, he remained insistent that Dayānanda should leave at the earliest opportunity and do all he can to prevent the closing. After much discussion he finally sent everyone out.
I returned about 9:00 p.m. to find him sitting on the carpet in his bedroom, before his small Deity of Lord Caitanya, deep in contemplation. He looked very strained.
Kneeling before him, I asked how we could avoid bad management. Should we simply pray to Kṛṣṇa to reveal the faults, or what?
With resignation in his voice, Prabhupāda replied. “We cannot hire outsiders. Everything must be done by our own men. Unless a man is Kṛṣṇa conscious, he cannot manage nicely. A bad man cannot do good management. The only way we can be sure of our leaders is if they follow the instructions of the spiritual master.”
* * *
On a happier note, Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami arrived very late in the evening with Prabhupāda’s new Mercedes limousine, which he had driven from Germany. He was immediately appointed Śrīla Prabhupāda’s new secretary. Before packing his own bags Dayānanda gave him a quick briefing.
Siddha Svarūpānanda Goswami also arrived. He went to the banana plantation we have near the Jalāṅgī river to stay with Sudāmā Vipra Mahārāja.
March 4th, 1976
Dayānanda prabhu left at daybreak, bound for Dallas. He was armed with two letters from Śrīla Prabhupāda: one addressed to the parents of the students asking them to return their children to the school, with an additional request that they be prompt in paying tuition fees; and one to the devotees involved with the running of the school, asking them to cooperate with Dayānanda to keep it open.
* * *
Instead of walking on the roof, Prabhupāda went for a twenty-minute ride in his new, maroon Mercedes sedan. Gargamuni’s van rode in front, playing kīrtana over the loudspeakers. As we drove through the surrounding villages the inhabitants stood wide-eyed looking at the procession.
The car is classy and comfortable, and Prabhupāda is very pleased to have it because previously devotees have had to beg various Life Members for the use of their cars whenever he arrived at their temples. Prabhupāda felt that this created a bad image for the Society.
There is a complication to keeping it in India though, because import tariffs are two to three times the value of the car. Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja has obtained a six-month carnet, after which the car must be taken out of the country. He hopes to make an arrangement to send it to Nepal, renew the carnet, and then bring it back in.
Once back inside the temple compound’s front gate, Prabhupāda got out of the car and decided to walk down towards the prasādam hall. At the end of the line of the boundary wall, opposite the southern gate, he stopped to inspect the circular-shaped toilet block. It is meant to provide basic amenities for the families occupying the rooms on the front wall.
He was repulsed by what he saw. Human faeces lay strewn on the outer pathway. Poking several of the doors open with his cane, he saw that each and every toilet was completely blocked with stool and overflowing. Śrīla Prabhupāda was shocked. He could not believe it possible that the maintenance of the block was so neglected. He demanded to know who was responsible.
One devotee explained that the newer Bengali devotees are simple village people, unaccustomed to using flush toilets. He said the Western devotees never used this block.
Prabhupāda rejected the excuse. He was disgusted. “I could understand if they [the villagers] do not react to this, because they are used to passing stool in the fields. But you Westerners, you are not trained in such a way. How our Western men can allow this situation without doing anything about it?”
He called the managers and told them to immediately have the toilets fixed and cleaned.
After entering the temple, greeting the Deities, and receiving guru-pūjā, he gave Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam class. The verse expressed Prahlāda Mahārāja’s feelings of humility as he described himself as born in a family infected with the hellish qualities of passion and ignorance. It was a wonder to Prahlāda that Lord Nṛsiàha had touched him personally on his head, even though such a favor had never been extended to great personalities like Lord Brahmā, Lord Śiva and even Lakṣmī, the Lord’s eternal consort.
The toilet incident was obviously still on Prabhupāda’s mind. He often draws upon real-life incidents and presents them in a more-refined philosophical way in class. But today, without any delay, he directly complained about what he had seen. He spelled out the serious implications very clearly. Prabhupāda took full advantage of the description in this verse to express his disapproval of our inaction in the face of a gross display of ignorance.
“This is the position. Prahlāda Mahārāja, humbly submitting, because he is Vaiṣṇava, that ‘What is my position? My position is that I am born of rajas-tamo-guṇa.’ This birth takes place according to quality we acquire. Just like I was rebuking that toilet. This is so nasty, tamo-guṇa, and if I have no response to such tamo-guṇa place, that means I am also of that quality.
“Just like between fire and fire, there is no reaction; but fire and water there is reaction. Similarly, sattva-guṇa and sattva-guṇa, there is no reaction. Tamo-guṇa/tamo-guṇa, there is no reaction. In English it is called incompatible, when different qualities [mix]. Acid and acid, you mix; there is no reaction. But acid and alkaline, if you mix, there will be effervescence immediately.
“So if one is developing tamo-guṇa, then, if he becomes a pig next life there is no reaction. He’ll be very glad that ‘I am pig,’ ‘I am dog.’ There is no reaction. But if one is sattva-guṇa, then he cannot tolerate. Immediately obnoxious: ‘Oh, such a nasty condition.’
“So I am very sorry there was no reaction in such a nasty toilet room. And you are getting sacred thread, the quality of brāhmaṇa, sattva-guṇa. It is very regrettable. Nobody reacted. This is the position, that unless we curb down these raja-guṇa, tamo-guṇa, there is no improvement. If a person in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is found to have no reaction in raja-guṇa, tamo-guṇa, then he’s a dull stone. It is not improving. It is simply show bottle. So show bottle will not help.
“This prescription is there. If one develops Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then it is to be understood that he has surpassed sattva-guṇa, the brahminical qualification. Why we offer sacred thread to a person who is coming from very, very low family? Because it is to be understood by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, by following the regulative principle, he has already come to the platform of sattva-guṇa. But if it is a false thing, there is no need of second initiation.
“Our process is ‘Don’t do this. Do this: Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, sixteen rounds; and don’t do this—no illicit sex, no meat-eating.’ That means he’s becoming purified from the rotten condition of rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa. But if he does not, then there should be no second initiation. This should be the rule.”
Prabhupāda’s criticism had its effect. By mid-morning the whole block was thoroughly cleansed and disinfected. The managers vowed to keep it that way.
* * *
The work on the new building is going on enthusiastically even though it is clear it will not be habitable for the festival. The several-hundred hired workers usually arrive around 7:00 a.m. Within a half hour everything is in full swing. Sometimes a great clamor and loud shouts can be heard from them as they respond to the urging of devotee supervisors to work faster and harder. Even though they are being pushed, they are in good spirits, full of smiles. They often chant “Hare Kṛṣṇa” and “Jaya” due to their association with our devotees.
Some of our Western men are also helping with the construction. They balance mortar, bricks, and mud in the wok-shaped karai on their heads, much to the delight of the laborers. The new cement mixer is a boon, but its loud clatter has been creating a distracting background racket during Prabhupāda’s morning Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam discourse. So now it is shut down while he speaks.
* * *
During his massage, which he took downstairs on his veranda, Prabhupāda glanced across the fields toward the gośālā. “So our Siddha Svarūpa and Sudāmā Vipra like to stay at the banana plantation?” he asked.
I took his enquiry as a prompt to ask some questions of my own. I wanted to hear Prabhupāda’s response to some specific points of contention between Siddha Svarūpa’s followers and our ISKCON devotees. “Śrīla Prabhupāda, when Siddha Svarūpa first surrendered... ”
Prabhupāda cut me off. “He never surrendered!” Then he chuckled. Seeing my surprised look, he explained that they had come and made some offering of men and assets. Therefore he was trying to engage them in devotional service.
I asked whether our devotees should read Siddha Svarūpa’s books, because ISKCON devotees have been told that they are not bona fide.
Prabhupāda laughed and replied good humoredly. “We don’t take notice of what they say. We just take their money!”
Although between his disciples there seem to be major differences preventing cooperative action, Prabhupāda smilingly gave his own perspective on the two camps. “Of course I have affection for them. I don’t send them away, and they are coming to see me. Just like there may be so many animals; some are a little fiercer than others.” He also pointed out that they are coming to us, not us to them. Prabhupāda always refers to ISKCON as “us.” He said that there are differences, just as there are between him and his own Godbrothers, but that we share a common platform of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa and taking prasādam.
I mentioned that in New Zealand our men discouraged Siddha Svarūpa’s people from visiting the temple. But Prabhupāda said, “Why? They can come. Our centers are only for this purpose—to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and take prasādam. Gradually they will come to sense.”
* * *
Śrīla Prabhupāda sent Śatadhanya with a message to his Godbrother, Śrīdhara Swami, inviting him to come to see him here in Māyāpur. He offered to send his car.
* * *
During the evening, as the temple room reverberated with a thunderous sundara-ārati kīrtana, Acyutānanda Swami, Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami and I had a debate on the balcony about whether everything in the material creation is actually spirit or not.
Acyutānanda Swami, a witty, brilliant speaker, argued that everything is not spirit, at least not in the sense that spiritual means everything is conscious. Thinking that everything made of matter is conscious, he said, could lead to madness. You might walk around on tiptoes not wishing to hurt the floor, or you might hesitate to close the door, not wishing to hurt the door. In this way, Mahārāja spoke quite convincingly that matter is not spirit.
Later I went in to see Śrīla Prabhupāda to get a proper understanding. When I put the question to him, he immediately cited Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.5.20. He had me read it aloud: “The Supreme Personality of Godhead is Himself this cosmos, and still He is aloof from it. From Him only has this cosmic manifestation emanated, in Him it rests, and unto Him it enters after annihilation. Your good self knows all about this. I have given only a synopsis.”
He then explained that everything is spirit, and thus everything is conscious. The material energy is conscious, but undeveloped. It can develop consciousness by Kṛṣṇa’s will. Prasādam is matter but changes into spirit, and it is therefore conscious.
He gave me an example he used a few days ago, how the body produces skin and nails: one is sensitive and the other insensitive. Cut one and you feel pain, cut the other and you feel nothing. Yet the body as a whole is conscious.
The entire universe is Lord Kṛṣṇa’s body and thus is conscious. Jīvas, the individual souls, are very minute consciousness, but there is also “mass consciousness.” If you touch a stone it is conscious, yet unconscious, or undeveloped. The term “matter” simply indicates the state of one of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s eternal spiritual potencies.
I left his room happy in mind and gratified in heart. This is one of the advantages of being with him personally—all doubts can be immediately resolved. As disciples, we may read Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books yet still end up speculating. But a few direct words from His Divine Grace and everything becomes clear. He always refers to a scriptural verse when asked a question and has the purport read out. It invariably explains the point perfectly. Śrīla Prabhupāda is intimately familiar with everything in each of his books, and his deep realizations enable him to answer every question to one’s complete satisfaction.
March 5th, 1976
Prabhupāda is a reservoir of information on all topics. He has quotes and meaningful comments to make on all varieties of topics, and with just a few words he can enlighten his eager listeners on any subject. He has a clear vision of what constitutes the best qualities and attributes required by man for peaceful and successful human life. His observations on culture and education are especially penetrating. He likes to quote the great sage Cāṇakya, whose writings offer penetrating observations on the psychology of human living.
During his walk he told us how, according to Cāṇakya, true beauty can be understood. “Man with education is compared with the kokila. The bird, kokila, is very black, but his sound, sweet, so sweet, everyone likes. Kokilanam svaro rūpām vidyā rūpām kurūpānam, nari rūpām pati-vrataḥ. A woman’s beauty is how she is chaste and devoted to the husband. That is beauty, not personal beauty. Education is the beauty for the brain. And those who are saintly person, they should be simply forgiving. That is their beauty.”
Though simple points, when understood in the greater context of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mission, each small aspect fits like a clear note into the harmonic melody of Kṛṣṇa conscious life. And Prabhupāda is the expert conductor, in knowledge of all the available elements, masterfully blending them together to produce a beautiful symphony on a universal scale. Every moment with him is an opportunity to learn and to advance another step toward Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the ultimate goal of life.
* * *
In class Prabhupāda described the relationship of the living being with Kṛṣṇa as “responsive cooperation.” People sometimes ask, if God does not discriminate, then why are there rich and poor people in the world? The answer is that because of this responsive cooperation, however much we surrender to Kṛṣṇa, that much He returns to us.
He explained how there are many men, who after making lakhs and crores of rupees, retire to Vṛndāvana. They leave all their money to their wives and families, requesting them to send two hundred rupees a month “for serving God.” But this is not a good policy, he said. If we give two hundred to God, then Kṛṣṇa will give us two hundred in return. He does not discriminate. Rather we discriminate, and Kṛṣṇa reciprocates.
He offered himself as an example: “Just see practically. Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement was started with forty rupees. Now that forty rupees added with Kṛṣṇa, it has become forty crores. You see practically. When I started for your country, I came to Māyāpur. I offered my obeisances to my spiritual master. Then I went. At that time I had no money even to purchase the ticket. And after that, I have come with forty crores. This is the secret. Ye yathā māà prapadyante. If you fully surrender to Kṛṣṇa, then Kṛṣṇa is there.”
* * *
Bhavānanda Goswami returned today from the boat program, enthusiastic and full of wonderful stories about the response they have been receiving. Prabhupāda relished hearing about the daily programs in the villages and big receptions they got wherever they went.
Bhavānanda described how they simply dock the boat, perform kīrtana, and then walk in procession with Śrī Śrī Gaura-Nitāi. The villagers become very eager to have the party visit their homes. The devotees make it a point to sell everyone a Gītār-gāna, which they daily distribute by the hundreds.
Prabhupāda was excited at the news of the book sales. He made it clear this was the success of the party. He praised Bhavānanda that he had begun book distribution in India. He now wants 100,000 Gītār-gānas printed immediately.
* * *
Atreya Ṛṣi dāsa, the GBC for the Middle East, arrived from Iran. He came up to see Prabhupāda just as he began his lunch. Rather than ask him to come back later, Prabhupāda had me set a plate for Atreya by his side. He personally filled Atreya Ṛṣi’s plate with prasādam from his own plate, as he heard about his efforts to preach in Iran. He was very happy with Atreya and promised him all the men he needs to get things going in the Middle East.
* * *
In the evening, on the big lawn adjacent to the guest house, dozens of local villagers came and put on a whirling, exuberant display of flame throwing and stick fighting, especially for Prabhupāda’s pleasure. While some danced around in a huge circle, twirling their hard bamboo lāṭhis over their heads, behind their backs, and between their legs, others put on mock fights, clashing and banging their sticks together. Still others blew huge clouds of flames high into the air and lit up the night sky. Prabhupāda came out onto the balcony and watched it all for fifteen minutes, enjoying it very much.
Afterward all the villagers were fed sumptuous prasādam.
March 6th, 1976
About 6:30 a.m. Prabhupāda went with his senior sannyāsīs to the Caitanya Gaudiya Math to visit Govinda Mahārāja. He was received cordially in the darśana-maṇḍap, or viewing area, at the samādhi, or tomb, of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. After offering his obeisances to his Guru Mahārāja, he sat on the spacious marble floor as many members of the āśrama gathered around. As Govinda Mahārāja and Prabhupāda talked, delicious gulabjamuns were passed around to the visitors.
After about twenty-five minutes, Prabhupāda returned to Māyāpur Candrodaya Mandir. He was in time to greet the Deities and give his lecture on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.9.28.
In the lecture he stressed the need to hear about Kṛṣṇa consciousness from the guru, who must be a pure devotee, rather than try to approach Kṛṣṇa directly. Even Prahlāda Mahārāja, though a śaktyāveśa-avātara, an especially empowered representative of the Lord, felt his first duty was to serve his spiritual master. Prabhupāda said we should therefore be very careful not to mix with the sahajiyās, the professional men, or Vaiṣṇavas who are not well-behaved.
* * *
Large numbers of devotees are flowing in for the festival now. The rest of the GBC members arrived in one party at 9:30 this morning. They were Tamal Krishna Goswami, Madhudviṣa Mahārāja, Satsvarūpa Mahārāja, and Jayatīrtha, Rūpānuga, Jagadīśa, and Bhagavān prabhus. Only Kīrtanānanda and Brahmānanda Swami’s are missing. Prabhupāda called them all in to his room and immediately raised the sannyāsī/gṛhastha controversy. He preached to them that we must become attached to Kṛṣṇa’s family, not the material, bodily-based concept—the “stool family” or “pig family,” as he put it. Sannyāsa means to reject such conceptions. He said that this is wanted. Household life is a concession only. However, since our Kṛṣṇa conscious Society is based on this principle of renunciation, all Kṛṣṇa conscious persons are actually sannyāsīs; the outer dress doesn’t matter. Still, he said, if our householders can rise to the level of formal sannyāsa that should be encouraged.
His delivery was a perfect synthesis of the two views.
Śrīla Prabhupāda having set the tone, the GBCs began their annual meetings in the afternoon.
March 7th, 1976
With all the GBC here and so many sannyāsīs, it is getting too crowded on the roof for Prabhupāda’s walk. So he came down and exercised around the grounds this morning.
As he descended the staircase I walked immediately in front of him, keeping always just two or three steps ahead, with my eye on his feet. It’s a precautionary habit I have developed since we have been here in Māyāpur. Similarly, whenever he goes up, I follow immediately behind him. This way, should he trip or slip, I can prevent him from tumbling down.
Prabhupāda went out to inspect the front wall on which Pāṇḍu dāsa is now painting pictures of his books. Jayapatāka Mahārāja told Prabhupāda each panel will take about five days to complete, but Prabhupāda said he isn’t concerned how long it takes, as long as it is done nicely.
* * *
Now there are several hundred devotees attending the morning program, and a real, festive air pervades our whole compound. As many sannyāsīs and GBCs as possible crowd into the fenced-off area around Prabhupāda’s vyāsāsana, and the kīrtanas are increasingly ecstatic. Although everyone is here to celebrate Lord Caitanya’s birthday, Śrīla Prabhupāda is the main attraction at the festival.
In class, he revealed a little more of the devotional psychology of Prahlāda Mahārāja. Prior to Lord Nṛsiàha’s appearance, Prahlāda always referred to Hiraṇyakaśipu as “the best of the demons.” He would never call him “father.” Prabhupāda explained that after Hiraṇyakaśipu was killed personally by the Lord, he was therefore liberated, and thus Prahlāda’s mood changed. He therefore began to refer to him as “my father.”
Devotees listen intently to his lectures and afterward dance and chant with tremendous energy and enthusiasm as Prabhupāda circumambulates the Deity room, vigorously ringing the bells that hang at each side of the temple room.
* * *
Prabhupāda surprised me when I entered his room at about 11 a.m. this morning to prepare for his massage. For almost half an hour he preached to me, explaining that he wants all his disciples to become gurus. Each of us is to make thousands of disciples just as he has and in this way spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world.
He didn’t seem to be speaking in general terms either, but directly to me. He seemed very enlivened at the prospect of spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness in this way.
In the evening, when the GBC men filed into his room to make their report about their day’s meeting, he brought up the same topic, before discussing their resolutions. He asked me to explain to everyone what he had said earlier. But when I hesitated, he did it himself, repeating in brief this principle of becoming guru.
He told them that just as he had made thousands of disciples he wants each one of them to make ten thousand each. He encouraged them to become increasingly more qualified and rise to the position of being spiritual masters. He stressed that this can be done only if they maintain spiritual strength by strictly following the four regulative principles and chanting the prescribed number of rounds.
It is all dependant on enthusiasm, he told us. At seventy years he had left Vṛndāvana with no money or men, nor any facility. He had done everything simply on this principle of enthusiasm. Without directly saying it, Śrīla Prabhupāda made it clear that all internal arguments and disputes can be resolved by turning our attention to the higher ideal of preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness to the world.
He then heard the report of the day’s meeting. He had previously instructed them to officially elect a Chairman and Secretary to conduct their meetings and that these posts are to be retained for one year. Tamal Krishna Goswami was chosen as the first GBC chairman and Satsvarūpa Mahārāja as the secretary.
Their day’s discussion focused on redefining ISKCON zones. India now has two, Europe two, America and Canada six, and South America two. In addition, there is North and South Africa, the South Seas, the Middle East, eastern Asia, and the Rādhā Dāmodara TSKP.
The GBC agreed to rotate some members. Hansadūta and Gopāla Kṛṣṇa prabhus will oversee India; Madhudviṣa Swami was confirmed as GBC for the East Coast of America; Jayatīrtha prabhu will shift from Los Angeles to Germany and England; Bhagavān prabhu will remain in France and the Mediterranean; and Brahmānanda Swami will remain in Africa. Rūpānuga prabhu replaces Madhudviṣa in the South Seas; Gurukṛpa Swami will go to the Northwest Coast of America and to Japan; Jagadīśa prabhu, Midwest America and Canada; while Satsvarūpa and Kīrtanānanda Swamis will retain the same zones. Hridayānanda Mahārāja is joined in South America by newly elected Paṣcadraviḍa Swami as provisional GBC; and another new member, Balavanta dāsa, got the American Southeast. Atreya Ṛṣi is the GBC for the Middle East. Rāmeśvara prabhu, who has not yet arrived, will become GBC for southern California. This was Śrīla Prabhupāda’s personal request that Rāmeśvara be added to the body.
New BBT Trustees were nominated, and various other business matters were completed.
* * *
A letter came today from Harikeśa Swami. It was a long, detailed, and ecstatic report of his recent and unexpected preaching trip in Hungary. He explained that when passing through London, he had met Alanātha dāsa, who was just preparing to go to Hungary in response to an invitation from a yoga school. Alanātha invited Harikeśa along, and he gladly accepted.
Taking books, pamphlets, posters, and instruments, the two of them met with great success. Although they were highly restricted in what they could say, the Hungarians’ reception to kīrtana and prasādam was extraordinary.
“I simply engaged them in kirtana and made them all kinds of nice prasadam which they went wild over,” he wrote. “The Hungarians like to eat a lot and they are so poor and have not much selection of foods, that they never had anything so nice. Milk and grains and milk products are very cheap and this is the basis of our prasadam, so I made very much and very opulently halava and puris and a drink made from whey and sometimes Simply Wonderfuls [a milk sweet], and they loved it. They could not believe how anything could taste so good. From the point of view of prasadam they became completely convinced.
“And what to speak of kirtana. After a short while as they learned how to chant the mantra and play karatalas, we started having kirtanas which to me seemed as good as any kirtana in any temple in the movement. They chanted and danced like real mad men and they would go on as long as I could; every night very raging hour kirtanas where at the end everyone collapsed on the floor in ecstasy and then we gave them prasadam while I chanted bhajanas, which they fell over each other to record... .
“It even occurred in public that although I had to always cover up the philosophy out of fear of being stopped and thrown out of the country, these people became so enlightened due to the ecstatic kirtana that they actually forced me to speak about Kṛṣṇa although they didn’t have any idea what was the force behind the chanting. I started speaking about the soul very reluctantly and I was refusing to do it, but all of a sudden out of my control, a sanskrit verse nityam sasvato ‘yam puranah etc. came out of my mouth, and they all jumped on me as if half crazed, demanding to know what was that; and I had to surrender and pray to Krsna for protection, and I started to explain everything to them. The translator became so excited that her face lighted up like a Christmas tree and she became so excited that she could no longer speak properly. It seems that this is what they have been waiting for because their lives are so very empty. But they were all afraid for us at the end because what I had said was very revolutionary.”
Despite the restrictions for speaking, Dely Karoly, the yoga instructor who had organized the programs, will organize outdoor kīrtanas and wants the devotees to return as often as possible. Included in his letter were photos of men and women dancing with upraised arms and japa beads around their necks. There is such a demand that he hopes to return frequently and visit Bulgaria, Romania, and East Germany in the summer.
He asked if he should make a recording of the chanting because, he predicted, along with prasādam, it would sweep the country. Harikeśa described his experience as the “most wonderful of my whole life.” He also asked if he should continue on to join the Rādhā Dāmodara party in America or remain to preach in Europe.
Śrīla Prabhupāda was delighted with his report. He told me, “This is needed—to travel and preach and make new devotees.”
After so many months of getting trained by Śrīla Prabhupāda how to defeat Marxist philosophy, it seems Kṛṣṇa has now given Harikeśa the opportunity to use it.
Prabhupāda replied, encouraging him to take the newly found opportunity to preach to the Communists. He approved his plans for mass kīrtana and prasādam distribution but advised him to preach very tactfully in such places. He said that printing our books can wait. “First let their hearts be cleansed by chanting Hare Krsna and taking Krsna prasadam. To take birth in such place is due to impious past, so it is not easy for them to immediately accept our philosophy.”
He ended by advising him to work with Kīrtirāja prabhu to introduce the saṅkīrtana movement to Eastern Europe.
* * *
During the evening massage, I related to Prabhupāda a story my mother had told me when I was fourteen. When I was still in the womb, an elderly relative had advised her to have an abortion. She had even given her some knitting needles with which to do it. My mother refused, burying the needles in the back yard. Another relative, however, had actually accepted a similar proposal, and they had buried the child in their backyard.
Śrīla Prabhupāda was shocked. He shook his head in amazement. “Now I can understand the advantage of a birth in India. People here could not even dream of such a thing.” Then he added, “Kṛṣṇa saved you because He knew you were a devotee.” He lamented over the unfortunate position of women in the West, who he said are encouraged by their parents to behave like prostitutes in order to capture some rich man while still youthful. He pointed out the risks they are prepared to take to become murderesses simply out of sexual urge.
March 8th, 1976
In the early morning Prabhupāda called Tamal Krishna Goswami into his room. He told him that Madhudviṣa Swami should be made GBC Vice Chairman for the year and that Gargamuni Swami should be given GBC responsibility.
Tamal Krishna Mahārāja replied that the GBC had already considered Gargamuni, but they decided not to appoint him because he does not regularly chant his rounds. Some of Gargamuni’s men have left him, complaining that his devotional standard is not strict.
Śrīla Prabhupāda said that despite this he should become a GBC member, the reason being that Gargamuni has “creative energy” that should be used constructively. Otherwise he may become frustrated and misapply it.
Prabhupāda also told Tamal Krishna that he should become a BBT trustee because of the tremendous work his party is doing in book distribution. He suggested that Gopāla Kṛṣṇa be tried out for one year here in India, not as a full trustee but as a BBT manager, to see how he does. The BBT Trustees will then be: Śrīla Prabhupāda as the head, Rāmeśvara, Bhagavān, Hansadūta, Hridayānanda, and Tamal Krishna, all for Europe and America; and for India, Gopāla Kṛṣṇa, Girirāja, and Jaśomatīnandana prabhus.
* * *
As the sun arose, Śrīla Prabhupāda toured the temple grounds. He took the opportunity to ask Siddha Svarūpānanda Goswami and some our ISKCON authorities about their dispute. He wanted to hear all points of contention in order to try to settle the long-simmering quarrel.
Madhudviṣa Swami spoke up first. His South Seas zone was the most seriously affected when Siddha Svarūpa and his followers left ISKCON. One temple had to be closed and several others were severely depleted in manpower. Siddha’s group is most active in New Zealand and Australia, sometimes causing friction with anti-ISKCON propaganda.
Madhudviṣa Swami itemized several points of contention, especially the tendency of Siddha Svarūpa’s followers to focus their allegiance on him rather than on Prabhupāda. He also complained that they prefer to distribute books written by Siddha Svarūpa rather than Śrīla Prabhupāda’s.
Siddha Svarūpa vigorously denied the allegations.
Prabhupāda himself said he didn’t think Siddha’s having a following was a serious thing. On the whole, he seemed to minimize the complaints against Siddha Svarūpa. He hoped to heal their rift, and told them in a good humoredly fashion, “Whatever is done is done. Now let us make some adjustment and work combinedly. That is my proposal.”
Siddha Svarūpa, however, didn’t think he could comply with this request. “Śrīla Prabhupāda, the problem is that to work combinedly, they think that that means that I surrender to them and I do everything as they say; otherwise I am not surrendering. So as far as I am concerned, I cannot work with them... .”
The discussion became a little acrimonious as Siddha Svarūpānanda became increasingly defensive. He eventually revealed his underlying mentality by adamantly proclaiming that he would never accept control by anyone, especially not the GBC.
Prabhupāda offered to make him a GBC member, but he refused even to consider this alternative. This seemed to be the real crux of the issue—he doesn’t want to work with his Godbrothers on any level.
Another of Madhudviṣa Mahārāja’s complaints was that those who have left ISKCON to join Siddha Svarūpa now lack the discipline they had formerly.
This seemed to strike a chord with Śrīla Prabhupāda. He clearly explained that unless there is discipline, there is no question of “disciple.”
Siddha Svarūpa didn’t have any disagreement with that but said he considered that the person being disciplined must voluntarily put himself under someone’s discipline.
Śrīla Prabhupāda agreed with his point. “Accepting a spiritual master means voluntarily accepting somebody to rule him. There is no question... I have no power to rule over you unless you voluntarily surrender.”
When Gurukṛpa Swami mentioned that vaidhi-bhakti means sometimes doing things that one does not like to do, Prabhupāda also agreed. To illustrate the point he told a story of a famous lawyer during the days of British rule, C. R. Das, who was earning a huge amount of money. He was also a supporter of the Congress party, but in a meeting it was decided that party members should not cooperate with the British court system. C. R. Das fought the proposal, offering to use his earnings to promote the party, but the resolution was passed. This meant he lost everything, but because the majority decided, he had to do it.
Prabhupāda said that of course we are not interested in democracy; we follow the instructions of the spiritual master. But the point is that we have to work in a cooperative and systematic way to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world so that people may be highly benefitted. He said that whatever misunderstandings are there should be adjusted, and we should work wholeheartedly together to relieve the suffering of the people.
Ultimately, in Prabhupāda’s summation, he said there seemed to be a disagreement not in philosophy but in the matter of process. “You are thinking this way, he is thinking that way. That is the difference. Otherwise he is also eager to push on Kṛṣṇa consciousness; you are also.”
Tamal Krishna Mahārāja suggested the problem was that both parties believe Prabhupāda was thinking their way.
So Prabhupāda brought the discussion to an end by declaring that he will give his personal verdict and they should all accept that. “Not your way, not his way. Let me understand what is the way you are trying to follow, what is the way he is trying to follow. Now I shall give my verdict, that ‘This is the right way.’” Turning to Siddha Svarūpa he asked him, “Are you agreeable to this?”
“Then thank you, no more talk now. We shall talk later.”
* * *
About midday, as Prabhupāda took his massage on the roof, Siddha Svarūpānanda Mahārāja came to see him with a nice poem he had written. He was upset and crying as he read it out by way of apology for his defensive manner during the earlier conversation.
After talking sympathetically with him for a few minutes, Prabhupāda had me find Madhudviṣa Swami. As the two sat before him, they discussed the dispute, now in a much more relaxed mood.
Prabhupāda urged them to settle their differences. He gave them indications of what he did and did not approve.
Siddha Svarūpa and his followers are not inclined to worship Deities in a large temple setting, yet some of them have recently asked for brahminical initiation in order to worship Deities in their own homes.
Prabhupāda told Siddha Svarūpa that Deity worship is not to be introduced in private homes until his men have been trained up to the proper standard found in ISKCON temples. However, he gave full endorsement for their kīrtana and prasādam-distribution programs.
Siddha Svarūpa has also been criticized for not strictly adhering to the fundamental practices like attending maṅgala-ārati, worshiping the Deity, and wearing the attire of a sannyāsī, so Prabhupāda requested him to travel with him for a while so as to become more fixed up in the regulations of sannyāsa life. However, Siddha Svarūpa was not keen on this idea and declined Prabhupāda’s offer. He said that he preferred to preach on his own, “As I know how.”
Prabhupāda didn’t push the point, and he said that as long as the Bhagavad-gītā is distributed there is no fault. But he did ask him to shave his head.
When matters appeared settled, Prabhupāda asked each of them how old he was. Madhudviṣa Swami was the elder by one year. Turning to Siddha Svarūpa, Prabhupāda said, “So Madhudviṣa Mahārāja is senior to you both in age and in sannyāsa. So you work cooperatively together and take good instruction from him.”
Outside Śrīla Prabhupāda’s room they offered their obeisances to each other and embraced. So to some extent, relations were improved by the medication of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s touch and he seems to be healing the rift.
After they had gone, I questioned Śrīla Prabhupāda again on the criticism that Siddha Svarūpa’s men are more attached to him than to Prabhupāda.
Prabhupāda shrugged it off, saying it is all right, it is not harmful. He said that each of us has to become a guru and accept many disciples. But as a matter of etiquette, one should wait until his own spiritual master has departed before doing so.
After lunch, I questioned him further. He told me that having a following is not such a serious offense. But if someone thinks that he is qualified, and accepts disciples in the presence of his own spiritual master, that in itself would be his disqualification.
Replying to my question whether one has to be a pure devotee to make disciples, he said that one has to be strictly following the principles. That is the requirement. Then he can be considered to be on a pure platform.
* * *
Not much mail is coming in now, since most leaders are here for the festival. But today Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami read out a pleasing letter from Robert Veiga, a science student in Dallas. He is studying physics and math, but he comes regularly to the temple and chants sixteen rounds. Robert began by glorifying Śrīla Prabhupāda.
“You are the only person that I have approached that claims (with logical argument) to be relaying the undaunted truth. Every scientist that I have ever approached for truth reprimanded me quickly by stating that absolutes are not part of the ‘real world,’ and therefore only relative truths can exist. Although some scientists are Deists, they do not have a place for God in everyday activities. I therefore submit to you as my authority.”
His idea is to attempt to prove to the scientists, using their own weapons of “mathematical trickery, logic, deductive and inductive instruments,” that they are wrong in their conclusions. He wrote that once this is done, “the knowledge in the Srimad-Bhagavatam can be presented and verified to the best extent possible.”
However, he has received conflicting advice from the devotees on whether he should continue with his studies and what his service should be. Therefore he requested Śrīla Prabhupāda’s guidance.
Śrīla Prabhupāda was very glad to receive such a letter; it was once again a confirmation that his books are having the effect he desires. Although, as he often says, he is “a layman” in the science field, his arguments are convincing many men of science of the fallibility of their theories and the superiority of the Vedic version.
In his reply he encouraged Robert to continue with his studies. “There is a Bengali proverb: tor shil tor noda, tor bhangi dater goda. ‘I take your mortar and pestle and I break your teeth.’ This means we use the scientists’ own weapons and with them we defeat their atheistic philosophy.
“There is another example. A hatchet is sitting before a tree. The tree asks, ‘What are you doing here?’ The hatchet replies, ‘I have come here to cut you down.’ The tree then said, ‘You cannot cut me down alone, but with the help of my descendants you can do it.’
The idea is that the ax-handle is made of wood, and so without the assistance of the wooden tree, the hatchet is useless. Similarly, we can use our materialistic knowledge to defeat the atheistic philosophy of the scientists.
“So you can continue your studies and learn what is shil and noda (mortar and pestle) so you can break their dater goda (break their teeth).”
* * *
Sharma dāsa came over from his hideaway at the gośālā at 4:00 p.m. to see Śrīla Prabhupāda with a request to leave Māyāpur. He wanted to go to chant at Rādhā Kuṇḍa. With so many devotees here now for the festival, he complained that he is again being disturbed in his chanting.
Prabhupāda told him that this indicated that his mind was restless. Previously he had asked to live in a tree, and now Rādhā Kuṇḍa. “You are not fit for nirjana-bhajana,” Śrīla Prabhupāda told him. “This is for mahā-bhāgavatas like Haridāsa Ṭhākura, who are completely undisturbed. Ṭhākura Haridāsa lived in a cave with a large snake but was not perturbed.” He added that if one’s mind is even a little disturbed, nirjana-bhajana will not be possible.
After this meeting, Sharma prabhu later told Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami that he had decided to return to Africa and preach. Prabhupāda was pleased to hear this.
* * *
In the evening Prabhupāda told Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja and myself that he likes the idea of having one servant, along with a sannyāsī as his secretary. Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja is very competent, and apart from the regular secretarial duties, is also transcribing Śrīla Prabhupāda’s translations and commentaries. Prabhupāda said that I should become trained up in cooking. Then if we three travel, it will be convenient and inexpensive.
* * *
There are 150 western devotees here now.
Hearing that some Australian devotees have been purchasing fruit from the market, and also remembering Prabhupāda’s previous comment that no one should eat anything without first offering it to the Deities, I asked him if they should stop.
Prabhupāda wasn’t disturbed. He replied, “Fruit may be offered within the mind.”
* * *
Today I presented Śrīla Prabhupāda with some new neck beads, strung and cleaned up by Rasājṣā dāsa, a young Australian devotee working with the Nāma Haṭṭa party in Japan. The tiny beads on his existing strand were beginning to split off. So he accepted the new set and, to my great delight, gave me the old ones, some of which I presented to Rasājṣā prabhu.
March 9th, 1976
During the walk Śrīla Prabhupāda again criticized some of his Godbrothers for making false claims. He said that in sixty years they have not been able to attract any foreign students, nor have they published any books. Still they are envious and proudly claim to have all the blessings of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta.
As we walked, the discussion turned to how to combat the flooding of the Ganges in our future city here in Māyāpur. He told us to make a system of canals to drain the land. He also suggested that we could use the need for flood avoidance as a reason to get our land acquisition application through on an emergency basis.
Prabhupāda urged us to use our abilities as Europeans and Americans to make our plans. He joked that even though he is an Indian, “I have no Indian plans. My plans are all American.” He told us that generally when Indians think of emigrating, they head for London. But, in the days when he was planning to go the West, he only thought about going to America. He was even dreaming sometimes that he had come to New York.
Now the movement has a good reputation with the Indian government, although having so many American followers can also be a problem. Prabhupāda said that Indira Gandhi has such high regard for him that she received him even in the midst of the National Emergency. She had expressed great appreciation and faith in him for what he has done, but she admitted she is afraid of the Americans.
Toward the end of the walk, Madhudviṣa brought up a question about the role of sannyāsī, brahmacārī, and gṛhastha in ISKCON. “In one of your purports you say that a sannyāsī should never discourage a young man from getting married. But on the other hand, we have understood that a sannyāsī should encourage young men to remain brahmacārī. So it seems to me like there’s some kind of a... ”
Prabhupāda replied, “According to time, circumstances. Just like Kṛṣṇa says, niyataà kuru karma tvam: ‘Always be engaged in your prescribed work.’ And, at last, He says sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaà śaraṇaà vraja. Now we have to adjust. That is not contradiction. That is suitable to the time and circumstance. Karma-kāṇḍa is also recommended in the Vedas. There are three divisions: karma-kāṇḍa, jṣāna-kāṇḍa and upāsana-kāṇḍa... . You have to become the eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa. Either you go throughkarma or jṣāna or yoga, it doesn’t matter. The ultimate aim is how to reach Kṛṣṇa. That is wanted.”
* * *
The GBCs came to see Prabhupāda at the end of their meeting. Again they gathered in his room, and one by one the results of their day’s deliberations were read out.
They have been debating the sannyāsī/gṛhastha issue and wanted Śrīla Prabhupāda’s confirmation on some new guidelines on how those in the gṛhastha āśrama should be handled. They have made a series of strictures aimed at preventing householders, including Temple Presidents, from being financially dependant on the Society. Their idea is that the Society should not become overburdened and thus have its resources diverted from the preaching effort. The proposals are very restrictive, and not even all the GBC sannyāsīs are in agreement as to how far they should go in implementing them.
Tamal Krishna Mahārāja, with one or two other sannyāsīs, is the main driving force behind the new reforms. As the GBC Chairman, he spoke logically on each point as it came up for Śrīla Prabhupāda’s approval, philosophically establishing its necessity, strictly distinguishing the interests of the Society, and promoting it over that of individual concerns.
After hearing all their arguments and resolutions, Śrīla Prabhupāda accepted most of them. But he requested the removal of one designed to prevent single women with children from joining a temple. And he dismissed another which required a man to remain financially responsible for his wife and family for his whole life up to the point of taking sannyāsa. Prabhupāda emphasized that our principle is to give facility to help everyone become detached from sex life and to become Kṛṣṇa conscious.
He said that gṛhasthas must live physically apart from the temple if husband and wife wish to associate together, but after two or three children, he said, what is the need to continue living together? If they want to improve their Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he said, they may separate. The man can move to a different temple and dedicate himself to preaching, although he said that the vānaprastha āśrama may not be accepted before one is fifty years old. The women and children can be supported by the temples, and nurseries can be established. If a man wishes to separate from his family when his children are young, he must still send money for their support. Śrīla Prabhupāda said that we can give them facility to become detached, but they cannot be irresponsible. When the children reach eight years old, they may be sent to a gurukula in India, and ISKCON will take full responsibility for them.
On other business, the sannyāsa initiation issue was finalized. The GBC confirmed the new system, whereby nominations can be made only by GBC men who are sannyāsīs. The nominee must then work at least one year with that GBC member before being given his tridaṇḍa.
* * *
Sixty-five devotees arrived from the USA today.
March 10th, 1976
News of yesterday’s GBC resolutions has traveled fast. Among the householders there is considerable resistance and resentment. Most temple presidents are householders and, according to the new directives, they will all have to go out and establish outside sources of income while still continuing to run their temples. Many feel that certain sannyāsīs are questioning their sincerity in being fully dedicated devotees, as if being married is at odds with the spiritual principles.
Some of the GBC are already having doubts about whether their decisions were either practical or fair. Madhudviṣa Swami spoke for several others in voicing his concern during Prabhupāda’s walk.
In response, Śrīla Prabhupāda suggested the gṛhasthas form a small committee to have further discussions.
There was some discussion back and forth, and Tamal Krishna Mahārāja, as the champion of the GBC reforms, repeatedly reminded everyone that the resolutions were not meant to govern the way the gṛhasthas conduct their personal affairs. He agreed that a committee for that purpose was a good idea. But he said it is for the GBC only to decide what support the Society gives them.
Śrīla Prabhupāda stressed that the important thing is that we do not develop factions within our Society. Unity is possible only when harer nāma is there constantly.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja brought the discussion closer to the root of the differences between gṛhastha and sannyāsa. “What about the distinction between the enjoying spirit and the renouncing spirit? For example, between the brahmacārīs and the gṛhasthas... The brahmacārīs have this tendency; at least, this is the attitude—towards renunciation. And so far we can see, a brahmacārī who gives up his brahmacārī life means he’s more inclined towards the enjoying spirit, at least to some extent. So how do we deal with this situation?”
“If you want to enjoy,” Prabhupāda asked, “who can stop you?”
Tamal Krishna Mahārāja again made his point. “But we cannot support it. We cannot support his enjoyment. That he should take on his own self to do.”
Prabhupāda explained that according to different positions and attitudes, the four āśramas are existing. Therefore everyone is not on an equal platform. But the whole idea, he said, is how to give up the propensity of enjoyment. That is wanted.
On the other hand, Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami presented a criticism that the householders have of the renunciates. “Sometimes the brahmacārīs and sannyāsīs may have a very strong aversion towards association with women and/or householder life, things of this nature. And sometimes the gṛhasthaswill criticize the sannyāsīs and brahmacārīs that ‘This is fanaticism,’ or it’s, to the other end, ‘It’s just as bad as the enjoying spirit, because you’re meditating on the same thing, but only you’re averse to it.’”
It was like a seesaw, one party accusing the other. And the last thing Śrīla Prabhupāda wanted was the formation of different factions. He said that the whole world is full of different isms, one party against another. We should not bring that attitude into our Society. He said the accusations of one side against the other are all fanaticism. He gave the solution. “Real unity is in advancing Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In Kali-yuga, you cannot strictly follow; neither I can strictly follow. If I criticize you, if you criticize me, then we go far away from our real life of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
“You should always remember that either gṛhastha or brahmacārī or sannyāsī, nobody can strictly follow all the rules and regulations of them. In the Kali-yuga it is not possible. So if I find simply fault with you, and if you find fault with me, then it will be factional, and our real business will be hampered. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu has recommended that harer nāma, chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, should be very rigidly performed, which is common for everyone—gṛhastha, vānaprastha, or sannyāsī. They should always chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. Then everything will be adjusted. Otherwise it is impossible to advance. We shall be complicated with the details only.”
On the whole, throughout the discussions, Prabhupāda has naturally leant his support to the more renounced position. Yet he obviously wants everyone to have the chance to develop their Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
He said that we should neither neglect the regulations, nor pursue them so fanatically that we miss the point of actual spiritual advancement. He repeated the real formula for success. “If we advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, simple method, chanting twenty-four hours, kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ, then things will be automatically adjusted. You cannot find in Kali-yuga everything is being done very correctly, to the point. That is very difficult.”
He recalled with amusement his own experiences in establishing his movement in the early days in New York. “Just like our poet, Allen Ginsberg. He was always accusing me, ‘Swamijī, you are very conservative and strict.’
“Actually, I told him that ‘I am never strict, neither I am conservative. If I become conservative, then I cannot live here for a moment. So I’m not at all conservative.’” We all laughed as Śrīla Prabhupāda described what he had to tolerate. “I was cooking, and I saw in refrigerator of Yeargen, [a young man he was staying with] he kept some pieces of meat for his cat. So still, I kept my things in that refrigerator. What can be done? I had no place at that time.”
* * *
As if to help us keep a proper perspective on our tiny lives, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam verse described the position of the Lord in His form as Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, the creator of the material worlds. His existence is turīya, in the fourth dimension. Prabhupāda compared how He lies in slumber on the Causal Ocean with an expert swimmer who lies for hours with eyes closed on the surface of the water.
As Viṣṇu exhales, the material universes come out, and when He inhales, everything is again retracted into His body. All this happens within a few seconds by His measurement. Yet that interim period between His breathing out and breathing in is, for us, an incalculable number of billions of years.
Therefore, Prabhupāda told us that by studying Kṛṣṇa, one becomes liberated. “So these verses should be studied very carefully, understanding each word very carefully. Then you’ll understand Kṛṣṇa. Don’t be lazy in understanding Kṛṣṇa, because if you try to understand then you’ll not take Him as ordinary human being, as foolish persons are taking. Rascals, they think Kṛṣṇa as one of us. Then you’ll not be a mūḍha. You’ll be intelligent. Of course, we cannot know Kṛṣṇa perfectly. He’s so big and we are so small that it is impossible. But you can understand Kṛṣṇa as He explains Himself in the Bhagavad-gītā. That much will help you.
“You cannot understand Kṛṣṇa,” he repeated. “It is not possible. Kṛṣṇa cannot understand Himself. Therefore He came as Caitanya, to understand Himself. Caitanya Mahāprabhu has recommended human life is meant for understanding Kṛṣṇa. There is no other business. If you simply stick to this business, your life is successful.
“Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is meant for that purpose. We are opening so many centers so that the people of the world may take advantage of this opportunity and understand Kṛṣṇa and make his life successful. Thank you very much.”
* * *
Around midday, eight coaches arrived carrying about 350 devotees from North America. Several sannyāsīs—Tripurāri, Viṣṇujana, Gurudāsa, Revatīnandana, and Parivrājakācārya—were among them.
Many of the new arrivals are being housed in the new building, where construction work has now stopped. The first floor level has been cast, and Jayapatāka Mahārāja has arranged for temporary shelters made from split bamboo and tarpaulins to be erected on top of the bare concrete. The facilities are woefully inadequate. The devotees have to bathe from hand pumps, and the toilets are simply holes in the ground, but they don’t seem to mind. They are happy just to be here in the holy dhāma with Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Rāmeśvara, Rādhāballabha, and the BBT staff were also among the group of newly arrived devotees. They brought with them 255 photographic enlargements of our temples, Deities from around the world, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam illustrations, and book reviews. They are all mounted and encased in protective Perspex sheets, all destined to be placed in a gigantic public display here in Māyāpur. Prabhupāda looked through at least fifty of them. He was in ecstasy. Rāmeśvara also gave him the newly printed Seventh Canto, Part One.
Surprisingly, Dayānanda also returned today. He had flown to Dallas but found himself unable to do anything with the gurukula.
Shortly after Dayānanda had left here, Jagadīśa prabhu arrived for the GBC meetings. After meeting with him, Prabhupāda accepted his reasons for what actually turns out to be only a temporary closure of the Dallas gurukula. Prabhupāda took Jagadīśa’s assurance that the issue would be carefully studied in the meetings, and a solution has been found in line with Prabhupāda’s desire. The GBC has recommended a series of smaller regional schools, rather than a single, centralized one. By keeping the number of students down and having several in different states, the hope is to minimize governmental attention and so avoid restrictive codes and regulations. At the same time emphasis will be given to the development of the Vṛndāvana school, and parents will be encouraged to send their children there.
With Śrīla Prabhupāda’s approval, Jagadīśa and Hridayānanda Mahārāja had rung Dayānanda in Dallas to inform him to leave things as they are. Dayānanda then persuaded Rāmeśvara to buy him a ticket back to Māyāpur, apparently hoping to be reinstated as Śrīla Prabhupāda’s secretary. Thus his unexpected arrival today.
Prabhupāda was not very happy to see him. He seemed to have expected he would stay there, and he was irritated Dayānanda has spent so much money going and coming and achieving nothing. Rather than restore him as his secretary, he called in Atreya Ṛṣi prabhu and offered him Dayānanda’s services in Iran.
* * *
Evening kīrtana, which has been getting bigger and wilder every night, was extraordinary to say the least. There were at least six hundred exuberant devotees, chanting and dancing with Madhudviṣa and Gurukṛpa Swamis in the middle, leading them.
* * *
Prabhupāda has been receiving many gifts of sweets, dried fruit, honey, money, and other things from visiting devotees.
* * *
As Gaura Pūrṇimā nears, the electrical power has been going off for longer and longer periods. Today it was off almost all day, but it came on again in the evening, in time for Prabhupāda to view a new ISKCON movie in his room. It was shown on Gargamuni Swami’s Fairchild projector. The movie was about the production of his books and was called Brilliant as the Sun. Prabhupāda loved it. He ate potato sabji and purīs as he watched, finishing with a rasagullā.
March 11th, 1976
Prabhupāda took his walk on the roof with the GBC members and sannyāsīs.
Jaśomatīnandana dāsa from Gujarat had visited one of Prabhupāda’s leading Godbrothers in a neighboring maṭha here in Māyāpur. He reported back that, on hearing of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s achievements, the Godbrother commented, “Your Guru Mahārāja was previously a businessman, and we are, from our childhood, we are Vaiṣṇava. So therefore he is doing business and getting money.” For those who have worked here in Māyāpur over the last few years, such attitudes and comments are not new. But the lack of propriety in speaking such things to Prabhupāda’s own disciples is still surprising.
It was an insult, but Śrīla Prabhupāda turned it to his advantage. From the roof he looked across the expanse of open fields he plans to build a transcendental city on, towards the few buildings clustered around a small temple that comprise the Godbrother’s headquarters.
“Business means four things,” he chuckled. “Yes, we are businessman. I was student of economics. I know how to do business, and business principle means you require four things: land, labor, capital, organization. So, ordinary man cannot do that. Otherwise, everyone would have done some business and become millionaires. But it requires these four things: land, labor, organization, and capital.
“So where you have got these? You have neither land, neither capital, neither place. So how you can do business? I am doing business because I have got all these things. I went to America—land. Then I worked—labor. Then I earned some capital, and I have got brain how to do it.”
We see on a daily basis that Śrīla Prabhupāda knows precisely how to use each of these in devotional service. Therefore, by Kṛṣṇa’s grace every facility is being supplied. It is regrettable that his Godbrothers choose not to see his success as purely spiritual.
As he walked around the roof, Prabhupāda nodded approvingly as he heard the auspicious tones of a shenai and drum reverberating through the compound. Jayapatāka Mahārāja has installed the players in the small rooms in the main gate to help create a festive atmosphere. All the devotees are appreciating their music. Tamal Krishna Mahārāja recalled the excellent reception given to Śrīla Prabhupāda during our visit to the Nellore Raṅganātha temple two months ago when Prabhupāda was honored with a shenai band and the large ceremonial umbrella.
Jayapatāka Swami asked whether such an arrangement could be made here in Māyāpur to honor His Divine Grace.
Prabhupāda approved, saying that such liturgy is not a pompous display or self-aggrandizement. It is ācāryopāsana, worship of Kṛṣṇa’s representative, and is therefore needed, because that is the way of spiritual advancement. Only with full faith in the guru can one understand spiritual truth.
Paṣcadraviḍa Swami wanted to know how a person can attain perfection simply from one lava, one eleventh of a second’s association with a pure devotee.
Śrīla Prabhupāda stopped and turned to him as we all gathered around. He said that it is like dry wood, which can be ignited immediately. Similarly, if one is sincere, then he immediately becomes spiritually ignited. And if he is still “moist” from material contact, it may take hundreds of years or lifetimes. A pure devotee is like a match, and the recipient the wood. If both are good then there is fire. “When you go to the fire, you become dry. But willfully we put again water. This nonsense business makes us wet. This process is already there, how to become dry. But instead of taking the process, we put water. Then how it will be ignited? The rules and regulations are the drying process. But without following the rules and regulation, if you again become victimized by māyā, then there is water and again dry it. So this is going on, watering and drying, watering and drying. Difficulty is that we dry and again water.”
Viṣṇujana Mahārāja, the tall, charismatic co-leader of Rādhā Dāmodara TSKP, who was listening in the background, spoke up for the first time. “Śrīla Prabhupāda, how did Choṭa Haridāsa achieve perfection by killing himself after apparently pouring water on his devotional creeper by talking to a woman?”
He was referring to the close associate of Lord Caitanya who drowned himself in the Gaṅgā after being rejected by the Lord.
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s reply was very grave. “His instance was that even an associate of Caitanya Mahāprabhu can fall down. And if one falls down, his punishment is that, suicide. There is no other punishment—he must commit suicide. This is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s instruction. Otherwise he is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s personal servant. He cannot fall down. But Caitanya Mahāprabhu showed this instance that ‘Even one is My personal servant, he can fall down.’ And if anyone by any cause he falls down, his punishment is he must commit suicide. This is instruction.”
Everyone’s eyes widened as they took in the statement.
Śrīla Prabhupāda elaborated. “This falldown, there is possibility in any moment because we are very small. We can be captivated by māyā at any moment. Therefore we shall be very, very careful. And if you fall down, then punishment is you make suicide. That’s all. Then next life we shall see.”
Viṣṇujana Mahārāja withdrew to the back as the other sannyāsīs sought clarification. Satsvarūpa mentioned that in The Nectar of Devotion it says devotional service is so pure that there is no prāyaścitta, or atonement, necessary if one falls down. Just again engage in your service.
Prabhupāda agreed, but said that Choṭa Haridāsa’s case was not typical. His was exemplary punishment that was enacted between him and the Lord. Caitanya Mahāprabhu was vajrād api kaṭhora, harder than the thunderbolt and softer than the rose.
“But, Prabhupāda,” asked Tamal Krishna, “if you were as strict as... ”
“No, I am not Caitanya Prabhu. I am not... Why you are comparing me? I am an ordinary man.”
Gurukṛpa Mahārāja brought the exchange to its point, asking the question that was undoubtedly on everyone’s mind. “So in ISKCON, if someone falls down, it means that he should commit suicide?”
Śrla Prabhupāda’s monosyllabic answer couldn’t be clearer. “No.”
Gurudāsa Mahārāja laughed. “We wouldn’t have much of a movement then.”
Prabhupāda clarified, “No, no, if he falls down, that is automatically suicide—if he falls down, that means it is suicide. He got the chance. If he falls down, that is suicide, spiritual suicide. If one gets the chance of becoming eligible for going back to home, back to Godhead, and if he commits mistake and it is stopped, is it not suicide?”
He concluded that we should be very strong-minded and continue our devotional service with determination.
* * *
This is the official beginning of the festival. Just before class started, Prabhupāda gave the hundreds of assembled devotees his personal welcome. His simple, heartfelt message expressing his appreciation for their attendance here in Māyāpur was greeted with large smiles and cheers. “First of all, we must welcome all the devotees. There may be so many inconveniences. Please do not mind it. This is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s place. Be joyful always. Thank you.”
His thoughtfulness immeasurably deepened everyone’s affection and gratitude to him. Without Prabhupāda none of us would be here, none of us would have even heard of Māyāpur, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or tasted the happiness of spiritual life. So his humble concern about the lack of amenities was all the more endearing.
As he had told us earlier on the walk, it was out of his concern for the devotees that he built a guest house first, even before a temple. Some locals have criticized him for it, but he told us that wherever there are devotees, then God will come. Kṛṣṇa is not a dull stone; He is drawn by the affection of His devotees. Therefore making a place for God, without facility for His devotees, is merely idol worship.
* * *
About thirty Australian devotees arrived at 8:30 a.m.
Parikramas have begun with a visit over the Jalāṅgī river to Śrīla Bhaktivinoda’s house at nearby Godruma-dvīpa.
* * *
After having heard and approved the last of the new GBC resolutions, Prabhupāda added another of his own: that no decision is to be changed for one year, except by him personally.
* * *
Prabhupāda was given $600 in donations, and Jayatīrtha brought one boy in with a donation of $5,000 to be used for building a house for him here in Māyāpur. Plans are already underway for it, and Prabhupāda has chosen a site near the pukkur.
* * *
Jagannātha Suta dāsa, the production manager of Back to Godhead, taped a lengthy interview between Ravīndra-svarūpa dāsa and Śrīla Prabhupāda. It’s for a special article on the upcoming bicentennial anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence.
The conversation naturally centered on whether the living being is actually independent or not. Śrīla Prabhupāda is scheduled to be visit the capital, Washington, D.C., this coming July 4th. BTG will carry the article in that month’s issue.
March 12th, 1976
Hundreds of devotees from around the world are packed into rooms all around the temple compound. The atmosphere is very festive.
The shenai band sits up in the compartments on the main gate, and at dawn the wail of the pipe and the melodic rhythms of the drum create an almost mystical atmosphere. The exotic sounds enliven the mind and drift across the fields to call the faithful to the holy dhāma to pay respectful homage to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, on the coming anniversary of His Divine Appearance.
During the walk, which Prabhupāda took on the roof, the black bee we had seen in February reappeared after a few weeks’ absence. Repeating its past behavior, it flew around Śrīla Prabhupāda and his entourage several times. Then, as it had done previously, it landed on the spire of the small dome.
Everyone gathered around for a close inspection before it suddenly rose in the air and headed off across the fields. Prabhupāda said it was very beautiful.
Accompanied by at least twenty men, Prabhupāda went down and walked around the grounds. He checked the management and gave advice, even expressing concern over plants that had not been watered.
He told Jayapatāka Mahārāja how to systematize the removal and collection of visitor’s shoes at the temple entrance by using tickets. Yaśodānandana Mahārāja suggested that instead of charging for the shoe service, people could be requested to give a donation to the Deities.
Prabhupāda rejected the idea. People should simply come and see the Deities. That is our main concern, he said. The Deity is not a beggar but the Bestower. His Guru Mahārāja had said it was better to be a street sweeper and earn an honest living than to make a living by showing the Deity. “It is a question of heart, that a man should come and visit the temple—he must give something. Why he is to be asked? Voluntarily he should give.”
“But encouraging is not recommended?” Lokanātha Mahārāja asked.
“Encouraging means your behavior should be so nice that he voluntarily gives,” Śrīla Prabhupāda said. “That is encouraging, not that begging and ‘Put something here. My belly is empty.’” We all laughed.
He said that asking someone to contribute to the institution by some payment was another thing. “But why should you earn by showing the Deity? You work so nicely they will become voluntarily member, contributing. That is nice. But not that ‘Now we have got Deity. He’s starving. Please give me something.’ No. That is not good practice.”
He also briefly recollected his early days in New York in 1965-66, telling us that part of his daily routine was to go “loitering” along Fifth Avenue. He said that his purpose was to study the Americans, how they were walking, how they were shopping.
Satsvarūpa Mahārāja remembered that Prabhupāda had once said those were happier days, when he had only himself to maintain, rather than thousands of disciples.
Prabhupāda laughed. “Yes,” he agreed. “There was no chance of finding fault. Now I have to find fault.”
He also visited the newly erected public exhibition and saw some of the displays. The presentation of so many international projects was impressive. Prabhupāda suggested that a book be published showing all the temples and Deities around the world, with a short explanation of each. He said this would be good for preaching work.
However, the structure built to house the exhibit is terrible. It is constructed along the banks of the pukkur from dirty old tarpaulin sheets, bamboo, and crudely woven, split-bamboo fencing. Access is poor, up a slippery mud slope. It compelled Śrīla Prabhupāda to again complain about the management.
* * *
During class he explained to his hundreds of eager followers the benefits of Deity worship. He compared it to the process of yogic meditation by which one tries to see the Lord within the heart.
“You may practice this haṭha-yoga, or gymnastic yoga, for many, many births—you cannot see Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa can be seen when you smear with love ointment in your eyes. And that is possible through bhakti. Therefore why not practice bhakti-yoga from the beginning if you want to see Kṛṣṇa?
“Kṛṣṇa says, ‘He’s first-class yogi who is always trying to see Kṛṣṇa within the heart.’ So it is very difficult task? In our bhakti-yoga we can teach this art of seeing Kṛṣṇa within the core of the heart in one minute. It is so simple. “You are seeing Kṛṣṇa here. You must have impression; and try to keep that impression within your heart always. Then you become first-class yogi. Why so much gymnastic and pressing the nose? No. Take directly.
“If you are engaged twenty-four hours in the service of the Deity, you cannot see except the Deity. This bhakti-yoga practice is so simple. Therefore kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, those who are neophyte, they must take to Deity worship. By Deity worship he is elevated to the position of seeing the Lord within the heart. This is very important thing.
“You can see, He is there, but you have no knowledge, or even if you have knowledge, you are not competent to see Him. But if you practice Deity worship... Therefore it is the duty of guru to engage the neophyte devotee always in Deity worship.”
* * *
Devotees crowd into Prabhupāda’s room in the early evenings, eager to get as much association with His Divine Grace as possible. Many of them have worked hard all year round, selling books and doing other temple duties, and their visit to the holy dhāma, and especially the opportunity to see Śrīla Prabhupāda, makes it all worthwhile.
This evening was no exception. The atmosphere couldn’t have been more congenial. Prabhupāda was very relaxed and enjoyed the company of his faithful disciples. He is always aware and deeply appreciative of the sacrifices they are making on his behalf. Although he is our spiritual master, our instructor in every aspect of life, his dealings with us are full of respect and compassion. A few minutes with Śrīla Prabhupāda can change anyone’s life.
Someone brought in some sweets to be handed out, so I put them to one side. Śrīla Prabhupāda glanced over, concerned as ever that his guests receive a little prasādam. “Oh, you are not distributing?”
“Well, there are so many devotees, I thought I would give the sweets out when every one leaves.”
“They will never leave!” Prabhupāda said, laughing.
All the devotees cheered, “Jaya, Śrīla Prabhupāda!” Even a few simple words from him are enough to completely capture everyone’s heart.
March 13th, 1976
Mahāàsa Swami is here, and on this morning’s walk he gave Śrīla Prabhupāda an update on some land in Hyderabad being donated to ISKCON. Mr. Hari Prasad Badruka, the current owner, wants to create a joint trust and have ISKCON develop the land, but legal complications have caused a delay. We may get only 250 acres, rather than the 600 originally promised. Mahāàsa expects the case to clear through the courts within a month or so.
After walking around the roof, Prabhupāda came down to the front of the property. He wanted to take another look at the displays in the exhibition area, which is now complete. He particularly enjoyed seeing the favorable reviews written by some of the most important scholars in the fields of linguistics, Asian studies, Sanskrit studies, psychology, and philosophy. The reviewers’ enthusiasm for his books, their personal appreciation for him as a spiritual leader, and an author, had all the devotees cheering as Śrīla Prabhupāda himself read one out loud.
It was a review by Dr. Geddes MacGregor, Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Philosophy from the University of Southern California. “No work in all Indian literature is more quoted. Because none is better loved in the West than the Bhagavad-gītā. Translation of such work demands not only knowledge of Sanskrit but an inward sympathy with the theme and a verbal artistry. But the poem is a symphony in which God is seen in all things. His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda is, of course, profoundly sympathetic to the theme. He brings to it a special interpretative insight. Here we have a powerful and persuasive presentation in the bhakti tradition of this dearly beloved poem. The Swami’s introduction makes clear at once where he stands as a leading exponent of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.”
The acceptance of his work by the scholarly community in the most important universities in America and Europe is a source of deep satisfaction to Śrīla Prabhupāda. The clarity and power of his translations and purports has enabled the professors to appreciate the authenticity of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and, more importantly, distinguish it from the impersonal hodgepodge usually associated with the Hindu spiritual outlook.
Satsvarūpa Mahārāja, the leader of the Library Party responsible for garnering the reviews, read out several more. Each one drew more and more applause from the devotees and bigger and brighter smiles from Śrīla Prabhupāda.
“Ever since 1893, when Swami Vivekananda proclaimed monism and tolerance to the World’s Parliament of Religions at Chicago, nonspecialists in America have pictured Hinduism as an easy-going phantasmagoria of smiling faces disappearing like dewdrops into the shining sea. The Nectar of Devotion should bring them up sharp.”
Midst lots of laughter, he went on. “His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, whose shorn, orange-clad disciples have brought the inseparable twins of bhajana and baksish to the streets of America, has no doubt that such impersonalism is nothing less than rascaldom.”
“Jaya!” all the devotees exclaimed.
“With all the books on Vedānta and bland neo-transcendentalism that are at present available to the English-speaking public, it is good to have on the popular market such an uncompromising statement of an opposing view from the pen of one who is as firmly rooted in a disciplic tradition, guru-paramparā, as Bhaktivedanta Swami.”
At this the devotees were ecstatic. “Haribol!” they shouted, as Prabhupāda, a huge grin stretching right across his face, moved further down the exhibits.
Ghanaśyāma dāsa, a leading Library Party member, pointed out another review, written by the Chairman of Harvard University’s Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Dr. Daniel H. H. Ingalls. He apparently rarely, if ever, gives reviews, but for Śrīla Prabhupāda he agreed. “I am most happy to have these handsomely printed volumes which embody the work of so learned and sincere a believer in the message of the Caritāmṛta. I thank you.”
Another was written by the current representative of Hinduism to the World Council of Churches. Mahābuddhi, another active Library Party member, added that the man ordered not one, but two, standing orders for the library.
“Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the Indian classic par excellence on bhakti-yoga, attributed to Vyāsa, is one of the most important and influential religio-philosophical works within the Vedic tradition. Thanks to the devoted and scholarly endeavors of Śrī A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, the entire work of twelve cantos will be available in a superb English edition for the benefit of the English-reading peoples... This monumental work is immensely valuable alike to historians of religion, linguistic scholars, cultural anthropologists, pious devotees, as well as to the general reader interested in spiritual matters. I recommend it highly to every student of Indian philosophy, culture, and religion.”
Each review offered glowing testimonial of such high appreciation they could hardly have been better if the devotees themselves had written them. As Dr. Garry Gelade, a psychologist at Oxford University, wrote: “It is a work to be treasured. The opportunity to receive the profound teachings of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the West has been made possible by the devoted labor of Śrīla Prabhupāda. The clarity and precision of his commentaries on the text have rarely been equaled. No one of whatever faith or philosophical persuasion who reads this book with an open mind can fail to be both moved and impressed. The spirit of its message shines brightly from the pages.”
Ghanaśyāma prabhu pointed out another one from Dr. R. E. Asher, the chairman of the Department of Linguistics at Edinburgh, one of the biggest linguistic schools in the world. He is known all over the world for his studies in different kinds of languages. “It is axiomatic that no book can be expected entirely to satisfy all its potential readers. Here is one, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, however, which can be said to come remarkably close to that ideal... We have here the ideal of what an edition of a Sanskrit text for a Western audience should be.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda stopped at the review written by Professor Kailash Vajpeye, who had been invited to the University of Mexico to take charge of Oriental studies, specifically Hinduism. Satsvarūpa read it out. His statement amounted to a verbal broadside against the so-called svāmīs and yogis, and it drew the most enthusiastic response from the devotees and ŚrīlaPrabhupāda as well. “As a native of India now living in the West, it has given me much grief to see so many of my fellow countrymen coming to the West in the role of gurus and spiritual leaders. Just as any ordinary man in the West becomes conscious of Christian culture from his very birth, any ordinary man in India becomes familiar with the principles of meditation and yoga from his very birth. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous persons come from India, exhibit their imperfect and ordinary knowledge of yoga, cheat the people with their wares consisting of mantras, and present themselves as incarnations of God. So many of these cheaters have come, convincing their foolish followers to accept them as God, that those who are actually well versed and learned in Indian culture have become very concerned and troubled. For this reason I am very excited... ”
At this, Śrīla Prabhupāda suddenly interrupted the reading. “Send this copy to Indira Gandhi,” he told his GBC men, “and request her to stop giving passports to all these nonsense. Do this. Yes.”
Satsvarūpa continued his recitation of Professor Vajpeye’s eulogy. “For this reason I am very excited to see the publication of Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, by Śrī A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda. Śrīla Prabhupāda, from his very birth, was trained in the strict practice of bhakti-yoga, and he appears in a succession of gurus that traces back to the original speaking of Bhagavad-gītā by Śrī Kṛṣṇa. His knowledge of Sanskrit is impeccable. His penetration into the inner meaning of the text is befitting only a fully realized soul who has indeed perfectly understood the meaning of Bhagavad-gītā. Personally, I intend to use this book in the courses which I am directing by invitation of the Mexican government on the language, culture, and philosophy of India. This authorized edition of the Gītā will serve a double purpose in Spanish-speaking countries. One, it will help to stop the terrible cheating of false and unauthorized gurus and yogis; and two, it will give an opportunity to Spanish-speaking people to understand the actual meaning of Oriental culture.”
Prabhupāda was extremely pleased with the display and said a building should be erected as a permanent exhibition. He also enthusiastically approved Madhudviṣa Swami’s idea that every temple have a display of his books along with the reviews. The whole display, he said, was “very enlivening, encouraging, very good.”
* * *
Many devotees, led by Jayapatāka Swami, went out on parikrama very early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day. But they ended up returning after the start of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s lecture, and he was not at all pleased with this. He said that the morning program of hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is more important, and so there should be no more early parikramas.
* * *
The Australian devotees had a special darśana with Śrīla Prabhupāda. They presented him with $1,350 dollars guru-dakṣiṇa and sixty-nine kilos of their famous Australian ghee. The meeting was short but sweet, and Śrīla Prabhupāda encouraged them all to continue distributing his books in ever-increasing quantities.
In the late evening he called Gargamuni Mahārāja, the newly appointed Māyāpur GBC, and sold the ghee to him for use here for twenty-five rupees per kilo.
* * *
Śrīla Prabhupāda also viewed plans for the palace the devotees in New Vrindaban, West Virginia, are building for him. He was extremely pleased with it and accepted their invitation to visit there this summer.
* * *
Arundhatī dāsī, the wife of an early disciple, Pradyumna dāsa, came for darśana. Prabhupāda immediately greeted her, inquiring about her husband’s whereabouts. Arundhatī explained that Pradyumna was in Uḍupi in South India, studying Sanskrit.
Śrīla Prabhupāda requested that he come see him. He didn’t seem very satisfied to hear that Pradyumna was simply studying and not doing any active service.
* * *
Thirteen members of Prabhupāda’s former family came to see him. They will stay for Gaura Pūrṇimā. Prabhupāda met with them all briefly, making sure they were comfortably situated. After some light conversation they went out. Prabhupāda was warm and cordial, but he didn’t give them any special attention beyond that which he extends to all his visitors. He clearly has no sense of bodily identification and deals with everyone equitably. He has truly realized that every living being is spirit soul, part of Kṛṣṇa. His dealings at every moment reflect his sense of all existence as a homogenous whole.
March 14th, 1976
During the morning walk on the roof, Rāmeśvara prabhu raised a common doubt: If Kṛṣṇa knows everything, past, present, and future, then He must know that a soul is going to fall into the material world, yet He allows it. Therefore He must be cruel.
This set off a long and lively discussion about the individual soul’s fall-down from the spiritual realm. Prabhupāda explained that ultimately the soul always has a choice to serve Kṛṣṇa or not. Otherwise we would simply be like dead stones. Therefore Kṛṣṇa cannot be blamed for allowing the soul his independence. Yet despite this little independence, the soul requires assistance from Kṛṣṇa’s representative, the guru, in order to regain his position as Kṛṣṇa’s servant. And who gets that assistance is decided by Kṛṣṇa.
Revatīnandana and Paṣcadraviḍa Swamis wanted to know what it is that decides why one man and not another gets the good fortune of having a good spiritual master.
Prabhupāda said that it is due to ajṣāta-sukṛti, past pious activities unknowingly performed.
Then it seems like chance, Revatīnandana said.
“Not chance,” Prabhupāda told him. “Just like a sinful man. Some saintly person comes to him and he gives some money to him. He does not know that ‘I am doing very pious activity,’ but because he has given, he becomes pious.”
Revatīnandana’s mind jumped to the next logical point. “If not even a blade of grass moves unless Kṛṣṇa sanctions it, then why does someone have the opportunity to perform such ajṣāta-sukṛti, and another person not?”
Śrīla Prabhupāda explained it in terms of a dual intervention from both guru externally and Kṛṣṇa within the heart. “Suppose a saintly person comes to a very sinful man. He needs some money. Immediately Kṛṣṇa says, ‘Give him some money, he requires.’
“So he says, ‘All right, sir, take it.’ So Kṛṣṇa desires—he gives. Unless Kṛṣṇa dictates from within, how he can give?”
I asked that if that is the case, where is the question of the free will of the individual?
Again Prabhupāda had the answer. “Free will under Kṛṣṇa. You can become free will and become a big man immediately. Your free will sanctioned by Kṛṣṇa. You are not so free that whatever you like, you can do.”
“So even if I want to perform some ajṣāta-sukṛti,” Madhudviṣa asked, “it is only by Kṛṣṇa’s mercy that I will do it?”
“Yes. That is stated by Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Ei rūpe brahmāṇḍa bhramite kona bhāgyavān jīva/ guru-kṛṣṇa-kṛpāya pāya bhakti-latā-bīja: As soon as he gives to a saintly person, bhakta, he immediately acquires some asset of future development. Immediately.”
I still had a remaining doubt. The world is full of sinful people, and not all get contact with devotees, or if they do, not all give. Therefore I asked, if Kṛṣṇa is giving dictation to sinful people to give to the saintly persons, does He give dictation to every sinful person? It seems that there is some discrimination.
Prabhupāda’s answer cleared my doubts. He said that it isn’t just a question of our free will; Kṛṣṇa has His also, and that is supreme. “You cannot bind Kṛṣṇa to dictate in a similar way. If He likes, He can ask a sinful man, “Do this.” If He doesn’t like, He may not act. That is Kṛṣṇa.”
“So, ultimately it is simply by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa that a living entity comes back to Kṛṣṇa,” Revatīnandana Mahārāja concluded.
“Yes. So it is Kṛṣṇa’s business where to show mercy, where not to show. You cannot oblige Him that ‘You show mercy everywhere.’ No. You cannot oblige Kṛṣṇa, ‘You do this.’ That is not Kṛṣṇa. If one is obliged to act to your dictation, then he is not Kṛṣṇa. Therefore whatever Kṛṣṇa likes, He’ll do. Ordinary people, they think karma-mīmāàsā, ‘If I do good work, Kṛṣṇa will be obliged to give me good effect. Why shall I care for Kṛṣṇa?’ They say like that. But we say, even if you do good work, if Kṛṣṇa does not want it, then it will not produce good result. That is Kṛṣṇa. Everyone has got the mercy, but that mercy is not obligatory. If He likes, He can give you mercy; if He does not like, He may not.”
Paṣcadraviḍa Mahārāja was curious, why then, if it is a question of ajṣāta-sukṛti, the Indian people, who from their birth water the tulasī tree, chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, and do so many pious activities, don’t seem to be taking to the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Meanwhile, so many Westerners are becoming Prabhupāda’s followers.
Prabhupāda used a metaphor to explain the position of the Indian people. It was perhaps also a revelation as to why he is putting so much personal effort into his Indian preaching, despite the seemingly poor response. “That is temporary,” he said. “They may come again. It will never go in vain. Just like this cloud. Cloud is meant for raining. Now it is not raining, but when there is sufficient cloud, it will rain. You cannot say there is no rain. There is, but it is not sufficiently collected. When it is sufficiently collected, then... .”
Even without sufficient cloud it sometimes rains, he said. “That is superior direction. It is not your direction.”
Revatīnandana asked about Kṛṣṇa’s appearance in the material world. It seems that He comes whenever there are certain conditions.
Prabhupāda disagreed. Kṛṣṇa comes when He wants, not according to conditions. Looking at his watch he made a sudden declaration, emphasizing his point, finishing the debate, and making us all laugh. “Now it is 6:30. Generally I go down. If I like, I don’t go!”
* * *
Down in the temple room during his discourse, Śrīla Prabhupāda told us about bhāva, ecstasy. “At the present moment,” he said, “we have got a bhāva: ‘I am this. I am that. I belong to this family. I belong to this nation.’ Bhāva is ecstasy, and everyone is overwhelmed with such kind of ecstasy. The politicians, they think that we are simply wasting time in chanting and dancing. ‘They have no sense how to improve the position of the country.’ They do not like it because they are in different bhāva.
“But we are trying to change that bhāva. The bhāva must be there. The whole Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is to purify the bhāva. That is stated here. Pariśuddha-bhāvaḥ. We are not negating everything. We are simply changing from material bhāva to spiritual bhāva. That’s all.
“Here is a big building, but there are many other hundreds and thousands of big buildings in this district or in this country. But here the bhāva is changed. In your country there are many big skyscraper buildings. In comparison to those buildings, this is nothing. But still you have come, spending thousands of dollars, here, to change the bhāva. That is required. Otherwise you American boys and girls, you have no business to come here to see this big building, no. To change the bhāva. That is required. That is very important thing.”
Getting down from the vyāsāsana, the devotees crowding around, Prabhupāda embarked on his daily circuit of the temple room. Pṛthu Putra Swami struck up a loud kīrtana, and Prabhupāda began to exhibit his own bhāva, dancing up and down the whole time. The devotees were wild with delight as he rang the bells hanging down on either side of the temple room, strongly pulling on the ropes for prolonged spells, encouraging the devotees to chant and dance with increasing enthusiasm, and smiling all the while.
After his third circuit he came before their Lordships and began to dance. Hundreds of devotees converged around him, leaping with excitement as he put first one hand in the air and then, handing his cane to Madhudviṣa Swami, raised the other. With both arms extended and a huge smile on his face, he urged the ecstatic crowd to greater and greater heights of spiritual abandon as he also jumped up and down enthusiastically.
It was a personal demonstration of what Lord Caitanya’s festival is really all about—purification through association. Visiting the dhāma is wonderful, but seeing and being with Śrīla Prabhupāda is the concentrated essence.
* * *
During his massage, Prabhupāda replied to a couple of letters, one from Ambarīṣa prabhu and one from his former personal servant, Śruta Kīrti. Both of them reported having some difficulties, Ambarīṣa with his parents and Śruta Kīrti with the local temple president in Hawaii.
Ambarīṣa has moved to Boston and is attending the university there, to satisfy his parents. He said that he is helping the local temple there, and he suggested that a restaurant serving Kṛṣṇa prasādam would be very successful among the huge student community. He also reaffirmed his commitment to fund the Kurukṣetra project.
Śruta Kīrti reported the successful reestablishment of the Govinda’s restaurant near the University of Hawaii. It is becoming popular among the 25,000 students there. He is disturbed, however, because of some misunderstandings with the local temple management. Thus he asked for a new engagement.
Śrīla Prabhupāda put the two together. He wrote to Ambarīṣa prabhu, approving his move to satisfy his parents, “although they do not know that someone who is a devotee is best educated.” He told him that Śruta Kīrti will come to Boston to help him start a restaurant.
To Śruta Kīrti he sent Ambarīṣa’s address and advised him to join him in Boston immediately, “for there are many, many young people, and a Hare Krsna Restaurant where we serve delicious Krsna prasadam will be appreciated there.”
* * *
Right after dealing with the mail, Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja allowed some devotees from the Los Angeles BBT—Rāmeśvara, Rādhāballabha, and Jagannātha Suta—to come onto the veranda. Prabhupāda approved specific criteria for the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam covers. The artists had drawn a new color scheme, a different one for each of the twelve Cantos. Although Prabhupāda said that originally he had planned to use the illustration of the spiritual sky that presently adorns the First Canto, for all the volumes, he accepted their idea but told them very clearly that after this there could be no more changes.
Jayatīrtha prabhu also showed up. He asked that Rāmeśvara be awarded sannyāsa. Prabhupāda immediately and happily granted the request. Jayatīrtha told Prabhupāda that Rāmeśvara is a naiṣṭhiki-brahmacārī, having never had sex in this lifetime.
Gradually more GBC members arrived on the balcony. Paṣcadraviḍa Swami brought up the sannyāsī/gṛhastha conflict again. Tamal Krishna Goswami, Gargamuni Swami, and Bhagavān dāsa eventually joined the discussion, which went on until 1:30 p.m.
The topic came up again because many devotees feel that the resolutions passed are too drastic. The resolution calling for all householders to earn a living outside of the temple financial structure includes temple presidents. Śrīla Prabhupāda was told that such regulations were meant to protect ISKCON from becoming financially overburdened.
Śrīla Prabhupāda has given his approval in principle, but there is considerable discontent among the temple presidents. Most of them are married men and feel that they are simply being discriminated against by the sannyāsīs. They are very apprehensive about how the new resolutions will be practically applied.
They also resent what they perceive to be inferences that as married men they are less useful than the brahmacārīs and sannyāsīs and perhaps even burdensome to the preaching mission. Many GBC members, including some of the sannyāsīs, are now also having doubts about whether the resolutions passed are actually fair.
Thus the debate was resumed, and Śrīla Prabhupāda listened as various devotees expressed their views.
Tamal Krishna Goswami was apparently not prepared to concede any ground on the issue, even though nearly everyone else’s complaint is against him and his marked pro-sannyāsī/brahmacārī inclination.
It got late, and Śrīla Prabhupāda sent everyone for lunch without coming to any real conclusions.
When everyone had gone, Tamal Krishna Mahārāja remained behind for a minute with Śrīla Prabhupāda. It appeared he wanted to gain Prabhupāda’s affirmation on his feeling that it is better to be strict. He told Prabhupāda that as a sannyāsī he is personally uncompromising in dealings with women, to the point that he doesn’t speak to any women whatsoever, even when preaching. He feels that unless the Society is conscientious on this matter, there will be a loss of purity and determination to preach.
Prabhupāda agreed, Tamal Krishna then left, and Prabhupāda took his bath.
When Prabhupāda returned to his room I asked him whether Mahārāja’s attitude of avoiding women in his preaching is a material consideration.
“Yes, it is,” he said. However, noting my critical tone of voice, he corrected me, “But does that mean he is not a devotee?”
As he sat down at his desk putting on his tilaka, he noticed a beautifully decorated bookmark that I had just placed there. Picking it up he asked me where it came from. I told him it was a gift from Kṛṣṇa Rūpa dāsī, an Australian brahmacārinī living here in Māyāpur. He exclaimed very appreciatively, “Such nice service, how can it be refused? I have never stopped them from rendering service simply because they are women.”
After prasādam he went for his usual nap, but arose early, within fifteen minutes. I answered the ring of the bell and found him sitting on his bed, looking deeply troubled. He was unable to rest because of the controversy. He had a headache. “This is a very serious thing, this difference of sannyāsī and gṛhastha,” he said with a frown. “Everything will be spoiled.”
I recalled his comments that the Gaudiya Math fell into difficult times because Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī had ordered his disciples to form a GBC to conjointly manage, and they had simply argued and made their own plans. “We made a GBC ŚrīlaPrabhupāda,” I said, “but still there is splitting.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s reply was brusque and revealing. “Personal ambition!” Then he went to sit in his darśana room.
In the evening the entire Governing Body Commission came in to see Prabhupāda. Things had come to a head. After some discussion, Jayādvaita dāsa, a brahmacārī, was invited in to speak as the representative of all the temple presidents. They had held meetings to discuss the implications of the new resolutions, and he presented the results. It seemed that much of the basis of the conflict stemmed from the activities of the Rādhā Dāmodara saṅkīrtana party. They have gained some notoriety for taking unmarried men from temples without asking, thereby undermining temple authorities.
Brahmacārīs were being told that if they remained in the temples they would end up married, entangled in family affairs, and therefore useless. On the other hand, they could accept the alternative of a carefree life, traveling and preaching with the RDTSKP buses.
It was claimed that the effect on the temples was to put them in great difficulty because they were losing the saṅkīrtana men, their most valuable assets.
Tamal Krishna Mahārāja was still adamant, defending his party and their record-breaking book distribution. He proclaimed the accusations as outright lies. However, he seemed alone. Most GBC men, although highly appreciative of the RDTSKP’s book distribution and sympathetic to the principle of vairāgya as being the foundation for a spiritually strong society, were now backing away from their earlier stance.
After hearing both sides, Prabhupāda spoke. He broke the deadlock. He finally settled the issue by wonderfully preaching to everyone that it does not matter what one is, one can do anything and go anywhere for Kṛṣṇa. We are not to discriminate against anyone on the basis of external dress. One is to be judged on the basis of one’s advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Quoting the verse yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā sei ‘guru’ haya, he told them, “We cannot say simply because one is gṛhastha then he must go away.” Everyone is entitled to the same facility to preach he said. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda was a gṛhastha, and his son a lifelong celibate and sannyāsī, but both of them were gurus. There was no difference. He said that the tendency to form factions was not good and he wanted it to stop immediately. He stressed there must be cooperation between the temples and the traveling parties, and that no one fixed principle applied to everyone.
Living in the temple is preaching also—cleaning, cooking and doing Deity worship. A brahmacārī may be allowed to go with the sannyāsīs, but not if he is holding a responsible position in the temple.
He stated the proper etiquette for a man to join a traveling party; he should do so only with the permission of the temple president. And ideally, he said, it is better that the gṛhasthas manage the temples and the sannyāsīs go out and preach. This example was set by the six Gosvāmīs, who turned over the management of their temples to their married disciples. As for the brahmacārīs, he said they may do either—travel and preach, or remain in the temple.
As Śrīla Prabhupāda gave his verdict, the room became increasingly packed with devotees eager to understand the solution to the conflict.
Finally Prabhupāda concluded that this competitive spirit and attitude of “puffed-up prestige,” was not good. Everyone should remain as a humble servant. Thus he made it quite clear that he disapproved of the resolutions and ordered the GBC to meet and strike out the controversial ones.
Everyone left happy and relieved that the conflict that had grown over a period of a year or so was finally resolved.
Only Tamal Krishna Goswami remained in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s room, requesting me also to leave so that he could spend a few minutes alone with Śrīla Prabhupāda. I later heard from Mahārāja what he discussed with Śrīla Prabhupāda. Seeking solace and feeling defeated, he began to lament to Prabhupāda that now he felt discouraged, like an enemy in the camp. He said that he didn’t want to be an obstacle to the progress of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s movement, so perhaps he should not even preach in America any more. Maybe he should go and preach where he would not be a disturbance to anyone, like China or somewhere else.
After twenty minutes of commiseration, he got up and left. I was out on the balcony, and I watched him make a lonely walk down the veranda and disappear up the stairs.
I entered Prabhupāda’s room and found him clearly relieved at having resolved the matter. He smiled at me and said, “Of all the GBC, he,” indicating Tamal Krishna Mahārāja with a tip of his head, “is the most intelligent. But the problem is, those with intelligence want to control everything. And he wants to control the whole Society. He wants to be the supreme controller.”
March 15th, 1976
Right before maṅgala-ārati Prabhupāda buzzed me. He called for Tamal Krishna Goswami and Trivikrama Swami, but I could only find Trivikrama, since Tamal Krishna had already entered the temple. Prabhupāda told Trivikrama Mahārāja that he wanted him to go immediately to China with Tamal. He had been meditating on it all night, he said, and decided that we should definitely do something in the Communist countries.
He also called for Gopāla Kṛṣṇa prabhu and told him to leave for Russia as soon as possible. He said that there are opportunities there for book distribution to libraries, and as an Indian businessman, Gopāla Kṛṣṇa would be well received.
Both Trivikrama Mahārāja and Gopāla were excited by the prospect of opening up vast new preaching fields. They both happily agreed.
Word was sent out to Tamal Krishna Mahārāja, but by the time he arrived in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s room, His Divine Grace had gone to the bathroom to freshen up for his morning walk.
Tamal Krishna was visibly shocked at the idea of going to China. As we waited, he began to pace the room, voicing all the reasons why he could not possibly go. Madhudviṣa and Gurukṛpa Swamis accompanied him to give him some support. Prabhupāda had altered a decision many times previously upon further discussion of an issue. They felt that Tamal had good, strong arguments that might change Prabhupāda’s mind upon his hearing them.
After a few minutes Śrīla Prabhupāda returned and sat behind his low desk to apply his tilaka. Tamal Krishna Mahārāja sat before him and presented all the reasonable arguments why he should not go to China.
He hadn’t expected that Prabhupāda would take what he had said last night literally. He explained how, after leaving Prabhupāda’s room, he had met with his entire Rādhā Dāmodara party, and they had discussed their plans for the coming year. They were all enthusiastic and determined to make it the biggest year ever in book distribution. If he were to leave the saṅkīrtana party now everything might collapse; the preaching was only going on by his personal presence. There was no one else who could organize it.
Gurukṛpa Mahārāja spoke up in support, volunteering to go to China instead so that Tamal could stay in America and continue the book distribution. It was a very strong argument. Book distribution is Śrīla Prabhupāda’s greatest joy and not something he will jeopardize.
Nevertheless, Prabhupāda firmly rejected the offer. “No! He must go!” Visibly irritated, Prabhupāda asserted, “The Rādhā Dāmodara party is going on by Kṛṣṇa’s energy, not Tamal Krishna Goswami’s! You said it [China], and I thought about it all night. I wanted to do something there, and I took it as Kṛṣṇa speaking through you.”
It quickly became clear to everyone that Prabhupāda was very serious. Madhudviṣa and Gurukṛpa backed away, their silence leaving Tamal Krishna isolated.
His position rapidly weakening, but still resistant, Tamal Krishna Mahārāja tried again. He said that he had indeed mentioned going to China but he might just as easily have said he wanted to go to the moon and preach. He wasn’t being serious; it was a joke.
Now Prabhupāda became angry. “Vaiṣṇavas do not joke! You said it, and I took it as Kṛṣṇa’s indication. I thought about it all night. We have no men there, and I took it as a good opportunity to do something there.”
Tamal Krishna was sinking fast, but he tried one last argument. He said that he could understand that His Divine Grace wanted something to be done there but any sannyāsī could do it. It shouldn’t be a GBC member, who has so many other important responsibilities.
Prabhupāda’s face was flushed. His back straightened, and his upper lip twitched on the left side. His anger was barely restrained. His hands shook as he held his tilaka mirror and applied the sacred clay to his forehead.
“Why not GBC? All your resolutions are finished. First resolution, then revolution, then dissolution—no solution! I have to manage everything myself! I give you a little power, and you create havoc! GBC is for solving situations, not for creating situations.”
He was fully determined and fixed in his decision. He forced his disciple to surrender, making it quite clear there was no option. “I want it, but you do not want. It is my very strong desire. Now I take everything from you. You can either go to China, or you simply sit here in Māyāpur and chant!”
Tamal Krishna Mahārāja bowed his head and conceded. He finally understood there was no alternative and surrendered, agreeing to do whatever his spiritual master required. Despite the prospect of foregoing everything that he had worked for several years to build up—the most successful preaching party in the Society—Prabhupāda’s desire was paramount. It was a fruitless glory if he didn’t please Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Tamal asked only one concession, that Dhṛṣṭadyumna dāsa, a leading brahmacārī from RDTSKP and a sannyāsa candidate, accompany him, not Trivikrama Swami.
Prabhupāda, now wreathed in smiles, happily agreed. Obviously pleased by the submission of his leading sannyāsī disciple, he strode out to take his morning walk, much of which he spent happily discussing how the new preaching assignment would be fulfilled.
* * *
Whether Śrīla Prabhupāda was thinking specifically of the morning’s incident or not during class is hard to say. But what he said must have given considerable encouragement and reassurance to his newly eastbound disciples. “If you want to remain in sattva-guṇa, in purity, then Kṛṣṇa will help. Just like here, as soon as Brahmā was disturbed by the demons full of rajo-guṇa and tamo-guṇa, immediately the Lord came in Hayagrīva-mūrti incarnation. Kṛṣṇa is also very much anxious to give us protection. If you remain a pure devotee, always surrendered to Kṛṣṇa, you should know it very well that Kṛṣṇa will give you protection in any calamity. Don’t be worried. Simply we must have the faith. That is surrender.
“Surrender means avaśya rakṣibe kṛṣṇa, viśvāsa-pālana. You must be faithful that ‘I am engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service. I may go to hell or heaven. It doesn’t matter. I am going to serve Him. It is sure that Kṛṣṇa will give me protection.’ So There should be no hesitation. If somebody is ordered, ‘Go to hell and preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness,’ he should remain faithful to Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa will give all protection. This is the principle.”
* * *
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Godbrother B. R. Śrīdhara Swami, came in Prabhupāda’s car from his maṭha in Navadvīpa. He stayed for most of the afternoon. He and Prabhupāda took prasādam together on the veranda. Śrīla Prabhupāda had him stay in the room right next to his own, and after a light rest, they talked for most of the afternoon.
During their conversations they exchanged reports on each other’s preaching activities. Śrīla Prabhupāda told me afterward that Śrīdhara Mahārāja had said that he regarded him as the real ācārya. Śrīdhara Mahārāja told him that Lord Caitanya had given His prediction that the chanting of the holy name would go to every town and village, but he and his Godbrothers had not taken this statement literally. Now by Śrīla Prabhupāda’s efforts he said he could understand its real meaning.
* * *
The GBC met later in the day to redefine zones and to strike out the ‘revolutionary’ resolutions.
Madhudviṣa Swami was placed in charge of the Rādhā Dāmodara TSKP, as well as New York, Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa. Rūpānuga prabhu got himself reassigned the southern part of America’s East Coast; Gurukṛpa Swami will now manage Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Japan, and Fiji; and Jagadīśa prabhu will go to the U.S. Northwest.
By evening they reported that the temple presidents were all now satisfied. Prabhupāda approved a new system for the annual meetings, whereby an initial GBC meeting will be followed by an official temple presidents meeting, which will consider the resolutions of the GBC and make recommendations as they feel necessary. The GBC will then meet a final time to respond and make any adjustments they feel warranted. In this way the presidents are to be given a voice and the opportunity for controversy possibly avoided.
Śrīla Prabhupāda made it clear however, that the GBC decision must be accepted as final. The presidents’ meeting will be advisory only.
* * *
Tamal Krishna Mahārāja gave a report on his project for China. He has fully accepted his new assignment and has begun to apply himself to the task. Dhṛṣṭadyumna’s father is the chairman of Seagram’s international division, with links in Hong Kong. They intend to consult with him to see how to enter China as businessmen.
Prabhupāda said that he wants something permanent done there—slowly but surely. Tamal Krishna is taking the task very seriously, and Prabhupāda is clearly pleased.
* * *
In a casual moment, while he and I were alone in his room, Śrīla Prabhupāda suddenly, without any prompting, volunteered some interesting information about himself. He told me that once an astrologer informed him that in his previous life he had not committed a single sin. He had been a physician, and just one time, in the course of his work, he had killed a poisonous snake in order to extract the venom for medicine. But this was not considered sinful.
My mind immediately raced with speculation as to who he might have been. I thought of Murāri Gupta, the great devotee and physician in Caitanya-līlā, but I was hesitant to ask. If the spiritual master reveals something about himself out of his own accord, all well and good, but I didn’t feel it my place to intrude directly into his persona. Still, it seemed an opportunity too good to miss, so I discreetly tried to draw Śrīla Prabhupāda into revealing more. “Um, when would that birth have been, Śrīla Prabhupāda?”
His reply was very nonchalant and noncommittal, “Oh, one birth is, say, utmost one hundred years. So you simply calculate from 1896 previously.”
And then he changed the subject.
March 16th, 1976
GAURA PÜRṆIMĀ. The appearance day of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Everyone fasted until moonrise and then took an Ekādaśī feast, although Prabhupāda said this was not compulsory.
* * *
Prabhupāda kept to his regular schedule, walking first up on the roof and then coming down to walk around the grounds.
Prabhupāda’s attentiveness to every detail is nothing short of amazing. As soon as he came out into the cool morning air on the rooftop, he noted a loṭā that was standing next to the freshly watered tulasī plants. None of us thought anything of it, but vexation immediately crossed Prabhupāda’s face. He asked one of the devotees to check if there was a loṭā in the toilet room.
“No, Śrīla Prabhupāda,” was the reply.
Prabhupāda shook his head. He recognized it as one he has been using. “See how aparādhī, offender. They have used that loṭā for watering. Great offender. This is going on, mlecchas and yavanas.” The thought of using a contaminated receptacle to water Śrīmatī Tulasī Devī was abominable to him, and he warned us to see that it does not happen again in the future. “One who has used that, he has no sense how to water the tulasī plant. He should be instructed, ‘You never use that toilet loṭā.’”
It was yet another indication of our lack of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Obviously some of us still think of Tulasī Devī as a mere plant, but Prabhupāda is fully conscious of her exalted position.
During the walk Śrīla Prabhupāda spoke continuously, engaging everyone in debate, challenging and exposing the defects in the philosophy of the Communists and scientists, and training his men how to present Kṛṣṇa consciousness as the topmost system.
He seemed more enlivened than usual, obviously invigorated by the presence of his leading preachers. He talked the whole walk, particularly on the point of leadership in human society. If change is required, or continuous revolution, as the Communists say, then that means imperfection in the leaders. But we have had the same leader, Kṛṣṇa, for millions of years without any need of change.
Then in another incident he demonstrated his ever-watchful concern for our spiritual lives. Surrounded by his sannyāsīs and GBCs, he descended the central staircase to the first floor. He caught sight of a woman waiting to go up to the second floor. He stopped and asked what she was doing.
She said she had to go to see Hridayānanda Goswami.
Prabhupāda became very concerned, and sent for Hridayānanda Mahārāja.
When he came, Prabhupāda demanded to know why he was having a woman visit him in his room. As everyone stood around, Prabhupāda chastised him, saying a sannyāsī should not even talk to a woman. Hridayānanda explained that it was a misunderstanding. She was actually coming with her husband to discuss her initiation.
“That may be,” Śrīla Prabhupāda said, “but I have to respond as I understand it.”
It was a salutary lesson in how careful one must be to protect one’s spiritual life.
* * *
Somehow, as if by divine arrangement, the verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.9.38 was an exact reference to the appearance of Lord Caitanya. It wasn’t planned, as Śrīla Prabhupāda has been lecturing on the verses in order since mid-February. Yet it was exactly appropriate. Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa loudly read out the translation to the packed assembly. “In this way, my Lord, You have appeared in different incarnations, as human beings, as animals, as a great saintly person, as demigods and as a fish and a tortoise. In this way You maintain the whole creation in different planetary systems and kill the demoniac principles in every age. My Lord, You therefore protect the principles of religion. In the age of Kali You do not assert Yourself as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore You are known as Tri-yuga, or the Lord who appears in three yugas.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda gave a long lecture, revealing the purpose of Lord Caitanya’s descent here in Śrī Māyāpur Dhāma, 490 years ago. He explained that the Lord’s mysterious advent can be understood only by the mercy of great devotees like Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. “Caitanya Mahāprabhu is described here as channaḥ kalau. In the Kali-yuga He’s not appearing as other incarnations, not like Nṛsiàhadeva or Vāmanadeva, or Lord Rāmacandra. He is appearing as a devotee. Why?
“Now, this is the most magnanimous avatāra. People are so foolish, they could not understand Kṛṣṇa. When Kṛṣṇa said, sarva-dharmān parityajya māà ekaà śaraṇaà [give up everything and surrender to Me], they took it: ‘Who is this person ordering like that, sarva-dharmān parityajya? What right?’
“That is our material disease. If somebody is ordered to do something, he protests, ‘Who are you to order me?’ This is the position. God Himself, Kṛṣṇa, what can He say? He orders, the Supreme Person, Supreme Being. He must order. He’s the Supreme Controller. That is God. But we are so foolish that when God orders that ‘You do this,’ we take it otherwise: ‘Oh, who is this man? He’s ordering like that. Why shall I give Him? I have created so many dharmas, isms. I shall give it up? Why shall I give it up?’ Therefore the same Lord came again as Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
“Today is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s appearance day, so we must discuss this very thoroughly, [the way] that Rūpa Gosvāmī understood it. Therefore we have to go through guru. Rūpa Gosvāmī is our guru. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura said, rūpa-raghunātha-pade, hoibe ākuti, kabe hāma bujhabo, se yugala-pīriti. If we want to understand the transcendental position of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then we have to go through guru-paramparā system. Otherwise it is not possible.
“So this is channaḥ-avatāra. He’s Kṛṣṇa, He has come to give you kṛṣṇa-prema [love of God] but He’s acting like a Kṛṣṇa devotee. This is covered. He is not commanding now, ‘You do this’—yes, He’s commanding, ‘Do this,’ but in a different way.
“Because people misunderstood, ‘Oh, who is this person commanding?’ Even some so-called rascal scholar, he has said, ‘It’s too much to demand.’ They have remarked like that. Yes, sophisticated persons, they are thinking like that. But our process is to submit. Unless we submit, there is no hope of advancing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s teaching: tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā/ amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ. “If you want to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, then you have to take this principle, tṛṇād api sunīcena. You have to become humbler than the grass. Grass, it is lying on the street. Everyone is trampling down. Never protests.
“Taror api sahiṣṇunā. And more tolerant than the tree. The tree is giving us so much help. It is giving us fruit, flower, leaves, and when there is scorching heat, shelter also. Sit down underneath. So beneficial—still, we cut. As soon as I like, I cut it down. But there is no protest. The tree does not say, ‘I have given you so much help, and you are cutting me?’ No. Tolerant, yes. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu has selected.
“And amāninā mānadena. For oneself one should not expect any respectful position, but he, the devotee, should offer all respect to anyone. Amāninā mānadena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ. If we acquire this qualification, then we can chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra without any disturbance. This is the qualification. So Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to teach these principles.”
* * *
In mid-morning Prabhupāda spoke again, this time at a grand initiation ceremony and fire yajṣa. He awarded sannyāsa to seven men, brāhmaṇa to fifteen devotees, and hari-nāma initiation to twenty-five.
The devotees had beautifully decorated the entire temple room with flags, festoons, and banana trees. Prabhupāda’s vyāsāsana had an abundant array of flowers hanging from its umbrella.
A central aisle was left clear, from Prabhupāda to the Deity room at the other end of the temple. On either side the new initiates sat before him, each behind a leaf plate containing some grains and a banana for offering into the fire. Behind them, over five hundred devotees crammed in, eager to watch the ceremony.
Śrīla Prabhupāda described brāhmaṇa initiation as the means of elevating one to the highest position in society. It is not dependant on birth, but on qualification, and it culminates in sannyāsa. “Caitanya Mahāprabhu also wanted to introduce this system. Kibā śūdra, kibā vipra, nyāsī kene naya, yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā sei ‘guru’ haya. He never accepted this, that by birth... no. Either he is a brāhmaṇa or he is a śūdra, by caste or by birth; either he’s a gṛhastha or a sannyāsī, it doesn’t matter. He can become a guru. How? Yei kṛṣṇa tattva vettā. One who knows the principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one who understands Kṛṣṇa, he can become a guru.
“So guru is the post given to the sannyāsīs, to the brāhmaṇas. Without becoming a brāhmaṇa, nobody can become a sannyāsī, and sannyāsī is supposed to be the guru of both all the āśramas and all the varṇas.
“So the preaching work... We require so many sannyāsīs. People are suffering all over the world for want of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. My Guru Mahārāja used to say that there is no scarcity, this is false propaganda. The only scarcity is that there is no Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is the difficulty. Actually that is the fact... .
“Anyone who knows the science of Kṛṣṇa, he can spread this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. And there is great necessity, great necessity. And the preaching work is meant for the sannyāsīs. So we have got some sannyāsīs who are doing very nicely, so today we shall make a number of sannyāsīs more to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world. And those who are going to take sannyāsa, they should remember how much responsibility they have got. Live like a very strict sannyāsī.”
Noting the youthfulness of the sannyāsa candidates (all except Hansadūta are in their mid-twenties) and the fact that all are from the West (Prabhupāda decided not to award it to Tatpur dāsa this year after several doubts were raised by others on his maturity), Prabhupāda encouraged them to push on the movement. “Caitanya Mahāprabhu took Himself sannyāsa at the age of twenty-four years. So it is not that in old age one has to take sannyāsa. That is not in the śāstra. From brahmacārī āśrama one can enter into the gṛhastha āśrama or vānaprastha āśrama or sannyāsa āśrama, as he thinks fit. There are no such rules and regulations that only the old man without any energy, he’ll take sannyāsa. No. Rather, the young men... Just like Caitanya Mahāprabhu did personally. He had beautiful wife, young wife, sixteen years old. At home, very, very affectionate mother, and His position was very great. As a young man He could collect hundreds of thousands of men by His order only, to make civil disobedience movement upon the Kazi, in this land. So the civil disobedience movement was started by Caitanya Mahāprabhu for a good cause.
“So there are so many things. I especially appeal to the natives of this land to take part in this movement of Caitanya Mahāprabhu for the benefit of the world. And we are trying to construct a very attractive temple here. Let them co-operate. It doesn’t matter whether he is Hindu, Muslim. Caitanya Mahāprabhu is for everyone.”
Hansadūta, Rāmeśvara, Ādi Keśava, Dhṛṣṭadyumna, Pramāṇa, Śatadhanya, and Jagat Guru were effulgent in their new saffron lungi and uttarīyah. One by one they prostrated themselves before Śrīla Prabhupāda and received from the hand of His Divine Grace the tridaṇḍa that will now symbolize their total commitment to a life of renunciation. Then each of the first-initiates came forward to receive a new spiritual name and a set of beads. Finally, the sacred fire was lit and mantras chanted, bringing the ceremony to a highly successful completion.
* * *
Attendance at our temple for the Gaura Pūrṇimā day was phenomenal. Estimates of the number of pilgrims entering the front gate ranged between 9,000–25,000 per hour, depending on the time of day. The flow continued for well over seven hours.
Most of the visitors saw the picture exhibit as well as the temple. The road from the front gate to the temple was so packed it became nearly impossible to walk. The local police reported that people were coming from all over Bengal simply to see our ISKCON temple.
Many devotees sold copies of the Gītār-gāna, and mass distribution of halavā prasādam went on throughout the day.
Prabhupāda was extremely pleased with the turnout. Before our ISKCON temple was established here, only a few hundred people would venture to this side of the river from Navadvīpa on Gaura Pūrṇimā day. None would come after dark. Now, within a mere three years, the Śrī Māyāpur Candrodaya Mandir has become the chief attraction, not just in the local district but in the whole of Bengal. This has drawn the attention of hundreds of thousands to the sacred birth site and activities of Lord Caitanya.
* * *
In the early afternoon Tamal Krishna Mahārāja brought the Rādhā Dāmodara party for a special darśana with Śrīla Prabhupāda. Rādhā Dāmodara TSKP has over one hundred men working out of six Greyhound-style buses, twenty-five men under Tripurāri Swami working in six airports, and another ten men presently converting two more buses.
Over seventy eager young men, most of them in their early twenties, packed the room and crowded the doorways. They gave Prabhupāda a large donation of travelers checks, and he encouraged them to continue their work of book distribution and fund-raising.
He complimented their efforts, and showed them the plans for future Māyāpur development. Encouraging them to collect more and more funds for Māyāpur’s construction, he told them, “So you are the pillars of this construction work. We are doing all our construction work on your contribution. So go on preaching and distributing books.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda was in the best of humor, and deeply appreciative of the work his disciples are doing to establish Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the world. Typically, he wanted to know whether they were all comfortably situated. Tamal Krishna informed him they were occupying an entire wing of the building on the floor above.
Prabhupāda shook his head in mild wonder. He said that when this first building was completed, he was thinking, “Such a big building! How will it be filled?” Now it is packed and overflowing. He likened it to the appearance of Matsya-avatāra, the fish incarnation. When He first appeared He was tiny, and a muni kept Him within his water pot. Yet He continued to grow and grow, and each time He was put into a bigger container. Finally He was put into the ocean, and still that was not big enough.
Glancing affectionately at the bright youthful faces, Prabhupāda declared, “Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s soldiers to fight with māyā!”
They cheered back, “Jaya, Prabhupāda!”
Prabhupāda went on to explain that cooperation is the essence of the movement. Quoting a line from Ohe Vaiṣṇava Ṭhākura he told them, “The purport of the verse is that even Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu—He is God himself, Kṛṣṇa Himself—He felt, alone, unable to do this task. So this is the position. You are cooperating; therefore I am getting the credit. Otherwise alone what could I do?
“Ekakī āmāra nāhi pāya bol. Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself wanted our cooperation. He is God, Kṛṣṇa. Therefore cooperation is very important thing. Nobody should think that ‘I have got so great ability. I can do.’ No. It is simply by cooperation we can do very big thing. ‘United we stand; divided we fall.’ So be strong in pushing on Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and Kṛṣṇa will help. He is the strongest.
“Still, we must be combined together. Saṅkīrtana means many men combined together chanting. That is saṅkīrtana. Otherwise kīrtana. Bahubhir militvā kīrtayeti saṅkīrtana. Bahu means many; many combined together. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mission—combined together. All nations, all persons, they should combine together. There is hope in our society, combination. There are Hindus; there are Muslims; there are Christians; there are black, white. Combine them. That looks very beautiful, just like combination of many flowers.”
Bringing the darśana to a close, Prabhupāda glorified them with a final few words of praise. “Hare Kṛṣṇa. All glories to the saṅkīrtana party, Rādhā Dāmodara!”
* * *
Nanda Kumāra Swami arrived from Africa. He gave a depressing report on ISKCON’s Africa mission. He said Brahmānanda Swami is struggling very hard but meeting with little success.
* * *
Hansadūta Swami’s two Mercedes buses finally came in from Germany, via Vṛndāvana, to considerable fanfare and interest from the devotees. Akṣayānanda Swami also accompanied them.
The bullock cart party sent out from Hyderabad has also arrived, successfully completing a journey of some fifteen hundred kilometers.
* * *
The beautiful moon rose at 6:20 p.m. Brilliant and full in the sky, it bathed the countryside in its cooling luminescent rays, symbolizing the transcendental appearance of the Lord and the fulfillment of His mission.
Prabhupāda broke his fast, taking prasādam at 7:45 p.m.
The grounds and temple were mobbed with pilgrims. It was virtually impossible to go down into the temple room, and the narrow road to the front gate was jammed with tens of thousands of Vaiṣṇavas.
At one point Prabhupāda sent me out to see how many visitors had come, and he was very, very happy to hear of the large crowds. Typically, he wanted assurance that prasādam was being distributed to all.
March 17th, 1976
During his morning walk on the roof, Prabhupāda heard a brief report of yesterday’s festival. He was extremely pleased. Crowd estimates ranged up to 200,000 visitors. Prabhupāda said that’s why he had originally planned four buildings as well as a temple.
Turning to Jayapatāka Mahārāja he told his entourage of GBCs and new sannyāsīs, “All this credit goes to Jayapatāka Mahārāja. Yes. He is struggling from the very beginning. Others who were in the beginning, they have all gone away.”
He also heartened Tamal Krishna by declaring, “Next year the Chinese men must come!”
As he strolled around the perimeter of the roof, Prabhupāda switched to his favorite topic, science and the theory of chance. He said that the scientists cling to their various theories, even though they lack proofs and are constantly defeated by the superior power of God.
Yaśodānandana Swami offered the French philosopher Voltaire as a prime example of stubbornness. He was an atheist. When a Catholic priest came to him and asked, “Why don’t you accept God?,” he refused. But at the end of his life he became crazy, driven to consuming his own stool and urine.
Prabhupāda laughingly depicted the intransigence of the scientists with a funny story about “scissor philosophy.” One man declared that a piece of paper had been cut with a knife. A second said no, it was done with scissors. An argument ensued, and the first man, being stronger, took the other to a river. There he told him, “Now, if you don’t agree that it was a knife I shall throw you into this water!”
The other continued to insist, “It was scissors!”
So he was tossed into the river and began to drown. Still he would not concede. As he disappeared, his hand emerged from beneath the surface with two fingers moving together like a pair of scissors. “No, it is scissor! It is scissor!”
To loud laughter, Prabhupāda thrust his hand into the air and wiggled his fingers in imitation, both charming and entertaining us as he told us this was the definition of a rascal—even thought he is losing his life, still he obstinately refuses to accept the superior force of God. This is the typical materialistic scientific mentality.
* * *
In the late afternoon, two letters from Siddha Svarūpa and Sudāmā Vipra Swamis were delivered to Prabhupāda’s room. They both departed abruptly on the eve of Gaura Pūrṇimā after a violent, unprovoked incident in which Sudāmā Vipra punched Caru dāsa in the stomach as he descended the stairs, knocking him to the floor.
Sudāmā Vipra’s letter claimed that Caru is involved in a plot, led by Madhudviṣa and Gargamuni Swamis, to kill Siddha Svarūpa. If anything were to happen to Siddha Svarūpa, Sudāmā Vipra threatened, there would be what he called a “fratricidal war,” and Madhudviṣa would be killed.
Śrīla Prabhupāda shook his head in disgust. He didn’t believe the accusation, and he said Sudāmā Vipra was crazy. Calling him a first-class guṇḍā, or thug, he instructed Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja to keep the letter on file as a precaution.
Siddha Svarūpa’s letter was apologetic, but agreed in principle with Sudāmā Vipra’s. Under the circumstances he wrote, he found it impossible to remain in Māyāpur.
March 18th, 1976
Prabhupāda followed his usual program.
He had us discuss the position of the sun and moon during his walk, contrasting what the scientists say with the statements of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
As a simple example of how planets move in relationship to each other, he pointed to a tree. He explained that all the planets are like the branches in relation to the trunk. Their positions are fixed and the whole structure is moving, rotating around the Pole star. And the sun is moving on its own course around the whole thing. He confirmed that the Bhāgavatam describes the moon as a self-luminous planet covered with a cooling atmosphere, not a reflective one. Because it is further away than the sun, it is not as bright.
Śrīla Prabhupāda presents himself as a layman, and of course, we are not experts in science either, but still, it is clear that the modern theories cannot match up to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s exegesis of the Vedic literatures. It is apparent that most things taught in the schools and colleges on these subjects are bogus.
Tamal Krishna had a sudden realization of the revolutionary nature and importance of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s future plans for Māyāpur. “The scientists are getting smashed to bits by your statements, Śrīla Prabhupāda. This destroys their whole theory... I think that this Māyāpur building, we must build a big planetarium in it.”
“Yes. That I am going to do, Vedic planetarium.”
“Oh, boy. You’re going to bring a lot of... A lot of scientists will come here just to dispute this.”
“Yes,” Prabhupāda agreed. “World people will come to see the way the planetary systems... .”
“We should advertise it very widely that this is the actual, factual explanation of the universe.”
“This will be automatically advertised,” Prabhupāda told us. “As soon as the temple is finished, people will come like anything.” Then he started laughing. He summed up his approach to the scientists. “The thing is, on principle, we shall only go against them. On principle. Whatever they say ‘Yes,’ we say ‘No.’”
We all laughed in appreciation. Śrīla Prabhupāda is a genuine revolutionary. He has a clarity of vision that is unlimited in scope. He is challenging the whole of the world’s scientific community without any fear or doubt.
And there are no doubts in our minds about him. Prabhupāda is out to change the world, and there is nowhere we’d rather be than right here with him.
* * *
The day was peaceful, and the devotees were happily content to see Prabhupāda during class and for darśana.
Immediately after class all the devotees gathered on the lawn at the side of the temple for a group photo, forming a huge U, with Śrīla Prabhupāda in the center.
* * *
Some devotees are now beginning to leave for Vṛndāvana for the second leg of the festival.
March 19th, 1976
Prabhupāda had a lot to say this morning on his walk about the poor standards of today’s education and civilization. One of the devotees began to object, “But they will say...”
Prabhupāda quickly replied, “They say anything because they are rascals. Pagale ki na bale chagale kiba na khaya: ‘A madman, what he does not say? And a goat, what he does not eat?’”
He went out onto the front road to inspect the new paintings being done on the wall. On the whole, he liked the style, but he said Pāṇḍu should use brighter colors. The present ones are too dark. “It is India,” he said, smiling. “It is not London, always foggy!”
* * *
Prabhupāda reminded his new initiates, and all of us, in class about the good opportunity he has given us through initiation to cross over to the other side of the river of death.
Prabhupāda especially stressed that we should not fall back. “We finish all the resultant action of contamination of this material life, provided we remain without being fallen again. Therefore there is dāsa-vidha-nāmāparādha. You know the ten kinds of offenses.
“So if you chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, being careful not to commit the ten kinds of offenses, then you are immediately liberated. The most dangerous offense is if we think that ‘I am so fortunate. I have got this hari-nāma and it can vanquish all kinds of sinful reaction, so very good instrument. So I go on committing all kinds of sinful activities and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. Then it will be neutralized.’ This is the most dangerous offense. Nāmnād balād yasya hi pāpa-buddhiḥ. Because I know that by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa I shall be free from all resultant action of sinful life, let me go on, and throughout whole day I shall commit all kinds of sinful activities and in the evening I shall chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. Then everything will be finished. This rascaldom is very, very dangerous.
“We must be very careful. Don’t take the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra as an instrument to neutralize your sinful activities. It is a fact that as soon as you are initiated with the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, you become free, but don’t commit it again.”
* * *
Māyāpur is again peaceful. Most of the pilgrims have returned home, many of our devotees have left, and work has recommenced on the new building.
Prabhupāda was sitting quietly in his room, relishing the blissful atmosphere created by the melodic Bengali kīrtana floating out from the temple room below. He told us the chanting is the only solace; it is nothing material. He even suggested that five hundred men at a time could come here to Māyāpur simply to chant.
March 20th 1976
Before the festival a man named Prabhu Svarūpa came to Māyāpur to see Prabhupāda. He requested ISKCON’s involvement at a place called Haridāspur, just on the border with Bangladesh. Śrīla Prabhupāda agreed to visit there with his foreign disciples, and so today he left by car in the early morning, a drive which took three hours.
Haridāspur is named after Haridāsa Ṭhākura, the great ācārya of the holy name, to commemorate his stay there.
The man’s āśrama turned out to be a small cottage situated on six bighas (two acres) of land, on the outskirts of the village, with a small, run-down shrine to Ṭhākura Haridāsa.
Prabhupāda spent four hours in a derelict, single-room, brick building with only gaping holes for a roof, door, and windows and an uneven, overgrown, earthen floor. We had to hang our chaddars over the openings to give him some privacy while he took his breakfast, massage, bath, and lunch, all in the same place.
Other devotees also came in several buses and were entertained by Gurudāsa Mahārāja, who told them stories of Haridāsa Ṭhākura and Lord Caitanya.
After his lunch, Prabhupāda gave a brief, fifteen-minute speech to the small crowd, comprised mainly of our own devotees. Then he left.
After Prabhupāda’s speech, prasādam was served. It was cooked locally in mustard oil, and later in the day many devotees were reported to be suffering diarrhoea from it.
Despite the inconvenience, the poor reception, and the long drive, Śrīla Prabhupāda had no complaints. He was merciful and kind to Prabhu Svarūpa and asked him to work with Jayapatāka Swami to let us gradually help to develop the place.
* * *
Prabhupāda decided when he got back that he will not go on TSKP with Hansadūta Swami because the strain of traveling by road is too much for him. But he encouraged Hansadūta to continue on with his plans to tour and preach throughout India.
We were back in Māyāpur by late afternoon. Śrīla Prabhupāda had a brief rest and then allowed the devotees to come for darśana. He was relaxed and peaceful, appreciative that so many young Westerners have come so far and done so much for spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Yet he hardly acknowledged his own great sacrifices.
His presence alone generates a pleasing atmosphere of transparence and sobriety. The devotees crowd his room just to be there with him, regardless of what he says. But he always has something valuable to say, a lesson to teach, another insight to offer. A year’s hard work is fulfilled simply by being with him for a few minutes. And to be with him here in Māyāpur, the spiritual world, is an added bonus.
Today he talked about the present generation and why so many have become hippies, rejecting all the so-called comforts offered by their parents. He said that the fact that young people are adopting lower standards is an indication that such a so-called civilization actually stems from irreligion. Lacking guidance, women have become uncontrolled and have fallen prey to lusty men, with varṇa-saṅkara, or unwanted, irresponsible children the direct result.
March 21st, 1976
Today was Śrīla Prabhupāda’s final day in Māyāpur.
Jayapatāka Mahārāja was instructed during the walk to arrange a meeting with Śrīla Lalitā Prasāda Ṭhākura, the only remaining brother of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī. Prabhupāda wants to meet with him on his way into Calcutta tomorrow.
Apparently Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta had some difference of opinion with Lalitā Prasāda. Lalitā Prasāda is a bābājī, a member of a class of reclusive devotees who remain aloof from the general population and simply chant the mahā-mantra. His brother, on the other hand, was a sannyāsī, an active preacher who created a large movement and attracted much opposition in the process. Apparently Lalitā Prasāda considers himself to be more confidentially situated in his relationship with the previous ācāryas and Kṛṣṇa.
Despite this, Śrīla Prabhupāda has been negotiating to get either a lease or ownership of the birthsite of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, the father of Bhaktisiddhānta and Lalitā Prasāda, and our spiritual great-great grandfather. He wants to renovate the place and maintain a preaching center there. Prabhupāda has met with Lalitā Prasāda previously, who said he was willing to cooperate with us. He has not been able to develop the birthsite, but still some of his men are hesitating. He has a committee to manage his affairs, and now it appears they want another meeting.
Without raking up the controversial points, Śrīla Prabhupāda made a few observations by which we could understand the actual symptoms of confidential service. “So what is the use of such men? Why he’s keeping these men? They cannot do anything. He gets some pension, and he spends that money. But they are not doing anything. So what is the meaning of this committee?”
Jayapatāka Mahārāja told Prabhupāda that the Ṭhākura has admitted that many times he has told some of his men to leave their family life and take up some preaching, but they don’t do it.
“How they’ll do it?” Prabhupāda rejoined. “They do not know how to preach. Neither they are trained up. That means it is his disqualification. He could not train them how to preach. Even Caitanya Mahāprabhu, He was training Haridāsa Ṭhākura, Nityānanda, ‘Go there. Preach there. Do that.’ My Guru Mahārāja was doing that. But he [Lalitā Prasāda] has no power. He cannot do it. He simply talks that he is a very confidential devotee. That’s all. He cannot preach. Otherwise Prabhupāda developed this Māyāpur, and he could not do anything. That means he has no such power.”
“He should have developed that place,” Jayapatāka Swami ventured.
“Yes. He simply talks of big, big work. In the beginning, Prabhupāda had no committee, nothing of the sort. That he’ll not admit, that he has no power to do so. He simply thinks that he is a very confidential son of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura.”
Going down to the front gate, Prabhupāda went to inspect the painting of the front wall.
The gurukula children were gleefully yelling “Jaya Prabhupāda! Haribol!” all the way down the road and he reciprocated with smiles and “Hare Kṛṣṇa!” He has a ingenuous rapport with them, innocents entrusted to him to send back to home, back to Godhead. And they love him without reservation, putting in him their full trust, as guileless young children do.
As he made his way out the gate, he emphasized why he has had such success in his preaching mission. “You must be always convinced that if we simply take up the knowledge given by Kṛṣṇa, then you are perfect. That’s all. A little success is there for me, [more] than other svāmīs and yogis. It is due to my conviction on this point. I never compromised with anything which is not spoken by Kṛṣṇa. Did you mark it or not?”
All the devotees replied in unison. “Yes.”
One of the devotees recalled a previous instruction that Śrīla Prabhupāda had given. “One time you told us, Śrīla Prabhupāda, to meet every man at his door and ask him to give up everything he knows and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa.”
“Yes. That is simple. ‘You rascal, you give up whatever you have learned to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa.’” He smiled at us. “Don’t say rascal, but indirectly. ‘What ever you have learned, it is all nonsense. You give up everything, kicked out, and simply become adherent to Caitanya.’ This is our preaching. And what Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, yāre dekhe, tāre kaha ‘kṛṣṇa’-upadeśa. That’s all.”
Paṣcadraviḍa Swami asked him to repeat the reason for his success.
Prabhupāda obliged. “Because I stick to Kṛṣṇa’s word! I go to present Bhagavad-gītā as it is. We don’t make any amendment. Therefore we decry eulogizing Gandhi, Dr. Radhakrishnan, Aurobindo, this, that... all rascals! Because they tried to amend it.”
Prabhupāda recalled a recent review of his Bhagavad-gītā As It Is by Francois Chenique, Professor of Religious Sciences at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris. This man has written very appreciatively. “Śrīla Prabhupāda’s edition thus fills a sensitive gap in France, where many hope to become familiar with traditional Indian thought, beyond the commercial East-West hodgepodge that has arisen since the time the Europeans first penetrated India. Whether the reader be an adept of Indian spiritualism or not, a reading of the Bhagavad-gītā As It Is will be extremely profitable. For many this will be the first contact with the true India, the ancient India, the eternal India.”
“That is admitted by the French professor,” Prabhupāda said. That they have all tried to make it modernized. But I have not done that. ‘Here is a spiritual master in disciplic succession, so we are indebted to him, to understand the original traditional knowledge.’ Everyone who is after truth will accept. And if you are bogus, want to be cheated and cheat others, then he’ll not. Ninety-nine percent are cheaters and cheated. This is the position. All these cheaters they are cheating and they accept to be cheated.
“If I am very clever but I don’t go to be cheated, nobody can cheat me. But these rascals, they want to be cheated. If you say, ‘What is the wrong in illicit sex?’ that means you want to be cheated. And if we say, and the press will go, ‘Oh this svāmī is very conservative.’ This is the position. We want cheap things because we want to be cheated. And here are so many cheaters, they will take advantage and cheat you. This is going on.”
Paṣcadraviḍa mentioned again that Allen Ginsberg had said that Prabhupāda was very conservative.
“Yes. Because he wants to be cheated. And he cheats others. Some followers, he is cheating.”
Paṣcadraviḍa Mahārāja repeated a slogan the Ramakrishna mission uses to summarize its philosophy. It means ‘Whatever path one follows, you get the same result.’ It well represents the kind of mentality Prabhupāda was describing.
Prabhupāda agreed with his observation. “Yata mat, tata path. Yes, this is going on. This business is to ruin the innocent persons, who are being cheated. And we don’t want to cheat them. Whatever Kṛṣṇa says—our business is very simple.”
* * *
A letter from Raṇadhira dāsa, who runs the BBT Mail Order department in Los Angeles, informed Prabhupāda of the mailing of 200,000 copies of The Kṛṣṇa Consciousness Movement Is Authorized to the “leading citizens of the United States.” As well as this they are compiling a list of over 2,500 professors who have ordered one or more of Prabhupāda’s books. In addition, Raṇadhira enclosed a list of every library and all the professors who have taken a standing order of the full set.
Prabhupāda was very pleased to receive the material. He asked Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja to keep the lists in his standing file. (Prabhupāda’s secretary carries two files. One is for correspondence and is cleared out every few months. The other is a “standing file” containing important documents, news clips, etc. which Śrīla Prabhupāda uses in his preaching.) In his reply Prabhupda asked Raṇadhira to “please continue with this important work.”
There was a letter from a devotee in Nairobi, Mahāvirya dāsa. Written on the appearance day of Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī, it described a dramatic reason why he now wants permission to take bābājī initiation. “Recently while here in the Nairobi ISKCON center, the temple was attacked, and I was practically sliced to death by thieves and murderers. I was unconscious for two days, hospitalized for twenty- eight, and now I presently have the use of only one hand and arm. I consider this the Lord’s mercy. I am suffering still, conditional, fallen and the greatest fool, so I beg you to please give me permission to chant daily ninety rounds.”
Even with that heartfelt plea, Prabhupāda was cautious. Mahāvirya is still only twenty-seven years old. So Prabhupāda wrote back, deferring his decision until next time he goes to Nairobi. As he told him, “I gave babaji initiation to one other devotee but now he is off somewhere restless.”
* * *
Tamal Krishna Mahārāja reported to Śrīla Prabhupāda that Viṣṇujana Swami has disappeared. He has failed to appear since he asked Śrīla Prabhupāda his questions about Choṭa Haridāsa up on the roof. One of the devotees saw him the day after, on the morning of March 12th, on the train to Calcutta, and no one has seen him since.
Prabhupāda didn’t seem to take it too seriously. He appeared unperturbed. He doesn’t think there has been any mishap, he thinks he simply doesn’t want to serve.
* * *
With Prabhupāda’s permission I took my one and only bath in the Ganges before we left. She was flowing swiftly, and swimming was difficult.
Prabhupāda has decided to bring along Anantarāma Śāstrī as part of his party, to assist him with the Sanskrit grammar checking in his books.
* * *
In the afternoon devotees gathered in Prabhupāda’s room for a last darśana. On behalf of the Philadelphia temple, Ravīndra Svarūpa prabhu gave him an eighteen-carat gold ring made by Gopīnātha dāsa. Prabhupāda held it for a moment, puzzled as to what the design was. “It is a crown?” he asked.
Ravīndra Svarūpa reached forward and turned it up the other way. That revealed the words “Hare Kṛṣṇa,” with three small diamonds forming the diacritic dots under “Kṛṣṇa.”
Prabhupāda smiled with pleasure and appreciation, and he slipped it on the little finger of his right hand. Then, opening the drawer in his desk, he pulled out another ring, a large, decorative, golden one with a big, black stone, which he handed to Bhavānanda Mahārāja. Very gratefully, Bhavānanda immediately put it on, and it fitted perfectly.