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Chapter One


April 19th, 1976

Our plane landed in Sydney at 10:00 A.M., three hours late. Jayadharma dāsa, the president of the Sydney temple, was waiting in the transit lounge to join our flight to Melbourne. Together with a new devotee who works for the airlines, he offered Śrīla Prabhupāda a flower garland and a large silver platter of sweets and cut fruits. Śrīla Prabhupāda took a few bites of prasādam, and we distributed the rest to the other passengers. Most were happy to accept, and within a few minutes the plate was empty. We left at 11:00 A.M. and arrived in Melbourne just after noon. 

Before landing we filled out the customary landing cards, which also required a list of baggage. Without thinking carefully, we filled out Prabhupāda’s card indicating that he had one suitcase. Once off the plane we passed through immigration without difficulty and entered the baggage hall. We decided that Śrīla Prabhupāda and I should go directly through customs carrying only his red attachê case, and Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami would bring the suitcases. However, the customs officer insisted that Prabhupāda wait for the suitcase indicated on his form. I pleaded strongly with the man to please allow Śrīla Prabhupāda to go through immediately. I assured him that I would wait and take full responsibility for the suitcase. I pointed out that there were no chairs for Prabhupāda to sit down on and it would take at least a half an hour more for the bags to come off the plane; Prabhupāda was over eighty years old, had been traveling for so many hours, and it was unnecessary to make him wait; and I had packed his bag for him anyway. 

Despite my best attempts, the customs official was utterly uncooperative and refused to allow Śrīla Prabhupāda to go through. The discussion became heated as my temper rose. A small crowd of passengers gathered around us to see what the disturbance was. Śrīla Prabhupāda just walked away and stood quietly to the side. The official was obdurate; he returned to his post, leaving me standing there fuming.  

Two minutes later an airport policeman approached me to ask what was going on. I explained that we simply wanted Prabhupāda to be allowed to go straight through customs without his bag. He asked, “Is all that going on because of him?” That was the loud roar of a tremendous hari-nāma kīrtana coming through the doors leading into the arrival hall. The kīrtana could be clearly heard above all the airport noise and public-address announcements. Gurukṛpa Swami and a large number of devotees were excitedly banging karatālas, beating mṛdaṅgas, and chanting so loudly that airport officials had moved them away from the main greeting area—but still the sound drowned out everything else. With every opening and closing of the doors the intense chanting boomed louder and then receded. The sounds of the holy names uplifted us, and when Prabhupāda heard it he inquired innocently, “This is our men?”  

The airport security personnel were somewhat bewildered as to how to handle the situation. “Will they stop if he goes through?” the policeman asked. I assured him “Yes, they will.” And within seconds Prabhupāda was allowed to pass through, leaving Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa and myself to wait for the bags. As Prabhupāda disappeared through the door and was spotted by the devotees, the kīrtana reached a terrific crescendo with loud shouts of “Jaya Prabhupāda!” The noise stopped abruptly, and Prabhupāda was taken into the VIP lounge, where devotees had arranged a press conference. 

While Prabhupāda conversed amiably with a host of news reporters, I experienced another dramatic episode. As I brought Prabhupāda’s suitcase to the customs check, the officer (a different one this time), not wanting another scene, smiled and said that it would take but a moment. “Ah, could you just open the case?” he asked.  

I obliged, and he gave a cursory squint under the lid. He was just about to close it when a huge, two-inch cockroach leaped out. It must have taken shelter inside Prabhupāda’s winter coat in Bombay and obviously decided that Australia was a better home. But this was not to be. The customs officer reacted instantly. “Quarantine! Quarantine!” he shouted, and hit a big red button.  

My heart froze as a loud buzzer went off and a big red light began flashing. Someone rushed over with two large cans of bug spray, and I had visions of being stuck there for hours. But the man simply smiled reassuringly—it was all under control. Whap! The poor bug was summarily executed on the desk top. The contents of the two cans were emptied into the case and the lid slammed shut. It took hardly a minute, and then I was on my way at last, the customs official offering me a smile and best wishes for my stay in Australia.  

Meanwhile, Prabhupāda was winning over the reporters with his friendliness and sincerity. Even though he had been traveling for almost twenty-two hours, Prabhupāda was happy to honor the arrangements made by the enthusiastic devotees for the interview. At the end of the conference he gave a reporter his flower garland, distributed prasādam to the others, and then left by car for the temple.  

Though tired, during the forty-minute drive Prabhupāda chatted continuously with Gurukṛpa Swami, the new GBC for Australia, and Balarāma dāsa, the president of the Melbourne temple. During the course of their discussion, Gurukṛpa Mahārāja gave a glowing report of the progress of the Australian yātrā, yet he hinted that there was something he wished to bring up later in private.  

ISKCON Melbourne Mahāprabhu Mandira 

197 Danks Street, Albert Park 

Upon arrival, although it was 2:30 P.M., Prabhupāda went straight into the temple room and had a special darśana of the Deities: Śrī Śrī Gaura-Nitāi, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Vallabha, and Śrī Śrī Jagannātha, Baladeva, and Subhadrā. He then gave a ten-minute lecture to the packed devotee audience.  

Oṁ ajñāna-timirāndhasya jñānāñjana-śalākayā/ cakṣur unmīlitaṁ yena tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ. Now the time is too late. I wish to take my bath. I’ll not speak very much now. But this much I must express, my obligation that you are worshiping the Deity so nicely. That is my great happiness, and that is your happiness also. The more gloriously you worship the Deity, decorate the Deity as gorgeously as possible, the more gorgeous you will be. That is the secret. The materialistic, they are trying to dress themselves very gorgeously, and gradually their dress is being taken away by māyā, and voluntarily they are becoming hippies. Because they did not try to dress Kṛṣṇa, therefore māyā is taking their dresses. So the secret of success is that everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa. Simply you have to collect them and offer for the pleasure of Kṛṣṇa.” 

He stressed that the “secret of success” is to offer everything to Kṛṣṇa. He told the eager young devotees that he has given “a glimpse of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement” in the Western countries, and it is now up to them to take it.  

After leaving the temple room he went up to his rooms. Still thinking of the Deities, he told us that the worship here is as good a standard as in New York and Los Angeles, even though there isn’t as much expenditure. Last May, when Prabhupāda officially opened this temple and installed the large, four-foot-high brass Deities of Śrī Śrī Gaura-Nitāi, he referred to the temple as “Melbourne Mahāprabhu Mandir.” Now, after seeing the beautiful Deities, his thoughts turned once again to the merciful nature of the two divine brothers, and he commented that Gaura-Nitāi worship is so nice that They can be worshiped merely by performing kīrtana.

* * * 

The temple property here—nearly an acre of land—consists of two large buildings and some small, well-tended gardens. The temple room is on the ground floor of a two-story red brick structure that formerly contained four schoolrooms. It has a split-level marble floor, carved marble altars from Jaipur, custom-built fancy columns and arches, and large glass chandeliers imported from India. The other building is a large mansion: ornate, stately, and listed by the National Trust for its historical importance. The devotees renamed it “Prabhupāda House” and fitted out two rooms for him on the upper floor—a large one for work and darśana, with an attached bathroom, and an adjoining bedroom. Before ISKCON purchased the place the main room was a private chapel for the priests who ran the school. It looks impressive with its polished parquet floor, large ornamental ceiling roses, architraves, and stained-glass windows. Prabhupāda likes his quarters here. 

Prabhupāda took his massage immediately in the center of his darśana room; he bathed and then, at 4:30 P.M., honored prasādam prepared by the local devotees. Then he retired to his bedroom for about an hour. 

Shortly after Prabhupāda got up, Gurukṛpa and Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa mahārājas had the private meeting with him that Gurukṛpa Swami had asked for on the drive from the airport. Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa wouldn’t disclose to me what it was about, but it appears connected to local affairs. 

* * * 

After resting, Prabhupāda came down into the temple at 7:30 P.M. The devotees have arranged to have a temple program each evening during his visit, so Prabhupāda will speak at that time rather than in the morning. Tonight he delivered a dynamic lecture on Bhagavad-gītā 9.1, elaborately explaining how to understand God as the Supreme Being. Nearly one hundred devotees from all over Australia, plus some twenty guests, listened attentively and asked thoughtful questions at the end.  

One young Christian man had a lengthy exchange with Prabhupāda. He first pointed out that in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement we say, “I am not this body,” but as a Christian, he would say, “This is my body, and this is my blood.” In other words he felt there was something wrong with our apparent rejection of the body, because the body is in fact the self.  

Prabhupāda took his statement and gave it a different interpretation. “To say ‘my body’ or ‘my blood’ means the body or blood is not me. The blood belongs to me, so ‘me’ is different.”  

Despite Prabhupāda’s obvious logic, the boy’s thinking was shrouded in dogma, and he had difficulty understanding the concept. “The point is that it makes it one. It makes body and soul one if one says, ‘This is my body and this is my blood.’ ” 

Prabhupāda disagreed. “No. It requires a little intelligence. Just like you are breathing. So when the breathing is stopped, you say, ‘The man is dead.’ But what is this breathing? This breathing is nothing but a little portion of air passing. So you can artificially make that arrangement, air passing, but does it mean that it will bring life? So therefore breathing is not life. Life is different from breathing. You have to study scientifically.” 

He gave the example of the bellows, making everyone laugh as he imitated its mechanical ‘breathing.’ “Hans, phans, hans, phans. Does it mean life? No. Therefore you have to study every part of your body. You’ll find there is no life. Therefore life is different from this combination of matter. This is intelligence. Analyze your body part by part, then you come to understand. Don’t jump over. Your question was, ‘The body’s not different from the life.’ So it is different. You analyze this body. Take this and you study it; you’ll find no living force there. So how the living force is equal or identical with the body?” 

Finally the youth conceded, “All right, I agree. I . . . ” 

“Then you accept the soul is different from the body?” Prabhupāda inquired. 

“Yes, I understand.” But no sooner had he accepted than he launched into another faulty premise, “So you call that Kṛṣṇa. But God is God. God’s name is God, not Kṛṣṇa. You may call Him Kṛṣṇa if you want.” 

Although the devotees were becaming a bit restless with the boy’s questioning, Śrīla Prabhupāda dealt with him patiently, challenging him to state the name of God if he knew it.  

As we expected, he couldn’t. All he could reply was, “God is God.”  

“So man is man,” Prabhupāda told him. “But who is that man, you do not know.” 

“The point I’m trying to make is that you call God ‘Kṛṣṇa’. Christians call God by whatever name they call God.” A few of the devotees were laughing, but Prabhupāda patiently tried to lead him with simple logic.  

“Suppose you have heard there is a president. But if you hear from somebody the president’s name is this, so what is the harm?” Prabhupāda asked. “You become advanced in knowledge. Suppose you go to a country. You know that that government has got a president. But if somebody says the president’s name is this, then where is the wrong there?” 

“Nothing wrong,” the boy admitted. 

Prabhupāda challenged, “Then? You do not know the name of God, but if I give you the name of God, what is the wrong there?” 

“Well, the point is, as I said before, that there is one God and that I suggest . . . ” 

“Yes, one God is there, but you do not know what is His name. That is the difficulty.” 

“I un . . . I know, all right.” 

“That you say. What is that name? You say me.” 

“The point is that I would like to suggest . . . ” 

“No, no suggestion,” Prabhupāda told him. “God’s names cannot be suggested. Then He is not God. You cannot suggest God’s name.” 

The boy finally got out what he wanted to say, revealing a common misunderstanding. “Well, then you make God into a person called Kṛṣṇa.” 

“God is a person,” Prabhupāda told him. “I have already said. It is described in the dictionary, ‘the Supreme Being.’ You are being, I am being, but He is the Supreme Being. You are not supreme; I am not supreme.” 

It was getting late and Prabhupāda called a halt to the discussion. Signaling for kīrtana to begin, he gracefully stepped down from his vyāsāsana and walked across the connecting courtyard to his rooms in the mansion. 

Pleased with the turn out, Prabhupāda became even happier when informed that there will be a big feast for the devotees and guests to enjoy after his lecture each evening.  

He took rest around 10:45 P.M., his stamina seemingly undiminished, and then rose after an hour or so to spend the rest of the night translating and commenting on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa and I are both exhausted and suffering from jet lag, but Prabhupāda seems completely unaffected. He is amazing.  

April 20th, 1976

Śrīla Prabhupāda took his morning walk around Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens. Since it is the beginning of winter and quite cold he wore his heavy winter coat. He spoke little during the walk. He returned to greet the Deities and receive guru-pūjā before going up to his room for breakfast. In addition to the fruits and fried cashews the local devotees prepared for him, Prabhupāda asked me to make two additional preparations: bora (soaked dāl mashed to a paste and then deep fried) and chī ra (spicy, fried flat rice mixed with deep-fried peas and potato cubes). 

For convenience I cooked in the Australian TSKP bus. The second of three talented devotee brothers, Bhāskara dāsa, made the handsome brass Gaura-Nitāi Deities that are installed inside the bus, right here on the temple premises. Prabhupāda was very pleased to hear they had been fashioned locally, but when I told him that they had hollow cores to make them lighter and therefore easier to travel with, he said that this was not so nice. 

* * * 

Kīrtanas in Melbourne are enthusiastic; all the devotees dance with great vigor. Prabhupāda commented favorably about this and is very pleased with the way everything is developing here.  

* * * 

A favorable news article appeared in the main Melbourne daily, The Age, displaying a large picture of Prabhupāda smiling. The headline read, “H.D.G. Is Here to Hound Us.” It reported accurately Prabhupāda’s comments from his arrival interview at the airport: “His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement, is here to save us from a dog’s life. 

“For unless we cultivate some spiritual knowledge, warns HDG, we are left with ‘the dog mentality’. 

“By this, he means a life in which people are conscious only of the needs of their bodies—eating, sleeping, sex. 

“ ‘The defect of modern civilization,’ he said at Tullamarine yesterday, ‘is that everyone thinks of his body, which is only a lump of matter. The person is the living pulse within the body. But we are giving more value to the lump of matter without any knowledge of the living pulse. 

“His Divine Grace said the ‘dog mentality’ was a barrier to knowing God—and also a barrier to peace. 

“ ‘As a dog is thinking “I’m a dog,” you are thinking that “I’m an American” or “I’m an Australian” or “I’m an Indian.” That is gross ignorance. The dog is barking at things in the street and you are barking at things in the United Nations.’ ” 

The article went on to say that judging by the “spiritual fervor” of the devotees at the airport, his message had come through. “While waiting for him to go through Customs, they danced and chanted at an ever-increasing decibel level outside the door. . . . ” 

Prabhupāda was so pleased with the article he asked Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami to send a copy to Jayapatākā Swami in Māyāpur to help with his preaching. He also had it put it in the traveling file.

* * * 

At 11:00 A.M. reporters from two television stations filmed interviews. The first reporter was Mike Barron. He seemed sympathetic and interested. He asked intelligent questions and quickly grasped Prabhupāda’s meaning.  

But the second interviewer, Carol Jarvis, although polite and respectful, was superficial and a little skeptical. Her questions reflected the general, shallow, materialistic views of the uninformed. Noting the youthfulness of the devotees, she wondered whether we really understood what we were getting into when we joined and why we were forced to live such Spartan lives. She asked, “Why is the temple decorated with rich material things? And why does the Movement have such great financial resources if you are supposed to be spiritual?”  

Prabhupāda answered her questions adeptly. He said that the devotees are intelligent young men and women with good education, coming from respectable families. Why would we follow him unless we were receiving something substantial? As for our way of life, he explained that the goal of life is to be happy, but birth, old age, disease, and death will check that. So just as one takes out life insurance, similarly Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the insurance to check these things—therefore it is the prime necessity of life. Anyone who wants to be happy has to accept some dos and don’ts, just as a diseased person has to agree to follow the regulations of the doctor. 

Prabhupāda asked what was her definition of material and spiritual. Then he said that everything in the temple is actually spiritual, but she did not have the eyes to see.  

Obviously preoccupied with our financial condition, Ms. Jarvis wondered about all the money we make begging in the streets. So Prabhupāda explained that we collect thousands of dollars a day selling books, not by begging.  

But she asked why we sell the books and make money from them. 

“Otherwise you’ll not read it,” Prabhupāda told her. “If I give you free, then you’ll think, ‘Ah, this is something nonsense. They are giving free.’ So when they pay for it they will try to see ‘What these books are saying? Let me see.’ And if you get free, then you may keep it in your rack for hundreds of years. So that is not the. . . . But after all, we have to print these books, so who will pay for that? We have no money.” 

But Ms. Jarvis wanted to know what happens to the rest of the money that is collected in the streets. 

Prabhupāda answered, “We are increasing our movement; we are opening centers; we are printing more books. These are my books. I have made a Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. That is my Will, and I have given in my Will that fifty percent of the collection should be spent for reprinting the books and fifty percent should be spent for spreading the movement. So there is no question of material profit.” 

Even after the filming had finished, Prabhupāda continued preaching to Ms. Jarvis, explaining that nature will not allow anyone to be happy. But it was hard getting through; Ms. Jarvis was not convinced. 

“I’m saying I think I can be happy by working within nature’s laws rather than trying to fight them,” she told Śrīla Prabhupāda. “I am not unhappy.” 

“You are not happy,” Prabhupāda told her. 

“No, I’m not unhappy. I’m perfectly happy,” she declared, determined not to agree. 

“No,” Prabhupāda said, even more determined, “that is your ignorance. Nobody is happy. Then that is the happiness of the dog. He is also thinking ‘happy.’ The hog is also thinking happy. That is another illusion. The dog may be a very big dog, and he can bark very nicely, but he is not happy, because he has got a master. As soon as the master says, ‘Come here!’ ‘Yes.’ Chain.” 

“But all of these people have a mouth, and you do the same to them,” she replied. “You call them, and they jump. That’s the same as a dog coming to its master.” 

Prabhupāda said, “Yes. But to have a real master and to have a false master—just like a physician. A physician is also with the knife, and the rogue is also with the knife. When the physician says, ‘You lie down. I shall have some surgical operation,’ he agrees to ply on his body the knife. But he’ll never agree if he knows that he is a rogue. He’ll simply cut my throat. That is the difference. But superficially you see both of them are with knife—but one for real happiness, one for false thing.” 

Ms. Jarvis remained unconvinced despite the logic of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s argument. “I find it hard to see the difference,” she said sceptically. 

“Yes,” Prabhupāda assured her, “you find out how to go to a physician, agree to his proposal. Then you’ll be cured. Otherwise you’ll have to suffer with that boil, always burning, burning, burning, burning.” 

As the film crews packed up, Prabhupāda made sure that the devotees gave them some prasādam before they left. 

Once Ms. Jarvis left, Prabhupāda commented that the real problem is that these people do not know what is spiritual and what is material. She saw the temple and heard how we are collecting large amounts of money by selling books, but she couldn’t understand that everything used in Kṛṣṇa’s service is spiritual. 

“This philosophy,” Prabhupāda said, “it is little difficult to understand by the dull men; that nothing is without Kṛṣṇa. Īśāvāsyamidaṁsarvam.Sarvam,’ when we say sarvam, how we can exclude this and that? Everything is in relationship with Kṛṣṇa. Sarvam means everything. So how can you discriminate, ‘This is material; this is spiritual’? The discrimination is that when it is not used for Kṛṣṇa, that is material, and when it is used for Kṛṣṇa, that is spiritual. That is the explanation of sarvam. 

“Just like a thief has stolen my money. The money will be utilized: He’ll spend it, I am spending. Then why he’s criminal? If you present this plea that, ‘money’s for spending, so either you spend or I spend.’ But that is not the idea. My money means the money should be spent for my purpose, and because you have taken the money and spend it for your purpose, therefore you are criminal. That is the distinction between material and spiritual. Money, or everything, belongs to Kṛṣṇa. When it is utilized for Kṛṣṇa, this is spiritual, and when it is not utilized for Kṛṣṇa, that is material. Where is the difficulty to understand?” 

The main evening news program showed the Carol Jarvis interview, and the devotees set up a television in Prabhupāda’s room for him to watch it. Although very little of what Prabhupāda said was actually used, Prabhupāda was still pleased because throughout the segment the producers inserted brief intervals of the devotees chanting. 

* * * 

Tuṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami, the leader of Siddha Svarūpānanda’s followers in New Zealand, arrived this afternoon. He gave a glowing report of the activities on their farm at Muriwai and in Auckland, inviting Śrīla Prabhupāda to visit. Prabhupāda was happy to hear his account and accepted the invitation. 

Gurukṛpa Mahārāja has had to deal with them for several years in Hawaii, and now he is in charge here in Australia and New Zealand, where they have established their own centers as alternatives to ISKCON’s. Relations between him and Tuṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja are strained because Tuṣṭa worships Siddha Svarūpa as a pure devotee, and this doesn’t sit well with Gurukṛpa. Outside Śrīla Prabhupāda’s room, I saw Tuṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami walk off angrily with his hands over his ears when Gurukṛpa Mahārāja told him that although he accepts Siddha Svarūpa as a devotee, Tuṣṭa shouldn’t try claim he is a pure devotee. 

* * * 

In the evening Prabhupāda continued with the lecture series, delivering a lengthy exposition of Bhagavad-gītā 9.2, stressing that all miseries of life can be overcome by understanding the knowledge given in this chapter of the Gītā. 

Gurukṛpa Mahārāja, well known for his powerful kīrtanas, led the exuberant chanting and dancing preceding and following the lecture. In private Prabhupāda told us that he is deeply satisfied to see the Australian devotees so enthusiastically engaged in devotional service. This yātrā appears vibrant and healthy.  

April 21st 1976

Prabhupāda’s walk was a little more lively this morn-ing. Tuṣṭa Kṛṣṇa, Gurukṛpa, and Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa mahārājas, Balarāma dāsa, and about ten other devotees accompanied him around the perimeter of the Botanical Gardens. During a discussion about the attitude of western religionists, Gurukṛpa told Śrīla Prabhupāda that his father, although a sinful man, always used to say that “the good Lord is protecting me.”  

Prabhupāda questioned why he would be protected and not others? Why doesn’t God protect when there is the atomic bomb? “In Europe they are very, very much afraid of the next war. They are very much frightened. They have suffered two big world wars. So why does God not protect them? Simply your father’s term has not yet come.”  

To illustrate his point, Prabhupāda explained, “One cow dung is just passed through, and the other cow dung is being burned. So this cow dung is laughing, ‘Oh, you are burned.’ He does not know he will be dried up and he will be burned. So your father’s logic is like that, ‘I am protected,’ laughing at the death of others.” 

On the way back in the car Śrīla Prabhupāda told Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja to have the BBT in Los Angeles correct an editor’s mistake in the Bhagavad-gītā he had detected during a conversation in his room yesterday. While talking about cow protection, he had asked Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa to look up verse 18.44. When Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa read the verse aloud, Prabhupāda noted a mistranslation of an important word. So today he told him, “Immediately inform Rāmeśvara. In the Bhagavad-gītā yesterday they have edited ‘cattle-raising.’ But it is not cattle raising. Cattle raising means to grow and killing. That means the rascals, they have edited. Hayagrīva edited. He thought, ‘cattle-raising.’ Not ‘cattle-raising.’ It is mistranslation. It is go-rakṣya, ‘giving protection to the cows.’ It is especially mentioned, go-rakṣya, not otherwise. The animal-eaters may take other animals, but not cow. They can take the pig, goats, lambs, rabbits, so many others, if they want to eat meat, birds, there are so many. There is no such mention that animals should be protected. No—cows should be protected. That is Kṛṣṇa’s order. They have decided to kill the cow. They have decided, ‘No brain. Eat.’ And our prayer is go-brāhmaṇa-hitāyaca, ‘to do good to the brāhmaṇas and the cows.’ Actually it is revolutionary to the modern age. But how is it possible we can say otherwise?” 

The revolutionary instinct is one of the characteristics that has made Prabhupāda so successful in his preaching. He tells things “as it is.” It also separates him from some of his Godbrothers. He recalled a recent report that his Godbrother Bon Mahārāja, who had been the first to come to the West to preach in the 1930s, was telling our devotees not to say such controversial things in public. Prabhupāda dismissed him in strong terms as a self-interested person who was simply after some following. 

This prompted Gurukṛpa Swami to question Prabhupāda about Siddha Svarūpānanda Mahārāja’s group and their motives. They also criticize ISKCON devotees for strong preaching tactics and have their own approach, which is designed to avoid generating controversy with the public. Being aware of their activities in the South Seas area, Gurukṛpa said he felt that they were suffering from the same disease. They were not following what Prabhupāda was doing but have created their own way to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and Prabhupāda affirmed this. “Yes, that idea is there.” Although he always encourages them to chant and maintain the regulative principles, Śrīla Prabhupāda frankly analyzed Siddha Svarūpa and his followers. “They are thinking of their own way. That is bad. We have got so much, so many literatures. They are printing their own literature, and that is disturbing, yes. What he’ll prepare? He’s not a liberated person. He’s thinking—somebody said—that, ‘I’ll give my interpretation on Bhāgavata.’ If these things are going, they are against our principles.”  

Expressing faith in Prabhupāda’s direction, Gurukṛpa Mahārāja said, “You know how to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Therefore I follow. I don’t even know what Kṛṣṇa is. I’m just trying to follow. Therefore that will be successful.”  

“That is my preaching,” Śrīla Prabhupāda said. “What Kṛṣṇa said, you say as it is. Don’t change. How you can give interpretation? And if he thinks that he can give another interpretation, what is this nonsense? Then he’s not following guru or Kṛṣṇa, both. Guru-kṛṣṇa-kṛpāya. One has to receive the mercy of guru and Kṛṣṇa. Through guru, Kṛṣṇa’s mercy.” 

* * * 

Since there were no visitors this morning, Śrīla Prabhupāda had time to deal with the mail. Purañjana dāsa, who is managing the Spanish-Portuguese BBT in Los Angeles, sent a letter requesting guidance on Prabhupāda’s standard for future printings of Bhagavad-gītāAs It Is. This year they ran out of books, so now they want to print a larger run of 100,000 for the next marathon. However, they cannot afford to print the full unabridged edition. Someone suggested they print the abridged version, but Rādhāballabha dāsa pointed out that the BBT only reprinted the abridged edition because of legal problems with Macmillan, who held the rights to the full, definitive version.  

Feeling uncertain about what to do, Purañjana therefore presented some alternatives for Śrīla Prabhupāda’s consideration. “We would like to know if we can, or should, do one of the following: 

A) Print the full version only, despite the higher costs ($2.25) 

B) remove the devanāgarī script only, to reduce size ($1.75) 

C) remove the devanāgarī and word-for-word meanings, which would reduce the size of the book rather substantially for us and would be my own preference ($1.25) 

D) print the fully abridged edition which will bring the price down to a level where the distribution is bound to be very, very large (less than $1.00). ” 

He added that Hṛdayānanda Mahārāja, the Spanish BBT Trustee, was convinced that at $1.00 or less, individual distributors may be able to sell two hundred books per day. 

Apart from this, Purañjana reported that they are about to send another Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam volume and the first of the Kṛṣṇa books to the printers. The Portuguese Bhagavad-gītā is now being typeset, and a Portuguese Back to Godhead is almost complete. At the end of his letter he mentioned that all the devotees are eagerly awaiting Śrīla Prabhupāda’s arrival in the U.S.A. 

Prabhupāda was pleased to hear this report. He chose the $1.25 option for the printing because it will keep the costs down but still allow the full purports to the verses to be included. He encouraged Purañjana to continue with the book production. 

Ambarīṣa dāsa reported in a letter from Boston that there are excellent prospects for preaching there—not only through the proposed restaurant, but also in the universities. Mādhava dāsa is there trying to gain acceptance for the Movement among the academics. Ambarīṣa also included an update on his own situation. “Personally I have decided not to go to school, because it is too much of a waste of time. My parents will be content if I am busy. If we can get a Hare Krishna course accepted at one of the big universities here, then I can take that course for credit and everyone will be satisfied.” 

Śrīla Prabhupāda was happy to hear about the preaching to the academics. He told Ambarīṣa it was important work. He asked to be kept informed on the development of the restaurant and requested that he try to get his books recognized by the academic circles in Boston. 

A letter arrived from Madhudviṣa Swami, the former GBC for Australia, indicating that he has arrived in New York and is taking up his new service as the GBC there. He asked Prabhupāda for a loan to build a new kīrtana hall at the Pennsylvania farm. The GBC body recently decided that a small gurukula should be started there, and therefore some expansion is required. He invited Śrīla Prabhupāda to Ratha-yātrā in New York and he also expressed his hope that everything was going on satisfactorily in Australia.  

Prabhupāda was delighted with the report. He has great appreciation for Madhudviṣa Swami’s organizational accomplishments, and he replied to him in very endearing terms. “I am here in your temple. I am feeling your separation. But I am seeing everything is going nicely, the same as when it was under your management. The devotees here, they are jumping and dancing nicely.” 

He was extremely happy to hear that Ratha-yātrā is scheduled to take place on New York’s Fifth Avenue, which he called the most important street in the world. “Rathayatra, that will be your achievement. Nobody has done it before. Rathayatra in New York should have been introduced long ago but there was no competent men to do it. So Krishna has sent you there and most likely I shall attend the New York Rathayatra.” 

* * * 

After half an hour of energetic chanting and dancing by the devotees during the evening ārati, Śrīla Prabhupāda continued his lectures on Bhagavad-gītā 9.3. He spoke strongly, describing as doggish the mentality of the so-called modern civilization and their United Nations. He said that the real United Nations is here; when one sees others as souls trapped within matter, that is the basis of unity. Otherwise the sense of being American, Australian, or Indian is the same sense a dog or cat has in identifying with its body. Then there is simply fighting due to their different outlooks. At the end of his talk he answered a few questions, and then he stepped down from his vyāsāsana to leave amidst the roar of a vibrant kīrtana. 

On his way out of the temple yesterday evening one of the visitors gave Prabhupāda a gold chain as dakṣiṇā along with a letter in which she suggested that Prabhupāda might either offer it to the Deities or keep it himself. He decided to give it to the pūjārīs for Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. So this evening, as he slowly made his way out of the temple room through crowded lines of devotees, he spotted the donor in the throng. He called her forward to inform her of his decision. The girl was so overwhelmed by being personally spoken to by His Divine Grace that she couldn’t understand what he was saying, so Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami had to explain to her. She was deeply satisfied and honored to get personal recognition from Śrīla Prabhupāda. 

April 22nd, 1976

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja is working on finalizing our travel plans. He went to the US Consulate to get me a visa today. But before the Consulate would issue the visa they wanted confirmation of my sponsorship from Prabhupāda, stating that all my expenses and accommodations will be provided. Śrīla Prabhupāda obliged with a personal letter. “I know he is a good boy as I have had ample time to study his character,” he wrote. I felt very happy to be regarded in this way and honored that he referred to me as his personal secretary.  

Later in the afternoon, the consulate officer personally came to the temple to finalize the visa arrangements. Although he could have done it at the Consulate, he came because he wanted to meet Śrīla Prabhupāda. Prabhupāda graciously received him, and he was very friendly and respectful, obviously happy to meet a great spiritual leader. He stayed about twenty minutes, and my visa was issued without difficulty.  

* * * 

In the afternoons Śrīla Prabhupāda has been receiving quite a few visitors, and when there are no visitors, he spends his time preaching to the senior devotees. The devotees have set up Prabhupāda’s āsana and a low marble-topped table on a raised dais at one end of his room, within the shallow recess of a bay window. With the stained glass windows and long, powder-blue velvet curtains forming an elegant backdrop, Prabhupāda looks perfectly situated as he works and converses with visitors. 

Today he chatted for a while with Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa and me before the guests arrived. Such informal conversations are always extremely sweet, and they give us the opportunity to ask specific questions and also to sometimes find out more details about Śrīla Prabhupāda’s past activities.  

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja asked if many people had come to hear from him before his coming to the West.  

 People were coming, Prabhupāda said, but he had no time to visit many places or people because he was busy with his writing. To me it seemed very significant that Prabhupāda had reversed the usual trend; generally someone retires and dedicates their remaining days to writing, but Prabhupāda wrote and then came out to teach his writings by practical example. Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa added that he didn’t think Kṛṣṇa consciousness would have had much effect upon people without Śrīla Prabhupāda’s personal example. Śrīla Prabhupāda modestly agreed. That was the example of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, he said—to teach by personal example. 

Then Prabhupāda received his three guests: Mike Gordon, Brian Singer, and Doug Warwick. They had all read some of Prabhupāda’s books. Brian especially was very interested and asked many questions, particularly regarding the nature of the soul.  

Prabhupāda spent most of the hour elaborately explaining how the soul is different from the body, emphasizing that to understand this is the first step in higher knowledge. He stressed, as he always does, that Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not a religious process but a scientific study of life applicable to everyone. If one does not make the effort to understand the soul and consciousness then he is simply an animal.  

Recalling the problems the customs officials created upon our entry into Australia, Prabhupāda illustrated what happens when humans do not use their opportunity for higher knowledge properly. “If we do not take advantage of this human form of life and try to understand ourselves and God, then we are simply cats and dogs. That is going on. We are fighting like cats and dogs. Before the Englishman came in Australia, Australia was property of somebody else. And now you have captured Australia, you are barking, ‘Why you have come, Indian, here?’ What is this civilization? Hm? You have taken illegally from others, and now you have become proprietor. You are barking like dog, ‘Why you have come here?’ What is this civilization?  

“The civilization is, all land belongs to God. We are sons of God. We can go anywhere, everywhere. It is father’s property. That is Kṛṣṇa conscious. If we take it like that—the United Nation passed a resolution, ‘The whole world belongs to the whole human society’—then there is no fight, immediately. But that they’ll not do; the dog’s quality. And they are fighting always. What benefit you have derived from the United Nation except this big, big barking? That’s all. The purpose of United Nation was to stop war. Has war stopped? Then what is the use of barking?” 

Brian was in agreement with everything Prabhupāda told him, but he wanted to know if it was necessary to live in a temple to become Kṛṣṇa conscious.  

Prabhupāda explained that although it is not necessary, there are obvious advantages. A person may be awarded an honorary Ph.D. like Oxford University offered Rabindranath Tagore, but we cannot expect to not attend school and still get a Ph.D. The normal training process should be followed.  

Brian asked how Prabhupāda personally found the transition of moving from business life to that of a sannyāsī.  

Prabhupāda’s reply gave us another little insight into his previous life and way of thinking. “This is our regulative principle, that first of all you be trained up as brahmacārī, then you enter into family life, then you retire from family life, then you become a sannyāsī. This is a general procedure; not that you shall stick to one position. So a businessman does not mean he’s fallen man. He can become first-class Kṛṣṇa conscious.” 

“And still be a businessman?” Doug asked. 

“Oh yes. Why not? Just like Arjuna. He’s a military man. That is also another business. He’s military man. He knew how to fight. Similarly businessman knows how to make trade. So this is different grades of livelihood. And Kṛṣṇa consciousness does not depend on this life or that life. Everyone can become. Everyone can be devotee.  

“It is a question of understanding that, ‘I am not this body.’ That is beginning. A businessman can try to understand, a lawyer can try to understand, or a philosopher can try to understand. Everyone can do that. The real point is, first of all try to understand that you are not this body.  

“So where is the hampering: becoming a businessman or family man or this or that? There is no hampering. We are trained up from the very beginning of our life by our parents. We got the opportunity. And businessman, no businessman, it doesn’t matter. Kṛṣṇa conscious is unhampered by anything material. It does not mean that because you are a businessman you cannot be Kṛṣṇa conscious. No. You may be whatever you are, but you can become Kṛṣṇa conscious at the same time.” 

Prabhupāda concluded the enlivening meeting by emphasizing the importance of proper training in spiritual life. “So our institution is training, not only training, full knowledge—practical and theoretical. That is real scientific. If you give up one side, then you can give up the theoretical side, but practical side you cannot give up. Then you’ll never come. The two sides, practical and theoretical. So that is real scientific knowledge. So two sides are presented in our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, and they are being thoroughly trained up.” 

His guests left, well satisfied with their meeting, and Prabhupāda relaxed for a while before going down into the temple to give his nightly lecture.  

Reposing on his āsana he said that Western people have no understanding of proper cleanliness. We do not bathe regularly, whereas in India brāhmaṇas bathe not once, but three times, daily, changing their clothing each time. Then he mildly reproached me again because of the numerous occasions he has had to correct my bad habits. He said that he is showing by his own example—washing his hands even after taking his medicine, but we are not learning. I tried to reassure him that I am gradually learning. He gave a wry half-smile and shook his head. “I do not know how long you’ll learn!” He told us that in India the utensils used for cooking must be very, very clean. If a black portion remains, a brāhmaṇa cook will not touch them. 

“Even on the bottom, on the outside?” Puṣṭa asked. 

“Yes. They’ll not touch: ‘Oh, it is still dirty.’ But in our [temples it is] going on. What can be done?” 

Prabhupāda told us our mentality considers it sufficient to rub dirty things with a little soap. But that is not cleanliness, he said. He told us about his mother’s strict standards. “If there is a black spot on the pot, it will immediately be cleaned. My mother used to see every utensil, whether there is any spot. The maidservant had to surrender. Examine. When it is no spot, then it is finished. Otherwise she has to do again. Everything should be neat and clean. The kitchen should be very neat and clean, washed twice daily, opened nicely and smeared with water and gobar [cow dung]. And if you see the kitchen, immediately you’ll feel comfortable. Food is very cleanly prepared, then offered to the Deity. Then you take. Automatically your mind becomes cleansed.”  

* * * 

The evening programs have been well attended by both devotees and outsiders. Tonight Prabhupāda again spoke on Bhagavad-gītā 9.3, stressing the importance of faith in Kṛṣṇa’s words and the necessity of ending the process of transmigration of the soul. He told us that by properly understanding who Kṛṣṇa is we can attain our original spiritual body and end the cycle of repeated birth and death. Transmigration means that in every life we get many different fathers and mothers in different species. It is only now, in the human life, that we have the opportunity for proper guidance from guru and Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, he advised us to take advantage of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement to make our lives perfect. 

The audience was attentive and asked pertinent questions. Someone inquired how to surrender to Kṛṣṇa, and Prabhupāda quoted a song by Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura describing how everything in his possession—his house, wife, children—was meant for the service of Kṛṣṇa without any reservation. “That,” Prabhupāda said, “is surrender.”  

An Indian man wanted to know if surrender is made by one’s own effort, or does it just happen?  

Prabhupāda told him that we are already surrendered, it is just a question of who we are surrendered to. A citizen is either surrendered to the government or to the police. He can either live according to the law or live in jail. Similarly, we can choose either Kṛṣṇa or His māyā, but our position is to be always surrendered.  

April 23rd, 1976

There was an initiation ceremony held this morning, during which Prabhupāda gave a short lecture explaining how the seed of devotion is planted by the mercy of guru and Kṛṣṇa. “Four nos and one yes—that will make your life successful. It is very easy. It is not difficult. But māyā is very strong, sometimes deviates us. So when there is endeavor by the māyā to deviate us, just pray to Kṛṣṇa, ‘Please save me. I am surrendered, fully surrendered, and kindly give me protection,’ and Kṛṣṇa will give you protection. But don’t miss this opportunity. That is my request. I have all my good wishes and blessings upon you. So let us take the opportunity of bhakti—bhakti-latā-bīja.”  

Gurukṛpa and Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa swamis also gave short lectures. Then Prabhupāda handed out the japa beads and gave spiritual names to his new disciples. There were about ten new devotees, and I was happy to see that one of them was a boy called John, who Prabhupāda named Jayaśilā. I met him several years ago on the main street in Melbourne and sold him a Bhagavad-gītā. He remembered me also. 

Afterward Prabhupāda dictated a short letter of thanks addressed to the assembled devotees of the Australian yātrā: “I am very grateful for all your offerings of daksina to your spiritual master. This is the system. Now all of you must very sincerely follow the regulative principles. Four don’ts and one do: No illicit sex-life, no intoxication, no gambling, no meat-eating, and always chanting Hare Krsna, minimum sixteen rounds daily. If you take very seriously these principles then Krsna will bless you without any doubt.” 

* * * 

Later in mid-morning Prabhupāda received Mr. Dixon, the State Minister for Social Services, Sport and Recreation. He was relatively young for a man of his position in politics (perhaps in his late thirties or early forties). A beautiful young secretary accompanied him. Mr. Dixon was respectful and appreciative that Prabhupāda’s disciples are free from drugs and alcohol. He inquired whether some aspect of Kṛṣṇa consciousness could be incorporated into the life of the young people in the state.  

Prabhupāda explained that our process is to purify the heart, something not possible without association of devotees. He invited the minister to send any young person to us and assured him that we will rectify him or her.  

Mr. Dixon explained that he was thinking more in terms of general education for the young.  

Prabhupāda, however, told him that real education means but three things: to teach a young man to see all women as his mother, to see another person’s property as garbage in the street, and to see all other living beings on the same level as himself. There is no need for Ph.D.s and other academic titles. He said that character training is the real basis for becoming a paṇḍita, a learned person. He added that over and above this, one should also understand how everything in creation is the sole property of God. Such knowledge, he told Mr. Dixon, will end war and starvation.  

Śrīla Prabhupāda observed that in the United Nations there is simply talk, but no unity. He asked why they don’t pass a resolution that all land is the property of God and all people sons of God. On that basis everything could be shared. But he said the problem is that “You are claiming this land as your own and not allowing others to come.” He explained that if the land were properly utilized no one would starve, and economic problems would be solved. If that was solved then all social, religious, political, and philosophical problems would also be solved.  

Mr. Dixon, however, did not think it that simple. If every country produced all the food it was capable of and gave it to countries that truly needed it, he wondered if that might not act to thwart their incentive to produce their own food. He felt there should be some exchange of money for the food.  

But Prabhupāda told him that money was not required, because simply producing food grains and milk would solve everyone’s problem. But he said, “They are utilizing the land for growing tobacco for cigarettes and coffee, for going to hell.”  

It was an interesting meeting, but it seemed that the minister had been looking for some moral “magic formula,” whereas Prabhupāda made it clear that unless people become Kṛṣṇa conscious there is no solution.  

After Mr. Dixon left, Prabhupāda commented about his secretary. “He himself has no character. See here it is an open secret, to keep a beautiful girl as secretary. So where is purity? Purity? Marriage is a taboo, and to keep a secretary is a very good job.”  

He told us how in Vedic times death, birth, and marriage were all very important events, which were observed with great ceremony, but now in this age marriage is practically a farce. “So social reformation, but there is no idea how the society will be happy. They are trying to remove this intoxication, LSD, but do not see why the LSD has come. They do not try to stop that cause. Neither they’ll take advice. That is the defect. So how will they be able to . . . He’s a big, big officer, drawing high salary, that’s all. There is no effect. Neither there can be any effect, it is not possible. They do not know, neither they want it. So we are advocating, ‘Remove these four sinful activities,’ so nobody will agree. ‘Illicit sex is our life. To keep a friend, to keep a secretary.’ And we are advising, ‘No illicit sex.’ ” 

But Prabhupāda said it is not only the politicians, even the so-called sannyāsīs and yogis are keeping secretaries. “Dog’s tail. Either you become sannyāsī or gṛhastha or anything, but the tail is this side. You may grease it as much as possible, but the whole tendency is sex. That’s all, in different dresses only. The objective is sex. This is going on. Some of them are openly declaring ‘I am for sex,’ and some are show-bottle. But the objective is sex, the whole world. And the sannyāsīs like Rajneesh, they are advocating, ‘This is life—sex. By sex indulgence you get salvation.’ ” 

* * * 

As he took his midday massage in his sitting room, Prabhupāda answered a couple of letters. Yaśodānandana Swami wrote from Hyderabad, South India, to request that the Brahma-saṁhitā, already published by the Gaudiya Math, be reprinted by the BBT. He also suggested that Śrīla Prabhupāda could perhaps write an introduction to the book. He and Acyutānanda Swami are in the process of producing a cassette tape in which they chant verses 29–64 from Chapter Five. They intend to use the proceeds from the sale of the tapes to help with the printing costs of the Brahma-saṁhitā. He, Acyutānanda Swami, and a party of seven brahmacārīs and one gurukula boy, Jagamāna dāsa, are headed to Karnataka for a preaching program there. 

Prabhupāda replied that the BBT Trustees can decide whether to print the Brahma-saṁhitā, and if they approve, he will be glad to write an introduction. He also awarded brāhmaṇa initiation to Jagamāna.  

Rāmeśvara Mahārāja sent a letter from Los Angeles asking whether the devotees could distribute a book by Dr. Stilson Judah, an American professor. Dr. Judah has written one of the first scholarly studies of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement and published it under the title Hare Krishna and the Counterculture. It is a favorable work, and Śrīla Prabhupāda has expressed his appreciation of it many times to his visitors and news reporters. However, he is not in favor of us selling it. He told Rāmeśvara that we should only distribute our own books. Prabhupāda also told Rāmeśvara Swami that the BBT Trustees should discuss whether to print the Brahma-saṁhitā. 

* * * 

The head of the traveling bus program here in Australia, Sabhāpati dāsa, and other local devotees, have been very diligent in making arrangements for Prabhupāda to meet with as many important and interested people as possible. This afternoon two young men from the Mormon Church came to visit.  

They were very respectful and seemed to appreciate the disciplined life of Prabhupāda’s devotees. They had a lengthy and amicable discussion. Prabhupāda brought forth his standard criticism that Christians in general are not following Christ’s teachings, yet they claim him as “Saviour,” and the visitors agreed, but explained that their particular church did try to follow the instructions of Christ. At one point Prabhupāda said that devotees accept Jesus as guru. 

But as usual with Christians, their meat-eating and our Deity worship proved to be points of contention.  

As he often does in discussions with Christians, Śrīla Prabhupāda quoted the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” and told them that Christians disobey this order by supporting killing on a large scale. One of our devotees observed that in the Book of Mormon it even says that meat should only be taken in times of starvation and famine, yet Mormons eat meat regularly.  

The visitors conceded this was a fact, but then pointed out that it also says if a person does not eat meat then he cannot be considered “ordained of God,” so there seemed to be some contradictory statements that they weren’t very clear about themselves. They then attempted to change the subject by quoting a verse from the Bible that states that one should not worship idols. They seemed to feel that Prabhupāda was unfairly admonishing them for not following one commandment, yet he was also not following the commandments.  

Prabhupāda told them that we don’t worship idols, we worship God. Pointing to a book they had given him, with a picture on the front cover of a temple topped with a statue of an angel called Moroni, Prabhupāda said they were also giving respect to a statue, but the crows come and pass stool on it. Even if one considered the Deities to be mere statues meant to honor a great person, Prabhupāda asked them, what was good sense: to keep the statues indoors or to place them outside where the crows and birds could pass stool on them?  

One of the Mormons agreed it was better to keep such statues indoors, but the other became a little acrimonious. “Ok, here’s some of my good sense. You’ve got statues in your temple, and I notice there were a lot of flies in there the other night crawling all over it and doing their, whatever they do.” 

“So do you mean a fly coming and crow passing stool is the same thing?” Prabhupāda asked, raising his eyebrows. “Very good sense! It is very good reason that because the flies cannot be checked, and the crows should be allowed to pass stool? At least you stop the crows. We have done that. We don’t allow the crows to come.” 

It was a slightly uncomfortable moment, and the man’s companion decided it was time to leave. However, Śrīla Prabhupāda quickly made them feel at ease again by saying that it was nice they were talking frankly. He told them he very much appreciated a short passage he had earlier read in their book about “coming to the knowledge of the glory of God.” That knowledge of God, he explained, is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. He gave them the practical method for glorifying God. If we drink water or see sunshine or moonshine while appreciating that we cannot manufacture these things, then drinking water or seeing sunshine and moonshine are glorification of God. Similarly, he explained, when we see the Deity and offer Him a flower, this is the practical way to glorify God. 

Throughout this discussion the atmosphere remained pleasant. Śrīla Prabhupāda was very cordial, and the guests also maintained a mood of respect, not eager to get into any arguments. They gave Śrīla Prabhupāda their Book of Mormon and he sold each of them a signed copy of the Śrī Īśopaniṣad

* * * 

Balarāma prabhu, the temple president, passed on some rather disturbing information to me this afternoon. He said Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami has admitted to him that he is presently only chanting two rounds of japa a day instead of the prescribed sixteen. The reason he gave was that he was overloaded with work because he has to transcribe Śrīla Prabhupāda’s nightly dictations on the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as well as do all the other duties of the secretary. 

This is a problem that I am not sure how to deal with. I don’t want to disturb Śrīla Prabhupāda with it; he has enough to contend with without having to worry about his own party. At the same time I am also reluctant to approach Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa about it. He may not take it well. He is an intelligent man, but he doesn’t like to hear any criticism of himself or suggestion that he might not be doing things correctly. The other day I was telling Balarāma about the car crash we had after leaving Vṛndāvana two weeks ago and the damage to the Mercedes. Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa overheard us and got quite agitated and defensive because I suggested it was his fault. So for now I think it best to leave it and see how things develop. 

* * * 

The local devotees are cooking for Śrīla Prabhupāda and he has been well-satisfied with their efforts. I have learnt that he doesn’t particularly like avocados. They offered him some for lunch and he left them aside saying that they weren’t so nice. 

Continuing his Bhagavad-gītā lecture series at 7:30 P.M., Prabhupāda spoke on verse four of Chapter Nine. He explained how everything comes from God and how God is within everything. 

At one point, perhaps as a result of his earlier conversation with the Mormons, he took the opportunity to explain why we worship the Deities. “Here it is said, mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ jagad avyakta-mūrtinā. And that expansion, that impersonal expansion, not manifested; you cannot see God in person in this expansion. Therefore sometimes we foolishly say that ‘Can you show me God?’ God is there. You have to make your eyes to see. Just like God is here in the temple but somebody is thinking that ‘This is not God. This is a statue or an idol. They are worshiping idol.’ Supposing it is idol, but if God is everywhere, why He is not in the idol? What is the argument? If God is everywhere, then why He is not idol? God has the power. And actually this is not idol. This is God’s energy. The same example: the sunshine is everywhere, so originally sunshine is the cause of everything. Similarly, God’s effulgence is the cause of material things also.” 

In the question-and-answer session that followed, the first query was about Prabhupāda’s views on psychiatry. The questioner wanted to know whether psychiatric treatment was required to cure mental disorders.  

Prabhupāda’s answer was lengthy and at times humorous, offering a definition of mental illness unknown to today’s psychiatrists. “First of all we have to understand that everything is expansion of God’s energy. So if you understand God, then the energies are automatically understood. Yasmin vijñāte sarvam etam vijñātaṁ bhavati. This is the Vedic injunction. If you water on the root of the tree, then whole tree becomes luxuriantly flourished. So our proposition is: you take the root, Kṛṣṇa, and you will understand everything properly from the root. If you want to understand the tree, whole tree, you try to understand it from the root, not from the top. So disease, any disease, if you understand the root cause of the disease you can give proper medicine, and he’s cured.  

“So psychiatrists, generally their patients are crazy fellows; generally they treat crazy fellows. Is it not? No sane man goes to a psychiatrist.” The devotees were laughing as Prabhupāda continued. “Is it not a fact? So all these crazy men sometimes make the psychiatrist a crazy also. So more or less, everyone is crazy.  

“That is not my layman’s opinion, it is the opinion of a big medical surgeon. There was a case in the court, murder case. The murderer pleaded that, ‘I became crazy, mad, at that time.’ So the medical man was called to examine. He was great civil surgeon in Calcutta. So he gave his opinion in the court that, ‘so far I have treated many patients, so my opinion is that everyone is more or less a madman. More or less. It is a question of degree.’ So our opinion is like that, that anyone who is not under the direct connection with God, he’s a crazy man. He’s a madman. Now you can treat. 

“So we are also psychiatrists. We are pushing this Kṛṣṇa consciousness because anyone who is in this material world is more or less crazy, madman. He is completely under the control of God, but still he has the audacity to say, ‘No, I don’t believe in God.’ Crazy man. So anyone who does not believe in God, he’s a crazy fellow. You can treat him. Everyone is patient. This crazy fellow is fully under the control of material nature, and he’s still thinking that he is independent. That is craziness. Everyone is thinking like that, so everyone is a patient of psychiatrist.  

“How we can declare independence? There is no independence. This is knowledge. Nobody wants to die, but nature says, ‘You must die.’ But the crazy fellow says, ‘I am independent. I think like this.’ What is the value of your thinking? You may think in your favor, but the nature will not allow you. So everyone is crazy who is declaring independence. He’s a crazy.”  

Śrīla Prabhupāda complimented his inquirer, “This question is very nice. Anyone who does not believe in God, does not surrender to God, he’s a crazy fellow, that’s all.” 

After taking a few more questions, he brought the discussion to a close and left the temple room amidst a lively kīrtana. Prabhupāda looked exuberant and thoroughly satisfied after an active day of preaching.  

April 24th, 1976

Despite the cold weather and the often overcast Melbourne sky, Śrīla Prabhupāda is keeping to his daily walking schedule at the Botanical Gardens bordering the river Yarrow. As he explained to Mr. Dixon yesterday, if he doesn’t walk, then simply sitting all day, the body becomes “jammed up.”  

As he strolled through the green park, past the small lakes and tall reeds, he spoke about the meaning of real happiness. He repeated what he told reporter Carol Jarvis a few days ago—that happiness without spiritual understanding is dog’s happiness; no happiness at all. He pointed to a large tree and explained that because it has very dull consciousness it can stand for five thousand years without discomfort, but if we had to stand for only five hours we would not be able to tolerate it, because our human consciousness is more developed. Therefore one who has no understanding that he is suffering in the material world is simply an animal.  

One of the devotees ventured that sometimes a devotee is more unhappy than a materialist because he is aware of his unhappiness.  

“Then that means he is not a devotee,” Prabhupāda said. “Devotee means the first sign will be happy, brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā. If he’s not prasannātmā, he’s a rascal. He has not even entered devotional life—he’s outside. That is the test. Just like Dhruva Mahārāja. When he saw Viṣṇu, he said, ‘Everything is all right. I don’t want anything.’ Svāmin kṛtārtho’smi. That is Vaiṣṇava. And if he is still in want or unhappiness, that means he has no spiritual life at all. He is simply making a show.” 

Driving back to the temple, Prabhupāda illustrated the meaning of greatness by telling us an anecdote about Alexander the Great. “When a thief was captured and brought before him for punishment, the thief accused Alexander the Great that, ‘What is the difference between you and me? I am a small thief; you are a big thief. That’s all. Why you are punishing me? You are a big thief. You are doing same thing.’ Then he was let loose.” Prabhupāda laughed as he took the role of Alexander. “Yes, what is difference? I am a big thief.”  

He went on to explain, “It means Alexander the Great, actually he was great. Otherwise he is the emperor and an ordinary thief is accusing him, and he said, ‘Yes, I am thief.’ He admitted. That is greatness. If he was not great, then he would have hanged him or punished him, ‘Oh, you are so, you are accusing me?’ But no, he accepted. That is greatness. Mistake is one fault, but to accept that, ‘I have done mistake,’ that is greatness.” 

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja recalled the morning walk last week on Juhu beach in Bombay when Dr. Patel admitted he was a mūḍhā. Therefore he was no longer a mūḍhā. 

Prabhupāda agreed. “Yes. Because he has understood that ‘What I am doing? I am mūḍhā.’ ” 

* * * 

In every temple there is a tape recording of Śrīla Prabhupāda chanting the Gāyatrī mantra. This is played in the ear of anyone who receives brāhmaṇa initiation through the mail. This afternoon Tuṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja requested Prabhupāda to give him such a tape, but Prabhupāda refused. Prabhupāda said that there is no need for his men in New Zealand to receive brāhmaṇa initiation since they are only worshiping pictures, not Deities. He also mentioned that the men should keep their heads shaved, but most of Tuṣṭa’s followers have grown their hair out.  

Tuṣṭa Kṛṣṇa reasoned that this is because most of his men are householders, but Prabhupāda tipped his head toward me and said, “So, just like our Hari-śauri, he is also householder, but he is always clean-shaven.”  

Tuṣṭa Kṛṣṇa also brought up the alleged “plot” against Siddha Svarūpa that Sudāmā Vipra claimed to have uncovered during the festival in Māyāpur last month. Tuṣṭa said he had read a letter proving it, but he could not produce any proof to substantiate this claim.  

Prabhupāda stated firmly he does not accept that there is such a plot. Rather, he has been continually asking them all to cooperate with ISKCON. They do not refuse directly; but, as Tuṣṭa Kṛṣṇa put it at the end of the meeting, “I do not see any chance of working together in the foreseeable future.” Prabhupāda’s final comment was that the reason for the dissention between the two camps is envy. Those who are envious will dry up, he said, and those who are sincere will flourish.  

Some new controversy has also arisen over Prabhupāda’s upcoming trip to New Zealand. News has filtered in that Tuṣṭa’s men there are informing everyone that Prabhupāda is going to their farm, but not to the ISKCON temple. They are claiming this as proof that they are correct in the dispute. 

On hearing this Prabhupāda immediately canceled his visit to Tuṣṭa’s farm and said that they can come and see him at our temple. I’ve noticed that when discussing the two groups, Prabhupāda always refers to ISKCON as “our camp” and Tuṣṭa’s group as “them.”  

* * * 

A young, bearded, long-haired professor from a local university came to visit in late afternoon. Challenging and disrespectful, he argued with Śrīla Prabhupāda for an hour. He appeared to be quite envious of Prabhupāda’s achievements. Although he carefully avoided direct accusations against Prabhupāda personally, he did say that he considered Prabhupāda’s disciples to be fanatics.  

Prabhupāda patiently tried to explain the basic concepts of spiritual life, naturally but humbly assuming the position of an authority on the subject. But as the discussion progressed the scholar became more and more agitated. He could not accept Prabhupāda’s comments in an objective way, but rather saw them as attacks on his own ideas. Unable to appreciate Śrīla Prabhupāda’s devotional understanding, whenever Prabhupāda quoted Kṛṣṇa from the Bhagavad-gītā the professor offered an interpretation of his own. Finally he reached the point of directly insulting Śrīla Prabhupāda. 

Prabhupāda had understood that his meaning was not getting through to the scholar, so he very objectively said, “It takes a little brain to understand what Kṛṣṇa says.”  

The teacher turned red and snapped back, “Well, I don’t think you’re using any brain!”  

At this, Gurukṛpa Mahārāja angrily intervened. “We invited you here as the guest of our spiritual master, and now you are insulting him. If you say anything more you will have to leave.”  

It was a delicate moment, but Śrīla Prabhupāda deftly cooled the situation down. Śrīla Prabhupāda knows how to deal with a person who is unable to accept proper instruction so that his false ego is not unduly ruffled. He did so expertly in this case. He simply stopped trying to preach to the man. He switched the subject away from philosophy, and kept it light-hearted. Calmed, the man dropped his defensiveness and developed a friendlier mood; Prabhupāda even had him laughing by the end of their discussion.  

After their meeting the man took prasādam with the devotees. He then apologized for the misunderstanding. It turned out he is affiliated with some pseudo-spiritualist movement and so was already at philosophical odds with Prabhupāda before the meeting began. Prabhupāda later said that many people are becoming increasingly envious of the success of our Movement.  

 In contrast to the professor, a family of five came to pay their humble respects to His Divine Grace. Although westerners, they are all initiated disciples in the Rāmānuja sampradāya. Despite their Vaiṣṇava lineage, they also worship the pañcopāsanā, the five primary demigods. They have been chanting rāma-nāma for sixteen years and offer all their food to their family Deities. They were very humble and respectful toward Śrīla Prabhupāda and presented him with fresh fruits and a few dollars dakṣiṇā.  

Ṣrīla Prabhupāda advised them to worship Sītā-Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa in the new home-cum-temple they are planning. He explained to them that Kṛṣṇa is the topmost personality, and all the demigods are His servants. It was evident that although they were initiated into a Vaiṣṇava sampradāya, they lacked clear philosophical understanding. Nevertheless, because of their piety, they accepted everything Prabhupāda said and were thankful for his guidance and advice.  

April 25th, 1976

Gurukṛpa Swami has been leading dynamic kīrtanas every morning and evening, and everyone is extremely enthusiastic. Śrīla Prabhupāda is very pleased with the vibrant Melbourne temple, its beautiful Deities and exuberant devotees. Since his arrival here, at least four or five new people have begun to chant on beads, and all those who come to the programs listen intently to Prabhupāda’s lectures. 

* * * 

Today four Australian devotees left for Japan to join the Nāma Haṭṭa Saṅkīrtana Party, which operates under Gurukṛpa Mahārāja’s guidance. They’ll be collecting funds for a new farm just about to be purchased here in Australia. At the same time Gurukṛpa Mahārāja wants to give a big donation for the Māyāpur development.  

* * * 

In a final meeting this afternoon, Prabhupāda granted the entire assembly of devotees darśana in his room. He did the same thing last year, and happily fulfilled the devotees’ request to keep up the tradition.  

It was a light-hearted, happy occasion, and each devotee had the opportunity to come forward to present some dakṣiṇā. Śrīla Prabhupāda encouraged them all to go on working together, to maintain their enthusiasm by preaching and kīrtana, and to go on worshiping the Deities very gorgeously. He told the devotees that we have to follow the spiritual master’s instructions, perfect ourselves first and then others. Putting emphasis on the need to preach he said we all have to become guru, and even if there is a split, still the standard should not change. It was just like him and his Godbrothers he said; there is no disagreement as far as the standard of worship is concerned. Prabhupāda also stressed that the highest service is to distribute his books. 

* * * 

Throughout the visit, Ugraśravā prabhu has been snapping photos at every opportunity, especially in Śrīla Prabhupada’s room when he receives guests. Prabhupāda has allowed him a fair bit of freedom and Ugraśrava took full advantage. He showed us some of the results today. The best one was a beautiful close-up of Prabhupāda’s lotus feet, taken as he relaxed on his āsana, showing all the lines on the sole of his right foot. Although I massage his feet everyday, still I never tire of seeing them. They are all-attractive, a constant reminder of the shelter we all seek to attain. 

April 26th, 1976

From 6:30 A.M. to 7:30 A.M. Prabhupāda took his morning walk around the Botanical Gardens. As we walked along the outer perimeter, Cittahārī dāsa asked if a devotee is always unhappy to see others suffering.  

“Yes,” Prabhupāda replied, “this is Kṛṣṇa anxiety. This kind of anxiety is welcome.” He explained that in the material world people are in anxiety to get money and sex, but in the spiritual realm, the anxiety is to get Kṛṣṇa. The anxiety is there, but the quality is different.  

Cittahārī inquired further, “If we’re in anxiety that we cannot perform devotional service nicely, that is all right?” 

Prabhupāda explained that it is not so easy to become anxious for Kṛṣṇa—one can get such anxiety only after many, many millions of lives of pious activities. If one becomes full of anxiety for Kṛṣṇa, that is the highest stage of perfection. He said that this stage cannot be imitated; however, by following the regulative principles one gradually comes to this platform. 

Cittahārī asked, “If one is in anxiety because he has a falling down from following the regulative principles, is that material anxiety?”  

Śrīla Prabhupāda said yes, anxiety for oneself is material, whereas anxiety for Kṛṣṇa is spiritual. Smiling, he quoted Rūpa Gosvāmī, who said that if one can purchase anxiety for Kṛṣṇa one must do it at any price. But the price, he said ironically, is that one must be in anxiety to have it; that anxiety is not available even after millions of births of pious activities.  

“So if we’re performing the Deity worship and we get in anxiety, how to make it nice?” Cittahārī asked. 

“Yes, that is Kṛṣṇa anxiety,” Śrīla Prabhupāda said. “If you become anxious how to worship Deity, how to dress Kṛṣṇa nicely, that will develop your anxiety for Kṛṣṇa. Therefore Deity worship is essential. Exactly in time to get up, to offer maṅgala-ārati, to dress—this anxiety is the beginning of Kṛṣṇa anxiety. Then, when you become perfect, you’ll always be anxious for Kṛṣṇa. And that is perfectional stage. Therefore, by the injunction of the śāstra, regulative, it is a way of creating that anxiety. So we must follow. Then we’ll come to the real anxiety.” 

Another devotee asked if being in anxiety about whether he is distributing a lot of books or not is spiritual.  

Again Prabhupāda gave his confirmation. “For selling books anxiety is Kṛṣṇa anxiety. If you become very anxious how to sell more books, that is Kṛṣṇa anxiety. That is not trade anxiety; that is Kṛṣṇa anxiety.” 

Gurukṛpa Mahārāja took advantage of the conversation to clear up a managerial point. “Some people say that ‘When I go on saṅkīrtana to sell books I become in too much anxiety if I’m not doing well, so I’d rather not do it.’ ” 

But Prabhupāda replied, “No, that is Kṛṣṇa anxiety. He does not know. Let him know that that is Kṛṣṇa anxiety. Mother Yaśodā became mother of Kṛṣṇa so that she would always remain in anxiety for Kṛṣṇa; whether Kṛṣṇa is safe. That is mother’s anxiety. Therefore she became mother. How to become in Kṛṣṇa anxiety? This philosophy nobody knows. Everyone takes Kṛṣṇa as the father. Father means I’m anxiety-less: ‘Father, you supply my wants.’ And to become father of Kṛṣṇa means to purchase anxiety for Kṛṣṇa. This philosophy they do not know.” 

Prabhupāda said that mother Yaśodā is in constant anxiety for Kṛṣṇa, wondering if He is safe, if some monkey is bothering Him, or if some demon is threatening. It is a transcendental irony that only the devotees can understand. The Māyāvādīs want śānti, peace, but they cannot become anxiety-less. The anxiety should be purified from material contamination, and it should be only for Kṛṣṇa. 

* * * 

After returning to greet the Deities and receive the devotee’s offering of guru-pūjā, Prabhupāda took an early massage and had his lunch. Then we drove to the airport to catch a mid-afternoon flight to New Zealand. Bhūrijana dāsa and his wife Jagattāriṇī dāsī joined us and will accompany Śrīla Prabhupāda as far as Los Angeles.  

Gurukṛpa Mahārāja chose to travel in what looked to me like a rather outlandish white silk suit with matching beret, on the plea of avoiding any immigration difficulties entering New Zealand. However, as we walked along the concourse a couple of uniformed immigration officials suddenly appeared, spoke briefly with Gurukṛpa and walked away with him to a side room. He reappeared ten minutes later after being subjected to a thorough passport check and interview. The officers thought he looked a little suspicious. Śrīla Prabhupāda didn’t comment either on his suit or the incident. 

As they had when Prabhupāda arrived, the devotees gave him a rousing send off, chanting and dancing all around him right up to the plane door. As he went down the escalator the devotees kept abreast by running down the up escalator, and Prabhupāda grinned to see their enthusiasm. At the plane he turned and waved to them all as he entered, flashing a brilliant smile to show his appreciation, causing them to jump and shout with happiness.