June 16th, 1976
We arrived in Toronto at 6:30 p.m. and had our most disagreeable encounter with customs officials yet. I accompanied Śrīla Prabhupāda, who carried his soft, red vinyl hand bag, while Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja remained behind to bring the luggage through. On the other side of a glass wall next to the customs counter a large number of devotees, many from the Indian community, expectantly gathered. As soon they saw Śrīla Prabhupāda they cheered, “Jaya Prabhupāda! Haribol!” There were two customs officers. One of them, tall, with an unpleasant demeanor and a slight sneer on his face, asked Prabhupāda to open his bag. Then, slowly, with exaggerated attention, he searched every single item. Before leaving Bombay I had sealed several new tins of snuff with hot wax. Prabhupāda uses it to gain relief from high blood pressure. The official insisted on breaking each seal to check inside.
At the end of his fruitless search he turned to his fellow officer, looked askance at Śrīla Prabhupāda, and in a most demeaning way said, “So this is what all the noise is about.” I flushed with anger, but bit my lip.
Śrīla Prabhupāda seemed utterly indifferent, appearing not to have noticed their obnoxious attitude at all. He quietly shut his bag and proceeded on with a bright smile and a wave to all the assembled devotees. They received him joyously and presented him with many garlands including ones from GBC representative Jagadīśa dāsa, the Toronto temple president Viśvakarmā dāsa, the Montreal president Nandikeśvara dāsa, as well as leading members of the Indian community.
ISKCON Rādhā-Kṣīracora-Gopīnātha Temple,
243 Avenue Road, Toronto
Prabhupāda visited this yātrā last year and told them to buy a very big church in a prominent position in the city. The devotees have fulfilled his order successfully and he was now returning in triumph. Despite the former owner’s threat to burn it to the ground rather than see it in the hands of ISKCON, the church has been transformed into a monumental home for Lord Kṛṣṇa and His devotees. A middle- aged Indian devotee, Śubhavilāsa dāsa, was instrumental in the purchase, which cost $400,000.
We pulled in front of the main entrance of the grey, Kingston-limestone-block building. As Prabhupāda stepped out of the car devotees offered more garlands and sprinkled rose petals at his feet. Several young Indian boys eagerly crowded forward and bowed down on the pavement while Prabhupāda patiently stood, allowing them to touch his feet.
Making his way steadily up the dozen or so stone stairs, unaided except for his cane, Prabhupāda entered a wide hallway and then continued into the temple room. The temple is cavernous, allowing hundreds to enjoy darśana of the Deities. A mezzanine floor, replete with steeply banked seating, runs around three sides. Against the back wall, resplendent on three custom built altars, stand the deities; Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṣīracorā-Gopīnātha in the center, flanked by neem wood Gaura-Nitāi on Their right, and one foot tall deities of Śrī Śrī Jagannātha, Baladeva and Subhadrā to Their left. Prabhupāda prostrated himself before each of the three altars as the Govindam prayers boomed over the sound system. After taking a sip of caraṇāmṛta he walked to the colorful flower-bedecked vyāsāsana, mounted the two marble steps and sat to face his enthusiastic audience.
Śrīla Prabhupāda thanked the members of the Indian community for securing the building for Kṛṣṇa’s use. He is conscious of the fact that they probably give us more support here than anywhere in America, and he clearly wants to encourage them. Referring to the two Christian ministers whom he had met with in Detroit the previous evening, he stated that the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is the true basis for uniting different nations, because it goes beyond the bodily platform and addresses spiritual needs.
He said that Kṛṣṇa consciousness means kṛṣṇa-tattva, the science of Kṛṣṇa. The United Nations have struggled for some forty years but still there is no worldwide unity, because they do not know this science. “So we have come here in Toronto to open this center to give this enlightenment to everyone. It is not meant for a particular nation, particular religious system; it is a science. Suppose if we say that you become peaceful, you become honest, you become wise. These instructions are not meant for East or West; it is meant for everyone. So our, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is to educate people how to become wise, honest, truthful, believer in God. So we think that you shall take seriously this Movement. Actually, this is the platform of united nations, or united living beings. And we are not simply talking, this science is being discussed in volumes of books. We have already published about fifty-four books. These books are selling very nicely. It is not sentiment, it is a science. So we request the people of this nice city, Toronto, to take advantage of this Movement, come here, read our books, make your questions solved, and you’ll be all happy. It doesn’t matter whether you are Canadian or Indian, it doesn’t matter. Thank you very much.”
He asked for questions, but there were none. Viśvakarmā prabhu then escorted him upstairs to his quarters which are to the side of the main church. These consist of a reasonably sized sitting room and a small bedroom with attached bathroom. It also has some offices next door, where I am sleeping.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja reorganized Śrīla Prabhupāda’s sitting room a little, bringing in a more suitable desk for him to work at, while I ran around, setting up his dictaphone and unpacking paraphernalia. Prabhupāda relaxed on his āsana and allowed some of the leading devotees to enter. A large plate of mahā-prasādam was placed before him, and, after tasting a morsel, he handed out small portions to everyone, making sure no one was missed. He leaned back against the cushions and grinned. “Last year when I came, I prayed to Kṛṣṇa, ‘Let us have these two places: Detroit and here.’ Kṛṣṇa is so kind, both the places He gave.” Everyone laughed in pleasure to hear his intimate confession. Prabhupāda went on, “They were trying for this place for several years. When Kṛṣṇa desires, it can be successful.”
According to one of the devotees, construction of this building was started in 1896, the year of Prabhupāda’s birth.
June 17th, 1976
For his walk Viśvakarmā prabhu took Śrīla Prabhupāda to the Rouge Park System in Don Mills, just outside Toronto. Even though it is mid-June, until the sun comes up the temperature is quite chilly, so as he walked and talked Prabhupāda kept his folded cādar draped over his head.
Although the Indian community in Toronto numbers fifty thousand, so far they have not shown much support for ISKCON. This morning only Śubhavilāsa prabhu and one other Indian joined the handful of devotees. Prabhupāda spoke with them in Hindi.
Śubhavilāsa asked him why there is so much poverty in India, when it is the land where Kṛṣṇa appeared. He said that this question regularly came up with Indians.
Śrīla Prabhupāda told him that India is indeed the land of God, but the people of India are not following God’s instructions. He gave the example of the police. If a policeman is found guilty of stealing, he is punished more severely than an ordinary thief. He said the people of India are building factories rather than following brahminical culture, and therefore they have to suffer. “This ugra-karma of industry is for demons. This is not for brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas. Brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, when they started to work as demons, as ugra-karma, then will they not be punished? Definitely they will be punished.”
He made the point that although Lord Caitanya instructed those who are born in Bhārata-varṣato make their lives perfect and then teach others, the Indians are not coming to the West to teach. They are coming here to learn from the mlecchas. He said on an airplane he personally saw a Maḍwari man eating the intestines of a hog. “In big, big Maḍwari’s house this is what happens. Why? Because of bad habits. Bhārata is a pious land, but they started oil refinery. At present they will not give sanction to build temple. This is the government.”
Śubhavilāsa asked Prabhupāda how there would be any improvement.
Śrīla Prabhupāda shook his head. “Improvement will be there when they die. This is all reactions of sinful activities. Human life is meant for tapasya, not for oil refinery. Purposefully they are making Vṛndāvana dirty, making Yamunā River dirty, so that nobody can come to Vṛndāvana.”
Śubhavilāsa said, “They are learning from here. They are saying they are becoming advanced here.”
Prabhupāda wasn’t impressed with what the Indians were learning, because it was all at the expense of their original knowledge and culture. Religion is not wanted in the West, and in India they are learning the same mentality. “Today anyone chants names of God, they consider him a madman. Anywhere we go, we go to Immigration department and they ask, ‘Are you going to preach anything religious?’ We have to say, ‘No, no. We are not going to preach. We are going for visit.’ Then they allow. Otherwise, ‘Go from here, no visa. Please go away.’ It is everywhere the same. After sometime they will not allow us to even go everywhere. In Bhārata-varṣa, they are saying kīrtana is a nuisance.”
Śubhavilāsa was surprised. “Even in Bhārata-varṣa?”
“Yes. In Bombay they cancelled our temple sanction. So kīrtana is nuisance. In Gītā it says satataṁ kīrtayanto māṁ yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ. And these politicians are having their picture with Gītā in hand and ‘no kīrtana.’ See this is the situation. Mahātma Gandhi has written Gītā, Tilak has written Gītā, Vinoda Bhave has written Gītā, Dr. Radhakrishnan has written Gītā, Aurobindo has written Gītā—and what we learn? ‘Kīrtana is nuisance.’”
It isn’t just the politicians who are spoiling India’s real culture either. As Prabhupāda strode briskly along the valley, Śubhavilāsa’s friend asked whether one could accept more than one guru.
Prabhupāda’s reply was very strong. He told him that if you already have a real guru, what is the necessity for accepting another one? “The thing is, who is guru? Guru is one who is Bhagavān’s representative. You follow his instructions. Everything is written in Bhagavad-gītā. From guru you understand that. What else is the business of guru? Guru will not say anything new. Just like a child, by reading book, he will not understand, so he understands from guru.
“Guru is one. Today son of a pig has become guru and he is showing magic and he is ‘Bhagavān.’ This son of a pig has done everything wrong. This is what is happening. You show magic and you will have many disciples. But when we say the bhāgavata-bhajana—give up meat and eggs, that they will not accept. The person who will show wrong path and will show magic for going to hell, he is guru. This is what has been done wrong. He will broadcast Bhagavad-gītā and will kill Kṛṣṇa. He is pakkā guru—at present.”
He paraphrased a Māyāvādī who had written that Kṛṣṇa was a black man who had been killed by Bhagavān. “They are broadcasting like this and becoming guru. And the foolish accept him as guru. You are in foreign country. Try to understand and learn and teach others—this is a teaching of Bhārata-varṣa. This temple has opened for that. Are the Bhāratīya people coming to the temple?”
Śubhavilāsa told him, “Very few people come. There are fifty thousand Indians here.”
“How many come?” Śrīla Prabhupāda asked.
“See how wrong it is,” Prabhupāda told them.
* * *
For the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam class he read verse one of the Sixth Chapter of the Seventh Canto, entitled “Prahlāda Instructs His Demoniac Schoolmates.”
After a short description of how Prahlāda was instructed within his mother’s womb in the science of bhāgavata-dharma Prabhupāda told us, “Somehow or another he became a great devotee of the Lord. But he was born in a family of atheists. His father, Hiraṇyakaśipu, was atheist number one, but the child was a devotee. Such thing happens. The father is devotee and the child is a demon. And sometimes the father is a demon, but the child is a devotee. Everyone comes with his own karma. It doesn’t mean that because the father is atheist, therefore the child has to become an atheist. Or the father is a devotee, therefore the child has to become a devotee, no. Everyone is responsible for his past deeds.”
He described the meaning of bhāgavata-dharma, stressing that God is neither Hindu, Muslim nor Christian. Therefore religion is also one. There cannot be different varieties of religion because religion means to come to the point of surrendering to God and doing whatever He wants. “If one is in need of some money, or need of some material necessities, and if he begs or if he prays to God, ‘Please give me,’ he’s also considered as pious. But real religious system is to understand that ‘God is great, I am His servant. I am supported by Him; it is my duty to serve Him.’ This is religion. This is called bhāgavata-dharma, to understand this philosophy, that God is the supreme master and I am His eternal servant. My duty is to serve God. That’s all.”
Once more he presented Kṛṣṇa consciousness in terms of science, not emotionalism. In Detroit he told the mother and her son that the professor of philosophy he had studied under described philosophy as the “science of sciences.” When all the departments of science are taken together, Prabhupāda said, the original science is philosophy. And to know the Absolute Truth is philosophy. This morning he called this bhāgavata-dharma. Listing off the different parts of the body—blood, bone, muscle and so forth—he told us that life is different from them. “That you have to learn. That is called bhāgavata-dharma. So, in this way . . . This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, don’t think that it is a sectarian religious system, no. It is a science, the science of Kṛṣṇa. Try to understand the science of Kṛṣṇa. We have got so many books to educate people about this science, not that simply we are talking sentimentally. Everything is scientific reason, philosophy. But the simple method is so easy to perform that anyone can understand very easily. What is that? Sarva-dharmān parityajya . . . What Kṛṣṇa says, you accept. Then you will understand what is bhāgavata-dharma, what is God, what you are, what is this world, what is the relationship, why you should become a devotee of God. Everything is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. Try to understand this bhāgavata-dharma and be happy in your life.”
* * *
After his morning nap Śrīla Prabhupāda took a tour of the building. It has impressive facilities. All living accommodations, plus an extensive and well-equipped kitchen, a large prasādam hall, and offices are at basement level. Another very large hall is adjacent to the temple room. The mezzanine floor is big enough to hold several hundred people and can also be accessed directly from Śrīla Prabhupāda’s quarters.
* * *
Some newspaper articles based on Prabhupāda’s interviews in Los Angeles arrived. They were favorable as well as accurate due to the transcriptions provided to the reporters. The Los Angeles Times quoted Prabhupāda’s reply to a question about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Guru Maharaji almost verbatim: “We are not interested in other so-calledgurus. Simply we know this, that Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā that persons who are not Kṛṣṇa conscious are either foolish, miscreants, sinful, lowest amongst mankind, or their knowledge is stolen by illusion.” Prabhupāda laughed when he heard it. He said that he had actually called them all fools and rascals, but only indirectly.
* * *
Prabhupāda discussed the management in Detroit with Jagadīśa prabhu, wanting to know why the previous temple president Govardhana dāsa had been removed. He was well liked by the devotees, and Prabhupāda agreed with Jagadīśa’s description of him as a “very gentle soul.” Prabhupāda said that he had rendered tangible devotional service; it was due to him that Ambarīṣa and Lekhāśravantī had been engaged in obtaining the Fisher estate. Moreover, Prabhupāda also had received complaints in Detroit about Mādhavānanda’s management. H esaid Mādhavānanda was intelligent and a good preacher but in other temples had been the center of controversy due to his lavish spending habits.
Although Prabhupāda had initiated the conversation, when Jagadīśa prabhu asked him what he should do about it, Prabhupāda declined to direct him. “No, I do not wish to interfere. You manage now. I want to see that you are managing without my interference. Now practically I want to concentrate more [on writing books], or absolutely I want to do that. But sometimes this mismanagement gives me too much anxiety. I do not wish to see that somehow or other we have built up a nice institution, on account of lack of management it may be hampered. That is my only anxiety.”
A little later in the conversation, however, Prabhupāda did make a suggestion. Although Govardhana prabhu was reportedly not chanting his sixteen rounds each day, which Prabhupāda said should be rectified, Prabhupāda felt that he should be reinstated as president. Mādhavānanda could be shifted to organizing book distribution and preaching. “He [Govardhana] has given service for the benefit of the Society, very tangible service. You should recognize his service. He induced persons to do some service, and that you cannot neglect.”
The conversation ranged over a number of interesting topics, with Śrīla Prabhupāda sharing his unique insights into social life, history, education and culture. He inquired about the progress of our gurukula, since this is now Jagadīśa’s only portfolio, expressing his doubts about the standard of teaching. He informed Jagadīśa that in Los Angeles Pradyumna had complained that his six year old son, Aniruddha, who is in the gurukula there, could not write the primary numbers from one to ten. Pradyumna also claimed that the Sanskrit level was poor.
Prabhupāda said he had personally seen in Dallas that the students could not chant the Sanskrit nicely, although it was simply a question of practice. “You see to these two things especially: English is their mother tongue, mother language. They can become English scholar very easily. And Sanskrit language is no difficulty. Read and write, read and write, then he will learn. Our education in Sanskrit was in college. I was the best student in my class of Sanskrit. I was standing first. But we are not like the so-called Sanskrit scholars. But for our purpose we can read and write, that’s all. Similarly, we don’t want any very learned scholars, Sanskrit grammarian to manufacture jugglery of words, meanings. No, we don’t want that. Simply we can conduct our business, that’s all. Just like Maḍwaris, their education is up to their business understanding, that’s all. They don’t want to be scholars or technologists. You won’t find in big, big Maḍwari family they have become a doctor, engineer or technologist, no. But in business dealings they are first class.” He laughed. “That they train. I had one Maḍwari friend in Calcutta. He was a very rich businessman and has got several companies. So sometimes I went to his house. I saw that he had engaged a Sanskrit paṇḍita and an English teacher. That’s all. So I asked him, ‘You don’t send your children to school?’ ‘No, no, no, no. If we require some technologist, we can purchase. You pay some money, so many technologists you will get—M.A., Ph.D., D.H.C., C.H.C.—all right, take payment and do business.’ They employ very, very, very large salary. But on the head, management, their own sons, grandsons.”
Prabhupāda explained that real knowledge is spiritual knowledge. Nowadays because of the change in social conditions he said, there are so many factories, and they require technical knowledge. “But we are not going to the factories. That is sure and certain. Neither we are going to start any factory. That is not our business. We don’t want to start factory or Ford factory and make a hell out of life, the hell.”
I could empathize very strongly with Prabhupāda’s sentiment. When I left school I went straight into a steel-works for several years training as an apprentice mechanical fitter. I told him, “I used to work in a steel-works. It’s worse than hell.”
Prabhupāda nodded. “It is more than hell.” He told us he had once visited one. “There is no life. I have been in Tata steel iron factory. I saw it is a hell. One melting pot just like a skyscraper building. You have seen?”
I nodded and, seeing Śrīla Prabhupāda’s interest to hear about it, I gave a brief description. “I used to work on them, same thing. I was working where they pour the metal into ingots, into casings, and then when it solidifies they take a chunk of iron out; it’s still white hot, and then they put it in ovens. And then after a while, when they need them, they take them out with big cranes and they put them on a series of rollers, and then it goes through what they call a mill. It’s like a big mangling machine, and it crushes the steel ingot into big plates. Then it goes along and it’s cut. It cools down on big banks, and it’s sent out. So my job was doing maintenance fitting on all those machines. On the rollers and on the cranes and on the big mills. It was terrible. We used to work from two o’clock in the afternoon until ten o’clock at night, one shift, then from ten until six, and then from six until two.”
Prabhupāda asked if there was any recreation during the eight hour shifts.
“Well, one break, for lunch. It was just indescribable. There’s so much heat and fumes, and always covered in oil and grease, crawling around on your hands and knees to fix some machine.”
“All for the advantage of some wealthy man,” Jagadīśa observed.
Prabhupāda knew exactly what I was talking about and the mentality that goes with it. He smiled. “And after this hard labor, his only recreation is wine. Did you drink?”
Exposed, I had to laugh, somewhat embarrassed. “Yes, we used to go straight from the steel works to the pub, public house.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda extended his sympathy to me. With a kind smile he said, “You are not meant for that.”
Prabhupāda’s short statement struck home, penetrating my heart, leaving me with a feeling of deep indebtedness and gratitude. If not for His Divine Grace’s mercy it is hard to say exactly what I would have been meant for. But one thing is clear—without it, life would certainly have been hellish, and Prabhupāda has saved all of us from that.
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s toothache is far worse. His face is beginning to swell, and he didn’t take much for breakfast. Jagadīśa asked him if he had a headache.
Prabhupāda shook his head. “No, there is some pain. My teeth are now useless. So it is all rotten now. Sometimes it becomes acute. There is no strength in the teeth. Some of them, fifty percent, have already fallen. Therefore I cannot eat.”
So far Prabhupāda hasn’t taken any remedial measure. He is simply tolerating the pain. I asked him a little later if we could get a pain killer or something from India, but he refused. “No, don’t worry. It will be all right.”
* * *
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja came back late in the afternoon after having spent most of his day at the Indian embassy with Śubhavilāsa. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s passport needs renewing and this has been the first city we have visited that has an embassy. They were put through all kinds of rigmarole and still told to come back on Monday. Initially they were told it would be issued in one day, but then a more senior officer told them it would take four days. After two hours of pleading, he said it might be ready on Monday morning.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa was somewhat frazzled by the experience. “I told him though that we’ve given our lives to preach the dharma of Bhārata-varṣa, and sometimes we become—I told him in a nice way, not in an angry way—sometimes we become very disenchanted and disheartened when we see that Indians like yourself present unnecessary obstacles to our preaching mission.”
Prabhupāda laughed. “That is sufficient insult. That enraged him. You said, ‘Indian-givers.’ That offended him.”
“No, that was after he said no,” Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa went on. “Then he changed his mind a little bit, but I don’t know. He said come back Monday morning then. I was thinking maybe he wanted to be bribed or something. Maybe Śubhavilāsa knows.”
“Indian government is nasty, there is no doubt,” Prabhupāda said.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa continued. “Unnecessarily. He said, ‘Have to fill out four pages.’ Four pages of the passport, that takes four days?”
Although Prabhupāda hadn’t reacted to the customs official’s envious dealings when we entered Canada, he most certainly noted it. “Everyone in government service, at least it is to be supposed they are all nasty men. Here also, why not? The other day the custom officer . . . Unnecessarily. He is opening the snuff box, this box, that box. Unnecessarily. Not a gentleman. It is stated there, ‘snuff,’ and he is bringing knife to open.”
Prabhupāda agreed with Jagadīśa prabhu’s assessment that it was simply harassment. He quoted from the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Twelfth Canto. “Everywhere. Rājanyair dasyu-dharmabhiḥ, simply wanting some bribe. They are in power, and that will increase. It will be impossible to deal with. Now it is already. In India, any work you want to be done by government, unless you bribe . . . The situation is becoming very dangerous.”
He gave the example of the Mullik’s estate in Calcutta. “The estate is in the management of official trustee. And this trustee in charge of the trust board men, they give us so much trouble and exploit the position for his personal profit. I have seen. Horrible. For instance, if in some property there is some repair, it will cost you, say, one hundred rupees. And they’ll give it to a contractor, and the contractor will present a bill, twelve hundred rupees. And he’ll pass. And the contractor will be given, say, two hundred rupees, and balance he’ll take. I have seen. In this way the money’s in his hand. If you want money for expenditure, so if I press you, you have need of money, so you do everything, give some back, get the money. You are in urgent need. Everywhere. All, whole world they have become dishonest. Even the high court judges, magistrate, they are getting bribe.”
Prabhupāda had already told us how his Godbrother, Bon Mahārāja was once robbed of one lakh of rupees in his home in Vṛndāvana. It turned out the police and local magistrate were in complicity with the thieves.
“Its an extremely difficult situation,” I said.
“Extremely,” Prabhupāda agreed. “They’ve lost their religious sentiment, religious consciousness. They’re just like rude, crude. There was one chief minister in Punjab, he got a big business man, ‘Mr. such and such, I’m sending such and such man. Give him ten thousand rupees without waiting for his reply.’ ‘So what for?’ ‘Why you are asking? Give him ten thousand rupees.’ And the man goes, and he has to pay; otherwise he knows that ‘This minister will harass me in so many ways later on.’ Even your country, there are so many bogus institutes. There was one Mr. Bogart. I used to call him Bogus. His business is he has got some institute in the United Nations building, and he has got some office also. That means some poor country, poor, ‘Give me, give me charity,’ propaganda. And he will officially present some application to the Ford Foundation, and the trustees will give him money. There is no poverty-stricken application, but through this institution . . . And there is clique, between them. . . . ”
Jagadīśa prabhu asked if it was because they are killing the cows that this was happening.
“So many things,” Prabhupāda said. “In India there is no . . . At least gentlemen, they do not eat meat. But the thing is that when there is fire, so everyone will suffer. If there is fire in this building, either you are sinful or not sinful, the effects will be shared by you.”
Another thing discussed was a proposal by Viśvakarmā prabhu to host wedding parties from the Indian community. Śrīla Prabhupāda was initially against it, but when Viśvakarmā said they would only allow it in the side hall, not the temple, and that the devotees would distribute prasādam and chant, Prabhupāda agreed. If there was some opportunity to preach then he felt it worthwhile, but as a social convention he was not interested.
* * *
Kathy Kerr, a reporter from the Toronto Star came at 6:30 p.m. A young, bespectacled, blond haired woman in her early twenties, she didn’t appear to have much grasp of our Movement, or spiritual life in general. Prabhupāda thus deflected her initial cursory question as to why he was visiting Canada to Jayādvaita prabhu to answer. Jayādvaita then suggested she inquire from Prabhupāda about things of a more philosophical nature. Her response was to ask if we were an extension of Hinduism.
Prabhupāda was already shaking his head before she finished. “You do not know. There is no such word as Hindu religion, at least in the Vedas. ‘Religion’ is translated into Sanskrit as ‘characteristic.’ Religion is not a kind of faith. Just like chemical composition, sugar is sweet. That is religion. Sugar must be sweet; sugar cannot be pungent. Or chili must be pungent. If chili is sweet, we reject it, and sugar is pungent, you reject it. Similarly, our Vedic system is to train the human being to the ultimate goal of his life. That system is called varṇāśrama-dharma, gradually training the person how to become perfect human being and understand the goal of his life. That is our activity. It is not meant for any particular sect or particular nation. No. It is meant for the whole human society; how to make them perfect in the goal of his life.”
He explained that the principle was to understand that life is different from matter. “They are presenting some foolish theories that the body is moving by chemical composition, by this, that, but actually they do not know what is there. The chemical composition . . . what is that? Frankenstein or something?
Jayādvaita laughed. “Frankenstein.”
“These foolish things are going on. They think the body, by some chemical and physical combination and electric power . . . Although they have not been able to do so, but still they’ll theorize like that. In this way the whole human society is going on in a deep, ignorant platform.”
He told her that he had already presented fifty-four books explaining this knowledge. “This book is selling very nicely, Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. We have printed recent edition, 350,000 copies—that is finished. Again we are going to print 500,000 copies. So it is a great science meant for all human beings, not for the Hindus or the Muslim or the Christian. Science, mathematic, is meant for everyone. So it is spiritual science. Everyone should take advantage of it. Otherwise what was the use of my . . . I have not come here to preach Hindu religion. Why you should take Hindu religion? You are already Christian. What is use of replacing Christian religion with Hindu religion? We have no such distinction. We are not after increasing the number of Hindus; we are after making the human being perfect in knowledge. That is our aim.”
“Do you believe then that there is more than one way?” she asked.
“There is only one way,” Prabhupāda told her. “Just like the spirit soul is within you and within me. Your skin may be white, my skin may be colored, but within, the spirit soul. What is there in you, that is in me also. There is not change on account of the body. Therefore to understand that spirit soul, there is only one way. There is no second way. Because it is not experimental; it is already there.”
Several times throughout the interview he patiently described how the soul is different from the body, coaching her through a simple process of self-examination by pointing out how her own body had changed from baby to young girl to woman, yet she remained the same person.
He gave the example of a high court judge. When he is in the court he is addressed as “my lord.” But at home his wife calls him by his first name. Therefore, he told her that the external dress, which is always changing, is not as important as the soul within the bodily dress.
Ms. Kerr seemed to catch the point. “So that means then that our society gives certain people certain status just because of their job. That’s not correct.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda raised his eyebrows slightly. “Yes. We must come to the correct position of our spiritual life, then it is perfection of life. Otherwise, they’re ignorant. If the husband comes at home and the wife calls him by the name, ‘John, come here.’ ‘Oh, you are not addressing “my lord,” ’ it will be ridiculous. He might be ‘my lord,’ in the court, but when he’s in the family, the wife calls by the name. So with the change of dress we are changing our name, circumstances, thoughts and everything. Therefore we find differentiation—American, Indian, Hindu, Muslim, black, white—these are all designation of the dress. And therefore we do not agree. As soon as I accept, identify myself with the dress, there will be disagreement. And as soon as we, everyone of us, we know that this is superficial, this is dress, ‘I am spirit soul,’ then there will be agreement.”
He asked Jayādvaita to find a verse in the Bhagavad-gītā. Then he said it to Kathy, “Brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā na śocati na kāṅkṣati samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu. So without this understanding they have opened United Nations, keeping them cats and dogs. And they are simply barking, that’s all. This is going on. For the last forty years simply they are barking. What achievement is there? In your country, who is the president gave the black man same liberty? Lincoln. Equal right, but actually, there is some tension, black and white. Because they are not on the spiritual platform.”
Viśvakarmā mentioned that in Canada it is the French and the English.
“Everywhere,” Prabhupāda said. “Some tension. The Catholic, the Protestant; the black, the white; the Hindu, the Muslim. That must go on because if we accept on the platform of dress, of body, then there must be ignorance. Read that verse and explain to her.”
Jayādvaita read out the translation: “One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.”
“Equally disposed,” Prabhupāda rejoined. “As soon as he knows that I am not this body, I am spirit soul, then there is no distinction. Just like two American goes to India. So when they understand that ‘We are Americans,’ immediately their interest becomes one, although they are in the foreign country. That is psychology. Similarly, as soon as we come to the spiritual platform, there is no such distinction as black, white, Hindu, Muslim, Christian. Everything finished. Samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu.”
As we have seen him do in every interview so far, he had the whole purport read out to the journalist. Then he told her, “So this brahma-bhūta stage is spiritual stage. We want to bring everyone to this spiritual stage. That is the sum and substance. We are not on the material stage. Therefore it is little difficult to understand. Everyone is on the material stage, but we are working on the spiritual stage. But the spirit and matter, we can distinguish. Without the spirit, the body is nothing but lump of matter. The spirit is there, the matter is there, but we are so dull, we do not understand what is that spirit. That is the difficulty of the modern society. This is the most important thing. Without the spirit, the body cannot move. They are daily experiencing that without spirit the body is nothing, decomposed matter. But still they are simply licking up that decomposed matter without taking care of the spiritual. This is the most defective position of the modern society. So it is not a Hindu religion or Christian religion. It is a science to understand.”
Ms. Kerr was trying to understand and ask relevant questions at the same time. “If a sufficient number of people could take care of their spirits, could achieve an understanding of the spiritual body and so forth, do you think that that would solve, say for instance . . . ”
Prabhupāda was ahead of her. “It is not possible that, because, at the present moment the number of educated persons, there are many. Many Ph.D.’s, D.H.C.’s but nobody understands it. You cannot expect a fair number of persons understanding it. It requires little higher brain. But even some percent of the population understands this philosophy, then there will be peace and prosperity. Not that everyone. Just like in my body, not that every part of my body is brain. But if the brain is in order, then other parts of the body will act nicely. The leg is not brain, but if the brain is in order, the leg will move nicely. The difficulty is there is no brain.”
Then he gave her an unusual, if not appropriate, example. “So without brain, without head, when the body moves it is ghost. So it is ghostly civilization. All ghosts. There is a kind of ghost, perhaps you know, that without head. If a man is chopped of his head, and if he has got attraction, then he becomes a ghost without head. So at the present moment, all these so-called educated civilized men are ghosts without head. You know this, there is some ghosts without head?”
Jayādvaita prabhu, as well as the rest of us, was smiling. “I hadn’t heard about them,” he confessed.
“No, in India they know. And I have described in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam,” Prabhupāda assured us.
“They’re depicted like that quite often in Europe,” I volunteered, “because they used to have the guillotine chopping the head off.”
“A ghost without head, yes, there is a ghost,” Prabhupāda said. “So at the present moment, without-head ghost. A civilization of ghosts, without brain. It is something revolutionary. Something revolutionary, but this is a fact.”
He explained the purpose of the regulative principles. “If one refrains from these four prohibited things, then he can develop his brain to understand. And if one indulges in these four things, his brain will never be able to understand. Just like a dog having sexual intercourse on the street, so if I request the dog that ‘Don’t do this, it is not very good,’ he’ll never understand.”
She asked about the purpose of chanting, and Śrīla Prabhupāda replied in the same vein. “Cleansing. The brain cleansed so that one can understand. Ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam. Cleansing. We have got so many dirty things within ourselves. By this chanting and following these regulative principles, it will be cleansed. Then just like a mirror full of dust, you have to cleanse it. Then you’ll see your face very nicely. So this is the process of cleansing the mirror of heart. So when it is cleansed, then you can understand, ‘Yes, I’m not this body. I am soul. My business is different.’ That is wanted. Therefore we are encouraging people to come here, chant, dance and take prasādam. Gradual process. They have come. In the beginning, I had no place to stay even. Now we have got hundreds of big, big palaces.”
It was a shorter meeting than some of his Los Angeles interviews. After she left Śrīla Prabhupāda commented that he didn’t much care for women interviewers because they were not so intelligent.
June 18th, 1976
Canada seems a cold place. The water at the temple is so cold that after only a minute under the shower it gives one a headache. The morning walk was through the Rouge Park vales again. The heavily wooded valley with its steep walls prevent the sun’s rays from reaching there until late morning, so it is quite chilly. The cold weather is not good for Prabhupāda because he becomes easily congested. He is therefore keeping well wrapped-up with cādar, pullover, and woolen hat.
Satsvarūpa Mahārāja gave Śrīla Prabhupāda some background information on Professor O’Connell, who was to visit with him in the afternoon. He said the professor had written a review of Dr. Stillson Judah’s book, Hare Krishna and the Counterculture. The review was favorable, but O’Connell had one objection. “He said it was a very sympathetic book, Dr. Judah’s, he said. And a little bit too sympathetic on one point. He made this statement. He thinks that our Movement, the way we deny the flesh, he said—he called, ‘denying the flesh’—it tends to make us a little cold in our relations to each other, and people in the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement are denying the natural affection that is somehow connected with the flesh.”
Prabhupāda replied that according to Lord Caitanya, a Vaiṣṇava should not associate with those who are attached to women. Since we are following that policy we cannot be sympathetic to such a society. “Those who are infected, they should be separated. You cannot make any compromise.”
Satsvarūpa explained that the professor was referring to our own Society. “His point was that even amongst ourselves, even amongst the devotees, there is not enough expression of love. . . . I think what it comes down to is that he objects that we are against illicit sex.”
Prabhupāda and the devotees laughed. “Oh. That means he is accustomed.”
Jagadīśa added, “These professors sit around, discuss topics of Caitanya Mahāprabhu and drink wine.”
Satsvarūpa agreed. “And their discussion is very blasphemous. This Dr. Dimmock, he’s made much investigation on the six Gosvāmīs, and he’s read all manuscripts, and he’s always going to India and studying Rūpa Gosvāmī and Lord Caitanya, but everything is extremely blasphemous that he writes. So in both ways, in their habits and whatever they write. The Library Party men, they become friendly to these professors, but only to use them more or less, that they’ll accept our books, despite themselves.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda expressed his approval. “Yes, that we must do. Our policy is when we go to a bad character, we don’t go to associate with him, but to give him our association. Therefore we must be strong and very pure, so that your association, they will be benefited. For the preachers, īśvare tad-adhīneṣu bāliśeṣu dviṣatsu, the four behavior. Īśvara, tad-adhīneṣu, devotees, bāliśeṣu, innocent, and dviṣatsu, those who are envious. So those who are preachers, they, prema, loving God, making friendship with devotee, and those who are innocent, to deliver. And those who are envious, reject.”
He asked Satsvarūpa for further details of Professor O’Connell’s objection. Satsvarūpa Mahārāja obliged. “He said we deny expression of love through the body. Just like the gṛhasthas are not allowed—except to have children—to have sex, and brahmacārīs, not at all. These are natural ways to express love, he says, and by denying them, the people in this Movement become somewhat cold and don’t have the experience of love.”
“Love? This is love or lust?” Śrīla Prabhupāda asked, stopping for a moment.
“He says there’s a definite connection between the flesh and love,” Satsvarūpa said. “And you can’t deny it, he said. I argued with him, but that was his viewpoint, that love is expressed through the flesh.”
“Then how he has become a doctor in Vaiṣṇava philosophy?” Śrīla Prabhupāda asked seriously. “In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta there is explanation, what is the difference between lust and love.”
“I told him if you observe the devotees, you’ll see they have very affectionate loving dealings with one another, but it’s not based on the flesh. We don’t have to . . . ”
“That is lust,” Prabhupāda said. “Sahajiyā. Lust is going on as love . . . Mahāprabhu said, asat eka strī-saṅgī. Strī-saṅgī, those who are attached to women, he’s asat.”
“Yes,” Satsvarūpa agreed, adding, “Basically, he said it was a good book and that our Movement is an important movement. But he made that one objection.”
* * *
After taking breakfast Prabhupāda slept until noon. His face is now badly swollen and he has a severe toothache—but he refuses to visit a dentist. Better let it fall out by itself, he said, because a dentist will want to extract all of them. He simply sucks an occasional clove to help deaden the pain. It is yet another amazing display of his bodily detachment. Any ordinary man would be in agony, completely disturbed mentally, and complaining all the time. But Prabhupāda sits quietly and tolerates it without so much as a murmur.
* * *
A long letter came from Tuṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami in New Zealand. He has been busy trying to rectify bad media reports on the bombing issue. He told Śrīla Prabhupāda that the police have volunteered to clear them at the upcoming coroner’s inquest.
He and his men are taking Prabhupāda’s instructions to build a temple seriously. He enclosed basic plans for a square-shaped temple with a central dome and four smaller domes, on each corner. Each dome, square at the base and rising to a point, will display one of the four symbols of Lord Viṣṇu—conch, lotus, disc, and club—on its outer surface. On the single central altar, the main Deities will be Śrī Śrī Gaura-Nitāi, made by one of his men, Dhaumya dāsa, from either brass or imitation gold. He also requested permission to install a Deity of Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva. He proposed to have the interior of the temple decorated with panels of wood or plaster, depicting Caitanya-līlā. The total area of the building will be approximately one thousand square feet. They have chosen a site on a hill which he said will make it a landmark in the Auckland area. They intend to begin work on Janmāṣṭamī.
As far as their preaching work is concerned he said that with help from some newly joined Polynesian devotees they had started a program aimed at attracting the Polynesian community. He enclosed a small handout which they produce in English, Samoan and Tongan. It was an attractively designed leaflet inviting the recipient to a “community gathering” for the purpose of “* Singing the Names of God * Dancing * Free Vegetarian Feast * ” On the back it bore the mahā-mantra. They were getting some response, although he said it was difficult to gain their confidence because of past exploitation by whites.
He is also corresponding with various governmental officials and ministers on the abortion issue which is currently being debated in the New Zealand Parliament. He has received favorable personal replies to his letters from the Prime Minister and the Health Minister on their letterheads. “Hopefully,” he told Śrīla Prabhupāda, “they will begin to view us as serious thinkers with real solutions to the problems they can’t solve.”
Prabhupāda made a few corrections in the temple design and asked him to style it after our Vṛndāvana temple, with three domes situated over the top of the Deities, not over the darśana area. Nor did he approve the placing of the symbols of Lord Viṣṇu. He included a simple hand-drawn sketch to show what he wanted. As for Deities, he said that Guru-Gaurāṅga should be in the center altar, Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva to their right and Lord Jagannātha, Subhadrā and Baladeva to their left. With Jagannātha deities, he said they could also have Ratha-yātrā each year.
On the whole Śrīla Prabhupāda was pleased with Tuṣṭa Kṛṣṇa’s report, but he also cautioned him about the bomb incident. “It is my fervent request that the devotees not make any ‘bombing-līlā,’ as it was publicized recently.”
Prabhupāda asked him to send copies of all his correspondence, both to and from the government officials. Finally he added a few words on his preaching to the local people. “Let them chant Hare Krishna mantra, nothing else, and dance and take prasadam. There is no need of teaching them philosophy in the beginning. In America also, neither white nor black like each other, but in our society they are chanting and dancing. This is on the basis of Hare Krishna; everyone can join.” And he also suggested a correction for the leaflet. “On the small invitation it should read: Singing the Names of Krishna (God).”
A disturbing letter came from Tejiyās prabhu in Delhi. He is now living outside the temple at the house of another devotee and has practically ceased to function as temple president. He said the cause of this was heavy politics against him by the head pūjārī, Oṁkāra dāsa, coupled with a complete lack of support from his GBC, Gopāla Kṛṣṇa prabhu. This has caused a breakdown in his relationship with the rest of the devotees, thus resulting in his inability to function as president. Consequently, he suggested that Gopāla Kṛṣṇa become the interim president and develop the New Delhi center as he likes.
Tejīyas suggested various projects he could personally continue to work on, especially the development of the sales of standing orders of Prabhupāda’s books. He expressed confidence that he could sell full sets of books to important and highly placed officials. In a postscript he added that he had recently sold a full set of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatams to Dr. Nagendra Singh, an International Court Justice and former secretary to the President of India.
By Tejiyās prabhu’s own admission, both in this letter and his previous one, he has difficulty in his personal dealings with devotees, so Śrīla Prabhupāda avoided commenting on the details of the politics in the situation. He replied instead in a positive manner, encouraging him to continue preaching. “If you can arrange with Gopal Krishna then I have no objection to you increasing your preaching activities there. If Gopal Krishna wants to be interim president, then if that is your ‘mutual’ arrangement, then you can do more preaching work, especially to the government officers. I was very pleased to see how you are getting top-ranking men to read my books. That is real preaching. If all the government officers at least purchase some of our books, it will be a great credit, so do it very nicely.”
He also added as a postscript that since the programs at the new center are now being well attended, Tejiyās can arrange meetings with important government officials in New Delhi over a weekend when Prabhupāda returns to Vṛndāvana. He told him that New Delhi is the most important place for preaching to the leaders of India.
Saurabha dāsa, our India based architect, also sent a letter to clarify his plans for Śrīla Prabhupāda’s residence in Māyāpur. His letters have been crossing over Śrīla Prabhupāda’s replies, resulting in some confusion. So now he stated clearly what is currently planned, and requested Prabhupāda’s response. He is actually planning two residences—a main one, to be built in the future, and another, a kuṭīra. This kuṭīra will be situated near the existing west gate, at the corner of the small lake, and will be for Śrīla Prabhupāda’s interim use, until the city is built.
According to the master plan, the future main residence will be on the top of one of the gurukula buildings nearer to the main temple in the north-east corner. This is intended to be at least sixty feet high so that Prabhupāda gets plenty of breeze and sun and is free from disturbance.
The proposed kuṭīra incorporates most of what was suggested in the original residential plan (which he enclosed) but with a few improvements to the balconies to allow more light and air. He assured Prabhupāda that this building would be away from any noise and disturbance and would give complete facility for Prabhupāda, his servants and any important guests he may want to stay with him.
Prabhupāda endorsed the current plan, although he expressed some doubts about his future residence being situated over the gurukula. As for the kuṭīra, he liked the idea of being near the Ganges, where he could take his daily bath in the summer. As long as trees, plants and flowers were planted all around for privacy, he felt it would be fine. The only thing he asked him to reconsider was the inclusion of the kitchen in the main part of the ground floor. To avoid noise he suggested it be separate, as in his Vṛndāvana quarters.
* * *
After Śrīla Prabhupāda got up from his afternoon nap, Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja and I sat for a few minutes with him while he awaited some guests. He was relaxed and smiling, describing the current civilization as a “dog’s race on four wheels.” He said the dogs are running on four legs and the so-called humans are running on four wheels. He was unreserved, portraying modern society in scathingly frank terms. However, he was aware that if outsiders heard him speak like that about their life-style, they might not be as receptive as us. He chuckled. “If we say all these things, they will cut my head.” Joining our laughter, he went on. “Therefore I don’t say in the public meeting all these things. But it is actually dog’s life. No value. Actually, no value. We cannot give any value to this type of civilization, running like dog with car.”
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa and I both recalled how he had spoken in strong terms to his audience, both in South Africa and Madras, calling them cats and dogs, and still they had applauded at the end.
Prabhupāda gave a self-effacing grin. “No, no, when I come into emotion, I cannot check to speak the truth. But actually it is the fact.” He laughed. “I cannot give any credit to these rascals who are running at high speed, big, big car.”
We told him about two articles we had just read in the newspapers this morning, one on the current Mars probe. In very speculative terms the report described how they now thought the atmosphere around the planet might be fog, and not smog as first thought. Yet despite not even knowing what the atmosphere is, it then stated they would land the spaceship just below the Martian equator, at a point which is just at the mouth of a four mile deep valley, which “may have been filled with water fifty thousand years ago, and could have fossils in it from the type of life that existed there, if it existed.”
Prabhupāda shook his head at the gullibility of people in accepting such statements without even questioning the purpose and expenditure of such expeditions. “Scientist rascal. How ludicrous. Simply ‘maybe,’ ‘if it was’ and ‘it will be.’ That’s all. Simply maybe. And people are taking, ‘Oh, it is scientific research.’”
We then told him about the second article, in which it was estimated that forty percent of all the world’s scientists are engaged in making weapons. Since the end of World War II it said that in the West six thousand billion dollars have been spent on armament. Over four hundred thousand scientists currently work in armament development. “They call it defense measures,” I told Śrīla Prabhupāda.
“Just see,” he said. “Why defense? Man to man. That means they are dogs. The dogs defend from another dog. Is it not? As soon as they see another dog, ‘Yow, yow, yow!’ So then where is the defense between man to man?”
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa said they are worried now that they won’t be able to disarm, yet somehow or other there’s going to be a disaster unless there is immediate disarmament. But they don’t think it’s possible.
“No. How they can disarm?” Prabhupāda asked. “They have been trained up like dogs to bark and fight. How there can be disarmament?”
We then talked about the breakup of marriages, which seems endemic to the West. But Prabhupāda revealed, via a somewhat scandalous anecdote, that even in his time in India it was not unheard of. “One of my Gaudiya Matha Godbrothers, big, he became the head of this Bhag Bazaar Gaudiya Matha. So his wife was debauched, and she was bringing new paramour, and the child protested. The boy, he was ten years or twelve years old, he could understand: ‘Who is this man?’ So he protested and said, ‘I shall tell all these things to my father.’ And he was killed.”
Surprised, Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa asked, “The boy was killed?”
“By the mother,” Prabhupāda affirmed.
“She murdered him?” I asked, a little shocked.
“Yes. Killed means given poison. And the father, that is, my Godbrother, seeing this, he also took poison. This is the end of Gaudiya Matha scandal. He was also one of the trustees. This Tīrtha Mahārāja was a trustee, and another Godbrother and this man. In the beginning, they were made trustees. In the beginning, Prabhupāda [Bhaktisiddhānta] was to undergo surgical operation. So he was a little nervous, that ‘I may die.’ So he made a scrap paper, that ‘In case I die, these three disciples will be trustees of the Gaudiya Matha Institute.’ That’s all. So one of the so-called trustees was this Vāsudeva. So he died, his end was like this. His wife was a regular prostitute, and she killed her child, and on this shock, he took poison and died. Naturally, he became shocked, that ‘This is my family life—the wife is prostitute and son is killed. What is the value of my life?’ This was his spiritual realization. Just see. And he was made the chief, and one of the supporter was Śrīdhara Mahārāja. Guru Mahārāja did not make him chief. But after his passing away, some of our Godbrothers voted him chief.”
Prabhupāda has on occasion mentioned incidents from the troubled past of the Gaudiya Matha, especially the power struggle that took place after the disappearance of his Guru Mahārāja, and he confirmed Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa’s understanding that Vāsudeva had also been debauched, despite his high standing. “Am I mistaken? You had told me once, I’m not certain. Maybe I made a mistake. You said that Vāsudeva, it was known fact that he was homosex?”
“Yes. He was homosex and sex, everything.”
* * *
In the late afternoon Professors O’Connell and Motilal from Toronto University, Sivaraman from McMaster University and Professor Fendrick visited along with their wives and some friends. Professor O’Connell is a long-time admirer of Śrīla Prabhupāda and has spoken with him previously at Harvard and in London. He is a philosophy teacher and has been very helpful in establishing the religious bona fides of Kṛṣṇa consciousness to counter some recent legal attacks on the Movement. When a devotee was “deprogrammed” he publicly defended our Movement as a genuine religion. Professor Motilal is from a Bengali brāhmaṇa Vaiṣṇava family, but gave up his sacred thread when he came West. According to the devotees, he now eats meat and drinks.
None of them had much to say, being content to sit quietly and listen to Śrīla Prabhupāda, who spoke quite animatedly. He started off by giving them his description of the “four-wheeled dog race.” Dogs run here and there on four legs and people run here and there on four wheels—all for no purpose.
Professor Sivaraman thought that perhaps it was better to be moving than standing still and sleeping. He asked, wasn’t rajas, passion, better than tamas, ignorance?
Prabhupāda explained that one has to go beyond both passion and ignorance to the platform of śuddha-sattva, or pure goodness. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. He quoted Bhagavad-gītā’s description of the universal problems of life —birth, death, disease, and old age. Then he gave the solution, that understanding Kṛṣṇa would solve all the problems of life and guarantee that one never has to take birth again in the material world. The problem was, he said, that everyone is presenting their own interpretation of Bhagavad-gītā. “We are therefore requesting everyone, study Bhagavad-gītā as it is. Don’t interpret. Don’t screw out your concocted meaning. Then your life is successful. Every politician, every scholar, everyone is trying to screw out some meaning. That is the disease. But we are begging people that, ‘You read Bhagavad-gītā As It Is and try to understand it.’ Very simple thing. We haven’t got to become very learned scholars. Our business is to go to you and request you, ‘Please read Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. Don’t try to interpret it.’ That is our preaching. Very simple. Because Bhagavad-gītā, the instruction is there, and we haven’t got to manufacture anything. So as a peon, we carry only, ‘You please read it as it is.’ Or you try to explain as it is. And where is the explanation? Everything is clear.”
He quoted the first verse of the Gītā, complaining that although the place Kurukṣetra is still there and many thousands of persons visit it, unauthorized commentators still interpret the words “kuru-kṣetra”and “dharma-kṣetra”in their own fashion, misleading the public and themselves.
“It must be understood literally, you say,” the professor asked, as if this were something new to him.
“Yes, why not?” Śrīla Prabhupāda asked him. “Suppose you have got some philosophy. So you can explain your philosophy differently. Why should you take Bhagavad-gītā and explain your philosophy? Is it honesty?”
The professor suggested that, “All the ācāryas have been doing it.”
“No ācāryas are doing it.” Śrīla Prabhupāda responded quickly and forcefully. “All lower-class men. No ācāryas do it. Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Nimbarka, these are ācāryas. Śaṅkarācārya, Caitanya, they never did it. Outsiders, who did not care for the authority of the ācārya, they did it. Otherwise, those that are in the ācārya-sampradāya, they’ll never do that. Amānitvam adambhitvam [humility and pridelessness] ācāryopāsanaṁ [approaching a spiritual master]. This is the process of knowledge. Evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ. This is the ācārya. Ācārya will never interpret things like that. You see Rāmānujācārya’s comments on Bhagavad-gītā. Nothing changed. But in every śloka he has given evidence from the Vedas, from the Upaniṣads. Ācārya will never change.”
Mrs. Mukherji, a student, asked about the position of women in our Movement.
Prabhupāda explained that there is no distinction between man and woman on the spiritual platform. “That is clearly said in the Bhagavad-gītā. Māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye ’pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ striyo śūdras tathā vaiśyās. These classes are understood to be less intelligent—woman, śūdra, and the vaiśyas. But Kṛṣṇa says, ‘No, even for them it is open.’ Because in the spiritual platform there is no such distinction, man, woman, or black, white, or big or small. No. Everyone is spirit soul. Paṇḍita, one who is actually learned, he is sama-darśī. He does not make any distinction. But so far our material body is concerned, there must be some distinction for keeping the society in order.”
Professor O’Connell, a youngish man in his later thirties, asked if it was possible for a woman to be a guru in the line of disciplic succession.
“Yes,” Prabhupāda assured him. “Jāhnava devī was Nityānanda’s wife. She became. If she is able to go to the highest perfection of life, why it is not possible to become guru? But, not so many. Actually one who has attained the perfection, she can become guru. But man or woman, unless one has attained the perfection . . . Yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā sei guru haya. The qualification of guru is that he must be fully cognizant of the science of Kṛṣṇa. Then he or she can become guru.”
Even in the material world, Prabhupāda said, there is no prohibition against a woman becoming a professor; one simply has to be qualified. “That is the position. If the woman understands Kṛṣṇa consciousness perfectly, she can become guru.”
Professor O’Connell also inquired about the way devotees regard someone who leaves. Do we look upon them as a sinner or an enemy?
“Just like in college, school, some student making rapid progress, some of them are a little slow,” Prabhupāda explained. “That does not mean that he should he rejected. He should be given chance. But if he follows the regulative principles, there is no chance of falling down. The regulative principle is that you refrain from these activities: illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling, and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. That’s all. That will make him perfect. Very easy.”
Perhaps as a result of this morning’s conversation on the professor’s review of Stillson Judah’s book, Prabhupāda elaborated a little on the principles governing sex life. “We don’t say no sex; we say illicit sex. So if you want sex, you become a gentleman, marry and live like a gentleman. Why illicit sex? There are many gṛhastha devotees. Just like Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s direct associate, Nityānanda, He was a gṛhastha. Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself was a gṛhastha. He married twice. First wife died; he married second wife. So gṛhastha is not rejected. It is not that simply sannyāsīs will go back to home. No. Everyone can go. But one must be Kṛṣṇa conscious. Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s recommendation is that you remain your place. Don’t try to change it artificially, but be Kṛṣṇa conscious.”
He said that to be Kṛṣṇa conscious was not difficult; one only has to hear about Kṛṣṇa. By that simple process a wonderful result will be realized. “So that day will come, Kṛṣṇa, who is ajita, you can conquer Him. Nobody can conquer Kṛṣṇa, but by this method, one can conquer Kṛṣṇa.”
One of the guests was inquisitive to know whether Prabhupāda was getting young or old people to join him.
Prabhupāda answered that there is no age restriction. But in youth learning comes easier, he said with a smile, because an old man has to take so many years to forget what he has learned.
The teachers appreciated his humor and Prabhupāda took advantage of the congenial atmosphere and friendly exchange to put in a plea for cooperation, for them to take up Kṛṣṇa consciousness and set a good example for their young students. “Yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhaḥ. If the professors chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, naturally the students will do that. Less important person also follow. If the professor’s chanting, the student will immediately follow. You can do better service. If I go, I request them, they’ll not do it. But as soon as they . . . ‘My professor is doing. All right.’ Immediately.”
Professor O’Connell, neatly groomed and dressed in a tweed jacket and tie, had just come from a graduation ceremony. He asked why Prabhupāda doesn’t send some of his own students to a university for degree work.
Prabhupāda told him frankly, “The real education is life. Gurukula means it is a way of life training.” He is dealing with this topic in his morning lectures and he quoted from the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to answer the professor. “It is said that brahmacārī gurukule vasan dānta. This is the way of life: how to learn controlling the senses. Nowadays we have got school, colleges, universities, but this method is not there, how to become dānta. The method is different, that ‘You can do whatever you like; you simply attend class.’ That is not the way of life.”
He told them austerityis necessary, but not so difficult. “Tapasya can be executed simply by learning devotional service. Then everything is there. So we are describing these things in our books.”
Always conscious of his mission, and aware of the slightest opportunity for preaching, he suggested they consider his books for texts in their classes, citing the recent orders he has received from East Germany.
One of the professors asked him how long it had taken him to complete the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, especially wondering when he found time to write. Prabhupāda told him it took a year and a half to complete the seventeen volumes and explained his schedule. “I write in the night. I go to bed at half past ten, and I get up at half past twelve. Then I finish my chanting, if there is any balance, and then I begin dictating. And the morning they take it and type it. So this dictaphone is always with me, wherever I go, so my writing book is not stopped. Maybe few pages, but something is there daily. Little drops of water wears the stone. So in that way we have translated so many books. About fifty-four books are already published, besides the small booklets. And, we have published, Bhāgavatam, twenty-two. I am expecting sixty volumes. Sixty volumes of four hundred pages. The biggest canto is the Tenth Canto. I’ve already published the Tenth Canto, summarized: Kṛṣṇa. But in detail, it will take at least twenty volumes.”
“Tenth is almost as big as the rest of book,” his guest observed appreciatively.
“Yes,” Prabhupāda smiled. “There are ninety chapters. All other cantos, at most thirty chapters. But Tenth Canto is ninety chapters. That is Kṛṣṇa’s face, Kṛṣṇa’s beautiful face. Everyone is attracted by the smiling face of Kṛṣṇa.”
It was a long and interesting meeting, and Prabhupāda finished by again asking them to take up Kṛṣṇa consciousness seriously and, as leaders of society, help to educate others in this great, nonsectarian science. He had a little prasādam distributed and invited them to join an initiation ceremony downstairs which now required his presence. Having been to a graduation, it was an opportunity for them to attend one of a different kind, for Śrīla Prabhupāda’s spiritually educated students.
After they went out, His Divine Grace told us that Professor O’Connell’s inquiry about ISKCON students attending university courses was an indication that the philosophy departments are now ill-attended. These teachers are having difficulty getting work due to an interest everywhere in technology. Therefore they are canvassing us to support their courses.
* * *
Being Friday evening and because of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s presence, there was a good turn out from the Indian community for the initiation ceremony. Despite discomfort from his toothache, Prabhupāda spoke strongly for twenty minutes from the instructions of Lord Ṛṣabhadeva on the importance of using one’s human form to rise above animal tendencies to the platform of brahminical life by the process of tapasya.
He said there are some natural inclinations that come along with this body, but these have to be purified. “Voluntarily accepting some inconvenience. That is called tapasya. Generally we want loke vyavāhāmiṣa-madya-sevā nityā hi jantoḥ. When one is not on the platform of spiritual understanding, they are called jantu. Jantu means anyone who has got life. The cats and dogs, they have also got life. So loke, in this material world, vyavāyāmiṣa-madya-sevā. Vyavāya means sex indulgence, sex life. And amiṣa means meat-, fish-, egg- eating. Therefore vegetarian diet is called niramiṣa, not amiṣa. So it is general tendency of the living being to become amiṣa, eat meat. This is the general laws of nature. Jīvo jīvasya jīvanam. One living entity is the life for another living entity. Ahastāni sa-hastānām. There are animals; two-legged animals and there are four-legged animals. The four-legged animals is the food for the two-legged animals. So long we remain as animals then there is the necessity of eating meat. The other animals four legs and here is an animal, two legs. Dvi-pada-paśu. For them the animal is eatable. Amiṣa-madya-sevā. And drinking wine, or intoxication and vyavāya, sex life. So long he is jantu, these things are required. That is general tendency. But when one gives up voluntarily for higher status of life, that is called nivṛtti-mārga.”
He clearly explained how the process of initiation works. “By saṁskāra, by the purificatory method, this tapasya, he becomes a dvija. Dvi means twice and ja means birth, second birth. Saṁskāra bhaved dvija. Then when he becomes dvija, properly initiated, then he’s allowed to read Vedic literature. Śūdra cannot. If you remain a śūdra, no saṁskāra, no purification, then you have no right to understand Vedic knowledge. Either you have no right or you cannot understand. The Bhagavad-gītā is there throughout the whole world; everyone knows Bhagavad-gītā, but they have misunderstood. Because they are kept śūdra. First of all by birth he’s a śūdra and when he’s purified then he becomes dvija. Dvija, the sacred thread means that this man, upanayana. Upa means near and nayana means bringing. So when one is brought nearer to the spiritual master and he accepts him as his disciple he gives the sacred thread as badge that this man is now dvija, twice-born. He’s no more śūdra. He’s brāhmaṇa. So he has the right to read the Vedic literature. The Bhagavad-gītā is summary of all Vedicknowledge so if we pass through this process of divya-jñāna, dīkṣā, then we rightly understand what is Bhagavad-gītā or what is the lesson of Bhagavad-gītā.”
He described the condition of taking repeated births in the material realm as a diseased condition, and said that the acceptance of tapasya is the way to stop this disease. Surveying his audience, he addressed his new disciples, calling their attention to the great responsibility they were about to accept. “So this initiation means, don’t think that it is something official, ritualistic ceremony, and as soon as we get the initiation, now we have become perfect and whatever nonsense I like I can do. No, tapasya must continue. In order to purify yourself, your existence, you have to continue the tapasya: no illicit sex, no meat-eating, no gambling, no intoxication and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. If you follow these five principles, then your existence will be purified, you’ll understand Kṛṣṇa from the Bhagavad-gītā, you’ll know what is the purpose of life. The purpose of life is to understand Kṛṣṇa. There is no other business in this human form of life, but because we have given up Kṛṣṇa, we have invented so many occupational duties. So, so-called occupational running here and there on motor car is not the end of life. There is something more for the human being; that is divya-jñāna.
“Why shall I purify my existence? Because you want happiness. That is your desire. So you’ll get brahma-saukhyam, the greatest happiness which will never end. If you purify your existence by tapasya then you will be happy eternally. There will be no end. Here in this material world any happiness is temporary. Either for five minutes or five days or five years or five hundred years or five millions of years, it will end. But if you purify your existence, then the happiness will never end. Tapo divyaṁ putrakā yena sattvaṁ/ śudhyed yasmād brahma-saukhyaṁ tv anantam. Anantam means unlimited. It is very serious thing and it is offered to the human being. So anyone can take advantage of this opportunity and make his life successful. Thank you very much.”
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja is behind with his typing so he chose not to attend. In his place, I handed the beads to Śrīla Prabhupāda for him to give to each devotee as they came up to his vyāsāsana. Pradyumna dealt with the names. One by one, each of the twelve new initiates came forward to pledge to follow the regulations and receive their new spiritual names. Śrīla Prabhupāda then returned to his room to bestow Gāyatrī mantra to the eight brāhmaṇa initiates.
June 19th, 1976
It was raining quite heavily this morning so Śrīla Prabhupāda took his “walk in the car” as he did in Los Angeles.
* * *
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s face is still quite swollen from the bad tooth, but he has not mentioned the problem except when someone else brings it to attention. He remains tolerant and transcendental and does not allow his preaching schedule to be affected in any way.
* * *
Śubhavilāsa prabhu had given an invitation for Śrīla Prabhupāda to visit his house which he gladly accepted. He drove out just after his afternoon nap. The drive took about half an hour. A big gathering of devotees, perhaps ninety or a hundred, were there to greet him at 22, Medina Cresent, Scarborough.
Just inside the house, Śubhavilāsa and his wife, Āśālatā dāsi, offered him flower garlands and a seat. Then with great care and attention they bathed his feet with flower-perfumed water and wiped them off with their hands. Going into the main living room they offered him a seat on a spacious three-seater Chesterfield lounge that was covered with a clean white sheet. With Śrīla Prabhupāda comfortably ensconced, we set up the microphone on a small round table in front of him, while as many devotees as could fit crammed the room. Others crowded around the windows to get a peek, and still others strained to see through the open doorway.
Because of the swelling in his mouth, Śrīla Prabhupāda first had the devotees perform kīrtana and then requested his sannyāsīs and GBCs to say a few words instead of speaking himself. Each spoke between five and ten minutes, Satsvarūpa Mahārāja first. He reminded the devotees that the wonderful new facility they now enjoyed was procured by the hard work of Śubhavilāsa and Viśvakarmā prabhus, in pursuance of the desire of Śrīla Prabhupāda. He explained that just as Kṛṣṇa can realize any desire simply by willing it, similarly, the desire of the pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa is also fulfilled, because they are one in interest. “So by Śrīla Prabhupāda’s desiring this to come about, praying to Kṛṣṇa, therefore the devotees also praying and endeavoring have brought about, that now Toronto is situated in such a nice temple. And just since opening that temple now so many new devotees have come and joined. So it’s now very firmly situated in this big North American city to go on spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So we should be always so grateful to Śrīla Prabhupāda, not only for coming and visiting us in our temples, whereby we can actually see in this instance how by his visit this came about, that a year later now such a big, big temple is there. That, anyone can plainly see. It is phenomenal, it can be seen. But also we should be grateful for his instructions, because the physical presence is not always appreciable. Sometimes he is here and some . . . then he is not here. But always Śrīla Prabhupāda is with us by our following his instructions. We simply have to be obedient to these instructions.”
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami spoke next with clarity and deep appreciation, his realizations augmented by his four months of touring with Śrīla Prabhupāda. He compared life in the “dog’s race” of material existence, which is simply suffering, with that offered to us by His Divine Grace. “In the temple we can practically experience a different quality of life altogether. So Śrīla Prabhupāda is establishing the internal potency of the Lord within this material world in the form of his temples. Kṛṣṇa says mahātmānas tu māṁ pārtha daivīṁ prakṛtim āśritāḥ. That persons who are always glorifying Kṛṣṇa, they live in the internal potency of the Lord. And practically in our temples, glorification of Kṛṣṇa, by the order of our spiritual master, is going on. We can understand practically that to live in the temple is to live in the internal potency; is a very rare opportunity.”
Billions of people are struggling in material existence, he said, and Śrīla Prabhupāda is sacrificing his own life to try to save them. “Just like I’m somehow or another Śrīla Prabhupāda’s secretary. And I’m always trying to arrange for his physical comforts. But he’s always saying, ‘To preach means to accept discomfort.’ For an older person to travel on airplanes and to always move about and to go here and there for the service of the Lord is naturally more difficult than for a very young person. But Prabhupāda is accepting this uncomfortable situation simply to establish Kṛṣṇa consciousness throughout the world; at least to give people the opportunity, that ‘Choose, if you like, between the internal potency and the external potency.’
“Prabhupāda personally, even at advanced age, he’s coming simply to give this opportunity to the westerners and to everyone throughout the world that, besides this material life, there is another eternal life. And if you utilize your independence very carefully to transfer your attachment to this internal potency of devotional service, and service to the Vaiṣṇavas and to Kṛṣṇa, you can become free forever from the encumbrance of repeated birth and death and go back to home, back to Godhead. This is the great fortune that has come upon us in the form of this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, in the form of association with the pure devotee, Śrīla Prabhupāda, and in the form of chanting the holy name. In so many ways we are being benedicted.”
Quoting from Śrīla Prabhupāda’s conversation with the professors he told the devotees that the running of the dog on four legs, and the running of so-called humans on four wheels, is exactly the same if there is no culture. “So this Kṛṣṇa culture is now being spread all throughout the world. It’s giving people the chance to see how actually human life should be lived. And the temple is a place where practically we can set an ideal example of human life for the whole of human society. Therefore, we’re greatly indebted to Śrīla Prabhupāda.”
The devotees all cheered, “Jaya Prabhupāda!”
Then Jagadīśa prabhu gave a short talk, explaining the difference between the two kinds of living beings—those who approach Kṛṣṇa, and those who don’t. Of those who do, he said they are motivated by personal desire, but somehow, if they get the right association, they can be purified. “The greatest purification is to come in touch with a pure devotee of the Lord. There are many ritualistic activities prescribed in the Vedic literatures for gradual purification. But, as Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī points out in his Upadeśāmṛta, what is the good of undergoing so much atonement and pious activity if the heart remains contaminated and the living entity remains sinful, just acting for his own benefit? Therefore the greatest opportunity for the conditioned soul is when he gets the chance to associate with a pure devotee of the Lord.”
Citing the current abortion law, he explained how Śrīla Prabhupāda was elevating us from the present society’s degredation to activities solely for Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure. “So the International Society for Krishna Consciousness is specifically formed by Śrīla Prabhupāda to help those of us who are lost and entangled in this material condition to associate with one another under his guidance and achieve—by this process recommended by Caitanya Mahāprabhu, chanting the holy name—rapid purification, and in this one lifetime, Śrīla Prabhupāda has promised that we can go back to home, back to Godhead. So we should try to cooperate together. There is no other purpose. Once one comes in touch with the pure devotee and understands his message, there’s no other purpose for living in this material world than to serve the mission of the Lord. And that mission of the Lord, as already explained, is to reclaim the conditioned souls who have fallen into the material world and are lost, helplessly entrapped.
“So we should try and cooperate together. Learn Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions very perfectly and try to carry them out, following the four regulative principles, chanting sixteen rounds and working together to spread the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement all over the world, so that its influence can affect all the living beings who are on the face of the earth. Actually in the Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī has stated that the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement will spread all over the universe. So Śrīla Prabhupāda is undoubtedly empowered by Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He’s doing such wonderful service, spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over this globe and we should pray that we can help in some small way.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda appeared well satisfied with their offerings and didn’t add anything himself. He did, however, look around the room, and seeing only a few members of the Indian community, express his disappointment. “So I have heard that there are about fifty thousand Indians in Toronto. So why they are not coming? They want to become bara-sahīb only?” Becoming a bara-sahīb, a big westerner, is a criticism he often makes about expatriate Indians. As soon they leave India they forget their upbringing and pursue the western way of life.
“Yes,” Śubhavilāsa said, “they are here to make the money, that’s all they are doing.”
Prabhupāda laughed. “They have no other purpose? So this is not good. What is their objection? They don’t want their own culture? This is Indian culture, they should be proud that Indian culture is being accepted by the foreigners. And they are living, they are becoming bara-sahīb? What is this? Now it is your duty to deliver these bara-sahībs.”
Several times he asked why the Indians were not attending even though we have Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in the temple and Bhagavad-gītā discourses.
One of the guests said that they want to be Kṛṣṇa themselves. That struck a chord with Śrīla Prabhupāda. “Rascal!” He laughed. “Everyone wants to become a rascal. Don’t be that. This is not good. Everyone wants to become Kṛṣṇa. As Kṛṣṇa lifted the Govardhana Hill at seven years old, so can he do that? Then how he’ll become Kṛṣṇa. Simply by imagination . . . So anyway, now it is Śubhavilāsa prabhu’s duty to bring these imitation Kṛṣṇas. Hare Kṛṣṇa.”
He requested another kīrtana, so the devotees chanted while Śubhavilāsa and his wife served out a palatable feast. They brought a special plate for Śrīla Prabhupāda bearing various kinds of nuts, pakorā,sabjī, barfī and fruits. Some whole chickos, a delicious, smooth, brown fruit the size of a chicken egg, usually only found in India, caught his eye. Āśālatā brought him a knife and Prabhupāda cut it into pieces, and enjoyed its exotic sweetness. As he ate, a group of devotees, led by Uttamaśloka dāsa, the Chicago temple president, gathered in front of him and with his permission sang bhajanas, including Ohe! Vaiṣṇava Ṭhākura.
Before he left, Śubhavilāsa came forward with an unusual gift—a child’s piggy bank. Śrīla Prabhupāda laughed to see it. It belonged to Śubhavilāsa’s son, Indriyesha, and it was stuffed full of coins. When Śrīla Prabhupāda came to Toronto last year, he had done a similar program at Śubhavilāsa’s house and Indriyesha had handed the piggy bank to him. Prabhupāda had held it in the air and shook it and then laughed—it was half empty. He had handed it back to the boy and told him “Fill it up!” So throughout the year the boy has been faithfully adding one coin after another in anticipation of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s next visit. Now today, he got his chance to re-present it. This time Prabhupāda happily accepted it, greatly pleasing the entire family.
Śubhavilāsa also presented a gold ring as guru-dakṣiṇā, which Prabhupāda put on. Then at about 8:00 p.m. he returned to the temple. A few minutes into the journey Śrīla Prabhupāda slipped his new ring off and gave it to Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa, who was both surprised and grateful to receive it.
Back at the temple Prabhupāda had us carefully open up the piggy bank, extract the coins, count them and return the empty box to Śubhavilāsa. The coins were exchanged for notes which Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa will deposit in one of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s accounts.
* * *
Jayatīrtha prabhu cabled from London to ask whether a calf born deformed at Bhaktivedanta Manor should be killed by a veterinarian or allowed to die naturally. Śrīla Prabhupāda replied that it should be allowed its natural span of life, because then it will advance to the next higher species—in this case a human birth.
* * *
One of Prabhupāda’s visitors has been Hanumān dāsa, a French Canadian devotee who gave up his sannyāsa several years ago to get married. During their conversation Hanumān asked what the procedure was for a fallen sannyāsī to be reinstated. Did he have to have another fire yajña and formal initiation rite? He wasn’t contemplating it for the immediate moment, but for when he reaches fifty years old.
Prabhupāda immediately discouraged him from even thinking about it. “You don’t bother with this. You stay with your wife and children. After the age of fifty years, then we shall see.”
June 20th, 1976
Śrīla Prabhupāda made up for yesterday’s rained-off walk today. He spoke continually, both in the car on the way in and back and as he traversed the valley at Don Mills.
During the drive to the Rouge Park System, Jagadīśa prabhu said that he was brought up a “God-fearing” Catholic, but later on, by bad association in high school, he lost that sense.
Prabhupāda lamented the lack of good examples for the youth to follow. “Even the so-called priests, they are also fourth-class, fifth-class men. Indulging in homosex.”
Satsvarūpa Mahārāja told him that Bhakta Eugene had confirmed the fallen condition of the Church men. “This priest who joined us, who’s now your man, he said that although he was a priest, he smoked three packs of cigarettes a day and drank all kinds of wine. He began to drink wine, he said, because in their mass, in their ceremony, the priest drinks wine. And then he became addicted.”
Once we got out of the car and began to walk though the somber glades, we were joined by other devotees, including Bhakta Eugene. Pleased to see him, Prabhupāda greeted him warmly, asking him how he was doing.
Bhakta Eugene was glad to have the opportunity to ask Śrīla Prabhupāda for his opinion on the mystics within the Christian tradition, the latest of whom was Thomas Merton, who had written a Foreword for the Macmillan version of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Bhagavad-gītā.
To Śrīla Prabhupāda mysticism means to show some jugglery and tricks to fool the public. His initial response was to condemn the notion of mysticism, telling Eugene that if one has the shelter and protection of the Supreme then why should he be interested in mysticism.
Satsvarūpa Mahārāja attempted to clarify things. “Śrīla Prabhupāda, I think Bhakta Gene wants to know if you recognize that there are any great devotees in that Christian tradition. Do we recognize that any of those Christian saints were great devotees? Did they develop love of God? Or what’s the comparison?”
“I do not know, I have not studied Christianity,” Śrīla Prabhupāda replied. “But if anyone has developed love, that is perfection. So there is not question of my knowing or not knowing. If actually one has developed love for God, he’s perfect. That’s all.”
Bhakta Eugene was happy to hear Prabhupāda’s words. “This is what prompted me to ask my first question, Your Grace. What has brought me here has been my search . . . ”
Whatever Bhakta Eugene thought had brought him to devotional service, Śrīla Prabhupāda knew the actual cause. To break his previous attachments and give him clear focus, he corrected him immediately, telling him, “No, it is God’s desire that you are sincere, you have come. Now utilize the association and the opportunity; your life will be successful. We have got enough books to convince you about this science. So you read it.”
“I am convinced,” Bhakta Eugene told him.
Satisfied with his response, Prabhupāda sought to settle his mind on the issue. “Yes. Why one should be after mysticism? What is the benefit?”
“It was the mystics that brought me here. This was the thing. It was their love of God . . . ”
“Where is mystic?” Prabhupāda continued. “We don’t show any mystic.”
“No. The term, we’re having trouble with the term,” Bhakta Eugene said politely. “The term ‘mystic’ was applied to transcendentalists within the Church to show a difference between them and the traditionalists. The traditionalists were those who paid attention to the script.”
“What do you mean by traditionalist?” Prabhupāda asked him.
Bhakta Eugene explained it meant those who were more attached to the ritualistic side of religion, rather than delving deeply into the scripture.
But Śrīla Prabhupāda had something good to say about it. “That is required. Just like we are worshiping the Deity. This is traditional, from time immemorial. So how you can reject? This is the way, śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam. That is bhakti way.”
Eugene offered more clarification. “But so much of the tradition within the Roman Church has no reference to any scripture.”
Prabhupāda conceded his point, but still upheld the overall concept. “No, no, that has not been properly done. Otherwise, just like here, we have got temple, regulative principle. If it is done properly, the result will be there. If it is improperly done, then there is no result. How these boys, European, American, they never knew what is Kṛṣṇa. But on account of this following the traditionalism, they are becoming devotees. It is practical, you can see. Simply theoretical knowledge will not do. Must be practical. That is traditionalism. That is The Nectar of Instruction. One has to follow the traditional rules and regulations. Utsāhān niścayād dhairyāt tat-tat-karma-pravartanāt. First of all one must be enthusiastic, ‘I shall become devotee.’ Then, dhairyāt, with patience. Then niścayāt, with conviction, ‘Yes, I am following the rules and it will be successful.’ And tat-tat-karma-pravartanāt: You have to follow the traditional rules and regulations. Sato vṛtteḥ, you must be honest. Sādhu-saṅga: And these things in the association of devotees. Ṣaḍbhir bhaktiḥ prasidhyati, then your bhakti, devotional life, will be successful.”
“Some of these Christian mystics would say it’s more important to directly contact God within your own heart,” Satsvarūpa Mahārāja suggested. “These traditions are not as important.”
“God is there already,” Prabhupāda said. “Where is the contact? It is no question of contacting. He is already, but you are blind, you cannot see. Therefore if you follow the rules and regulations, then you’ll see. Otherwise we’ll not see. God is there. God is everywhere. God is here. You have no eyes to see.”
Prabhupāda’s words struck a pleasant cord with Bhakta Eugene. “These are almost the very words that Francis of Assisi stated.”
“Yes,” Prabhupāda acknowledged. He had once been invited to lecture in St. Pascal’s seminary of the Franciscan order in Australia, and he recalled that meeting. “This question was raised in Melbourne. And that is perfectional. He was embracing tree. So I told, ‘This is perfection.’ Perfection means he’ll see everywhere God and everything in God. That is perfection.”
He quoted from Bhagavad-gītā 9.4 and asked Jayādvaita, if he knew it, to explain the meaning. Jayādvaita responded right away. “Yes. Kṛṣṇa says that ‘Everything is resting in Me. I am present all over the universe, impersonally. I can’t be seen. Everything is resting on Me. At the same time, I’m outside of everything. I’m independent.’ He maintains His personality.”
Prabhupāda added more. “Na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ. ‘I’m not there.’ So this is conception of God. Nothing can exist without God. But that does not mean everything is God. We have to understand this philosophy.”
As he made his way steadily back to the car he thought of one more verse to complete his answer to Bhakta Eugene. “That verse, can anyone remember? Yatra yogeśvaro hariḥ?”
One of the Indian devotees quoted the full śloka: yatra yogeśvaraḥ kṛṣṇo yatra pārtho dhanur-dharaḥ/ tatra śrīr vijayo bhūtir dhruvā nītir matir mama.
“Yes. So what is the explanation?” Prabhupāda asked.
“Where Lord Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna are, there is victory,” the devotee replied.
“Ah. Then all mystic power is there. That means where there is Kṛṣṇa and His pure devotee, the whole mystic power is there. Devotee, he hasn’t got to try separately for all these things. It will come automatically. That is mysticism,” he smiled, giving the devotees pleasure.
Several Indian men had joined him, keeping up a lively exchange, in both Hindi and English. They had philosophical questions and some practical ones also. One of the men asked Prabhupāda’s opinion whether there would be an atomic war, and when would it start.
“When Bhagavān will want to have it,” Prabhupāda replied. “It is all a game by māyā. Persons who are godless are finished by this, and they are shown that God is there. Mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś cāham, this death is also God. People who do not believe in God, for them God comes in the form of death. As long as you lived, you didn’t see God or didn’t desire to see God. Now see God in form of death.”
The man told him that in Toronto, and all over the world, people are busy constructing big buildings. When devotees go out to spread religion and the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, they make fun of them.
“Their fun will be over when the bombs will drop,” Prabhupāda told him dryly.
Śubhavilāsa prabhu asked Prabhupāda what he thought about having a farm for the Toronto temple.
Śrīla Prabhupāda said he liked the idea, but he was concerned about the problem of insufficient manpower. “We will need people to work on a farm. What is the use of having a farm without workers? Who will work?”
Śubhavilāsa told him that many devotees don’t want to live in the city because it is expensive. Perhaps a small group of a dozen families could do it.
Prabhupāda told him that he wanted farming communities—we already have New Vrindaban—but people don’t want to live outside the city because they can get easy sense gratification within it.
One of the other Indian men posed a philosophical question. He said that so many living entities are being killed at every moment simply by our breathing and walking. So he wanted to know how Kṛṣṇa is able to keep account and control of them all.
Prabhupāda made the man’s companions laugh as he told him that Kṛṣṇa has no problem with this; the problem was elsewhere. “This is all your psychology. Why you are understanding Kṛṣṇa as a jīvātmā? This is the ass mentality. ‘Kṛṣṇa is there, Kṛṣṇa is somewhat better than us.’ This is Dr. Frog mentality. If you talk to a frog about the Atlantic Ocean, then the frog who has stayed in a three-feet-radius well, he can understand the well of four-feet-radius or five-feet-radius. This is a mistake to consider Kṛṣṇa like one of us, or He might be a little better than us. This is mistake.”
Later, in the car on the way back, Prabhupāda and Satsvarūpa were discussing the material scientists and Prabhupāda brought up the same point, that the foolish try to estimate the power of God, and when He does something beyond their comprehension, they deny Him.
He told us the story of Narada Muni’s visit to the spiritual world and his reporting back to the cobbler and the brāhmaṇa. “The cobbler immediately believed when he was informed by Narada Muni that, ‘I saw God is pulling one elephant through the hole of a needle, this side and again this side.’ The brāhmaṇa did not believe it. And as soon as the cobbler, he was also devotee, oh, he began to pray, ‘Oh, my Lord can do anything.’ Nārada Muni [asked him], ‘You believed it?’ ‘Yes, why not?’ ‘How do you believe it?’ ‘I am daily seeing. I am underneath the tree, and so many figs are dropping, and each fig has got thousands of seeds, and in each seed there is another tree. Why should I not believe it?’ He did not believe it blindly. With reason, and he gave immediately reason: ‘When I see this fig tree, big fig tree, and there are millions of figs dropping, and in each fig there are millions of seeds, and each seed there is . . . Why shall I not believe it?’ God, nothing is impossible by God.”
Satsvarūpa observed that the brāhmaṇa was supposed to be learned in the Vedas.
Prabhupāda nodded. “Ah, yes. And he said, ‘These are all mythology.’ Why mythology? Why do you think God is like you? God is all-powerful; He can do anything. That is real faith. That means you have no faith. ‘If God can do that which tallies with my activities, then I shall believe.’ What you are? Nonsense. This is their general argument. ‘How we can believe this?’”
He pointed out that all around us there are many wonderful things, so why shouldn’t we believe it? He used the example of the coconut tree. It is such a great height and each of the coconuts is filled with water. So how does so much water get up there without any pumping arrangement? “Every day, every moment, we are seeing so many wonderful things. How you are thinking . . . ‘I am Dr. Frog. Pacific Ocean may be four feet. All right, five feet. Make compromise, ten feet.’” We all laughed and Prabhupāda went on. “Rascal. If you think for many millions of years, then you’ll have no solution. It is not possible in that way. They have no idea of God.”
“Everything is there,” I said, “but they don’t see.”
“Because they are not devotees,” Prabhupāda replied, quoting lines from several different Bhagavad-gītā verses. “They have no knowledge.”
* * *
As soon as we arrived back at the temple, Viśākhā devī took a group photo for BTG at the side of the building, with Prabhupāda sitting on his vyāsāsana surrounded by all the devotees. It was quite impressive, with well over a hundred of his disciples and followers gathered for the occasion.
* * *
For his Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam discourse, Prabhupāda spoke on 7.6.4. Pradyumna led the devotees in chanting the verse and then loudly read out the translation. “Endeavors merely for sense gratification or material happiness through economic development are not to be performed, for they result only in a loss of time and energy, with no actual profit. If one’s endeavors are directed toward Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one can surely attain the spiritual platform of self-realization. There is no such benefit from engaging oneself in economic development.”
Prabhupāda said this is “the essence of instruction of all Vedic instructions.” He roundly condemned entire civilizations, such as the British Empire, and declared all their efforts as useless endeavors, because they only aimed at temporary economic improvements. He told us that without knowledge of self-realization, there is only animal civilization. “Therefore Prahlāda Mahārāja says don’t waste your time. It is very important verse. Everyone is trying to improve the condition of animal life, that’s all. What is animal life? Eating, sleeping, sex and defense. Our big, big states, big, big countries—especially nowadays, USA and Russia or China—manufacturing atom bomb. So what is this atom bomb? Defense. How to get out of fear. That you may try, but it will never be successful. You may waste your time, but bhaya will always be there; either you have got atom bomb or any big type of defense, when death will come, it will not defend you. By force—that is God.
“You may try to make very good arrangement for defending, but your life will never be saved. Mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś cāham. The atheistic class of men, they are trying to make arrangement for defending his life, but Kṛṣṇa says that ‘I’ll come to you as death. I’ll take out all your possessions. Whatever defensive measure you have made, I’ll take everything. You’ll be alone.’ ‘No, my nation, my country, my society, my wife, my children, my bank balance, they’ll save me.’ No, that will not save you. Then what is that verse? Dehāpatya-kalatrādiṣv ātma-sainyeṣv asatsv api/ teṣāṁ pramatto nidhanaṁ paśyann api na paśyati. Everything is discussed. Everyone is thinking that ‘I have got a very strong body. I run five miles a day. So I have made a so strong body, I’ll never die.’ ‘That is not possible sir. You have to die.’ So dehāpatya. ‘My sons are very well educated. They are holding big, big post, minister. They will.’ ‘No, sir. They’ll not be able to.’ Kalatra. ‘My wife is so sincere, so faithful. She will give me protection.’ ‘No, sir.’
“We are thinking ātma-sainya. ‘They are my soldiers. I am struggling for existence and these soldiers will give me protection.’ So pramattah. The Bhāgavata says, he’s so mad that he knows that, ‘These things will be finished. Nobody will be able to give me protection,’ still he . . . And as soon as this body’s finished, another body’s waiting. You do not know what kind of body you are going to get. That you have to know by your work. Now if this life I may become a prime minister and big, big man. But when I come in politics I have to deal with so many people in so many nefarious ways and lives that out of my karma, I’ll get the next body according to my karma. Now if I’ve acted just like menial animal, then next life animal. This life I am prime minister, and next life if I become a dog, then what is my profit?”
He appealed to his followers to remain faithful to his objective of establishing a society of first-class men who are fixed in the real goal of life. “Truthful, very peaceful, full of knowledge, very simple, tolerant and believer in the śāstra, these are the symptoms of first-class men. So where is that first-class man throughout the whole world? So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is trying to create at least one section first-class men so that people may see, ‘Oh, here are ideal men.’ Therefore my request to persons who have joined this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, they should very carefully keep themselves as first-class men. People will appreciate, and they will try to follow. Yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas tat tad evetaro janaḥ. If there is a class of men first class, then people will appreciate. At least, even though they are unable to become first class, they will try to follow.
“If a teacher does not smoke, the students also will stop smoking naturally. But if the teacher is smoking, how the students . . . ? They are also smoking in the class. I have seen in New York. At least in India this is not yet begun. It will begin, because they are also making progress. These rascals are making progress, going to hell. So, Prahlāda Mahārāja advises, don’t waste your valuable time in so-called economic development and nonsense activities. Try to become a devotee of Mukunda. Then your life will be successful. Thank you very much.”
* * *
A good crowd of nearly three hundred Indians attended the Sunday Feast. Prabhupāda was very pleased at the turnout, and he lectured strongly from Bhagavad-gītā 9.3 for about fifty minutes to a packed house. He informed his attentive audience that the entire Vedic knowledge is presented by Kṛṣṇa in “gist form” in the Bhagavad-gītā. As such, it is the most important literature, spoken by God Himself.
He made direct appeals to them. “So you are coming, the Indians who are present here, from a country where Kṛṣṇa appeared. It is a great fortune for you that you have taken your birth in India. It is not ordinary fortune. So why? To take Indian birth, automatically they are advanced in spiritual knowledge. Still, [despite] so much fallen condition of India, still, you go to a village, they will very easily understand Kṛṣṇa consciousness without any advanced education. Because by birthright they have got the knowledge.”
He gave them a practical proof of his statement. “In Vṛndāvana, when we walk on the street, the thelā-wālā, the cartsmen, the milkmen carrying milk, immediately they’ll offer namaskāra, ‘Svāmījī.’ The other day . . . I think you were present?” He glanced down at me and then went on. “We were walking. So we entered one field, just for walking. So the villagers, the cultivators, they came to congratulate us. To receive us. ‘Svāmījī it is our great fortune that you have come to our field.’ But in this country if I would have entered in another place, perhaps they would have brought charge of trespass or might shot down. So that is the different system. That by birthright they are Kṛṣṇa conscious. If we speak something about Kṛṣṇa and Rāma . . . Generally, in the villages, the Rāmāyaṇa or Mahābhārata, they are recited by the paṇḍitas, and still thousands and thousands of men come to hear. We have practical experience in India. We held several Hare Kṛṣṇa festivals in Calcutta, Bombay and Hyderabad, Madras, many thousands people come. Twenty thousand, thirty thousand people, they come, still.
“So my request is that you are here in foreign country, you don’t forget your heritage. That is my request. Don’t be bara-sahīb. Remain as Indians with Indian culture. And here is the temple of Kṛṣṇa; we are distributing this Kṛṣṇa culture all over the world. So don’t miss this opportunity, but you take advantage of it. That is the duty of every Indian. That is the mission of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.”
Elaborately commenting on the text he warned them of the possible dire consequences of increasing their material attachments. “That is the way of nature, that you may try to become very happy in this material world, nature will kick you out, will not allow you to stay here. This world is duḥkhālayam. You make so many imagination, try to fulfill it, that’s a very troublesome job. To get money and to make material arrangement, that is not very easy. After you’ve undergone severe hardship, then you can get some money and build big, big buildings or purchase car. And to keep them intact, that is also very difficult. And again there is no guarantee that you shall be able to enjoy it. Today you may be proprietor of a big house, big motor car, but after death, you don’t know. You have to accept a body, and it may be you become a cockroach in the car or in the house. That is not in your hands. That will be considered. If you have got attachment for the car and you are dying, then you have done working such a way that you have no right to possess a car any more, you have to accept a cockroach body. Then you become—because you have got attachment—in the same car you become a cockroach. This nature’s law we do not know.”
Appealing to their sense of heritage, he finished with the same request that he makes whenever he speaks to a large gathering of Indians. “This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is trying to enlighten people so that they can accept these principles of Bhagavad-gītā. So Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mission is para-upakāra. He said, every one of you, especially Indians, you become a guru, and try to deliver the persons where you are living. So how can I become guru? Yes, it is very easy. What is that? You simply repeat what Kṛṣṇa has said in the Bhagavad-gītā, you become guru. But if you want to be a bluffer, cheater, then you can talk all nonsense. But if you actually talk only Kṛṣṇa’s words, then you become a guru. It’s not very difficult.”
Looking at the beautiful forms of the Lord on the attractively decorated altar he told them, “So here is Kṛṣṇa, accepting everyone’s worship. And what is the means of worship? Very simple. If you can offer very valuable things, that is all right. But if you think that you are poor man, you cannot supply any valuable things, Kṛṣṇa says, ‘Never mind. Simply little flower, little fruit, if you offer Me with devotion, I accept.’ So there is no difficulty. Man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru. These four things. Very, very easy to do it. It is universal. There is no restriction.”
His audience was appreciative and Prabhupāda answered a few questions. The first questioner wanted to know about accepting a guru.
“First one must know the qualifications of a genuine guru,” Prabhupāda replied. “If you accept one rascal as guru, how you can be helped? First thing is who is guru. That I have already explained. Guru is he who repeats the words of Kṛṣṇa. He is guru. Otherwise he’s a rascal. This is the test. Take, for example, just like Arjuna. Arjuna is directly receiving the knowledge from Kṛṣṇa. He’s guru. What he said, we accept that. But if you accept somebody who wants to kill Kṛṣṇa and become himself Kṛṣṇa, he’s a rascal. He’s not guru. Because his policy is to accept the place of Kṛṣṇa, not to serve Him. That is māyā.”
June 21st, 1976
This is the final day of Prabhupāda’s visit here. He was glad to be joined by a small group of half a dozen Indians for his early morning exercise down the valley at Don Mills. His lecture yesterday seems to have had a small, but immediate impact and he kept up a lively dialogue with them. There are one or two men who are seriously pursuing Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Viśvakarma introduced one of them. “Śrīla Prabhupāda, this is Mr. Sharma, he’s our accountant. He works at the University of Toronto. He does all our books here in Toronto to help us.”
Prabhupāda thanked him and they conversed briefly in Hindi. Obviously still thinking about the comment made the other day at Śubhavilāsa’s house, he said, “Gopī-bhartur pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ: ‘I’m the servant, servant, servant of the servant of Kṛṣṇa.’ And these rascals are learning how to become Kṛṣṇa. Just see, it is impossible.” Then he laughed. “But they will try for it.”
Mr. Sharma seemed to be interested in altruism and started to ask about how to help other people in society. But before he even got his whole question out, Prabhupāda challenged him. “First of all, tell me, what is your power to help? You are poor yourself. What you can help? Then why you are talking all . . . ”
Mr. Sharma was caught a little off guard. “No, Prabhu, supposing if we see . . . ”
Prabhupāda wouldn’t allow him to proceed further until he grasped his point. “You cannot help. First of all, you cannot help.”
Mr. Sharma nodded. “Right.”
“If you can help, you can simply repeat the instruction of Kṛṣṇa,” Prabhupāda told him. “Otherwise you have no power to help. It is all concoction. Vivekananda, for the last hundred years—daridrā-nārāyaṇa-sevā. He could not do anything. First of all you must know that you have no capacity to help.”
“Right. That is true Prabhu.”
“Then why you propose to help?” Prabhupāda asked.
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s verbal probe had its effect and Mr. Sharma began to reveal his doubt. “No, but Prabhu, how far is it fair that if one is religious, say chanting and regulations and everything he is doing, and on the other hand, he doesn’t behave as a good honest labor . . . ”
“That good honest . . . you have got some idea of good honest,” Prabhupāda said. “But because he’s chanting, he’s all good.”
The devotees responded enthusiastically to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s support. “Jaya!”
Many Indians are willing to offer their services because they can see the devotees engaged seriously in spiritual practices, which they can identify with as part of their own original culture. However, they don’t often fully appreciate the practical effects of devotional life. Due to a lack of transcendental vision, they can hardly glimpse the true potency of the holy name and its purifying effects. Coupled with close association with devotees, this sometimes develops into doubts in either the devotees themselves or in the process. One of the other guests raised this issue. “Prabhupāda, because he’s chanting, sometimes a person get very false ego, that he has become a very big devotee, he’s serving the Lord, and he tries to . . . ”
Prabhupāda stopped for a moment. “That’s all right, he’s on the line of goodness. But those who are not chanting, they’re all bad. Do you understand it or not? Harāv abhaktasya kuto mahad-guṇāḥ. One who is not a devotee of God, he has no good qualification. You may propose that ‘I am so much good, I am this, I am that,’ but it is all bogus thing. Mano-rathenāsati dhāvato bahiḥ. He’s simply concocting in the mind. And so far a devotee’s concerned, even you find some defect, he’s sādhu. Sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ. ‘Now I find some defective state.’ Kṣipraṁ bhavati dharmātmā. These defects will be out very soon. Don’t bother. But because he is devotee, he’s sādhu.”
“So you mean to say, Prabhu, truthfulness and honesty will come after chanting, chanting, chanting?” Mr. Sharma asked.
Prabhupāda agreed. “But those who are not devotees, there is no truthfulness at all. Here he has begun truthfulness. But one who is not a devotee, he has no question of truthfulness. He’s simply concocting in the mind. Mano-rathena. And because he’s on the mental platform, he’ll do all bad things.”
“Therefore devotee must try to be honest and truthful,” Mr. Sharma said.
“Devotee becomes automatically,” Prabhupāda told him. “If he sticks to the devotional principles, he’ll become good very soon. Just like he has stopped . . . devotee means, no illicit sex, no drinking or intoxication, no meat-eating. So he has adopted this, and chanting. That is perfect.”
As Śrīla Prabhupāda walked on, another Indian devotee asked, “Prabhupāda, there’s a very important question in my mind all the time. How a Godbrother should treat the Godbrother with great [respect] to produce more love of Godhead and also between them?”
“You show example,” Prabhupāda told him. Coming to a halt, he explained the right mood that should exist to overcome any difficulty. “If other Godbrother is not treating you well, you treat him well. Then it will be right. Why you should deviate, that ‘This Godbrother is not treating me well, so I shall do also’? Āpani ācāri’ prabhu jīvera . . . You treat well. You show the example how to treat his Godbrother. That is Mahāprabhu’s teaching, tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā/ amāninā māna-dena kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ. So who is treating me good or bad, I don’t want to bother about it. Let me become humbler than the grass, tolerant than the tree, and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa.”
Once again the devotees cheered Prabhupāda’s positive approach. “Jaya Prabhupāda, Haribol!”
This Indian devotee had another doubt. “Prabhupāda, a devotee, very often after chanting, why—they develop very, very high—I see a lot of devotees, they fall down back to the māyā. What is the reason?”
Śrīla Prabhupāda was very clear about it. “He is not devotee. He is pretending to be devotee. One who is devotee never falls down. There are so many false devotees. He falls down.”
Śubhavilāsa prabhu had a question about married life. Most of the devotees are not married and a lot of emphasis is put on renunciation and brahmacārī life. As well as this most devotees serve the temple full time and are supported by it. But Śubhavilāsa has a wife and children. He wanted to know if was it better for gṛhasthas to be self-supporting, working in regular jobs and living outside the temple.
Prabhupāda told him that the temple is meant for rendering service to Lord Kṛṣṇa, therefore anyone performing such service can live within it. “But not for sense gratification. Those gṛhasthas who still have desire for sense gratification, they may live outside.”
In Indian culture family life is still a big responsibility, especially the duty of finding a proper husband for the daughter. Śubhavilāsa has a daughter and he asked how far that duty should be observed.
“Yes, when you have accepted family life, you must be responsible to carry out,” Prabhupāda said. “Not that I become family man, all of a sudden I give up everything. No, that is not wanted. But if one is actually advanced, he can give up everything. He has no more duty.”
“But the question comes up that you have given a vow against fire at the time of marriage that the husband will look after the wife and the family. Then how does that fit in when you leave the family all of a sudden? Is there not a responsibility to . . . ”
“No, no, not all of a sudden,” Prabhupāda corrected him. “Generally you have to discharge the duties of family life. And at the ripe age, when everything is settled up, then you give up the family.”
Śubhavilāsa tried to get it completely clear. “Is it right that all the responsibility should be cleared up before . . . ”
“You cannot clear up all the responsibility,” Prabhupāda told him. “Therefore up to fiftieth year. After that, whatever is done, that’s all. But our philosophy is there is no question of giving up this or taking up that. Simply take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Wherever you remain, it doesn’t matter. Either in family life or . . . ”
Śubhavilāsa then wanted to know what comes after that. “In the vānaprastha-āśrama, after fifty years of age, what is the duty? Is it to live in the temple, or devote most of time to Kṛṣṇa, or where does the wife comes in then?”
“Temple you should live always. Even if in family life, you must come to the temple. Temple worship is for everyone,” Prabhupāda said.
There was a final question from one of the Indians, again a doubt related to the man’s contact with the devotees. “You wrote a lot of books, and I’m very much concerned about the books. A lot of devotees, they never read the books, but they’re doing the chanting. It will progress them without reading the books? Because they’re the most important . . . ”
“But suppose one is illiterate,” Prabhupāda cut in. “How he’ll read if one is illiterate? That means he has no chance? Chanting is sufficient.”
* * *
Prabhupāda returned to greet the Deities and received guru-pūjā. During the enthusiastic kīrtana he grasped the freshly offered flowers lying at his feet and threw colorful showers out into the air and onto the heads of the dancing devotees. Then after singing Jaya Rādhā-Mādhava, he joined in the response to Pradyumna’s line-by-line recitation of the Sanskrit for Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam class. Pradyumna then loudly read out the translation for verse five. “Therefore, while in material existence (bhāvam āśritaḥ), a person fully competent to distinguish wrong from right must endeavor to achieve the highest goal of life as long as the body is stout and strong and is not embarrassed by dwindling.”
Prabhupāda unfolded upon us the deep realizations he has gained from a life-time’s devotional practice and ten year’s of constant global travel, witnessing the activities of every class of man in almost every culture of the world. He stressed the need for us to capitalize on the good facility we have with our still-youthful bodies. “So long we are stout and strong and we can work very nicely, the health is quite all right, take advantage of it. It is not Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is for the lazy fellow. No. It is meant for the strong man. Strong in body, strong in mind, strong in determination, everything strong. Strong in brain, it is meant for them because we have to execute the highest goal of life.”
Telling us that we have to become “simple and pure” he warned us against taking shelter of this material world, where one meets only with death. “If one is interested for his upliftment . . . kuśala means auspicity. Everyone wants auspicity. Tato yateta kuśalaḥ kṣemāya bhāvam āśritaḥ. Ultimate auspicity or ultimate goal of life. So long the body is strong. Prahlāda Mahārāja has begun, kaumāra ācaret prājñaḥ. Education is given to the children, not to the old men, because that is the rising of the body; he’s receptive, he can take. Prahlāda Mahārāja’s recommendation is that so long we are strong, we are in working order, we are not feeble or all energy lost, no. When you have got full energy, full strength, young men, children, they should take this lesson of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is recommended for them, not for the old man who has lost everything. But they have taken it that Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is for the old man who is going to die. But here it is recommended, no, for the strong man, youthful children, like that. Because the business is very important. Bhāvam āśritaḥ. To get ourselves out of this bhāva.”
He said that education means to know what is eternal. “They do not know what is sanātana. They think that if I dress in a certain way and if I am born in a certain community, then I become sanātana-dharma. No. Everyone can become sanātana-dharma. But they do not know what is the meaning of sanātana. Every living entity is sanātana. And Kṛṣṇa, God is sanātana. And there is a place where we can meet together, that is sanātana-dhāma. Suppose I return to that sanātana-dhāma and there is God, sanātana, and I am sanātana, so what is our sanātana activities? Does it mean that when I go to sanātana-dhāma I become God? No. You do not become God. Because God is one. He’s the Supreme Lord, master, and we are servant. Here every one of us, we are claiming to become Kṛṣṇa. But when you return to the sanātana-dhāma, then we—unless we are qualified we cannot go there—then we eternally engage in the service of the Lord. That is sanātana-dharma. So you practice it. The sanātana-dharma means this bhakti-yoga. Because we have forgotten. Everyone is trying to become God. Now practice here how to become a servant of God. And if you are qualified, factually, that now you are rest assured that you have become a servant of God, that is bhakti-mārga. As Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, gopī-bhartur pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsanudāsaḥ. When you are expert in becoming the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord, hundred times down, servant, then you are perfect. But here everyone is trying to become the Supreme Lord.”
He said that the Vedas describe the jīvātmā as eternal, but due to lack of education misunderstandings arise. “Somebody is misusing the word ‘so ’ham,’ ‘ahaṁ brahmāsmi’ and therefore ‘I am the Supreme.’ But that is not. ‘So ’ham’ does not mean ‘I am God.’ ‘So ’ham’ means ‘I am also the same quality.’ Just like you take a drop of water from the sea. So the chemical composition of the whole water of the sea and a drop of water, the same. That is called so ’ham or ahaṁ brahmāsmi. Not that we misuse these words, Vedic version, and I think falsely that I have become God. And if you are God then why you become a dog? Does God becomes dog? No. That is not possible.
“So all these things should be discussed, should be understood, so long we are young, strong, brain is in order. Then our life will be successful, and Prahlāda Mahārāja is advising: So long you are strong, try your best to understand the instruction of Kṛṣṇa and be Kṛṣṇa conscious and make your life successful. Thank you very much.”
The devotees shouted in happiness and crowded around the vyāsāsana chanting exuberantly. Everyone strained forward to receive a last cookie directly from his hand before he left on the next leg of his tour.
* * *
There was an airport strike in Toronto, so Śrīla Prabhupāda took an early bath and lunch. At 1:00 p.m. we set out by car for Buffalo, just across the U.S. border. After little more than a two-hour drive we arrived at the airport in Buffalo. The plane to Pittsburgh wasn’t scheduled to leave for two more hours and Prabhupāda held a darśana in the waiting lounge.
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja first read from Bhagavad-gītā. ThenPrabhupāda talked for while. He said that people cannot understand Kṛṣṇa because they are in the bodily concept of life. He used our trip over the border as a prime example of ignorance. “We pass through Canada to USA. Why Canada? Why USA? This is bodily concept. ‘It is meant for the Canadians,’ ‘it is meant for USA, Americans.’ Immigration, customs, the same mentality as a dog coming from other neighborhood. The other dogs, they all come together, ‘Yow, yow, why you have come, why you have come?’ In civilized dress only. This is the position. What is the difference between the dog’s mentality . . . When another dog comes to another neighborhood, these neighborhood dogs, you know that? All animals, ‘Yow! Why you have come?’ So this department, ‘Why you have come here?’ dogs barking, and this immigration, what is the difference? Is there any difference? This is our policy. Very difficult. How they will understand Kṛṣṇa consciousness? Their mentality is not better than the animals.”
“It’s probably a lot worse,” I suggested.
“Yes, worse,” Prabhupāda confirmed, “because animal has got some limit, but a human being who has developed consciousness, it is unlimited. Just like a thief is thief, but when an attorney-at-law is a thief, he’s a very big thief.”
At last the announcement came for boarding the plane. Just at the last moment the devotees from the Buffalo temple presented him with a photo of their Gaura-Nitāi Deities. As we sat on the plane Śrīla Prabhupāda kept looking at Them, appreciating Their beauty and commenting how nicely the devotees were looking after Them.
We flew out to Pittsburgh at 5:05 p.m.