Srila Prabhupada Visits New Vrindaban – June 24th, 1976

Srila Prabhupada at the Bahulaban Temple, 1972.

Srila Prabhupada at the Bahulaban Temple.

Srila Prabhupada Visits New Vrindaban – June 24th, 1976.

Excerpt from Hari Sauri’s Trancendental Diary.

Because of his continued heart palpitations Srila Prabhupada did not feel well enough to take his daily walk. Instead he remained in his room and talked for a while with myself, Pusta Krsna and Kirtanananda Maharajas. Still, for the sake of the devotees he greeted the Deities and received guru-puja.

He also gave class, but it was short. One interesting point he made during his lecture concerned the transmission of knowlege. He told us that even when God Himself comes, He does not change anything. “Krsna is personally coming and teaching so that people may take advantage and go back to home, back to Godhead. Still, people could not understand. Therefore Krsna came as devotee, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, teaching the same thing. Although He’s Krsna, He never invented anything. That is called parampara system. Although He’s God Himself, God also does not invent anything. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, He’s giving reference to the Vedanta-sutra. So our line is like that, even God Himself, He can say something new, no. He said to Arjuna that I am speaking to you same old philosophy, puratanam yogam, which I spoke to the sun-god. We must stick to this, that a spiritual understanding is never changed. ‘Now the modern days, we have to adjust things.’ No, that is not spiritual. There is no question of modern and old. That is nitya, eternal. We should always remember that.”

* * *

At noon Kirtanananda Maharaja sent Ganendra dasa to administer a special massage to Prabhupada’s feet and hands, while I continued with his standard massage. The method consisted of pressing nerve points in the hands and feet. Supposedly this was to stimulate the internal bodily organs. Prabhupada remarked that it was painful, but allowed him to continue.

* * *

Pusta Krsna Maharaja brought in a stack of mail from around the world and Prabhupada answered them one after another.

Chayavana Swami, who was so disturbed when we saw him in Delhi last March, is now living in the Chicago temple. He wrote a letter expressing deep regret for his past inability to strictly follow the regulative principles, and he pleaded for Prabhupada’s mercy to save him from further attacks of maya. He requested some service, declaring he was prepared to do anything to atone for his falldowns.

Prabhupada was pleased that Chayavana is still trying to remain within devotional service, and he asked him to come to New York when he visits there next month.

Vegavan dasa, president of the Stockholm center, sent a brief one page report. He informed Prabhupada that the Bhagavad-gita is translated into Swedish and is now being checked by two professional translators before being typeset. He said many schools are eagerly awaiting its publication so that they can use it as a text in their courses, and they have already received many orders. Once this is out, they plan to approach the Nobel Prize committee, based in Sweden. He said a now deceased member was reported to have said, “Of everything pious, bhakti is the most pious.” They intend to find out who his friends were on the committee and approach them with Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Srila Prabhupada replied with a request that they try to get all fifty-four of his books accepted in the universities, either in English or in any other language.

Jayatirtha prabhu sent a response from London to Srila Prabhupada’s last letter, in which Prabhupada suggested that he get a loan from the European BBTs to finance the purchase of the building he wanted to buy near Regents Park. Jayatirtha explained that the German BBT was in great debt, owing $60,000 to creditors, principally to the Los Angeles BBT, and the general state of affairs in Germany is not good. Although they have a large stock of books worth about $200,000, they are mainly large, hard-bound books, which no one knows how to sell. On top of this, most of the sankirtana devotees joined Hansaduta Swami’s India party, and the fifteen remaining are only collecting about $6,000 per week. The main temple there, the Schloss Reterschoff, owes $20,000 to the BBT and Jayatirtha has had to radically adjust their budget to prevent excessive spending. In the light of all this, he didn’t think it possible that the German BBT could give a loan for the England temple purchase.

As far as the trouble in Germany with the authorities was concerned, the government continues to hold $300,000 which they will not release without a court fight. They are now trying to make us pay an additional $250,000. Jayatirtha said it was questionable whether we would get a fair trial in Germany because “they have a bad reputation throughout the world for being unfair in matters of civil rights.”

As far as England is concerned, the Regents Park building was withdrawn from the market, so now they are looking for something else. He said he felt a place that would allow us to run a restaurant alongside a temple would be ideal, but he wanted to know Srila Prabhupada’s opinion on this.

Finally, he asked Srila Prabhupada to send a letter to George Harrison, inviting him to come when Prabhupada visits in July. George is reported to be unhappy about the way the Manor is being run, and is therefore holding off completing a lease agreement. Jayatirtha felt that if he comes to the Manor and sees some improvement he may then be more inclined.

Srila Prabhupada’s reply informed him that the idea for a restaurant was possible, but only if it is completely separate from the temple, with its own entrance. The activities of the two should not mix.

Prabhupada didn’t comment on the German situation, save to express his disturbance at their inability to sell the big books. “I am informing Tamal Krsna Goswami in New York to try to arrange to send some men to Germany to help train the men and distribute these books.”

He also enclosed a short letter of invitation to be delivered to George Harrison.

“My dear Sriman George,

“Please accept my blessings. I would be very much pleased if you can meet me the next time that I am in London. I am scheduled to be there from July 20th to July 26th, 1976, and for further details you can contact Mukunda das. I am looking forward to seeing you again.

“Hoping that this meets you in good health. Your ever well-wisher, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.”

From Vrndavana, India, Aksayananda Swami reported some promising developments. His traveling party has collected twenty-five thousand rupees during the month of May. With donations given at the temple, they are now self-sufficient. He also gave a good account of the temple activities. At least one thousand people visit daily, and from books and prasadam sales they raise three hundred and fifty rupees per day. Aksayananda Maharaja praised Haihaya’s efforts as the temple manager. His letter had an upbeat tone. “Now that so many more people are coming we must now attract them to stay with us in the Guesthouse.”

He also said Bhagataji (Visvambar Dayal), who donated the land for the new gurukula building, is happy with a company from Kanpur which has now begun construction.

Aksayananda Swami also reported on efforts by Kirtanananda Swami to bring Indian workers to America, something which Srila Prabhupada and Kirtanananda have discussed since we have been here. Although there is no objection from the American side, the Indian government will not issue passports to the workers because they cannot speak English.

Prabhupada was pleased to hear of the management improvements. “I am very pleased to hear that Haihaya is doing nicely as manager. He is a good boy. Now train him to be first class manager.” But he went on, “You mention attracting more people to stay in our guesthouse … yes, but when will that attraction be made? First attraction is to clear all children out of the guesthouse, otherwise no one will come. It is very much botheration.”

Srila Prabhupada left it to the local management to deal with the workers’ immigration problems. “Concerning the 4 men who were supposed to have come to New Vrindaban for constructing purposes, Kirtanananda Swami will correspond with you directly in the event the need may arise.”

Despite Aksayananda’s assurance that he was just about to send Fiji the altar measurements for their construction work, Prabhupada reminded him once more to do it, since the work in Fiji is about to begin and he has just heard from Vasudeva dasa there that they still haven’t received anything from India.

Gopala Krsna prabhu sent a lengthy letter, reporting on various happenings in India. He also gave a few details of his trip to eastern Europe. “I went to East Berlin for two days. The border police caught me with the books but I, after a one hour debate, was allowed to take the books into East Berlin. In East Berlin, Humbolt University, one of the biggest in Eastern Europe, is ordering Your books. They are ordering Bhagavad-gita, a few volumes of Caitanya-caritamrta, Krishna Book, Krishna Book paperback, and a few other books. In 1978 they are starting a course in Sanskrit and for that they will order Your Srimad-Bhagavatam next year. I have established very good relations with the head of the Asian Study Department. She is sending me a review of Your books also.”

Gopala also reported that the East Berlin Library put in an order for a full set of Sri Caitanya-caritamrtas and the Academy of Sciences also wants to order. However, because their foreign exchange allocation is used up they cannot order until next year. They suggested a book exchange program, and Gopala suggested to Srila Prabhupada that an exchange program with Russian institutes would be all right, since their literature is of a high quality. East German products however, are of inferior quality, and he is not inclined to exchange with them.

Gopala also mentioned that when he was in Russia the only negative reaction he got was from Professor Kotovsky, the academic who had invited Srila Prabhupada to Moscow in June 1971. He was the only person there who knew that the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust and ISKCON were affiliated. Gopala said he was able to change the professor’s opinion, getting him to agree to recommend our books to the Russian libraries.

Gopala expressed his enthusiasm to preach in all the eastern European countries. Having heard about Tamal Krishna Maharaja’s worldwide book distribution project, he wrote, “I have developed a special sales pitch that I use that I am going to write Tamal Krishna Goswami. I am very glad that someone is looking into the area of increasing book sales. I am very interested in working or helping him on this project. As You know, I had my post-graduate studies in marketing and marketing research which is nothing but learning the art of increasing sales of your product and of thinking sales appeals and other methods that will make the customer buy our product.”

He also sent a disturbing news clipping about the activities of an organization in Delhi. “Yesterday I read in the papers that the Indian Council for Cultural Research is agreeing to American requests to certifying which yogis are bona fide and which are not so that the American public does not get bluffed by so many bogus yogis. However, the secretary said this will discourage bogus people like; Bal Yogi (Guru Maharaji), the Transcendental Meditationist (Maharishi Yogi), and the Hare Krishna culturalist. I am now going to meet the secretary of this organization, Mrs. Kochar, in Delhi. They obviously don’t know the difference between day and night, or genuine and false.”

Unfortunately, he informed Srila Prabhupada of more agitation between himself and Yasodanandana Swami’s party. Although they are reported to be selling a lot of books and making good collections, Yasodanandana’s party owes the Bombay BBT Rs. 83,000. Gopala asked for permission to stop supplying them books until they pay their bill. He also complained that instead of selling full sets of books to the libraries, they are merely offering Patron Membership and then giving the books as part of the membership package. Gopala said he felt this would undermine the work of the BBT Library Party as well as create problems for the BBT because the membership fee does not cover the full cost of the books.

Regarding New Delhi, his report centered on Tejiyas prabhu. Gopala said he personally had no difficulty with Tejiyas, and the new temple is going well. The problem is that no devotee will stay in Delhi for any period of time because he is too difficult to get along with. Gopala has therefore put a Bengali devotee who was educated in Germany, Sarvabhavana dasa, in charge of the daily management. Tejiyas is remaining as a figurehead temple president, and Gopala has asked him to concentrate on collecting funds, with minimal interaction with the other devotees.

Now that a few new local bhaktas are joining in India Gopala told Prabhupada that he wants to start a special program. He proposed that for the first few months they should concentrate their attention on studying Prabhupada’s books, with little practical service. He feels this will help them properly understand the philosophy and enable them to distinguish between us and the many bogus groups.

Gopala also suggested that Yasomatinandana prabhu, who is still preaching in Gujarat, be brought back to either Bombay or Vrndavana. He feels he is not being fully utilized in Ahmedabad. They have only a few devotees and are struggling to maintain, whereas in Bombay he could head up the Gujarati translation program and make occasional trips to Ahmedabad, or he could head the new bhakta program in Vrndavana.

Srila Prabhupada carefully heard the whole of his report and replied to each point. He had already expressed his desire regarding the book exchange program in a previous letter, but he reiterated himself, this time voicing his frank opinion of their literature. “Concerning the book exchange from Russia or wherever, first of all see if they can be exchanged, sold, in India. Otherwise we do not want to trouble ourselves with their rubbish literature.”

He encouraged Gopala Krsna prabhu to utilize his talents for selling his books as widely as possible. “Now you can utilize your knowledge of marketing for Krishna’s service. Idam hi pumsas tapasya srntasya va, svistasya suktasya ca buddhi dattayo, etc. This is the perfection of education.”

Prabhupada gave a clear mandate to the South Indian party. “This business of Yasodanandan’s party giving life membership to libraries should be stopped. I am also informing him in Hyderabad that the program must be standard all over India, just as they have had so much success in America and are very respected also.”

Srila Prabhupada was pleased to hear that new Indian devotees are joining. This is something he has wanted for a long time. Still, he doesn’t want to admit just anyone who comes along; in India many are simply attracted by the superficial material opulence of the western devotees. Prabhupada therefore informed Gopala how he could ensure a good standard of new recruits. “Concerning the new bhakta program, unless one is educated, we should not admit anyone and everyone without discrimination. One who has got culture and education, he can be accepted.”

He also agreed with the idea of pulling Yasomatinandana prabhu out of Ahmedabad, saying he preferred that he return to Bombay to work on publications.

Prabhupada was particularly annoyed by the news article and told Gopala Krsna to take strong action. “That Mrs. Kochar, she should be brought in to court, immediately. The Hare Krishna Cult is bonafide, why she should say otherwise. She must withdraw this statement publically. It is Vedic culture. We have so many letters from professors, parents, other swamis, and even in the Encyclopedia Brittanica. All the Gaudiya Maths and Vaishnava Goswamis should join us in fighting this. This must be done very seriously. She should be removed from her post and a responsible person should be there. Therefore, I have wanted to have this Bajaj meeting. In India we have so many things to do.” In his reply he included some favorable statements attesting to the bona fides of ISKCON, made by the leaders of other sampradayas in South India, for Gopala to use as support in counteracting Mrs. Kochar.

The testaments were gathered by Yasodanandana and Acyutananda swamis on their recent tour through Bangalore. They had included them with a report of successful preaching, with huge crowds attending two four-day programs. Guests of honor were His Holiness Visvesa Tirtha Swami of the Pejavar Matha, Udupi, who is one of the heads of the Madhva sampradaya, and His Holiness Parakala Swami of Parakala Matha, Mysore, from the Ramanuja sampradaya. Yasodanandana Maharaja wrote that both men gave opening speeches praising Srila Prabhupada and his foreign devotees. On the last day of their festivals, they all assembled together on stage for a grand finale. “Huge crowds came and heard discourses by the guest speakers and Achyutananda Swami and myself. Later we showed the Hare Krishna Movie and As Brilliant as the Sun. Everyone was amazed by the extremely modern methods of producing and publishing your transcendental books. Overall we made a deep impression on the people of Bangalore.”

Not everyone was as favorable though. Yasodanandana added a footnote: “NB. We were called one day by one Madhva sannyasi and had a 2 hours long discussion with him and his leading pundit about Vaishnava jati buddhi and caste. They maintained that only born brahmins could take Vaishnava diksha but we defeated them before a group of 100 of their disciples and the public took our side. We want to publish a pamphlet containing all the slokas and arguments….”

Their letter also contained photos of leading members of society buying Prabhupada’s books.

Srila Prabhupada was very happy with their preaching efforts, especially with the endorsements they have gathered. He liked the photos “especially the one taken in Bangalore of the Bar Association members taking my books was best of all.”

Not everyone welcomes his disciples in India and several important temples even refuse us admission, so Srila Prabhupada encouraged his sannyasis to continue with their propaganda work. “The people of Bangalore have again shown nice response to our coming, so keep the relationship very friendly, and deal carefully. I am very pleased to read the letter of commendation from the other sanyasis in South India. Now you can make copies of all these letters and send them to both the Jagannath Temple in Puri, and the Ranganath Temple in Vrindaban and get their official reply. Our movement is for everyone. It is not sectarian….

“The devotee is great and the nondevotee is downtrodden. And in the matter of devotional service of Krishna, there is no concern of caste and creed. Krsna also says, mam hi partha vyapasritya ye’pi syuh papa-yonayah. Even the papa-yonayah, if he takes to devotional service, he also goes back to Home, Back-to-Godhead. This conception of caste on the basis of birthright has killed Vedic culture. Also in the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said: yasya yallaksanam proktam puso varnabhivyanjakam, yadanyatrapi drsyeta tat tenaiva vinirdiset 7.11.35. So despite all these things, these people are still insisting that one can only be vaishnava if born in a brahmin family. That is not a very learned position.”

As a final paragraph he added a question about their payments to the BBT. “Also, the BBT Bombay says that you owe Rs. 83,000 to them. So why haven’t you paid yet? You are such a big preacher, why you shall remain in debt?”

Not all the correspondence Prabhupada received was welcome news. A small package was sent on to him from the BBT offices in Los Angeles addressed to “The Secretary To HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swamiji.” It was from Srivatsa Goswami of the Radha-ramana temple in Vrndavana who is currently studying for his Ph.D. in Varanasi. His cover letter detailed an arrangement between himself and one of our devotees, Santosa dasa, for a book exchange. From the documentation he enclosed, it was evident that Santosa had gone to visit him in Vrndavana during the opening ceremonies of our Krishna-Balaram Mandir in March 1975. Santosa, who was working with the BBT at that time as a part of the editorial department, had requested a complete set of “Gosvami literature,” edited by Sri Puridasa and distributed exclusively by the Radha-Ramana temple. Srivatsa Goswami stated in his cover letter that “The published works in that series are over 60 and are the best editions so far.” In return, Santosa offered a full set of Srila Prabhupada’s books.

From the documents now enclosed it was evident that Santosa had returned to America with a set of their books, giving a couple of Srila Prabhupada volumes as an immediate swap. Santosa then wrote Srivatsa Goswami in July of 1975, confirming that a standing order of Srila Prabhupada’s books had been assigned to him and that several volumes had been sent out. After mentioning his recent experience at a festival in San Francisco, Santosa glorified the books he had received from India. “We just returned from our Rath Yatra celebrations in San Francisco (New Jagannatha Puri) where Srila Prabhupada spoke to over 10,000 people in this golden gate park on the subject of simply chanting Hare Krsna and eating prasada. There was a nice program of kirtana, plays, and feasts so that everyone was satisfied. Even the candidate for Mayor of San Francisco spoke on behalf of Krsna Consciousness. It is all due to the mercy of HDG Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura and all the previous acaryas.

“So now A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami has requested us to complete the entire Caitanya-Caritamrta within 2 months time. Therefore I have been extremely busy doing the Sanskrit and Bengali proofreading and editing…. The books I have received from you have proven to be of immense value in this work and so I am sending what books of ours are available in separate cover. This is very much appreciated by us. Of course we feel that any encouragement we receive from the Vrndavana community in preaching activities is most enlivening.”

There was another level of exchange revealed in Santosa’s letter to Srivatsa Goswami that did not escape Srila Prabhupada’s attention, especially after the recent events in Los Angeles. “I have a small personal request. Recently Nitai dasa returned from Vrndavana where he attended a function of appearance day of Gopala Bhatta Goswami at Sri Radha Ramana Mandira. There he made a recording of a marvelous bhajana or musical kirtana. I was hoping you might have access to the words (Hindi?) of the songs performed there; and thus perhaps send a copy and/or tell the story of Radha Ramana again or of Gopala Bhatta Goswami.”

Another letter dated December 1975 from Santosa again confirmed to Srivatsa Goswami his standing order for all of Srila Prabhupada’s books, and Srivatsa’s reply a few days later confirmed his receipt of two volumes of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta in the mail. However, on January 9th, 1976 Ranadhira dasa, from the BBT mailorder, sent a letter to Srivatsa Goswami informing him that “it is our policy not to give these books away, unless specifically authorised by our Spiritual Master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in writing. If you wish to pay for these volumes and continue to receive new ones, you may arrange payment with Gopal Krishna dasa Adhikari, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu Road, Juhu, Bombay 400054, upon his notification I would be glad to ship the paid for books. Otherwise, I shall only be at liberty to restore your standing order upon the direct authorization of His Divine Grace, Srila Prabhupada, or his secretary. I invite you to correspond with them at your earliest convenience.”

In February Srivatsa Goswami wrote to Santosa dasa, who by this time was no longer with the BBT, to inform him of the cancellation. After getting no reply from Santosa, he sent the package which Srila Prabhupada received today. He concluded his cover letter, “Because of his [Santosa’s] silence I am writing to you as you have the authority to direct BBT warehouse to immediately restore the shipment of books. The value and importance of the books I gave to BBT has been acknowledged by Sri Santosa Dasa….

“It is clear that the books I gave to BBT through Sri Santosa Dasa ji in exchange for their publication, proved extremely useful for them. I have no occasion to doubt the sincerity and integrity of a BBT staff and above all a devotee of Sri Bhaktivedanta Swamiji. Please see that the agreement is honored.”

Srila Prabhupada was very disturbed to hear of the transaction. He was not pleased at all that his BBT man had acted without his authorization. He first of all dictated a reply to Srivatsa Goswami. “Dear Sir: Please accept my greetings. With reference to your letter of June 5, 1976, I regret to inform you that this transaction has taken place without my sanction. We are not interested in book exchange. If you want our books you should purchase them from our Bombay centre: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, Hare Krishna Land, Juhu Rd., Juhu, Bombay 400-054, India. Our Los Angeles office has been notified to return all your volumes to you. I hope that you have not been too much inconvienced.”

Then he dictated a letter to Ramesvara Maharaja. “Please accept my blessings. I am in receipt of one letter from Srivatsa Goswami, 45 Dumrao Bagh Colony, Assi, Varanasi 221 005, India. He has written that Santosa das met him at his residence in Vrindaban and proposed to give Srivatsa Goswami all of my books in exchange for a set of “Goswami literature” edited by Sri Puridasa; all this was done without my sanction. Why has Santosa asked him for this? No one told him to do so. Write to him and ask him who gave him permission to do this!

“What is this swop??? Why haven’t they asked me first??? We have nothing to do with any publication by these people. Those books should be returned at once. Do the needful. Already they have sent several of my books to Srivatsa Goswami and Srivatsa Goswami mentions that he received 2 volumes of Chaitanya Caritamrta from Los Angeles BBT Warehouse. Who is doing this?”

* * *
During the afternoon Dhrstadyumna Swami arrived on a Radha-Damodara sankirtana bus. Srila Prabhupada received him in his darsana room after his afternoon nap, at about four thirty. He immediately asked him for a report. Dhrstadyumna Swami told him the Radha-Damodara parties have already sold seventy thousand magazines this month and are aiming for one hundred thousand before the month’s end. In addition to this he said that twenty thousand big books have been sold, and there is still another week to go.

In a slightly jocular mood, designed to bring out the competitive spirit in his disciples, Srila Prabhupada asked Kirtanananda Maharaja what the figures were for his distribution. But when Kirtanananda replied that he didn’t know what the figures were, Srila Prabhupada changed his tone to conciliatory. “No, your line is this farming.” And then when Kirtanananda Maharaja responded that per man, he thought his party distributed more books than anybody in ISKCON, Prabhupada was appreciative. “And still they are maintaining this farm,” he said to Dhrstadyumna.

Prabhupada began to extoll the virtues of plain living and high thinking, as opposed to what he termed a “nasty civilizaton” which unnecessarily increases the necessities of life. He compared the electric light to the castor oil lamp. Both products, the oil and the castor seeds, come from the earth. But to get the oil requires so much endeavor, drilling into the ocean, simply to improve the lighting system. “In this way your real business of life is finished. The energy and the intelligence you got for your self-realization — this precarious position, constantly dying and taking birth in various species of life, this is your problem, this was to be solved in human life — you have got advanced intelligence, but that intelligence is utilized from castor seed lamp to the electric lamp. That’s all. Just try to understand. What is that improvement? And for this improving from castor seed oil lamp to electricity lamp, you forget your real business. You lost yourself. This civilization is going on. This is called maya. For some fictitious happiness you lose your whole purpose of life. It is difficult to understand, but the fact is there.”

Kulasekhara dasa, formerly of London, was also present. Srila Prabhupada recalled how Kulasekhara’s father, a London docker, was driving for him during one of his visits. Kulasekhara told Prabhupada that he was finding country life to be so much more peaceful and less anxiety-ridden than living in the city.

“Yes,” Prabhupada said. “Less disease. Less braintaxing. Everything is less. And if you have temple, it is very happy life. Just for your food work a little, and balance time engage yourself in Krsna consciousness. This is ideal life.”

Gently holding one of the vased flowers on his desk he said, “Just see the minute fibers on the flower. Can anyone manufacture this? So small fibers. And how brilliant it is. If you study only one flower, you become God conscious. There is a machine which we call nature. From that machine, everything is coming.”

Remembering something Srila Prabhupada had said in London about Krsna’s artistry Kulasekhara offered, “You said they do not know that the butterflies and flowers are painted, but Krsna paints them with thought.”

Prabhupada smiled. “Yes. How you can expect without painting it has come so beautiful? This is foolishness, ‘nature.’ What is this nature? Everything is being done by the machine of Krsna. Parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate. Anyway, improve this mode of life. Live in open place, produce your food grains, produce your milk, save time, chant Hare Krsna. Plain living, high thinking, ideal life. Artificial necessities of life do increase your so-called comforts, but if you forget your real business, that is suicidal. We want to stop this suicidal policy. We don’t want to stop the modern advancement of technology, although the so-called advancement of technology is suicidal.” He laughed. “But we don’t talk of this. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has therefore given a simple formula — chant Hare Krsna. Even in your technological factories, you can chant. What is the wrong there? You go on pulling on with your machine and chant, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna.”

Turning to Kirtanananda Swami he asked if everyone was getting sufficient milk. When Kirtanananda Maharaja said “as much as they want,” Prabhupada laughed. “As much as they want, then jaundice. Too much is not good. They may take minimum half pound per head, and maximum one pound. Not more than that. But ‘Because there is enough, let us eat,’ no. That is not good. But children must get at least one pound milk. If they drink more milk they become stout and strong. Then their life is built up strong, and nice brain to understand.

“Do they not see the benefit of the Society, that we are not killing children, we are maintaining them with sufficient milk? Is it not better civilization? And they are, for fear of overpopulation, they are killing. The mother is killing the child. Is that civilization? We welcome, and they kill. So why do they not find the distinction between this civilization, that civilization?”

Dhrstadyumna Swami said they have no arguments except that they want to be free.

“But they are not free,” Prabhupada said. “That means they are fools. Where is your freedom? Nature is working. If you are free, then do not die. Nobody wants to die. What is the answer? The people’s general tendency is, unless he’s a madman, nobody is prepared to die. But he has to die.”

Presenting the same impractical liberalism that the young reporter in Los Angeles had, Dhrstadyumna answered, “But I accept death as part of life. It’s natural. So I’m not afraid.”

“Then when there is some sign of death, why do you go away?” Prabhupada challenged him. “Sit down and die.” Everyone laughed at his exposure of the obvious. He went on to explain the actual psychology. “You don’t accept. You don’t want to die. That is a fact. You are talking foolishly, that ‘I accept it;’ but you don’t accept it. The real fact is this, that you do not wish to die, but because you find that there is no other alternative, ‘Then I accept it. All right.’ So you can talk like that, foolishly, but the intelligent man, you do not want to die.”

Kuladri prabhu presented another criticism directed at the devotees. “They say why do you worry so much about death? We are living. We are enjoying life, why do you worry about death?”

“Because we are intelligent,” Srila Prabhupada responded. “I love you. Therefore you’ll die and you’ll become a dog, so I am taking sympathy on you that ‘Don’t become a dog.’ Every human being is anxious. The example is given just like a child flying kite and is going this way, this way, on the roof. Now on the edge of the roof, so one gentleman standing, ‘Hey, you’ll fall down.’ That is his duty.

“He [the child] says, ‘Why you are checking me?’

“‘Because I am human being. You are foolish boy. Therefore I am checking you.’ That is natural. The boy is not his son, but because he is gentleman, he wants to give him some protection. It is the duty of gentleman.

“Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu said to the Indians, that ‘You become perfect and go and give this knowledge to the rest of the world. They are all rascals. It is para-upakara, humanitarian. You may say, ‘Why do you bother?’ But as a human being I bother. Every human being will do that. Krsna comes, bothering Himself. Yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata. ‘When these have become rascals, fools, I come, again advise them.’ So those who are servants of God, they are also doing the same thing, on behalf of God. Their position is therefore exalted. They should be worshiped as God because they are doing the work of God. They are not cheating the public.

“So improve this farming very nicely. So the cows, they should be given as much pasturing as possible. If you simply drink little milk, and little vegetables, that will supply all vitamins. You do not require to take vitamin pills. No, there is no need, it has got all the vitamins. That is admitted. Vitamin A, D, in milk. And fruits, vitamin C. In this way, in fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, all vitamins are there.”

Even meat-eaters can be catered to, Prabhupada suggested, by giving them the cow’s flesh after it dies a natural death. Whenever a cow dies, they can simply be informed, and be allowed to take away the carcass for free.

Dhrstadyumna Maharaja raised the objection that what might be practical for devotees might not be so for the rest of society.

Prabhupada retorted, “So what is not practical for you, our system, your system is also not practical for us. We cannot live in this way. Anyway, if you can maintain a perfect community of plain living, high thinking, that is sufficient. We do not canvass but naturally they’ll see that this is convenient. After all, they are human being. They are learning. So that is part of our business — to preach. But to practice personally, that is our main business. Not that everyone will be preacher, but at least his own life be perfect.”

Kulasekhara is now producing Brijbasi Spirit, a magazine about New Vrindaban. Advance copies are sent to His Divine Grace and the last issue came while we were in Hawaii. Kulasekhara bore the latest, which he laid on Srila Prabhupada’s desk. It featured a beautiful picture of Sri Sri Radha-Vrndavananatha, the Deities of the original New Vrindaban farm. Seeing Them on the cover, Prabhupada asked Kirtanananda Swami to make arrangements for him to go up to the old farmhouse.

Kulasekhara prabhu expressed his feeling that the main Deities of New Vrindaban, Sri Sri Radha-Vrndavanacandra, were even more beautiful than Sri Sri Radha-Londonisvara, the first large set of Deities to be installed in the Society. But it seemed he had a partisan purpose, and wanted Prabhupada’s support.

“Oh, yes,” Srila Prabhupada readily agreed. But it was clear he said it more to maintain Kulasekhara’s enthusiasm rather than from his own conviction, because he then immediately modified it. “London differently. Vrndavanacandra is village beauty, and He is London beauty. He’s town beauty.”

Encouraged, Kulasekhara pursued his line of thought. “I have not seen more beautiful anywhere than Radha-Vrndavanacandra. The jewelry …”

“No,” Prabhupada told him evenly. “Every one is beautiful; but everyone praises our London Deity.”

“They have not seen yet Radha-Vrndavanacandra,” Kirtanananda Maharaja suggested.

Prabhupada smiled, but wouldn’t be drawn. “No, they have seen the picture.”

* * *
Srila Prabhupada gave his evening darsana inside the house. As he sat relaxing in a reclining chair in the main lounge, a small group of attentive devotees gathered at his feet. A large painted cloth mural of Hanuman hung on the wall to his right, and the dasa-avataras of the Lord in relief on the wardrobe stood to his left, adding to the transcendental atmosphere.

Some new book reviews have come from India and Srila Prabhupada had me read out aloud what must be the best one so far. Signed by Sri R. Subramaniam, the Deputy Director of Research in the Lok Sabha Secretariat of India’s National Parliament, it glorified the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and Srila Prabhupada personally, in glowing terms. “A strange feature of the modern world is that in spite of vast advances in science and technology and the establishment of a good number of institutions for human welfare, mankind has not found true peace and happiness. Knowledge of material sciences and arts has increased tremendously in recent times, and millions of volumes on each fill the libraries the world over. People and leaders in every country are generally well versed in these arts and sciences, but despite their efforts human society everywhere continues to be in turmoil and distress. The reason is not far to seek. It is that they have not learned the science of God, the most fundamental of every other art and science, and fail to apply it to the facts of life. The need of the hour is, therefore, to do it if mankind is not only to survive but flower into a glorious existence.

“To teach this science of God to people everywhere and to aid them in their progress and development towards the real goal of life, Srimad-Bhagavatam is most eminently fitted. In fact, this great ancient work of Vyasa will fill this need of the modern times, for it is a cultural presentation for the respiritualization of the entire human society. His Divine Grace, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of the ISKCON movement, has taken it upon himself, in addition to his ceaseless travels and other multifarious activities in the service of the Lord, the stupendous task of translating this Sanskrit work into English in about sixty volumes for the welfare and happiness of mankind. It is really astonishing how he is able to do this single-handed, and when one comes to think of this, apart from his other great literary works, one is tempted to wonder if he is not the same Vyasa Muni reborn today to adapt his own old work into a universal language of this age for the spiritual upliftment of the modern man.

“So far eighteen volumes of this most beautiful literature on God have been brought out by ISKCON and the rest are under preparation. Needless to say, that in keeping with the excellence of their other publications, the publishers have seen to it that the printing, get-up, and pictures in these volumes are also of the highest quality, as though to serve as an ornament to the divine contents of the books. This is a rare opportunity to people and leaders of every country, race and community in the world to know and understand the glorious science of God and work for their perfection. I would say that this encyclopedia of spiritual knowledge is more important and fundamental than the encyclopedia of any other branch of knowledge and should, therefore, find a rightful place not only in the public and private libraries, big and small, of educational and other institutions, as also of every household, but above all in the hearts and minds of every man and woman.”

Prabhupada received this high praise with humility and great pleasure, especially the comparison to Vyasadeva. He is encouraged that such a learned man has understood his mission and appreciated his work to such a degree and he has had the review placed in the standing file.

During the darsana Prabhupada was content to hear Pradyumna read some fairly long segments from the First Canto, occasionally interjecting comments to emphasize a point. By about seven twenty it seemed that Prabhupada would end the meeting, as he threw it open for questions.

One of the devotees asked about Srila Vyasadeva: if he was tri-kala-jna, a knower of past, present, and future, how could we understand that he actually foresaw future events?

This brought an unexpectedly elaborate response from Prabhupada. He had Pradyumna bring the Sanskrit edition of the Twelth Canto and had him read through its long list of predictions for the Kali-yuga — lawlessness, heavy taxation, lack of justice, reduced mercy, untruthfulness, lack of cleanliness, reduced duration of life and strength, and so on. Item by item Prabhupada elucidated on the text, entertaining everyone with sharp observations and witticisms on how all these features have manifested themselves in modern culture. He offered modern examples to show how the prophecy is being fulfilled. “Daya, mercifulness. People will have no mercy. It has already begun. If somebody is attacked, being killed, nobody takes care, he goes in his own way. What to speak of no mercy for the animals — all right, you are not so advanced. But the mother’s mercy to the child will be diminished. This is foretelling. This is called tri-kala-jna. Who expected that mother will kill the child? But Vyasadeva, five thousand years ago said, ‘Yes, mercy will be reduced.’ Then?”

“Ayur,” Pradyumna read out.

“Ayur, duration of life. The maximum duration of life in Kali-yuga is hundred years, but who is living hundred years? It is being reduced, and it will be so reduced that if a man would live twenty years he is an old man. It will come to that stage. Now it is reducing, from hundred years to ninety years to eighty years. Seventy, then sixty then fifty, in this way, if a man lives from twenty to thirty years he will be considered grand old man. These are the symptoms. Then?”


“And bodily strength. In India in our childhood, I have seen when British rule was there, all the Europeans were coming, very tall and stout and strong. Now such Europeans are not coming. Even bodily strength reduced. Then?”

Pradyumna read out a whole verse and Prabhupada analyzed it word by word. “So vittam, money. Money is the criterion, not family. Formerly, there was respectable family, aristocratic family, brahmana family, ksatriya family. All these things are gone now, never mind what you are. That is Kali-yuga symptom that, position in society, if you want to be respectable man, you somehow or other gather money, never mind how. Get money and you become respectable.

“Janmacara, first of all, janma, the family, heredity, was taken into consideration but that is now forgotten. Get money. Just like in England the British empire’s policy was that you bring money from outside and deposit in the government treasury and you become a lord. Is it not? Bring money, some way or other. So that was going on, exploiting, they used to go to the foreign countries and somehow or other accumulate money. Just like Lord Clive. He was a street boy, but he made some policy. In this way, diplomacy, he entered into Bengal and got some money, and he became Lord Clive. So money is the criterion. These are the symptoms. Try to understand. Guna. You are most qualified man. You may be a drunkard, you may be a prostitute hunter, whatever you may be, but because of money you are a qualified man. Then?

“Abhiruci, yes. Now, formerly marriage was a religious ceremony where the father, mother will see their horoscope and see if they are compatible, they will agree, they will live peacefully — so many things are there. Still, in India such things are calculated by the parents of the boy and the girl. But in this Kali-yuga, dampatye abhirucih. Means the boy and the girl, if he likes, if he says, that’s all. No other calculation. And after three days after marriage, there is divorce.”

The devotees laughed at what seemed a deliberate exaggeration by Srila Prabhupada to emphasize his point. But he remained serious. “Because abhiruci, I like, I don’t like, that’s all. Now I like, and after three days I don’t like, finished, business. In Chicago I saw a newspaper. One girl, within three weeks she has divorced two husbands.” Now everyone laughed again, but this time at the ludicrousness of modern people.

“Yes, I saw it in the newspaper,” Prabhupada told us. “So formerly the father, mother used to see that this boy and this girl are going to be married. So by horoscope, by other circumstances, by family, cultural, by education, so many things, whether they will live peacefully. That was the understanding. Husband-wife means a man requires a woman, a woman requires a man. They should be combined in such a way that they can live peacefully. If there is no disturbance of the mind, then they can make further progress in spiritual life. Therefore marriage is also necessary, and that must be properly done. Now there is no such consideration. The boys and girls are free, and if one likes the other …”

As Pradyumna continued to read on, Srila Prabhupada offered more observations, each time just to the point. From the predictions it seemed that everything in Kali-yuga would become simply a question of show, with no real substance. Prabhupada’s examples confirmed this, the liberal bite of sarcasm with which he expressed them making everyone laugh. “Vipratve sutram eva hi. And there is a brahmana. ‘What is the proof that he is a brahmana?’ ‘He has got a sacred thread,’ that’s all. Or thread. It may not be sacred, purchased on the market. So at least we try to give a sacred thread by ceremony. But anyone can purchase a thread from the market, two paisa worth or one cent worth, and become a brahmana. ‘You are a brahmana?’ ‘Yes, you see my sacred thread?'” He chuckled at the rascaldom. “Finished. ‘What you are doing?’ ‘Never mind.'” Then he added a serious note. “Don’t be such brahmanas, at least in our camp. You must follow the rules and regulations. Don’t show that I am now doubly initiated, sacred thread. Don’t cheat in that way.”

Pradyumna read on. “Panditye capalam vacah.”

“Pandita, if you can speak very vehemently, any subject matter, people may or may not understand, and they will certify you: ‘Oh, this man is very learned.’ What you have learned from him? ‘Oh, I could not understand, but he’s spoke very nicely.’ He spoke very nicely. What is that nicely? That capala.” Prabhupada threw out a rapid string of gibberish — “Habadvasyenamdoaguwaddogbignikulaigondulaivaidilaktismai!” Then he laughed along with the devotees. “You go on speaking like that, and people will appreciate, ‘Oh, he’s a big speaker!'”

On the next item he described the plight of the poor. “When the poor man comes, you’ll not give place. If he wants to stay, you’ll refuse. No. Because he’s poor, he’s immediately accepted as dishonest. He may be honest or dishonest, but poverty is a sign for accepting a man as dishonest. Then?”

“Tirtham. Just like there is Vrndavana and here is New Vrindaban. But if you spend ten thousand dollars and go to Vrndavana, then it is pilgrimage. And here is Vrndavanacandra, so that is not very important. Dure vary-ayanam. You have to go far, far away, then it will be pilgrimage. In India, there is Ganges in Calcutta. But they go to Hardwar. Then it is pilgrimage. The same Ganges, coming from Hardwar. Then?”

Pradyumna read out the Sanskrit. “Lavanyam kesa-dharanam.”

At this, Prabhupada gave a hearty laugh. “Hmm. Lavanyam, now you know very well in the Western country. Beauty increases by having long hair. Now see how it is current. Who expected that this foretelling is there in the Bhagavatam? To increase beauty, have long hair. Is it not? Just see. How five thousand years this thing was foretold. That is the proof.” He grinned at us and declared, “There was no hippie movement then. But Vyasadeva foretold that in the Kali-yuga if one keeps long hair he will think himself as very beautiful. There are so many things.”

Then he gave a round-up of the future of this age. “Ultimately, with the advancement of Kali-yuga you’ll have no food. Food means there will be no food grains, there will be no milk, no sugar, like that. No fruits. If you get fruits, there will be no pulp, it is simply seeds. These things are there. You get a mango, but a mango means simply the big seed, that’s all. So how can you check it? If nature’s way, things are going to happen like that, what the scientists will do? If there is no rice, no wheat, will the scientists …? They can say replace with a pill, but they cannot produce wheat or rice or dal or milk, sugar. That is not possible.”

Dhrstadyumna Maharaja interjected that the scientists have fashioned a way for the spacemen to drink their own urine and eat their own stool.

“Yes, that is the most scientific improvement,” Srila Prabhupada announced cuttingly. “Yes. That they can do. By scientific improvement, they can drink their own urine — very tasty!”

One of the devotees wanted to know how the general mass of people could take to Krsna consciousness in the face of all these disqualifications.

Maintaining his good humor Srila Prabhupada replied that Krsna consciousness is the only remedy. “In the Kali-yuga, it is an ocean of faults. How …? Suppose all over your body there are boils. So where you will apply ointment? You just dip down!”

It was a wonderful evening’s meeting. Prabhupada’s congenial mood and warmth offered many of the devotees a chance to see him in a much more intimate way than they are used to. Most disciples only see him in the very formal setting of the Srimad-Bhagavatam class, and a few are fortunate to accompany him on his walks. But circumstances like this, with such free and happy exchanges, draw on the hearts and minds of us all, increasing our love and affection for him unlimitedly.

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