Srila Prabhupada Visits New Vrindaban – June 26th, 1976

Srila Prabhupada in New Vrindaban.

Srila Prabhupada in New Vrindaban.

Srila Prabhupada Visits New Vrindaban – June 26th, 1976.

Excerpt from Hari Sauri’s Trancendental Diary.

No morning walk again today. Srila Prabhupada’s heart is still giving him trouble, but he is determined to go to the temple every day and give a short class.

Before leaving for the temple we talked for a few minutes in his room about the simplicity of farm life and the futility of endeavors for sense gratification. He said that Lord Krsna is already providing whatever facility is required for satisfaction of the senses. There is no need for extra effort, such as provided by science, and he used one of his favorite examples, the mosquito. “Here is airplane — everything complete with a pilot. Create by your scientific brain, rascal. You are so proud of your scientific advancement.”

I reminded him of what he had told me in Mayapur. “You said that the mosquito’s body is so perfect that although with one slap it’s finished, still it has a syringe so strong that immediately upon landing on the skin it can penetrate and extract blood.”

“Immediately! Just see! And if you allow one second, he’ll fill the whole body up by sucking. Just see what is that nozzle. There is no intelligence? The mosquito has better intelligence than any human being about his business. Therefore Prahlada Maharaja said, sukham aindriyakam daitya deha-yogena dehinam. That particular body, he is destined to enjoy a certain amount of sense gratification according to his body. Sarvatra labhyate daivat. God’s arrangement is nice. He can qet it. The mosquito is getting. He wanted to suck blood, so he has been given a teeny body; he can suck blood, very little quantity. So arrangement is there; he’ll satisfy his senses, daivat, by arrangement of God. So why you are endeavoring? Even it is there in the mosquito, even it is there in the tiger, or any animal, or man. It is already arranged. Why you are wasting time simply for sense gratification?

“Who will understand this philosophy? The fact is explained. That gentleman, Subramaniam, is very much appreciative. Those who are sane men, they are appreciating that here is a movement actually for the benefit. It is not sentimental, cheating, bluffing, economic development. Why forget your real business? Vyayah param, simply wasting the valuable time of our life. If you want to suck blood, just become a mosquito!”

The car arrived to take him to the temple. As he rose from behind his desk he laughed. “Pray to God, ‘Give me the body of a mosquito!’ Quickly you will get.” Stepping out of the house into the fresh morning air, he gave the solution for a better life: “Hare Krsna. Simply expand this idea: krsi-go-raksya-vanijyam [protect the cows].”

* * *

In the Bhagavatam class, on 7.6.10, he made extensive use of the same point, that we should not waste time trying to satisfy our senses. He offered the same example of the mosquito and its desire to drink blood; it gets what it wants, but according to God’s arrangement. He explained that there are one million one hundred thousand types of insects, and each and every one of them is getting their needs according to their bodies.

The verse described different classes of men who, simply for money, risk their valuable lives. Prabhupada gave several examples — the miners who go deep into the earth, the laborers who tolerate hellish conditions in the factories, the merchants of old who traveled to undeveloped places like America — all are risking death at any moment. But for what? “So the best thing is that we have to minimize our wants. We should be satisfied with yavad artha-prayojanam, as little as possible. Not that we shall starve, that is not recommended. But don’t increase. So here in New Vrindaban we are trying to establish an ideal life, plain living and advanced in Krsna consciousness. That is real business. People, they do not know that Krsna consciousness business is essential, imperative. We must take to it.”

He recommended a balanced approach, with spiritual advancement as the focus of all activity. “Don’t be attached to the sense gratification. Just like eating, it is also a kind of sense gratification, to satisfy the tongue, satisfy the belly. But eating is also necessary if we want to maintain our body, and with the body you have to execute Krsna consciousness. Without maintaining the body, or disturbing the body, we cannot. So everything can be adjusted. That is Krsna consciousness education. And we are trying to establish an ideal colony in New Vrindaban and other places. So I’m glad that in spite of all difficulties you are trying to, but do it nicely. Plain living, high thinking, that is required. It is not necessary that unnecessarily we increase objectives of sense gratification and be entangled. Minimize it and live peacefully, chant Hare Krsna. Thank you very much.”

* * *

As soon as he came out of the temple, Kirtanananda Maharaja led Srila Prabhupada and a large entourage of devotees on a visit to the marble shop. It is part of a complex of workshops on the ground floor of a large and as yet, unfinished, building the devotees are constructing adjacent to the temple. The area includes a marble shop, construction, carpentry and printing facilities. A large hall on the second floor and another two floors of guest rooms complete the facilities.

The marble cutting and polishing machines were purchased for only nine thousand dollars from a bankrupt business, and large amounts of marble came from the defunct Wheeling Railway Station. The devotees have mastered the necessary arts and crafts, and using Indian designs they have created exceptional results. Kirtanananda Maharaja showed Srila Prabhupada the latest piece of inlay, which has been cut for his study floor. Prabhupada was impressed.

When he emerged into the open, the devotees accompanied him with a kirtana as he briefly inspected a nearby vegetable patch where mung beans are grown. He was inquisitive of everything, asking about some logs of wood he saw lying in a heap and a large metal tank used for gas. And he laughed when he saw the young boys running along with the car as we set off back to the house. He said Krsna and Balarama used to race with the birds in the fields, therefore the same propensity is present in the human beings.

* * *

At least Srila Prabhupada’s cooking has not been a problem. Palika dasi’s dedicated efforts have provided him with a consistently high standard of prasadam. She has been making upma (diced vegetables cooked with dry-roasted semolina) for his breakfast, and a variety of vegetable dishes, rice, dal, capatis and milk sweets for his lunch.

However the devotee prasadam here in New Vrindaban is not very palatable, and Pusta Krsna Swami has arranged supplements of yogurt, freshly made cheese and fruit for us. We are fortunate, of course, that we can share Srila Prabhupada’s remnants. Palika cooks enough extra that we can be satisfied from what is left in the pots. And every afternoon we get a tub of homemade ice cream, made from the farm’s own milk. But the devotees in general do not enjoy such amenities, usually getting only skim milk and yogurt as extras. Today we were startled when I broke open a fresh lump of cheese to eat — a big, black shelled bug popped out and crawled off across the table!

* * *

In mid-morning Srila Prabhupada answered more mail, all from India. Jayapataka Swami sent a detailed report on recent events in Sridhama Mayapur. Our application for the acquisition of land has now been sent to Calcutta to the Commissioner of the Presidency Division, Mr. Pentanthony, an Anglo-Indian Christian. Confidentially Jayapataka Maharaja has heard that the commissioner has raised three objections: 1) that ISKCON converts Christians into Vaisnavas, which is not appropriate for a non-sectarian state such as India; 2) that the project is budgeted for one hundred and five crores [one hundred and five million dollars] which is such a fabulous amount of money that the government should investigate how we came by it; and 3) that the local land owners are mostly Mohammedans and therefore some racial strife may result.

Jayapataka Maharaja outlined his response for Prabhupada: “I suggested that a) members from all communities belong to ISKCON; b) no question of conversion, everyone remains what they are but becomes perfect in their outlook; c) Auroville and Ramakrishna haven’t been disqualified due to interculture membership, this is proof of freedom from prejudicial attitude; d) Distribution of free food to all people without restriction … is proof of the non-sectarian attitude and structure of ISKCON.”

He explained that considering the amount of literature we have sold and the number of life members we have made in the last five years, the proposed expenditure is not unreasonable. He also said that the local Muslims stand to gain the most from our development. In fact, any opposition may come from “orthodox Hindoos [who] may oppose us as we cater to Muslims etc. with equal interest. This point I developed in several ways in great length.”

Aside from the land acquisition news, he reported that the building was going steadily but there was a shortage of funds, and the boat program and Dola-purnima festival have attracted several new men to come and join us, including a young Bengali man, educated in Germany with a B.S. or M.S. who used to be a freelance writer in Bengali.

Srila Prabhupada liked Jayapataka’s answers but added his own further comments in his reply. “Concerning the doubts of the commission: 1). Christains also convert. It is not conversion from Christian to Hindu. We convert atheist class of men to take God-consciousness. God is one. It is not the question of Christianity, Hindu, Muslim; any religion that teaches to love God is genuine. It has nothing to do with Hinduism, Mohammedanism, etc. 2). Sources (of funds) means we get contributions from all over the world. All of our branches will gladly contribute. Practically this institution is the real U.N. We have the co-operation from all nations, all religions, all communities, etc. It will be an international institute. To see the planetarium and how things are universally situated has nothing to do with sectarian ideas. It is a scientific presentation of spiritual life. 3). The local Mohammedans have already agreed.”

As a footnote he added an inquiry about our host in Haridasapur at the end of the Mayapur festival. “Why Prabhu Swarup das from Haridaspur is now living with us? He was supposed to arrange for the transfer of the land to us, but now no further word? I understand that he is a disciple of Bon Maharaj and he may have ulterior motives; inquire and inform me.”

Mahabuddhi dasa, Bhugarbha dasa and Mahavisnu dasa sent an inspiring report on their Library Party activities, along with some reviews. They recently finished the north of India, concentrating their efforts in Delhi. Books have been left for approval in several government institutions. The Ministry of External Affairs, which buys books and sends them abroad to all their embassies, took all the foreign language editions. The Ministry of Education and Social Welfare took the full set of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Bhagavad-gita and other single volume books. This was especially of interest to Srila Prabhupada. Our men were aware that Srila Prabhupada had placed fifty of his 1962 edition Srimad-Bhagavatams with that Ministry and so they tried to get them to take up the rest of the books as a continuation of that original sale. The attendant there remembered Prabhupada personally making the sale. Our men left more full sets with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Ministry of Defense, and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (Ministry for External Affairs).

Their letter mentioned that several other libraries and institutes have confirmed their standing orders, with thirteen colleges and universities purchasing full sets. They have also visited Simla and Chandigarh with similar success, even though the colleges are closed for holidays. With sixty-four orders taken in the three weeks prior to the writing of the letter, the grand total between theirs and Gargamuni Maharaja’s party since the month of April comes to one hundred and thirty-nine. All of this has been achieved despite the fact they have to travel by bus and train.

Their only problem is the impending expiry of Mahabhuddhi’s and Bhugarbha’s visas. To compensate for this, they are training Prabhavisnu dasa, and he will form a team with Mahavisnu. As holders of Commonwealth passports they don’t need visas and can stay indefinitely.

They ended with a request for information on the territory Srila Prabhupada has assigned to his son, Vrindaban De, who owns the Vrinda Book Company. Prabhupada is encouraging him to sell his books on the eastern side of India, but the Library Party was unsure exactly where.

Prabhupada was enthusiastic about their work and the reviews they sent, which he called “particularly important.”

He encouraged them to try and somehow or other extend their visas. He wrote, “Indeed, the field is as good or better than the U.S.A. for this type of work. I remember when I sold the first one volume personally to the Archeological University. I sold them personally long ago. Now you must work conjointly with the other library men in India. Don’t let there be undue competition amongst our men. Do combinedly, it is very much encouraging to me.

“You can let Vrindaban De work Orissa and W. Bengal and Bihar, and when I go back I shall see how he’s working. I am giving him a chance so let me see how he’s done. For the time being at least, let him do it until I return.”

Gopala Krsna prabhu sent a report on his printing operations. Along with his letter he included photocopies of some handwritten reviews he collected in Russia. He requested that they not be published for at least six months to a year. He was a little secretive about this even in his letter to Srila Prabhupada — “I will tell you the reason when I meet You next.”

In his letter Gopala proposed to relocate the book printing from Delhi to Bombay, where he said he could get better prices and higher quality. However, the printing of the Hindi magazine and all the composition work will still be done in Delhi.

Gopala proposed printing one thousand hardbound Srimad-Bhagavatams on high quality paper which he said would be comparable to books printed in the West. These will be reserved for life members and libraries, and be sold for a retail price of forty-five rupees. He will also print four thousand softbound Srimad-Bhagavatams on government concessional paper, and these will sell to the general public for fifteen rupees. He also mentioned that the Indian government concessional paper is now tinted green to prevent black marketeering.

Another plan he has is to print ten thousand Bhagavad-gita abridged editions, four thousand of which he wanted to produce as what he called “half-bound.” This means the hardbound jacket covers will simply be stuck to the board. This would save sixty paisa per copy.

He had more news from South India. He has been asked to mediate a dispute between Yasodanandana Swami and Mahamsa Swami. It seems Mahamsa received some money sent by Srila Prabhupada to Yasodanandana for book printing and spent it on his temple construction. Gopala said that collections for the Hyderabad temple had dropped and he was doubtful that it would be ready to open on Janmastami in August.

He said that the Library Party has sold twenty standing orders in four days in Madras and is now moving to other parts of the South. He wants Mahabuddhi and Bhugarbha to stay on in India and will try to get their visas extended.

Srila Prabhupada is very pleased with Gopala Krsna’s efforts to establish the BBT in India and he approved of his expanding the printing operation, but not all of his ideas. “I think that the idea of pasting the jacket cover picture on the front of the book is [not] a good idea (the half-bound books which you mentioned). It will not be very respectable. I don’t like the idea. Make it hardbound and softbound, that’s all.

“You can also get good composition and good prices in Mathura. They have many hindi presses there as well.”

He wasn’t too happy with the news from Hyderabad. “The Rs. 15,000 was sent personally by me to Yasodanandan Swami for printing books. What right had Mahamsa Swami to spend this money? He is spoiling.

“South India is a good field for our books. The library party of Mahabuddhi and Bhugarbha are doing very nicely. Indeed there is a good potential or better for our books in Indian libraries and universities. Try to get them visa extension or do the needful in this connection to see that this program goes on increasing. This program is very much encouraging to me.”

Ever mindful of the whole preaching field in India, he added a footnote. “n.b. enclosed you will find some copies of reviews sent to us by Mahabudhhi’s library party. They are very important reviews and they can be used in dealing with that Mrs. Kochar. I wanted to bring this rascal woman in the public eyes, that she is worthless and still she is posted in a responsible position.”

* * *

Prabhupada spent nearly two hours in the green and leafy environs of the garden this evening, quite happy to sit back and hear Dhrstadyumna Maharaja read verses and purports from the Sixteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita. The chapter describes the symptoms and behavior of the demonic nature, and it made for an interesting interchange. Occasionally Prabhupada interrupted, adding further wisdom or stopped the reading to invite his disciples to discuss a particular point.

Pusta Krsna picked out something interesting from verse nine. He said that in the word-for-word translation the demonic are described as prabhavanti, they flourish, and at the same time, ksayaya, which means for destruction. So this seemed to be a contradiction.

Prabhupada explained that it means materially. “Just like when you go to a modern city and say, ‘Oh, how developed,’ prabhavanti. But what kind of prabhavanti? That is next word, jagato ‘hitah, to destroy this world. So their prabhavanti is in the opposite direction. That is not prabhavanti actually. Prabhavanti in the material sense, but what is the purpose, what is the end? There are two kinds of progress, to hell, to heaven.”

I mentioned that fifty years ago people were thinking that it was progress to build big skyscrapers, but now it’s so hellish in the cities that everybody is moving out.

Srila Prabhupada agreed. “Yes. Actually, when there are so many skyscraper buildings, it is hell. The natural air is obstructed. In Bombay you’ll see. If you are in the top floor you have got little facility, in the lower floor it is hell. If there are several skyscraper buildings, in the first floor, second floor, it is simply hell. No air. Simply you have to run on this electric fan. You cannot see the sky. Therefore it is meant skyscraper? What is scraper? What is the meaning?”

“It touches the sky,” I said.

“So you have touched the sky in such a way I cannot see even. This is the result. You demon, you have captured the sky, so I have no opportunity to see even. Always electric light.” He looked around the beautiful garden, through the trees and across the valleys beyond. “Now we see the sky, the sun, how nice it is. This is life. Green, down and up, clear sky, sun, this is life. We get rejuvenation in this atmosphere. What is this nonsense, all skyscraper building, no air, no light. Jagato ‘hitah. The mind becomes crippled, the health becomes deteriorated, children cannot see even the sky, everything is spoiled.”

Dhrstadyumna read on, coming to verses eleven and twelve: “They believe that to gratify the senses unto the end of life is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus there is no end to their anxiety. Being bound by hundreds and thousands of desires, by lust and anger, they secure money by illegal means for sense gratification.”

After hearing the purport (which mentions Srila Prabhupada’s acquaintance in Allahabad who wanted four more years of life) Prabhupada invited us to discuss.

Kuladri prabhu had a fitting match for the description of the demonic man. “One of the richest men in the United States, Howard Hughes, he just recently died, and he had sores all over his body. With all of his money, he died in a very miserable condition. He had so many millions and millions of dollars.”

Dhrstadyumna Maharaja added that at the time of his death he reportedly said, “I think I’ve made a mistake.”

Prabhupada asked for a description of Hughes and his activities and several of us chipped in bits of information we had gleaned from the many recent news reports. Dhrstadyumna said, “He was one of the richest men in the world. He was a movie star in his youth, and he had many beautiful women, fabulous wealth, he owned hotels all over the world, airplanes, airports….”

Pusta Krsna Maharaja added, “At the end of his life he didn’t even mix with women so much though. He became very despondent and depressed. He was like a hermit; he withdrew into himself. No one knew very much about him, he was very mysterious so far as his life with the public was concerned. But toward the end of his life he didn’t live a very elaborate life of sense gratification at all, no one knew much about him at all.”

I suggested that the description in the Bhagavad-gita was perfect. “Most of his fortunes they calculate he amassed by many illegal methods, like paying off police and fixing so many things up. With his money, he was always able to buy government officials and get so many contracts to further the development of his aircraft companies. And also he had a lot of land in Las Vegas, this gambling city. He was involved in many mysterious maneuvers. It’s open in the newspapers, they said that he got most of his money from illegal methods.”

Dhrstadyumna said, “In his old age he was very afraid of germs. He didn’t want to catch any disease. He would live in perfectly sealed rooms with all artificial air and light, so no germs could exist and he would wear these…”

Prabhupada interrupted. “He did not know that he’s creating germs within his body. If there was no germs how he died? So at last he said?”

Dhrstadyumna repeated his earlier statement. “He said something to the effect that ‘I don’t know what this life was about. I think I’ve made a mistake.’ Just at the end.”

Srila Prabhupada gave one of his wry smiles. “Yes, it was mistake.”

Shortly after eight thirty he brought the meeting to an end. As he prepared to retire to the house, he looked at one of the women, Gopalasyapriya dasi, who was rather under dressed considering the chill of the evening. He was concerned and he turned to Kuladri, the temple president. “Um hmm. This girl? This cloth is sufficient? So you have no covering? They do not require covering?”

Kuladri was casual about it, trying to explain it away to assuage Srila Prabhupada’s disquiet. “It is warm for us, Srila Prabhupada.”

But Srila Prabhupada wouldn’t allow it to be passed off lightly. “No, if they require, they must be supplied. You must ask them what you need, and provide them. Because they do not say, you’ll also keep silent — that’s not good. Every month they should be asked what they need. Necessities, they must be supplied. We have already discussed this point. The women, they require protection, children, women.”

These evening darsanas are truly satisfying. Hearing the descriptions of materialistic life, we could contrast that with what Prabhupada has created for us here. It is idyllic, a beautiful setting of trees, cool night air, serious students — and a perfect spiritual master.

* * *

As Srila Prabhupada lay to rest on his bed and I stood by his side gently massaging his legs, he mused a little on the situation in Detroit. The locale of our temple there is quite debased and rough and he has several times brought it up in conversation how, although the black population have the facility of jobs to earn their livelihoods, still they tend to remain in a degraded condition. He had noted on his drives out and back from Belle Isle the queues of men waiting at seven in the morning for the liquor stores to open.

He asked me if there had been any disturbance in the local neighborhood since the devotees moved there. I told him that our men had not reported any and I said I thought it was because the devotees are not prejudiced in any way. “We have white devotees and we have black devotees also. And if the neighbors want to come and see the place, then they are allowed in and shown around. We are about the only ones who could possibly live there.”

He asked me a question. “What is the reason they are given equal facility, still they are so wretched, poor, ruffian?”

I suggested it was a lack of real culture. “Just low class. There’s no intelligence how to utilize their wealth correctly. I think you gave that example. If there’s a dog and you put him on a king’s throne, he’ll still come and lick your feet.”

Prabhupada chuckled. “Yes, he’ll lick up shoes.” He quoted one of his Bengali sayings. “Another example is given: If you take a piece of coal, you can wash it hundreds and thousands of times, it never becomes white.” Then he pointed out that this was a material analysis, and it differed from our point of view. “But spiritually you can reform. It doesn’t matter. If one comes to the spiritual platform then everything possible. Otherwise not.”

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