ISKCON in the 1970s


ISKCON in the 1970s

July 10, London

I went to his room. He said, “At long last.” Asked me about my journey from Bombay. “So you were able to break your journey?”

Revatinandana Swami said he was speaking to an Oxford professor who said the Bhagavatam was written only 1,500 years ago and can be told by the modern literary style. Prabhupada said, “Ask him what he thinks of the acaryas. His opinion is not the all-in-all. Just as he has an opinion, so the great acaryas, Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhya, Lord Caitanya, they all accept that the Gita and Bhagavatam are 5,000 years old. This is Indian culture, and they are the great authorities. You [tell the professor like this], ‘You are nothing in India. You are not accepted.’

About the scholar, tell him there is a saying: In private one may say the queen is a prostitute, but one cannot say that publicly. Their opinion is like that, not something they can say publicly. He said he liked to meet with famous men. At least he can “corner them” and defeat them.

Prabhupada told a British school teacher that he should not be a teacher if he is imperfect. He said it is like the blind leading the blind. “Yes,” the man said, “I think we are all partially blind.” “No,” Prabhupada said, “not that everyone is blind. Someone has eyes.” Then the teacher said that God cannot be described. Srila Prabhupada gave the word “Krishna” as “all-attractive” and as a perfect description of God for everyone.

God does not force us to be obedient. Otherwise, we could not be part and parcel of God. We are the same and yet different, just as with one’s mortal father. The difference is that He maintains everyone; everyone is maintained by Him.

God is good. Rejecting Him we are bad. Anyone who is in prison is understood to be a criminal, even though you may say he is very intelligent. Anyone in the material world is bad, a fool, and a rascal.

That verse, “avajananti mam mudha,” is very dangerous for the demons.

Morning walk, recalling talking with the teacher he said, “The question is who is authority for knowledge? Authority is God. One who represents God is authority. Is it very difficult? If I say this is a cane and you repeat ‘this is a cane,’ you are authority. But if you manufacture something, then you are not authority.”

In his room to Bhagavan dasa and me: “It is not that everyone will immediately accept your Krishna consciousness.” We have to meet opposing elements. The more we successfully meet them, that is the success of preaching. We have to always win. Yes, we always win if we have complete faith in Krishna. Then as we preach and answer, we will always win. Krishna is God. If we are on His side, we will win always.

It is our fault if they are not convinced. Srila Prabhupada is awake, alive by this philosophy, convinced that the soul is eternal. Vedic authority is sound, right before us it is available—transcendental information—it is more convincing than any other religious system against atheism. We have already accepted it—now we have to become absorbed and alive and convinced. Once absorbed in the ocean of Krishna consciousness, then I don’t think there would be so much worrying, planning, “How shall I best engage? Shall I travel outside the temples? Shall I do this? Why doesn’t anyone come to our university lectures? What is the most effective engagement?” If I am absorbed, the answer will be there. Really joyful, really alive, really preaching, convincing.

The devotee also requires to be convinced, not just the nondevotee, the sympathetic or unsympathetic guest. The initiated devotee, the brahmana, everyone—one who is alive in Krishna consciousness can convince others.

Srila Prabhupada spoke with a French professor who objected to Prabhupada’s explanation of “Thou shalt not kill.” Srila Prabhupada told him that it is because he is accustomed to killing. “You have to agree on the principle that killing is not good business.”

Later, Prabhupada said the Christian religion does not support animal-killing. Jesus first became disgusted with Judaism when he saw they were killing animals in the synagogue. He thought, “What is this?” and went to India to study. He was a great personality; undoubtedly he wanted to give them something sublime. Now the followers are killing. How abominable. And they say, “What have we done wrong?” when no one comes to church. They are trying by flattery to get people to come, but there has to be something substantial. Not that you can make a friend by flattery. You cannot simply cry, “I love you, I love you.” That will not create a loving atmosphere. There has to be a sincere understanding for friendship to develop.

Later, he said it is very difficult to accept Krishna consciousness on principle because then you are immediately out of this world, in Vaikuntha orbit. They are afraid to try it, but if they do, everything will be all right, they will leave that orbit and go into Vaikuntha orbit.

Srila Prabhupada said that people don’t know how they are suffering in the material world. If we can save even one person, it is a great service.

The head of the nation is Nixon, and the activity is killing and throwing away grains. Soul-killing civilization. We have to fight and save at least a few.

Life means high qualities. One who is not Krishna conscious is hovering on the mental platform, which comes from nonpermanent things.

July 17

Prabhupada was stressing the chanting of Hare Krishna. Just chant and dance. The boy who the night before was arguing about so many things, yoga, etc., came back the next morning and liked the kirtana. People are attracted. American and Europeans become ecstatic. Panditji had lost a book and was looking for it—it was about ceremonies, hymns, etc. Prabhupada said it was not possible to introduce this in the West. He said the fire ceremony we perform is mostly a show only. This is the inner meaning of it. If we simply tell people to chant Hare Krishna, they will not be attracted, so we give them a show. But make it a shortcut show. If you chant Vedic hymns all day, they will not benefit. If you can get them simply to chant and dance all day, that is enough. Chant, dance, take prasadam, and rest. Don’t rest like Kumbakarna (Ravana’s brother who used to sleep twelve years), but just to appease the deficient body. Bhaktivinoda Thakura condemned smarta-class brahmanas. Simply chant Hare Krishna. We should stress this—whenever we have time, chant Hare Krishna loudly or softly, but the tongue should be moving, not officially or blurring it. He told Panditji that to become a smarta-pandita with wooden slippers, dressed like them and going to seek panditas, was a waste of time. Dance. Even if there is no ecstasy, dance and it will come. Dancing is so nice. Is that all right?

Kirtaniya-sada. Chanting is good in every age. Prahlada preached like that in Satya-yuga. The people in those ages were proud of material accomplishments, but they could have simply chanted Hare Krishna. Everything else is additional to the chanting. Gosvamis added some of the old procedures just so smarta-brahmanas wouldn’t reject it as a strange new movement. The main thing is chanting.

July 18

On proposed visit by philosopher Albert Ayer: “What is his philosophy?”

Syamasundara: “He doesn’t believe in the existence of God.”

Srila Prabhupada: “I will give him evidence. I will ask him what he means by the existence of God and ask him to make a list of deficiencies of God’s existence.” He proposed how Europe could take to Krishna consciousness. If Christian and Buddhist leaders were convinced to take to Krishna consciousness as the essence, then U.S.A. would follow.

July 21

Mr. Kumar had suggestions and wanted to work for ISKCON, but required money for his mother in India. “No,” said Srila Prabhupada, “our men work twenty-four hours a day without a farthing. Even the Indian boys were faltering in pronouncing Sanskrit, but our men know because they are dedicated. All we need is dedication. I am not a Sanskrit scholar, but I am pulling on and scholars say it is good. My Guru Maharaja’s spiritual master was illiterate and my Guru Maharaja was the greatest scholar of the day, but when Gaurakisora spoke, it was exactly from the sastra.

“Our principle is not to take time to learn something and become expert and then preach, but whatever you know, preach. We have not got time for studies other than class in the morning, class in the evening, and if they read my books, that is sufficient.” He didn’t like hearing that they were trying to learn Bengali in New York because, “They will learn six months’ work in six years; therefore, I do not like this learning subjects.” Time is short; we have to use what we have. We just depend on Krishna, not on historical religious history or anything. These boys are not scholars but we are pushing on somehow.”
Talk of opening a center in Oxford. He said it was better to avoid one demon there, a famous professor who is against Krishna. Go to the students. By getting them we can train one, just as with Svarupa Damodara; then we will kill them with their own weapon.

Go to them, flatter them, make them our friends, and then kick them: “Whatever you have learned is all hodgepodge because you are rascal. Just throw it out and hear about Lord Caitanya.” Kumar had a book. Prabhupada said that the gosvami author was opening a hospital at the end of his life. Bhaktivinoda Thakura was never interested in opening a hospital.