Free Write Journal #33


Free Write Journal #33

When Swamiji went to San Francisco in January 1967, leaving behind his disciples in New York, we felt bereft. He told us to carry out all the activities we had done together. We tried, but getting up early in the morning, chanting our rounds, going to the temple by 7:00 A.M. and taking turns giving short lectures was all very difficult without Swamiji. Some of us wrote to him complaining and lamenting. He wrote a letter back addressed to all the New York devotees. He said we should not lament. He told us the great secret: service in separation. He called it vani, or associating with the spiritual master by following his instructions. He said that serving the spiritual master in his direct presence (vapuh) was impermanent and “immaterial.” The real thing was to follow the guru’s instructions. When this was properly understood, you were not apart from your spiritual master, but he was with you always. Swamiji added that if we were feeling his absence too much we could put photos of him on his sitting places. None of us had taken photos of Swamiji, so we asked the devotees in San Francisco to send us some. They did, and we put them on his sitting places and felt solace. We posted Swamiji’s letter on the wall and talked about it. It gave us courage. Among ourselves we said we had something that the devotees in San Francisco didn’t have. We had service in separation, and that was the best thing. So we clung to this message, went on with our services and waited for the day when he would return to New York.

Swamiji was asked by a semi-challenger, “Are you happy?” At first he answered, “Will you believe me if I tell you?” The man replied, “No.” Swamiji went on to say that he had left his wife and children in old age, and now he had many new children and was very happy preaching freely in the West. He always lived with Krsna, and as the guru-gayatri mantra says, “The spiritual master is always blissful in Krsna consciousness.” He said his new children, his disciples, were much more loving than his material family, and that they only wanted to serve him and receive Krsna’s blessings. As the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, he was very happy, and this could be seen as he entered ecstasy while leading the devotees in ecstatic kirtanas. He drew great satisfaction from translating and writing purports to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, his life’s major work, in obedience to the order of his spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami.

Am I happy? Yes, I am. I am not as active as I was in my early years, but I have not lost my enthusiasm to practice Krsna consciousness, especially by reading Prabhupada’s books, and writing my own books “in pursuance of the Vedic version.”

Letters from Srila Prabhupada

21st June, 1971

My dear Satsvarupa,

Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 13 June, 1971 and I have noted the contents. Just yesterday I arrived in Moscow, and we are staying in a very nice hotel. On the whole, this is a very nice city (the best in Europe); it is very neat and clean. We are trying to arrange through the embassy some talks on our philosophy, and I will let you know what happens. On the 25th instant I will go to Paris, stay for one day, and fly directly to San Francisco for Rathayatra. Then I will go to London for their Rathayatra on 4th July. Shortly thereafter, I will return to N.Y.C. All mail can go to L.A.

It is very nice if we can get other magazines than BTG to print articles about our society, so try for it. Also, for BTG, I am enclosing one poem for Dravida for publishing. And so far the annual GBC meeting is concerned, it is my wish that this meeting may be held in Mayapur on Vyasa Puja Day. So you arrange for this, we can go at least 100 visitors and arrange for the founding stone in Mayapur. We are trying to get Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India, for laying the foundation stone.

Yes, my order still stands. Please organize BTG distribution and do it nicely. Sankirtana Party and distribution of our magazines and books is our real program. Other things are secondary. So during the summer time you should utilize the program of sankirtana and book distribution vigorously. Attention diverted to incense business is not a very good sign. We should give all our energy for distributing BTG.

Offer my blessings to the others. Hope this meets you in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

In our out-loud readings at mealtimes, we are hearing from Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta. We are up to 1967, when Swamiji had only two centers in America. But by this letter in 1971 he has expanded greatly, to Europe and Moscow. He is calling for the first meeting of the GBC in Mayapura, laying a foundation stone for the Mayapura building, and everything is growing.

His order “still stands.” He wants BTG distribution along with the sankirtana party. This instruction was followed for some time. Then book distribution was done separate from the sankirtana party in public. Now harinama parties like Rama-Raya’s N.Y.C. group have returned to this basic instruction of simultaneously and vigorously holding sankirtana and book distribution. It is the purest non-duplicitous form of book distribution. People get to see devotees in devotional dress and hear the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. Everything is done in the open, without any disguise. In 1971, in Boston, we took Prabhupada’s instruction to heart, and in good weather we went out with the sankirtana group, drew attention from a crowd and circulated, distributing BTGs.

In 1967 things seemed so precarious. Prabhupada was in America but he suffered a heart attack, and he went back to Vrndavana with no assurance that he would return again to the West. Now in this letter there is no mention of ill health. He is traveling around the world quickly, from India to Moscow to Paris to San Francisco to London, and then returning to N.Y.C. He wants his mail forwarded to L.A. So ISKCON is a real international Society, and Prabhupada is at the head, traveling, preaching and organizing the devotees to expand the Movement in all ways. These are strong years for ISKCON’s growth.

Los Angeles July 1, 1971

My dear Satsvarupa,

Please accept my blessings. Enclosed please find tape no. 2 from L.A., 4th Canto, 8th chapter. Kindly acknowledge date of receipt.

I hope that by now you have got the throne, etc. all ready for installation ceremony. By the middle of July I shall go to N.Y., and at that time you can send us tickets for going to Boston, also. We are three; Syamasundara (Samuel Speerstra); Aravinda (Arthur J. Friedman), and myself. From Boston I shall go to New Vrindaban, come again to N.Y. and then go to London. So please arrange for Kirtanananda Swami to send tickets, round trip, to Pittsburgh.

Hoping this will meet you in good health,

Your ever well-wisher,

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

Despite his worldwide travels and attention to India, Prabhupada is still paying attention to Boston, and promises to come for Deity installation of Radha-Krsna in July of 1971. He expects us to have the throne, etc., ready for the installation ceremony. We had the throne prepared, we had the necessary number of pujaris, and they had been trained by going to Los Angeles and learning from the pujaris there.

Prabhupada is still sending me tapes of his Srimad-Bhagavatam dictations to type up. I took this as a very precious service. I had many duties as the Temple President of Boston, but I greedily hung on to the typing, not handing it over to anyone else. I would type very early in the morning, check that the typing was correct, and then send him the original while I kept a copy. I was thrilled to be hearing the Bhagavatam spoken by Prabhupada, even before the Cantos were published. He is already up to the Fourth Canto, so he was making good progress despite his multifarious engagements and constant travel. I would receive a tape from Prabhupada on a weekly basis. I typed them immediately and sent him back the tape, and we both kept careful track of where all the tapes were. I did the typing, and then the manuscript went to Jayadvaita, who did the editing. He worked directly under Srila Prabhupada. In a letter written two days after the letter he sent to me, he told Jayadvaita, “Very soon I am coming to N.Y. and if there are any other points, we can discuss them at that time.” So this shows that Jayadvaita was working under Prabhupada with complete trust.


I have a collection of hundreds of color photographs of Prabhupada in which I am included. The Archives kindly researched and sent them to me. They are mostly pictures of Prabhupada on his morning walks. They are from all over the world—the United States, India, Europe, etc. I was there, either as Prabhupada’s personal servant in 1974 or as a visiting GBC member who got to be with Prabhupada for a month. I am usually holding an extended microphone with a portable tape recorder and catching Prabhupada’s words. One can peruse these photographs by looking at the website

Many devotees went on the morning walks with Prabhupada. They crowded around him and fought for space to be close enough to him to hear him speak. Some say it was like a roller derby sport, fighting and maneuvering to get close to the spiritual master. To hold the microphone to him was a great advantage and kept one guaranteed to be close enough to him to see him and hear him.

In one photo Prabhupada is walking on Juhu Beach in Bombay. A man is bending over and touching his feet. Prabhupada wears no kurta, and neither do I. It was warm. The man touching his feet is Dr. Patel, who used to join Prabhupada on the walks but then argue with him and defend India’s “saints,” who were mostly impersonalists. So Prabhupada would argue with Dr. Patel, and that was their relationship. At one point Dr. Patel became so upset with Prabhupada’s criticisms of Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, etc. that he said he would stop coming onto the walk. Prabhupada then instituted that we would read out loud from the Krsna Book as we walked, and this was a strategy to avoid Dr. Patel if he came for more debates and more bashings.

There are photos taken in Germany at the Schloss Rettershof Castle when the professor Durckheim was visiting Prabhupada. He was friendly and asked philosophical questions. When Professor Durckheim was being driven to the Schloss, he was horrified to see the many posters that Hansadutta had put up to announce Prabhupada’s visit. The posters said, “The Fuhrer is coming.” Professor Durckheim remarked, “Oh! You have made a great blunder.” I don’t think his reaction to the posters reached Prabhupada, nor did Hansadutta admit he made a mistake. The professor visited for several days, had talks, and went on morning walks with Prabhupada and the devotees. He spoke about the war and the fear of death for soldiers on the battlefield. Prabhupada preached straight Krsna consciousness to him, and he was submissive.

We have a number of photos of Prabhupada on Nityananda dasa’s farm in Mississippi. Prabhupada rode up from New Orleans and stayed at the farm for a couple of days. Accompanied by the devotees, he went on a walk in the rough grass fields. He saw the farm equipment and noticed that it wasn’t housed in any shelter. He said the machinery should not be exposed to the rain. Prabhupada cooked one day in the kitchen. There is a photo of him bare-chested and working alone at the stove. In talks, Nityananda attempted to get Prabhupada to say it was all right to have more than one wife. Prabhupada theoretically agreed with him. It was a large farm, and Prabhupada and the devotees wandered everywhere on their walk. In Prabhupada’s brief stay in New Orleans, he was visited by a black politician who was currently in office. Prabhupada said to him, “Our Krsna is of the same race as you.”

We have a photo of Prabhupada sitting in a rocking chair outdoors in Dallas. We created a fenced-in garden, imitating the garden in Los Angeles where Prabhupada would sit with devotees and have the Krsna Book read to him. We had done an urgent overnight job clearing a space under the trees, creating nice ground, and fencing it with bamboo. Once a passerby stopped, looked in at the garden and saw a devotee fanning Prabhupada with a big peacock fan. He impolitely asked Prabhupada, “Why is he fanning you?” Prabhupada simply replied, “Because it is hot,” avoiding any controversial ideas of the servant worshiping the guru. We thought it was a brilliant reply, down to earth.

Local News

Bala has left for Trinidad. He’ll be gone for two weeks. He’s going to visit his mother, attend Snana-yatra of Jagannatha, and then do intense management to organize the Ratha-yatra parade in the city of Port-of-Spain. He singlehandedly started the Ratha-yatra six years ago, and they are still dependent on him to put it on. I have asked him to train devotees up to do it without him, since it is inconvenient for us to have him leave. And it is also bad for his health, since he is still recovering from his major operation.

Yesterday Muktavandhya came with a devotee named Bhakta Joe, who is close to Pyari Mohan of Hartford. Joe was introduced to the different projects we need fixing here in the ashram. He is a handyman, and he agreed to come back in two weeks and make repairs on the house. Today is St. Patrick’s Day. I have been in Ireland, in Dublin on this day. The devotees took part in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. But after one year the administrators didn’t want them to be in the parade. They said we weren’t organized enough, with the women pushing their babies in perambulators and us introducing a horse who was an unkempt-looking, big animal. When the judges on the observation cart objected to him, Arjuna spoke up and said, “He’s a farm horse!” and they were somewhat pacified. In the airport there was a man dressed up as St. Patrick and holding a rubber snake in his hand (because St. Patrick is said to have driven out the snakes from Ireland). There were also young girls in plaid skirts doing Irish dances to traditional music.

Complete Poems from Every Day, Just Write

Like That

Bleat, bleat Prabhupada’s juice
cup sits golden, his chanting beads
I’m before him dull rascal
words like that
free us—mindset-cliché
but clichés are the well-
worn best-only words
you can think of sometimes.

Effervescent, spirit soul
is servant of God. Like
that. Same words so now
it’s almost June, six days in
a row no headache. I’m
gonna get whopped soon.

Lord, Lord Visnu,
krsna-katha is hari-katha
and Emperor Svayambhuva lived
in style, going to sleep to shenai
music of hari-katha, he
dreams of praising Hari.

And now hear from me
bright green almost a little yellow
in it from sunshine, the pines’
erect spines stand up. A red
car leaves from this house.
Hear the latest news—
no, don’t. Just quiet down
and thank God even if you
don’t live (at some point).

Service is never lost.

You’ve Come Home

You’ve come home
not a light thing
when a friend or husband
enters the house if there is love
it’s nice.

Things go right
but going back to Godhead
is not just a light song
and yet it’s the lightest.

Going home is my song, walks with
me and even in the car going
to work. Madhava dasa is
“going home,” home is the
service the devotee works
in, his consciousness.

Going home—to lecture mission,
pain that saddens you
worry “Will they hurt?”
The letter, the calendar, impersonal and
faithless tells me I’m going home to
end another life.

Or I am wandering nowhere,
please God guide me
like a dog who knows the way,
a homing pigeon,
unerring compass to guide
on a zig-zag path
through the Milky Way
guide accompanied
by good
persons in this world of
misery and illusion.

Put up with less-than-perfect.
It’s that way

going home is a dance, a sigh.
Remember foolish and hard times.
Famine in Ireland,
who can figure it out now
the cause is matter
and ignorance
get out of the burning building
and go home
as soon as possible
The brisk time means take me

You Lord,
no bad stops or if I
get diverted I’ll recall see Hare Krsna mantra
written on a wall
in a men’s room.

For me to be clarion to
remind others
play my horn
come home!

Krsna come home, Mother Yasoda
called. Hurry to be in touch
with intimate beloved and lover
in the home where I
am protected
or as I say
wherever you go
you are home by airplane
and foot remembering this time.
Your Hare Krsna mantra is my tune
so long as You
Krsna Krsna take me to
Your abode
in faith
going home
no place short of this.

Letter Exchange

From P. devi dasi:

“Your writing is helping me tremendously through my daily struggles. But more important, it is reminding me of what the true goal of life is. In this situation or whatever situations I find myself in, it’s only temporary. When I’m reading your Journal, I feel as if I’m in the presence of a friend who understands what it is to deal with the material nature, yet finds a way to go on. I find it very inspiring and encouraging. I don’t know how to express my deep appreciation for the help you are giving me through your writings. I can only say thank you and pray that you continue to write, and that I can read your writing.”

From SDG:

“I am grateful that you find a benefit in reading my Free Write Journal. From your kind reception of my writing, I can tell that I am writing the Journal just for persons like you. We are likeminded and have a bond of friendship in Krsna consciousness. I will continue my Journal as long as you will read it. I am only a tiny servant of Srila Prabhupada. I only write under his order and as he inspires me. You should also read his books.

Hope this meets you in good health.
Yours in the service of Prabhupada,

Letters from Srila Prabhupada

12th June, 1971

My Dear Satsvarupa,

Please accept my blessings. I beg to thank you very much for your letter dated 28th May, 1971 and have noted the contents. You should know that you are always with me. I am always thinking of you and your service. So there is no question of you being separated from me at any time. And you will be glad to know that very soon I am coming to Boston for installing the Deities. Recently I am in Bombay and will be leaving for Moscow on the 20th instant. I shall remain there for five days and from there go Paris and London, where I will participate in the Rathayatra festival.

“Yes, Mr. Bigelow has appreciated my article and admitted in his letter that ‘You people in India are so much further ahead in matters of this kind then those of us in the Western world.’ (letter dated 16th February, 1971) There has been no further correspondence with him in this regard. So if you wish you may publish my letter and his short reply is given above.

So far as publishing songs in BTG, I have translated two or three songs of Narottama dasa Thakura only but if you like, I can send you more songs and ideas. I have sent some poems by our disciples here along the line of Narottama Dasa Thakura’s songs. Do you like them enough to publish?

I have not received any check for beads for the ten devotees recommended by you for initiation, but they may be initiated when I go there personally.

Concerning Brahmananda, I have received one telegram from Karachi and he has asked my permission to come here and I have consented. So he should be coming to Bombay very soon.

Just recently I have received one letter from Jadurani and she is doing nicely. I have seen the pictures printed by her and her assistants and they are very nice. She is serious about you being fully engaged in Krishna Consciousness, and I have given her advice in this connection.

I am enclosing one letter from a new boy in Japan. He was going to commit suicide but came to Krishna instead. This may make an interesting topic for BTG in the new type of article you described in your last letter.

Please offer my blessings to the others there. Hoping this will meet you in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

I must have written to Prabhupada that I was anxious about separation from him. He gives personal assurance that we are not separated. He is always thinking of me and my service. This comforted me very much to know he thought like that. And then he reminds me that he’s coming to Boston soon for installing the Deities. Prabhupada had evolved from being a guru just in America. From this letter in 1971, he is in Bombay, planning to go to Moscow, then Paris, then London. He a jet-age parivrajakacarya. Prabhupada did so much preaching to his disciples and training them through letters.

As the editor-in-chief of Back to Godhead, he guided me and suggested articles that could be used. He mentioned a short statement of appreciation by a Dr. Bigelow and says it can be published along with his letter. Then he says if I like he can send me songs and ideas from the writings of Narottama dasa Thakura. Of course, I was very eager to get them. He encloses some poems from his disciples, but he doesn’t order me to publish them. He says if I like them enough I can publish them. So I used my editor’s discretion. He mentions he has received a letter from my wife, Jadurani, and he praises the paintings done by her and her assistants. He writes, “She is serious about you being fully engaged in Krsna consciousness, and I have given her advice in this connection.” I did not know what this referred to. I didn’t know what Jadurani wrote to Prabhupada about my being or not being fully engaged in Krsna consciousness, and I didn’t know what advice he gave her in this connection. Did she think I wasn’t fully engaged? It seems like some meddling by Jadurani and criticizing me for not being fully engaged enough. I didn’t appreciate her letter to Prabhupada with that statement.

Prabhupada encloses a letter from a new boy in Japan. He was going to commit suicide but came to Krsna instead. Prabhupada writes that this may make an interesting topic for BTG “in the new type of article you describe in your last letter.” I think I had mentioned to Prabhupada that we wanted articles by devotees on “How I Came to Krsna Consciousness.” So this letter by the boy in Japan sounds ideal for publishing. On the same day Prabhupada wrote to me about the boy who was going to commit suicide but came to Krsna consciousness instead, he also sent a letter to Sudama in Tokyo, Japan. Prabhupada himself received the letter from Damari Toshio Inove. He writes to Sudama that he is sending me Damari’s letter so I may publish it in Back to Godhead. Prabhupada wrote to Sudama, “Here is a boy who was about to commit suicide but came to Krsna instead. And now he is perfecting his life. That is most encouraging news. So now this boy is working with you cooperatively; train him up nicely and give him all guidance. Any questions that you cannot answer can be referred to me. Krsna has sent you a sincere soul to help you out there. So work together very hard to develop New Gaya, and more devotees will come.”

Los Angeles
3rd July 1971

My Dear Satsvarupa,

Please accept my blessings. Enclosed please find tape no. 3. Kindly acknowledge receipt, and date of receipt also. After finishing with these tapes, they should be sent directly to Pradyumna in N.Y. for Sanskrit, along with a copy of the finished transcript. He can forward the tapes to me.

Also please find a poem presented to me in Bombay by one French boy, Darsha. If you like, you can publish it in Back to Godhead.

Hoping this will meet you in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

So Prabhupada directs me in a new procedure for typing his tapes: I should send the tapes and a transcript of my typing to Pradyumna to correct the Sanskrit. Then Pradyumna will forward the tapes back to Prabhupada. This was not difficult to do.

Prabhupada sends me another poem presented to him. He sent it to me and said, “If you like,” I can publish it in Back to Godhead. It’s not that the devotees could present their writings to the Founder-Acarya and expect him to give his blessings and permission for their writings to go into Back to Godhead. That was not proper. He had assigned someone as editor-in-chief of Back to Godhead, and it was up to him and his associates and co-editors to decide whether they would publish writing that had been handed in to Prabhupada. Better if they just sent their writing to Back to Godhead directly.

27th July 1971

My Dear Satsvarupa,

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated 25th July, 1971 and have noted the contents carefully. The arrangement you have made in Boston for me was very nice. There is no need of a nice apartment. A sannyasi shouldn’t live in a very nice place but because your country is so much opulent, even a poor man is offered a nice place. So whatever is offered in devotion and love is all right. It is our duty to offer the very best to Krishna and the Spiritual Master. That is reciprocal love.

Enclosed herewith, some poems and articles for publication in BTG upon your approval. So far my writing is concerned, yes I want to settle down somewhere and write my books. That is my aim. So most probably it will be done by Krishna’s grace.

The subject matter of BTG should be very grave. It should not be made a joking, comical literature. The subject matter is that everyone should know who is Krishna. So present it in philosophical way but with simple language. The next subject matter is our relationship with Krishna. Then how we fulfill our life’s ambition in Krishna Consciousness. So all these subject matters should be made understandable by the people in general, but we should be very grave in our presentation.
Hoping this will meet you in good health.

Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

The beginning of this letter is Prabhupada’s response to my apologizing to him for not giving him a first-class apartment in Boston. We had rented a V.I.P. suite in the Sheraton hotel, but he refused to go there, saying a hotel was a “brothel.” So we changed our plans and gave him a room in our temple. But it wasn’t first-class. Prabhupada is writing from Brooklyn, and I knew they had arranged opulent quarters for him, designed by Bhavananda. I was ashamed and embarrassed by what we had offered him in contrast to what they gave him in Brooklyn. In this letter he assures me that the arrangement I made for him in Boston was “very nice.” He says whatever we offer in devotion is all right, but it’s the duty of the disciples to offer the very best to Krsna and the spiritual master. He comforted me that we had done all right but reminded me that the standard should be to offer the very best quarters, for the spiritual master to stay in. I wrote to Prabhupada wishing that he could settle down somewhere and write his books. He says yes, this is what he wants to do; this is his aim. But he is not in anxiety. He says, “Most probably it will be done by Krsna’s grace.” He was traveling so wide and far, and it didn’t seem like he was planning for any writing retreat or extended timeout from preaching to do concentrated writing on his Srimad-Bhagavatam. He continued to work every day in the very early morning hours.

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