Sugar is considered an unhealthy food. But Krsna likes sweets. When Lord Brahma was making his repentant prayers to child Krsna, Krsna was standing casually before him with a handful of a mixture of sugar candy, yogurt and milk. Prabhupada also gets sweets in his diet. 1966 I arrived late at the devotees’ gathering at Dr. Misra’s Ananda Ashram in upstate New York. Prabhupada and the devotees were sitting at an outdoor picnic table finishing up their lunch. When Prabhupada saw me arrive, he took a capati, filled it with white sugar, and handed it to me. The devotees laughed, and I chewed on the sweet capati with glee from the hand of my spiritual master. When Prabhupada was preaching in Mexico, he had many speaking engagements on one day. He happened to go the entire day without eating. When he got back to his room in the evening, he took puris with sugar and warm milk, and said, This is preaching. Keep me talking all day, and a little prasadam at night, Several times the devotees serving Prabhupada his lunch tried to eliminate sugar from his meal because he had diabetes. He tolerated it for a few days, but then demanded that he have his beloved rasagulla and sandesa. When the cooks tried to restrict him, he said, “To hell with the starvation committee!”
On another occasion when the devotees were restricting Prabhupada in his eating, he went ahead anyway and drank a glass of dob juice. His cook Palika dasi walked in while he was hurriedly drinking the full glass. She said to him, “Prabhupada! You are not supposed to take that!” He sternly replied to her, “All my life I have always done what I wanted!” In the scriptures it is stated that material life tastes sweet in the beginning but then becomes bitter and unpalatable (Bg. 18.38), whereas spiritual life may cause some difficulty in the beginning but turns out to be nectar. A person with jaundice is advised to take sugar candy as a cure. At first, he finds the sugar candy unpalatable and bitter. But as he becomes cured, it begins to taste sweet.
I have been diagnosed, through my blood testing, that I have diabetes. I take a medicine for it rather than all the restrictions required to possibly keep it under control without medicines. I eat small portions of food on a very regulated time schedule , but I don’t plan on doing much more than that.
As I have previously mentioned, I wrote the Samadhi Diary after I stopped going to see Narayana Maharaja. Even before the GBC ordered that ISKCON devotees should not go see Narayana Maharaja, I figured out that it wasn’t right, so I stopped going to see him on my own. I wanted to purify myself and become an exclusive disciple of Srila Prabhupada. The Samadhi Diary served me in this way. I wrote in two places within the Krsna-Balaram temple: in the actual Samadhi Mandir before the murti of Srila Prabhupada, and in Prabhupada’s residential room. Here are some excerpts:
When I come, Satsvarupa dasa, alone, I take the risk that you will focus on me and give me a heavy order. One cannot come before you just to play a game of ‘imagining I’m with Srila Prabhupada.’ Coming into your presence signifies surrender and willingness to accept austerity. Then confidential instruction can come.
I am aware of this, yet I’m foolish. I do come ‘to play.’ I come as a little son, as a personal servant who tends to your bodily needs. I used to do that.
I’m aware you want servants to preach and manage your Krsna Consciousness Movement. I say, ‘I’m a brahmana, Prabhupada. I lecture and write and care for disciples in a personal way. But I get headaches, so don’t ask me to do something I can’t do.’
It’s embarrassing to write like that, but it’s true.
I enjoy the separation from you in that way. I don’t have the pressure of your direct order, but at least when you were here, I did accept your order. You said of me, ‘He does what I ask.’ Please let it still be true, although I can’t manage. Perhaps I’m not entitled to so much personal association, so I’ll ‘steal’ it in this easy form of sitting with your murti.
I admit it, I’m a nonsense, but I want to be an asset to you.”
We rushed from our rooms to get here, not preparing our minds beforehand. Even as I stand in front of your golden form, I’m thinking of what Madhu said to the guesthouse manager, and the cinema star is singing her song of “love.” Love, love. It’s on all the signboards and in the songs, but actually it’s all lust. Love is for Krsna and His representative.
Man with a big bushy ksatriya-mustache, fat belly behind a clean kurta and white pants. He stands surveying Prabhupada while his wife stands a few feet in front of him, closer to Prabhupada, and looks up. Well-dressed pilgrims. Young boy wearing a violet ‘Los Angeles’ T-shirt. A younger one comes to stand in front of me, looking down into my notebook.
“Celo, celo,” the older brother tells him. I’m getting used to it.
“Prabhupadaji Maharaja,” one man tells his group.
“Prabhupadaji Maharaja.” They look up at the ceiling. The paid man claps his hands to chase pigeons, but when they don’t dislodge he picks up his long bamboo pole and chases them. At least the place is not infested with nests and bird turds. These things happen every day. Why am I seeing only the outer forms? His clap chased my inner mood, and the Indians are interesting to watch.
And maybe I have no deep inner purpose. The golden murti seems far away. His garland is of yellow marigolds and roses. At 4 A.M. tomorrow morning, that garland will be shriveled. The pujari gives it to me and I wear it for a few minutes and then give it to someone else.
Prabhupada, I seek active guidance from you. I have a small murti of you in my room. I search the features of these murtis, looking for recognition within myself—“That’s Prabhupada.” It’s like searching for Krsna in separation, in Vrndavana. “Where is He? I saw Him this morning at Govardhana, but now He is gone.” Sometimes I see you, and sometimes I don’t.
From here, out the side door, I see the Western mataji in the wooden bookstall selling your books. It’s her duty to be there every day. My work is to come here, then to your rooms, my room, searching for you in darsanas—writing, reading, and lecturing. And you told us to chant Hare Krsna.
I pray to you, Prabhupada, to help me approach you in a friendly and honest way, full of genuine adoration. You are giving me Krsna, and that is the greatest thing. Please keep me true and appreciative and alive. I pray to Lord Balarama to please fix me in guru-nistha.
This “tomb” is a public place, suitable for accommodating large groups of people who don’t have much time or presence of mind. At least they can receive your darsana. I shouldn’t be upset at the casual mood here. They are always respectful. But for them, it’s like going into a public monument. The whole country of India can come and go here and everyone will pay respect to you, a great saint, who went abroad and made mlecchas into devotees of Krsna. I’m beginning to understand the genius and vision of this building.
A Sikh with a pink turban, black beard, and a wife. Men in white, pajama-like pants and kurtas. Children, one infant crying a little. It’s hard for them to pay attention, they are so wrapped up in family maintenance and trying to enjoy within religious bounds. We are more serious. On the subtle plane, though, I have the equivalent of these distracted people—a pink-turbaned thought, a fat-bellied woman, a crying child, mosquitoes. Prabhupada’s Mandir, you kindly allow us to be here even though our mood is not concentrated. Prabhupada is in glowing samadhi. We cannot attain an inner samadhi, but at least we can observe his mood and take in a little of it.
I wrote these four volumes just after completing the Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta. I was still on the “roll” of feeling empowered, and concentrated on writing about Srila Prabhupada. The Prabhupada meditations are not to the high standard of Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta, the complete authorized biography. But in their own way, they are more personal and can endear one to His Divine Grace. Here is a sample, in excerpts:
Every night we were listening to that bongo drum, Swamiji’s fingers on that drum. I remember one guy who came, that rascal named Eliot, who I knew before I started coming to the storefront. He said, “The Swami gets in some good licks; I want to hear him play.” They came to hear Swamiji, just as they went to the park to hear the bongo and conga drummers. I used to apologize to them, “The Swami is a very proficient mrdanga player. You can’t judge him by what he’s doing now. He’s doing the best he can with this little drum. He doesn’t normally play a one-headed bongo, but we don’t have any of the drums that he plays in India.
“All right, granted. But let’s hear what he can do with this one drum.”
So you can hear him. His fingers walk on the drum. People speak of Olantunji and his talking drums. Prabhupada’s drum talks from his walking fingers (tick-tick-tick, tick-tick-tick, one-two, one-two-three-four, one-two). It’s a simple thing he’s got going with his fingers on the drum. Accentuating his walking beat along with his own singing, and the karatalas and tamboura. It seems that sometimes he played it strictly, like a metronome’s measured beats. But sometimes it was uneven, more human-like, hitting his finger in rougher beats. None of it was very fast. He played that drum to accompany his own singing. I thought, ‘Gee, he’s over seventy years old and thumping on that drum to his own singing.’ Yes, you could come to the storefront just to hear him play the drum. Of course, he had a lot more to give than that. Lord Caitanya’s philosophy, Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna, the Hare Krsna mantra.
The drum is for kirtana. You can hear over the drum, but still you can be fascinated by hearing Srila Prabhupada’s very simple fingers walking on the head of that brownish and already-worn bongo head. There will never be anything like it, even now that we have many accomplished mrdanga players in ISKCON. Nobody plays a bongo drum like Prabhupada did—simulating a mrdanga and yet not simulating a mrdanga. Just playing on that little drum.
And his voice. It was not velvety-smooth like cream, but a little rough, some grating there. Not unpleasant, but a man who’s a little bit rough, like a man at the end of the day with a stubble of beard, or the way a leader of men is sometimes a little rough in his speech. It is an appealing roughness that comes from working and from singing, not a pampered, delicate thing. An old man’s singing, and not a “man”—but an aged, pure devotee. His singing has its own appeal. It goes along with the drum, the uneven finger beat, and the rough voice. We were entranced by these things, almost hypnotized by each thing he added.
One can’t help but be drawn into action when he reads and meditates on Prabhupada’s purports. They are calls to action on many levels: “Surrender to Krsna,” “Chant Hare Krsna,” “Tell everyone you meet about Krsna.”
If you want to keep your life unchanged, but you still want to read Prabhupada’s books, it will put you into conflict. He pricks the conscience, and yet he soothes the mind and spirit as he reminds us that we are not this body, and we don’t belong to the perishable and temporary world. Srila Prabhupada also reminds us of the easy process of chanting Hare Krsna and performing devotional service, by which we can transcend birth and death.
Is it possible to read Prabhupada without responding to his call for action? What if one rationalizes his reading in such a way that he reads without changing his life? No, it’s not possible. Any attraction to his books will change a person’s consciousness in a favorable way. At least the reader will continue hearing the holy names of Krsna. And the fact that he likes to read means he is favorable to the pure devotee; and so Krsna will be favorable to him.
But it’s natural that as we meditate on Srila Prabhupada’s preaching, we should desire to become a preacher too. He wants this of his followers. It’s also natural for each reader to try to adjust Prabhupada’s command to his own situation. Srila Prabhupada also advises this when he says that one should take up Krsna consciousness and preach ‘according to his capacity.’
Prabhupada’s invitation to completely surrender to the will of Krsna will find us falling short somewhere or other. But we can follow the mahajanas described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Gradually we will find ourselves swept up by the flow of their devotional service. Therefore, let us not be afraid to read Srila Prabhupada’s books, even though we feel we’re not capable of fully responding. It is better in any case, to hear his message and be humbled by thoughts of pure devotional service. Even if one did nothing else but read Prabhupada’s books, that in itself would be a reply to the call for action.
We take turns reading aloud for an hour-and-a-half at lunchtime. Now we’re on the Fourth Canto about Vena and King Prithu. Vena was sin personified, born of Sunitha. From his birth, he was cruel and demoniac. He used to kill his little playmates in childhood. As king, he forbade the brahmanas from performing religious sacrifices. But he was very strict, and so the thieves and rogues were checked in their activity. The brahmanas became so distressed that they went to the king to give him polite advice. They told him he should allow them to perform sacrifices and that he should worship Lord Visnu. Vena became angry and told the brahmanas that they were speaking childishly. He said that all religion lived within the body of the king. He declared himself as good as God, and told the brahmanas that by not worshiping him they were acting like women who unfaithfully go to a paramour. The brahmanas became righteously angry, and by the power of their spoken words (brahma-tejus), they killed King Vena on the spot.
Now there was no king, and the thieves became again active. To preserve the lineage of the king’s predecessors, they churned his thighs, and at first they produced a short, black man, who was called Bahuka. Bahuka was mischievous, and so the brahmanas sent him to the forest to live. Then they again churned the thighs of Vena, and this time, from out of his arms came a beautiful male and female couple. The male was Prthu and the female was Arci. Prithu was a saktavesya avatara, a special expansion of Lord Visnu. Knowing him to be empowered, the reciters began to glorify him for his noble, Godly attributes. Prithu asked them to stop. He said his glorious attributes had not yet manifest, and so to praise him for them was improper and a mockery. But the reciters, knowing him to be an avesa avatara, persisted in their recitation of his glories. The reciters said, “The male produced will be able to expand his reputation throughout the world. His name will be Prithu. He will be the first among kings. His wife, Arci, is a plenary expansion of the goddess of fortune, who is never separated from the Lord.” The demigods from the upper planets appeared there, presented King Prithu with many valuable gifts, and coronated him as the King of the world. Despite Prithu’s asking the reciters not to praise him, they did so, saying that “he alone will be able to maintain all living entities and keep them in a pleasant condition by manifesting himself as different demigods to perform various departmental activities. In the course of time, he will also maintain this earthly planet by discharging proper rainfall. He will distribute his mercy equally. No one will be able to overcome the strength of King Prithu. This King will please everyone by his practical activities, and all of his citizens will remain satisfied. Because of this, the citizens will take great satisfaction in accepting him as their ruling King. He will intimately associate with liberated persons, and he will be a chastising hand to all impious persons. When King Prithu will travel over his kingdom and vibrate the string of his bow, which is irresistible in battle, all demoniac rogues and thieves will hide themselves in all directions.” Thus, the reciters went on praising King Prithu.
At the big meeting on July 6th I lectured entirely about the Krsna Book. I read Prabhupada’s concluding words, where he says, “By reading and memorizing the Krsna Book, one can go back home, back to Godhead, which is normally very difficult to attain.” I said these words by Srila Prabhupada produce impressions of adbhuta, astonishment and wonder. Just consider. Simply by reading the relishable and easy-to-take Krsna Book, we can qualify ourselves to reach Krsna’s planet after we leave this lifetime.
“Krsna’s lifting of Govardhana Hill and His killing of great demons like Putana are all obviously extraordinary activities. Similarly, the rasa dance is also an uncommon activity and cannot be imitated by any ordinary man. An ordinary man engaged in his occupational duty, like Arjuna, should execute his duty for the satisfaction of Krsna; that is within his power. Arjuna was a fighter, and Krsna wanted him to fight for His satisfaction. Arjuna agreed, although at first he was not willing to fight. Duties are required for ordinary persons. They should not jump up and try to imitate Krsna and indulge in rasa-lila, and thus bring about their ruin. One should know with certainty that Krsna had no personal interest in whatever He did for the benediction of the gopis. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita, na mam karmani limpanti: Krsna never enjoys or suffers the results of His activities. Therefore it is not possible for Him to act irreligiously. He is transcendental to all religious duties and principles. He is untouched by the modes of material nature. He is the supreme controller of all living entities, whether in human society, in demigod society, in the heavenly planets, or in lower forms of life. And He is also the supreme controller of material nature; therefore He has nothing to do with religious or irreligious principles.” (Chapter 33, “The Description of the Rasa Dance”)
“Upon hearing Arjuna speak in this way, the brahmana replied, “My dear Arjuna, Lord Balarama is present, but He could not give protection to my children. Lord Krsna is also present, but He also could not give them protection. There are also many other heroes, such as Pradyumna and Aniruddha, carrying bows and arrows, but they could not protect my children.” The brahmana directly hinted that Arjuna could not do that which was impossible for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He felt that Arjuna was promising something beyond his power. The brahmana said, “I consider your promise to be like that of an inexperienced child. I cannot put my faith in your promise.”
Here Arjuna speaks as if criticizing even his friend, Lord Krsna, just to convince the brahmana of his friendship. While Lord Krsna and others were listening, he specifically attacked Krsna . . . Arjuna asserted that he could bring back the brahmana’s next offspring. When the brahmana’s wife gave birth to another male child, the child disappeared, and Arjuna could not save him. The brahmana then began to criticize Arjuna. But Krsna told Arjuna to come with Him in His chariot, and He will retrieve all the children that had been lost to the brahmana. Krsna and Arjuna then traveled in outer space, past all the coverings of the universe, and went to the abode of Maha-Visnu. There they found all the sons of the brahmana alive and in the custody of Maha-Visnu. Maha-Visnu said He just wanted to get the audience of Lord Krsna, and this is why He had taken all of the brahmana’s children away. After being satisfied that Krsna had come to see Him, Maha-Visnu released the children, and Krsna and Arjuna returned to the brahmana and delivered all his children—alive—back to his shelter.
(Lord Brahma prayed to child Krsna after Krsna had bewildered him in response to Brahma’s kidnapping the cowherd boys who were having lunch with Krsna):
“Your appearance as a cowherd child is for the benefit of the devotees, and although I have committed an offense at Your lotus feet by stealing away Your boys and calves, I can understand that You have bestowed Your mercy upon me. This shows Your transcendental quality of being very affectionate toward Your devotees. But in spite of Your great affection for me, I cannot estimate the potency of Your bodily activities. It is to be understood that when I, Lord Brahma, the supreme personality of this universe, cannot estimate the childlike body of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then what to speak of others? And if I cannot estimate the spiritual potency of Your childlike body, then what can I understand about Your transcendental pastimes? Therefore, as it is said in the Bhagavad-gita, anyone who can understand a little of the transcendental pastimes, appearance and disappearance of the Lord immediately becomes eligible to enter the kingdom of God after quitting the material body. This statement is confirmed in the Vedas, where it is stated: Simply by understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one can overcome the chain of repeated birth and death. I therefore recommend that people should not try to understand You by their speculative knowledge.”
Keli-lalita has invited me to read my poetry for half an hour at the gathering in their house on Janmastami. I had read poetry previously there, and she said it was much appreciated by the devotees. She is enthusiastic for me to read some more, and I am obliged. I will read poems from my new book. They will not be on the theme of Krsna’s appearance. But they will be more like “entertainment” for the Janmastami gathering, just as sometimes Akindra and his wife Tulasi-priya sing songs. (Their songs are always on Krsna conscious themes. At least my poems aspire to be Krsna conscious.) On July 6 I read from poems written at Jagannatha Puri and Vrndavana. These were more conservative and captured the mood of being in the holy dhams. I know Keli-lalita liked my more improvisational poems. So I have picked out some of them. It will be daring, but I already know she likes this type of poetry.
In our out-loud readings we’ve been hearing some unusual purports by Srila Prabhupada. He wrote if no grains are being produced, then the people can eat meat. He made it sound like an emergency condition. When I first went to Prabhupada and told him I wanted to be initiated, his first and only reply was, “You’ll have to be a vegetarian.” So from the very beginning, Prabhupada emphasized that we should not eat meat but we should eat what was offerable to Krsna, namely grains, vegetables, fruits and milk. There is currently some hype about the importance of being a vegetarian. Becoming a vegetarian doesn’t mean you are Krsna conscious. It is not an important breakthrough in advancement in spiritual life. It is a matter of fact point that one must give up meat-eating and take to vegetarianism because those foods are acceptable to offer to Krsna. Vegetarianism by itself is not a high standard of spiritual life.
“Hare Krsna. New outfit for the Lord and Radha while listening to astonishing pranks of Krsna by Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, the time He put on the disguise of Abhimanyu. The sister of Abhimanyu was very low-minded and dull. She thought Radha and Krsna’s pastimes were sordid affairs, and she went to spy on them. This reminded me that part of me is like this Kutila and thinks the worst of the best thing, Krsna and the gopis. But the better part is loyal and knows that the pure sports of Radha and Krsna are transcendental with no connection to mundane lust. It only looks like lust—to someone like Kutila. Very good, so let her be tricked by Krsna, and let me not be on her side. Or else I’ll be pelted by dirt balls.”
“Krsna has new outfits today, all yellow with a green waist sash. Radharani has a reddish choli and blue skirt, and a diaphanous red cape. The jewel piece She wears on Her forehead is called a candrika. I hope They will be happy to accept what I give Them. No one can understand Deity worship except devotees of the Lord. Others will think it is a kind of idol worship, myth, ritual. They might even approve of it, but who will understand that God is actually present for worship in the arca-vigraha?”
“Radha and Govinda in color of sunlight. Srila Prabhupada tans, saffrons.”
“I am not an expert dresser of Radha and Krsna. But if I look very close, at whether Her skirt is too low, whether His cape is not draped artistically, His turban not placed low or high enough, then there will be no end to the imperfections I will see. I will have to finally back away from that kind of inspection and ask Them, “Please accept what I have done. Please be satisfied with Your own beauty.”
“Set out paraphernalia for massaging Srila Prabhupada. I’ll be listening to a Jayadvaita Swami lecture if the tape doesn’t break again. Massaging my Srila Prabhupada murti. My hands, his back, his tan. As it used to be. As it is now. Hare Krsna. Neck roll. I can’t push.”
“Radha-Govinda in light-green outfits, with gold trim and meadow-green chadars. They look very neat. Golden flute and walking stick. I listen to our reading and talking of Radha and Krsna while we were residing in Vrndavana a few years ago. I heard the shut of a metal door in Baladeva’s house, a dog howling outside . . . . Brings you back there in mind. Many, many ISKCON devotees seek the blessings of Vrndavana and go there. So if you join them you can expect the dynamics and struggles that occur when people of different individualities gather together. Plus, it’s done in the land where we are foreigners. We don’t know the language (Hindi) and where there is a strain between our material wealth and the material poverty of the Indians and Brijbasis. The Brijbasis are holy, and yet they are . . . the ISKCONites from many lands are holy, and yet they are . . . . I have come to seek pure devotional service, and yet I am harassed by material conceptions of life. For these and other reasons, I feel more at home in a land like this in Wicklow, Ireland, where I stay alone. No stress of many people, no interactions with the nationals. And yet I know of Vrndavana and Krsna and Radha, and I worship Them and hear the sacred glories of Their pastimes.”
11 April 1973
My dear Satsvarupa Maharaja,
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated April 8, 1973. Now I am concerned that the Gurukula experiment should come out nicely. These children are the future hope of our Society, so it is a very important matter how we are training them in Krishna consciousness from the very childhood. It was yourself who started this idea and it has been progressing nicely. Now you see that it continues to develop. So you should go there and inform me what is the position.
I hope this meets you in good health.
Your ever well wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
P.S. The simple method I have introduced, namely learn English and Sanskrit, is sufficient. Why the so-called Montessori method?
Comment: I did not have my base in Dallas Gurukula. I was a traveling sannyasi, mostly going to the temples in my GBC zone. But Prabhupada is reminding me that I started the idea of gurukula, and I should go there and inform him what is the position. He states that it has been progressing nicely. But in the P.S. to the letter, he states, “The simple method I have introduced, namely learn English and Sanskrit, is sufficient. Why the so-called Montessori method?” While I was traveling away from Dallas, a teacher in the Gurukula introduced the Montessori methods of educating children. I was warned of this by a sannyasi Godbrother who visited Dallas. He told me, “They are not following Srila Prabhupada, they are following Montessori.” When I went to Dallas, I saw they had circles drawn on the floor and other introductions from the Montessori school. I immediately stopped all Montessori influence, although this discouraged the devotee who introduced it. In addition to a syllabus of English and Sanskrit, Prabhupada told us that we should allow the children to play. He told us they should play out the roles of Krsna’s childhood pastimes, taking the parts of Krsna, Balarama, the cowherd boys and the demons. The children were well-acquainted with these stories, and they loved to enact them.
19 April 1973
My dear Satsvarupa Maharaja,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated April 15, 1973 with enclosure of m/s. Narada Bhakti Sutra. . I have no objection to your publishing it, however there are many, many mistakes in the Sanskrit which have to be corrected, so I am returning the m/s. to you under separate cover. Regarding “Prayers of King Kulasekhara,” I never said I was displeased with your publishing it in BTG.
Regarding Gurukula, it is not required that parents live there with their children. We can take care of the children, but not the parents. Any parents there must be engaged preaching and selling books, and going on the Sankirtana party. Mohanananda Prabhu has agreed to fully cooperate, now you just direct him. I just want that the children learn English and Sanskrit nicely, that’s all. I want that things go on there nicely, it is so important work. If necessary I will come there myself to see how it is going, but only if the climate is suitable, neither too hot nor too cold. This Los Angeles climate is just suitable for me.
Regarding dancing, our dancing is ecstatic. We need not waste time 5 hours daily instead of chanting, for practicing. We are not professional dancers, neither we require it. These things should not be encouraged. In New York they have such activities, but they should not be going on in Gurukula.
I hope this meets you in good health.
Your ever well wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Comment: Prabhupada writes about the manuscripts of Narada-Bhakti-Sutra and Prayers of King Kulasekhara he had translated and made commentary on some but not all of both of these books. He says here that we can publish Narada-Bhakti-Sutra and Prayers of King Kulasekhara. I don’t think it was done in Back to Godhead magazine. After Prabhupada’s passing away I was commissioned by the BBT to finish the verses that Prabhupada had not done. Gopiparanadhana Prabhu provided the Sanskrit translations to the verses, and I wrote the commentary. The BBT editor Dravida Prabhu, said my work passed “with flying colors.” The BBT published both books separately, including Prabhupada’s translations and commentaries as far as he did them, and then my finishing up the work with my own commentaries.
Prabhupada states that it is not required for the parents to live at gurukula with their children. If they are to live there at all, they should be engaged in preaching, selling books, and going on sankirtana party. Prabhupada says that Mohanananda has agreed to fully cooperate, “now you just direct him.” This matter had been a point of disagreement between Mohanananda and I. He originally thought that the parents should live with their children at the gurukula, whereas I thought the parents should not live at the gurukula. Prabhupada makes it clear that he doesn’t want the parents living at the school with their children. He says gurukula is so important that he is prepared to go there to see how it is going, but only if the climate is suitable. It was a fact that the summers in Dallas were very hot, and the winters were cool, not as ideal as Los Angeles.
Finally, he comments on dancing. Apparently there was some idea of spending five hours for practicing dancing. Prabhupada shoots down this idea and says we are not professional dancers. In New York they may be doing it, but it should not be going on in Gurukula. Whatever dancing practice that had been going on at Gurukula was stopped.
8 August 1973
My dear Satsvarupa,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter and GBC report. It is very nice and I am having it copied and sent to the other GBC Members so they may follow your example.
I was not at all inconvenienced by you; on the contrary, I say that you were the best secretary and you did your work most faithfully. I appreciated it. May Krishna bless you.
Yes! Before the Spiritual Master a dull-headed fool is required, an overintelligent disciple is not a very good qualification. Even Caitanya Mahaprabhu presented himself as a dull-headed fool in front of his Spiritual Master and faithfully chanted Hare Krishna.
So now Krishna has sent you a nice bus, and you also have a good field for preaching. Chant, dance, distribute books and prasadam, and everything will increase automatically.
I hope this letter finds you well.
Your ever well wisher
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Comment: I was so much pleased that Prabhupada liked my GBC report and that he copied it and sent it to the other GBC members so that they could follow my example.
I had served Prabhupada as a secretary for a month and two weeks in 1973. I wrote to him that I was afraid I inconvenienced him. He writes back that I was the best secretary and did my work most faithfully. These words were treasured by me.
I must have said that I was a dull-headed fool before him. He replies, “Yes! . . . An overintelligent disciple is not a very good qualification.” Finally he congratulates us on obtaining a nice bus, and advises us to chant, dance, distribute books and prasadam, “and everything will increase automatically.” It is an all-encouraging letter from my mentor and ever well-wishing friend, my eternal spiritual master.
Several times a year we rent the VFW for our meetings for a fee of $375.00, and they say we are the best in doing a thorough cleanup after our meeting. (We power-wash the area before our meeting, and afterwards we pick up every piece of refuse so that it is as clean as possible.) So they like us. They inquire into what we are, and Bala gave them a Back to Godhead magazine. One year the veteran Leo insisted on paying the fee for the rental. We are a strange alliance, enthusiastic Hare Krsnas who chant, dance, follow the four rules, and a group of elderly veterans who mostly sit around drinking liquor and beer and reminiscing. The VFW venue is very convenient for me, because its only a few minutes’ drive from our ashram. In the summer, we use the outdoor pavilion, which is protected from the rain, and in the winter we use the indoor hall, which is heated and accommodates our full audience. There is also plenty of parking space on the grounds.
The VFW men are heavy drinkers. On Vyasa-puja day in December, while we are chanting and making homages on the second floor, they are on the first floor getting “sloshed.”
In my Radha-Govinda Worship Book I tell of a time when I was the only pujari and did daily bathing and changing the clothes of the Divine Couple. I was really involved. I would bathe Them by patting Their bodies with a damp tissue and then drying Them with a dry tissue. This was in North Ireland at the Inis Rath temple. The main pujari there was Maha-mantra devi dasi. She dressed the big Deities in the temple, and also made me many sets of small outfits for my Radha-Govinda. Now, since residing at Viraha Bhavan, I no longer do the pujari duties. Our world-class pujari, Krsna dasi, cleans and dresses Radha-Govinda every third day. She is expert in fitting Their outfits, dressing Radharani just the way I like Her, and making expert artistic turbans for Govinda. We have many outfits made by Tapan, the mukut-walla in Vrndavana. We post a picture of Them in Their new outfits every third day on Facebook and share it with many viewers. My part in the Deity worship is mostly to sit in my chair and receive close darsana. I do this for many hours in the day.
It’s my good fortune that Krsna dasi and her husband Bala came here from Trinidad to live at Viraha Bhavan. She loves serving Radha-Govinda as well as worshiping 36-inch Gaura-Nitai and many other Deities on the first-floor altar. There is sometimes a controversy over the importance of preaching over Deity worship. But Prabhupada never minimized Deity worship. He installed Deities in his temples all over the world and asked the devotees to worship the arca-vigraha with all cleanliness and attention. In our devotional line, we have examples of the emphasis on Deity worship. Lord Caitanya stood before the Jagannatha Deity in Puri for hours at a time and went with Him on Ratha-yatras. Advaita Acarya worshiped Salagrama-Sila with tulasi leaves and water, and called on Krsna to descend into the world to rectify the fallen condition of the world. The Caitanya-caritamrta says that Advaita Acarya’s calls to Krsna and His worshiping Salagrama-Sila was the cause of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s descent. Then we have the histories of Saksi-Gopala, Ksira-cora-Gopinatha, and other arca-vigrahas who are worshiped by stalwart devotees. Prabhupada personally installed Deities in many of his temples and delegated his disciples to install Deities in the same way. He said there were two paths of devotional service, pancaratraki vidhi and bhagavati-vidhi. Bhagavati-vidhi is preaching, and pancaratriki-vidhi is worshiping the Deity. Both are equally important, like two rails on a railroad track. Prabhupada recommended that his household devotees worship Deities in their homes to make the home like a temple and keep all the family members clean and fixed on the Deity. It is also a good training for the children. Prabhupada himself had Radha-Krsna Deities which he worshiped as a child.
My main focus is on my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, and what he has given us in his books and lectures. But Prabhupada taught about the parampara such as his spiritual master Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the Six Gosvamis, and the commentaries of Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura. So I follow his example and mainly read his writings but also the writings of the previous acaryas in parampara. Prabhupada is my main teacher. At Viraha Bhavan, we read his books aloud during mealtimes for a period of two and a half hours a day. On my own, I read the books of the other acaryas. I have just finished re-reading Sri Prema Bhakti Candrika by Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, and I relished it very much. My Godbrother Niranjana Maharaja recommended to me to read Amrta Vani (“The Nectar of Instructions for Immortality”) by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and I am gradually going through that book with great profit. So as long as we spend our major time in hearing from Srila Prabhupada, it is healthy for our nourishment that we also read the other Gaudiya acaryas in parampara. Guru dasa remarked to Prabhupada that Bhaktivinoda Thakura was his second-favorite writer. Prabhupada replied, “Why second?” This indicates that Prabhupada approved our reading Bhaktivinoda Thakura and also the Six Gosvamis and Narottama dasa Thakura. Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura wrote in the seventeenth century. Prabhupada often referred to him in his own purports. Visvanatha wrote many commentaries on the Vaisnava scriptures, and they are highly authoritative.