730317 - Conversation Temple Inauguration Bengali - Mayapur
(Translated from Bengali)
Śrīdhara Mahārāja: Yoginām . . . (indistinct)
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Now we can go for ārotika and then come back.
(aside:) you remain. And now . . . (indistinct) . . . that powder cheating the stomach. (laughter) Maharaja you remember this? . . . (indistinct) . . . you take care.
. . . ocean of mercy Śrīdhara Mahārāja, all the Vaiṣṇavas. . . . (indistinct) . . . in reality all of you, particularly Śrīdhara Mahārāja, and our Śrīman Gauranga Mahārāja, who is like our son. All the words that they have spoken about me, are their words of affection. Actually, I do not consider myself worthy person. However, I have heard that:
- yasya deve parā bhaktir
- yathā deve tathā gurau
- (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.23)
If there is devotion to guru, if there is devotion to Bhagavān (the Supreme Person), the entire Vedic conclusion is manifest in the heart. (shloka ?). I have heard from śāstra. At an old age of 70, I have travelled to America, I am now 77 years old. This has been possible by unflinching faith, because it was our spiritual master’s desire that Mahāprabhu's teachings are preached in foreign lands. Our godbrothers have not done much in this matter, or have not tried to do so. Or they have been disadvantaged by various health issues. I have tried in my old age. He had also instructed me.
Keeping that as my sole inspiration, I first travelled to America without expectation of the result. They do not allow currency from here. I did not have any money. I carried some books with me. A widowed lady who owns a shipping company, gave me a return ticket. This is how I travelled to America. There was no place to stay. No facility for eating. One day here, another day there. This is how I lived for one year, roaming from place to place. And when I found some good people, I would exchange a word or two with them. For my expenses, I took some books along, and managed to sell them at bookshops. This is how after one year, I was able to somehow collect two hundred dollars. At that time, I asked one of my disciples and the many admires who would visit, to find me a room to start something. So, on Second Avenue in New York, a shop-house on the ground floor, and a room to stay on the first floor was found for a rent of two hundred dollars. Two hundred dollars in our country's currency is two thousand rupees. So, I had only two hundred dollars. I decided to take the place immediately, by giving an advance of two hundred dollars. This how I would sit in the shop-house, give Bhagavad-Gītā classes and have kirtana. I would rest in the room upstairs. Slowly, they people started coming in twos and fours, and then many people came. After that, I would go to the park, sit under the tree and play the doog-doogi (a small hand-held drum).
There was no khol-kartalas. I would play on a broken doog-doogi and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa . . .
All these boys would come. Our Acyutananda Swāmi was the first one to dance to my doog-doogi. He is still dancing. He and another boy, I have named him Brahmananda, Gargamuni's brother. These two brothers are sons of a very affluent man. Their father has a massive plastics factory. Their mother loves them a lot. Whatever their situation, they left everything and have come along with me. This is how this International Society was first established. From New York, then San Francisco. After that Montreal, Boston, Buffalo. Now, we have one hundred and two centers all over the planet. And in every center, we have twenty-five . . . that is less . . . no twenty-five is too little . . . there are up to two-hundred members . . . (indistinct . . . there is a boy sitting there, behind you, at the back . . . I have named him Tuṣṭa Kṛṣṇa. He has opened a very nice center in New Zealand . . . Auckland. We have our own house there. We do not own all the properties. Most of them are rented. Because property over there . . . there is no house below five-ten lakhs. Our temple in Los Angeles is valued at Twenty-five and a half lakhs. This is how . . . if we want to buy then it costs a lot of money. However, there is a convenience there . . . if you make some payment in advance, the rest can be paid off slowly. That’s how, we have some of our own properties.
And Prabhupāda had said . . . I think Śrīdhara Māharāja also . . . many things were discussed with Prabhupāda . . . and Śrīdhara Māharāja was also present. He gave me an instruction at Rādhā-kuṇḍa. I used to live in Bombay at that time. Prabhupāda had come to Rādhā-kuṇḍa. I too had come there, and before returning, when I went to offer my obeisance . . . over there, Śrīdhara Māharāja was there . . . and our Sundarananda prabhu was there . . . and Prabhupāda was swaying on a swing. Śrīdhara Māharāja reminded me that my friend . . . I had a friend in Ville Parle Bombay . . .
Śrīla Prabhupāda: (aside in English) Just wait please . . . (indistinct) . . . just wait.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Śrīdhara Māharāja said to me, "Your friend who was in Ville Parle . . . can you try for his place?" Then, Prabhupāda, responding to that says, "It is best not to acquire your own property. Since the day we were given Patharer-Ṭhākura-Bārī by J.B. Dutta, since that day fire has ignited. And I know this fire is going to spread." This he stated himself, in the presence of Māharāja that, "Instead, if you get some money, print books." This is what he said. Then, I took his words seriously, and understood that Prabhupada was more keen to print book, rather than build temples. I have tried to do that, and continue to do so.
When I went to America, I took only books with me. That a house must be acquired to open a center, this I have not done. Open a center, in a rented center as it is. It is not necessary to own the place. In our one hundred and two hundred center, we own only eight or ten properties. The rest are all rented. The rents there are high. There is nothing less than four-five hundred dollars. Four-five hundred dollars is five-thousand rupees. According to calculation, the expenditure at our Los Angeles center is twenty-thousand dollars. In New York the expenditure is ten-thousand dollars. This is how the total expenditure in all the center is seventy-eighty thousand dollars. Seventy-eighty thousand dollar means seven or eight lakhs. That is the expenditure. The kind of expenditure incurred there is difficult to imagine.
Let me give you a small example . . . when I used to cook, I once went looking for chilli powder in a bottle. It cost twenty-five cents. Twenty-five cents means one and a half rupees, a very small amount. This is the kind of expense. It is very expensive. And they are American so they are used to roaming around. In every center, there are at least two good cars. Chevrolet or Ford cars. Here it is different. The other day they bought a car for twenty-four thousand rupees, and I do not refuse them, because they are habituated. I do not stop them.
They have sacrificed as much as possible . . . if they sacrifice more than that, they may break. On my request, they have given up eating meat and fish. On my request, they have stopped drinking liquor. On my request, they have given up illicit-sex. Given up gambling. They are performing Hari-nama. That is enough respect. In their country, eating flesh, illicit sex, intoxication and gambling are normal everyday activities. In fact, they are taught to indulge in these activities since childhood. Their parents teach them. The parents of many of boys who have given up these things, ask, "Why have you given up? How will you work?" This is correct. If karmis are not given wine, meat, fish, parched grain and sex, they are not enthused. They are karmis. They can work very hard. But they have given it all up. The ones who are with me, have given up everything.
Many times I have been accused of keeping men and women together. But if you observe them . . . Śrīdhara Māharāja has understood this matter . . . they are not man and woman . . . they are all . . . all of them . . . "jīvera svarūpa haya nitya kṛṣṇa-dāsa" (CC. Madhya 20.108-109). They are not man and wife. These girls that you said they have developed. Is this possible for ordinary women to develop these qualities . . . unless they are bhakta (devotees). The culture of their country is for man and women to associated together. Can I stop that culture? That would be foolish. Keeping time, place and circumstance in mind, the person has to be made a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. This is talent. Staying rigid within a formula will not work. That is the expertise of the ācārya. Being in a rut will not help. Keeping time, place and circumstance in perspective, somehow or the other . . . "Yena tena prakāreṇa manaḥ kṛṣṇe niveśayet."
This is our motto. Kṛṣṇa consciousness . . . (indistinct) . . . after that everything will happen slowly. In the beginning, I did not emphasise on process of deity worship. I only request them to come, sit and listen sincerely. That has worked well. I did not tell them to shave their heads and keep a śikhā, study Sanskrit, none of that.
Many people criticise our sannyasīs, "Do you know Sanskrit?" But it is doubtful if the person who is questioning, knows Sanskrit. What value do these questions have? Is it state in any śāstra that Sanskrit must be learnt before becoming a devotee? Our Gaurakiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, who initiated a most learned scholar as his disciple, how much Sanskrit did he know? Prabhupāda said this himself that, "When Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura asked me go and get initiated by Gaurakiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāj, I thought as soon as I go, Bābājī Mahārāja will give me dīkṣā immediately. But he refused." (disruption) (end)