His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
[On his way from Los Angeles to London to attend the annual Jagannatha Car Festival, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder and spiritual master of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, paused for three days at ISKCON’s East Coast Headquarters in New York City. There he delivered a short series of public lectures, initiated twenty new disciples, gave personal directions to many of his students, and granted audience to selected guests and visitors. The following is a conversation, held in Srila Prabhupada’s personal quarters on the second afternoon of his visit, between His Divine Grace and Mr. Paul Valliere, an Instructor of Religion at Columbia University in New York City.]
Mr. Valliere: I’ve been studying Russian elders in the Orthodox Church. Perhaps that’s a tradition you’re familiar with in some way. They seem to have found the Divine. I guess I’d define it in terms of a search for the Divine.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. When you are searching with some goal, what is that goal? Why are you searching? When you are missing something, then there is a question of search. What is that missing point? You say that religion means searching after the Divine, so that means that you are missing the Divine. Do you follow?
Mr. Valliere: That’s right.
Srila Prabhupada: Now, the next question will be, what do you mean by this Divine?
Mr. Valliere: Well, I’m not sure.
Srila Prabhupada: The other day we were talking with a scientist. We came to this conclusion: that the big scientists are simply observing the laws of nature. The laws of nature are very stringent. For example, there is death. Everyone will die. One cannot check death, however great a scientist he may be. By the laws of nature one becomes old. By scientific advancement they cannot stop this. Through science they are trying to overcome the stringent laws of nature, but so far, in past human history they could not, and in the present also they are unable. They say that in the future they will be able, but in the past they could not, and in the present also they are unable, so how can they overcome the laws of nature in the future? History repeats itself. The same failure is there.
Therefore, as we define it, the Divine means the controller of the laws of nature. There are laws of nature, and everyone is under these laws. No one can overcome the laws of nature. Just like state laws. Every citizen is bound to abide by the state laws; he cannot overcome them. If he overcomes or violates the law, then he becomes punishable. Similarly, the laws of nature are laws of God. Just as your President is the giver of your state laws, similarly, as soon as you say “laws of nature,” there must be a giver of those laws. In our sastra, Vedic literature, it is said: dharmam hi saksad bhagavat-pranitam.Dharma, religion, means the codes given by God, and we have to abide by those codes. When we do not abide by those codes, then we violate the laws of nature or God, and we are punished. Now, who is that person or authority who is giving that law, who is controlling that law? That is the subject of the Divine search. But that Divine search can’t be completed by the speculation of our imperfect senses.
Our senses are imperfect. Therefore whatever knowledge we gather by speculating with our imperfect senses is also imperfect. For example, the sun is very big—fourteen hundred thousand times bigger than this earth. But with our imperfect eyes we see it to be just like a disc. If we remain satisfied with this imperfect knowledge, then we will remain in darkness. We have to know the sun from the astronomers; they have calculated its size, so they know it. In this way, perfect knowledge can be attained—when it is received through the perfect knower, not by speculation.
Speculation means to speculate with the limited mind and imperfect senses. So, however carefully or expertly I search through these instruments, they are themselves imperfect. Therefore Vedic sastra says that to understand the Divine, you must have Divine mercy. One can understand the truth by the grace of the Divine. So searching after the Divine means searching after the grace of the Divine. For example, take a very big man, just like President Nixon. I am speculating, “President Nixon is like that, like that, like this. His functions are like this, he eats like this, he sleeps like this.” That is speculation. But if I hear directly from President Nixon or his very confidential representative, that is perfect knowledge. I cannot speculate and know about President Nixon with my imperfect senses. I must know about President Nixon when he speaks personally about himself or his personal associate speaks about him.
Mr. Valliere: If our senses are imperfect, then with what sense do we perceive the Divine that underlies these laws of nature?
Srila Prabhupada: I’ve given you an example of how our senses are imperfect. I can see the sun, but I do not see the sun perfectly. I have the power to see the sun, but I do not know how big the sun is. In this way my senses are imperfect. But when I see the sun and hear about it from a perfect person who knows about the sun, then my knowledge becomes perfect, although I have imperfect senses. I cannot understand President Nixon by my speculation. But when the President speaks about himself, I can understand, although I have imperfect senses. This is the process. We are imperfect in this way—that our senses cannot approach the ultimate point by speculation.
Mr. Valliere: I agree with that, but I still … The perfect person that is going to speak to me is God? Is that the analogy?
Srila Prabhupada: That we will have to find later on. First of all the principle should be accepted—that unless we hear from the perfect person, our knowledge is imperfect. First of all we have to agree to this point. That is why one goes to schools, colleges and universities. If at home one could learn everything, then why should he go to schools, colleges and universities? It is not possible to get perfect knowledge by oneself. Therefore the Vedic injunction is that in order to gain perfect knowledge one has to approach the proper person, who is known as guru.
Mr. Valliere: That’s what I was getting at.
[A newsman, with two assistants and electronic equipment, has been trying to see Srila Prabhupada.]
Newsman (whispering to Syamasundara dasa, Srila Prabhupada’s secretary): Can I ask a couple of questions, and then I’ll leave?
Syamasundara: Please, ask, yes.
Newsman: Svami, please. I’m … If I may interrupt, I’d just like to ask a few questions. Then I’ll go so that you can continue. Tell me, what do you think accounts for your popularity, the popularity of the Krsna consciousness movement in America?
Srila Prabhupada: It is not due to my personality. It is because I am presenting the truth as it is. To give an example, if you prepare some food with nice ingredients, it will be appealing to everyone. And if you prepare something obnoxious, maybe it will appeal to a certain section but not to all.
Newsman: What can appreciation of Krsna do for the Americans of this country?
Srila Prabhupada: As I have repeatedly said, you Americans already have the grace of the Lord. According to our Vedic formula, when a man is born in a rich family, he is understood to possess the grace of the Lord. You Americans have sufficient riches. You are sons of rich men. So this is the grace of God. Janma sabhya-sutah: to take birth in a high family, to possess riches. Janma sabhya-sutah: to become a learned scholar. You are going to the moon. Your scientific knowledge is advanced. And sri—sri means beauty. You are beautiful also. So, considering all these points, it is to be understood that you are in a favorable condition; you have the favorable consideration of the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Now, if you take to Krsna consciousness, or God consciousness, then all of these material opulences—plus Krsna consciousness—will make your life perfect.
Newsman: Do you foresee that the devotees will grow in number in this country?
Srila Prabhupada: There is a possibility. Otherwise, why are these young men coming? There is a good possibility, but we have no facility. The government is spending millions of dollars to stop LSD intoxication. But our students—as soon as they become my students, I simply order them: “No intoxication.” So what to speak of LSD, they do not take tea, they do not take coffee, nor do they smoke. But the government will not help us. That is the difficulty.
Newsman: Do you seek government help?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. If I get government help I can give protection to these confused, frustrated youth. I have no proper house to accommodate them, to feed them. With great difficulty I am pushing on this movement. But if the government comes forward and gives me a little facility, I can turn the face of your country—immediately. There will be no problem.
Newsman: What is your cure? What canyou make better?
Srila Prabhupada: This is the cure—I am making men of good character. Don’t you see their faces? Some of them were hippies in a frustrated, wretched condition. Now they are known as bright faced. See their character! They don’t have illicit sex; they don’t eat meat; they don’t take any intoxicants; they don’t indulge in gambling. These are the four pillars of sinful life. If you allow people to indulge in sinful life, how can you expect good citizens? That’s not possible. Their character must be formed. So we have gone to the root. We are making men of character, knowledge, sincerity and God consciousness. Don’t you appreciate it?
Newsman: Will they be able to function in the society as working individuals?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. There is nothing prohibited. You simply have to change your consciousness. That’s all. We are also eating. We are also sleeping. Many of our students are householders; they have sex. So there is nothing prohibited, but everything is regulated for higher achievement. That is our program.
Newsman: Do you see yourself, then, as the saviour of the American youth?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Certainly. This movement is saving them already. It is not future. It is present, practical.
Newsman: Thank you very much. [The newsman, in a hurry to go, begins to gather his electronic equipment.] Good luck.
Srila Prabhupada: Thank you.
[A devotee escorts the newsman to the door, and Srila Prabhupada resumes his discussion with Mr. Valliere.]
Srila Prabhupada: So religion—it is simple—religion means the laws of God. Simple definition. And one wh’o follows the laws of God pleases God. It doesn’t matter whether he’s Christian, Hindu, Muslim. It doesn’t matter. Take for example your Christian religion. Lord Jesus Christ says, “Thou shalt not kill.” But I think that almost cent percent of the Christian people are very much engaged in killing. So they are disobeying the laws of God. Don’t you think so? What is right? [Srila Prabhupada turns his head, waiting for an answer to his rhetorical question.] Then if you disobey the laws of God, what is your religion? It is simply show. God said, or God’s representative, God’s son, Jesus Christ, said, “Thou shalt not kill.” But in the whole Christian world the killing art is very much favored—maintaining slaughterhouses, shooting in sports and creating Vietnams. So many things—simply killing. And any film shown, when it is a killing film, is very popular. I see in your parks the soldiers killing. This park I was passing through? What is that park?
Syamasundara: Prospect Park.
Srila Prabhupada: Prospect Park. There is a big gate. There is a killing picture.
Syamasundara: Praising the soldiers.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Of course, soldiers’ killing and ordinary killing are not the same. But my point is that God gives you the law that you should not kill. Now, if we are violating that law, then how can we be religious? That is my question.
Mr. Valliere: Your Grace, is nonviolence, not killing—that is part of Krsna consciousness, isn’t it?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Mr. Valliere: What’s the future of that in India today?
Srila Prabhupada: Not only in India—Krsna consciousness is not meant for India or America. Of course, I have been deputed by my guru maharaja [spiritual master] to spread this Krsna consciousness movement in the Western world. That is his grace. Since Western people are intelligent, he wanted them to learn what Krsna consciousness is. So my mission is in the Western countries, but it is not meant for any particular country or nation. It is meant for every living entity.
Now, there are many unfortunate living entities, and there are many fortunate living entities. We are preaching this Krsna consciousness movement in American and the Western countries, and only the fortunate persons are coming. But if a few of them come and understand, then by their example and behavior the whole population will be favorably influenced. It is not expected that cent percent of the population will be able to understand this philosophy ot Krsna consciousness. But by the example of a few … yad yad acarati sresthas. For example, you’ll find that our temple is always crowded to the fullest extent. We require a more spacious hall. But not all of them are initiated students. Out of them, say ten percent are initiated students. But still people are coming to see. They’re following. Gradually they will also become students.
* “Whatever action is performed by a great man (common men follow in his footsteps).” (Bhagavad-gita, 3.21)
So this is a very important scientific movement. I therefore request learned scholars like you—government officials, scientists, philosophers—to study this. It is for them that we have written so many books. Not only that … it is not that we are simply chanting and dancing. If you are a philosopher, if you are a scholar, if you are a scientist. we can give you food for thought in a scientific, philosophical, scholarly way. So my only request is that all the leaders of society come forward, study this movement and take to it. That will be beneficial. We don’t ask that they do so blindly, just as one follows some type of faith or religion blindly and after some time gives it up. No. We say, sri-krsna-caitanya-daya karaha vicara. You just use your judgement about the mercy of Lord Caitanya, and if you do that, then you’ll find wonders in this movement.
[Bhagavandasa, a disciple, brings Srila Prabhupada some water, and Srila Prabhupada calls for some ice. Bhaktijanadasa, a disciple engaged in preaching work in Harlem, enters the room with a dozen or so Negro devotees from the Brooklyn temple and Negro boys and girls who have been attracted to the Krsna consciousness movement in Harlem. Srila Prabhupada welcomes them—”Hare Krsna. Come on”—and they fall to the floor before him and offer their obeisances. A few more Negro devotees enter the room and offer their obeisances, and again Srila Prabhupada encourages them—”Hare Krsna. Thank you very much.” They all join the devotees who are already sitting gathered around Srila Prabhupada, and the conversation continues.]
Srila Prabhupada: So you should accept this definition of religion. Religion means the law given by God. Simple formula. Do you have any objection, or do you accept it?
Mr. Valliere: I accept that. I think religion is what you’re doing. I think religion is what I see right here.
Srila Prabhupada: Right religion.
Mr. Valliere: I think it’s great!
Srila Prabhupada: Thank you very much. Yes. So what is the object of this Krsna consciousness movement? The purpose of this movement is that we are trying to love Krsna. If I love Krsna or God, then naturally I will be obedient to the laws of God. Is it not? Just like my students. When—say four or five years ago—I came here, I had no students. I was loitering in the street; no one was caring for me. Now I have hundreds and thousands of students; they can do whatever I order. I did not pay them anything, nor did I bring any money from India. But they are executing my orders simply out of love. Is it not a fact? Because they have developed a love for me—the reason may be whatever it may be, but unless they have developed love for me, how could they execute my orders without any personal profit? Therefore this is the first thing required. Religion means to abide by the orders of God. Simple. And this obedience to the laws of God will be automatically performed if everyone revives his dormant love for God.
We have taken this science. We are teaching everyone how to love God. If one thinks that he has learned how to love God through some particular religion, we have no objection. Whether he is Christian or Hindu or Muslim or whatever he may be, if by executing the religious principles which he is professing he has developed his love of God, then we have nothing to preach to him. The result is there. But because we don’t find that love of God is there, we are putting forward a simple formula: here is the way by which—if you utilize or accept it—you’ll very quickly love God.
If we are convinced that to love God is religion, and if that is our main concern in the human form of life, then this Krsna consciousness movement is the genuine scientific movement which everyone should take. If someone thinks, “My aim of life is different; I don’t care for God,” that is a different thing. But our philosophy is that human life is especially meant for developing that God consciousness or knowing the art of how to love God. I cannot preach Krsna conscious philosophy amongst the animals because their consciousness is not so developed. But still, my movement is so perfect that I can do good even to the cats and dogs—by offering them prasadam and by giving them a chance to hear the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. This vibration is transcendental. When it is chanted, it is good for everyone—all living entities. Therefore we go to the streets and chant so that everyone can hear the transcendental vibration.
So is it accepted that religion means the laws of God? Is that accepted? Now, we have to study what the special laws of God are and what the nature of God is. That is the Divine search. From Bhagavad-gita we understand that it is the nature of God that He is the Supreme Father. Is there any objection? God is the Supreme Father. I think that in the Christian religion that is accepted. Is it not? Now, the Supreme Father says that all living entities—not only civilized human beings but even animals, trees, plants, insects, birds and fishes and other aquatics, irrespective of bodily features—are sons of God. What do you think of this conception?
Mr. Valliere: I think that it’s probably a better and more universal notion of life than you’d have in the somewhat more “man-centered” Western philosophies.
Srila Prabhupada: They are defective.
Mr. Valliere: The problem, of course, is that you don’t want man to somehow get lost in it all. But still I think it would be safe to agree with what you’re saying. This universality is very appealing.
Srila Prabhupada: We are not manufacturing this idea; it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita. Sarva-yonisu kaunteya murtayah sambhavanti yah*. God is the Father of all species and forms of life. Besides that, we take this body as a dress. For example, your white shirt is not you. You are different from the white shirt. Similarly, one may have a body, white or black, but he, as spirit soul, is different from the body. Now, we are taking account of the person who is possessing the dress—not the dress but the person. I am talking with you; I am not talking with your shirt. I don’t look to see whether you have put on a white shirt or black shirt. That is not my concern. I am concerned with you as a living being. This is our philosophy. We don’t take account of the outward shirt and coat. This body, this gross body, is just like a coat, and within this gross body there is a subtle body—mind, intelligence and ego. Within that subtle body, the spirit soul is there. And we are trying to deliver the spirit soul from these two kinds of entanglement, subtle and gross. That is our mission. National and religious movements are more or less on the basis of the outward dress. One is Christian because he is born of a Christian father. Is it not? One is American because he is born in the land of America. We say that we are neither Christian nor American, Hindu, Muslim or Indian. We are eternal servants of God. Try to understand this fact and mold your life in this way; then your life will be successful. This is our program. Simple. Now what is your comment on this statement?
Mr. Valliere: I like everything you’re saying, and I think maybe I should listen to some other questions.
Srila Prabhupada: Then you agree with this?
Mr. Valliere: Yes. I like it.
Srila Prabhupada: Half-agree. “I like it” means half-agreement. That’s nice. Something is better than nothing. If it is half-agreed, that is better than not agreed. So, what are the reactions of the other boys and girls present here to these statements?
[There is a thoughtful silence. No one has anything to say.]
Mr. Valliere: Are all spirit souls alike, or are they different?
Srila Prabhupada: Alike. The dress is different, but the spirit soul is the same. Therefore in the Bhagavad-gita it is said, vidya-vinaya-sampanne brahmane gavi hastini suni caiva svapake ca panditah sama-darsinah: the really learned man sees everyone on the same level because he sees the spirit, and his view is that a learned brahmana, a dog, an elephant or a lowborn person are all in the same category of spirit soul.* That is the vision of a learned scholar. He does not discriminate—”Here is a dog and here is a very learned scholar.” His vision is this: “The dog is entangled by his body, and the learned scholar is also entangled by his body, but both the dog and the learned scholar are spirit souls.” That is actual vision. We are concerned with the soul more than the outward body. That is our concern.
[One of the disciples raises a question.]
Lokamangala: Srila Prabhupada, in our fully developed state in the spiritual sky, are we still one ten-thousandth the tip of a hair, like we are now?
Srila Prabhupada: You are a spiritual atom, and its measurement is one ten-thousandth the size of the tip of a hair. That is the seed or basic principle. Now, on that small particle of spirit soul we have developed this body. We have a human body, another has an elephant body, etc., but this is external. The real seed is that soul, which is one ten-thousandth of a hair in size. Similarly, as you have developed this material body under a particular consciousness, when one gives up the material connection, he develops a spiritual body. And in that spiritual body he will be able to enter the kingdom of God and go back home, back to Godhead. This body you will have to give up—today or tomorrow or one hundred years from now, you will have to give it up. The Bhagavad-gita says, tyaktva deham punar janma naiti—”After giving up this body, a Krsna conscious person does not accept another material body.” Then what happens to him? Mam eti: “He comes to Me [Krsna].” For example, in your country one who wants to become a citizen must possess particular qualities and fulfill certain conditions; then he’ll be accepted as a citizen. Similarly, if we want to go back home, back to Godhead, then we must develop our dormant spiritual quality, and that is Krsna consciousness. This movement trains one to go back home, back to Godhead. Others who are dying do not know what next life they’ll get after giving up this body or after this death. Although they are proud of their education, they do not discuss what the constitution of the soul is or how he transfers from one body to another. This science is unknown to the modern educated men. Is it not? They do not know. They simply speculate. This is the defect of the modern educational system. Actually, everyone is seeking for spiritual emancipation. Therefore in spite of so many big universities, your country is producing hippies, hopeless population. Am I speaking rightly or not? You are a university teacher. I have seen this in so many universities.
Mr. Valliere: I like my students. I think they are on the right track.
Srila Prabhupada: I like your students more because I do not wish to see them in such a frustrated condition. That is my mission. I want to make them happy. I want to give them this information of Krsna consciousness so that they may get back their life. I have received thousands of letters from those who have come to this life from frustration, expressing how they feel obliged to me.
[After a short period of silence, one of the interested Negro boys speaks up.]
Student: Prabhupada, you said in your last lecture that for one who wants to take up bhakti, the work that he is doing does not stop. This has been a source of confusion to myself and other people.
[The boy is sitting in back, so Srila Prabhupada does not hear.]
Srila Prabhupada: What does he say?
Bali Mardan Gosvami: He says that when you take up bhakti your work does not stop, so he is confused about this.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore we are defining bhakti. Try to understand. Can you follow me? Come here, come forward. [The boy moves to the front.] Try to understand what bhakti is. Bhakti means to have no other desire than to satisfy Krsna. That is bhakti. Just like Arjuna. Arjuna satisfied Krsna by fighting, and he became a bhakta [devotee]. In the battlefield Arjuna was hesitating—”Ah, what is the use of my killing my own men, my family men, my brothers, my nephews, my grandfather?” They were all on the other side, and he was to fight with them and kill them. So he was hesitating. He was a very great warrior. He knew that when they fought he would kill them. “Although they have come to fight with me,” he thought, “they do not know. But I know. They are my men, so why shall I fight with them? Let them enjoy; I don’t want killing.” But after understanding Bhagavad-gita, when he came to the understanding that it was his duty to satisfy Krsna, he sacrificed his own determination not to kill his men. He satisfied Krsna by the same art of war. He did not change his position. After hearing Bhagavad-gita, he did not become a Vedantist or go away to the Himalayas for yoga practice and give up his fighting in the battlefield. No, he did not change. But he changed his consciousness. That is all.
At the present moment our consciousness is that we are working for our own sense gratification. When this consciousness changes and we realize that we have to work to satisfy Krsna, then our life is successful. You don’t have to change your work or position. But when you understand that you have to work not for your personal sense gratification but for the satisfaction of Krsna, that is bhakti. Is that clear?
Student: I have another question.
Srila Prabhupada: First of all, is this clear? One simply has to change his consciousness, that’s all. This is bhakti—change. One must change his consciousness in favor of Krsna. I am now thinking, “I like this. I like to eat like this. I like to sleep like this.” Our present material position is in terms of our liking. Therefore Krsna consciousness means to change this mentality—”my liking”—but to accept the principle of satisfying Krsna. Bhakti means to act according to Krsna’s likes. Is it clear? It does not mean change of place or change of occupation. Change of mentality. That’s all.
Nitai dasa: What if you are engaged in some occupation Krsna does not like?
Srila Prabhupada: That you have to learn from Krsna’s representative—what He likes and what He does not like. Therefore you have to accept a spiritual master. Yasyaprasadad bhagavat-prasadah. If your spiritual master is pleased, then you know that Krsna is pleased. If the spiritual master is displeased, then you know that Krsna is displeased. You cannot be in contact with Krsna at the present moment, in the beginning; therefore you require the help of Krsna’s representative to learn whether Krsna is pleased or Krsna is not pleased. But your business is to please Krsna.
Devotee: I’m not living a temple life. I’m working, and I’m not married, so what should my activities be?
Srila Prabhupada: You should make your home a temple. What is the difference between temple and home? This is a temple, and the next house is a house. This is made of brick and stone; that is also made of brick and stone. But this is called a temple because here our business is Krsna. And that is called a house because there is none of Krsna’s business. So if you devote your house for Krsna’s business, then that is also a temple. Do the same thing that the members here are doing—in your apartment, in your house, with your wife and children. Work independently, spend independently—but do it for Krsna. Then your house is a temple. We want that. Here the temple is simply giving an example of how to live, but this example can be followed everywhere. Every house can be turned into a temple. Here everything is Krsna-centered; similarly, if you make your home Krsna-centered, not “you-centered,” then your home is also a temple. Yes?
Lokamangala dasa: In your books you explain that we are in the Kali-yuga age. Is the Kali-yuga age coming to a close now?
Srila Prabhupada: No. It will continue for another 427,000 years. The duration of Kali-yuga is 432,000 years. Out of that, we have passed only 5,000 years. The balance is 427,000 years. And during this time the condition of society will be worse-not better but worse. In the last stage of Kali-yuga there will be no food grains, no milk, no fruits. It will be a very horrible time. People will kill their own children and eat them, just like animals. The last stage of Kali-yuga will be like that. So before coming to that stage, better to take Krsna consciousness and go back to Krsna. That is our program. We don’t wish to wait for the worst things. The worst things are already happening, and it will be still worse. Instead of waiting for that time, better to become perfect by chanting Hare Krsna and go back home, back to Godhead. That is our position.
Bali Mardana Gosvami: Srila Prabhupada, may we take your leave?
[It is getting late, so Srila Prabhupada nods in assent. The devotees offer their obeisances and begin to leave the room].
Srila Prabhupada (to Mr. Valliere): You have our books?
Mr. Valliere: Nitai dasa up at Columbia sees that we are well supplied.
[Srila Prabhupada continues to speak to those who are clustered about him.]
Srila Prabhupada: Just have a clean place like this, chant Hare Krsna, read all these books, and try to inform your audience about Krsna consciousness. There is no difficulty. We can open a center anywhere, and everyone will be pleased to hear about Krsna. It is not difficult. The worker must simply be sincere. Then everything is all right. I came to your country alone. I had no place. I was sitting alone in Tompkins Square Park and chanting Hare Krsna. Gradually they came. So similarly you can do that. What is the difficulty? The process is already there. We simply have to execute it. It is not difficult. And it is not limited to any certain neighborhood or any kind of population. No. Krsna is for everyone.
Markandeya Rsi dasa: There are two new temples being started—one in Harlem and another one in BedfordStuyvesant. The one in Harlem has an authority, a bona fide president to carry on the prescribed activities that are supposed to be performed in a Krsna consciousness temple. What I wanted to know is if an authority could be recommended for the new temple being started, to give that particular temple a basic foundation in living up to brahminical standards.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Select among yourselves one who is most competent. Elect him as president.
Markandeya Rsi dasa: So that would be bona fide?
Srila Prabhupada: Select a man who is initiated. The president must maintain the discipline. Without discipline there cannot be obedience. The president is the spiritual master’s representative. Since the spiritual master is not present, one man is selected as president to look after the business of the temple on behalf of the spiritual master.
Student: I came to New York from Detroit with a recommendation from Bhagavan dasa to be initiated. I have my letter with me.
Srila Prabhupada: You’ll be initiated. Any one of you—when you agree to follow the regulative principles and you are recommended by our men, then you can also be initiated. Initiation is a formality. First of all you have to decide whether you will abide by the rules and regulations and become Krsna conscious. That is your consideration. You have to decide for yourself whether you are going to take this Krsna consciousness seriously. That is your decision. Initiation is a formality. If you are serious, that is real initiation. If you have understood this Krsna philosophy and if you have decided that you will take Krsna consciousness seriously and preach the philosophy to others, that is your initiation. My touch is simply a formality. It is your determination. That is initiation.
Student: There was some difficulty that occurred in Cleveland temple with some black-skinned devotees there …
Srila Prabhupada: That is due to lack of knowledge You see. These things will go on, so Caitanya Mahaprabhu has instructed that we should be a little tolerant. Suppose someone treats you improperly because you have a different colored skin. That is his ignorance. But when you feel insulted, that is also yourignorance. You should know that he has only insulted your skin, not you. Suppose I say, “Why are you wearing this blue shirt?” I may say that, but it is not very important to you. You may wear a blue shirt or white shirt; it does not matter. You are eternally Krsna’s servant. If you keep that consciousness, you won’t feel insulted. Sometimes one cannot check such social goings on in the material world, so this has to happen. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said, trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna. “If we are to go on working, then we have to learn how to be tolerant.”
Another disciple: So now I’m here in New York. Would it be all right to begin to establish something in Pittsburgh?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. In that way you’ll be able to serve Krsna very rightly. And as soon as you are recognized by Krsna, your life is successful.
Girl: How can I please you most?
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Srila Prabhupada [smiling]: How do you want to please me? [laughing] Chant Hare Krsna. That will please me. Always, twenty-four hours a day, chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama Rama Rama, Hare Hare. There is no expenditure. Utilize the tongue Krsna has given you. Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. That will please me. Is that all right?