Early Days with Prabhupada Part 3

Transcript of interview with Hansadutta, Part 3 (2:39:08 – 3:25:24)

Part 1 | Part 2

PURUJIT: All right, so we’re back. We’re back.

HANSADUTTA: Huh?

PURUJIT: We’re back.

HANSADUTTA: Oh, we’re back?

PURUJIT: It just turns off after one hour automatically. Some flaw in the….

HANSADUTTA: Yeah, so what other question you have?

PURUJIT: Well, we can go back to Prabhupada’s lila. You went to Germany. Montreal, then I think…

HANSADUTTA: No, I went to Berkeley.

PURUJIT: Berkeley, Boston, I think?

HANSADUTTA: Oh, Boston before, yeah. Boston. I couldn’t get back in the country [Canada]. That’s how I wound up in Boston. Then I got back in the country and then from there I went to Vancouver. We opened a center there. Then I went to Berkeley in the mid… at the time of the festival in 1969. So at the end of the year, beginning of next year – which would have been 1970 – Prabhupada asked me to come to L.A. – which I did. And he… the first thing he did was he sent me with someone to see a building which he said he was interested in buying as a temple. So when I saw it, I said yeah, it’s far out. So he said, “What do you think?” I said, “Well, I think it’s beautiful.” He said, “But everyone says I shouldn’t buy it because it would take all the money in the movement.” And so I had put away about $22,000 in Berkeley over just those last six months. And I said, “Well, Prabhupada, I have about $22,000. I was thinking of buying that house in Berkeley, but I’ll give it to you if it’ll help you buy the temple.” So I gave that money away. So now I think about it, it’s like investing in like, you know Apple computers when it was starting. I’m invested, so I’m getting spiritual return. Anyway – just a thought.

So he… the reason he had asked me to come is because he’d lost track of the devotees in London. Tamal, and the… they were kind of scattered around, they didn’t have a place. He said, “I want you to go there and see and make a report.” And it was at that time that the Radha Krishna Temple record was made, and it was very popular.

So when I arrived, Tamal was… We were close, because he was a sankirtan guy, so I was – he was on the West Coast, I was on the East Coast, but we were really… we really resonated with one another very well. So he was kind of agitating the devotees, because he had a brahmachari profile and so on. So I remember – and I think it was the first day – he started in on me. And I said, “Tamal, you need to get married.” He was like, “No way.” This and that. And I said, “Yeah, you need to get married and cool off.” And after a few days, he came and said, “Hansadutta, I think you’re right. I should get married.” I said, “Yeah.” So he wanted to marry Jyotirmayi, who… you probably don’t know her.

PURUJIT: No, I know, I know her.

HANSADUTTA: Oh –

PURUJIT: I heard, not personally.

HANSADUTTA: Oh okay, a French girl.

PURUJIT: Yes.

HANSADUTTA: I said, “No. You can’t marry somebody that you wanna marry. You have to marry someone that I pick out.” You know, we’re trying to follow Prabhupada, right? So I remember this girl… What was her name? Madri. She joined in Berkeley. And I said, “No, you should marry that girl, Madri.” And he didn’t know her or anything, but he agreed.

So then when I’d spent a few days in London and went to one of these programs where they were promoting the record that they did, which is kind of funny… But we got… we went to London or rather to Germany together, me and him, and it was a train ride. And at one point he said to me – it was dark and it was about midnight, we were on the train to Germany… And I have to tell you, I was terrified that we were going to Germany, because I felt like Germans are really intelligent, and I’m just a street guy. I can hardly speak German. I’d left there when I was nine years old. But anyway, I didn’t say that to Prabhupada. I thought Well…. So during that train ride, Tamal said, “Hansadutta, I have to tell you something.” I said, “What is that?” He said, “You know, Prabhupada asked me to go to Germany, but I couldn’t carry out the order. I refused, because I just… I didn’t think I could do it.” So he said that, “I’m really glad that me and you are going together. But I couldn’t carry out the order of my spiritual master.” It was like a very intimate confession.

So, well we got to Germany. We were constantly talking with one another. We couldn’t stop, we were like lovers – we had such a rapport. And of course we were going on sankirtan. Brutal winter, on the Reeperbahn [winter festival], which is where the Beatles played, where there were night clubs and all that. People were throwing stuff at us, and you name it. It was really difficult. And every other day, one of us would say, “I think today I gotta stay back. I have to write some letters.” And then I would have to say, “No, no. No staying back.” Then I would get into the same thing that they did because, you know it was just too much. I mean, it was really heavy. Cold. So at one point, I said to Tamal… I said, “You know, we’re not getting anything done because we can’t seem to like, stop talking. And just, you know… so I think you should go to Paris, and I’ll stay here. Or I’ll go to Paris, and you stay here.” So he went to Paris. And he kind of helped them out there. And from that point… oh, that year we went to India also, I think. Shortly thereafter, Prabhupada traveled to Japan with Tamal.

PURUJIT: Yeah. Just, just one thing – I wanna cut in in this, because that was the takeover. The four sannyasis. They started preaching that Prabhupada was God.

HANSADUTTA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

PURUJIT: So here’s a letter. Let me just find it very fast. I would like to ask you about that also. Here. Prabhupada says,

“Regarding the poisonous effect in our society, it is a fact and I know where from this poison tree has sprung up, and how it affected practically the whole society in a very dangerous form. But it does not matter. Prahlada Maharaja was administered poison but it did not act. Similarly, Lord Krishna and the Pandavas were administered poison and it did not act. I think in the same parampara system, that the same poison administered to our society will not act if some of our students are as good as Prahlada Maharaja. I have therefore given the administrative power to the Governing Body Commission. I have tried to give you all Krishna consciousness. Now it is your duty to develop it. If you remain strong on the spiritual platform, then your progress will not be checked or blocked. I do not know what was resolved in New Vrindavan, although Sriman Rupanuga Prabhu has informed others that he has sent a tape in this connection, I am still in darkness about the proceedings in New Vrindavan. But I have heard that Brahmananda is preaching about me, that I am Krishna, that I am Supersoul, that I have withdrawn my mercy from the disciples, that I have left the society, and so on. I do not know how far they are correct, but I have written him a letter that he may not do something which may harm the interest of the society. You are also one of the members of the GBC. So you can think over very deeply how to save the situation. It is a fact however, that the great sinister movement is within our society. I have not heard anything from Krishnadas or Syamasundara. So all of you may try to save the society from this dangerous position.”

So what was the “sinister movement” Prabhupada is speaking about in this letter, according to you?

HANSADUTTA: So Tamal went to India with Prabhupada. I think they stopped over in Dai Nippon and arranged for printing Krishna Book. I’m not sure, I don’t remember all they did. But then I got telegrams and telephone calls that I should come to some meeting in New Vrindavan. And there were a lot of confusing things which didn’t add up for me. And I remember, I think earlier – I think this happened earlier – where there was a meeting in New York and I went there, and Prabhupada was very disturbed that this meeting was held without giving notice in New York. I think it happened earlier.

PURUJIT: Wasn’t this ’72? From the letters.

HANSADUTTA: Okay, maybe it was. But I can’t remember the timeline now. You’ll know better than me. But at any rate, all this confusing communication, I couldn’t make head or tail of it. And I remember deciding that I’m not gonna listen to anybody; I’m just gonna go to India and see Prabhupada, because I had no idea what was going on, except what people were saying, and it didn’t add up. So when I came to Calcutta – and I remember it was evening time, Prabhupada was in his room there – and I walked into Prabhupada’s room, or rather, I was… I had come there, I wanted some prasadam, and suddenly Prabhupada appeared. That’s right. And I was sitting down, sort of like you. And he looked at me and he said, “Have you been in communication with or in contact with Brahmananda?” And I said, “No. No, I haven’t had any communication with him in a couple years now.” Then Prabhupada looked at me and he said, “You never liked him, did you?” And I said, “No, I didn’t.” He said, “Okay, you can go.” And of course later that was… I came to really love Brahmananda. That’s another story. In Vrindavan I met him in 1991, I think. But at any rate, he said, “Okay you can go.” And I never had anything more to do with that whole – how do you say – turmoil. Yeah, turmoil you can say. And I don’t know exactly who and to what degree people were implicated. But it had something to do with Achyutananda, who became kind of enamored with the Gaudiya people, and they polluted him in a certain way. I guess they fed him some Mayavadi kind of philosophy. And he communicated with either Brahmananda or somebody else. And then that resulted in that meeting where, you know, Brahmananda was preaching a certain way. I didn’t go to that meeting, so I don’t know. I’ve never even heard a tape of it. And Prabhupada never again – how do you say – asked me anything. He just could see that I had nothing to do with it. Because I was… You know, being in Germany was like being on the moon in those days. So I had nothing to do with any of those things.

And later on these sannyasis – Brahmananda, Gargamuni –

PURUJIT: Vishnujana –

HANSADUTTA: Vishnujana and Madhudvisa, they came to India. They travelled –

PURUJIT: No, Madhudvisa was not there. There was… It was… There was –

HANSADUTTA: Well, but it was definitely Brahmananda and his brother. They came to India and met Prabhupada in Bombay. And I was there when they came. So we’re in the room, and Prabhupada said that he was very happy that they had preached in Pakistan and so forth and so on. And so at some point Prabhupada said, “So you must have some field where you can preach.” And you know… It sort of at that point, you know whatever Brahmananda had said or done was sort of like dismissed. In those days my zone included Africa. Last place of the world I wanted to go was Africa. So Prabhupada said, “You know, you have to have a zone. A place where you can preach.” So I interjected, I said, “Well you know, he could go to Africa.” And Prabhupada said, “Yes. Yes.” And Brahmananda said, “Well there’s no overland route to Africa.” “Well,” Prabhupada said, “Well you can fly.” “Yeah,” I said, “Yeah you can fly, or take a ship, or you know….” Brahmananda was like, giving me the evil eye. Anyway that’s how Brahmananda wound up going to Africa.

And at the same time, another day, I think – no, it was the day before they had arrived. I had just also come to see Prabhupada. I was having these buses all over India. And in those days you had to have a carnet – they called it a carnet – a document. Like a person needs a visa, [similarly] a vehicle that comes from out of the country [needs a carnet]. It was a headache. So I was always entangled, trying to get these carnets. And I lost touch with Prabhupada. He didn’t like that. He didn’t like it. He was needing guys – he wanted a report every week or so. So when I came in the room, and I made obeisances, Prabhupada said, “Oh. A rolling stone gathers no moss.” So I thought he was complimenting me. But he said, “Better sit down somewhere and gather some moss.” So in that conversation, he suggested that… “So why not go to Sri Lanka?” So I said, “Well, you know Sri Lanka is a small place as in not much you can do there.” He said, “Oh, everyone there is Krishna conscious?” I said, “Well…” He said, “Anyway, you can either go to Pakistan or Sri Lanka.” I said, “I’ll go to Sri Lanka.” So I went back to Sri Lanka, and you know, and that – eventually, the Kovoor thing [exchange] happened there.

PURUJIT: You said that Prabhupada told you that “You don’t really like Brahmananda,” and you said no. Well, why did you say that?

HANSADUTTA: Oh, well you know, it was just… it wasn’t like we had a big thing – well, we did have a one thing, but he was very… you know, he was the boss. He was the leading devotee at that time. And he was kinda… you know, he was like a hands-on dictatorial guy. And I got into a thing with him about… Prabhupada asked me to put on the Rathayatra in New York, which consisted of making a palanquin. Because there weren’t a lot of devotees, and I had one devotee with me – Vamandev. He was a carpenter, so he made that thing. But I needed men to carry the palanquin and I approached Brahmananda. And also I was doing sankirtan, because Prabhupada asked me to make a bank account in the name of the World Sankirtana Party. And I was collecting money. You know, I had a knack for collecting money – I had more money than the temple. So Brahmananda said, “I’m not gonna give you any men.” I said, “Why not? Prabhupada wants us to do this. Why? What do you mean you’re not gonna give me men?” He said, “Well, if you promise to give me half the collection, then I’ll give some men.” So in my mind, I said, Yeah, just say yeah but when the thing is over, I’m not giving anything. This is… you can’t do this, devotees extorting me, I felt. So we put on the festival. And Rohini Kumar joined that day. And you know, we collected – I don’t know – a hundred fifty or two hundred dollars. A ton of money in those days. And nobody could do that. So when it was all over, Brahmananda approached me and said, “So…” and you know, we’re in Prabhupada’s room. And it had a wooden floor like this and we’re sitting on the floor. And Brahmananda’s just… He said, “So, you know…” I said, “No, I’m not gonna give you anything.” “What? You promised.” I said, “Yeah, but you know, you got no business just holding me up like that. You’re supposed to help – we’re supposed to work together.” And he started to roar. And he pounded the floor. He pounded the floor with his fist, you know. So hard, and was just screaming at me. And I just like, got up and left the room. I went outside, I was sitting on the stoop and I started weeping. Because I didn’t know what to do. And of course this all came back to Prabhupada. And at that time, the expo was just setting up I think, in Montreal.

So Prabhupada asked me to come there, to defuse the situation. Anyway, so that was one thing, and the other thing was Brahmananda and Gargamuni were the first devotees to get imported beads like Tulasi beads and stuff like that, and karatals, and mrdanga. So I got some karatals and mrdanga and everything from him, and he wanted me to pay for them. And I said, “Yeah, you know… you know, okay…” But I thought because – I know it was my fault, I had this misconception – Hey, it’s all for Krishna so why should I pay you? Right? I’m Krishna’s servant, you’re Krishna’s servant, everything’s… you know, it’s all one thing. And Prabhupada later clarified that he… when we were in Montreal, he said, “So you have some mrdanga and karatals?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Well, Brahmananda says you have an outstanding bill.” So I didn’t know what to say. Then Prabhupada understood that I didn’t understand. He said, “That’s a departmental question. One department serves another department, there’s some exchange.” So anyway, there I learned something new. So that was my thing with Brahmananda. So from that time on, I kinda kept aloof. But it wasn’t anything more than that.

PURUJIT: Alright.

Did you have any interaction with Vishnujana Swami or Jayananda?

HANSADUTTA: No, I… Jayananda in Berkeley, yeah. He used to come over. He loved prasadam. And he helped me buy some vehicles. And I really liked him. But Vishnujana I met up with just a few times in L.A. on sankirtan. But I never really had any service with him.
Jayananda was a mechanic also. I think he was a taxi driver. He was in San Francisco with Madhudvisa. And he used to come over to Berkeley. Our program there was one week all the devotees would come to Berkeley and do maha-sankirtan – we’d go into restaurants and the stores, the whole thing, up and down, but it was great – and the next week we’d go over to San Francisco – Market Street and North Beach area – and just do sankirtan. I remember the first time I saw Madhudvisa, he was in the basement of the San Francisco temple, and he was sitting there. He was like a gangster. He had this mug and flaming red hair. He had a huge sika. But anyway we got on okay, you know. He organized the 1969 Rathayatra and Prabhupada was very, very happy with him. I remember after the lecture in the Family Dog, which was an assembly hall for hippies, as Prabhupada was walking out, and you know, the devotees were kind of in line, and he went over to Madhudvisa and just put his both arms around him and gave him this tremendous hug. So Madhudvisa was a… yeah. And his guys were all kinda like, you know, more macho than my guys. But anyway, it all worked out. It all worked out very nicely. Hare Krishna.

PURUJIT: So how would you do the sankirtan? Like, maybe you can…

HANSADUTTA: Just we’d go in two lines like soldiers. And really intense. Everybody had karatals or mrdanga. And then we’d file into the restaurants and kinda go around the people eating, and then come out the other end.

PURUJIT: And…

HANSADUTTA: It’s a very short street, you know. I mean it’s not like… well, it’s how many blocks? Five, six blocks?

GADADHARA: Telegraph [Avenue]?

HANSADUTTA: Yeah.

GADADHARA: Yeah, about five blocks, yeah.

HANSADUTTA: We’d go from Dwight, then we’d go all the way to the Plaza. You know, Sproul Plaza, and we’d do big kirtan there and then come down the other side. We were driving people nuts. In fact, there was a Professor Stahl in the university, and he criticized. He said, “What is this? This is not a Vedic thing.” So there was an exchange with Prabhupada – letters. And I was having a class in – I think it’s the third storey building right in front there – then. Now I think they renovated it. And this professor and Prabhupada, they exchanged. And my name – you’ve seen my name mentioned there somewhere.

PURUJIT: Yes.

HANSADUTTA: Kary, yes.

That beautiful little booklet, by the way – “The Vedic Way”. And then at some point Prabhupada suggested that if I could get him a position in the university. Of course, you know, I mean I didn’t know anything about things like that. And he made a remark that, “Oh, if you want your spiritual master to take a job,” and I was like devastated.

PURUJIT: Yeah, Prabhupada says that…

HANSADUTTA: But then he made a –

PURUJIT: He was entertained by your, your disturbance. “I could not stop my laughing,” Prabhupada says.

HANSADUTTA: Well I really, I was really shattered. I thought, Oh my God, what do I do? Anyway, that was my Berkeley days.

PURUJIT: How would you manage… Like I know from our experience, it’s difficult to manage the temple – like we have the mangala aratik, sixteen rounds, cooking, and…

HANSADUTTA: No, it was not difficult for me, because as I told you… I mean, the people that became devotees all became devotees because I was so focused on them and you know, didn’t withhold any… how do you say, energy or time. And so I was so personally connected with them all. And those persons… You know, Bhahulasvara was there, Chitsukananda was there, and Mahatma became a devotee. I can’t remember them all. Haribasar became a devotee – a black devotee. But the connection was so devoid of any material – it was all spiritual, and it was all Prabhupada. And so everyone could be trusted. I didn’t have a bank account. I had tons of money coming in, but all these devotees could be trusted, and they would do what you asked them to do, whether it was cook, or whatever. It was just such a tight-knit situation on the basis of – you know, Prabhupada was everything. Love and trust was heard constantly. You never hear that anymore – love and trust. You don’t hear that. Do you ever hear it? Love and trust? No, there’s no love and trust. They’d truly love one another because they had one thing in common. You know, one thing in common. What was that? What Prabhupada said, and how that transformed and affected their life. When other things come in… right? “Your material plans cannot help us, only Krishna consciousness can help us.” There was a telegram. So that was a real thing. It was not a make-believe that we say love and trust and do some other thing, no. And you know, at night we’d… we did sankirtan from morning till night. Eight o’ clock –

PURUJIT: How would you do that? How would you manage? Where would you get the energy?

HANSADUTTA: There was nothing to manage. There was nothing to manage. There was just sankirtan. Somebody cooked something, right? And almost everyone was on the street going up and down, right? At night, around five o’ clock we’d go to the temple, eat something, then six or seven o’ clock, we’d go to the frat houses. And outside at each one we’d chant, [say] “Let us come in, we’ll tell you what we’re doing.” So there was nothing but that. There was no computer or… nothing.

PURUJIT: No distraction.

HANSADUTTA: Yeah, there was no – there was only one engagement. You go on sankirtan.

PURUJIT: Did you have –

HANSADUTTA: And eat prasadam.

PURUJIT: Did you have like a mangala aratik or a class, or things like that?

HANSADUTTA: You know that, everything was just chanting Hare Krishna because there were no deities. Well of course a little later I made some Jagannatha deities. They’re in the Berkeley temple still. But it was all very simple. All these, you know, there’s certain kinds of devotees like to introduce all these complex things, you know, they wanna show that they’re pandits and they can chant mantras and… That was not Prabhupada.

PURUJIT: In terms of deity worship, you mean? Or just…

HANSADUTTA: There was no deities – I mean, Jagannatha was like… Jagannatha – He’s there. You put the pots there, then go. The other things came later. Other things came later.

PURUJIT: What about Radha Krishna deities? Or Gaura Nitai? How would you worship those?

HANSADUTTA: We had Jagannatha. We didn’t have any [other deities]… that I remember. I only remember Jagannatha. I mean, I was always starting something. Right? So when it got to the point where like all these other… I’m gonna go now, we have to go some other place.

PURUJIT: Okay.

HANSADUTTA: I even remember there was the Edinburgh temple. They couldn’t maintain the standard there. I said “Okay, close up, come to London and get trained up here,” because London had… but somebody – it was probably Shyamasundara – he said, “Oh, Hansadutta closed the temple.” Not really, I just took those people and trained them and sent them back and do the thing rightly, you know. That was the point.

PURUJIT: I see. Okay, well you said that they didn’t come to the standards. What was that?

HANSADUTTA: The standard was very simple. But timely and prasadam and that’s all. Not a big deal. And London – I didn’t have anything to do with the London deity worship, really. Of course, I took over the manor at some point. But there were already ladies like Malati, and… what’s the other name? I can’t remember all their names. But they were doing that, and they would be in touch with Prabhupada about that. Yamuna was in that very place. So… you know, they were really into that, and they got that information from Prabhupada, not from me.

PURUJIT: What about the second initiation? There’s an injunction that only the second initiated can touch the deity. What’s that –

HANSADUTTA: Well, that… you know, I was at the first second initiation ceremony in Boston. I think it took place in ’68, I’m not sure.

PURUJIT: Yes, yeah.

HANSADUTTA: So after the initiation, Prabhupada invited a few professors there from the local university. So after the initiation, I approached Prabhupada. I said, “What is the significance of this ceremony?” He said, “Oh, it’s not very important. My Guru Maharaja introduced this because the smarta brahmanas were critical and said, ‘Oh these people, they are not brahmanas.'” So he said, “But it’s not very important. I’ve done because he introduced, so I’m introducing it. But chanting Hare Krishna is enough.” So then about a half an hour later I came back, I said, “So what is the significance of the mantra? What does it do?” He said, “It’s a little auxiliary to chanting Hare Krishna. But chanting Hare Krishna is not the… we’re introducing this because my Guru Maharaja introduced it.” But actually, you know, in other words it was never – at least that’s how I understood – it was never the [status symbol], what it later came out to be. I mean, people said, “Oh yeah, second initiated” or whatever. You know, that was my impression. Even when Prabhupada opened the Vrindavan temple, he hired I don’t know how many brahmanas to do the ceremony. And I remember at one point they wanted Prabhupada to come out and you know, chant some mantras or in some way [take part in the ceremonies]. And I was in Prabhupada’s room, and he said, “Do I have to?” Like a child [would say], “Do I really have to go to grandma’s house?” So… “Yes, Prabhupada, they’re insisting that you come out.” And then Prabhupada told me, he said, he said, “Actually chanting Hare Krishna is enough. I’m doing this because if we don’t do this, then the local people will not accept that it is a bonafide [temple installation].” So Prabhupada came out, you know… he was there I don’t know, fifteen, twenty minutes, half hour, I can’t remember.

PURUJIT: Okay.

HANSADUTTA: I mean, my understanding of Prabhupada is that… I even asked him, “What about taking deities on sankirtan?” He said, “No, no, no. You don’t take deities on sankirtan.” He said, “Deity is for the temple, for the neophyte people who cannot preach. They should have some focus on the deity.” He said, “But,” and this is a very important thing, “But the neophyte devotee – if he doesn’t make progress, he will fall down.” That it’s not enough to just go through the routine, worship the deity, and so forth and so on. You’re supposed to make progress and become a… you know, preaching and more effective in spreading Krishna consciousness.

About Indians, he said – I don’t know if I should say this on camera. But you know, when we first started Montreal, Indians were coming to Montreal because it was easy for them at that time to go to America. And they would inevitably come to the temple and try to tell us about Krishna – Radha and Krishna, and “My uncle is a brahmana” and so forth and so on, and try to tell us Krishna stories. And we knew that this was like… but we didn’t know how to respond.

PURUJIT: Answer them.

HANSADUTTA: Yeah, yeah. We didn’t know how to behave or how to respond. So when Prabhupada came there, I passed this by him. I said, “You know the Indians come, they wanna tell a story about Krishna. What do we say? We know they’re all kind of warped a little bit.” He said, “Yes.” He said, “These Indians, they haven’t come here for this.” Meaning this Krishna consciousness. He said, “You see, Western people – American people and European people – they’re crows. And crows eat garbage and stool. And Indians are new crows. So when new crows come, they eat twice as much garbage and stool.” He said, “So don’t bother about them. They didn’t come here for this.” But now I think our temples are very much dependent – right? – on their financial support. But Prabhupada was not concerned. He wanted to see Western people understand and embrace and practice devotional service by preaching.

And you know, the temple is not a place to live. It’s a place… it’s like an army base for a soldier. Just so he can recoup and then go out again. But it’s not where you live. And temples grow on the basis of preaching. But if you’re just going to make a temple, then it’s ass-backwards. It’s like – how do they say? – The horse before the… no, the cart before the horse. We don’t need the temple. We need someone who has a clear understanding and can articulate and broadcast that. Then whatever comes from that.

But if you just want to have a big showy temple, why… the whole America is full of churches, [but] there’s nobody there. Right?

I don’t know. Am I… it’s getting late, right?

PURUJIT: How’s your [inaudible]? We may finish here?

HANSADUTTA: Huh?

PURUJIT: We may finish here?

HANSADUTTA: I’m whatever. I’m your servant. I’m your servant. I mean, I’m enjoying or enlivened by this.

GADADHARA: Did you wanna make some soup or something? Or…

HANSADUTTA: No, I was… I have some soup with me. All it needs is to be heated up. But…

WOMAN: I can heat it up for you.

HANSADUTTA: It’s a little late now. Generally don’t like to eat so late. It’s not good. So I’ll just… I’ll survive. I’ll have a potato pancake later, maybe not here… You have some other question?

PURUJIT: So how was Germany when you arrived there with Himavati? I was reading that you were taking care of the devotees, like the father and mother – like Himavati was motherly –

HANSADUTTA: Yeah, you know, I had to go – I had to go sometimes away. Himavati was very capable. She was like a mother. And she would take care of the boys, and they were very respectful. The whole woman – you know, the friction between a man and a woma – that wasn’t part of my life in Krishna consciousness. That came later. And Himavati was very capable, and the devotees were very respectful. Because she was a… she knew how to cook, she knew how to sew, and she was very practical. You know –”Do this, don’t do this.” And they… I think they really responded to her that she was just an extension of me. And she had no motive except to do what I probably told her should be done or not done. So we didn’t have that problem. Also, later… or in Germany, not many women came because the situation was pretty austere. Later after we got the castle, we had like Surabhi, Hrimati – a few women, but not many. But they were again… in fact… Srimati – not Srimati – I forget her name now. She was a little girl. She was the best sankirtan person we had. She was fantastic. Yeah, it was real. I was not like today, you know, [where] someone gets initiated and then they go home and go to sleep. That wasn’t… You had to… [surrender] everything. It was an all or nothing thing. And so people who were not prepared, they just didn’t join. And we didn’t have a lot of people just coming to see what was going on.

GADADHARA: Did you already talk about the bikers?

HANSADUTTA: Oh, the bikers. I forgot about that. Yeah, we had… on Prabhupada’s appearance day, we moved from our center in Hamburg, which basically was a warehouse, to a house which was a little bit in the suburbs or a little bit outlying the immediate city. It was a big house, and at that time they had what they call… what do they call them in German? Slips my mind. But they were like bikers, you know? Skinheads, bikers.

PURUJIT: Rockers? Maybe?

HANSADUTTA: Rockers, yeah, they called them the Rockers. So one evening the ladies coming back from sankirtan in the city were being harassed by one or two of these guys. And we had Uddhareta. He was a Marine or I think a special forces guy – a little guy, but really tough. So he went out and…. Oh, the girls came and told us what happened. And he became very angry. And these two guys followed the girls right up to the door and came back. So Uddhareta just went to the door. He had a crowbar in his hand. And you know, generally when there’s an altercation, there’s some exchange – “Hey! What do you think you’re doing.” He didn’t say a word. He just started… he started pounding them with this crowbar and chasing them. You know, the guy was crawling, he was just like… And so what happened is that night after we went to bed – oh that… yeah, yeah, the guys threatened that they’re gonna come back. So I told everybody they should have some kind of weapon – either kitchen knife or whatever that we could get our hands on. And if they come, we have to deal with it. So what happened is we go to sleep, and we think, “Well, you know, we’re past it.” All of a sudden, all the windows caved in. Because these guys surrounded the whole building. And they – one, two, three – and they heaved bricks through the windows. I said, “Oh now we have to do something.” And so, what happened was there was a long hallway that led out the front door. And I told – I lined up all the guys, and one guy at the door, and I said, “When I say ‘three’, yank that door open. And everybody on a running start, run through that door and fly at these guys.” So that’s what we did, you know. And we captured one guy and pulled him into our compound and just beat him to a pulp. And I remember straddling him and I said, “Where do you hang out?” He said, “I don’t know.” I said, “I’m gonna cut your ears off if you don’t tell me.” So he told us, you know. And then of course the police arrived. One guy came with a shotgun – our neighbor. And next morning was front page news. And people after that were coming up to us, “Oh, you beat the Rockers!” [And were] Giving us money.

PURUJIT: Which year was this?

HANSADUTTA: I can’t remember. It’s when we got that temple. It was on Prabhupada’s appearance day. After that, they never – no one ever bothered us again. And after that we opened Heidelberg and I had that Maharati – you ever meet Maharati? He was a butcher. And he was a real brawny [guy] – you know, German blond hair, blue eyes, very handsome. Totally fearless guy. So I always had him follow the sankirtan group. I said, I told him, “Whenever someone even looks like they’re gonna do something, I want you to go up and put your arm around them and pinch this muscle here,” [indicates muscle near collar bone] right? “Take them to the side, and always smiling like he’s your best friend, and just let them know.” So, you know…

PURUJIT: What about that… there’s – you told me this story before, but I can’t remember exactly. I don’t – but, you guys uh… They took some devotees to jail and you guys…

HANSADUTTA: Oh yeah, yeah, in Heidelberg. The police arrested half a dozen devotees, brought them to the jail.

PURUJIT: Yeah.

HANSADUTTA: So I got all the devotees together, I said, “We’re gonna go to the police station, we’re gonna chant until they let them go.” For some reason, the Germans couldn’t stand the karatals and the chanting. Especially the karatals. They didn’t care about the book distribution. So we went there, [and] after about a half an hour the guy comes out, [and] he says we gotta go. I said, “We’re not leaving. Until you let them go, we’re gonna be here all night.” So after – maybe it was two hours…
[End of Part 3]

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

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