Transcript of interview with Hansadutta, Part 5 (4:36:23 – end)
HANSADUTTA: So when I came… Anyway, we drove to Montreal with Sam Greer in Shivananda’s green Volkswagen bus, which he was very attached to, he was like an outdoor fisher guy. You know, nice chap. He kept saying – he was really worried that we were not gonna come back with the bus or something will happen – he said, “Really be careful.” “Okay, all right, all right.”
Anyway, when we came to 26th Second Avenue, Kirtanananda took us upstairs – me and Himavati. And we opened the door to his little room. And he [Prabhupada] looked up, he said, “Oh, you have come.”
Anyway then I sat down – like you’re sitting there. Prabhupada’s over there, a little more close. And I was sitting – you know – just opposite. He’s sitting against the wall behind this metal box. And I was so nervous. After I make obeisances… Oh, this is what happened, yeah: I come in, and I’m standing in front of Prabhupada, and all my limbs gave way. Like when you take a hit of LSD you just kinda like become jellified. You know, there’s that sensation. So I kinda collapsed on the floor and made obeisances, then I sat back and I was looking directly at Prabhupada. And he started to say how, “The karmis, they like all nasty things like coffee, cigarettes and tea. And we like all …” – I remember this line. So I’m looking at Prabhupada, and he starts to like [emit]… like streams… like streaming, like when you’re sometimes, when you’re looking towards some bright thing and there’s like, there’s too much light. Anyway, so I squinted. I thought, that’s because I’m staring. So no, but then I’m looking there’s more and more, and Prabhupada becomes – his whole being becomes like golden … shining golden, like molten gold. Then I thought… I turned my head and blinking, turned this way and I’m seeing Prabhupada like this. And this is just going on, you know. And this happened practically every time I would see Prabhupada in another circumstance and had the opportunity of just really, uninterruptedly seeing him. So it wasn’t my imagination. It was really something happening. At any rate –
PURUJIT: What did you think?
HANSADUTTA: I didn’t think. I couldn’t – what could I think? I’d only ever seen this, I was just….
And before we left I went to Prabhupada, the Swami. I said, “Oh, Swami, do you know I’m married? And so what should I do as a service? What is it that I should do?” He said, “Have a hundred children for Krishna.” I thought, Oh my God, he’s… So on the way back, that child was conceived. It was stillborn later. You know, later it was stillborn.
And that was foretold before I even met, or became a devotee. We visited a friend… her mother came. She was psychic lady. She’s a little famous, sort of. As a child, she saw the Hindenburg burn up – you know – in a psychic vision. Anyway, so when we came to visit this girl – she was an artist like we were – when we walked in, as soon as that lady saw Himavati, she said, “Your first child will be stillborn.” And I never forgot that. So the night we went to the hospital – I went to the hospital, and Himavati was in the delivery room, and I was remembering that. And then in those days you couldn’t go into the delivery, and now you can – I think you can. But anyway, at one point I saw the doctors and the nurses. They come out and they were kind of in a huddle, and I could understand from their facial [expressions] and everything. So they came up, and I said, “It’s okay. I understand. I know.” And then the next day – either the next day or the day after – next day, I think – Prabhupada announced he’s going to install the Jagannatha deities. I think I told you.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, okay, so that’s there. But I asked Prabhupada, “Why did that happen? Why was the child stillborn?” He said the child only had a little more time to do. So he went back. That’s what he said.
So anyway, that was my first [time meeting Prabhupada]…. Krishna. I think after that we went to Boston to – no, I think we went back to Montreal. Wait a minute. What am I talking about? When she gave birth. Okay. No, then we went back to Montreal. Because we opened Boston somewhere in between. She was pregnant at the time we were in Boston. Anyways. Krishna. What else you wanna know?
PURUJIT: From Germany, you went to India, because we – you know – we saw the movies. You in India with Prabhupada when Prabhupada introduced “dancing white elephants”. You were there at that time, right?
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, that was 19… Yeah, it was ’70, right?
HANSADUTTA: Or was it ’71? I can’t remember.
HANSADUTTA: ’70? Yeah. Yeah. We were always hosted by some aristocratic or wealthy family. We were hosted by the Bajaj family – they make the motorscooters. And we were at Vinoba Bhave’s ashrama. He was like the right hand man to Gandhi. Bhagubai Jariwala – he was the biggest jari maker in Surat. There – I think there are a lot of videos of that.
HANSADUTTA: And we went to Kumbhamela also. Kumbhamela. So… you know, we were a sensation, right? White people at Kumbhamela. And there’s a particular astrological time period or window, where if you take a bath, it’s said you’re guaranteed, you’re gonna be liberated. So we – myself and Himavati, Madhudvisa, Tamal – we would go early in the morning. We had to go at like 3:30 am – something like that – and immerse ourselves, and chant the gayatri mantra. So… and it was pitch black. There were no lights, nothing. Wind was blowing, right? It was, I think February. January or February. February, I think. So I asked Prabhupada. I just wanted to make sure. I said, “Prabhupada, is it true that if you take the bath at this particular time…?” I think you have to do it one week long, or two weeks – I can’t remember. He said, “Yes, yes. Yes. It’s guaranteed. You’re liberated.” He said, “But we didn’t come here for that. We’re already liberated.” He said, “We came here to preach.” But I went anyway. I wanted to have an insurance policy.
So… and yeah, that was very sensational. All through that… it was about a ten-month period I think that we traveled. And he – Prabhupada – yeah, he sent me, Giriraja, Himavati… He sent us on traveling sankirtan. Right? And of course we don’t know anybody, we don’t know anything. But I remember Prabhupada – because I asked him what [we were supposed to do], because we don’t have any money, nothing – he said, “Just keep chanting Hare Krishna. Krishna will provide everything.”
So we wound up in Agra at one point, in the Vitthal-nath temple. And the top floor – they gave us a room in Agra. Agra… yeah, Agra. And Himavati got typhoid fever. And I didn’t know that, but she was just like deathly sick, hallucinating, everything. So at first I tried – you know – calling in the doctor and this and that, and nothing worked. At that time, I had met a man who turned me on to Professor Arnold Ehret’s Mucusless Diet Healing System. It was one of those things which kinda focused on eliminating foods that cause mucus – like white bread, sugar, and so on. And eat fruit – which I did. And, I mean, the man told me, he said… because I had terrible sinus problems. And one of the things I didn’t know is that I would sleep with rose garlands, but I didn’t realize I was allergic to roses. So in the morning I’d wake up and my face was big, eyes, my nose, everything. So I met this man, and he said, “If you follow this diet, in three days this will be disappeared, never come back, as long as you stick to the diet.” And he gave me this little book. Which I did, and sure enough, yeah. Anyway… but while I was doing this, Himavati got this typhoid. And no one – doctors came and they couldn’t do anything. Finally I decided, “Hey, you gotta follow this mucusless diet healing system.” Right? And I locked the door, and that was it. And people pounded on the door, “She’s gonna die!” And so forth and so on. And even Himavati, she said, she said, “I… this is….” I said, “No, this is gonna work. Believe me.” And sure enough, after about I don’t know, seven days. On Lord Chaitanya’s appearance day, the fever broke and she was, she was okay.
So anyway, I learned from that, that it’s a fact. If you just keep chanting, everything will come. Whatever it is you need, it’ll come. Nothing to worry about. So we were… Giriraja was with us. Giriraja – he was also… he became a devotee in Boston early on. Nice devotee. Anyway, there… then what? That was some of our first preaching movements. In those days, they had the communist… the communist influence. They called them Naxalites. They were blowing things up and so forth and so on. So sometimes we went to a program, and they’d be there. And one time in particular, they surrounded the car. You know, hundreds of them. And they started rocking it and then to flip it over. And we were in the car with Prabhupada. Himavati fainted. She just like… But we survived, yeah.
PURUJIT: And the German Yatra was going on? You’d train the people there, and –
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, the German Yatra was going on. And I left… I think Krishna das was in charge. Krishna das. He was a young boy from San Francisco studying jewelry making. And I’m not sure if I got the years right, but I think that was the year that Prabhupada flew to Moscow. Am I right? To meet Professor Kotovsky [at that time head of the Indian and South Asian Studies Department of the USSR Academy of Sciences].
PURUJIT: It was ’71. It was ’71.
HANSADUTTA: Okay, ’71. So I was there. We had come to Vishakhapatnam. Puri Maharaja had invited Prabhupada to open his temple, right? A great honor. And Prabhupada was supposed to go to Moscow at the end of this program. And I was supposed to go with him, because I was the secretary. And I in some ways helped set that up. I was really looking forward to that, so –
PURUJIT: Why were you looking forward to it?
HANSADUTTA: It just seemed like a far-out thing to go to Russia with Prabhupada. Nothing spiritual, you know. Just me being… and having some sense gratification, I guess. Anyway it seemed like an extraordinary thing. But also I wondered, why would Prabhupada fly all the way to Moscow, spend a handful of money, to see somebody just for a few days? It just didn’t… Of course now I know. Wherever Prabhupada touched down, the fire of Krishna consciousness expanded inexplicably. So… but this is what happened. I’m the secretary, so the secretary’s business is – I don’t know if you know the routine – the letters come in, the secretary opens all the letters, and he reads them and underlines the points.
PURUJIT: Yeah, you’ve explained it.
HANSADUTTA: Okay, and then he… then he passes those points to Prabhupada, and Prabhupada makes some comment. And then you have to fill out a letter. So in comes a letter, and in the letter, Krishna das explained that he had left and gone to Sweden with his girl. And anyway, you know, he fell into maya. So Prabhupada looked at me, he said, “You have to go back.” Anyway, so… from that… Prabhupada went [to Moscow] and took Shyamasundar instead.
GADADHARA: But when you – you didn’t even show him the letter. He knew what was inside, right?
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, he did. He… he for some reason – you know – he was looking at the envelope and he was just turning it over. And he said something to the effect that, “I think Krishna das fell into maya.” Opened the letter, then sure enough, of course. So you know, I had to go back. So I decided to go overland, because that – at that time it was my zone. Pakistan and Iran, and all these countries including Africa. So we traveled overland back to Germany.
HANSADUTTA: And that was… that was really trying, because the temple was – you know – they hadn’t paid the rent in I don’t know how many months.
PURUJIT: In Germany?
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, yeah. It was just… it was almost like it had stood still from the day I left. And I was really depressed. Really depressed. I would go everyday and meet the postman – you know – walk three or four blocks down the road before he came to our place, and ask if there was any mail for me. Because when Prabhupada wrote, it was in these aerograms, you know. So it was very easy to spot in his thing [carrier bag], so. And if nothing came, I’d just go back to the temple, go to sleep. And Himavati was running the temple. I just… just absolutely couldn’t get myself to go through the routine of trying to get it all back together. It was difficult enough to get it going to begin with, right. But then one day, I don’t know what got into me, I just decided, You know what, I’m gonna do this even if I have to spend the rest of my life here. I’m gonna do this. And then I… and then from that point on I went forward. So, Krishna.
GADADHARA: Was that the time when you went to Afghanistan and all that?
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, I went through Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey. And I think Sarva opened a – I think it was Sarva. He opened a place in Istanbul. We opened a center in Afghanistan, a school for children – small. But you know, later the government came and closed it down. So… Anyway, what else?
PURUJIT: Okay, well, there’s some, some letters here. Okay.
PURUJIT: This is from 1974.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, letter.
PURUJIT: Prabhupada said –
HANSADUTTA: I’m gonna leave… [hands over a set of papers] This is a different set, done by – she knows, because she has read them. She can… I’ll just leave them, and – you know – as long as you’re here, but then I have to take all that back.
PURUJIT: Okay, all right.
HANSADUTTA: Oh, here’s one… and before we go any further – oh, here’s one more that goes with this set. And this is…. And this – are you familiar with this book here [The Way of the Pilgrim]?
PURUJIT: No, sounds familiar.
HANSADUTTA: A Russian manuscript was discovered in Russia at the turn of the century. And what’s interesting about this book, it’s very simple. A Russian monk, he’s traveling, and he’s trying to… he meets different kinds of – they’re called starets, like holy people or priests – and he wants to know how to get saved – you know, What do I have to do? And no one really knows how to answer this question, except – and this is, this is basically the conclusion of the book, and it’s very… Why is it so interesting? Because it completely corresponds with chanting the holy name, but in a Christian [context], you know. But in principle, like – right, it’s the same. The same thing. So I thought that might interest you.
PURUJIT: Okay. So I’ll look it up.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, yeah.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, go ahead.
PURUJIT: Okay, here’s [a letter from Prabhupada]:
“From Madhavananda I have heard that there is some worship of yourself by the other devotees. Of course it is proper to offer obeisances to a Vaishnava, but not in the presence of the spiritual master. After the departure of the spiritual master it will come to that stage, but now wait, otherwise it will create factions.”
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, I remember that, yeah.
PURUJIT: And then Prabhupada refers to it in the conversation from 1977. Well I’m not sure it’s connected, but it seems to be verbatim.
HANSADUTTA: Well what happened was – this is what happened. I had a – you know I was a kirtan guy – so when Prabhupada sent me to Bhaktivedanta Manor and London – basically to take it over because it was going bankrupt – so there were some factions – very strong, you know, under Shyamasundar, Rebatinandan, and Madhavananda. And they would kind of exaggerate, make kind of a false, like false news. Fake news. Anyway I… because you know, when we had kirtan, it was done in such a way that I was generally in the middle. Right? And that’s basically what it amounted to. So they reported that I – that they were worshiping me. But it’s not really a fact. It’s more like… Just like Shyamasundar told Prabhupada I’d sent the devotees to work in a cigarette factory. Not a fact, but you know, things like that sometimes happened. So when they got clarified, everything was all right. Similarly, I closed the Edinburgh temple because they didn’t have a single person that knew what to do. But I didn’t close it just to close it. I closed it to take them to London and train them up, and then send them back and do the right thing. So when Prabhupada got the – you know how do you say, complete information, then everything was adjusted.
HANSADUTTA: I mean, that’s… you know. What can I say?
PURUJIT: Alright, alright, that clarifies a lot.
Alright, so I’m just going to come back to the ritvik appointment, you know, just…
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, the letter.
PURUJIT: The letter, yeah. When you got the letter, how did you understand the order of the ritvik system? Is it going to last even after Prabhupada departs?
HANSADUTTA: Yeah. Yeah.
PURUJIT: Or the ritvik… what does it mean to be ritvik?
HANSADUTTA: Yeah. Well at that time it would have been hard for me to… because I didn’t come to Vrindavan until October, while the others were already there and were already having all kinds of conversations. But to me it was like, This is going to be the arrangement. And when I came to Vrindavan and saw Prabhupada, as soon as I saw him I understood that Prabhupada has made up his mind he’s gonna go. That was my impression. It’s like you come to visit a friend and you see the suitcases are packed and everything, like, you know, you know that this person is going to go on a trip. Clear, right?
PURUJIT: Mmhmm. Yeah.
HANSADUTTA: So it was like that for me. It was like that for me. And as I said, you know, I had this epiphany on top of that – that some of the experienced disciples they stay with their spiritual masters in their last days. So you know, I was waffling over this until that came to my mind and I reread it and I said to myself, But these are the last days even if Prabhupada stays another 20 years. These are the last days. So I just decided to put that [doubt] out of my mind, you know… [and I made up my mind] I’m just going to stay here for however long it takes. It doesn’t really matter. So that was already kind of a… Yeah, that was important for me. It was important. I stayed with Bharadraj in the guest house. I didn’t stay with Tamal and the other, you know, people.
HANSADUTTA: And I guess that’s…. And my function was really, I was singing for Prabhupada most of the time. Most of the time I was alone with Prabhupada, singing. There’d be one or two people who’d come. But Prabhupada actually made a remark at some point. He said, “Oh”, he asked sometimes, “Where are the others?” he said. And then he made a comment “Oh when we talk up management and business they come but chanting then they go.”
PURUJIT: Yeah you also said that they wanted to stay in their zones.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, that was my impression. That was my impression. I remember Kirtanananda – soon as that…. There was one day when they approached Prabhupada to appeal – Prabhupada should appeal to Krishna to let him stay some more because he’s a pure devotee and anything a pure devotee asks Krishna will grant, so Prabhupada said okay. And then the next day, you know, they flew off. I mean, I know Kirtanananda did and maybe Satsvarupa did too. But that was the general – you know – feeling.
At some point, there was an incident where Bhavananda was suggesting to Prabhupada that Kaviraja said that if you take milk twelve times a day that you will gain strength, and Prabhupada said, “No.” They said he repeated that, “Don’t you think that if Kaviraja said, don’t you think that you should try?” Prabhupada said, “No.” I mean, a very abrupt “No.” And then again he tried and then Prabhupada finally said, “Why can’t you let me die in peace?”
Another time, and I think same time… in that same framework in time and back and forth, Jayapataka came in and while he was there, and he said – you know, he has this way of kind of almost shouting – “Prabhupada, don’t you think that we care?” and “We’ve all come here to serve you” or something – I can’t really remember the exact words. And Prabhupada remarked, “Even when you’re here, you’re not here.” I was like Whoah. You know. So… Yeah. There were other things. You know that there was this whole thing they wanted…. Prabhupada wanted to go on parikrama and Tamal was determined to convince Prabhupada it’s not… he shouldn’t do that.
You know. You know, in one sense I always felt like the odd ball.
PURUJIT: Okay. Yeah there was an instance when you say that if Prabhupada says he’s going to be cured by going on parikrama, then we should do it.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah. Who was more important? The Kaviraja or Prabhupada?
HANSADUTTA: And to Tamal, I think – you know – because he kept trying to paint me out like I was callous, I didn’t care, and I wanted to kill Prabhupada – I said, “Tamal, why are you talking like that? Our business… we’re disciples. We do what the spiritual master says.” Then I quoted this famous [line of verse] “‘Ours is not to wonder why – ours is but to do or die.’ So if Prabhupada says he wants to go on parikrama, then we should arrange that. That’s all.” And there was a point when Prabhupada actually called us all in and he wanted to take a vote: “How many people think…?” Do you know this?
HANSADUTTA: Oh yeah. There was… He called us all in and he said, “How many people think that I should…” – I can’t remember if he used the word “allowed” or “should not go” – “on parikrama?” I think it was “allowed”, but he said – you know – he wanted to know, “How many people think that I should not be allowed to go on parikrama?” And everybody raised their hand.
HANSADUTTA: Except me. And then he asked, “How many people think that I should be allowed to go?” So I raised my hand and Giriraja raised his hand but when he saw that we were the only two, he took his hand down. I don’t know… you know, it’s just… And then I felt… of course I felt like, Wow. Am I thinking wrong? Is something wrong with me? How is it possible that I…? Anyway.
PURUJIT: It’s interesting because Prabhupada is not controlled by the material loss.
PURUJIT: He’s liberated. So if one thinks that he can save Prabhupada, it’s a material concept.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, you can say that. You know, later on Tamal wrote a little book “The Last…” – I don’t know, like a little drama about Prabhupada’s disappearance, and in that book, when I saw [what he wrote about this episode], I got actually very disturbed. He painted me out like I was, you know, some kinda heartless, cruel. But that wasn’t…. I simply understood it’s like being in military. The General says do this, you do it. You can suggest, but you have to ask, “Can I make a suggestion?” But you can’t just go on… I mean, Tamal actually went out of his way to bring in Krishnadas Babaji, and other Gaudiyas to – you know – basically, convince Prabhupada that he shouldn’t go on parikrama. I mean, I thought it was absurd. He would say, “Prabhupada, do you realize how bumpy the road is?” like Prabhupada doesn’t know how bumpy the road is. I mean, he was born in [Calcutta]. Right? He doesn’t know? He knows. He himself was a, you know, a dealer in pharmaceuticals. He had friends. Dr Ghosh was his friend – a doctor and…. I don’t know. I just assumed Prabhupada knows what he’s doing. That’s all, you know? He wants to go [on parikrama], that’s all, and you arrange it. So Tamal actually thought of that because Prabhupada asked me and Lokanatha Swami to take charge of that and get a bullock cart. And so when I would ask Tamal for – you know – “We need some money. I don’t have anything. I came from Sri Lanka with nobody and nothing.” So he said, “Well, you’re the one who wants to take Prabhupada on parikrama.” And I said, “Tamal, it’s not like I want to take Prabhupada on parikrama. Prabhupada wants to go and he asked us to make arrangements and that’s all. I need your cooperation. Without your cooperation, what can I do?”
So after that incident I was really kind of disturbed, I have to say, with Tamal, who is – you know…. I told you we were very, very close. And I remember being really, you know… And so one morning we were chanting our rounds, going around the temple and I just came face to face with him inadvertently. I said, “Well, might as well get it off my chest.” So I said, “Tamal”, you know, “you did the wrong thing.” Then he [hemmed and hawed]. I said, “No. You did the wrong thing and you’re going to pay for that.” He did the wrong thing. He shouldn’t have done that. And that – I don’t know if that was the last time I talked to him. I can’t remember now. Anyway, you know, whatever. And his point was everyone… I remember talking to him about his little book. He said, “Well, it’s just the way that every disciple has their own way of showing their love for their spiritual master.” I said, “Tamal, that’s presumptuous. We don’t have any love for the spiritual master. We just do what he says, that’s all.” I said, “I just do what he says. That’s all I know. I don’t know anything else.” And, you know, I kind of left it at that. I don’t know.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna.
PURUJIT: So when Prabhupada left, what happened? Do you remember what –
HANSADUTTA: Well there was a routine that [is done for] the spiritual master. There was Bhavananda, Tamal, and I can’t remember who else. They bathed him, put new clothing. Then he’s taken to the vyasasan. And then there’s kirtan all night. I remember Narayan sang “Je Anilo Prema Dhana”, a famous kind of [Vaishnava song]. And then, I have to say, since I heard that I liked singing that song “Je Anilo Prem Dhana”. Very soulful. Anyway, Krishnadas Babaji was there, but – you know – most of the devotees kinda spaced out and fell asleep at some point. You know, it’s all night. But Krishnadas Babaji, he was up all night singing. Narayan was there. I don’t know if he was there all night. And then the next morning there was a parade and Prabhupada was carried on a palanquin through the streets of Vrindavan.
PURUJIT: Yeah, we saw that in the movie.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah. And I was… On the last day of Prabhupada’s presence, the Kaviraja said in the morning that Prabhupada would probably leave his body at six, six-thirty or something like that. So that day I sang, sitting on Prabhupada’s bed. I was actually sitting on his bed and I sang till about six in the evening. But I had to pass urine so, you know… I’m a frequent urine guy, so six hours for me. So I asked Bharadraj to sing. I said, “I’m going to run upstairs real quick.” So I quickly ran upstairs. Then I thought, you know, it could be a long night. Kaviraja could be wrong. And so to refresh, I quickly jumped in and took a cold shower, put on my gumsha and come back out. As I came down I saw all the devotees were – you know – scattered like billiard balls. Then I could understand that Prabhupada had departed. So from the window… If this is a window here on the outside and the domes of the temple – have you been in Vrindavan?
PURUJIT: [Shakes head]
HANSADUTTA: Oh you haven’t. Okay, so you are looking… I could look straight in. Prabhupada’s sister was weeping and rubbing his chest all over and they started the process to give him the bath – bathe him and dress him. Then the next morning they put him in the samadhi – a deep hole – gotta be six feet or more deep. And they sit Prabhupada down, and then they packed salt from head to toe. There’s probably video, right?
PURUJIT: Yeah, everything, yeah.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, and well, that’s… Krishna. Hare Krishna.
PURUJIT: What about the devotees that were devastated, I assume?
HANSADUTTA: You know, I can’t even remember what I did afterwards. I know that I did not participate in it except for token. Put some dirt and then I stood far. A distance – to see everything from a distance. From a distant spot. I mean, in the compound of course.
Then later on, probably the next day, Tamal distributed the prasadam of Prabhupada’s different items. So I got a ring from Prabhupada. Where’s that ring? [Pulls out a ring on a necklace]
HANSADUTTA: The red one. So that ring was made by Shyamasundar when Shyamasundar was in his ruby business. And… So after I got this ring and that evening I had a dream that Prabhupada… and we were going on parikrama – myself and a few other devotees. We were going on parikrama right past the gate that faces Prabhupada’s room or house. And in the dream, I looked over and I saw Prabhupada standing in the doorway. And I said, That’s funny, I thought Prabhupada left. It was a very vivid dream. So I paused and he said, “Where are you going?” I said, “We’re going on a parikrama.” Then he said, “Can I come?” I said, “Yeah, of course!” So he came and we started walking and at one point he said, “Where is that ring?” And I immediately knew – because I didn’t have any other rings – and I said, “Oh I left it in my room.” Prabhupada said, “Why?” I said, “When I play the drum it cuts my finger.” He said, “Oh”. So he said, “Shyamasundar gave me that ring.” I said, “Yes, Prabhupada, I know.” He said, “It’s not finished very well. It’s not very perfect.” I think he said that. I said, “It doesn’t matter, Prabhupada. Anything from you is perfect.” Then we go a little further, then he stopped again and he said, “You know, that ring is a ruby. And a ruby is meant for a king.” That was the end of the dream. So – I’m not trying to imply… I’m just saying that this was a dream. I had many dreams with Prabhupada. In Montreal and especially when he was here. Krishna Hare Krishna.
PURUJIT: So when you got the letter – the July 9th letter – you knew that this is the order?
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, I knew in a sense… You’re asking the question in a different sense. I hadn’t been to Vrindavan, you know. Because I was involved with this Dr Kovoor thing.
HANSADUTTA: And I was receiving regular letters from Tamal and also from Prabhupada. And Tamal was writing how Prabhupada is so excited [that] every morning he wakes up, “Is there any news from Sri Lanka?” and so forth and so on. So it was very exciting for me. And I didn’t come [to Vrindavan] until, I think, beginning of October. I can’t remember the exact date. So receiving that letter was not exactly like it was for those who were in Vrindavan. Because they had been having ongoing discussions, and obviously the pivot of the discussion, the main thesis or current, was – you know – “What about initiating after you’re gone?” Right?
HANSADUTTA: So I had never heard those. I think I didn’t even hear them to this day. Maybe just some snippets. I read some transcripts, but not exactly. So I didn’t…. You know, my thought process or my mindset was not like someone who had been throughout with Prabhupada. But as I said, when I arrived there, as soon as I saw Prabhupada, it was just obvious to me that Prabhupada has made up his mind. He was going to go. And that was sort of confirmed by him on different occasions – you know – by things, by responses that he had to devotees. So….
PURUJIT: So the letter… you understood that this was a permanent order?
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, yeah. We understood it was a permanent order -– why? You know, some of us say, “How could you?” Because Prabhupada would talk many things and sometimes project some plan, right? But unless you received an order to that effect – you know – a letter or something written, it was a different thing, you know. Prabhupada said, “You can say anything but don’t put in writing, because that makes it legal.” So…. And that Prabhupada would make the comment about, say Brahmananda… Somebody said – when they were formulating the list – “What about Brahmananda?” and Prabhupada’s response was, “No, not unless he’s fit.” So it wasn’t like some people today suggest that it was just – you know – random, functionary choices. No, it wasn’t like that. These were the people that Prabhupada wanted or felt had performed services that indicated they were capable people. You know, opening temples, printing books and so forth and so on.
PURUJIT: So… Now what happened in between this time and the Gaura Purnima ’78 when – you know – the eleven successor acharyas nominated or, you know, announced that they are going to be the successors to Prabhupada, diksha gurus. What happen in between?
HANSADUTTA: What happened? Is that your question? It’s hard to say because I was – Prabhupada left and I had… almost immediately the next day I had to go to Germany to pick up the legal thread to that court case, which was a big deal.
And Harikesh had become prominent there. He was sent – in fact I suggested he go there to Prabhupada when we were in Hyderabad because I didn’t think Jayatirtha really could do what had to be done there. And I was right. He was very good. He printed a lot of books. And I had come to know Harikesh for the first time in Hyderabad. We became very friendly also. And he wanted to actually go to America and join Tamal’s party. I said, “Why do you want to do that? Why don’t you go to Germany? Because they need somebody there. Jayatirtha can’t do what has to be done – you know, sankirtan and all that. He’s not that kind of person. So why not? I can suggest to Prabhupada to send you. Then you’ll have your own field and you don’t have to contend with anybody getting on you case. What do you say?” He said, “Yeah”. I suggested to Prabhupada and Prabhupada agreed to send Harikesh there.
Anyway, when I came there for the court case, Harikesh was so uptight about my coming back because all these devotees they knew me very directly, personally, and they like me and I like them. And all of a sudden the situation changed drastically and I’m going to come back. And he made it a point to tell me, “Don’t come to the kirtans, don’t give any lecture, don’t even talk to these people.” And he gave me a room at the very top, basically in the attic of that schloss, right? To make sure that I would not – he had it in his head that I was just going to initiate everybody and take them away. I said, “I have no [such] idea. I said, “I’m glad to be out of here. I mean I did my time and this was a gruelling situation in which I have no desire to do anything like that. So don’t worry.” But he just didn’t believe that. He was really paranoid. So… and I complied. I just stayed there.
Then I went to the court case, which was sensational, by the way – you could make a whole movie of that. And then when it was done, I went to America. I was – my zone was the Berkeley place, which I didn’t want. I tried to convince the GBC not to send me there. Prabhupada said I shouldn’t have anything to do with management or administration; I should just preach and have kirtan all over the world. And they took this to mean that, oh I’m trying to be a – you know – run all over and do my thing. Anyway, so I came to Berkeley – which was a nut house, a mess, you know. They had the women’s party and all kinds of problems. Big problems.
PURUJIT: And at this point, did you understand that you’re a ritvik or a full-fledged guru?
HANSADUTTA: You know, it just never really… that time wasn’t yet – at least not for me, it wasn’t. I mean, the problems in Berkeley was so enormous. So glaring, right? That…
PURUJIT: Because I saw a picture of Gaura Purnima, 1978 and there were these eleven vyasasans and that was – so far I’m concerned, that was the official announcement that these guys are the gurus and you’re going to worship them as good as Prabhupada.
HANSADUTTA: I think it was more gradual than that. It wasn’t quite like declaring World War II or something, you know. There was a period where everyone – maybe I’m wrong – was deliberating over this or wrestling over this, What exactly? I mean, one of the reasons I say that because at some point they went to Sridhara Maharaja to consult him, which means they weren’t –
[Video cuts off, then resumes.]
PURUJIT: Continue, yeah.
HANSADUTTA: Once you allow a thought of lusty desires – whether they’re sexual or drug or steal some money – once you allow it to ruminate and circulate in your brain, it grows. So it’s kind of like that. And as I said, it was not a linear thing that, you know, three guys, five guys, or twelve guys in a room decided “We’re going to take over the movement.”
HANSADUTTA: You follow? It was from both sides of the aisle. Not just men that have been given this designation.
HANSADUTTA: But you had all these devotees who wanted to be initiated, and they’re not going to be initiated by Prabhupada because Prabhupada is gone.
HANSADUTTA: So they are thinking like… So which one of these gurus could I go with and not have to pay the full retail price? You follow? Like we’ve discussed before.
PURUJIT: Okay. So they were not sincere?
HANSADUTTA: Yeah… no. No, I don’t think so. I think they – because they had already been infected with this idea that We’re gonna be gurus. So it takes time for a thing to mature, you know. It doesn’t – at least this is how I understood it or think about it.
PURUJIT: Okay so these different disciples – they’re waiting. Because Tamal was… he was postponing the initiations. That’s why…
HANSADUTTA: I don’t know, I don’t know. Maybe, I don’t know.
PURUJIT: Yeah. He was postponing and he told this to Prabhupada on a conversation that “Prabhupada we know that the spiritual master, when he takes initiation he takes the karma of the disciples so, you know, it’s better that we wait” and “What do we do?” He was asking. And then Prabhupada – you know – dictated the July 9th letter. So there were many devotees waiting for the initiation.
HANSADUTTA: But I addressed this point in the letter to Pratyatosa. I posed a few questions that… “Okay, Prabhupada is not going to initiate, right? But if the ritviks initiate, then still the karma goes to Prabhupada.”
PURUJIT: Yes. No, no, no, he was saying that…
HANSADUTTA: No, no, no, this is my point. I formulated this through several questions regarding this issue of ritviks. Prabhupada is not going to initiate, he’s going to wait. But at any rate, if the ritvik initiates or Prabhupada initiates, what’s the difference? The ritvik is an extension of Prabhupada.
PURUJIT: Of course.
HANSADUTTA: Right? So that’s not a – how do you say…
PURUJIT: Winning situation. Doesn’t change anything.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change the fact that Prabhupada’s the end. He authorized these persons to act on his behalf.
PURUJIT: Yeah. But there were many disciples that were waiting for initiation from Prabhupada, no?
HANSADUTTA: That I don’t know because I was in Sri Lanka, right? There’s nobody in Sri Lanka. There’s just Sri Lanka, right?
PURUJIT: Okay. Well…
HANSADUTTA: So some of these things were not in my mind in the way that they were in other people’s mind.
PURUJIT: Okay. From what I researched, Tamal was basically getting letters, like the recommendations, right? From temples.
HANSADUTTA: Could be.
PURUJIT: Temple presidents were sending [letters saying] that these devotees that wanted initiations, so all these devotees…
HANSADUTTA: So he was postponing until?
PURUJIT: Until he asked from Prabhupada what to do and then Prabhupada named… “They can do… my representatives can do it.”
PURUJIT: So these devotees who were waiting for initiation from Prabhupada – there were some ritvik initiations before Prabhupada left the world. I found even a letter [in which] Tamal is writing to someone – I forgot exactly what it was but Tamal was saying, “Yeah, you give these eleven representatives you have on the list. You can give initiations to people.” Fiji or somewhere.
HANSADUTTA: I don’t know that.
PURUJIT: So you didn’t do any ritvik initiations since you got the letter?
HANSADUTTA: No, I didn’t.
PURUJIT: Because there was no one in Sri Lanka?
HANSADUTTA: No, there was no one.
PURUJIT: Okay. Did the others do any? Do you know?
HANSADUTTA: That I also don’t know. I never made it a point. But, I mean, I told you I immediately had to go to Germany and I can’t remember how long I was there. Maybe three months? You know dealing with this legal court case.
PURUJIT: No, I mean before Prabhupada departed.
HANSADUTTA: Before Prabhupada departed? I don’t think, no. Because we made – as I remember, we only made one devotee in Sri Lanka in all the time I was there.
HANSADUTTA: So it wasn’t a place where you can make tons of devotees.
PURUJIT: Okay. Because there is a kind of theory that Tamal was postponing the initiations and he kind of like, made some politics so there was no initiation – these ritviks. So it was never actually done and then when Prabhupada departs – you know – he actually shows the 28 May conversation where Prabhupada, you know, says they are his disciples. From that, they actually – you know – reasoned that the ritvik is actually the guru. So that’s why I’m asking.
HANSADUTTA: You see, I don’t know, because I was not there when they had all these talks. I wasn’t there.
PURUJIT: So there must have been a point where you actually assumed the position of the successor guru? Sitting on a vyasasan and… [unintelligible]
HANSADUTTA: There was, but like I said, it was – because there was some reservation to begin with. Otherwise why did they go to Sridhar. Right?
HANSADUTTA: And so it was unclear. It was unclear even from the conversations, I mean, I think.
PURUJIT: Of course. Yes, it is.
HANSADUTTA: So – But one thing was clear: that everyone wanted to know who’s going to… That was – they would trying to soft pedal or say it in a language which was not – how do you say it – appearing ambitious or appearing…
HANSADUTTA: Offensive or whatever. You know. So how did it happen? You know, some people say there was a conspiracy – people sat down, Tamal did… – but I don’t see that. At least I was never part of that kind of thing and I don’t see it. I think it happened in a way which was almost inconceivably simultaneously one and different. It was achintya, you follow? Everyone took what they thought they could, – you know – maybe stretch it as far as they could until it reached a point where it just – it was sort of like the silent – you mentioned once before…
PURUJIT: Open secret.
HANSADUTTA: An open secret. I shouldn’t laugh but… Something like that, I think.
And once a thing has – you know – come to a certain point – the point of no return, right?
PURUJIT: There’s no coming back.
HANSADUTTA: Critical mass, they call it or whatever. Then… you know.
PURUJIT: Okay. Now when you assumed that position – you know – what did you think?
HANSADUTTA: I don’t think you’d think properly. I think you just kind of have to justify something which is not quite justifiable, you know. And you can’t talk to anybody. You can’t talk to the regular rank and file –
PURUJIT: Of course.
HANSADUTTA: You can’t talk to your god brothers. So it’s this… There must be in psychology – I’m sure there’s a term for it but I don’t know what it is.
PURUJIT: Is it kind of like a Mayavadi or impersonalist reaches brahman?
HANSADUTTA: The best way I can describe it is like taking a girl out on a date, right? Why do you take her on a date to begin with? Because you like to eat in restaurants? No. There’s some… But you might not tell yourself that. And she might not. But there’s an unspoken motive there. Prabhupada said no one has to learn how to laugh or cry. So similarly, when it comes to connecting with the opposite sex, you don’t go to school for that.
PURUJIT: It’s natural.
HANSADUTTA: It unfolds in its own way. And there’s a point where you can’t reverse it. You know? I don’t know. I’m trying to address it the best I can.
PURUJIT: Well, the reason I’m asking is that someone who is in that position now – is it that he is simply misled or does he consciously cheating [sic]? This is the question.
HANSADUTTA: Well, I think you can’t be misled unless you’re cheating. I mean, I don’t know what to say. How do you get misled, you know? It’s like asking someone, “At what point did you fall asleep?” What’s the answer? “I fell asleep but I don’t know how that happened.” There has to be some decision, “I’m going to go to sleep now.” But you don’t fall asleep right away.
PURUJIT: I know it’s… There’s no way how this is an innocent mistake.
HANSADUTTA: No. No, there’s no innocent…. And the living entity…. If innocent then we’d all be excused by Krishna for everything, because everything…. Innocent means ignorance. Ignorance means not that I don’t know. I do know, but I ignore what I know. You follow that point?
HANSADUTTA: Like… I always give the same example. When you’re driving and you’re in a rural area there’s a stop sign, but you can see there’s no one around for miles, so you just drive through it without stopping. So when that becomes a habit, we call it ignorance. But the original act is done knowingly. And then you do it repeatedly, and it becomes a habit. So you can say, “Oh I didn’t know.” Our business… our whole – how do you say… Devotee means to know. That’s what it means. Veda means know. “I am seated in everyone’s heart, so from Me comes knowledge, remembrance, and forgetfulness.” [Bhagavad-gita 15.15] So to say “I didn’t know,” then…. How can you not know? That’s what you’re supposed to – you’re supposed to be the one who knows. Like I said, I think every – you know – there’s… Every single leading devotee, definitely – how can they not? – definitely had it in his mind and heart that [desire] somehow or other to be a guru. So it may be that it was tempered by something like, No, that’s ridiculous [but] well, maybe.
PURUJIT: Because, you know, we know Prabhupada says a guru is an uttama adikari – a devotee in direct relationship with Krishna.
HANSADUTTA: But you see, when you want something – when a man dwells on sense objects, he becomes attached. From attachment comes lust. From lust comes…
HANSADUTTA: Anger, greed. Right? Lamentation. Illusion. One falls down again in the material pool. So you can’t say, “Well, you know, it was innocent.” There was something – some… And when you have that something, that lust – it’s lust. Lust means I want something – you shouldn’t be wanting that thing. You shouldn’t want anything. You should just say whatever Krishna does is fine with me. So lust means there’s this dwelling on sense objects. What is that sense object? That sense object is me. I’m this object of the senses. I’m thinking that, “Yeah, I’d like to be like Prabhupada.” Which in itself is not a wrong thought, but as it grows it goes wrong more and more because you can’t be like Prabhupada. You can’t.
PURUJIT: You can follow in his footsteps but you should not imitate.
HANSADUTTA: You can follow in his footsteps or – Bhaktivinoda [sic – it was Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur] couched it in a very nice way. He said, “There’s an impassable line of demarcation between the savior and the saved. One who is truly saved actually knows this.” [“Thakur Bhaktivinoda”, by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur] In other words, you can’t be like Prabhupada because he’s coming from up there down to here. And we’re coming from down here to up there. Just like you can’t be like your father and mother. So what do you do? You get your own mother. You get married, in other words. But you can’t do what you do with your wife with your mother. So that’s one way to think about it. Does that make sense?
PURUJIT: Very well, very well.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, so. Okay. So Prabhupada – what did he do? He has these newfound disciples and they’re very energetic and they’re, you know…. Prabhupada was very appreciative, thankful, and he understood them. So… and he expressed that in that conversation with Puri that you can’t give them a blank check because they’re not qualified. And you can’t just say, “Hey, too bad guys. I’m leaving and none of you are fit.” So he did something in between. He said, “Yes, okay, yeah. I’m going to name some of you as ritvik representative of the acharya. So it’s actually the same thing in one sense. You are doing all the same things, but you have been mercifully given a check – a condition, a boundary for your own safety, for their safety, for Prabhupada’s safety. You are being given a conditional authority. It has some condition. It’s the same thing – the function is the same. The result is the same. But there’s an additional advantage: you are safe. That disciple is safe. And Prabhupada is safe. And the public is safe. I think it makes sense.
PURUJIT: Yes. What about writing the books? Prabhupada wrote the books. All these books we’re studying.
HANSADUTTA: Well what about it?
PURUJIT: Well the ritvik is not writing the books.
HANSADUTTA: Yes, he wrote the books but even that they’ve…. I told you. They’ve made a legal motion that he’s not the author of those books: “Well, he’s the author of those books but they don’t belong to him. They belong to us.”
PURUJIT: No, no, no. But I’m saying…
HANSADUTTA: “And we can change them, and we are changing them.” I mean…
PURUJIT: But I’m saying that if you say the function is the same as the diksha guru, Srila Prabhupada, you know, Srila Prabhupada wrote the books.
HANSADUTTA: Right, oh yeah.
PURUJIT: There’s a slight difference.
HANSADUTTA: No, yeah, of course. I mean I’m speaking…
PURUJIT: In terms of the officialities [officiating].
HANSADUTTA: Just like Amarendra. He – you know Amarendra was the lawyer for [ISKCON]…
HANSADUTTA: So at one point in the lawsuit, there was a recess. Are you still on?
HANSADUTTA: So at the recess he says, “Hansadutta, why are you so hung up on this BBT? The original BBT? We do the same thing. BBTI would print the books, record the money, make the – We do everything the same. Why are you so hung up on this one thing?” So I said, “Amarendra, are you married?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “Okay. So suppose I take your wife, I do the same thing you do with her in your bed, I eat from your table with her and we use your money – right? Everything is the same. What’s the big deal? Why are you so hung up on this?” He was shocked. He was like… So that’s the point. There’s a difference, like you said.
And not only that, I mean, when it comes to, you know, learning Prabhupada’s books or reading them and quoting…. But there are children in India – they can recite the whole Bhagavad-gita. You can’t. I can’t. Maybe even Prabhupada can’t. But does it mean, “Hey, what’s the difference?” So, you know, this problem is never going to be solved. It’s only going to be… It’s going to always be there and there’ll be somebody, maybe like yourself, that will, you know, have the mercy of Prabhupada – mercy of Krishna and intelligence.
And I used to say, “Err on the side of caution.” It’s okay if you make a mistake on the side of caution — Oh, we’re doing the ritvik thing and maybe in the end that proves to be the wrong thing we should all… Maybe, I don’t know. But there’s no error there. While talking to Christians sometimes we talk about meat-eating, right? They say, “Well, the Bible…” I say, “But to not kill and eat the animal – that couldn’t possibly be sinful. But to kill an eat animal, it very well could be. But we know for sure this is definitely not going to be, right?”
PURUJIT: The same.
HANSADUTTA: [According to] The Bible: “Whatever you do unto the least of my creatures, you do unto Me. He who kills an ox is as if he kills a man.” So, you know, to err on the side of caution couldn’t be wrong. And even if it is, there isn’t going to be any harm. What’s the harm? There’s no harm, so…
But you know, who will listen to this? No, you know, they’ll say, “Ah, this Hansadutta guy is a lunatic.”
PURUJIT: A discount guru is more attractive.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah. Of course. Yeah, of course. Yeah, the discount. You get discount. Get one, get one free. If this one don’t work out, you get another one. Does it make sense? I don’t know. You can tell me. Like, “Hey, you’re not making any sense.”
PURUJIT: It makes perfect sense. Yeah, very well. Very well said, yes. Yes.
Just one thing I want to ask. What about this Topanga Canyon conversation? Because you were at the –
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, I was there. What do you want to ask about it? I was there, yeah.
PURUJIT: You were there. So what was going on? Because Tamal, he says that Prabhupada made a ritvik.
HANSADUTTA: He said it in plain English, yeah. So now somebody… I haven’t followed exactly how they reinterpreted that to make it sound like Tamal was just saying the same thing as he’s always been saying, but in a clever way. I don’t know.
PURUJIT: What were the circumstances? That’s also not clear. Like we just have the conversation but I was not able to research what were the circumstances where this conversation took place.
HANSADUTTA: It was at Nrshinghananda’s Topanga Canyon house. He’s, you know, head of the… you know, the…
HANSADUTTA: ITV, yeah. And I don’t know. I can’t remember exactly how it came to be, that meeting.
PURUJIT: Because I heard – tell me if it’s true – that you were excommunicated from ISKCON with Tamal.
HANSADUTTA: Oh. Really? I don’t know. I know I was excommunicated [but not Tamal].
PURUJIT: But that was later on, right? Because this was 1980.
HANSADUTTA: Maybe, yeah. I don’t know. I was excommunicated, thanks to Brahmananda, I think. Because they had it in their head that I was going to go to Sridar – which I, of course, I really didn’t have it in my head the way they had it in their head. But anyway, Prabhupada got excommunicated. So I’m in good company. He got excommunicated before me.
PURUJIT: But this was later on, wasn’t it? The Topanga Canyon conversation was in 1980.
HANSADUTTA: The Topanga Canyon conversation? I don’t know the date. I don’t remember the date. You know the thing is…
PURUJIT: What was the – why Tamal said like this? What was the…?
HANSADUTTA: I think Tamal was having some, you know, getting some flak from his god brothers. He was getting some flak from his god brothers and what…. See this is the thing. It just wasn’t a clear cut thing like some people – Puranjana-type people, they make it like these guys just sat down and made some [plot]. It wasn’t like that. It was very, for want of a better word, organic. It just kind of unfolded. It’s like asking somebody, “When did rock and roll start?” Oh, you don’t remember. You’re a young guy. But it didn’t start that way, you know.
PURUJIT: Yeah. It was not planned out.
HANSADUTTA: It was not planned out. It was not abrupt. In fact, I’ll give you another very important analogy that Prabhupada [gave]. We had a discussion with Prabhupada in London – Rebatinandan, Shyamasundar, myself. And they wanted to determine – they wanted to get a definition. A clear cut [point] where spirit begins and matter [ends]. Have you seen that conversation? You have?
PURUJIT: Yeah, yeah, yeah. In the atom – whether there’s spirit soul in the atom.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So they – but it came down to this – I carried that conversation with me for years and I probably still have it somewhere on the tape – that, where is the point of demarcation between spirit and matter? So they go about asking Prabhupada questions trying to –
HANSADUTTA: – pinpoint the definition. In fact, that word definition is an interesting word. De + finite. Definition. You want to define the infinite by measuring, or weighing – call it what you want. But that can’t be done. And so at some point after, you know… Prabhupada gets a little bit – I can’t say exasperated, but he finally decides to say it like it is. He said, “Actually there is no such thing as matter. There’s only spirit.” And then he gives this example, This finger here. Pinprick it. Do you feel it? But here on the nail, if I pinprick it, you don’t feel anything. But if you try to find the point where the nail begins and the skin ends and… You can’t find – there is no such point. Everything is in a… – I don’t know if he used the word evolution or a state of evolution – everything is spirit in different stages of development.
PURUJIT: Realization? Realization?
HANSADUTTA:… development or realization or…. Because he said everything proceeds from the supreme spirit. So everything is spirit but at different levels or points of evolution or development. So he said, “We don’t preach this because it leads to Mayavadi thinking. But this is the fact.” He said, “This is not for public.”
PURUJIT: He says for the public, “You are not the body.”
PURUJIT: They have to know the distinction.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, distinctions have to be made. And in one conversation, Rebatinandan also – I was there. So Prabhupada sometimes let one of his disciples talk to the darshan guests and answer their questions.So he let Rebati talk. So Rebati, he starts talking. He’s [saying] “Krishna this” and “Krishna that” and “Radharani”. Prabhupada said, “No. Why are you talking of Krishna? Krishna is our internal business. First you have to establish and make them understand we are not this body.”
So that’s why I say the talks Prabhupada had informally on darshan morning walk are – I don’t know if I should say more important but – they are the fruit of the formal tree of knowledge, you know, that – just like the acharya is the fruit of the tree of Vedic wisdom. Just like the doctor is the fruit of the tree of medical knowledge. The lawyer similarly. So like that. So for different personalities, you have to present – just like a child is going to school; that doesn’t mean [he’s a scholar]. He may know nothing except making mud pies. That’s good. That’s his stage. Somebody else is doing A-B-Cs. Somebody else is doing physics. Somebody else is doing post-graduate. So like… it’s something like that.
So, you know, our institutional life or the institution… We have to know what it is, you know, what it is. It serves a purpose. Some people, they see Krishna they feel, “Ah, Krishna is very beautiful.” Okay. But there may be other disciples or students… they’re going forward. More forward. Somebody asked me, “Would you join this institution if you were a young man now?” I said, “No way! No way I would have anything to do with it.” He said, “Why?” I said, “There’s nothing going on now whatsoever.” So everyone comes in a particular time, place, circumstance which is tailor-made. We have to accept. Tailor-made for – custom-made by Krishna for that individual.
PURUJIT: Do you think that if someone, hypothetically, never comes in contact with any of Prabhupada’s disciples but he reads Prabhupada’s books and he starts to follow the regulative principles, chants sixteen rounds, and he’s able to preach, he makes his own center, is he according to your understanding, is he authorized by Prabhupada to perform the ritvik initiations for his congregation?
HANSADUTTA: You know, that’s a hard answer to question because, you know, who is the…? I mean, there are so many things that are unknown in that – I mean you’re…
PURUJIT: In terms of continuing the formal initiations as Prabhupada…
HANSADUTTA: You know, you take… Well, let me put it – answer it in this way. Prabhupada’s books are, you know, there was an outflow. It’s like, you know, Niagara Falls. It’s constantly… It’s constant. Constant dynamic, spiritual dynamic, flowing. So… I forget now what I was going to say. So yes, it’s possible or Prabhupada put it this way to Vaikunthanatha – I think we came to this point the other day. He asked him, “You know, what about these people who are distributing millions of books but they, you know, how will they be initiated?” Prabhupada said, “One who reads my books is initiated.” That means if he embraces what he reads, embraces it as true and applies it in his best capacity, yes, then he basically has a spiritual life now. Of course this is an unusual example but that also has, you know, a whole spectrum of degrees. Like Bhaktivinoda Thakur. He went in search of a [copy of] Chaitanya-charitamrita and couldn’t find one for years, I was told. So spiritual life is unconventional, Bhaktisiddhanta makes the point that it’s not conventional. It’s unconventional. That it can take place almost under any circumstance.
But for the general public there has to be some institution. You know, just like Henry Ford. He didn’t go to school, right? But he…. So if you say, “Well, he didn’t go to school. Why should I go to school?” No, that’s not…. There’s a general format. And then there are exceptions to the rule. Tesla didn’t go to school, I understand. Or his mom taught him at home.
GADADHARA: Ben Franklin too.
HANSADUTTA: Ben Franklin too. Me too. Of course I’m not Ben Franklin. But I used to tell my kids, “Come on, let’s go play hooky. We’ll go to the beach.” “No, we have to go to school, Bubby.” I said, “I didn’t go to school. Don’t worry about it.” “Yeah, you’re different.”
Anyway. Yeah. I mean, at some point… I used to write Prabhupada when he’d asked me to do – I’d ask him, like, “How do I do that?” He said, “You just chant Hare Krishna, Krishna will reveal it to you.” When I asked him if I could buy a harmonium, he said, “Yes, yes, of course, why not?” I said, “So then would you teach me how to play?” He said, “Oh yes, it’s very simple. You make the sound and you press the button.” And that was all he said, ever. So, you know, you’re doing the only thing you can do. And you keep on doing it and depend on Krishna. Krishna will guide you. I mean, why would he not guide you? And He is guiding you, obviously. Krishna. Hare Krishna. Are we still running?
GADADHARA: Is it rolling, Bob? I just have one quick one. When you were – went to Vrindavan, you mentioned…Because, you know, Prabhupada – it seemed in the letters – he didn’t want us to associate with too many Brijbasis and I think there’s a story there where Prabhupada asked you to cook for him or “Can I have some of that?” or some story like that – you were staying at some outside…
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, yeah. I was staying at Bhargaji’s and doing chaturmasa. Doing, you know, chanting sixty four rounds a day or something and… So Prabhupada said, “So why are you staying at Bhargaji’s? I said, “Well, I’m cooking my own meal, eating once a day, doing chaturmasa,” something like that. He said, “So, you can stay here.” I said, “But I don’t have a kitchen here.” He said, “You can cook in my kitchen.” So by that time I got it that Prabhupada doesn’t want me staying in that house, so I stayed in the guest house and cooked in his kitchen. So everyday I would cook the same thing: rice and okra (bindi). And Prabhupada – after I’m done, I’m sitting – he would come out and say, “Oh, it looks very good. Why not make some for me?” I said, “Oh, Prabhupada, it’s so simple. It’s, you know. So..” I never did make anything for Prabhupada, but anyway. I don’t know if that’s the one you’re talking about.
HANSADUTTA: Yeah, I generally – it would take me a few times before I realized that Prabhupada didn’t want me to stay at Bhargaji’s. Bhargaji was a, you know, Mayavadi, sahajia type guy. But he was very nice. He helped Prabhupada and come and see Prabhupada. Krishna. Hare Krishna. Krishna Krishna, Hare Krishna. [End]