Early Days with Prabhupada Part 2

Transcript of video interview with Hansadutta, Part 2 (01:42:34 – 02:39:08)

Go to Part 1

PURUJIT: So if we can just go back to the 1968-1969 period.

HANSADUTTA: Okay, what were we talking about? Himavati?

PURUJIT: I don’t remember myself. I think that was pretty much closed.


PURUJIT: I would like to ask more about the atmosphere of the devotees, how it was going on, like what was the program. What would you do? How would you associate? Anything like that. Another question connected to that is kinda like what we just talked about, but maybe you could elaborate a little bit more. How did you make so many devotees? How come so many devotees joined? Was it just the effect of the hippie era? Were people already inclined to a different lifestyle? What was the secret?

HANSADUTTA: The secret was that the devotees who first came into Prabhupada’s orbit first of all… Like I said, Prabhupada was very personal. He was cooking; they were eating. And he would give them some task – “Type this” or “Make this into a magazine” – or he would suggest certain things. Like he started a little pamphlet, “Who is crazy?” How did he come to that? Because people said we were crazy, so he wrote a little pamphlet, “Who is crazy?”, elaborating on this, because this was a popular perspective – These people are crazy, a bunch of crazy people. We’re saying we’re not the body, shave the head, wear dhotis – What is this? They’re crazy.

So it was very fluid, spontaneous. It was not dry, rigid, institutional. The institutional thing takes its shape from the substance. It’s not something you think about, write a legal document. Of course, Prabhupada wrote a few legal documents, but they were so simple – the BBT and others. But the main thrust was to meet, to confront and meet and respond to the public. What? They shave their heads? They don’t eat meat? They sleep on the floor? What is this? He’s just responding in whatever way the moment demands. “Who is crazy” is a good example. Or “Krishna: the Reservoir of Pleasure”. Very simple.

Once he asked me in London… Prabhupada received a letter from an inmate in prison who wrote that he’s been practicing yoga, and so forth and so on, but he doesn’t seem to be making any progress. So Prabhupada gave the letter to me and said, “Write him a letter on chanting.” That became the “On Chanting” pamphlet. I don’t know if it’s still the same text. Probably not. But that became “On Chanting”.

In Sri Lanka, that Dr Kovoor was a local guy, and he published every week some article demeaning and criticising people who were posing as spiritualists, whether they’re Buddhists or Hindus. That was his thing. His whole thing was that. So I saw that newspaper, and Mahakarta, who is a Sri Lankan, said “You should do it. You can respond to this. I know the editor or the owner of this newspaper, and if you write something, he’ll publish it.” I said, “Really?” And I got so excited. I would stay up all night and all day trying to… drawing on everything Prabhupada had said about this type of confrontation or preaching, and it was published. And then the man wrote. And it went back and forth, and I came to the idea that I could rent this hall and offer – I don’t know, was it a million or a hundred thousand rupees? – “You come, you bring your chemicals, everything, you make something like a mosquito” and it became a sensation because people were following this guy. Even the devotees… One devotee said, “But Hansadutta, we don’t have any money. How can you?” I said, “You dumb idiot.” So anyway, that was not something planned. It was a spontaneous, organic outcome that I never thought would come. And Prabhupada was absolutely… it was towards the end of his stay with us, and he was following that very carefully. He was very excited about it. Tamal wrote me some letters that Prabhupada every day said, “What happened? What did Hansadutta say in Sri Lanka?” And he would show this exchange to especially those who were scientists or business people and say, “Read this, this is what our disciple has said.”

So these were not planned, schemed things. They were outcomes of conviction in Prabhupada. We felt we could confront and say and represent Prabhupada, that if we stick to what Prabhupada told us, nobody could touch us. And that’s kinda how the early days went. You could send someone without money, without anything somewhere, and he could… it would evolve. He was the seed. Like I said, the redwood tree… [referring to an earlier conversation about the giant redwood tree coming out from a small seed] He was the seed. Because he went on that conviction, that allegiance, that loyalty and complete surrender to Prabhupada.

These were young guys, right? Young kids mostly. And it wasn’t a question of making money. They had decided that This is for me. They were not embarrassed to be shaved or to have the dhoti. In fact, they loved it because one of the things of the ’60s was to be far out. Well, how much further out can you go than a devotee who doesn’t eat meat, fish, eggs, doesn’t take intoxication, shaving his head, sleeps on the floor?

And so Prabhupada wound up on the front page of I think Life magazine or some magazine. And others would come. The East Village Other. I remember that very famous picture. I have a copy of that. Real copy of that. And the other thing is that most people don’t know, the first album has a blue-tinted picture, and I believe probably that picture of Prabhupada under the tree also. And I have a few signed pictures by that photographer because I had a friend who knew him. His name is Jim Marshall. He’s the most famous photographer that did all the big rock and roll bands – their covers. So he took that picture of Prabhupada. If you look at it carefully, you’ll see “Jim Marshall”. He’s dead now. He died about a year ago, I think.

So how did they do that? That’s how they did it. Sort of like Clint Eastwood coming to town, just shooting the bad guys from the hip. Sometimes Prabhupada was amused at how things took shape. At the… there was one program at Columbus, Ohio university… Ohio University. Allen Ginsberg was there visiting Prabhupada, and Prabhupada was fixed to speak and devotees and so forth and so on. It was packed up. I wasn’t there personally, but heard the tape. But before they went on, Ginsberg asked Prabhupada, “What are we gonna sing? Govinda jaya jaya?” And Prabhupada said, “No, I think Hare Krishna is good.” So at one point Prabhupada said, “And you should lead the kirtan because you are not an ordinary person. The people like you. You are a leader.” He said, “No, no, no. I think you should do that.” And Prabhupada said, “No, no. You should lead.” So is that far out? Is that spontaneous? I don’t think Ginsberg did lead. Maybe he did. I can’t remember.

GADADHARA: They’ve got it on video. You can find it on YouTube, chanting Hare Krishna.

HANSADUTTA: No, but that particular program I don’t know.

GADADHARA: That’s a different one.

HANSADUTTA: Yeah, yeah. Ginsberg would come, and the one time he came in New York I was there. He sat right next to Prabhupada, right? Like you’re sitting on the floor, and he would sit right next to him, touch his knee, and Prabhupada would laugh. Anyway, Prabhupada said, “Where have you been? I haven’t seen you for so long.” He said, “Oh, I was in India.” You know that tape?


HANSADUTTA: Okay. So he explains, “Oh, I went to the Puri temple.” And [Prabhupada asks] “How did you get in?” And then Prabhupada laughed, because Ginsburg said whenever someone would approach, he would bow down. Prabhupada began to laugh and said, “Just see the power of humility.” So it was a really spiritual phenomenon. It’s like achintya, inexplicable. It just was unfolding in a way that no one could write it down beforehand or script it or…

PURUJIT: Plan out. No one could plan it out.

HANSADUTTA: No, you can’t plan it out. No. It’s like when a man and a woman have sexual intercourse, a child comes out nine months later. How is that? If you plan or don’t plan, it comes. And it could be a boy or girl. At the moment, no one knows. Smart or stupid, nice looking – we don’t know. We don’t know what is the course of this particular birth, what course is it gonna take. Did the mother of Adolf Hitler know? Did she know? Did she have any idea? This little rascal is gonna be like this? So spiritual means that. Because without spirit, no body can come into this world. There’s no birth without that. And when there is birth, no one knows, except you have to feed, you have to get some clothing. But what exactly that child will exhibit or manifest, no one knows.

Did Prabhupada know? No, he didn’t know. He allowed… The Christians have this saying: allow one’s self to be led by the Lord. Of course, that includes his representative. Bhaktisiddhanta suggested Prabhupada should “Go to the West and preach what you learned from me in English.” And Prabhupada was wondering – when he came – How am I going to…? These people… How will I do that? He told me. He used to wander around Times Square. He couldn’t sleep at night. Then every other week he’d go to the docks, and they’d say, “No, no. You should stay. Spend another month. Don’t worry.” But what does he know? That this is my aim: to bring this into their language – English language. He didn’t know. But he knows Krishna. “I protect what they have, I provide what they need.” [Bhagavad-gita]

PURUJIT: “I protect what they have and I give them what they need.”

HANSADUTTA: “And for one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost to him, and he is never lost to Me.” [Bhagavad-gita 9.22] So Prabhupada’s working format is just to keep always… to see everything in Krishna. “One who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost to him, and he is never lost to Me.” [Bhagavad-gita 6.31] So he is keeping that focus. Just like sailors on the high sea. The Chinese, Russian, Germans, Americans – they all have one thing in common. Even if they’re enemies. What is that common thing? They must fix their bearing on the North Star, the constant, and then only they can determine where they are at any given time on the high sea. So how did Prabhupada do that? His constant is “Always think of Me, become My devotee, bow down to Me, give your love to Me and surely you will come to Me.” [Bhagavad-gita 18.65] His business is simply to see, remember and resign or surrender to Krishna. And how it unfolds, the devotee himself is… Just like you, you preach, right? So sometimes when you come in touch with someone who is receptive, things come from you that even you are amazed. Isn’t it?

PURUJIT: Ah yes.

HANSADUTTA: You think, Wow, and you get enlivened. So that coming, that flowing is Krishna. And Prabhupada gives an example. When there’s a dry match and a dry striker and you rub it, fire comes. So when there’s an enthusiastic speaker and a receptive [listener], then Krishna appears. And then both parties become… “They derive great bliss and satisfaction enlightening one another about Me.” In the material world, this is maya. The maya is I will plan this and do this and enjoy and be honored. And things don’t work that way. The way they work is when there is someone who is committed to Krishna – Prabhupada – and another who is receiving that more and more – “What about this? What about that?” Then Krishna appears and things happen that are unbelievable. Like George Harrison bought that manor. And so many things. But we always want to…

PURUJIT: Find a formula.

HANSADUTTA: We want to get the formula and measure. That’s sankhya. “How much?” “How much did it weigh?” “How long?” We have this idea that we can capture the thing and modify it, customise it to suit our purpose. But we can’t. No more than… You ever see a cat jumping, trying to catch the shadow of a ball?


HANSADUTTA: So the external energy is the shadow of the soul or of Krishna. Krishna is there – everywhere – and in everything there is Krishna. There is no thing that is outside of Krishna. Krishna says it, and we can’t accept that. We think, How is that possible to be always everywhere? And by being engaged in devotional life and preaching, Krishna reveals how it is.


HANSADUTTA: Is that alright?

PURUJIT: It’s a perfect answer.

I have a letter here. If you can just maybe, for variety’s sake – this is from Prabhupada [to Hansadutta], 23rd of March 1969. Prabhupada says,

“Yes, it is very good if you can chant 64 rounds. This is very nice if you can do it. But first of all we should not be disturbed by any circumstances. If you do become disturbed, then this means that you are still deficient in reaching the point. In Bhagavad-gita it is said that when Krishna is within our view, at that time one is not disturbed even in the midst of the greatest calamity. Anyway, even if we are disturbed, then the only resort is to chant and concentrate one’s mind in Krishna. There is no other alternative. Chanting and dancing make one relieved of all material burdens.”

HANSADUTTA: Okay. The reason that I remember this – yeah. I was so enthusiastic and fired up and energetic that I wound up doing everything. Like I would go shopping at the wholesale market. I would cook… I think 40-50 chapatis every time. I loved to cook. I had a kind of contest in myself to make every one of them puff up. Anyway, then sing and explain… And basically at one point I was getting overwhelmed because it seemed like everyone was just kind of not doing anything, or not helping, right? So it came to a breaking point where I decided I’m just gonna chant, I’m just gonna walk in one direction in wintertime. When was this letter – March?

PURUJIT: March, yeah.

HANSADUTTA: Yeah, yeah. So, this was in response to what I did. I just, I decided I was just gonna walk straight ahead. You know, and I had no idea because I didn’t know anything about Montreal. We just basically located to that temple at the base of Mount Royal. [I made up my mind that] I’m just going to walk in a straight line and chant Hare Krishna until Krishna tells me what to do. Because I didn’t know how to – right? Deal with the situation, it was overwhelming me. And I came to some kind of a cathedral. And to this day I don’t know where or what it was. And they had like a room full of prosthetics, you know, arms and legs and people. And I was just chanting and chanting and chanting. And then, and that – for some reason, I became very pacified there. And I decided in my mind, Krishna is everything and chanting the Holy Name is all we have. That’s what I’m gonna do. I’m not gonna do anything except that. So I made my way back through the snow. And I would just sit and chant. I wouldn’t even talk to anybody or say anything. Just kept chanting and chanting and chanting. This went on for days. And then gradually I saw – I started to see that all the things that I was doing – shopping, cooking, and so forth – that it was taken in hand one after the other by different devotees. And one day, following this resolve to chant only, I realized that my business isn’t to do something; my business is to let other people and encourage them to do. And the reason that no one was doing anything was because they were terrified that if they did, I would get on their case because they just didn’t do it good enough to suit me. And in this way, some days this epiphany was going through my heart and mind. And more and more, I became pacified. And in that period, I wrote Prabhupada a letter about chanting 64 rounds. But of course Prabhupada knew that this is not possible for me to chant 64 rounds very long. But anyway, it went on for how long – a couple of weeks. And then, that settled me.

I realized my business is just to see and encourage people to do what they can and want to do. They want someone to confirm what they wanna do. I’ve seen people come to Prabhupada and say, “Oh Prabhupada, what should I do for Krishna?” And Prabhupada would respond, “What do you wanna do?” So it’s not a question that we have to do something artificially. The things that we can do naturally… but someone has to confirm it. And I had that realization: that’s my business, is to confirm, to see. So that people can engage themselves naturally and practically. That’s how that letter came about.

PURUJIT: I saw a picture when John Lennon and Yoko were in the Montreal Gazette, doing the song –

HANSADUTTA: “Give Peace A Chance”.

PURUJIT: “Give Peace A Chance”. So you were there? So maybe you can share something…

HANSADUTTA: Yeah, that happened. I can’t remember what year that was.

PURUJIT: ’69, I think.

HANSADUTTA: You think so? See, I’m not sure. But anyway, it was ’68 or ’69. So Chitsukananda was a devotee I brought. He became a devotee in Montreal. And he was very energetic and always upbeat. He was that kind of guy. He was Cuban, but he spoke English very well. So when Lennon came to that hotel – which I can’t remember the name –

PURUJIT: Queen Elizabeth.

HANSADUTTA: Okay. Queen Elizabeth Hotel. I said to Chitsukananda, “Why don’t you go up there and tell them we wanna go and see them, we wanna come up and see them.” He said, “Hansadutta, the whole world wants to see him. You know… ” I said, “Just go. Depend on Krishna. Just go. What can they do? Nothing. Just go.” So he said, “Okay,” kind of reluctantly. But in a half hour he calls back up he said, “Yeah,” he said, “Yeah, come on up. Bring ’em all up here.”

HANSADUTTA: So okay, we went. And we brought karatals and drums and everything. And I wound up going everyday and sitting with him for some time, you know, maybe an hour or two hours, sometimes more. And the last day towards evening time, he called up. He said, “Come on up, bring all the guys and bring Krishna.” I think we had Kartamishana [deity of Krishna]. Okay, so I said, “What’s going on?” ‘Cause generally at night we didn’t go. He said, “Just bring the guys. Come on up.”

So we come up, and the whole place was lined with recording equipment. And all kinds of people are there. One of them was the Smothers Brothers, and Timothy Leary [was also there]. And we brought prasadam. So I took Lennon aside and said, “What’s going on?” He said, “We’re gonna make a record.” And he said, “We want you to chant in the background.” Right? I said, “No, we can’t do that.” He looked at me, he said, “It’s not pure, is it?” I said, “No.” I said, “You make one side, we’ll make the other side.” He said, “Well, I can’t do that.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “It’s a business thing.” I said, “Okay, so we’ll make a record and you make a record.” He said, “I can’t do that either.” I said, “Well, what can you do?” So anyway, that was that. So they made this record, “Give Peace A Chance”. And of course the devotees may be very critical that “Oh, you should have been on the record, duh duh duh duh duh duh duh.” But you know, I was such a new person, I thought “No, you can’t mix up this thing here.” And so… but everything in the end turned out alright. I’ll tell you why.

The last day he was there, I was in the room with him, and so I knew he was gonna leave. And I was hoping to get a donation from him. So I said, “Look, John, you’re a nice looking guy, you’re intelligent, you’re famous. You’re talented, and you’re very wealthy. So these things are all gifts of Krishna. So Krishna has given you so much, now you give something to Krishna. Give some donation.” So he kinda started to hem and haw, “Well, when we get to London… ” And I said, “No, don’t give me that crap about getting to London. You can give the donation now.” Then Yoko comes in and she goes, you know, into a tirade. She was kind of cursing, and so I kinda backed off. Then she went out again. So I said, “Come on.” And so on he says, “Look here. Why don’t you take my guitar?” I said, “You know, I’m a devotee. I don’t have time to sell guitars.” And then Yoko comes in again and goes into it. Then I said, “Well, just leave it be.” Right?

So what happened next, I didn’t learn until 1991 when I met Dhananjaya in Vrindavan. He said, “You know, Hansadutta, everybody thinks George… Shyamasundar got that manor from George – is because of him [Shyamasundar]. But actually it was not; it was because of you.” I said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “Well when you were in Montreal, you were talking to Lennon, and you had that exchange – well, after his program was over, he met George and they went boating for – I dunno – a week or so. And they had Prabhupada’s new record which they played from morning till night. And he relayed his exchange with you. And it was that which so impressed George, that it brought him to that point that he bought the manor for Prabhupada.” So I said, “I never knew that. That’s amazing.” He said, “Yeah.” So my point is that when I tell the story about the guitar and I said, “Well, you know… ” and everybody says, “Wow, you know that would’ve been worth millions of dollars”, and so it probably would. And I always felt kind of like, well maybe I did the wrong thing. So when Dhananjaya explained that to me, I felt that no, I did the right thing. I did the right thing. It came out like that – although I didn’t know it, I did the right thing.

PURUJIT: Do you know specifically what impressed George?

HANSADUTTA: I think it was – just like I’m talking with you right? We’re just talking. I’m not like, [makes begging gesture] and you’re not like that either. And I think people like John Lennon who are very famous, they are always surrounded by people who are artificially… [makes bowing gesture with hands cupped]

PURUJIT: Sucking.

HANSADUTTA: Sucking, or sycophants, I think they call them. And wanna get something, and flattering them. And that didn’t come from me. I was like, “You know, come on. Get real. What do you mean, [wait till we meet in] London? Give the money now.” So I think, I think… that’s what I think. I think that impressed George. I think it impressed Lennon too. Because I was a little famous myself. Right? A little. But I know how it is to be famous. It’s a real drag. It’s kind of exciting at first. But after a while, you’re like, Oh my God, give me a break. Because you see, you wanna be in a normal, how do you say – have an open exchange with whomever. But you can’t. Because people are addicted to this profiling and flattery and so forth and so on.

PURUJIT: So you’re cut off. You’re basically cut off.

HANSADUTTA: Yeah, you become isolated. You can’t have normal –

PURUJIT: Relationships –



HANSADUTTA: Now you see, Prabhupada… Srila Prabhupada, being seamlessly, uninterruptedly in touch with Krishna, he can’t be flattered. He can’t be swayed. He doesn’t even get aggravated. Because he’s on another platform. He’s in constant rapport with Krishna.

And you never know what he’s gonna say or do. He could answer the same question… You know, I remember we were at Temple University. Somebody asked him, “Have you seen God?” And Prabhupada – this huge grin came over his face, and he said, “What do you think?” And at other times I saw him say in the darshana [in response to someone’s question] “So you have seen God and you’re panditah sama-darshinah [Bhagavad-gita 5.18]?” Prabhupada said, “No, I’m not panditah sama-darshinah. I’m just repeating what I heard from my spiritual master.” “But you must be panditah sama-darshinah, because you’re guru.” He said, “No, I don’t know anything. I just repeat what he said, that’s all I know.” Oh, then that guy says – this was in India, Indore, I think – he says, “Oh, then why are you… why are we listening to you?” Something like that. Prabhupada says, “You don’t have to listen. You can go.” So Prabhupada had this constant fresh response to everything and everybody. In Surat… In the first wave that we went there [to India with Prabhupada], I was staying at the biggest jari maker’s place – jari means the gold threads – Bhagubai Jariwala. So in the evening, Prabhupada would have darshana. So one evening – of course they’re all Indians – so one person, he said, “Well, Ramakrishna says that he was Krishna and he was Rama. What do you think?” And Prabhupada said, “I don’t know. Maybe.” And he picks up his Bhagavad-gita and he raises it, he said, “But I know that this is Krishna for sure. So why should I take a chance?” I thought, you know, when this man said that, that Prabhupada would leap over… you know. But he didn’t. He said, “No, maybe. I don’t know.” And so… and then he gave a little analogy. When you go to the pharmacy and you ask for a specific brand of medicine, and the pharmacist says “No, I don’t have that, but this is the same thing. You take this.” then [the response is] “If it’s the same thing, then why don’t you give me the original thing? Why should I take something else – a substitute?”

So as I said before, I was so keen to hear Prabhupada respond in these informal exchanges. He has one morning walk… So Svarupa Damodara the scientist is with him. And they’re talking and he mentions something about gravity. Prabhupada says, “What is that gravity?” “Well, the law of gravity that you know, things fall down.” Prabhupada says, “There’s no law of gravity.” He said, “There’s tons of water right now in the sky. Why doesn’t it fall down?” Have you heard this? Oh, you have. So you know very well. Anyway, he says, “Why doesn’t it fall down?” And then Svarupa Damodara goes into some scientific jargon. And then he mentions the word “conditions”. “Yes,” Prabhupada said, “Yes, it’s a question of conditions. So the next question has to be, who makes the conditions? To keep it there or it will fall down?” Not the exact wording, but that’s the point. So these things, gravity, that’s a holy… a holy point for the scientists. And Prabhupada just dismissed it: “There’s no gravity, what is that gravity?” And he gives a more – how do you say – proper scientific explanation that yes, things come down when there are certain conditions. And other conditions, the same thing goes up. So the question has to be Who makes the conditions?

And you know… of course I’m sure you know Prabhupada – he told me, he said, “This point that life comes from life and matter comes from life [or rather, its opposite: the idea that life comes from matter], this is the vital nerve of the whole scientific Western world. If you break this, the whole thing will fall.” So therefore that book I gave you, Life Comes from Life… And I have it in my mind – I already have the material, and in Malaysia, Das, my secretary, she compiled all the points Prabhupada made in conversations about scientists to expose – to challenge and expose. He used these words repeatedly. Challenge and expose. He wanted a team of scientists to go from one university to another and challenge them and expose them. But I don’t think it’s ever happened that I know of.

PURUJIT: Yeah I noticed this in a conversation. Prabhupada is very adamant. He says, that, “I’ll just give you some ideas. You work out the details.”

HANSADUTTA: Right. Therefore his first book [sic], Easy Journey To Other Planets is dedicated to scientists of the world. Because this has completely confounded, bewildered even the so-called most learned men. And it is a… You know, we talk in finance about how people are defrauded, right?


HANSADUTTA: But this [idea that life originates in matter, not God] is the greatest fraud of all that’s been going on for thousands of years. This is a fraud. And on the basis of this, people are working day and night for things that are unnecessary. Cars, airplanes, you name it. And in the end for all the work, what do you get? Why? You buy the same two potatoes, a carton of milk, you buy some shoes or some shirt. You pay, you get some money. So why not stick – why go so far out just to get the same thing which you can get by cooperating with Krishna’s nature, Krishna’s creation? Cooperate. Cooperate instead of you creating. Everything is artificial. And people are working for that and just missing the point. That – how to get out of this repetition of birth, death, old age and disease – that no one is teaching. No one is teaching that.

PURUJIT: When we, when we fell down from the spiritual world, Krishna gave us this material world as a replica of the spiritual world.

HANSADUTTA: Yeah, it’s like we have Disney Land, right?


HANSADUTTA: So you created some artificial so-called environment for foolish children. So similarly, the foolish conditioned soul has created a –

PURUJIT: Another one.

HANSADUTTA: Disney Land. Okay, it’s more expensive and technical and complex. But the end is the same: you become old, you become diseased, you die. And in the meantime, you still eat the same two potatoes. Why not stay where you are and produce them directly, and be peaceful? So this is… No guru or swami from India has ever addressed this point. You got these half-gurus – Deepak Chopra and so many [others] – how do you say – pretending. But they can’t do anything. But a simple devotee, if he hears from Prabhupada and repeats that without fear or reservation, he can open the door for freedom from this fearful cycle. Because it is fearful. It only looks fine. Like we’re in a university town – everyone’s young, young men, young women. They’re laughing, right? But the other half of that is when they become decrepit, old and wrinkled. And nobody wants an old wrinkled woman, or a demented man. He’s slobbering and they put him away in a home. That is kept hidden. So the devotee has to expose that. He has to expose it, not expect anything in return. I’m just telling you like it is. I’m just saying… Americans have a… just saying, birth, death, old age, disease. You get big, big men – Kennedy, John Lennon, who was shot dead. Someone just randomly shot him dead. What is that? How are scientists, psychologists, how are they dealing with that? They don’t know what to say.

My daughter, she’s in UC Santa Barbara. She’s pursuing a PhD in psychology. Right? And she’s very smart. I said to her, and I repeat every time I meet her, I said, “You have to set a milestone in that field by making people understand the patient that they’re treating is not the result of this one life. That he has lived before this life, and he has, how do you say, reactions, deaths, debits and credits, karma that will overwhelm him. Unless you introduce this and make people understand that the life is continuous, but where it resides – this body or that body – that is temporary. Just like electricity is a continuous flow. It may come there in your computer and works nice, but if it’s withdrawn, then everything is finished.
So we don’t have to be big pundits. Prabhupada left so many books. It’s a whole ocean. But at least we have to bring people to the shore of the ocean. They dip their feet, let me see if it’s too hot, too cold. And at some point they either go on the boat and go across the ocean of birth and death, old age and disease, but the beginning… we have to deal with the beginning. When the child goes to school, he has to [learn] A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P. And how? This is another important point: by sound. The whole Vedic culture rests on sound transmission. Not on reading and writing. If you can read and write, that’s nice. But most people couldn’t – not in those days – read and write. So we see again, the simple beginning – the seed. The child hears the sound A, B, C, D, and is encouraged to memorize A, B, C, D, E, F, G. Then only the graphic – how do you say – letter –

PURUJIT: Representation.

HANSADUTTA: Representation is made. And then how to combine them to words. Then how to combine the words to sentences. Then how to combine the sentences to paragraphs. Then onto book – everything. So I always give this example. If the clock is in the child’s room for a hundred years, he can never know what time it is until he hears it from his father – “Oh, when the hand is this and the small hand is that, it means this.” It’s by sound, not by seeing. Westerners – they want to see everything. That’s why they’re fascinated by this. They’re childish. They’re becoming more and more childish, degraded. You know why Indian art is not realistic? For the most part? Because the population, the people, they heard the stories – Ramayana, Mahabharat, Bhagavad-gita. They heard them first. So only an indication is necessary. Then they remember. You follow? Just like we make signs. [For the] women’s room we put a little lady there – “Oh, here’s where the women go and there’s where the men go”.

But Vedic society is by sound. Sound is most important. In the Bhagavatam one verse there that the Bhaktivedanta Institute pursued is that the sound indicates the presence of a speaker hidden from our view [Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.26.33]. So I see you, but I cannot see the source of sound, which is the heart. Firstly the heart, then that impulse is, it rises up until it becomes more and more – how do you say – gross. So in the heart. Krishna says, “I am seated in everyone’s heart. From me alone comes knowledge, remembrance, and forgetfulness.” [Bhagavad-gita 15.15] Right? So when someone hears the sound Krishna – Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna – just like Prabhupada, right? He came [chanting], “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna.” — if the recipient feels an impulse to respond or to hear, then Krishna in the heart gives him that energy. Pushes him, yes. And so the first – the actual “Hare Krishna” comes from Krishna. Then the soul cooperates with that impulse and it rises and is articulated. In this way, hearing and chanting. Hearing and chanting. We’re just making it simple. Right? And you have… Krishna sees what your inclination is. You don’t wanna chant? Okay. And if you do, then that energy, that force, must come from Krishna. Krishna is the soul of the soul. The soul is very minute, right? We say, one ten thousandth [of the tip of a hair]. But Krishna is smaller. So He gives confirmation and impulse. And the more a person – how do you say – is enlivened spiritually by… We say that if you chant Hare Krishna, you become happy. “Chant Hare Krishna and be happy.” Then more and more, till we’re dancing, or besides ourselves. We feel like if I didn’t chant Hare Krishna, I would lose my mind.

And that’s true. People are not chanting Hare Krishna and they’ve lost their mind. Their mind is filled with all rubbish things. “Okay,” [says] Krishna, “you want rubbish things?” He facilitates. And remembrance and forgetfulness – he facilitates. “Okay, you want to forget? Okay, you forget.” And so the… Prabhupada came to the country which is in the vanguard of material contamination. People think this is the place to come, but it’s the jumping-off place for going to hell. You come here and indulge in every sinful deed. Yes, Krishna’s giving you facility – “Do it, do it.” Or we’re going to India, because Prabhupada said “Oh, Vrindavana [is spiritual].” Right? So whatever you want. That’s a… You know, when a person has everything like Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs – he’s dead and gone now, but there are others. When a person has everything, there isn’t anything that he can’t have. Then how does he enjoy? So the answer is he starts to enjoy by giving, right? Of course it’s a mundane example. But, Krishna has everything. Everything belongs to him. So how does Krishna enjoy? He enjoys just by giving – “Oh you want this? Take it”. He said… there’s a verse… what is that verse? “Amongst all the living beings, one is the leader”. [Nityo nityanam chetanash chetananam – Katha Upanishad] Anyway, I can’t remember the Sanskrit. “Amongst all the infinite number of living beings, one of them is the leader”.

PURUJIT: Oh. Nityo nityanam chetanash chetananam.
HANSADUTTA: Nityo nityanam chetanash chetananam eko bahunam yo vidhadhati kamam. One is the leader. What is he doing? He maintains all the others, and he fulfills all their desires. So you wanna be a nonsense like in that “Give peace a chance”? Like Timothy Leary? He was there so the devotees brought sweet balls and pakoras and things to give. So when they put in his hand, he said, “What is this?”. Devotees said, “It’s prasadam.” Then he said, “What’s that?” Devotees said, “If you eat this, it’s guaranteed that you’re not going to be born as an animal in the next life.” So he threw it down. He said, “No, I want to be born as a dog.” So Krishna… This is a Vedic verse. Krishna maintains all the others, right? Eat, sleep, defend, mate. Whether they’re bugs or bums or millionaires or cats and dogs. All of them get their food, their shelter, everything maintained. Eat, sleep, defend, mate. He maintains them all and he fulfills all their desires, however vicious and cruel that may be. Or benevolent – some people building beautiful bridges and skyscrapers. And others, their business is just thinking how to destroy everything. So without Krishna, it can’t be done. So that’s where we’re at. We have to decide, what do we want?

I remember I came – before I joined – I came across a little book. It said… It really works. And it was just a few pages. And the point of this exercise was that whatever it is that you want, you make a list. Morning and night you read it [the list], and then you just can adjust one priority or another priority. Don’t think about how to get these things. You just keep the list. And everything you will get in due course. But you have to maintain that list. And I got to thinking about – this is before I joined – so if you can have anything you want, then what is the value in having that thing? If it’s… What is that thing worth then, when it’s so easy to have that simply by focusing? And it’s actually true. But most people can’t keep that focus. And then I… I mean, I thought about that. Really, really, really. And then I came to Krishna shortly after that. The one thing I couldn’t think of.

PURUJIT: Yes, Krishna. You can also relate it to the spiritual master. Although he is the spiritual master, actually he is the spiritual servant.

HANSADUTTA: Right. He is just serving. And he also arranges for whatever you want. But because we tend not to be thoughtful… Prabhupada said this is meditation, to think on these things. Meditation isn’t like to make your mind blank, or to stare at a point in space or to become still. Meditation is to allow one’s mind to ruminate over what Krishna and what the spiritual master said. Not just to memorize it. Not memorize, but to… Wow. Just like this verse. Nityo nityanam chetanash chetananam. He is the leader of all the other infinite number of infinitesimals. And He maintains them all, and He fulfills all their desires. So there may be a time lapse in that fulfilling, because we’re in the time world. Right? We’re in the three dimensional [world]. [End of Part 2]

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

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