Room Conversation with Svarūpa Dāmodara

Type:
Room Conversation
Date:
October 18
Year:
1977
Place:
Vṛndāvana

Hṛdayānanda: Always more or less warm. Tropical, subtropical. Always nice fruits. Perhaps some day, in a Kṛṣṇa conscious world, we’ll have to bring many people there, because there’s so much unused land, all very green, lots of rivers, very nice, warm, and no one lives there. Thousands of miles of very nice land, and no one is using it. We are sending a few devotees back to Argentina, and we’re going to try to see what can be done there. We are hopeful that even though our movement was kicked out there, still, there are many, many people who are chanting sixteen rounds or building altars in their homes and offering their food to Kṛṣṇa. And even since the government’s kicked out all the different groups, including ourselves, just by your books circulating, many people are becoming devotees and leaving the country to go to other temples. So actually we’re still making devotees there just from the books that were distributed. And now we’re investigating to try to again get legal permission, also perhaps establish something like some type of restaurant or farm community there. [break] 

Prabhupāda: What news? 

Svarūpa Dāmodara: We’re trying to fix a debate in Delhi on October 27th among different scientists and ourselves. 

Prabhupāda: Twenty-seventh October? 

Svarūpa Dāmodara: This month, yes, October 27th. It was Indian National Science Academy. There are some very well known scientists, including Kothari, D. S. Kothari and other… They told me there is a group of scientists in Delhi, actually from all over India. It’s called Mind Group. They like to do research on nature of consciousness. And they told me that it would be very good if we have a debate between our group and their group. So I agreed to that. And the Mishra, actually, the one who came last time, he also belongs to that group, and Kothari is the chairman of that group, and there’s one Bengali called Lankadas[?] Gupta. He’s the secretary. They all belong to that group. So they’re going to invite us for a, they call, a round-table debate. It will be about twenty people from their side and five from our side. So we’re going to have a confrontation. And also Dr. Khorana told me that when I come I can fix a television program in Delhi to appear us, and they’re going to interview us in the Indian television. But I’ve decided to establish Bombay as a… Since we have everything there ready, I’d like to furnish with office, and also I requested our members to stay here for some time. So they’re going to establish the library also. I have plans to contact many leading scientists, personal goal. So we’ll all go out with our books, and we’ll try to make them members of the Institute. Also in the process we’ll speak and make engagements, and also we’ll try to request them to help us in pushing this Movement, plus we’ll request them to review our books on a scientific level. And so that way we can make friends and they can help us in, I think, various ways. I think that… I’m thinking of charging one hundred rupees only for membership. This is called annual membership. It’s like in any other institution we have this membership program. Just like I am a member of American Chemical Society. We have annual membership fees. So just like that, we’ll generate, called subscriber members, and they will get our journal, Sa-Vijñānam, free. This is, er… And they’ll renew this every year. I just discussed this morning with my members that we should plan to make many members while we’re here, six months in India. Then yesterday we were discussing about our possible permanent place in the United States. And I suggested that, from my experience, that Atlanta was very, very nice place especially to do writing, because the atmosphere is nice and the climate is also nice, and it’s natural setting. It is very conducive, especially thinking and writing type of work. So I decided that until at least we have a permanent place, I like to stay for a few years in Atlanta. Then they will stay about three, four years to do the…, some of our main writing. And then also we can do the preaching, side by side. So instead of going to Europe, we’ll go back to the United States after the Māyāpur festival, and then we’ll do more writing, and in the process we’ll also make several engagements in the United States. We’ll start preaching now. Also Amarendra, that I requested… He’s in Balavanta’s zone. He’s the president in Gainesville. He’s the one who’s good in making engagements for us. He’s very enthusiastic. But he cannot come outside United States. So I thought it will also be very practical to be in Atlanta. Then in the process we’ll look for a possible permanent place in Washington, DC, so that we can work out slowly, but… At least four, five years we’ll be engaged in writing. So… And also we’ll request, make many members as possible from the scientific community. 

Prabhupāda: Enroll the intelligent men. 

Svarūpa Dāmodara: In the meantime, I’m thinking of a small office here in Vṛndāvana, because Vṛndāvana I’ll come back now and then, often, and I’d like to have a small place also to do some writing here. It’s a nice atmosphere, quiet, and also they have all the facilities here to do some writing. So I just went to buy a…, got this almirah for the office in Mathurā, Dr. Sharma. In about a month we’ll go to Bombay temple and try to furnish the Institute offices and also try to make some contact with the scholars. I’m thinking of holding a short conference in Bombay. It will be like here in Vṛndāvana. Bombay’s already many scholars, and right in the middle of the city, so it will be a lot easier in Bombay also. Big cities like Delhi, I think can get many scholars. In Vṛndāvana not so many came, but those few came, I think they were quite nice, and we learned something from this conference. 

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: I was speaking with Śrīla Prabhupāda the other day that it doesn’t seem that Vṛndāvana would be a good place to construct an entire building for Bhaktivedanta Institute. 

Prabhupāda: Why? There is already a building. 

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: There is already a building here. Judging by the reaction… Of course, this is the first meeting, but… 

Prabhupāda: Later on… 

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Later on it may be done, but for now it’s better to concentrate in bigger cities, where we’re sure of the response. 

Prabhupāda: Hmm? 

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: He’s asking for your… 

Prabhupāda: Svarūpa Dāmodara? 

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes. Yes. It is true that in big cities… Say, [indistinct] in Delhi. They say they can fill up the Vijñāna Bhavana. Also coming here in Vṛndāvana is…, especially if we don’t provide transportation right from…, by some good conveyance, actually it’s not so easy to come here. 

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: And that also would be such an expenditure. Each time you want to hold a meeting you’d have to convey people, especially from other cities. 

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Actually it’s not… Next time I don’t want to spend any money on conveyance and prasādam. It’s going to be charge now. This was just for Vṛndāvana. In Bombay I’m not going to do any more like this. 

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: I think that for now it’s better not to spend ten lakhs or more of rupees to build a building, another building here. Better to wait, let the Institute become established in Bombay, and see if there’s some real backing, and then consider again whether we want to build it in Vṛndāvana. 

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes, that’s all right. But still, I feel that even for a gurukula child we need a hall, small or big. We need something… It’s quite common in any academy, institute, whether it’s big or large, something where people can get together. Just like friends meet or any other functions that is normally associated with academic institutions. So some sort of hall, it’s, I think, will be of value. 

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Svarūpa Dāmodara says, Śrīla Prabhupāda, that even if the hall is not simply for the Bhaktivedanta Institute, that the gurukula here requires to have at least one big auditorium with seats. And also, if you remember, the upstairs was going to be living quarters for women. Right now the women are living on the inside part of the guesthouse, and they’re very noisy with all the children there. So perhaps it’s a good idea to go ahead with that building anyway. He says that the Bhaktivedanta Gurukula could use that hall in any case. 

Svarūpa Dāmodara: It can be a multipurpose hall. It doesn’t have to be just for gurukula or Bhaktivedanta Institute. It can also be cultural… 

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Cultural or wedding… We could rent it for wedding ceremonies, things like that also. 

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes. It’s already a cultural center. Just like the Gītā Conference is coming next month, I was told? They would like to hold here. Something like that, we can always get some engagements. Also we can get some… 

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: What do you think, Śrīla Prabhupāda? 

Prabhupāda: No, whatever you think is approved. 

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Whatever you think is approved. 

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Hmm. Well, we can discuss that. 

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Also, that will add attractions to the outsiders, if we have these nice places. Everybody who came here, those few scientists… About fifty-five, I think, all came. Most of them told me that they never knew that such thing existed in Vṛndāvana. It’s such a nice place, and very peaceful and… They never expected that these things existed in Vṛndāvana. And they were very impressed. Even our incomplete building and with all our incomplete arrangements, they were very amazed that such thing existed. And one… Actually a few of them from Agra told me that “Next time, if you hold a conference,” he said, “I will take all responsibility to bring all the scientists from around Agra, Delhi, and everything.” He said he didn’t know that such things might exist. So Vṛndāvana is also a place where people come and we can cultivate their…, to bring them to the spiritual consciousness, Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Actually, it’s very true that when they see our temple and to see our children, oh, they were so impressed that they say they will come back. And some of them attended maṅgala-ārati and some of them attended Bhāgavatam class, even those who came for our conference. And so… Especially those who came with wives, very attracted to see our Deities and the photographs, nice, from all over the world. Everything was so attractive. Even the Mishra, who was so Māyāvādī during our conference, also was almost materialist, his wife was so influential. His wife was actually a devotee. And I spent about two hours in his room with them, and she was instructing him that “You think that everything is just chemicals.” And she was telling him that “Why don’t you think that God existed before—there was God, and everything’s coming from Him? And do research on the basis of that. If you do that, then everything will be nice.” She was telling him that “Without bhakti, your science isn’t going to give you any happiness, no pleasure.” So actually she… Then he almost became a devotee. He said, “Yes, yes, yes.” [laughter] And they wanted to see Śrīla Prabhupāda just before they went. I told them that doctor told us that we shouldn’t allow any, even the devotees, not so crowded in the room, because doctor advises not to do so. So I requested that “When Prabhupāda gets better, you please come back. Prabhupāda’s going to get better. Then we’ll have the opportunity to allow you to have Prabhupāda’s darśana.” So they say they will come back, bring their children. Especially they were very impressed by our gurukula boys. They said it reminded them Kṛṣṇa’s boyhood pastimes just seeing these our gurukula boys. Especially every day we had invocation by the gurukula boys with Yaśodānandana Mahārāja from Brahma-saṁhitā. The vibrations were so potent that everybody was very impressed. Though we didn’t have all the guests that we invited, but still, I think, those few who came, I think they had very good appreciation about Śrīla Prabhupāda’s program. Especially bhakti-vedānta… Mishra’s relation was very significant. He said he never had in his life to see this bhakti-vedānta. He called all of us as Bhakti-vedāntist. He said he was always Advaita-vedāntist, and he said he never saw a bhakti-vedāntī. He said it was a great experience. He said he was very grateful that he came to the conference. And he had great appreciation of the whole movement. They said, “Just imagine that in about ten years a big empire can be built in such a pure spirit.” So like that, Dr. Soni… Soni is the Deputy General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research. He’s also a big government scientist. To see these people… Actually, even one cannot just go and see them. You have to wait for so many red tapes just to go them. They came. He came with his family. Actually, he was the chief guest on Sunday, and he had such a great appreciation of our whole Movement, and he told me very frankly in his opening speech that a few years ago he saw the devotees in Picadilly Circus, first time in London. And about that time he said he had a very wrong impression, negative impression of the whole movement. He said he thought something that was not very impressive. Then he told me very frankly that when I came to invite him for this to be the chief guest on Sunday, he said just on the basis of that, he said he was not willing to accept the invitation. But then, he said, after talking with me for a few minutes, he said he changed his whole attitude and then just decided to come. And then he expressed that he was very grateful that he came, and he learned a lot. He said this is one of the noblest causes that one can dedicate. So he had a great appreciation for the Movement. So like that, we’d like to make some friends, especially in the higher, educated classes of people. And I think I’m very hopeful, by the mercy of Your Divine Grace and Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, that we can at least follow your instructions. Then I think we can do it. 

Prabhupāda: A round table we have in Delhi? 

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Delhi? 

Prabhupāda: That round table? 

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Yes. There will be a round-table conference debate in Delhi. So all five will be there. Brahma-tīrtha, our geologist from Houston, he’s going back, he told me, on 28th. So I decided to do on 27th. Also, before that… Krishnamurti is the director general of television in New Delhi, and he’s a good friend of our Dr. Khorana. Dr. Khorana is our Life Member in Delhi. So he also came to the conference on the last day. In fact, he brought the head of the All-India Medical Association also. So he told me that any day I come, any day we want, we can fix a date for a television appearance also. And since we are here, I also don’t want to go far away from Vṛndāvana at this time. So in this process I’d like to go to Agra and Delhi and also possibly Punjab areas, and I’d like to do some program and again come back in Vṛndāvana. I don’t want to go far away from Vṛndāvana at this stage. And in the process also we’d like to do some engagements. And then in about one or two months we’ll work for Bombay. In Bombay, I was told that three rooms are provided for the Institute. But we are at least four, and also we need a secretary for typing. So it seems to me that the three rooms that would be allotted for us will be not sufficient. [pause] 

Prabhupāda: That’s all. 

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Jaya. Thank you. 

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Śrīla Prabhupāda, would you like kīrtana? [break] [end]