Room Conversation with Yadurabara About Early Life , London , 1973-08-12
Prabhupāda: ...of the same age of neighboring quarters, they will join. There will be feast, procession, saṅkīrtana, everything in miniature form. And my father would spend. He will not hesitate. Yes. Therefore, my father’s friends used to joke that "Ratha-yātrā ceremony is going on at your home, and you do not invite us. What is this?" Father would reply, "They are all children playing." "Oh, children playing. You are avoiding us by the name of children." It was regular procession. And for eight days there was feasting.
Yadubara: That was at the same time as the big procession?
Yadubara: That was the same time as the big procession?
Prabhupāda: Yes. During the Ratha-yātrā festival. Eight days, eight different varieties of foodstuff my mother would cook and offer to Jagannātha. Daily bhoga-ārātrika, decoration with flowers. It was regular.
Yadubara: What did the cart look like?
Yadubara: What did the ratha cart look like? Just a miniature of the one at Purī?
Prabhupāda: That I can give you diagram. I will give. Because I played with, I remember perfectly.
Yadubara: What about... Did the girls participate? Did the...
Yadubara: Small girls?
Prabhupāda: Small girls, they [indistinct], one or two.
Yadubara: How many boys were there?
Prabhupāda: Not less than a dozen. And then public will gather. So it was regular procession. Not very big. Everyone knew that "It is children; they are playing."
Yadubara: Did they play at...
Prabhupāda: The ratha, ratha I used to decorate myself, painting, with color. I will give you a diagram of the ratha. [Prabhupāda draws] [break] Covering. This is diagram.
Yadubara: So this was..., it is not solid inside, so that you could see through.
Prabhupāda: No, there were many columns. Sixteen columns supporting.
Śrutakīrti: Like the ratha cart here, with the columns? The wooden...
Prabhupāda: Yes. No. Here there is not column.
Yadubara: This was horse?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Wooden horse.
Yadubara: This is driver.
Yadubara: What kind of clothing did the boys wear, did you wear?
Prabhupāda: No, no, ordinary.
Yadubara: Just shorts?
Prabhupāda: No, ordinary... Yes, dhotī and shirt.
Yadubara: Dhotī and shirt.
Prabhupāda: Someone without any shirt, because it is summer season. So there was no particular dress.
Yadubara: And were there instruments you were playing?
Prabhupāda: Yes, on this khol, karatāla, then that chaazh[?]. Where is our Paṇḍita Mahārāja?
Devotee: I'll go and get him.
Prabhupāda: And call also Haṁsadūta. [devotee goes to find]
Yadubara: When you did Deity worship as a child...
Yadubara: ...how did you do?
Prabhupāda: I would imitate the brāhmaṇas and my father.
Yadubara: With the lamp and the incense?
Prabhupāda: Everything, complete. I would perform ārātrika and offer prasādam. Rādhā-Govinda Deities, there was altar decorated, small Deity, daily changing cloth. Everything. Offering obeisances. Everything.
Yadubara: When you... Would the ratha ceremony go on in the court of Rādhā-Govinda temple, in the courtyard?
Prabhupāda: No, that was... They are separate. I was doing in my... But I was imitating how the worship is going on there.
Yadubara: Would the ratha cart..., was that going on in the courtyard, Rādhā-Govinda?
Prabhupāda: Yes, yes. The first courtyard from the road. That circle?
Yadubara: Just inside.
Prabhupāda: There inside there, and stay for some time, then again circling, go away. Our house was... You know that Mullik’s house?
Prabhupāda: Yes. That was also Mullik’s house, our. Our number was 151, and in the middle there was 153, and their house was 155. Just moment.
[Pradyumna enters and offers obeisances]
Have you written anything about that article?
Pradyumna: Yes, I’m just finishing editing it.
Prabhupāda: All right. That’s all right. Then you shall send it on.
Haṁsadūta: Ah-huh. When he is finished.
Yadubara: So part of the movie, it calls for either some narration by yourself...
Yadubara: It calls for some narration, either by yourself or by someone else.
Prabhupāda: No. Someone else can narrate.
Yadubara: We wanted to describe the Deity worship, why we are worshiping Deities, because people...
Prabhupāda: I was simply imitating because my father was worshiping, and we were always going that Mullik’s Rādhā-Govinda temple, their festival. We are practically same family. I was known as one of the children of Mullik’s family. Others, other neighborhood men, they would know that I was belonging to their family. Because the house in which we are living, that belonged to the Mullik family, one partner.
Yadubara: I saw that beautiful room, very aristocratic room, with chandelier and glass.
Prabhupāda: They were... Now they are reduced. Otherwise they were the most aristocratic family of Calcutta. Kashinath Mullik. There are roads and names, Kashinath Mullik name. We belonged to... The house where we were living, that was Kashinath Mullik’s second brother. Second brother. So his wife was living, and she was a distant relative, grandmother, of me. So she had no children. So we were living. With some relative he [she] was living.
Yadubara: So we wanted to explain in the movie to people in general how the Deity worship is authorized = how it’s not worshiping just stone, how the Deity is actually Kṛṣṇa Himself.
Yadubara: Things like that.
Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa’s form, Kṛṣṇa’s quality, they are all the same. That you know. You can explain.
Yadubara: Also we wanted to give some, just some very brief explanation of your past = how you were attached to Kṛṣṇa from the very beginning of your life, how your friends offered you intoxication.
Prabhupāda: That is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā. Śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe yoga bhraṣṭo sañjāyate [Bg. 6.41]. It has come from previous life. Therefore I was given the opportunity to take birth in that family, Kṛṣṇa association. And my father was a great Vaiṣṇava. So śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ. Both things were confirmed. My father was śuci, and although I did not belong to that family, but I was born in that aristocratic family and I was raised amongst them.
So that confirms = this Kṛṣṇa consciousness coming from previous life. And some very authorized astrologers said that in my previous life I was a physician, and I did not commit any sinful act. He said like that. The only, if it is taken as sinful, I killed some snakes for medicinal purpose. Otherwise I did not commit any sin. He said like that. [laughing] And it is right, because I had tendency in my childhood play to imitate the physician. I would keep some medicine, and my playmates would come, I would feel their pulse and give some medicine. [devotees laugh] This was my play, I remember. Yes. Some powders.
Prabhupāda: No, pills... [laughs] Very small child at the time. So I would play that my playmates would come as patient, they would stand. I would give them some medicine. [chuckles]
Haṁsadūta: And still you are giving medicine.
Prabhupāda: Yes, I was giving medicine in business. I was appointed Dr. Bose’s laboratory manager.
Haṁsadūta: But still you are giving medicine. You are giving Kṛṣṇa medicine.
Prabhupāda: Yes, bhavauṣadhi. I know how to prepare so many medicines still. Practically all allopathic medicine I can prepare. Āyurvedic also, some of. What is that they are written in the book, I can prepare. So that confirms my previous life also.
Yadubara: We wanted to include some very brief notes on your family. You had some family life and business.
Prabhupāda: My father was a businessman. He was doing business. Although we were living the most aristocratic family, my father was middle class. In those days about five hundred rupees' income; it was not very much. But seventy years ago five hundred rupees means nowadays twenty times. Everything has gone up ten times, twenty times. We were purchasing at that time rice. My father had hobby = there must be full stock of rice, at least for six months. Rice and fuel and ghee and potato he would stock. So we had no difficulties. Everything was sumptuous, by father’s plan.
Yadubara: What about your family after you were married?
Prabhupāda: I have got sons. They are still there in Calcutta. A sannyāsī does not require the history of his previous life. So summary I have already given.
Yadubara: We wanted to include like this, some very brief history of your..., that you were in some business, of your meeting with your Guru Mahārāja.
Prabhupāda: That is already explained in that Īśopaniṣad.
Yadubara: Yes. Yes. So it is all right to include all these.
Prabhupāda: 1922 I met my Guru Mahārāja. In 1933 I was officially initiated. Then Guru Mahārāja passed away in 1936. And he asked me, fifteen days before his passing away, that "You preach in English language in the Western countries. That will be your good, and the person amongst whom you preach, they will be also benefited." This was his last instructions to me.
Yadubara: That was fifteen days before...
Prabhupāda: Fifteen days before his passing away. He passed away in 1936, December 30th, and that letter was written 13th December, 1936.
Yadubara: Didn’t he say something right away, after he met you personally?
Prabhupāda: Yes. He said that Caitanya... I argued with him so many times. At that time I was Congress man, non-cooperated. I gave up my education. But I was appointed manager. I stopped my education 1920, and then '21 I was appointed manager in Bose’s laboratory. Then 1923 I resigned that post. I was appointed their agent, Northern India. Then my business flourished like anything. I started my own laboratory in Lucknow, in Vārāṇasī, in Allahabad. So that was very successful business. Everyone knew me in the chemical business.
Then in 1933 I was initiated. In this way, gradually I came in contact intimately. And Guru Mahārāja... In 1935, all my Godbrothers were meeting in Bombay. So I was living outside the maṭha. So they requested, "Abhay Babu is such a noble soul. Why he should live outside the maṭha?" Purposely I was living outside. I had my business office. I was living with my four children; family was in Calcutta. So Guru Mahārāja said, "It is better to live a little outside, and he will do the necessity automatically in due course of time." He said like that. So I could not understand what he meant by that. But it means that he was confident that "This boy in due course of time will take up this matter seriously." He said these very words = "In due course of time he will take things rightly. And it is better now to live little apart from..." [laughs] He said like that.
Haṁsadūta: He had some premonition.
Prabhupāda: Then in 1936 he passed away, and he left his letter, "You do this." So I was thinking, "What shall I do?" Of course, I took up this missionary idea as soon as I saw him in 1922, because we were trained up to some extent by our family tradition. So one of my friend took me to Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura in 1922. So at that time I could understand that "Here is a person who is actually doing the missionary activities of Caitanya Mahāprabhu." Because we were Vaiṣṇava family. My father was Vaiṣṇava, my grandfather was Vaiṣṇava, my... We were all worshiper of Kṛṣṇa and Lord Caitanya by family tradition. So at that time I could understand that "Here is a saintly person who is trying very nicely." So he asked me to join immediately. But at that time, I was family man. In 1921 my first child was born. I was married in 1918, during student time. I was at that time third-year student. So I was thinking, "How to do? How to do?" So in 1944, I started this Back to Godhead.
Haṁsadūta: From Allahabad?
Prabhupāda: No, from Calcutta.
Haṁsadūta: From Calcutta.
Prabhupāda: So I was practically distributing. I was spending, in those days, 300 rupees, 400 rupees. Was a large amount, but I was spending somehow or other from my business, and practically it was being distributed. You have seen some of the copies?
Haṁsadūta: I saw some of the old copies. Yes.
Prabhupāda: So in this way, gradually things changed. I wanted to become a very big businessman and earn money and spend for this missionary work, but that was not very successful. [laughs] So in 1950, I retired practically. Not retired, but little in touch with business, whatever is going on, going on. Then 1954 I gave up connection with my family. I went to Jhansi. There I got a very big building. So I wanted to started the missionary activities under the name of The League of Devotees.
Haṁsadūta: I saw your prospectus, an old prospectus.
Prabhupāda: Yes, it was registered. So that was a very nice building. Somebody gave me. Then the governor of the province, that Munshi, K. Munshi, his wife had an association of the women; she wanted that house. So the governing..., government circle, they began to press me to leave that house through the proprietor. So I was sticking. All my friends, they said that "You don’t go away. We shall help you." Then I thought that "They are government circles. They will... If they give pressure, how can I fight with them?"
And that was not a very nice place, Jhansi, although the building was first class. That building is still there. Then I thought that instead of fighting with them, let me go to Vṛndāvana, then we shall see. So I too went to Vṛndāvana. And then in 1956... No, I left '54. In '56 I was living with my Godbrothers. Then I started again. In the meantime, for some years, two, three years, the Back to Godhead was stopped. Then I started again in Delhi. You have seen my Delhi Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa temple?
Yadubara: I went to one place that you stayed at...
Prabhupāda: Jama Masjid.
Yadubara: Something, yes.
Prabhupāda: So I was staying in Vṛndāvana in a very nice place. Then these Rādhā-Damodara temple men, they call me, that "Why don’t you come, live here? We give you two rooms. You just repair and live here. Whatever you like, you can do." So I thought, "It is Jīva Gosvāmī's place"; otherwise living in a very big palace, Keśī Ghat, for seven years. Then I came to Rādhā-Damodara temple. So I was writing Bhāgavatam, Back to Godhead, and printing in Delhi.
In this way, when some books were prepared, then I came to America. Then after coming America, everything you know. [end]