Room Conversation about Harijanas , Bombay , 1977-04-10
Prabhupāda: Which photograph it is?
Bhakti-caru: Dr. Amritsar. The "One Hundred Million Harijanas Pick a New Messiah."
Prabhupāda: Read that whole thing.
Bhakti-caru: "As the nation observes this week the death anniversary of Dr. Amritsar, it behooves our news research to face a challenge 'for the plight of this downtrodden community.' " [break] "The story of the vast quantity of harijanas in this ancient and illustrious land is a miserable story of shame and sorrow. Harassment and humiliation, operation and separation, poverty and pity. The harijana problems is not merely a social or religious or economic or political one. It is a complex problem involving many factors. It is, however, the most baffling national problem, posing a great challenge to the leaders, rulers and people of India."
Prabhupāda: On the whole---you read this article---why not say that "We can lead you to the highest perfection of cultural, social, religion"? It will be...
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: You want us to write a letter to the editor?
Prabhupāda: Not editor. The person who is the leader. Means the harijana movement. They are feeling frustration. Now we can give them the light.
Bhakti-caru: Actually it was written by one professor, K.H.A. Parthan.
Prabhupāda: So just write to him. On the basis of,
ye 'pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ
striyo vaiśyās tathā śūdrās
te 'pi yānti parāṁ gatim
"According to Bhagavad-gītā, we can lead you and make your life successful."
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: One problem I see---of course, I haven't read the article in any detail---but generally they very much oppose---of course, unrightly so---they very much oppose the delineation of "śūdra." When we... They are śūdras, these harijanas, but...
Prabhupāda: But it doesn't matter. We shall elevate them to go back to home, back to Godhead. Whatever he may be. Striyo vaiśyas tathā śūdrāḥ [Bg. 9.32]. Kiṁ punar brāhmaṇāḥ puṇyā bhaktā rājarṣayaḥ [Bg. 9.33]. Simply by denying that "I am not śūdra," that will not help. But they must be elevated to the standard of brāhmaṇa. That we will talk later on. But we have to convince that "This world movement is going on to make the human society to the highest perfection of life. If you join, we can help you." To the perfection of life, on the basis of Bhagavad-gītā. There is no difficulty. That we can do. If you really want, there is a...
Bhakti-caru: They have got unions also, harijanas. How to approach the unions?
Bhakti-caru: They have their unions. How can we approach the union and talk to the leaders?
Prabhupāda: Well, address him, that Dr.... We are actually doing all over the world. Why not here?
Bhakti-caru: But the thing is Dr. Amritsar is dead now. He was the leader of the harijanas.
Prabhupāda: Whoever may be, but they could not do anything. Neither they can do. They do not know how to elevate them. We know that. We can help. And we are actually doing it. The idea is they are feeling frustration for want of leader. We are prepared to guide them to the highest perfection of life. [pause] The defect was Gandhi started this harijana movement, keeping them where they are, and at the same time changing by rubber stamp, "harijana." That must be failure.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah. Unless you change the inner make-up of a man, he won't improve. They are thinking that by spending money, by giving a better home, by these things they'll improve. But we have practically seen in Madras on the beach, these harijanas were given some of the better houses, and they immediately they did one of two things = either they rented the house to someone else and kept living on the street, which is by their nature, or else they turned the house into the street.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Like hell. So unless you actually reform a person, just by artificially giving him money or if you stamp approval, it won't change anything. You have to change him. And they have no plan for that.
Prabhupāda: They do not know that.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: They spend 3,100 crores on the harijanas. Can you imagine if they had given you that money, Śrīla Prabhupāda, what you could have done with it?
Bhakti-caru: Over ninety percent of the money has gone to the [indistinct].
Prabhupāda: Now harijana, he has... Gandhi has degraded the name of harijana to such a position that if somebody comes and if he says, "I am harijana," immediately we shall hate him.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Hmm. We hate him.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Because we know there is camar bhangi; he has changed the name, "harijana."
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: That is another thing that we should point out in our letter, that what is the actual meaning of harijana? "One who serves Hari, or Kṛṣṇa."
Prabhupāda: One who has been elevated to the position of associate of Hari. That has to be done. Then it will be first class. That we can do. Nobody can do.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: What is the translation for the word jana?
Prabhupāda: Jana means person. Hari means the Lord. A government man. Hari's man. Like Nārada.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Nārada Muni is a harijana.
Prabhupāda: Yes. All devotees.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah. He is well known. [break] [reading:] "The only remedy lies in the ending of their subservience to the higher castes and securing for them economic independence. But according to the Bhāgavatam, a śūdra can never be given economic independence." If they want economic independence, they should elevate themselves to the higher caste. As long as there...
Prabhupāda: It will not become higher caste. They do not know. Economic independence, who is checking now? There is no such check all over the world. Just like in Bombay. Everyone can do business. So why they cannot do?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Because they are not intelligent enough.
Prabhupāda: That means they have no intelligence.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: That means they are śūdra. And if someone is a śūdra, how can you let him have his own money?
Prabhupāda: Whatever it may be, everything requires intelligence. If you haven't got that standard of intelligence, how you can do it? Nowadays, suppose if you do some business, is there a hindrance that "You are low class; you cannot do this business"? Neither the government nor the society. You can do it. Why you cannot do it? Just like in Bengal, the Marwaris are rich and Bengalis are... Their land, their country, and they're naturalized. And the Marwaris have big, large [indistinct]. It is your incapability. Why don't you admit that?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Look at this question, Śrīla Prabhupāda. It says "Who are these harijanas? What is their origin? What sins did they commit?"
Prabhupāda: Then you answer that.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah, we can answer these questions. Yes, they did commit sins. Therefore they are in this position.
Prabhupāda: Don't say [indistinct]. Harijana means the person associated with God.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: But these men are... I mean their position... Everyone is getting what he deserves. So if they are in a downtrodden...
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yes. If they are in a downtrodden condition, it's due to their past activities.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Now you can rectify it.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Right, it can be reversed.
Prabhupāda: It is not that you shall remain... Then, māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye 'pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ [Bg. 9.32]. If you accept Kṛṣṇa consciousness, even you are born in low-grade caste or family, you can be elevated. That is to be done. What is done is done. Now we can elevate from this position. That is our capacity.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: [reading] "There are no authentic answers to these questions."
Prabhupāda: There is. Kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo 'sya [Bg. 3.27]. Read Bhagavad-gītā. Kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo 'sya. Here is authentic answer. Why he's giving that...? That means you are not in proper leadership. If you... Just explain that if you infect cholera disease, germ, you must suffer. That is nature's law. Similarly, kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgaḥ asya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu. Now you can change the kāraṇa, the cause. Māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye 'pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ [Bg. 9.32]. And you can neutralize. Māṁ ca avyabhicāreṇa bhakti-yogena yaḥ. Quote this. Everything is there in Bhagavad-gītā.
bhakti-yogena ya sevate
sa guṇān samatītyaitān
Brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā na śocati [Bg. 18.54]. Everything is there.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: This would be a good... [break]
Indian devotee: [Hindi conversation with Śrīla Prabhupāda as Prabhupāda eats]
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Did he cook these here today?
Indian devotee: No, he didn't.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: If he cooks here, it will be hot. All of these things were cooked there and brought here, so they become a little cold.
Prabhupāda: No, it was already prepared. You bring little salt. [break] They do not know "Why I am in downtrodden condition?" The answer is there = kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo 'sya [Bg. 13.22].
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Says, "They desire freedom from the age-old shackles of superstition..."
Prabhupāda: Where is the shackle, age-old shackles? Where is the shackle?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: There is nothing keeping them down but their own inability.
Prabhupāda: You are keeping yourself in shackle. If you want to be educated... There was also... Dr. Ambedkar, he belonged to the harijana. How he became a law member? Where is the shackle?
Bhakti-caru: Even Jagjivan Ram is there.
Prabhupāda: Where is the shackle?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah, how did he become?
Prabhupāda: [Hindi conversation with Indian devotee]
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: [reading] "According to the constitutional directives, harijanas should account for twenty percent of the posts in the government service." But first of all they should be qualified. We can use the example that if your father is a high-court justice, does it make you a high-court justice?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: First you have to be qualified.
Prabhupāda: This is no plea, that there is checking = because he is born in a low-grade family, there is no educational facilities. "You cannot do it," say that, "for want of culture."
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: So then they quote Dr. Ambedkar saying, "We will attain self-elevation only if we learn self-help, regain self-respect, and gain self-knowledge." But what is the self, they don't know.
Prabhupāda: That we can teach.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: He said, "The surest way for our salvation lies in higher education."
Prabhupāda: So who forbids? Is there any restriction, that? [break] [Hindi]
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: It says here, "Here are some measures to be implemented. The caste system should be abolished." They are always trying to abolish the caste system.
Prabhupāda: The caste system... Where is the hindrance in the caste system? If you want to become a brāhmaṇa, you can become a brāhmaṇa. Why it should be abolished?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Incorrect understanding of it should be abolished.
Prabhupāda: "This is the definition of becoming a brāhmaṇa." Give this.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Śamaḥ damaḥ kṣamā śaucam.
Prabhupāda: So you have to learn it, how you can become a brāhmaṇa.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Just like if a man has a disease, just by saying he doesn't have the disease, you can't change the fact that he is diseased. If someone actually is in a certain position, you can't... The way to change it is by actually changing him, not by simply saying, "Now you're okay."
Prabhupāda: These are the symptoms of becoming a brāhmaṇa. You develop these symptoms. Who checks you? Practically we are doing all over the world. There is no such thing.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: All the measures...
Prabhupāda: Caste system should not be abolished, but it must be properly established. That is wanted. If you have got any defect in the eye, not that the eye should be plucked out. But it should be treated and brought into the normal condition. That is wanted. That we admit. You want to become brāhmaṇa without brahminical qualification. Not only you, everyone wants.
Bhakti-caru: Actually, you told Professor Kotovsky that this caste system is existing everywhere, in every society in the world.
Prabhupāda: Yes, yes. In the body there is caste system. The head is the brāhmaṇa, the hand is the kṣatriya, the belly is the vaiśya and the leg is the śūdra. Everything head, that will not help. There must be leg also. But it must be conducted under the guidance of the head. Then it is all right. If the head is not there and leg is utilized for jumping, that is monkey's business. The leg must work according to the dictation of the head. The hand must work according to the dictation of the head. "The caste system should be abolished." What is the caste system? There is no caste system. Everyone is śūdra. Who is a brāhmaṇa now, qualified, except one or two in our camp?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: The article ends by saying, "Let harijanas be their own pathfinders, and let them lead themselves from darkness to light, from pain to pleasure."
Prabhupāda: That you do not know. Otherwise you would have done it.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: "And from a living hell to tranquillity and joy of life."
Prabhupāda: You do not know how to do it. Otherwise you had done it. You do not know the way. We can teach you. So cooperate with us; we shall fulfill your ambition. That's all right.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: I'll have to work on this. It will take a little time to write nicely.
Prabhupāda: Hmm. No, no.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: There is no rush, I think, because...
Prabhupāda: We are willing to help them. And we are the only right person who can help them.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: That's for sure.
Prabhupāda: Nobody knows. If he is serious, let him come and talk with us.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Then we can end the letter to him like that. [break]
Prabhupāda: ...capture the ideas.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Oh, yeah, very much.
Prabhupāda: Now explain it nicely.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: All right.
Prabhupāda: We can actually help them. Not by imagination, but practical application. And are doing all over the world. [break] In '68 I was alone. And I had to struggle very, very hard, alone. Therefore I got heart attack in 1967. Then that heart attack and regress continued for two years. Whatever is done, it is done from 1969. Before that, I was simply alone struggling to start this mission. [pause] Before that, I came to Bombay.
Indian man: In '69?
Prabhupāda: No, no.
Indian man: '70?
Prabhupāda: '64. I stayed at Morarji's Andheri...
Indian man: Andheri House.
Prabhupāda: ...Colony for his employees.
Indian man: Scindia Steamship.
Prabhupāda: Yes, colony. I stayed there. Sometimes I stayed with one gentleman in Churchgate. He is a banker, Sindhi gentleman. In '65, Sumati Morarji gave me that ticket.
Indian man: You went away then, I think.
Prabhupāda: Hmm. [pause] This is our old system. When one cannot eat, even in invitation, the whole thing, he can take away the balance for his family. Canda-walla. Especially the brāhmaṇas. They will sit down and take everything, and...
Indian man: [laughing] Give to their family.
Prabhupāda: People will give more, because he will take to the family.
Indian man: Thank you very much.
Prabhupāda: Jaya. Thank you. Hare Kṛṣṇa. Jaya. [break]
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yes, it's very impressive. He has a very charming personality.
Prabhupāda: And he can talk very nicely.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: On any subject.
Prabhupāda: And always smiling. Even if you irritate him, he will smile.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: That's a fact.
Prabhupāda: Sometimes I have said so many strong words. That is my habit. But he is still very humble and meek. I never expected that he would call, reply me. [indistinct]
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Sometimes in Delhi I would go with him to some minister or something, and he would tell some story. I thought, "Why is he doing this story? He has no sense."
Prabhupāda: He is known to the ambassador, American ambassador.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah. He took me there once. He knew him pretty well. But every time he would tell these stories.
Prabhupāda: Keath, Mr. Keath?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Keating, Kenneth Keating.
Prabhupāda: So he was very friendly with him. He used to talk in his personal room. He made friends with him. His girlfriend... [laughs] And she offered herself, "Please come in our car."
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Oh, Mr. Keating's girlfriend, the ambassador's girlfriend.
Prabhupāda: Hmm. Though [indistinct] old, but still, he's to be sent to help us.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yes. Yeah, you can only send Guru dāsa on these kind of special missions. He likes it very much also.
Prabhupāda: No, whole Vṛndāvana likes him. Nobody speaks against him.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah, he always discusses a lot of kṛṣṇa-kathā. He likes to talk about Kṛṣṇa. He is going to Poland.
Prabhupāda: Yes. He speaks in the university very nicely.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah.
Prabhupāda: His wife is also nice, but when they are combined together, they become little spoiled. He becomes little lusty. That is his wife's complaint. I got them married in San Francisco. [pause] So you can take another letter to the manager, for the bank, "You take eighty thousand from current account, and twenty thousand is coming from Calcutta. Both together, you make one M.M.D., M.M.D.A."
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: For seven years.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Actually, I've already typed that letter for eighty thousand, so I can add a N.B., that an additional twenty thousand is coming from Calcutta, and as soon as it comes...
Prabhupāda: Yes, you advise to Bombay, advise him to.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah. Should I enclose a copy of the letter to Calcutta also?
Prabhupāda: Hmm. Not that... Letter written to Calcutta, that copy should be enclosed to the...
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah, that's what I meant. Actually, that's good, because he'll be eager to follow through to see that the money comes, because he is going to get the benefit of fixing it in his bank. [pause]
Prabhupāda: If possible we can start a center in Srinagar. If there is opportunity. Many foreigners come?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Many foreigners come.
Prabhupāda: If we start a center there, it will be very nice. That will be also one of the items of tourist program.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: We can get Dr. Karan Singh's help very easily in Srinagar.
Prabhupāda: And Raja Sheikh Abdullah has taken our Bhagavad-gītā, so we can invite him to talk.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Who?
Prabhupāda: Sheikh Abdullah, the prime minister there, Kashmir.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Is he a chief minister or prime minister?
Prabhupāda: Chief minister.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Kashmir is part of India, a province. [pause] Then if you get your health back, in May, that will be very nice. Regarding that tīrtha-yatra, this going in the monsoon, it doesn't seem like a good time. June and July, those are not good months for touring India.
Prabhupāda: No, if we get good response, we can stay a little more.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Maybe we should go with a few..., with some kīrtana party. If we see there is a response, then we should...
Prabhupāda: If we..., you get one kīrtana party if you like.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: It seems like it.
Prabhupāda: Not immediately.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: First we'll see.
Prabhupāda: But you can take if you like as many books as possible. As many books, our books.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Our books for showing, carrying with us. One full set. I think the best way for that would be that maybe we'll have Kṣīra-cora-gopīnātha Prabhu go by train with full set of books, because taking on the plane is very difficult. It will be overweight. But he can go by train. It is not very long. It is about one day, one and a half days complete journey. And then he can take easily a lot of baggage.
Prabhupāda: He will take from Delhi?
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: The train? No, actually he can take from Bombay.
Prabhupāda: From Bombay to Kashmir direct.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Either direct or through Delhi. The Punjab Mail. I think there is a Punjab Mail.
Prabhupāda: Punjab Mail goes up to border of Kashmir.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: So something like that. I mean he can..., we could fix that up.
Prabhupāda: No, as many books you can carry without any difficulty you can take.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: On the plane. Okay. Maybe Guru dāsa should wait there for awhile. If Guru dāsa and I go together as a preaching team, we can conquer anywhere.
Prabhupāda: Very good.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: I mean, we will bring everyone that you want to see.
Prabhupāda: If you send a report, tell him that "You stay; we are coming."
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: We should send a telegram. But he's going to... His letter is coming. So I think we should wait for his letter and then reply it. Yeah, because in the afternoons there is no problem for me to go out for a few hours preaching with him, you know, if need be.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Meeting influential...
Prabhupāda: If many important people come. If possible they must come.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Do they speak Kashmiri language, the people, or is it Hindi?
Prabhupāda: Hindi they speak. And English everywhere. [pause]
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: English. [pause] When we first came to India, everywhere you were going, you would leave some men behind to open a temple. You went to Amritsar with our party, and on the way, that one man met you at the train, and you told Guru dāsa, "Take three men, get off the train and open a center." Wherever you were going, some men you would leave behind. You left Śyāmasundara and myself here, and then you went to Amritsar. So Śyāmasundara, he felt very much left behind.
Prabhupāda: He's a good boy. I have several times sent him message that "Whatever is done, you come back and live [indistinct] here." He wants to give back something.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: He wants to give back some money?
Prabhupāda: Yes, because he has spoiled so much money.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: I don't even know if that's his motive anymore.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: I wonder if that's his motive anymore. It's been so long now. The thing is, he was never very able to follow the principles, you know, very strictly. That seems to always be a tell-tale thing. If one cannot follow the principles, then it's only a question of time until he'll...
Prabhupāda: Fall down.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: ...fall down. That's one of the reasons that I wanted to have Bali-mardana spend a couple of hours in the evening, so that by turn each of your servants could go to the maṅgala-ārati. 'Cause now none of them are going, because we are all staying up at night. So by having an extra man, we can take turns going to the ārati. Kṣīra-corā-gopīnātha, I arranged for him to go to ārati every morning because he is a brand-new man. So for him it is difficult.
Prabhupāda: No, he should go. [pause]
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: One thing I was..., there is always some smell of onion or garlic here. This place, very often there is smell from cooking of garlic or onion. It is coming from those houses.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yes.
Prabhupāda: They eat.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: They eat meat.
Prabhupāda: It is not meat. They are eating garlic. Those Christian tenant, they are eating. And onion everyone eats.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Except for us. Americans are very fond of onions. Yeah. They can eat a whole onion sometimes in one meal. They eat raw. Especially in the salad they will put onion.
Prabhupāda: For a meat-eater, onion is very sweet.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: For fish-eater?
Prabhupāda: And fish-eater.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Fish, meats.
Prabhupāda: Actually, meat has no taste. The onion creates taste.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Dead flesh.
Prabhupāda: Onion is used. Onions. In India both Hindus and Muslims eat. More than potato, it is said.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Hmm. Potato is king of vegetables.
Prabhupāda: We have seen many canvassers. [calling like street vendor:] "Bataka."
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Hmm.
Prabhupāda: Kada bataka.[?] Everyone has to eat. The Maharastrians, they eat, even the brāhmaṇas. In 1927, I came to Bombay and stayed in the Empire Hindu Hotel. I think it is still there. Very nice hotel. So it is under Maharastrians. Very neat and clean, everything. Gave me onions. "What is this? Onions?" I was surprised. "I don't eat."
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: He must have been surprised that you wouldn't eat it.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: He probably was surprised.
Prabhupāda: Well, they know... Mostly Hindus they do not eat. But they are accustomed now. Just like Bengal, fish-eating is no offense.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Even the brāhmaṇas.
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. Brāhmaṇa, gosāis, so-called gurus.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: When has this all begun, this fish-eating in Bengal? This was always going on?
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. Fish, ninety-nine percent people take fish in Bengal. Only few, they do not. When there is some, what is called, ceremony, fish must be there. And fish is available. Now Bengal is divided, East to West. Otherwise, immense fish in Bengal.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: From the east side of Bengal. And rice was coming from there too.
Prabhupāda: So their staple food is rice and fish.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: East Bengal is very wealthy from that point of view. Rice.
Prabhupāda: Pakistan was rich only on account of East Bengal. The pān. Practically it supplies pān to all over India. And betel nut.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: That's a place that we have not really...
Prabhupāda: And milk also produced in very large quantity. East Bengal is rich in vegetable, milk, fish.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: I think that when we go to Kash...[end]