Conversation about Old Days in Calcutta , Vṛndāvana , 1977-07-01

Prabhupāda: Then we began to... I used to call his wife didi, as my sister, eldest sister. That man was old. At that time he was at least seventy years old. And his wife died, so he had no children, so he married again. Old husband, young wife, but the relationship was so nice, great devotee, and wife devoted.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Even though the husband was very old and the wife young.

Prabhupāda: Formerly even eighty years old, they used to marry.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Even?

Prabhupāda: Eighty years old.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Eight-years-old girl.

Prabhupāda: Eighty.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Eighty.

Prabhupāda: There were many cases.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: What... I mean, what is the reason behind that? Isn't that very old to get married?

Prabhupāda: If he had no family member, he would marry. [pause] But it was subject of criticism.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Hmm. Must have been.

Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. But the custom was there.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Seems like someone should simply cultivate spiritual life at that age instead of...

Prabhupāda: In Bhāgavata there are many instances, very old man married. Anyway, this gentleman was such a nice devotee. Oh.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: What was particularly nice about his devotional quality?

Prabhupāda: Hmm?

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Which devotional qualities particularly did he...?

Prabhupāda: Because later on he retired---he was a pleader---so whole day and night, simply devotee. Sometimes he would offer obeisances to the Deity---actually he was old man---he'll fall asleep by... And he would remain in that two, three hours.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Two or three hours? Wow. Wow. Completely devoted.

Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. And daily he would go to the Ganges.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: What was his name, Śrīla Prabhupāda?

Prabhupāda: His name was Nanda Dulal Phaini[?]. So yesterday I was thinking of him, and I said it in my... I am being purified by thinking of him. All of a sudden.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah.

Prabhupāda: Similarly, the whole atmosphere... Because we were children, we were going here and there, the neighboringhoods , all houses... Everyone devotee.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Must have been a wonderful atmosphere.

Prabhupāda: Wonderful. We do not find such atmosphere now. Even maidservant, servant. Their character was not very good---still be devotee. And this was the opportunity.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Each of us is society.

Prabhupāda: Rādhā-Govinda Mandir. And the center was that Mulliks' Rādhā-Govinda. This Mulliks, some of them were capitalist. Capitalist means rich men; they kept prostitute. But still devotee. In the morning they would, after taking bath and everything, changing clothes, they must go to see Rādhā-Govinda.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: And they liked to see Rādhā-Govinda.

Prabhupāda: They were devotee. Without seeing Rādhā-Govinda, they would not take their...

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Was the Deity very nicely worshiped?

Prabhupāda: Oh, at that time.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Like in our temples? Really.

Prabhupāda: Dress, jewelry, and foodstuff, oh... Would offer kacaurīs, very big, first class, and luci, all very cripsy.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Ah, crispy.

Prabhupāda: Yes. And ghee and rābṛi and similarly other... In the plate, you see? [indicatess size of plate?]

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Wow!

Prabhupāda: And it was the custom of the Mulliks, daily prasādam, they should not eat all of them. Keep something as a balance---some neighborhood men, they will sell. This was...

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Distribution of prasādam.

Prabhupāda: Distribution.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Practically you learned all these things in those early days...

Prabhupāda: Hmm. Hmm.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: ...at Rādhā-Govinda Temple.

Prabhupāda: Yes, that was the training in the childhood. This Ratha-yātrā, Rādhā-Govinda sevā, prasāda distribution. Only the new thing I am doing---writing of books by the order of Guru Mahārāja. Otherwise, whatever I have introduced, I was trained up in childhood. I simply imitated. I am simply surprised, nowadays, even a low-class... Formerly all our maidservant and neighborhood maidservant, they had two business = one prostitute and one maidservant. Otherwise they could not maintain. Simply by becoming maidservant, they have no sufficient income. We were paying them for not whole time three rupees.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Wow!

Prabhupāda: Per month. So one house, three rupees, another house, three rupees, another house... In this way their income was ten to twelve rupees. Well, that was not sufficient.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Not much.

Prabhupāda: So they had to allow the prostitution. But they were happy. But in that income in those men, they had a guru. The guru would come.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: They had a guru.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Even the maidservants.

Prabhupāda: In Bengal there are professional gurus. They travel from one house to another. Our paternal guru was coming like that.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: You had a professional guru also?

Prabhupāda: Hmm?

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: You had a paternal guru?

Prabhupāda: Yes. I was initiated by that professional guru at the age of twelve years. Later on I rejected him.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: I wonder if he had any thought that his disciple, Your Divine Grace, would be one day such a devotee all over the world. You always said that's the perfection of a guru, if he has good disciple. So your professional guru had a best disciple.

Prabhupāda: But Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī later on, when I was young man, manager in Dr. Bose's laboratory... That my friend, Narend Mullik, he took me. There is direction, for real guru one can give up this professional guru.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Prabhupāda: So all of a sudden I remember this Nanda Dulal Gosāi. I was thinking of him, what a great devotee he was. He was observing some of the festivals, I think Janmāṣṭamī or Nandotsava, something, inviting friends, offering good prasādam. And he was living in a quarter full of Muhammadans.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Full of Marwaris.

Prabhupāda: Muhammadans.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Muhammadans. Hmm.

Prabhupāda: Low-class Muhammadans.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: He didn't mind that?

Prabhupāda: No, at that time they were so friendly.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Really? They were respectful.

Prabhupāda: Muhammadans were also religious.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Right.

Prabhupāda: One Muhammadan gentleman, Dinuniya, he was formerly Hindu, but when there was some famine... [break] He also made so many charitable institutions. He had a masjid, one etimakhānā. Etimakhānā means orphan house.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Means?

Prabhupāda: Orphan house. He was cutting throat of the chicken on the street.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: That's not a very nice business.

Prabhupāda: We were accustomed. His servant, they would do. But we have seen it.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: What were you thinking when you saw that?

Prabhupāda: Hmm?

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: What did you think when you saw that?

Prabhupāda: All of a sudden they were cutting. Nowadays these Hindus are cutting.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah.

Prabhupāda: Chicken-eating has become very common. This Tarun Kanti and Tushar Kanti, they eat daily.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah. All over his land he has chickens running.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Tarun Babu.

Prabhupāda: Without chicken, this prasāda Kanti Ghosh cannot eat. And one Cinmayananda... They are maintaining that sādhu. So he was giving prasādam with Tarun Kanti, er, yeah...

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Tushar Kanti.

Prabhupāda: Tushar Kanti. So he was taking. This Tarun Kanti said to him, "So you want to kill my father? He is not eating." He stopped giving him prasādam.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Oh, 'cause there was no chicken in it.

Prabhupāda: He could not eat little.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: There was no chicken in it.

Prabhupāda: Hmm?

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Without chicken in it he could not eat? Even...?

Prabhupāda: I think he is drinking also.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Must be. When they eat chicken then they have to drink to digest.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Nowadays among the gentlemen, the chicken and keg.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: And?

Prabhupāda: Wine keg. If you don't receive your friend with chicken and wine keg, then that reception is not good.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Things are very much degraded nowadays.

Prabhupāda: The Sikhs, they invariably eat. The Marathis, low class, invariably eat.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: What about the South Indians?

Prabhupāda: South Indians, low class, they eat.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Christians.

Prabhupāda: Chicken is very cheap food. You haven't got to maintain.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: No, they find anything to eat on the ground.

Prabhupāda: Yes. And they produce egg.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Eggs.

Prabhupāda: Eggs. And the chicken-eater cut throat.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: And then he has to become a chicken.

Prabhupāda: Fish. Fish as well. Fish also like that. You haven't got to maintain. They'll grow.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: But then, if you cut the chicken's throat, then one day you have to have your throat cut.

Prabhupāda: That is [indistinct] in the law.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: It's not a very good...

Prabhupāda: Karma-bandhana. Yajñārthe karmaṇaḥ anyatra loko 'yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ [Bg. 3.9]. And Western countries regularly cultivate chicken-producing.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Oh, yeah, there's a...

Prabhupāda: Big, big chicken within very short time.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Big business. And unfortunately with beef also.

Prabhupāda: That is their staple food---chicken and beef and wine.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: I don't think in Vṛndāvana there's so much of this meat-eating.

Prabhupāda: No. Here they eat meat very secretive, some.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Very secretive?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Openly they'll never.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: No, it's hard to even find a butcher shop here.

Prabhupāda: No, no, no. In Mathurā there is slaughterhouse.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Wow! Government allowed. The government.

Prabhupāda: I do not know whether it is stopped or not, but formerly. [pause] In Bangladesh, fish you can get very cheap. It is... In the water, you can... Rivers.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: So many rivers.

Prabhupāda: And especially for Mariwar[?], the branch of Ganges, it is full of fish, hilsa fish, very famous. You know hilsa fish?

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: No, I've heard you talk about it previously.

Prabhupāda: It is full of oil.

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah. Very palatable for the fish-eaters. Bengalis, they are too much fond of fish-eating. They don't even... Sometimes people say, "Fish-eating is nonvegetarian."

Prabhupāda: Non... Yes, "Fish is a vegetable, water vegetable."

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yeah, that's what they say, "water vegetable." I noticed that these banana trees, they don't seem to have any bananas on them. Growing in your garden?

Prabhupāda: Hmm, why?

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: My guess is that in order for bananas to grow... Like I have not seen normally banana trees growing in this side, you know what I mean, Vṛndāvana. I suspect it has something to do with the soil. You can't just take a tree and plant it wherever you want. Soil has to be such that it can give the proper nutrition for bananas to grow. It looks good, but it's not banana. I think... [break] [end]