Jaga Mohan Prabhu: We heard how Srila Jiva Gosvami defended Srila Rupa Gosvami, and how Rupa Gosvami then rejected Jiva Gosvami. You said that both of them acted properly. How should we act when we see that senior devotees get insulted and mistreated? A Vaisnava tolerates such behavior against himself, but how can others, who have witnessed so much insulting, tolerate such injustice of people who are against, but come again and again to disturb the Vaisnavas? Rupa Gosvami told Jiva Gosvami that he was wrong, but the duty of the disciple is to defend his Guru. We want to check people who are against from going here, but the insulted Vaisnava does not see any problems and therefore wants us to tolerate this.
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: If such people who disrespect and mistreat Vaisnavas do not come to the association of senior devotees, then they never understand their own faults. They will never feel guilty and never change. But when they change they will request everybody they previously insulted to forgive them. Then they will surrender.
Jaga Mohan Prabhu: You are saying this, but I have never seen that.
Premananda Prabhu: This happens.
Jaga Mohan Prabhu: No. Maybe in their next lives.
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: Look at Acarya Ratna. Look how humble he is now. He is just in front of you. Then, why can’t you believe that people can change? He now respects and serves everybody. Do you know how proud he used to be?
Jaga Mohan Prabhu: I haven’t seen him before.
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: This is just an example. I myself went through such transformations. At the time I was with Srila Gurudeva, when somebody told me one thing, I used to answer ten or twenty times as strong and scare them away with stones and hooks. My nature was bad.
In Varsana, this happened once in front of Gurudeva. Some devotee came to me and told me, “Some special guest came from ISKCON. He is very senior and rich. Can you cook some panir-sabji for him? Srila Gurudeva ordered us to do that.”
I said, “I am not Gurudeva’s only disciple. You are also his disciple. You should cook. Why are you ordering me to do that? I cannot do it. I am not anybody’s slave or servant.” I did not cook the preparation and severely insulted that person who came and requested me. Gurudeva and all his followers became very upset with me. They did not talk to me for many days.
Later Gurudeva called me, gave me some sweets and said, “Go to that person who came, give him these sweets, and ask him to forgive you. Even if you do not say anything, go and meet with him and this will be enough.”
I said, “This is not possible. I will never go. Why should I go to him? I come to you hundred times, but I will not go to him.”
Then Gurudeva said to that person, “Give Premananda some money, maybe one or two lakhs. Then he will be happy.”
That person sent some money to me through the devotees in charge of the Delhi temple. After one year he came and said, “I sent some money for you. Did you receive it?”
“I sent it to Delhi.”
He asked the devotees from Delhi, but they said, “I used everything for the temple in Janak-puri.”
This happened many times. Western people many times gave money for me, but people inbetween stole it. This is their nature and habit. Even today this happens. This is not my problem. God is saving me from this money. Otherwise if that money comes to me, I will be prouder and more fallen.
Jaga Mohan Prabhu: How can we tolerate such things done to you?
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: That is what I am going to tell you now. Listen. Gurudeva again and again told me to fix my relationship with that person. After some time, that person became against even Srila Gurudeva. This was when Srila Gurudeva was still physically present. While constructions for the Temple in Navadvipa were going on, Srila Gurudeva asked that person, “All my collections of donation are with you. Give me some of that money. I need it to finish the constructions in Navadvipa.”
That person said, “This money will not be spent for anything. Srila Prabhupada would always use money that he collected in the West to open centers in the West. You do not do anything in the West.” They sent a letter to Srila Gurudeva in which they spoke very insulting. They sent this letter to me so that I would hand it to Gurudeva. I read some of its content and then answered in a very polite way. They then gave some money to Gurudeva, but not all of it. They kept all the money and invested it here and there.
God cannot tolerate those who are against Vaisanvas and try to make Vaisnavas their servants. Krsna never tolerates this. If you serve Gurudeva and God, then everybody will serve you and follow you. But if you do not serve and rather think that you are the prince and everybody should follow your footsteps and lick your toes, then it is impossible that sincere devotees will follow and serve you. Not even paid servants would want to serve you.
Those who really perform bhajana and bhakti are good, but sometimes because of asat-sanga, pride comes to these people. When the jivas understand their faults, they go and ask for forgiveness again and again. If these jivas do not come to senior devotees, they will not understand their guilt and will not change.
Many times tricky people come and try to bribe sadhus with money and other things to control them, but sadhus cannot be controlled with such mundane things. They only accept things that are favorable for Guru and Krsna’s service. In my life many people came to bribe me. Once in Varsana in 1988, some person tried to give me twenty million rupees. He told me, “Open a temple with this money here. Gurudeva likes this place. The water is sweet here and it is Radharani’s place and very favorable for bhajana.”
I asked Gurudeva, but he said, “We never open a temple in Varsana. My Gosvamis never stayed in Varsana. They went to Nandagrama. Even Radharani used to go to Nandagrama every day. Do you want to acquire Radharani’s house and accept service from all devotees that came to serve Srimati Radharani?”
Srila Gurudeva made this point very clear. Then, that person became disturbed and gave the money to someone else to open a temple in their house. This temple is now empty. He has no children, brothers, mother, father, and to the temple not even an ant or mosquito will come. They do not follow Srila Gurudeva, and do not want to fulfill his desire. Gurudeva told them to open a center in Nandagrama or Govardhana, but they did otherwise.
Guru and Vaisnavas will never accept bribes that will make them controlled by others. They know your desire. If you have respect for Vaisnavas, Harinama, and hari-seva, then they are very happy. They will then be pleased with even a little service.
Once during the deep winter in Mathura, I was cleaning pots alone at eleven o’clock at night. Nobody else was there. Srila Gurudeva was inside his room and the other few matha-vasis were sleeping. I switched off all the lights and was very quiet so to not disturb Gurudeva. The kitchen was only a few meters away from Gurudeva’s room. He was staying in the room that is now Tirtha Maharaja’s. I was very careful to not make any noise. At that time, the brahmacaris had so much respect and love for Gurudeva. We knew that he would wake up at half past two or three o’clock the next morning. We did not have soap; we used to clean the dishes with ashes. I had a cloth wrapped around the tap so that the water would come out without making noise. First I smeared all the pots with ashes and put them aside to rinse them with fresh water at the end. When I was done with the ashes, I turned around and saw Gurudeva rinsing the pots. He said, “If I do not help you, then you are always alone washing the pots.”
From that day on, I would cook and simultaneously clean all the pots that I used. Only a few buckets that were used to serve out the prasadam would be remaining. Before this incident, I used to think that I will wash the pots later, and not while I was cooking.
Once in 1978, everybody was going on Mathura parikrama, but my Guru Maharaja stayed back. The kitchen used to be on the third floor on the roof at that time. I alone carried sacks of potatoes and cabbage from the market to the matha. Next to me, there was also one cook in the temple. I cut the vegetables and helped the cook make the preparations. The roof was open and therefore there were also monkeys attacking us, trying to steal some vegetables. I was cutting the vegetables when I noticed that from behind me, the cabbages were disappearing. I thought it was a monkey, but when I turned around I saw my Guru Maharaja, taking the cabbage and cutting it rapidly. He said, “Nobody else is here to help you.”
The Guru-varga knows everything. If you have a relation with them and if you do everything for them, then they will arrange help for you to serve. They do not punish or chastise new people that make mistakes. They try to help them and change them.
For many years Srila Gurudeva used to be invited on Baladeva Purnima for the celebrations in the Krsna-Balarama temple. One year, a letter got sent to Mathura in which Srila Gurudeva was warned that if he would go there, he would not return. When Gurudeva read the letter he decided not to go. He used to go every year to Rupa-Sanatana matha, then to Krsna-Balarama, and then he would return to Mathura. Later on, the person who sent the later came to Mathura. Srila Gurudeva was very calm. He talked to that person and slowly that person changed and later even took sannyasa from Srila Gurudeva. He is around until the present day. He also comes to me. Yearly he comes twice, on Gaura-purnima and during Kartika, and he gives me a bribe. I know many things, but I do not like to point them out.
The Guru-varga does everything to change the fallen souls. It is not hard to help good people, but it is hard to help bad people.
Jaga Mohan Prabhu: They need to be slapped?
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: It is necessary to sometimes slap good brahmacaris. Otherwise they will take asat-sanga and deviate from their path. But bad people cannot be treated harshly. They need to be told their glories. They need be given gifts and spoken to in a sweet way. Sometimes Gurudeva would take off his own sweater or shawl and give it to them.
Jaga Mohan Prabhu: Then they will be more poisonous.
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: No. You don’t know. They change. By wearing these clothes they sometimes remember the love and affection of Gurudeva. Then they will bring some presents and respect Gurudeva. Even if they gave poison, Gurudeva would accept it. One day I was in Srila Gurudeva’s room when he received cashew nuts, almonds, and so forth. Everything was full of worms and bugs. They looked as if they were five or ten years old. When I opened the packed, a bad smell came from it. I did not show it to Gurudeva because he would be angry with that person and would never again talk to him. Then that person would lose his life. When he asked me if I gave it to Gurudeva, I said, “Yes, Gurudeva is very pleased.”
I know that person is at fault. But if I point out his faults to Gurudeva, then that person would distance himself from Gurudeva. He will then never change. A little later he will understand his faults and then change.
For Guru and Vaisnavas it is not possible to restrict people from taking their association. You cannot understand their hearts. They always feel compassion for the fallen souls. They don’t think so much about the good souls. If you would meet with a good person, you would be finished. You have no control. After some time you would think, “This person is good. Guru and Vaisnavas are not good.” When you meet with such a person, he changes you. He has this power. Therefore, Gurudeva used to say that some rascal may insult us, but we should not take revenge and just stay away from him. Don’t look at him and don’t talk to him, otherwise you will be finished. If a sannyasi comes to the temple and you do not offer him respect, then somebody will have doubt in you, all the devotees here, and ultimately me. If you give respect in front of everybody to a sannyasi that comes to visit, offer him a flower garland, puja, prasada, and everything, then people will appreciate to see that proper respect and love is given to honorable guests here. New devotees do not know their faults and wicked deeds that they performed in the past. If these new devotees then criticize this place and the devotees here, their lives will be finished. Therefore we also show etiquette to protect such new devotees. If you do not respect Gurudeva’s sevakas who were with Gurudeva for a long time, then people will accuse you to be wrong. Then they will go somewhere else. We have to consider all these things. You might have a sword in your hand, but first determine your strength before you attack somebody with it. You have to know for how long you can hold the sword; you have to know if you can still hold it after striking somebody with it. Swords are very heavy. Determine what is favorable and what is unfavorable.
Previously we did not have to care about such things because Gurudeva was present. He knows everything. But now there is a necessity to care about such things and tolerate many things for the happiness of Guru-pada-padma. When he was present we did not have to think about this because we were only Gurudeva’s servants and not judges.
Why should I cook for somebody separately? I cook for Srila Gurudeva and God. If people like it, they can honor the prasada and if not, they can arrange prasada for themselves. I am not their servant and I do not allow them to cause me to deviate from my service. I would distance myself from Guru and God.
Srila Gurudeva had many sevakas during the time I stayed with him. I was serving Gurudeva, but so many other services were also there to be done, so other sevakas began to serve Gurudeva also. First Laksmana Prabhu, then Tirtha Maharaja, and then Madhava Maharaja were his sevakas. In between many others came and served for some time. There was Kanaiya Prabhu, Murali Prabhu, and so forth. When Gurudeva sometimes asked his sevaka to cook extra so that some of his god-brothers that were sick could also eat, the sevaka would never cook more. He would only cook for Gurudeva and not for others. If they cook for many people, the taste would not be good or they would not be one-pointed. They would not be connected to the power of unalloyed service.
Jaga Mohan Prabhu: We saw that when Srila Gurudeva was touring in the West, they would many times cook for Gurudeva, and also the same would be given to the prominent devotees touring with Gurudeva.
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: This is like a business. Listen. When Srila Gurudeva asked his sevaka, “Didn’t you cook extra for my god-brother?” the sevaka would not answer. Gurudeva would then share his prasada with his god-brothers, but the sevaka would still never cook extra. Gurudeva told him again and again but he never cooked extra. And when one of the preparations didn’t come out perfect, he would throw it away and not give it to Gurudeva.
In Jagannatha Puri, they throw away tons of food when there is something wrong with it, like when a dog looked at the bhoga, or if any hair fell inside. If there is anything inauspicious, they dig a big hole in the ground and bury all the bhoga there. They would never give it away to anybody without offering it first.
Only service that is done for the exclusive pleasure of God and Guru is good. Otherwise other people steal your focus. Guru and God will accept or reject your service according to their desires, but if you give up your one-pointedness, you will lose your services. Therefore, we have to be very careful in this regard.
In the Mathura temple I had many problems cooking prasadam for everybody. Some people wanted chili, some not, some wanted the prasadam to be oily, some wanted no oil, etc. Everyday somebody complained to me about the prasadam. There were two or three parties that always argued about how the cooking should be done. One day Gurudeva called me and told me, “Don’t cook for anybody. Don’t listen to anybody. Don’t follow anybody’s orders. You should only cook for Krsna and Mahaprabhu.”
I said, “I don’t know Mahaprabhu or Krsna.”
Srila Gurudeva said, “Oil, spices, and salt need to be added to the cooking, but everything should be added sparingly.”
I said, “But you do not eat my cooking.”
He said, “This is not a problem. The fact that I do not eat your cooking does not mean that Krsna does not like it. But if something is too hot, too sour, too spicy, or if there is no salt, and no spices, then your cooking will be in the modes of passion or ignorance. Vegetables that are only boiled with no spices are tamasika. How can one eat such food? This is food for animals.”
Whenever there was a big feast Gurudeva would taste all the preparations. He would not eat it; he would only take one drop and then give the okay for it to be distributed. Why would he do that? He wanted to make sure that people do not throw any prasada away. Do you know how he would cook? If sabji is too oily, the devotees would not eat it. Therefore he would deep-fry vegetables in oil, paste different spices, and then cook the vegetables with the spices in water. All the oil and extra spices would float on the water, and he would then scoop them out with a spoon. The sabji would then not be oily but because he deep-fried the vegetables it would be very tasty.
When I cooked he sometimes stood next to me and said, “Add more oil and chili powder.”
I said, “If I add chili powder, nobody will eat it.”
Gurudeva said, “Fry the chili powder in oil until it turns black. Then add the vegetables and when everything is done, you take out the oil and chili powder that floats on top of the water.” Cooked in this way, the sabji will be tasty. Otherwise if there is no chili, haldi, ginger, and so on, the sabji would be tamasika and whoever eats it would suffer from gas.”
Many things happened over the years. Guru and Vaisnavas are very kind and give prasadam and room to stay to whoever comes to them. They arrange everything for them. Otherwise, guests will think, “I came to Maharaja, but it seems that he does not like Vaisnavas.” Then they will also dislike the disciples and followers. We should offer everyone respect. If we do not do this, we will not be able to continue the temple.
Others may insult us as they wish, but we should not fight with them. Chant harinama and guru-mantras and when realizations come to you, they will cool your heart. Fighting will cause both sides to be destroyed. Without us being asked, we are here and whatever little service we do makes everybody happy. If some people are not happy, then this is not our problem. A lot of people are happy and enthusiastically performing kirtana and programs every day. Bhajana and tapasya require patience and tolerance. Otherwise there will be no harinama and we will become restless. There will be no kirtana, no prasada, and everybody would be disturbed. We therefore reject the negative and accept the positive.
Jaga Mohan Prabhu: Sometimes new people don’t know, but they judge the situation by listening to some rumors.
Sripada Premananda Prabhu: This is a problem. Sometimes new people come to me and say, “You left Srila Gurudeva and his temples. You are not serving Gurudeva. He gave you orders.”
I then say, “Yes. I am a fallen soul. What can I do? I am bogus and useless. You should go to those who are Gurudeva’s genuine sevakas.” What can we do? We can only ask them to forgive us and tell them that we are stupid. We say, “I came only to enjoy. Here we have nice food and nice rooms, dances and dramas, many young boys and girls, and I can unrestrictedly watch movies here. That is why I came here.” What will they say then? If you tell that you are at fault, nobody will insult you. But if you tell that you are right, then a thousand people will come and bark at you. Therefore to tell them that we are useless is much better. Then the discussion will be finished.
If somebody tells you, “Premananda is a nonsense,” you should say, “Yes, he is.” And if they then ask, “Why are you there,” you should say, “I am nonsense too.” If you say that I am good, then a thousand people will come to you and try to prove to you that I am bad.
Srila Gurudeva used to be very tricky in this regard. When I stayed with him, I saw many examples with my own eyes on how he would maintain his absorption in bhakti. Bhakti is important. If you cannot chant properly, then nobody will come to you and inspire you to chant. If you do not follow bhakti, you will soon find yourself taking asat-sanga and neglecting Guru and Vaisnavas. And if you seriously follow bhakti but neglect everything else, then everything of this world and God himself will come to help you. Bhakti protects us. You can leave everything without harm, but your performance of bhakti should always go on.
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