Standards in Prabhupāda’s Rooms at Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple (07/14/11)
You have written:
“I am sorry to say, i meant there was dirt and low standard of pūjā and cleanliness in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s room during the time of kārttika last year when your disciples were present.”
Please allow me to say a few things for your better understanding. Behind everything in this world there are circumstance and this is especially true about Śrīla Prabhupāda’s rooms at Radhā-Dāmodara.
Prabhupāda’s rooms at Radhā-Dāmodara Mandira are around 450 years old and with much history. When Prabhupāda lived in those rooms they were in even worse shape and more difficult to keep clean than they are today. Prabhupāda often had to take bath in his kitchen. In 1977, Prabhupāda called myself and two other devotees to his room at Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma Temple and said he wanted the sevā-pūjā to begin in his bhajana-kūṭira. He gave us explicit instructions regarding sevā, cleanliness, relationships with the Gosvāmī family, where to shop for bhoga, etc. He was very specific in his instructions about everything.
The next day myself and Ṛkṣarāja (now expired of cancer) went to Prabhupāda’s rooms and began our sevā as Prabhupāda had instructed. The first few days were spent in cleaning, cleaning, cleaning and cleaning. We realized that parts of the floor needed replacing, the walls were impossible as they kept crumbling on the floor and the ceiling kept dropping fine dust on the floor. So we replaced some parts of the floor with a traditional sandstone and fixed all the cracks. We plastered and repainted the walls but no sooner were we finished and the paint and plaster began falling off. There is salt in the original stone used in the construction and this emits into the plaster and paint and causes it to perpetually fall off.
The walls have been re-plastered and repainted over the years not less than 10 times, but still the same thing keeps happening over and over. But to make matters worse the court case does not allow either Gosvāmī or Iskcon to do any renovations. We cannot paint or plaster… only sweep and mop.
In previous years _____ and other of my disciples were able to keep Prabhupāda’s rooms as clean as possible. In fact, it was well known even in Iskcon that we were doing a better job of keeping the rooms presentable than the Iskcon pūjārīs were doing. In fact, the Iskcon pūjārīs often sat around talking to women, or playing games on their mobile phones, or sleeping in the kitchen.
However, last July ____ left India and went to Mexico and I had no person to send to replace him. Thus Gosvāmī hired an Iskcon pūjārī to do the service in Prabhupāda’s rooms (I think he is a disciple of _____ but I am not sure). But I do know that he has a low standard of cleaning, etc.
When Kārttika came around last year, I sent a few devotees there and instructed them to offer to assist the hired pūjārī and do what they could to improve things during Kārttika. ____ came late to Kārttika and as far as I am aware, we did some service in Prabhupāda’s rooms as much as possible but were not directly in charge.
This year will be different because when ____Gosvāmī was here at Govindajī Gardens two weeks ago, I made it very clear that my disciples would fully take over the service to Śrīla Prabhupāda during Kārttika, etc.
Now you should also be aware of some other facts. There have been many, many devotees over the years come to do service in Vṛndāvana and at Prabhupāda’s rooms in Radhā-Dāmodara. And most of them just fade away after some weeks, months, or years. Why? The reason is that Vṛndāvana, its people and its temples are not up to the standard that Iskcon has in many places, so they come from the west and think that everything should be like Iskcon, they end up making mental and then verbal offenses.
They fail to see that those in charge at Radhā-Dāmodara are chosen by Kṛṣṇa from their very birth to serve Kṛṣṇa in a line that goes back 350 years. The Gosvāmīs may have many faults according to our standards, but they are dear to Kṛṣṇa and to Prabhupāda. So to speak of their faults gradually becomes an offense. The shining altars at Iskcon are simply the glimmer of their own false pride and the substandard seen at Radhā-Dāmodara is just the reflection of their own anarthas.
Try to understand — what you call ‘Iskcon standard’ is of little or no concern to me. They may have shiny floors, but as far as their bhakti is concerned, they are kaniṣṭhas and aparādhīs. I do not find anything of value in Iskcon these days.
I will be there before the beginning of Kārttika to show what is to be cleaned and painted etc and what the program will be. Basically there will be a schedule of cleaning every morning, making breakfast offering, lunch offering, evening offering and prasadam distribution. These are the main simple services. Then there is distribution of prasādam to everyone who goes in and out of Prabhupāda’s rooms. Depending on how busy Kārttika is, there can be from 500 to 1000 devotees and people going in and out of Prabhupāda’s rooms everyday. All are to get prasādam.
In past years we often held guru-pūjā in the early morning and then the devotees would come upstairs to my veranda for class. This will probably be the schedule this year. It is nice to play a japa tape of Śrīla Prabhupāda in his room, but not a class. Why no class? Because many devotees and people just come in and out quickly and when Prabhupāda is speaking everyone should be paying close attention — not just paying obeisances and then walking out. The crowds are different on various days so there may be some adjustment to this program.
Japa of devotees, however, in Prabhupāda’s rooms is to be chanted individually and very softly and sitting down. Śrīla Prabhupāda lives eternally in his rooms at Radhā-Dāmodara. Devotees cannot chant loudly and standing up bouncing from this side to that side or walking around in Prabhupāda’s room. Kīrtana is a different story and Prabhupāda liked loud chanting and jumping kīrtana, but he did not like crazy dancing as we always see at Iskcon. If you chanted loud japa in Prabhupāda’s presence he would shake his stick at you and tell you to be quite, especially if you were in his room.
When we are doing sevā in Prabhupāda’s rooms we are doing sevā and not arranging anything to how we like it. I have been with Śrīla Prabhupāda in many different circumstances and I know very well what Prabhupāda expects of us at Radhā-Dāmodara in every respect. When the devotees are cooperative and hard working to assist me in the sevā, then Śrīla Prabhupāda is very pleased.
I have some very rare and special mahā-prasādam of Śrīla Prabhupāda that has been in my care for a long time and if you and ____ can catch the mood and really enter into the eternal service of Prabhupāda at Radhā-Dāmodara along with the service to our ācāryas, Śrī Jīva and Śrī Rūpa then I will be very happy to bestow that great mercy upon you.
So try to understand… put Iskcon out of your mind completely. The past will simply bring you difficulties and at Radhā-Dāmodara you are in the center of the spiritual world, the most holy of holy places. So you want to be there as a humble servant and nothing more. I am sure you will be eager for this opportunity and I will be happy to explain many things to you when the time is right.
I have not worked out my final dates but I will probably reach Radhā-Dāmodara on the 22nd of September. Then after a few days I am also going to Badarinātha or Ladakh, depending on this or that. So possibly we could travel together. I have been to Badarinātha several times as well as the source of Yamunā and Ganges. I may also go to Kurukṣetra for one day.
I will keep you informed of my final plans.
Hoping this meets you and ____ in the fire of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Saṅkīrtana.