In conversation with His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
Prabhupāda: Therefore we forbid to take to the karmī’s life. Because at the time of death, if he remains a karmī, then he’ll have to take birth as a karmī. That is the risk. So this regulated life, holding class, chanting, that will not make us fall down. That is essential. It is essential to follow the regulative principles, chanting sixteen rounds, holding class. You can do anything, but this will keep us alive to the Krishna consciousness platform. If you neglect that, then that is very risky. Even if you get next birth in a rich man’s family, that is not a guarantee. Because generally, a rich man’s sons, they go astray. They get money for nothing and they want to squander it. And material world, if you have got money, so many bad associates will come and help you to squander your money and spoil your life. Because you have got money, then so many friends will come. As soon as you have no money, nobody will come. Even your wife, children will not come. Therefore harisye tad dhanam śanaih. Krishna, first of all, takes away the money, makes him poor so that everyone will neglect him, and because he’s Krishna conscious, he’ll take Krishna, “Sir, I have no other alternative. Please give me protection.” That is also another Krishna’s policy, special favor, that “This man wanted Me. Now he’s going astray. All right. That’s all right. Take everything of his…”
Śyāmasundara: Like that man Patrick. Three businesses failed.
Prabhupāda: Yes. That was my case also. Since my Guru Mahārāja ordered me that “You do this.” But I thought that “Let me become first of all rich man. Then I shall do,” so He… Every business was…
Śyāmasundara: Maybe that is my case also.
Prabhupāda: That is special favor. In the beginning I was thinking, “Now my godbrothers, they have taken sannyāsa. They are begging from door to door. Why shall I beg? Let me earn money and start Krishna consciousness.” But that never happened. So I had to… I was obliged to take the dress of my godbrothers and preach, instead of earning money. Yes. Some astrologer told me that I should have been a man like a Birla (Birla at that time was the richest man of India – Ed). And I got all those chances in the chemical line, to become… Now I am bigger than Birla. That’s all right. But even in business field, there were signs that in money things… I got so many good chances. But everything… Dr. Karttika Candra Bose he appreciated my activities, “Very intelligent boy.” He certified to my father-in-law. This is the way of becoming rich man.
Śyāmasundara: What happened?
Prabhupāda: Something happened, and everything was finished. That is Krishna’s grace. Just like something has happened wonderful. So that is also Krishna’s grace.
Śyāmasundara: People stopped purchasing…?
Prabhupāda: No. Just like Dr. Bose’s laboratory. So I was the manager of Dr. Bose’s laboratory. Then I took his agency, very good terms. I was earning money like anything. But the next manager, he became envious. He began to poison Dr. Bose, to cut off our relationship. So it happened. Then, when I was Dr. Bose’s agent, I become so much famous that Bengal Chemical, the biggest chemical factory, they wanted to give me the agency. If I would have taken that agency, I would have been the richest man in the chemical world. You see. But they made some condition. So I did not accept it. I wanted in my condition. That is the very little… But I was puffed-up, that “I am such a big… And this man is flattering. So I must get my condition fulfilled.” So I did not accept it. The Smith Stanstreet gave me agency. Because in my work, in Dr. Bose’s laboratory, I did it very creditably. So every other manufacturers, they became attracted to me, how to get me. The Smith Stanstreet Company, Bikepala(?) Company, Bose’s, Bengal Chemical Company, they all wanted me. And I thought, “Oh, everyone wants me.” So, so I refused. And later on there was a clique between Dr. Bose and me. So I lost everything. Then I started my own laboratory. Somehow or other, there was something, and…
Śyāmasundara: Oh, I see.
Śyāmasundara: In Bombay, you were having your own business then?
Prabhupāda: Yes. No, that is small manufacturing. So I got very, very good chance. But Krishna did not allow it. He wanted me to come to this point. That is my practical experience. And now I’m seeing that it is Krishna’s so much favor. You see? Yasyāham, anugrhnāmi… It is, it is, actually it is His grace. “What he’ll do by becoming Birla, rich man like Birla?” That was Krishna’s plan. “Come here. Do this work.” You see. My Guru Mahārāja ordered. Krishna wanted. I was resisting Him. That’s all. I was actually very expert businessman in chemical line. I did it very creditably in Bose’s laboratory as manager and my own business. And everyone knows… Even in manufacturing also.
Śyāmasundara: Yeah, with that same experience now you’ve organized a world-wide society…
Śyāmasundara: And that’s a big business.
Śyāmasundara: Difficult work.
Brahmānanda: Just like before coming to India, in Japan, with simply five thousand dollars, you took fifty thousand dollars’ worth of merchandise.
Brahmānanda: And you brought it, had it sent…
Brahmānanda: And then everything…
Śyāmasundara: Life members…
Brahmānanda: And then you devised the program for distributing them.
Prabhupāda: Yes, practically India’s, our, whatever we have got, it is starting with that five thousand dollars.
Śyāmasundara: Five thousand dollars.
Brahmānanda: But it’s like you were investing, taking goods on credit, and…
Prabhupāda: Yes. And this membership became successful.
Brahmānanda: Then you devised the method for distribution.
Prabhupāda: This membership.
Śyāmasundara: Even the way you went to America in the beginning. You couldn’t take money.
Śyāmasundara: So you had some books…
Prabhupāda: Some books. Yes.
Prabhupāda: Krishna gives me that intelligence, “You do this.” Buddhi-yogam dadāmi tam. Yes. And in my materialistic life, He was taking away my intelligence. Just like this Bose, Bengal Chemical agency, I should have accepted immediately. Such a big concern. Simply by sitting, I would have brought ten thousand rupees per month in those days. But there was no good intelligence. I thought, “No, I cannot accept your terms. You must accept…” Because I was at that time young man, puffed-up, no brain, no sober brain. They were so attracted with me. They would have given later on all facilities, but I did not accept. Similarly, Smith Stanstreet, they were also very good company.
Prabhupāda: Smith Stanstreet, an English company. They gave me an agency. So some of my enemy… He was my, he was my employer, but he gave information that I am also manufacturing now, drug and chemical works. So they informed them that “He’s pushing his own goods, not your goods.” He wanted that agency. Yes. In this way, because as soon as you come in the… Even in the spiritual field, my godbrothers are envious. You see? So as soon as you become successful, there will be many enemies. That is natural. That is the sign of success. In your business, if there are many enemies, competitor, that means you are successful. So anyway, Krishna has brought me to the right path. So I may not fall down. That’s all. (laughter) When I was reading this verse, that yasyāham anugrhnāmi harisye tad dhanam śanaih [SB 10.88.8], Krishna said that “When I show somebody My special favor, I take away all his money,” I became shuddered, “So Krishna will take my all money? If He’s…” And actually that happened. He took my all money, all family, all friends and everything. (laughs) And He asked me, “Go to America. You’ll get money, much money, many friends. You go ahead, Come here.” Yes. That was His intention. And I was sticking to limited money, limited friends, limited society. This is special favor.
Brahmānanda: So in Bombay you mentioned that Lilavati Munshi… There was one house…
Brahmānanda: …and you were trying to get that house…
Prabhupāda: Yes, and she took away.
Brahmānanda: …and you were prevented.
Prabhupāda: She took away. Because I was trying to organize a League of Devotees from that house, and Krishna wanted, “What is this nonsense? You are stuck here, in Jhansi? You come here, in open field.” That was Krishna’s intent. But I thought that “Even Krishna took away this?” This Lilavati Munshi…
Śyāmasundara: Now her institution is…
Prabhupāda: But my intention was to start this movement.
Prabhupāda: I was simply planning in different way. Therefore Krishna’s favor. I never deviated from this plan. Since I heard it from my Guru Mahārāja, I was simply planning how to do it successfully. But I thought at that time, that “I’ll be able to do it if I get some money. Let me do some business for the time.” That I was thinking. But Krishna said, “Even if you are pauper, you try; you’ll get everything.” But I thought, “Without money, how this can be done?” That was difference of opinion with Krishna, argument. And I was dreaming also, Guru Mahārāja, asking me, “Come on.” So I was going. So I was, “Oh, I have to go? I have to take sannyāsa?”
Śyāmasundara: You, you dreaming?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Guru Mahārāja said, “Come, come with me.” I was going. But that… Many things happened before this. Yes. And at last it became, in America.
Śyāmasundara: Did you tell everyone you were leaving, or you simply disappeared?
Prabhupāda: No, I never said. Oh, why shall I? I lost all friends, money, everything.
[Room Conversation, New Delhi, November 3, 1973]