Letters of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
20 February, 1972
My dear Mangalamaya dasa and Madhupuri dasi,
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of January 30, 1972, along with the very nice poem entitled “Birth of Lord Krsna.” I am very pleased to hear that you are feeling yourselves very much satisfied in Krsna Consciousness. One thing, in Nairobi, I went there with Madhudvisa Swami who is not my normal secretary, and because of that by mistake he has recommended to initiate Tom and Carol Woolfe from Philadelphia Temple, but he did not know that I had already initiated them from India a few weeks before, but because some of my disciples are sending two or three copies of the same letter to various places where I might be, he found their request-letter in Nairobi and the mistake was made. So you can disregard the second initiation and the beads may be kept by you, because I have chanted on them, and at the appropriate time I will inform you where to send them to some new initiates.
I am glad to hear that along with your incense business you are also finding opportunity to preach. Without preaching, and if we only do business, there is certain fall-down.
Regarding your question whether grhastha couples can live together in the temple, no, they may not, that is a strict regulation. They can live in the temple, that’s all right, but they must live separately men and women. So I am encouraging the grhastha devotees who want to live together to start householder asrama outside the temple in a nearby house, just like in Los Angeles there is one such householder asrama. There, the grhasthas, men and women, work sometimes in the incense factory and get paid $1 per hour, and in this way they pay the rent and meet other expenditures. So if you can arrange a similar house in Philadelphia center, that will be nice. The householders may sell my books and incense and make some small salary to pay rent, take prasada at the temple, and live very happily. So far the GBC is concerned, they are my chosen experts and they are supposed to know everything, so there is rule of separate living, that should be followed. If GBC man requests in this way, you should try to oblige, what is the difficulty?
So far your deity-worship of Lord Jagannatha, don’t bother with it for the time being, that is my opinion. Householders can have small altars, and Guru-Gauranga and Jagannatha may be worshiped, but you should not spend a lot of time in this way to try to make the worship “first-class” as you say. You cannot make it first-class. That requires much time and money and men, so better to leave the worshiping of deities very nicely to the temples, and you may go there and worship. A small Guru-Gauranga altar, offer incense and flowers in morning, offer all home-prepared foodstuffs there—that’s enough for the time being. Better to spend time chanting and following the other regulative principles and preaching and selling books.
It is not necessary to be a Brahmin to have home altar, but better not to get too much involved in it for now, as once begun, there is no question of decrease, and for two persons to manage this is taking too much time from other important work.
As for your suggestion to open one store, I have no objection as long as the regulative principles are strictly followed. But there must be a solid basis for such business venture, not that once started we lose everything and close. No! profit must be there, at least enough to help support the temple, or it is waste of time. In my opinion, it is better to travel and preach than open business. I had a nice business, one of the best in India, and Krishna took it all away, and now I am very much thankful, because business means entanglement with wife, children, house, money, like that, and then where is the question of our spiritual advancement? Try to avoid such entanglements as far as possible, but if you are on a solid basis and you can do it very nicely, I have no objection.
Hoping this will meet you both in good health and happy mood.
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami