Letters of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
13 December, 1973
ALL GLORIES TO
SRI GURU AND GAURANGA!
MEMO TO ALL CENTERS
Please accept my most humble obeisances at your lotus feet. Today we received a newsletter from Syamasundara Prabhu regarding gems and I assume every Center received the same letter. I discussed the contents with Srila Prabhupada and His Divine Grace instructed me to immediately issue the following letter.
First of all, Srila Prabhupada never sanctioned or encouraged this program of buying or selling jewels. Furthermore, Srila Prabhupada does not want us to purchase jewels and gems for decorating the Deities in our own Temples. Expensive gems and jewelry will only attract thieves and rogues. It was because of the jewels in Indian Temples that the Mohammedans invaded India, destroying the Deities and Temples and plundering the jewels. In previous ages, when people were honest and pious Kings maintained law and order, then the Deities and Temples were decorated with costly jewels but in this age it is not advised. Srila Prabhupada said, “Bhakti does not depend on seeing the Deity with jewelry—it is a different matter. We worship the Deity by strictly observing the rules and regulations of Deity worship—not by decorating with jewelry. Jewels will not attract anyone except thieves and rogues. People will be attracted by our preaching. I don’t advise the Temples to purchase jewelry. Do not expose the Deity to this danger. I am not in favor of this.” Furthermore, “purchasing jewels means increased anxiety only. It is not the days for this practice. I do not advise buying or selling jewelry.”
In addition to thieves and rogues, there is risk that even our own men may fall victim to stealing. We have the examples of Kausika and Mahadeva, both devotees who stole from Temples. Prabhupada said, “Our men are coming from outside with so many bad habits and the stealing mentality is there. We are trying to reform, but if the opportunity is there, the mentality may come forward and they may fall down. We will lose our money, our prestige and our students. Why expose them in that way? No jewelry! It is not the time for that.”
In summary, purchasing jewelry for the Deities is unnecessary, dangerous and unauthorized. Prabhupada said to “write elaborately to all Centers on this point. Try to understand the principle.”
We improve on Deity worship by regulated puja, purified chanting and bold and enthusiastic preaching work. Those are the real ornaments with which to decorate the Lord.
Your unworthy servant,
Karandhara das Adhikari
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami