Room Conversation
with Ambarisa and Catholic Priest

June 14, 1976, Detroit
Srutikirti: We took a few pictures that you could see. We took some pictures for you to look at of the restaurant. It's still being built, so there's not actually that much to see. This street that it's on is very heavily traveled all day. This is taken at about five o'clock in the morning, so there's no one there. It's still under construction, you can see all the cinderblocks inside. But it's all glass building.
Prabhupada: It is being rented or purchased?
Srutikirti: That's still being worked out. I think...
Ambarisa: I think we're going to purchase.
Srutikirti: I think Ambarisa is purchasing.
Prabhupada: The back building? That is a different building?
Srutikirti: No, yeah. This is condominiums, houses, for people living above, so the restaurant is just that one floor. That's what we would be purchasing, not the whole building.
Ambarisa: The kitchen is inside the big building.
Srutikirti: But it's very choice space. It's just two blocks from what's called the Ritz Hotel, which is most famous hotel in the country, they have in every large city. These pictures, that glassed-in area, that would all be just the serving area. Then the kitchen is behind the wall. There would be a large kitchen facility, where all the devotees would be cooking.
Prabhupada: Kitchen is within the building?
Srutikirti and Ambarisa: Yes.
Prabhupada: So one-story building also included?
Ambarisa: Yes, there's a kitchen and dish-washing room and office, storage...
Srutikirti: All inside.
Prabhupada: Nice.
Pusta Krsna: Did you explain that it was being built for someone who was going to start a restaurant, but they didn't?
Srutikirti: Yes. They ran out of money, these people, and there were so many restrictions at this location because of these buildings here. People live there, and they didn't want anyone in there who was going to cook meat. And they didn't want anyone who was going to serve intoxication. So practically we're the only people that don't serve meat and intoxication. So actually they're very glad.
Ambarisa: The man who owns it says he gets fifty phone calls every day from people who want that space. It's such a good space that fifty people a day call.
Prabhupada: Fifty?
Srutikirti: People are very interested, the location is excellent. It's on one of the most important streets in all of Boston.
Ambarisa: Once we get open we'll be able to serve a thousand people a day.
Prabhupada: Oh. And what you are charging?
Ambarisa: We're charging anywhere between three and eight dollars. Eight dollars for a very big, many preparations and different nectars and very sumptuous feast for eight dollars. And then if you just want a sandwich or something a little smaller you can pay just three dollars. We think we'll be making about half a million dollars a year, which will all go to you, Prabhupada. (laughter)
Devotee: So we couldn't call the restaurant the "Hare Krsna Restaurant" because there were some restrictions in the block, so we were thinking we'd call it "Sankirtana." That's okay?
Prabhupada: Oh, yes. They are Hare Krsna phobia; they are afraid.
Srutikirti and Ambarisa: Yes.
Prabhupada: You have suggested "Sankirtana"?
Ambarisa: Yes, they think that is nice. They do not know what that means.
Prabhupada: Just like our Haridasa. You know Haridasa? Bombay?
Ambarisa: Yes, uh-huh.
Prabhupada: He, Moscow, he was chanting Hare Krsna on the street, and when people asked "What is this?" "This is cinema song."
Ambarisa: Sometimes as devotees we have to be a little bit crooked.
Prabhupada: (indistinct) We shall do everything as the material person does, karmis do, but we have to do everything for Krsna, not person. Then it is all right. So?
Srutikirti: There's one thing, our best hours, some of the best business in the restaurant, would be very late at night, like between nine to eleven o'clock at night. So is that all right as long as we can arrange...
Prabhupada: Oh, yes.
Srutikirti: ...everyone's following the program? People are up 'til midnight.
Ambarisa: Still they will come to the morning program.
Prabhupada: But there will be picture of Caitanya Mahaprabhu?
Ambarisa: Yes.
Srutikirti: A nice altar, small altar, Panca-tattva.
Ambarisa: The temple is only one block away. We were wondering, should we offer the food to the Deities in the temple or should we offer it in the restaurant?
Prabhupada: Better in the restaurant.
Ambarisa: Better in the restaurant. Yes, that is a little easier also.
Prabhupada: They must know that they're eating prasadam.
Ambarisa: Yes, yes.
Srutikirti: There was one other thing. Manasvi, he is outside of New York. And I don't know very much what his position is. I talked to him once, he wanted to see you in New York. I don't know if you know that. Because he says that all these things are not true. No.
Prabhupada: He's a thief. He has taken about twenty-five thousand dollars. He's a thief from the very beginning. What he is doing now?
Srutikirti: He's working two jobs. They won't allow him in the temple. I think you sent one letter or something.
Prabhupada: No, he should not be admitted.
Ambarisa: Also in Boston there's a lady who may be donating a million-dollar farm to the Boston Temple. This is just a project that's a little bit..., that's just started, and she wants to donate her farm. So that is also going on, and also the temple is purchasing the building next door. I gave them some money for a down payment on it so they could buy the building next door to use it to house the people that are living in the restaurant and also for the Bhaktivedanta Institute, because I think the Bhaktivedanta Institute is going to be in Boston. Madhava is there.
Prabhupada: Yes, Boston is nice place for the Institute.
Srutikirti: Best place for it.
Pusta Krsna: It's the educational center of America.
Ambarisa: Academic center of the United States. So now we are fixing up the temple very nicely. We've spent about fifty thousand dollars putting in all new tile floor and a beautiful new onyx altar. Very, very gorgeous.
Prabhupada: So it is framework or solid building?
Ambarisa: The building? It's stone, brownstone.
Prabhupada: Oh, then it's nice.
Ambarisa: Very sound.
Srutikirti: It's in a very nice area in Boston. Commonwealth Avenue was the most aristocratic street in Boston. The temple is right there, just one block from downtown.
Prabhupada: Near Commonwealth Pier?
Srutikirti: Near Boston Commons. Boston Commons? The big park.
Prabhupada: Not park, there is a pier, pier (pronounces "pire") what do you call?
Ambarisa: Oh, pier, pier. Oh, yes, it is near there, Prabhupada, that's where you landed.
Prabhupada: Yes. (laughs)
Ambarisa: Yes, it is not far. We're having Ratha-yatra in Boston for the first time this year, and we're going to take the Ratha carts down to Commonwealth Pier in honor of your arrival.
Prabhupada: Yes. (laughs) There is one A.P. store?
Ambarisa: A P?
Prabhupada: A-P, A-P store.
Ambarisa: Market? Yes, it's still there.
Prabhupada: Yes, that I saw first. (laughter) I remember.
Ambarisa: So there are many nice projects going on in Boston. We are hoping that maybe sometime you can come. That would be very nice.
Prabhupada: Oh, yes. From New York it is not...
Ambarisa: No, it is very close to New York, half-hour airplane ride.
Prabhupada: So it is ready?
Pusta Krsna: We were talking about different names for the restaurant yesterday.
Srutikirti: Pusta Krsna Maharaja did not care for "Sankirtana Restaurant." (laughs)
Pusta Krsna: I thought that there might be a name of Krsna, like they were using "Govinda," but that's obviously a name for Krsna. Because people don't...
Ambarisa: We wanted to have a name that was Hare Krsna movement, just, exclusively Hare Krsna movement. So we thought "Sankirtana." No other movement, we're the sankirtana movement. So we thought that name would show that it was exclusively Hare Krsna, whereas many other Indians they have named their store "Radha-Krsna Store," stuff like this. So we thought...
Pusta Krsna: Something perhaps more exotic. I was just thinking as a restaurant.
Ambarisa: We wanted something that was exclusively...
Prabhupada: They have started "Govinda's"?
Ambarisa: Yes, that is in Hawaii. Yes.
Prabhupada: Govinda's name is nice.
Srutikirti: Yes, I always liked. Now Laguna Beach they are also calling it "Govinda's."
Prabhupada: Yes, so why not continue this "Govinda's"?
Ambarisa: Yes, we could, okay.
Srutikirti: It's very good publicity. If many are started, they are all "Govinda's," then everyone will recognize it.
Ambarisa: Okay, there is no difficulty.
Prabhupada: Govindam adi-purusam. So that's all right, "Govinda's."
Ambarisa: OK. (pause)
Srutikirti: Hari-sauri looks like he can give a very good massage. He looks like he can give a very good massage.
Prabhupada: Mmm. Hari-sauri's one defect is he cannot cook. (laughter) Otherwise he is duplicate. Except cooking. He knows very good cooking.
Pusta Krsna: He can eat though. He can eat prasada.
Srutikirti: So I can travel and cook?
Prabhupada: Cooking and.... A young man must eat. Why one should be like me?
Srutikirti and Ambarisa: Jaya. Jaya, Prabhupada.
Prabhupada: Hare Krsna. [break] (tape continues after guest's entrance)
Stansky: ...the very best.
Prabhupada: Yes.
Stansky: I'm very, very pleased. I (indistinct) of the bus (indistinct) with Satsvarupa Maharaja.
Prabhupada: So just work cooperatively for the benefit of human society. We were just discussing our so many things. (to Pusta Krsna:) You can explain what I was talking.
Pusta Krsna: How the present civilization is.... Just like here in Detroit, producing so many cars.
Prabhupada: (Hindi to Indian girl)
Pusta Krsna: So how long can this civilization go on, simply producing automobiles, like this? So the situation is that the people are always in a state of poverty. Just like the black people here in Detroit. Even they are making sufficient money, still they are always in a state of poverty because they don't know how to live. Prabhupada related one story that the capitalist and the worker, both of them, they went to the goddess of fortune appealing for a benediction. So the capitalist asked, "Give me such money that I will be able to work one day and it will last me for six months." And then the worker, he went and he said, "Give me one thousand dollars I have every day to spend."
Prabhupada: No, he said that "Give me the same money as the capitalist will spend in six months. I shall spend every day. I shall get that money every day and I shall spend it." So this worker class, there is no culture. You may pay them heavy amount of money, but they will spend it and remain a poor man. Because he has no culture.
Stansky: This is true.
Prabhupada: You see this black men. They earn sufficient money, but see their home. See their home. You America, you have given them equal rights, they are getting money, but they have no culture. Therefore you may pay them as much as you like, but still poverty-stricken. In Africa also I have seen that they have got their own kingdom, independence, but if we go to the African slums, they are poverty-stricken, wretched. So this civilization will not endure. If there is no culture, simply by money you cannot maintain a standard of civilization. That is not possible. Now the American leaders they are thinking, "Let us have money, then everything..." Of course, by money you are covering all the defects of the social culture. But this will not endure. Day will come and everything will be exposed. Therefore culture required.
Pusta Krsna: Prabhupada was explaining how in India even the poorest people, they live, husband, wife, family, like this, in very...
Prabhupada: Happy.
Pusta Krsna: ...simple quarters.
Prabhupada: Happily they live. As soon as there is no quarrel between the husband and wife, the home will be happy. And as soon as there is misunderstanding between husband, wife, it will be hell. So the principle is the husband honestly tries to earn livelihood, and at home the wife should be so intelligent that whatever money the husband has earned, she'll manage. She'll not demand, "Bring money, bring money, bring money. Otherwise it cannot be..." Then the home will be happy. So where is that training?
Stansky: Well, there is no training here, there is no culture, as you pointed out.
Prabhupada: No, I mean to say culture, not training.
Stansky: As a matter of fact, even among the educated classes in the United States, there is no culture. There are no cultural roots.
Prabhupada: No, no culture. There is no culture. There is no standard social life. Simply hodgepodge. So this Krsna consciousness movement is the only hope to bring everything in proper order. Everything is explained in the Bhagavad-gita. So America is the leading nation of the world. If you work on the principle of Bhagavad-gita and train up your people, it will be ideal state and example for the whole world. At least a certain section of the American population should be ideal. That will also do. Not that..., we cannot expect cent percent will take Krsna consciousness. That is not needed. But if there is one section of the people ideal, that will be followed. We want to create that section, our Krsna consciousness movement.
Stansky: May I pose a question, Your Grace? It's less than two weeks that I'm asking you for the second time to instruct me. You gave me some very general instructions in my last audience, and I'm very grateful. Many things have transpired since then. I'm now here in Detroit; we'll be going on to Toronto very shortly. From Toronto to Chicago, and then I'm not sure what the agenda is. I'm tremendously pleased because it's giving me an opportunity to work in the area that you said I should be working in. In addition to which I have ample time to study. And I have the assistance of Satsvarupa with my studies. Now I have a question. I would like to keep a log of my daily activities and start preparing an outline of a book. Now the book very basically won't.... I won't be starting on the book for at least a year, but I would like to start keeping a log.
Prabhupada: You can keep record.
Stansky: Yes. Now the reason I would like to keep a log and prepare an outline and start a book, say a year from now, it would show a transition from Roman priesthood to Hare Krsna devotee. I think this would open up the door to all of the colleges and universities across the country.
Prabhupada: Very good idea, yes. Param drstva nivartate [Bg. 9.59]. The nature is if we get better engagement, we give up inferior engagement. Param drstva nivartate. So this will be an example. You are a Roman priest. You are educated, learned scholar also. So when you come to this movement, you do not come here by sentiment or by whims. You consider, then you have come.
Stansky: This is what I wanted to say, that I'm not here because of sentiment. I'm here for very, very sound reasons, and I want to explain the reasons.
Prabhupada: Therefore we are presenting these books, that we are not a so-called sect of whimsical faith. It is based on science and authorities. Recently we have got report that our books have been taken in Hamburg University. You know Hamburg University?
Stansky: Yes.
Prabhupada: As their textbook for Sanskrit class. They found it so wonderful. Because for Sanskrit scholar it is good opportunity to learn Sanskrit, because each word we have given in English and German synonyms.
Stansky: I want very much to learn basic Sanskrit, but I have so much to learn right now that ah,...
Prabhupada: No, it is not necessary, but those who are interested in studying Sanskrit literature, for them it is very good help. And at the same time they get sublime knowledge. They study Sanskrit and get knowledge. So you have kindly come to join us. You study our philosophy very minutely and then try to do something for the suffering humanity.
nana-sastra-vicaranaika-nipunau sad-dharma-samsthapakau
lokanam hita-karinau tri-bhuvane manyau saranyakarau
radha-krsna-padaravinda-bhajananandena mattalikau
vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau
The saintly persons, at least in Caitanya Mahaprabhu's movement, they are not meant for idle life. They are always busy for the welfare of the whole human society. This is the sign of saintly person. They are misguided and they are suffering, and it is the duty of the saintly person to give them instruction, education, how they can become really happy and make their life successful. This is saintly person. A saintly person doesn't mean to live at other's expenditure and do all nonsense things. This is not saintly person. Hm. (Hindi) [break] You asked me some question?
Stansky: I wanted to know whether it would be all right to keep the log and to write at the..., work out the outline for the book. You told me to go ahead. So I will do that. Basically, this is what I wanted to do. I would like to continue with the group. I would like to travel with the group and keep an accurate log and start an outline and see possibly within a year's time I will have sufficient material to start the book.
Prabhupada: That's nice, huh? You like this idea?
Devotee: Yes.
Prabhupada: (Hindi) These boys who are working for this movement?
Pusta Krsna: How do you like our men, the devotees?
Stansky: Oh, I'm very, very impressed. This impressed me to begin with, their enthusiasm, their joy, and their complete surrender. This is what...
Prabhupada: This is the qualification.
Stansky: This is the qualification.
Prabhupada: Yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau [SU 6.23]. That is the secret of success. If one has got unflinching faith in his spiritual master and Krsna, then he's successful. Two things. Guru-krsna-krpa-paya bhakti-lata-bija. So if the guru is false, then how they can keep their faith? That will be broken. Our process is very simple. There is no difficulty. You have seen our Los Angeles temple? When we purchased, it was a church, perhaps you know. Nobody was coming, so that they were obliged to sell. They started this Sunday class, this, that, so many things. In Melbourne also we have seen a big.... What was that?
Hari-sauri: It used to be what they call a Christian Brothers school.
Prabhupada: That we wanted to purchase?
Hari-sauri: Oh, that nunnery.
Prabhupada: Nunnery. So they wanted to maintain themselves by becoming washermen. Still, they could not maintain. They eventually became washerwoman to maintain. Huge establishment. So I wanted, negotiation was there. They persisted that the church should not be broken. No? To be broken.
Hari-sauri: Yes, there were different sections. They had a school there and,...
Prabhupada: So we thought that we shall use it as temple. That they disagreed. "No, you cannot keep it, you have to break it, then we can sell to you." Then why shall I break it? We shall pay for it and break it? No. Then the negotiation failed. But a huge land, and we are prepared to purchase. In England, in London, I was..., one, two churches I was negotiating, and one church, that man, he said, "I'll burn into ashes. I'll not sell it to Bhaktivedanta." (laughs) Recently we wanted to purchase in St. James Park one nice house. So they did not give us. They..., we offered better price; still they did not give us.
Stansky: Your Grace, the thing that impressed me the very most at the temple in Los Angeles.... Now you must bear in mind that I am very, very steeped in Catholicism, I'm very steeped in the New Testament. So when I observed what was happening at the temple in Los Angeles, I was seeing the Book of Acts coming to life. Something that died three hundred years ago in the Roman church. In 300 A.D. it died. Since then there's been no such example. And I was just amazed wandering around because there I saw the exact, the Book of Acts. And I was impressed.
Indian girl: (Hindi)
Prabhupada: That's all right.
Devotees: Jaya, Srila Prabhupada.

Link to this page: https://prabhupadabooks.com/conversations/1976/jun/with_ambarisa_and_catholic_priest/detroit/june/14/1976

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