Question by a devotee from India over facebook messenger:
Hare Krishna Prabhu. Dandavats.
Prabhu I accept your thoughts about mundane charity and hospital opening etc. But recently I came across this:
Here it seems Prabhupada doesn’t make objection to ideas of Hospital or charity etc. Can you please explain what is essence? Please consider this as my humble inquiry, as I am a new devotee trying to understand Prabhupada’s real mission in right perspectives. Thank you for your time! Hare Krishna.
Prabhu, thank you for your inquiry, here are my thoughts on the subject.
I think you are aiming of this particular part of the conversation:
Svarūpa Dāmodara: “First point: To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to the residents and the visitors of Gauḍa-maṇḍala-bhūmi. Second point: To propagate the consciousness of Kṛṣṇa, as it is revealed in Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and to propagate that Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself, as is revealed in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta and the Caitanya Bhāgavata. 3] To bring all the members of Gauḍīya-Mādhava-samprādaya together nearer to Lord Caitanya and thus develop within humanity at large that each soul is a part and parcel of Godhead (Kṛṣṇa). 4] To teach and encourage the saṅkīrtana movement of congregational chanting of the holy names of God given in the teachings of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. 5] To erect temples, schools, colleges, universities, institutes of higher studies, hospitals and other buildings with or for the advancement of the objects of the Trust and to maintain, alter and improve the same, including existing buildings, and to furnish and equip the same. 6] In keeping with the spirit of the previous ācārya’s vision of Gauḍīya-Mādhva sampradāya, to cement relations with all the sister temples of Gauḍīya-Mādhva sampradāya under one banner, to solidify preaching the message of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, as desired by His Divine Grace Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Prabhupāda and Śrīla Ṭhākura Bhaktivinoda and all the previous ācāryas in this line. 7] With a view to achieving the aforementioned purposes and to publish and distribute periodicals, magazines, and other books and other items. 8] To do all such other things for the attainment of the objects of the Trust. 9] Trustee members are appointed lifetime. The members should always be seven. 10] A meeting once a year at Śrīdhāma Māyāpur during Gaura-Pūrṇimā. 11] There should be a chairman, a treasurer and a secretary, who are elected each year. 12] A quorum of at least five members.” Finishes.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: So these are the points, Śrīla Prabhupāda, that we have… We expanded this. Your original simple point was to form a Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity for developing Gauḍa-maṇḍala-bhūmi. So we have expanded it into these points if they please Your Divine Grace. We took the ideas mostly from your original points in the…, when you formed the New York corporation, Śrīla Prabhupāda. We used those points and just changed them around a little bit. Today that Jagadish, I forget his name, that lawyer from Mathurā, he is coming, so I’m going to be meeting with him, and I’ll give him these points and see if he can draft a document, proper document. I’d like to get a document done in time so that when we go to Māyāpur, and especially at Gaura-Pūrṇimā, we can have the first meeting. (break)
Bhavānanda: …mantras nonstop, always chanting while he’s preparing. (break)
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: (answering Prabhupāda’s query) Where is Vrindavan? I spoke with him for about two hours this afternoon, going over all of the points again, and, er, I explained everything to him. He said that he’s a very…, he personally has very bad luck, very unlucky person. He said, “My only possible hope is my father.”
Prabhupāda: To guide him.
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Yes. I told him, “You’re right. Actually, Prabhupāda is… All of us were in the same position. We’re all unlucky. Our only hope is Śrīla Prabhupāda.” I said, “As long as you keep remembering that, then you’ll be all right.” (break)
Prabhupāda: Hmm. Submissive, we can guide him.
This conversation is recorded just two weeks before Srila Prabhupada left this world. So there could be a couple of problems with this. I marked words where transcriber says “break”, it seems that some sentences are not recorded, and flow of the conversation is clearly not logical. As it is transcribed, it looks as if Tamala Krishna abruptly changed topic to some person called Vrindavan. Prabhupada was not given chance to reply. But I think that part of the conversation is missing.
So, I would say, as a very unlikely hypothesis, that silence can be a sign of approval. But only if you are ignorant about rest of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings. Prabhupada was blasting hospitals over and over again, especially if sannyasis are involved:
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura remarks in this connection that if sannyāsīs (persons in the renounced order of life, who have left their homes for self-realization) do not engage themselves in the devotional service of the Lord but become attracted by philanthropic work, such as opening educational institutions, hospitals or even monasteries, churches or temples of demigods, they find only trouble from such engagements, not only in this life but in the next. Sannyāsīs who do not take advantage of this life to realize Kṛṣṇa simply waste their time and energy in activities outside the jurisdiction of the renounced order. A devotee’s attempt to engage his energies in such activities as constructing a Viṣṇu temple, however, is never wasted. Such engagements are called kṛṣṇārthe akhila-ceṣṭā, variegated activities performed to please Kṛṣṇa. (KB 87)
The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is teaching all over the world this philosophy, that your first and foremost business is to become Kṛṣṇa conscious. There is no question of so-called economic development, sense gratification. No. These are not important things. There are many missionaries, they open hospitals or similar philanthropic activities, BUT WE NEVER DO THAT. So many friends advised me to open some hospitals, dispensaries. Oh, I flatly said that “WE ARE NOT INTERESTED IN THE HOSPITALS.” There are so many hospitals. So people who are interested in hospitals, they can go there. Here is spiritual hospital. The disease is the other hospitals, they cannot stop death, but our hospital can stop death. (Lecture on CC Adi-lila 1.15 – Dallas, March 4, 1975)
So, hospitals can be opened, but it is very offensive to Srila Prabhupada to call them “Bhaktivedanta” hospitals. Married devotees who need to earn for a living can open hospital, but hospitals are on the level of every other mundane institution, like opening gas station, shopping malls etc.
But when Radhanath baba says in his book Journey home, “I helped opening hospital as a service to my guru”, this is called cheating and lying. Therefore, Radhanath baba is not genuine spiritual master, and is incapable of bringing anybody back to spiritual world. Because his understanding of devotional service is flawed. You can quote me on that.
After Radhanath clones are defeated, they usually add two more arguments, they say that they “preach” in this hospital, therefore it is transcendental. You can preach to customers in shopping malls and car repair shops also, but that doesn’t make shopping malls transcendental.
And second argument is that they are serving devotees by providing free medical care. You can also provide free car repairs for devotees in your car repair shop, that doesn’t make opening car repair shops “service to Prabhupada”.
Devotional service is a science, it can not be extended and adjusted to whatever you imagine it to be, it can’t be extended to whatever you would like it to be, and it can’t be extended to whatever will bring you more money.
Especially, persons who are collecting donations and persons who are giving donations for hospitals are not receiving any spiritual benefit. They are receiving spiritual benefit as much as they would receive it by collection donations for gas stations.
Thanks for your question, and remember, devotional service and Krishna are usually not aligned with our mundane sentiments, they exist on transcendental plane, and to please Krishna we need to serve transcendental genius Srila Prabhupada and his true followers, and not Radhanath baba. Radhanath baba might have many followers and disciples, but none of them are going to spiritual world, because they disconnected themselves from the parampara by insulting Prabhupada.
Therefore the so-called good men of this world, who are engaged in so many welfare activities, humanitarian activities, by mental concoction, they may be all foolish activities in the estimation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are very much puffed up, that “We are doing this, opening hospital and school, and philanthropism, nationalism.” Is there any such thing in the Bhagavad-gītā? Is there any advice that “You open hospital, school and do this philanthropic work”? No. (BG Lecture, London August 3, 1973)
This article originally appeared on Lasting Impression website