Conversation – Melbourne
Director: How would you react if somebody breaks into this place and tries to rob some of the…
Amogha: He says, “How would we react if someone breaks in and tries to rob the building?”
Amogha: A thief. What would we do if a thief came in? In other words, would we be violent?
Prabhupāda: If a thief came in we shall punish him.
Director: You should be violent?
Prabhupāda: Why not? A thief should be punished.
Director: You would punish yourself? What would you do? Would you start attacking him?
Prabhupāda: No, ourself or anyone, a thief is to be punished. A thief has to be punished. Ourself or yourself, it doesn’t matter. A thief is thief. He should be punished.
Director: What if he breaks in because he is hungry?
Prabhupāda: Who breaks?
Amogha: He says what if he breaks in because he’s hungry? What if he comes in as a thief because he wants some food?
Prabhupāda: We say everyone, “Come and eat.” Why he should remain hungry? We invite everyone, “Come here, eat, no charge.” We don’t charge. Why he should remain hungry? Let us increase this program. All hungry men of Melbourne city, come here, you take your eating sumptuously. We invite, “Come on.” Why you should remain hungry?
Director: What if he’s an alcoholic and he’s hungry?
Devotee (1): We have a couple of alcoholics that come here, and we give them food every night.
Director: You do?
Devotee (1): Yes.
Director: Just like the Gordon House.
Devotee (1): Yes. They come. Like we have a feast every Sunday. They come and we give them food.
Prabhupāda: It requires little time to practice. Otherwise, it is open for everyone for reformation.
Director: But you would have your limitations how far you can go in feeding people.
Amogha: He says we would have our limitations in that how many people we could feed.
Prabhupāda: We can feed unlimitedly, provided the government helps.
Director: You could form… You could make a place where people, destitute people, could come and have a free meal.
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes, oh, yes. Everyone, we open to everyone. You come and take prasādam.
Director: Could the government, in a word, use you…
Prabhupāda: No, we cannot be used by the government. We can use the government. Government cannot dictate us. That will not help.
Director: Just a moment. Just a moment. It is the fact that we have a lot of destitutes to look after, and you feel your religious order would like to help people. If the government subsidizes you to provide these services…
Prabhupāda: That we can do.
Director: That you can do. As long as they don’t contradict your…
Prabhupāda: No. Our principle is this.
Director: I mean a lot of church organizations taking children and…
Prabhupāda: You can see one day. If you kindly come early in the morning and stay one day, you see our activity, how nicely we are doing. And then do the needful.
Director: I don’t come here as a person. I’m representing my department.
Prabhupāda: No, whatever it may be…
Director: The fact what you convince me or not is… Society should… I can only say that we’re dealing with very poor people. We tell them what you’re doing, and then I say if something can be combined. Or I can say to the minister that it emerged and it goes on from there. And I can go back to my other duties.
Prabhupāda: Then they can give us some contribution per capita for taking care. Then we can invite. We can increase the accommodation. Now we are doing. We have no business, no income. We are selling our books. So our income is limited. Still, we invite anyone, come. But if government encourages us, then we can increase the program.
Director: Yeah. (audio tape crosstalk) Of course, it’s a political decision. I can only say…
Prabhupāda: It is above politics.
Prabhupāda: It is above politics.
Director: From your point of view, but we in the department depend on political decisions.
Prabhupāda: Yes, the department means they are another set of…
Director: Yes, that’s just an instrument of public will. The minister is elected according to public will in our society.
Prabhupāda: Because they have made a department, just like your… What is the department?
Devotee: Social Welfare.
Prabhupāda: Social Welfare. So if they find social welfare, why not help? Why they bring politics? If actually there is social welfare here, why they should not support it?
Director: Yeah, well you’re right. But in our society, minister is elected to carry out certain policies—not what he wants, but what the people sort of voted for. And they are taxed to support this.
Prabhupāda: If your policy is social reformation…
Director: Social reform is not our policy.
Prabhupāda: Then, social welfare.
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