Tokyo, January 27-28
Suspicious Japanese immigration officials delayed Śrīla Prabhupāda and considered not giving him a visa. Granting no more than a two-day transit visa, they finally allowed him to enter. After such a poor reception, Prabhupāda was royally greeted by Dai Nippon Printers of Tokyo. Their white-gloved, uniformed chauffeur picked up Śrīla Prabhupāda at the airport in a Mercedes and drove him to the ISKCON center. Even though Śrīla Prabhupāda’s BBT was printing with American printers by 1975, Dai Nippon was still competitively bidding for their work. The BBT was an important contract for any printer to gain, and Śrīla Prabhupāda was the BBT’s sole author and publishing director.
A seasoned traveler familiar with the sights and sounds of almost every continent, Śrīla Prabhupāda was accustomed to these short stops in the Orient. When in India, he could tell his Godbrothers and friends about lands and peoples they had only read of in books. Yet, wherever Śrīla Prabhupāda went, he remained fixed in transcendental consciousness. His lectures on the Bhagavad-gītā in Tokyo were the same as in Hong Kong or in America; the message—“Surrender to Kṛṣṇa”—was universally and urgently applicable in every town and village. But sometimes Śrīla Prabhupāda would spice his talks with local references.
“Everyone is suffering, that’s a fact,” Śrīla Prabhupāda said during a class in the small Tokyo ISKCON temple. He was describing the inherent miseries in material life. “Just like now,” Prabhupāda said, “two big directors of Dai Nippon Company came to see me. We have got business with them, so they are meeting so many problems for their printing work. They are maintaining about two hundred thousand people to carry on their business. They have a huge establishment, huge responsibility. But there are problems also. So this material world is full of problems. One who understands this is called sura, or a civilized man.
Citing the alternative miseries of heat and cold, Prabhupāda referred to Tokyo’s cold climate, which was so severe that it prevented him from taking his morning walks. “This winter season comes, and we do not want chilly cold; therefore we are covering our body,” Prabhupāda said. “The cause of our covering is that we are suffering. But after covering, if we feel some pleasure, what is this pleasure? It is only for the time being some arrangement that we stop suffering. This is the nature of material enjoyment.” Japanese students were attending Prabhupāda’s classes, and Prabhupāda addressed them directly. “When we are in danger in Japan,” Prabhupāda said, “—you have got many times the experience of earthquake, do you not? So what do you do at that time? Hmm? You all Japanese boys and girls, what do you do? Have you experienced earthquake? You have? What do you do at that time?”
Prabhupāda paused in his talk, inviting the Japanese boys and girls to speak out and tell him something, but they sat still, looking at him silently. “When there is earthquake,” Prabhupāda continued, “what do you do? Hmm? But I have seen in America, they all, everyone, they scream.”
Prabhupāda’s audience broke into laughter.
“And perhaps they remember about God,” Prabhupāda said. “Naturally they will remember, ‘God save us.’ That means that we do not wish to die, that’s a fact. You cannot say that death is a very good thing; no one will say. But we have to die. But you don’t want death. This is suffering. And not only in death but even in lifetime. Just like we are an old man. Who wants to become an old man? Everyone wants to remain youthful. This is undesirable. This is suffering. Actually we are suffering because we are an old man. We are suffering so many diseases, so many inconveniences. If I am not helped by three or four men, then I cannot move even. So this is suffering.
“Just like now in Tokyo City,” Prabhupāda continued, “you are making very big, big buildings everywhere, all over the world, to live very comfortably. But that comfortable life is also not assured, because you will have to die. Therefore it is called aśāśvatam, ‘not permanent.’ This is to be understood first. Those who are intelligent, they are very pessimistic. And one who is satisfied with this temporary so-called happiness, he is called asura.” By the grace of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, the asuras were becoming suras, Prabhupāda concluded. For this he was traveling—“To give them education to understand what is Absolute Truth.” Only if one took to Kṛṣṇa consciousness could he become sura, the perfect man, and make his life successful.
Prabhupāda gave two lectures in Japan. In his second talk he argued that because there is design in nature, there must be a designer. His logic and his examples were precise and vigorous. He referred to local governmental organization within a city and how it is controlled by persons. “Similarly, when I see that the cosmic order is working so nicely and systematically and reasonably, how can I say there is no controller? How can you say logic? Tell me anyone. Can you say, anyone? How can you say there is no controller? Jagad āhur anīśvaram. What is their logic? You tell me.” Prabhupāda wanted a challenge from his audience, so he pointed to his secretary. “You are sometimes on their side. What is their logic?”
Paramahaṁsa: “Well, no controller is ever seen.”
Prabhupāda: “But you have not seen who is the Japanese government’s president. How can you conclude there is no government? You have not seen the president or the supreme head. But how can you say there is no government? Otherwise, how is it going on so nicely? You may not see so many things, but that does not mean anything. That is not good logic, that ‘I have not seen.’” Someone in the audience put forward the theory of chance, and Prabhupāda responded with great enthusiasm to defeat the nonsense theory.
“Kṛṣṇa is not alone,” Prabhupāda said. “‘Kṛṣṇa’ means that He has got many energies. Just like a tiny person like me, Bhaktivedanta Swami. I have this movement, and I am not alone. I have got so many assistants all over the world. I was the originator, I was the founder, so I am not alone. Similarly, as I have expanded with my disciples in so many ways, in so many places, I can expand. I am a common man. But how can Kṛṣṇa expand? We can just imagine. He is the Supreme Lord. Advaitam acyutam anādim ananta-rūpam. He can expand Himself. But He is the only person. He is doing everything. Just like I am replying to dozens of letters from all over the world and trying to manage. Similarly He is also maintaining alone, ananta-rūpam, by unlimited assistants. Parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate. You have to understand like that.”
Among the “dozens of letters” and the worldwide managerial problems Prabhupāda referred to, a particularly disturbing bit of news arrived during his two-day visit in Japan. The police in Germany had raided the ISKCON temple in Frankfurt and confiscated money from the bank accounts. They had trumped up charges of solicitation fraud, and a mass propaganda war was mounting against Kṛṣṇa consciousness through inimical German media. When Prabhupāda received a distressed letter from his leader in Germany, Haṁsadūta, he asked that Haṁsadūta come and meet him in Hawaii.
Now while in Japan Prabhupāda received a telegram from Bhagavān dāsa, the G.B.C. for southern Europe, who would temporarily manage affairs in Germany. Prabhupāda replied, “Try to manage Germany, London, and Paris. The main business in Germany is to reply to the charges and rescue the frozen money. In England, we have to revive the Ratha-yātrā festival, which has now stopped by the police intrigue. In Paris, you require a larger place to accommodate devotees, so find out a suitable place.” In this way, even while traveling rapidly, staying only a day or two in faraway places, Prabhupāda received and replied to messages regarding the urgent affairs of his worldwide movement. These affairs were always on Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mind in one way or another. He alone was the ultimate judge of the affairs of ISKCON, and he knew best ISKCON’s inner workings. As he had said in his class, he was assisted by many expansions, and yet he was still the single supreme person in ISKCON. In this case supreme not only meant the most exalted and worshipable personality, but the person who had to take the most anxiety and whose deliberations were the most demanding. This also confirmed the need for Prabhupāda’s traveling. By traveling and inspiring the leaders in each city and country, he could avoid disasters and irregularities and keep his armies strong on all fronts against the invasions of māyā, which were liable to occur, and which were occurring from day to day.
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