Was Srila Prabhupada Systematically “Positioned”?
Vrindavana, 1976 Part 3
Do you have, this last letter, about preaching to the blacks. How did Prabhupada pick up on that propensity, was this sort of a new idea?
I had already been working with blacks. Prabhupada had told me for years to work with blacks. However, there were these black persons that were complaining that ISKCON is not set up for black people. They would say,
“You cannot work with black people; you cannot do things with black people.”
“Is this your only beef?”
“Yeah, otherwise we would be devotees and everything.”
Therefore, I wrote Prabhupada a letter and I told him that in America; black people and white people really do not mix, even though you may have heard media and propaganda to the contrary; that it is all just a melting pot. Gigantic black neighborhood, gigantic white neighborhoods, they may mix in work or in shopping. But when they go home, to their churches, to their religious communities, the fact is completely different.
I wrote Srila Prabhupada and informed him that I know some devotees who want to work in the black community. Would you be interested in starting temples; having separate black temples. And he wrote back,
“Yes, a very good idea. Do it immediately.”
That is how it all started. So these black devotees that wanted to do it, they blooped. There were two black devotees, who swore to me how dedicated they were. I was left alone because we all came to New York, and we rented an apartment in Harlem, and then they blooped. They broke the principles. So I was left alone.
I kept writing Srila Prabhupada, that I cannot stay in this crazy place with these black people. There were people threatening to kill me, and people breaking in to my house. And everywhere you go, people insulting you, and stuff like that. It was all so stupid and on top of that, I had no money. So I said to myself,
“How can I stay with these people?”
I kept writing Prabhupada letters, expressing that I cannot stay here, why do you want me to stay here, and you always write back and instruct me to stay.
After a while, I actually got into it. I actually stated to liked it.
What year was that?
I do not know. I forget. That was really a bad time for me, because every time I went to work, I would think of India. I would say I cannot take it anymore. First of all, I have no money, and black people do not come out in the winter time very much. What can I do in America? So I would stay during the summer, and then I would go to India for the winter.
When I would go to India, I would talk with Prabhupada, and he would say,
“Oh, go back, you should go back.”
Therefore, I would go back. I did that for three summers. He said you should go back, so I would go back. And every time I would go back, the local president of New York temple, and G.B.C., would tell me that I was unauthorized; that I should not do this program of preaching in the black community. What I was doing was un-bonified. They would say that the only reason I am working with these black people is because I like drugs and black women.
I could never get any cooperation; I could never get any devotees to help. I was labelled a break-away. Just somebody who is doing something that was not part of ISKCON. Yet every time I asked Prabhupada, he told me to do it. So it was a very hard time for me.