Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON after Fifty Years
Srila Prabhupada’s disciple Dhananjaya Dasa told me that at his initiation Srila Prabhupada said, “Dhananjaya means ‘winner of wealth,’” and added, moving his arms all around, “Money is flying in all directions—you simply have to learn the art of catching it.”
The next morning, Dhananjaya raised a question related to a purport he had read in Prabhupada’s Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.12.33):
“Maharaja Marutta: . . . [He] conducted one sacrifice called Sankara-yajna by which the Lord was so satisfied that He was pleased to hand over to him the charge of a mountain peak of gold. This peak of gold is somewhere in the Himalaya Mountains, and modern adventurers may try to find it there.”
“Srila Prabhupada,” Dhananjaya asked, “Is it true that there is mountain peak in the Himalayas made of solid gold?”
“Yes, there is such a peak.”
“Do you know where it is?”
“Why do you want to know?” Prabhupada asked.
Dhananjaya perceived that ISKCON was not doing well financially, and so he said, “Well, if you tell me where it is, I’ll get a rucksack [back pack] and a special hammer and chisel and go to the top of that mountain, hack away at the gold, fill up the rucksack, and come down, and then we can use that gold in Krsna’s service. So would you let me know where that mountain peak is?”
“No,” Prabhupada replied.
“Why not?” Dhananjaya asked.
“That would become too controversial,” Prabhupada said. Then he added, “Actually, more valuable than gold are devotees. You should make devotees.”
Dhananjaya took that instruction to heart and has always tried to make devotees—and along with making devotees, keeping devotees. Naturally, if we gain some wealth, we don’t want to lose it—we want to preserve it and increase it.
As Srila Prabhupada wrote, “It is better to maintain a devotee than to try to convince others to become devotees. It is the duty of the GBC to maintain the devotees, keep them in the highest standard of Krishna consciousness, and give them all good instruction, and let them go out and preach for making more devotees. Your first job should be to make sure that every one of the devotees in your zone of management is reading regularly our literatures and discussing the subject matter seriously from different angles of seeing, and that they are somehow or other absorbing the knowledge of Krishna consciousness philosophy. If they are fully educated in our philosophy and if they can get all of the knowledge and study it from every viewpoint, then very easily they will perform tapasya, or renunciation, and that will be their advancement in Krishna consciousness. So first thing is to instruct all of your temple presidents and the other devotees to read daily, just as we have done in our morning class in Los Angeles . . . reading one sloka each morning in Sanskrit and reciting it all together and then discussing it thoroughly by seeing different new things. So you introduce this system and train the devotees first. Don’t be too much concerned for the time being with nondevotees. Now we must fix up what devotees we have got in the knowledge of Krishna consciousness; then we will succeed. What good are many, many devotees if none of them are knowledgeable?” (Letter to Satsvarupa, June 16, 1972)