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The Very Beginning of ISKCON Vrindavan
Posted on May 29, 2016 · Posted in Speaking Out

by Sri Krsna Balaram Swami

Today I went to Swamiji with heart felt curiosity asking if he could recollect any incidents of him participating in Srila Prabhupada’s mission in the very early 70s in Vrindavan, India. When I spoke my heart to Swamiji he said the following:

KRSNA BALARAM SWAMI SPEAKS OUT

When I joined Srila Prabhupada’s mission there were only three huts in Vrindavan around 1972. In one hut was staying Ananda Maharaj (ISKCON would call him Ananda Prabhu), a Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati’s disciple, Srila Prabhupada’s godbrother. In the second hut, there was Mr. Tony and Gunarnava das. In the third hut was staying Prabhas das and Sacidananda das (two Bengali devotees). The roof of these huts was made of grass. There was also a side office arrangement. Today we have Ananda Maharaj’s samadhi constructed right within our Red Stone Temple’s premises here in Vrindavan.

There were ditches for foundation of the Krsna Balaram Mandir temple to be constructed. I was staying with Ananda Maharaj in his hut. Gurudas and Yamuna devi dasi lived in some ashram nearby, and I was told they were the leaders of that project. Saurav Prabhu sometimes would come as a civil engineer, architect designer for the temple. Srila Prabhupada came and stayed in Jhunjunwala house and gave a lecture at the ashram of Vishanchan Seth (a member of parliament at that time).

Once Palika devi dasi (Bhavananda’s ex-wife) approached me asking how to make home-made yogurt, and I showed her how to do it. One day also Yamuna reached me asking how to make fresh jalebees for Srila Prabhupada. Some months later Srila Prabhupada’s house was constructed and when he came he stayed there. Once Srila Prabhupada called me in his house in the presence of Gurudas and Yamuna, and he asked me the estimation of how much would it cost to give a feast to 50 people in each of the seven temples of Vrindavan. I had told him that it would cost about 12 rupees per person, but because Srila Prabhupada had sanctioned only 3 rupees per head per day for the maintenance of the devotees living in his property, the feast for the seven temples had to be canceled. (That was meant to be an actual feast and not an ordinary meal.) The value of the rupee back then was much greater than today’s, and that 3 rupees was enough for one person’s basic maintenance.

Nitai Das was Srila Prabhupada’s servant at that time, and he would come for hot water for Srila Prabhupada’s bath after his oil massage. Guru Kripa and Yasodanananda came with their party and stayed a few days in some ashram in Vrindavan.

Ananda Maharaj once fell into a ditch of the temple foundation and broke his leg, and he had a cast on for over a month, and I was assigned to take care of him in his hut.

Tamal Krsna would come with Srila Prabhupada also. We had only salty water in our land. There were no deities, deity pictures for worship, no kirtan, no bhajans in the premises of ISKCON land in Vrindaban in those days. When the temple foundation came above the earth I was sent out to collect money. In those days 1,111 rupees was the fee for membership and ISKCON was not known to anyone in India at that time. The temple was inaugurated in 1975. I was the leader of the preaching and collections party and our collections were so great that we were able to purchase the very first car in ISKCON Vrindaban. The name of our party was Krsna Balaram Sankirtan Party and the car was an Indian made Ambassador.

The governor of Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Channa Reddy, came for the inauguation. After the inauguration, a year later (1976) I was sent to Bombay to collect money there for Srila Prabhupada. Myself and Banabhatta Prabhu’s brother were partners in preaching and collecting in Bombay. Lord Krsna’s deity was in a grass-roof hut there in Bombay.

Those who made up so many lies about me over the years by saying so many things, such as that I was a guard, or that I was a riksha walla, that I was a sudra, that I was not born in Vrindavan, that I was born in California, that I was walking with a beer can in one hand and a girl in the other with dark glasses in the streets of Hong Kong, that I had strings of women, or that I was not a Srila Prabhupada’s disciple, that I am against devotional service, that I am against Krishna, that I have a son half-white half-Indian in Los Angeles — all these lies were made up due to great envy and in order to tarnish my name so that all of their followers would not leave them and come to us. This is how low their creative minds would get to try to destroy my reputation. The truth is that I have never eaten meat, nor drank any wine, and never done any of those things in my whole life, most of which are completely unknown to me due to my upbringing and uninterrupted Vaishnava lifestyle, but these things are well known to those who accused me of such things.

All of my Indian godbrothers are born in such class families that if their family members entered into our father’s house, the house would be washed afterward. And if they entered while my father was eating then he would stand up from his eating plate and not eat on that day. Bhakti Charu Swami was born in such a family. However, this rule does not apply to any Vaishnava. Therefore, for instance, if Bhakti Charu Swami, as he is already initiated into Vaisnavism, entered into our father’s house, he would have been welcomed with folded hands, because the rule is that Vaishnavas offer respect to each other. I was born in such a pure Vaishnava family tradition. Not to speak of any western born individuals, such a tradition is inconceivable even to my Indian godbrothers. Such is my upbringing. I had always respected my godbrothers and godsisters even though all of their backgrounds are such.

I am going public with all of this just to let everyone know of the exact actual truth, even at the cost of getting shot or bombed by ISKCON leaders and their affiliates. After all is said and done, those who are actually sincere and lucky and are able to see the truth being told, will want to come to us and participate in our mission and go back to Godhead.

Jay Sri Radhe. Hare Krishna.

Krsna Balaram Swami
30 April 2016
Sri Vrindavan Dham, India