Contemplation of the Impermanent

Bhagavad-gītā 2.16 | September 1, 2015 |

English; Inis Rath, Northern Ireland, UK

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Srila Prabhupada on Mundane Welfare

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Question: I am going through Srila Prabhupada's books, letters etc. and trying to properly understand His Divine Grace's attitude to 'welfare' activities, especially, hospitals, schools and feeding the poor. I came across a quote below and I would like to understand it properly as I thought of it as a potential quote for misinterpretation for presenting the idea that Srila Prabhupada… Expand>

Question:

I am going through Srila Prabhupada's books, letters etc. and trying to properly understand His Divine Grace's attitude to 'welfare' activities, especially, hospitals, schools and feeding the poor. I came across a quote below and I would like to understand it properly as I thought of it as a potential quote for misinterpretation for presenting the idea that Srila Prabhupada wanted welfare activities;

"We may approach our government leaders with our simple formula and show to them by the practical result that we are accomplishing the reform work that they are trying to do by spending millions of dollars but not very successfully. We, on the other hand, are rescuing the most fallen members of society among the young people and giving them new life of spiritual or highly desirable qualities, such as honesty, cleanliness, truthfulness, morality, like that. Now you approach the government leaders and convince them in this way, and that will be the greatest achievement. They have got so much money for spending for human welfare activities, and practically we are demonstrating that they have given us foodstuffs in India and we are distributing them daily to not less than 500 men, and if they would give us more we could also increase more and more. Your government has got inclination to assist the unfortunate people of the world, and that is very nice idea, now they should understand also that we are very much anxious and capable to assist them in their great and noble endeavour by rendering our services amongst the unfortunate citizens. If they give us financial help in this matter of human welfare activities, we are prepared to save or rescue their entire population from the clutches of ruin and degradation of all sorts. As I think you have tried once before and you have met some important political leaders in your Washington, D.C., so I am requesting you especially should take up this task very seriously of convincing your nation's leaders to give us all cooperation, and we shall in turn volunteer our all services to help them. By our mutual combination I am certain that we can improve the entire humanity to the point of spiritual understanding and thus automatically eliminate the basis for wars, poverty, disease, inequality, insufficient supplies of foodstuffs, and so many other problems that plague our so-called civilized societies."

>>> Ref. VedaBase => Letter to: Rupanuga  –  Los Angeles 1 July, 1970

My question is that I am trying to understand what Srila Prabhupada is trying to say here and my understanding is that he is trying to get the American, Indian and European governments to donate food stuffs and facilities so that they (ISKCON) can engage in their preaching activities en-mass  by holding massive sankirtan and preaching programs and then distributing huge quantities of Prasadam. I thought this opinion of the above supported by the following statements:

"We, on the other hand, are rescuing the most fallen members of society among the young people and giving them new life of spiritual or highly desirable qualities, such as honesty, cleanliness, truthfulness, morality, like that"

"If they give us financial help in this matter of human welfare activities, we are prepared to save or rescue their entire population from the clutches of ruin and degradation of all sorts"

"By our mutual combination I am certain that we can improve the entire humanity to the point of spiritual understanding and thus automatically eliminate the basis for wars, poverty, disease, inequality, insufficient supplies of foodstuffs, and so many other problems that plague our so-called civilized societies." [This would only be possible if everyone became Krishna conscious, so this statement probably supports the fact that Srila Prabhupada is asking for help and facilities for preaching Krishna consciousness and not for just distributing prasadam without any preaching]

1) Is my opinion correct about what I think Srila Prabhupada is trying to say in the above letter?

2) There is a statement above; "..and practically we are demonstrating that they have given us foodstuffs in India and we are distributing them daily to not less than 500 men, and if they would give us more we could also increase more and more." … This can be taken to mean that Srila Prabhupada wanted prasadam distribution. How are we to understand it? Or is it that Srila Prabhupada just wanted Prasadam distribution in some places eg. Mayapur. Or perhaps prasadam is being distributed but in the temples only as Srila Prabhupada wanted?

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