A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī
c/o Gopal P. Agarwal
415 North Main Street Apt. 111
Śrīpād Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja,
Please accept my daṇḍavats, and also convey my daṇḍavats to Muni Mahārāja and all of the other Vaiṣṇavas.
By the mercy of Śrīla Prabhupāda, I have had so much work to do since I came to the West that although I was thinking to write you a letter, up until now I could not write. I came to stay here for one month, but if I can stay here longer, the work will be done well. Here, they are naturally attracted to Christianity, but they also like to listen to me. Since I came here, I have been lecturing every day either in a church, school, college, club, or society. Their English is a little difficult for me to understand because they pronounce words differently, and our pronunciation of English is difficult for them to understand. But the work has not stopped because of this. They don’t dislike my English.
In the Butler Eagle Newspaper, which is one of the largest publications, they like my English, and together with my photograph they have printed this article: “In Fluent English Devotee of Hindu Cult Explains Commission To Visit West – A slight brown man in faded orange drapes wearing white bathing shoes stepped out of a compact car yesterday and into Butler YMCA to attend a meeting. He is A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī, a messenger from India to the peoples of the West. A Hindu by faith, the learned teacher has translated Biblical literature such as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam into English from ancient Sanskrit. He is now fulfilling a mission given to him by his spiritual master to enlighten English speaking people about their relationship with God.”
I have explained in detail a short life history. Under my photograph, I wrote (in large letters): AMBASSADOR OF BHAKTI YOGA “Chanting the holy name of God is among the religious practices of A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī, who arrived on Monday for a month’s stay in the Butler area as a ‘Missionary in the West.’ Pictured in the apartment of his sponsor in the United States, Gopal Agarwal, the Swāmījī is residing in the YMCA, and cooking his own meals at the Agarwal home. ‘Every culture has religion,’ he says. ‘We are all engaged in service of some sort; the highest service is to the Supreme Lord.’ The scholar-teacher hastranslated sixty volumes of Sanskrit scripture into English. Now, seventy years old, the appointed ‘missionary’ to the United States, was educated in India up to a Bachelor of Arts. He became a disciple in 1933, and received instructions until the death of his leader in 1936. He has severed all family ties, forsaking wife, children, and a business in Calcutta, to follow his beliefs.”
To cross the Atlantic Ocean took ten days. This great sea is usually full of storms and fog and is very disturbing. But by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, there was no disturbance. The captain of the ship, the main officer, told me, “This kind of quiet Atlantic I have never seen in my life.” I told them that this is only by Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, nothing else. After the troublesome storm in the Arabian Sea, I knew that if I had had to face a storm like that again, I would die.
I am thinking that the preaching will be very good here. I am lecturing – some days for an hour and some days for one half-hour. The people of America are now tasting some new thing. This is the first time I have come to a foreign country, crossing twelve thousand miles. All here are outcasts (not followers of the varṇāśrāma-dharma system) yet I am never afraid to speak in front of them. For the first time in my life I delivered a speech in a church. The main thing is that I am alone and I am in my old age. Because of this, crossing twelve thousand miles in a ship, I became sick. I crossed the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean. I passed through Asia, Europe and Africa. I crossed these oceans and seas and became so sick. Due to my request, they served me vegetarian meals on the ship, yet I could not take them. I fasted continuously for eight to ten days. The pitta (fire) increased so much in my body thus I suffered terribly from colic pain.
Afterwards, the captain of the ship purchased an electric stove for me in Port Said. I then cooked for myself and took prasāda. If they hadn’t managed this stove for me, maybe there would have been no possibility of me reaching America. I could have died on the way, but instead Kṛṣṇa mercifully brought me here. Why Kṛṣṇa has brought me here, only He knows.
It is very expensive here. One room I found in the YMCA has a weekly rent of fifty-five rupees. This is a very, very expensive country. The laborers earn more than a gentleman in India. They are paid eighty to eighty-five or ninety rupees daily. Everybody has a motor car, since all the offices and markets are very far away. Every civilized person has one car, which costs ten thousand rupees each. In India that same car would cost fifty thousand rupees. People drive the cars themselves, they have no paid drivers to do it for them. Nor do they keep servants. There are lakhs and lakhs of motor cars. When I came from New York to Butler, I saw that on two lanes, for five hundred miles there was a solid line of cars. There was no need of electric lights because there were so many cars. At night in the city the shops are lit up and it appears like daytime. There are so many bridges and flyovers (overpasses) that the cars never need to pass each other on narrow roads. Every motor car is generally going not less than fifty miles per hour. Many houses are twenty-five to thirty stories high. In this neighborhood, there are cottages built on small plots. The people are very civilized, but they are ugra (high-tempered, not polite or humble).
Today in New York, the Pope came. On television, everyone saw this. Television is an amazing thing. Just staying in one room, they can watch how the whole world is going on, and how they are all corresponding with each other. “The days are passed in vain work and the nighttimes in sleep.” Here people are generally non-vegetarian. Without meat they can’t eat anything. I have been taking muri (puffed rice) and peanuts with mustard oil. Somewhere I found mustard oil. Everything is available, but the price is so high. I purchased two hundred and fifty grams of mustard oil for five rupees. I had to travel to a shop twenty miles distance to get it. If you want to come to this country, reply to me.