The History of ISKCON Kenya
BY: SUN STAFF
Krishna Religion Comes to Kenya - December 29, 1971
“The world’s fastest growing religious movement - the International Society of Krishna
Consciousness - has come to Africa. The daily Sankirtana parade through Nairobi’s streets.”
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Sep 19, CANADA (SUN) Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON temples were first established in Nairobi and Mombassa, Kenya, in 1969. That year, one of ISKCON’s most prominent devotees from Africa, HG Shakti Mati devi dasi, was initiated in Nairobi. She went on to become instrumental in the movement, serving in the UK and Vrindavan, and founding the Calgary temple.
The photographs presented in this article were taken in Nairobi in 1971, just two years after the temple opened there. Many devotees served at length in Africa during Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON lila period, including Cyavana dasa, the white-bodied devotee pictured here, and Brahmananda dasa.
In the article to follow, we present a selection of the correspondence Srila Prabhupada exchanged with the devotees serving in Africa, and with his senior men around the world who worked to support the African yatra. As we can see from these letters and various conversations and lectures, the African preaching effort was extremely important to Srila Prabhupada. It was also quite difficult, and the struggles are clearly heard between the lines of Srila Prabhupada’s letters.
“In central Nairobi, the ISKON Sankirtana marches. In the background the
Nairobi Hilton Hotel.”
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Rocana dasa served in Nairobi from late 1979 to 1982, well after the preaching was established there. Many of the difficulties experienced by the founding devotees had been resolved by then, but Africa was still a challenging place to serve. Rocana recalls some of his experiences in Kenya:
“Ajamila dasa was in charge of the Nairobi temple prior to my arrival. I came down with a few devotees from England, most notably Kripamoya dasa. We thought we improved things, but, of course, that was our viewpoint. Hopefully the local devotees shared that feeling.
I was the GBC’s Regional Secretary in charge of Kenya and East Africa at the time. There was a nice Indian couple serving as Temple President in Mombassa, and that temple was running nicely. Navayogendra was also there when I arrived, serving as a guru under the Zonal Acarya period.
We had great success with the Indians there, many of whom were Swami Narayana followers from Gujurat. They owned and controlled a lot of the construction and farming businesses, and gave very generously to our temple and movement.
As for preaching to the Africans, we met with rather limited success. With the exception of one African American who came with his white-bodied American wife and child, there wasn’t a great contingency of preachers who were themselves African. This was certainly a handicap in preaching to the locals.
After Jayatirtha’s final demise, Kenya was turned over to Bhagavan dasa. He and I never got along very well, and we mutually agreed that I would return to Canada.
I was personally in Nairobi when the first big terrorist bombing took place in Kenya. They targeted a large old Colonial hotel, and bombed it during the New Years Eve celebrations. The hotel was not far from the temple, and we sat at our windows and watched as a great plume of smoke rose in the air.
That bombing was following by the more recent, and very serious bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania, which were conducted simultaneously. Later there was a third bombing at a Jewish Hotel in Mombassa.
I recall the night the Nairobi hotel was bombed, the government put the country into lockdown. If you were a foreigner, you had to be a quite careful not to transgress any government regulations, because they were looking everywhere for suspects.
Another fond memory I have of Nairobi was the ‘fireworks pastime’. As a preaching project, Ajamila dasa had imported a lot of fireworks from India. After a tremendous hassle getting them into the country, he advertised widely that there was to be a huge fireworks display at a local sports stadium situated in the affluent part of the city. All these people showed up for what became a huge fiasco. It turned out the fireworks were second class, and there were no professionals there who really knew how to arrange them and set them off. The whole event basically achieved the opposite of the desired result, and made us look like a bunch of bozos.
Afterwards, Ajamila stored the remaining fireworks in the temple, which of course was dangerous. After he returned to England and I arrived in Kenya, we decided to rid ourselves of the fire hazard, so we found an empty lot and thought we’d have a little fireworks show for the poorer Africans who lived around the temple.
At the very moment we were about to set off these fireworks, Lord Indra surprised us with the most torrential downpour that I’ve ever experienced in my life - in Africa or elsewhere. This downpour made India’s worst monsoons pale in comparison. By the time we got back to the temple, which was along a steeply inclined drive, the road had turned into a river, and it was flowing right through the temple! It was an amazing sight. We clearly got the ‘message’ that devotees aren’t supposed to mess around with pyrotechnical displays.
“Roberts Bhuratha (right) joins in the evening meal of prasadam.”
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Srila Prabhupada Directs the African Preaching Mission
Srila Prabhupada wrote many, many letters on spreading Krsna Consciousness in Africa. What follows is by no means a comprehensive listing, but it is an extensive collection of excerpts on the subject of African preaching, presented along a timeline to give the reader a general sense of how the preaching was taking root in Africa.
Science Self Realization, Chapter 7
Build Your Nation on the Spiritual Platform”
“Asked to speak at the University of Nairobi in September 1972, Srila Prabhupada addressed an overflow crowd of students and government officials at the campus's Taifla (Independence) Hall. In his lecture he advised citizens of the developing nation of Kenya, "... please develop spiritually, for spiritual development is sound development. Don't imitate the Americans and Europeans, who are living like cats and dogs. The atomic bomb is already there, and as soon as the next war breaks out, all their skyscrapers and everything else will be finished...."
April 17, 1970 - Letter to Balamukundji:
“I am very glad that the Kenya Indian friends are sympathetic with our Krishna Consciousness movement, so in future we may be able to take up the charge of the African Temples provided the Hindus or Indians fully cooperate with us. Actually this Krishna Consciousness movement, as you know it very well, is not specifically for any sect. Krishna is not for the Hindus only, He is for everyone, even for the animals.
Hindus generally are not so liberal, but Lord Caitanya is very liberal and he embraces anyone from any corner of the world provided he takes to the service of Krishna. This is a great missionary activities, so I am trying to execute this mission to the best of my capacity and if my Indian brothers, at least those who are outside India, will join with me and act according to my direction which is strictly on the Vedic way, then there will be tremendous success of this movement.”
August 7, 1971 - Letter to Hansadutta:
Brahmananda has already gone to Kenya and the response has been very favorable. I hope he will do something tangible there.
September 9, 1971 - Letter to Dr. Balaji, from Kenya:
I am going to East Africa, Kenya, on Friday evening, 10th instant. My address there is given above.
[Srila Prabhupada was in Mombassa through September 19th and by the 24th was in Nairobi.]
September 15, 1971 - Letter to Madhudvisa:
You should see Mr. Dvnva, R.D. Birla promised four sets of Deities. What happened to them? We require pairs in Mombassa and Nairobi also as well as Paris, Berlin, Birmingham, etc.
October 3, 1971 - Letter to Sudama:
So far registration is concerned, we have got our society registered in Kenya in three days.
October 5, 1971 - Letter to Jayapataka:
Here in Nairobi our program is going on very nicely. There are TV engagements and a very large meeting is scheduled at the University of Nairobi for tomorrow. Many respectful Hindus are inviting us and I am staying in everyone's house for four to five days. Most probably our center here in Nairobi will be a strong one, as strong as any of our other centers. Two black devotees have come here today from N.Y. and Dinanatha should come here from there as soon as possible. The Africans locally are becoming very much interested and there is great field here in Africa for spreading Lord Caitanya's movement. Also the life membership program is going on very happily. Already we have collected more than 30,000 Kenya shillings.
October 8, 1971 - Letter to Hansadutta:
Yesterday we had a very successful meeting in the University of Nairobi; the exact words used in the newspaper report [are] as follows: " ISKCON SWAMI EXPLAINS PHILOSOPHY . . . Impeccable showmanship was matched with unimpeachable philosophy of Gita at a jampacked Taifa Hall in the University of Nairobi yesterday evening when about 2000 people and undergraduates listened to Acarya Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his disciples who presented the `Hare Krishna Revolution' "
So the African boys are coming to us and appreciating our philosophy. Two Afro-American devotees from N.Y. have come also and joined us. So until now our program is going nicely. We have collected 30,000 shillings. One shs = 1 Rs. Syamasundara. is also enthusiastic to hold a similar function like Bombay and Calcutta and arrangement is being made for that.
“Converts are being quickly made to ISKON as the daily Sankirtan parades in Nairobi streets
arouse interest in the movement.” (Cyavana dasa on kartals.)”
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October 12, 1971 - Letter to Citsukhananda:
It is very good that you have registered the society. It is very important. Actually we are not a religious institution. We are presenting a cultural program, making men of good character. Therefore it is a cultural institution. We are also registered here in Nairobi as International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Ltd. Many people are becoming our life members also and we have collected over 30,000 shillings and are trying to find out land where to locate ourselves.
October 16, 1971 - Letter to Ksirodakasaya:
I am returning to Bombay from Nairobi on the 19th night, reaching Bombay on the 20th morning at 8:15 a.m. I shall stay in Bombay for four days and then on the 24th morning I shall start for Calcutta.
November 10, 1971 - Arrival Lecture, New Delhi:
So my request is that young men, as young men from America, Europe, Canada... Now I am coming via Africa. I was in Nairobi, Mombassa. And the black men, they are also dancing. And they are asking the Indian people there, "Why did you not give us this sublime message so long?" Because there are many Indians in Nairobi and Mombassa. Unfortunately, our swamis go there, make some collection, and preach that "I am God, you are God. Why you are searching God? Gods are loitering in the street," and "Make this gymnastic and you will become God in six months." These things are going on. But nobody was interested. Bhagavad-gita was taught in Europe and America for the last one thousand years, many big, big English edition. But never Krsna was presented as He is. But as soon it was presented, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, the people are accepting. Immediately they are accepting. (indistinct) Otherwise, if you interpret Bhagavad-gita in your own way, concocted way... Harav abhaktasya kuto mahad-guna mano-rathenasati dhavato bahih. By mental concoction, you have to come back to this asat.
January 11, 1972 - Letter to Bhagavan:
If you like, you may now order from our devotees stationed in Jayapur one pair of gorgeous Radha-Krishna deities for Detroit center. They are settled in Jayapur now especially for this purpose of sending very best murtis to all our ISKCON temples who request them, including dresses, ornaments, jewels, etc. So I think such nice deities can be ordered by you, and you can give them very first-class home and give them all comforts and luxuries, either in that place or if you get a better place. Already they have sent very excellent black Krishna to Nairobi and New York of 48" height.
December 26, 1971 - Letter to Cyavana:
Brahmananda has telephoned that he has got the American Ambassador and the Indian High Commissioner to come to our festival in Nairobi. That is very nice proposal. Now, if you can convince the President of Kenya, Mr. Jomo Kenyatta, to come also, then I shall also consent to come for a few days to meet him. I think if I meet with him that will be very nice. So if you can arrange in that way, and if you send me two tickets round-trip from Bombay, then I shall come when you call.
January 21, 1972 - Letter to Upendra:
Tomorrow I am flying to Africa for a few days to attend Brahmananda's festival in Nairobi, and I may even stay there for some time if our Mayapur program is cancelled due to government restrictions against foreigners in Nadia district. But I am sure to come there to Australia by springtime.
January 25, 1972 - Letter to Karandhara:
I am answering your letter from an air ship going to Nairobi, Kenya. Where I will speak from Jan. 26 - Jan 30 to the Africans and Asians alike.
March 23, 1972 - Letter to Giriraja:
So now things are not going very nicely in Nairobi because Brahmananda has left, so I shall have to send him back there tomorrow, therefore I wanted that you should come here to assist Madhudvisa and __ by collecting profusely, and I think there will be no difficulty here because there is such rich population.
April 26, 1972 - Letter to Gargamuni:
I have just received report from Brahmananda in Nairobi and they are doing very nicely, so I don't think he shall have to return to India for the time being.
July 25 1972 - Letter to Sri Joshiji:
From London now I am staying in Paris, and from here I shall go to Amsterdam and then to Edinburgh, again to London, and from there I shall go to Nairobi for installing Radha-Krishna deities in our own temple there.
August 8, 1972 - Letter to Giriraja:
Our initiated members must be in the majority, and if any deed has to be prepared then I shall send you the wordings. If not, verbally is all right. If they want to make any documents, that must be approved by me. The idea is that no one should enter into the management without any sanction. If they pay lump sums then they can be on the committee., but our majority must be there. We have had bad experience in Nairobi due to carelessness in forming the management committee., therefore I am advising you in this way.
August 9, 1972 - Letter to Cyavana:
Recently there has been some disturbance in Nairobi and the things are not going on at all well. I have requested Brahmananda to take leave of the Nairobi matters and go out for preaching and traveling in Africa in general. So instead of going to China, you began in Africa, so why you cannot return there for taking charge? Brahmananda is not preaching, therefore the program is neglected, and I do not want to install the Deity at this time. But if you can return there and fix up the position, I shall be very much grateful. Kindly reply me at the earliest at the Los Angeles address.
September 15, 1972 - Letter to Cyavana:
I am glad to note that you are by good diplomacy maintaining our good relationships with all the men who have helped us there in Nairobi. We don't want any disruption. Rsi Kumar is not there now so you do everything nicely and diplomatically. Brahmananda Swami is there, GBC man, so you consult with him and do everything diplomatically. On the whole, they should not be given any power unless they are my initiated disciples, but try to keep them as consultants. It is not that we should stop our relationship and not remain on speaking terms any more but try to keep everyone as our friend and engage them in Krsna Consciousness somehow or other. Enclosed please find the copy of Mr. Shah's letter, and I have accepted his resignation.
September 22, 1972 - Letter to Cyavana:
I am pleased to understand that things are once again back to normal in Nairobi and that you are all very enthusiastic to spread our preaching work amongst the Africans and American and European boys and girls there. I have heard from Rsi Kumar also that South Africa is first class field in Africa for preaching. Now you say the basic expenditures are finished and we have got very nice place there, now concentrate on making men into devotees and recruiting especially the African boys for helping us preach all over the continent of Africa. That is very good news that you have sent more than $1,200 to Karandhara, now you may order as many more books as you require from him and take similar sanction from the government for repaying him.
Now concentrate your efforts by bringing our regular program up to the highest standards, that is, holding street sankirtana, holding at regular times of the day very opulent aratrika with prasadam distribution, having classes in philosophy, chanting sixteen rounds, etc. This is our strength. If you practice these things now with full concentration and carry on the regular propaganda work, automatically people will come forward for helping and you will make also devotees there. That is our Krsna Consciousness process of regular program.
October 26, 1972 - Letter to Cyavana:
Brahmananda is collecting many life-members in Zambia, and if there is financial crisis there in Nairobi, why not he should send you the money he is collecting? He is not going to open centres there, there are not enough men to manage, so I think he can send you that money. But try to persuade Shah and Damji to leave their money with us as gift. Why they are giving to Krishna then taking back? Both are rich men, out of sentiment they have been offended, so try to pacify them as best you can, then they will give.
I am glad to hear that the street sankirtana and distribution of our books and magazines is going on well, especially the programme of Hindus donating magazines for free distribution to the Africans. If Subala Vilasa wants to marry that African girl, I have no objection but whether she wants to marry him? Also, take the consent of her parents and elder brothers. Such marriage may be good propaganda for our movement in Africa, but if there is any disturbance caused by it, that will be disaster, just like we saw with the Sarna girls. So you must judge whether the match will be favorable on the point that it must not cause any disturbance either in the girl's family or in the local community.
Yes, try to encourage the Life Members to give more, and organize nicely for always supplying them with books so that they may not become dissatisfied.
November 3, 1972 - Letter to Brahmananda:
Please accept my blessings. I am just now in receipt of your letter from Zambia dated October 21, 1972 along with the photos which were very nice, and I have shown them to many guests. Yes, as I said in my last letter, there is no possibility to start temple there without sufficient local men who join us. If you think you shall keep the money you collect there for future use for temple, that's alright, but my Guru Maharaja used to say, "Trust no future, however pleasant." Or in other words, there is some urgent need for finances in Nairobi, so why not send there, and later we shall see in Zambia, and other places?
December 29, 1972 - Letter to Cyavana:
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated December 15, 1972, and I note that you have returned from another successful preaching mission in distant parts of Africa. I am always so much pleased to hear such good news how the traveling preachers are spreading this Krsna Consciousness movement to every nook and corner of the world. Such traveling and preaching activity is the most highly favored by Krsna and He will bless you more and more with the highest understanding and realization of Himself.
Yes, that is correct proposal, you must have a program for getting income which will not depend upon anyone outside of our camp. Of course ultimately we must depend only on Krsna. [ ] We must keep at least one nice temple of large size in that part of Africa. If we reduce in that way, that will not be good. Rather increase in all ways, that is our program. The moving and preaching work will be your most important business in Africa. There is not much population and the distances are great, so there is, no doubt, great need for several traveling parties to be working simultaneously. But if you keep that place in Nairobi as your base, sending all of the new recruits as you are able to convert them back to the Nairobi temple for getting themselves trained up, what is wrong with that? I think we need at least one big place for training up the new devotees just to the proper highest standard, just as we are doing in Los Angeles, New York, London, and other places. So also in Africa you require one such model center. If you remain only traveling parties, that will be nice for distributing many many books, and for having the sankirtana, but for new devotees that will be too much rigorous and they will not be able to adjust to the constant moving and changing about. That will spoil their chance for developing in their Krsna consciousness from neophyte stage. So keep the Nairobi center always very active, nicely decorated, worship the deities just to the highest standard, making sure that all of the students are rising to attend the mangala aratrika, chanting regularly sixteen rounds, reading books--in this way utilize what Krsna has given us there and develop it for the headquarters building for Africa.
[ ] One thing is, if both yourself and Brahmananda, the two strong leaders there, are always gone from the temple, who is managing in your absence? That is to be considered. One strong man, if he is very much fixed-up devotee, he can manage everything nicely, even in huge temple with many students. The problem is not the facility itself, rather the ability of the manager there. So immediately get one first-class man to agree to stick to the Nairobi temple and develop it fully, that will be the best solution.
N.B. Mr. G.N. Shah is always writing me for money. What to do with him? ACB
January 9, 1973 - Letter to Cyavana:
Your letter dated January 3, 1973, is in hand and I have noted the contents with much encouragement. Your plan for rotating the chief man at Nairobi Center is nice, provided the sense of authority and continuity is not weakened by so much switching of head men. As long as you are recognized to be the leader of Nairobi Center with full authority in all matters, that is the point. This constantly changing the head man and whimsically dividing the attention is not good. Someone must be there who will stick tightly to the temple and develop it gradually to the highest standard.
So far getting new place, that Sarat Building is nice but we have already purchased our other building for Shs. 200,000. But if we can sell that place to buy the Sarat Building, then it is all right. Whatever is agreed upon between yourself and Brahmananda, I have no objection. Your program for mass wholesale distribution of our propaganda, especially books, throughout Africa, is very much appreciated by me. That is the highest type of activity of human form of life, to distribute Krsna's message profusely as far as it is possible for me to do.
So far Harikrpa marrying that African girl, although the father has told you he has no objection, still, there must be something in writing. And if Brahmananda also agrees, then you may perform the ceremony nicely in our temple.
The term for G. N. Shah's loan is two years, so how he can expect us to pay within one year? This business with Mr. Shah and Damji Devji has been dragging on for years together, now you settle it yourself the best you are able, I do not like to be consulted continuously about the same thing. But he has given the loan for two years, is that in written agreement? If there is written agreement, then how he can expect? At any rate, try to pacify him by paying him something gradually each month, and in that way you must fulfill the terms of your original agreement, by paying him off in two years time.
Regarding the daughters of Sarna, they must be engaged in some service. They may chant, read books, make life members by visiting the ladies of Nairobi, like that, but some service must be there, otherwise sex will come out. Two things are there, Krsna and maya. This sex idea is maya, therefore there must be Krsna's service or there will be another scandal as before. It is nice the girls are coming to the temple, but unless you engage them in some way of serving Krsna, there will be again trouble.
N.B. Your letter dated January 4, 1973, is just now received by me. Yes, we shall be happy to come that side while leaving India sometimes I think in April, and when we come there we shall install the Deities, after consulting with Brahmananda whether you will be able to maintain them properly. You may request Brahmananda to send me his opinion in the matter also. But I think we can install if you both agree. So I am sending Rsi Kumar, Yasodanandana Swami and Gurukrpa Swami from Bombay to Nairobi very soon, they shall reach there by ship, and they will remain with you for the month of February to help you prepare everything and enhance the preaching work amongst the Africans population. By March they may be freed for going to South Africa to arrange things there for my coming there also, after I leave Nairobi.
November 24, 1973 - Letter to Minister of Immigration:
Minister in charge of Immigration,
Government of Kenya,
I beg to inform you that it was so arranged that on my way to America via Europe I was to stop at Nairobi on the occasion of holding a festival known as Hare Krsna Festival, and wide arrangement was made on this account and I was invited to attend the ceremony from India. As such, I arrived on the airport of Nairobi on the 23rd November, 1973. I had my regular visas, health certificate and all necessary things for entering, but after passing through the health examination department, as soon as I entered the arena, some of the officers of the immigration department immediately took out the passports of my men as well as that of myself, and they asked my men to wait. So I had to wait for two hours, namely from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., but there was no definite decision by the immigration department, and whenever I sent my man to inquire, the man in charge simply replied "Please wait". Later on one gentleman came to inform my men that I was refused entrance in Nairobi from higher authorities. As such, he did not inform me what was the reason of my being refused to enter Nairobi, neither there was any written order from the department on me particularly to stop my entrance in Nairobi. Anyway, when I could understand there was no profit asking them the reason of my being refused, I immediately arranged for coming to London where also I have got two branches. Now from London, I wish to bring the matter for your consideration why I was refused entrance into your city without giving any written or verbal reason.
According to our Vedic civilization, even if one enemy comes at somebody's door, he should be received like a friend for the time being. The enmity should be forgotten, and even though the enemy guest is there, he should be treated so nicely that both of them for the time being forget that they are enemies. I was therefore surprised that I am a sannyasi, head of a group of cultural movement, namely the Hare Krsna Movement, and I was not allowed to enter without giving any reason for this purpose. I think I am not enemy of your country. I am preaching Krsna Consciousness, or God consciousness, all over the world, therefore I have opened a regular branch at Nairobi. My society is regularly registered in Nairobi as a cultural and religious society, and we have go our own house, and before this I had been in Nairobi twice and there was no objection. Last time, there was another Hare Krsna Festival. One of the ministers of your government, most probably the education minister, was invited, and he very much appreciated our activities.
Our principle is, preach God Consciousness all over the world. I think we believe rightly that for want of God consciousness, there is very much confusion all over the world, simply fighting between individual to individual, man to man, nation to nation. Nobody believes anyone. Any sober man will admit the present _ for unifying the whole human society without any consideration of bodily identification so that there may be peace and prosperity on the platform of spiritual identification. Perhaps you have heard the very good name of Bhagavad-gita. Our preaching is on the basis of Bhagavad-gita As It Is. In this Bhagavad-gita it is stated that God is the Supreme Being, and He is the proprietor of all planets and actually He is the enjoyer of all benefits. Anyone who will understand these three principles of life will be automatically peaceful. So, if every individual is peaceful, naturally there will be peace and prosperity in the community, society, and nation of all over the world. This is our principle. We are trying to broadcast this message on the authority of Vedic knowledge. Everywhere we are very much peaceful, trying to reform the character of the modern man. We teach our students to follow the following regulative principles, namely no illicit sex life, no meat eating, no intoxication, and no gambling. These are the negative principles, and the positive principle is to chant always the Holy Name of God. By the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we have become successful everywhere, in all parts of the world. We have no principle striction that one is Indian, one is America, one is African, or one is Hindu, one is Christian, one is Mohammedan. We invite everyone to understand the philosophy and reform the activities of life. This is our mission. I do not know why I was refused to enter into your country without giving me any proper explanation. I am therefore very much grieved by the treatment of your airport officials that they stopped me to enter into your city and make so many people disappointed for breaking usual procedure of the Movement, I wish, therefore, that you kindly let me know what is the reason that I was refused to enter without giving me proper notice, or to my men. Kindly reply me this letter at my Nairobi headquarters as written above, or as I am proceeding to Los Angeles, you can reply me this letter to my Los Angeles address as follows:
3764 Watseka Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90034
Thanking you in anticipation for an early reply,
Yours very sincerely in the service of the Lord,
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami,
Founder-Acarya of the
International Society for Krsna Consciousness,
Branches all over the world, numbering 108.
cc: His Holiness Brahmananda Swami, Governing Board Commissioner, Africa.
November 24, 1973 - Letter to Kirtanananda:
I have just come yesterday 23rd November, 1973 from Nairobi. The fact is that I was to stay at Nairobi for at least one week, and there was very big arrangement for Hare Krsna festival. The wide circulation of advertisement was there, and it was expected some thousands of people will gather, but the immigration department by their confidential conspiracy did not allow me to enter into Nairobi. Therefore, from the Nairobi airport I immediately arranged to come to London, and last night at about half past eight London time I have come here at Bhaktivedanta Manor.
December 5, 1973 - Letter to Tamal Krishna Goswami:
Regarding the refusal of my entrance into Nairobi, no reason has yet been disclosed for the denial. I have written one letter, a copy of which is enclosed herewith, but there has been no reply. You may get the letter published in India. After proceeding to London I heard from Brahmananda Maharaja that on account of the denial of entry a commotion was caused amongst the people so the President of Kenya verbally said he was issuing a letter with permission for myself to enter. I waited in London but it did not come so I proceeded on to Los Angeles. The idea is to curtail the Indian influence in Kenya, either political or religious. That I can understand. Brahmananda Maharaja was allowed but not myself or my secretary. It was a great trouble for me. From Bombay to Nairobi took nine hours, then six hours waiting in the airport and then 9 hours to London. It was a great strain. I rested for three days in London.
January 4, 1974 - Letter to Brahmananda:
It is good news that you are now 14 strong at Nairobi. It will be nice if Shakti Mata can take care of the girls in the Temple. She is a very able woman. One thing, though, women should live separately. I know you can do it there because you have ample space.
Train the Negro devotees to speak Swahili and many will join you. They will be very attracted to your program of halavah distribution, chanting and dancing and they will join you.
Yes, if we have too much money then unwise spending enters. You have just enough to get by and you are therefore having to spend wisely.
What has happened to my case with the immigration department? Has no action been taken? This is not good. Please reply on this point.
January 26, 1974 - Letter to Brahmananda:
I have received my copy of special BTG. It is very nicely done. I thank you very much. With great pleasure I note that although the Government of Kenya did not allow me to enter the state, my work was not hampered on account of my absence. In your last letter I was informed that Cyavana Swami has left your protection and gone to South America. I don't know why he has done so. As a sannyasi he is free to travel all over the world but when he was working under your supervision he should have taken your permission. This kind of independence is not very good. I'm quite confident of his sincerity, and I shall be glad to be further enlightened on this matter.
February 14, 1974 - Letter to Brahmananda:
I appreciate your spirit in wanting to retaliate against the Kenya government for their not allowing me to enter the country on Krsna's mission. I think, however, that the proposal of international demonstrations at the embassies of the Kenya government would be a waste of time. If it could not be done from there why waste our time in such demonstrations.
Rather let us answer this atrocity by converting all Africans to Krsna Consciousness. Please keep in the front of your attention my desire that you convert the Africans. I know you have some of them already now train them up, so that even if you are forced to leave, they will be able to carry on Krsna Consciousness on their own. That is your real work rather than promoting international demonstrations abroad. Better you work the poison at home, and make the Africans Krsna Conscious, then my mission will be served.
May 16, 1974 - Letter to Bhima, Krsna dasa, Sanat Kumara, Nityananda, Samba, Joseph
So I am very happy that you are finding Krishna Consciousness very blissful in the Nairobi temple and this will be the key to your success. That you also follow exactly as I have instructed in my books to my disciples such as Brahmananda Swami. That means to rise early, clean the body and clean the clothes. I have seen films of the Deity worship in Nairobi and it is very gorgeous. Proper Deity worship means to be clean, punctually and nice offerings of foodstuffs. Brahmananda Swami can teach you these things.
You are fulfilling my great hope. Because you are native Africans, you are the best ones to convince other Africans to become Krishna Conscious. Unless they become Krishna Conscious they can never end their suffering. We can not expect every single African to take to it. But if only a small population can take it seriously it can do real good. Therefore you are the real leaders of the Kenya nation. Please take seriously what you have learned and help spread this happy life to everyone you meet in Africa.
May 17, 1974 - Letter to Paramesvari:
Please accept my blessings. I understand that for over two months since Brahmananda Swami has been away from Africa, you have been in charge of the Nairobi center. This is a great responsibility. Brahmananda Swami has noted that you have not only maintained the center but in his absence on your own taken collection and done the necessary work so that now the temple building is owned by us. I have always wanted this for our Nairobi center. So it is a great credit for you. Therefore this work you are doing for maintaining the African devotees, teaching them the rules and regulations of Krishna Consciousness, is the most important work of the work and I thank you very much.
June 17, 1974 - Letter to Brahmananda:
I am glad to read that you are eager to join me as my permanent secretary and that your major concern is to help provide me with "a conducive environment to translate" my books. That is my desire also. On the other hand, I can understand the programs are developing in Kenya and therefore you want a strong replacement before you leave Africa. I think Gargamuni Maharaja can do it nicely. I have written him a letter inviting him to go to Africa and also Karandhara has gone to Calcutta to talk with him directly about this. So we shall see whether he is willing.
It is very good news that there are persons there who want to cooperate to help us start a Varnasrama College Project and that they may supply us land for living as an ideal community producing our own food from the land. So this should be followed up carefully.
I was glad to receive you second letter and the letter from the Ministry of Home affairs stating that they have no objection to my coming to Kenya. Yes, I would like to go there after the Vrindaban ceremonies. Hopefully you will have joined me by then and we can go together to Kenya and from there to South Africa where Pusta Krsna Maharaja is trying to arrange a program for our coming.
July 18, 1974 - To Whom It May Concern:
This is to certify that I as the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, appoint the following persons as the authorized officers of our Nairobi branch, and only they can represent the Society and conduct the affairs in their respective capacities.
1. Brahmananda Swami--GBC Zonal Secretary
2. Bhagavata Das Brahmacari--President
3. Paramesvari Das Brahmacari--Vice President
4. Prabhanu das Brahmacari--Treasurer
For INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS,
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, Founder-Acarya
Brahmananda Swami, GBC Zonal Secretary, Africa
November 1, 1974 - Letter to Cyavana:
I have seen your telegram to Brahmananda Swami and am glad to learn that you have opened a center in Zambia. You have made some progress there since going and I am pleased. You are a good worker. [ ]
Now Caitya-guru is going there, and I understand that Dinanath and others will also go to Africa. So engage these men nicely, and Krishna will give you all facilities according to your capacity for serving Him.
December 10, 1974 - Letter to Navayogendra:
My Dear Navayogendra das:
So I have received reports that you are doing nicely there in Nairobi, making Life Members daily. So you are a experienced preacher and this is to your eternal credit.
May 15, 1975 - Letter to Tamal Krishna Goswami:
When you go to London making plans for World Sankirtana, you may take into consideration of the proposal made by Mr. Parikh. He said that from Kenya there is invitation for our group to perform Kirtana there. So if we go, a group of at least 25 heads, they have already agreed to pay for return journey and accommodation there. So on your way to India you can perform Kirtana in some important cities of Europe, and then go to Africa, Kenya. From Kenya you may go to South Africa. In this way you collect funds there from Indians and proceed to Bombay.
June 21, 1975 - Morning Walk, Los Angeles:
Brahmananda: In Kenya we went into one government officer asking for some land for a farm. He also said, "We want to give you land right in the middle of the village, so you can build your church there."
Prabhupada: Oh, yes.
Brahmananda: He offered that. He said, "All the other religions, they have their... We have certain plots for them, and there is a church for Catholic, a church for Protestant, a church for Bahai."
Prabhupada: No, no, take anywhere they give land. Yes. That will be recognition. We don't mind for the land, but the government has given land means recognized. That is wanted.
July 23, 1975 - Letter to Cyavana:
I am glad to see that you are working enthusiastically there in Africa to spread Lord Caitanya's movement. This I want. It is especially important that you train up the Africans there. Do this carefully.
Now I have received one letter from Bhakti Mati and she has some complaint. She also says there was some physical attack against Navayogendra. This is not good. So I think they can open a separate temple in Mombassa for the Asian community. The Africans and the Asians will not like to mix. So there is no harm in opening separate temples. Both will preach Krishna consciousness and the kirtanas will go on. So do like that.
July 26, 1975 - Letter to Sarvavit:
I am glad to learn that you are getting good training by Cyavana Maharaja and you should take your post of temple president as a very serious matter. It is your responsibility to always exhibit a Krsna conscious example. You should always be thinking how to spread Krsna consciousness to the African people. This is our mission--to save suffering humanity from the path of repeated birth and death. The way to become free is only by becoming pure devotee of Krsna. You should simply stick to our principles and everything will come out all right in our preaching work. You should publish profusely literature in Swahili and distribute. This is very important. This mission has been established simply on the publishing and distribution of my books. So get them translated and published as soon as possible.
July 29, 1975 - Letter to Cyavana:
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of several letters from Shakti Mati, also your telegram reading as follows: REGARDING OPENING OF SEPARATE TEMPLE MOMBASSA ASIANS ATTITUDE AND MOTIVES OF NAVAYOGENDRA HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE AND MAKE SUCH A PROPOSITION QUITE IMPOSSIBLE SITUATION HERE DIFFICULT AS IS AND WE CANNOT UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF A SPLIT IN OUR EFFORTS TO SPREAD KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS AFRICA FULL REPORT WILL FOLLOW AND CAREFUL CONSIDERATION IS HUMBLY REQUESTED--YOUR SERVANTS CYAVANA SWAMI AND MANAGING COMMITTEE ISKCON AFRICA. I have also received a letter from Shakti Mati's son.
I have been very much disturbed to learn of the difficulties in Africa. As the leader there you should not have allowed this dissension to take place. Shakti mati is an elderly woman and can do important work with the cultured Indian society, and she also speaks Swahili. She must be given an important position as a manager. She can work under Brahmananda Swami.
They may have had some disagreement with you, but expert management means to engage all of the devotees and not allow them to split into different parties. Your action of sending a letter to the pleader has disturbed me. Why have you taken this rash action without consulting me or Brahmananda Maharaja? You should immediately withdraw that letter.
I want that you approach Navayogendra with all humility and ask his forgiveness for the beating. In this way you can rectify things. You must bring them back. Otherwise if you cannot do it, then you should come here to me and we shall discuss it personally.
August 18, 1975 - Letter to Shakti Mati:
My Dear Shakti Mati devi dasi:
Please accept my blessings. I have received report from Brahmananda Swami that you are still living outside the temple. This is not good, and I would request you to immediately return to the temple. And they must receive you nicely. They are your spiritual sons and daughters, so Mother and children must live together in the temple.
Please especially see that the Deity worship is going nicely. You are an experienced lady, and you can teach especially the girls there to cook nicely for the Deity, to prepare flower garlands nicely for the Deity, to clean and dress the Deity nicely. You organize this to the first class standard, as I have seen they are doing in Los Angeles and in London. Then people will be automatically attracted. You know how to do these things, and they must take instruction from you. And, you can let me know how things are going on there.
September 4, 1975 - Letter to Cyavana:
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated August 14, 1975 with enclosed copy of letter to Shakti Mati and the proposed BBT and Spiritual Sky argeements. So it is good that Shakti Mati is again living in the temple. Keep her nicely. She is woman, so you call her Mother. As soon as you call her Mother, that I am so fallen please save, you are so great, then she will be very pleased. She is very talented and can organize the Pujari Dept. You say that the devotees are not enthusiastic, but this is important for spiritual life. Without Deity, then we are just sleeping and eating, and again they will return to hippie life. They must take care of the Deity very carefully. I saw once the film of the Deity installation there, and it was done very nicely, so why are they now slackening? Shakti Mati can teach others how to do things. They should assist her.
It is very good that the Government is cooperating by giving land. It is a good opportunity. Do it nicely. Do not worry about the political situation. Try to convince the African leaders that we have nothing to do with politics. We are trying to unite the whole human society under the flag of Krishna consciousness, love of God. That is our mission. If we get African devotees, then we are successful. So already some are coming. Now keep them fixed, and they will bring others. That is nice that the Africans from South Africa are coming from there and joining you. The philosophy of South Africa is simply on the bodily platform. It is all nonsense. Can they be sure that in their next life they will be South Africans?
The BBT arrangement you have made is all right, but Brahmananda Swami says that it may be difficult for the temples to maintain by giving to both the Book Fund and the Building Fund. So if it is not possible that the temples maintain themselves by giving 45% to the BBT and 45% to the Building Fund, then use the Building Fund for maintenance. But the BBT must get its money. That is the prime responsibility of every temple. So let the temples pay the BBT 50% and when you require money for construction, then we shall see.
I understand you want to print Swahili literature with Dai Nippon and it will cost U.S. 8,000. So Dai Nippon gives BBT-L.A. credit, so let them order, and you pay L.A., even if you can transfer funds yearly. It doesn't matter. This publishing work is very important. I approve for you to get books from BBT-L.A. at reduced prices, at the cost price, the same as India is getting. You can inform Ramesvara that I give my sanction.
Regarding my coming there, I want to come, especially your Mauritius program is attractive, but my present state of heath will not allow me to travel outside of India. I am not having any appetite so I am eating less. By eating less where is the energy for travelling?
Upon your recommendation I accept the children of Rasa-lila as my disciples. There spiritual names are Radhika devi dasi and Sanatana das Brahmacari. You can chant on their beads. I know the devotees there are working hard, especially as you have mentioned Prabhanu, Sharma, Dinanath, Jnana das, Caitya-guru, Jalakara das, and Pusta Krishna Swami. Because you are all cooperating with me, so much has been done. When I was alone I was taking so much trouble, but now there are so many assistants. But now you have to manage things very carefully and relieve me from the management so I can translate my books. But I do not want to see that everything deteriorates by your management. If you cannot increase then you should at least maintain what I have established.
Yes, you are correct in feeling sorry for mistreating Shakti Mati and Nava Yoginder. Hitting the devotees is not good. We have to teach by our example.
N.B. Now I have decided that I must come to Africa. So my visa for South Africa is valid up to October 18. Therefore I shall leave from Bombay approximately October 1 for Mauritius and stay there for one week. Pusta Krishna Swami may come there and take me to South Africa since none of my servants have S.A. visas. I shall stay in South Africa for one week. Then Pusta Krishna Swami may take me to Nairobi and I will stay there for one week and go to Mombassa if you think. Then I shall return to Bombay by the end of October. So you arrange this program.
September 12, 1975 - Letter to Jnana and Lilavati:
My Dear Jnana das and Lilavati devi dasi:
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letters dated August 20, 1975 and have noted the contents. So I think that you are both very well suited for preaching in Africa. If you continue as you are now doing by the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu you will be very successful. It is by His order that we are carrying this message all over the world. Do not neglect chanting Hare Krishna.
Cyavana Swami is submitting very good reports of your activities. Now I am coming there to Africa, and shall see you then.
October 2, 1975 - Press Conference, Mauritius:
Prabhupada: No, but just like you know in the rainy season there will be heavy rainfall, but you can protect yourself. You can get raincoat, you can get umbrella. Then you will... (break) So you cannot stop the rainy season, but you can protect yourself. (break) ...so many Africans. We have many Africans, devotees.
Guest (3): Yes. Americans.
Prabhupada: Yes. Have you got any picture?
Brahmananda: We have photographs of our temples in Kenya.
Cyavana: We have about thirty disciples in Nairobi, Africans.
Brahmananda: You should see the film.
Brahmananda: If you come this evening, we have a nice film about our movement all over the world.
Prabhupada: Yes. We go interior to African village.
Guest (4): Swamiji, can I ask a question? How old are you, or, maybe I should say, how young are you?
Prabhupada: Eighty years old. Eighty.
Pusta Krsna: Here is one black American, a sannyasi in the renounced order of life. (break)
Prabhupada: ...the bodily concept of life, he is no more African, no more American. He is spirit soul. (break)
October 29, 1975 - Letter to All ISKCON Temple Presidents:
To All ISKCON Temple Presidents:
This is to introduce to you Mr. Harjibhai M. Patel of Diamond Press Ltd., P.O. Box 40030, Nairobi, Kenya. He and his wife are going on world wide tour in April, 1975. Kindly receive Mr. Patel and offer him best accommodation, prasadam, and whatever assistance he might require. He is a pure vegetarian. He is my friend here in Nairobi, and he has kindly hosted me at his home on two occasions before we had our own temple here. He is also one of the important members in helping to assist our mission, especially through his press. So I want that he should have a favorable impression of our movement all over the world. So please do the needful.
October 29, 1975 - Room Conversation, Nairobi:
Cyavana: We used to come here on Sunday with that truck and have meetings in the afternoon.
Brahmananda: Prabhupada came here.
Cyavana: Yes. There was one meeting one Sunday.
Prabhupada: (break)...the name of this park?
Cyavana: It means freedom. When they were able to obtain their freedom from the British rule they made this park and they called it Uhuru Park.
Prabhupada: How they got freedom?
Cyavana: They had to fight.
Cyavana: Yes, they had to fight.
Prabhupada: Regular violence?
Cyavana: Oh, yes. Very violent.
Brahmananda: They would go into the farm... The Europeans owned all the farms. And they would go in vans with these knives and just cut everyone in the farm.
Cyavana: They cut everyone up into small chunks.
Brahmananda: They cut them into pieces.
Cyavana: Into small pieces.
Cyavana: Yes, small chunks.
Cyavana: Oh yes, very.
Brahmananda: And it just happened recently, one political opposition leader, he was brought to some place near Nairobi and he was... His genitals were cut off, his eyes were...
Prabhupada: Plucked out.
Cyavana: Then he was shot.
Brahmananda: Then he was shot.
Brahmananda: There was a big scandal because the police were implicated.
Prabhupada: This parking plan are made by them?
Brahmananda: I don't know.
Cyavana: The park itself?
Cyavana: This park? The British. They designed all these parks and roads.
Brahmananda: I know that other park--yesterday or the other day we went--that was done by the British. They've taken plants from all over East Africa.
Prabhupada: All these buildings are constructed by the Britishers.
Cyavana: Some Indian organizations, firms, come also. Big construction companies from India, they are combined.
Brahmananda: Usually, in all of the business concerns here, the top man is British, managing their activity.
Prabhupada: So when they kill such brutally in the farm, the Britisher did not take any step?
Brahmananda: Not very effective steps. They declared a state of emergency, and they brought soldiers here, and they had huge arrests. They had camps just outside of Nairobi, and they were arresting tens of thousands, huge camps. But the tactics that they would use, the Africans, the British soldiers couldn't...
Prabhupada: They brought British soldiers or Indian soldiers?
Brahmananda: I'm not sure.
[There follows an extensive conversation on British and African politicians. Please ” target=”_blank”>see the complete transcript.]
November 14, 1975 - Letter to Pusta Krsna:
I have today sent you one telegram reading as follows: IMMEDIATELY GO NAIROBI TO TAKE CHARGE INSTRUCTIONS MAILED NAIROBI--A. C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI.
One telephone call has come from Dinnath that Sharma the president has left Africa because of fighting with Cyavana Swami. When I was in Nairobi I took away from Cyavana all managerial duties. There were so many complaints against him from our men and from outsiders. He could not manage nor could he collect. I had wanted that Sharma and Shakti Mati manage themselves without any interference.
Now I want you to manage things there. The management was not being done properly when I was there. The accounts were not being kept properly, and they were spending everything. Please rectify the situation. Cyavana
Swami should go to Europe for preaching and travelling. Caitya-guru das may be sent here to India for starting our Kuruksetra Project.
November 16, 1975 - Morning Walk, Bombay:
Brahmananda: [ ] You can give a name for Nairobi mandir.
Prabhupada: Yes. (break) Devasadan.
Brahmananda: Devasadan. What is the meaning?
Prabhupada: Celestial building.
Ambarisa: What does it mean?
Prabhupada: D-e-v-a-s-a-d-a-n. Devasadan. (break)
Prabhupada: No. Devasadan.
Brahmananda: Just Devasadan.
Prabhupada: Yes. (break)
November 18, 1975 - Sannyasa Initiation, Bombay:
Because Vaisnava is going to deliver them, by the power of Visnu they become empowered. So practically we have seen last time when I went to Nairobi, so many, these Africans, they are making progress very nicely. They are making nice questions. They are following rules and regulation. So African people, they are not so much sophisticated or so-called civilized to forget God. But if you work sincerely and if you can deliver one person only by your endeavor, then immediately you become recognized by Krsna.
November 23, 1975 - Letter to Mr. Himtsinh J. Bhatia, Mrs. Manjula H. Bhatia
Recently I visited Africa and I could see that the management was not going on properly. So now I have given Nava Yogendra sannyasa order and am sending him back to Africa. He will be the president of the Mombassa temple, so please help him to make our mission there very solid.
November 23, 1975 - Letter to Cyavana:
I am glad that you are traveling and preaching. This is the business of a sannyasi. Please follow my order in this regard. Africa is huge field, so you have plenty of opportunities for traveling and preaching. This will keep you enthusiastic. So do not neglect it. Of course if the young people there are interested, then you should stay there to instruct them. Then if you can collect and send money to Nairobi, that is very good. In this way their debts can be paid. I am also glad to see that you are taking seriously the Life Member program. So many Life Members they are complaining they are not receiving books or they are not being treated nicely. So if you can rectify this situation, that would be very good.
So far your becoming GBC is concerned, yes, I had wanted that, but there are so many complaints. This is not good. GBC must mean that by his managing, there is not any complaints so that I can be relieved in order to do my translation work. Anyway, you go on with your preaching program and we shall discuss this matter in Mayapur meeting time. In the meantime I am sending Brahmananda Swami to rectify the situation in Nairobi and later on we shall see.
January 7, 1976 - Letter to Brahmananda:
As you report that things have deteriorated in Africa, you can stay there if necessary. Your decision to send Dinanatha to join Tamala is a good idea.
January 13, 1976 - Letter to Brahmananda:
Our movement is so large it requires expert management and strong vigilence. Now you are finding out so many things were mismanaged, but why didn't you find out before? What is the use of complaining now? It is your fault that you remained absent for so long. The GBC's first business is to manage their zones. You said you were training Cyavana. Anyway, just try to mend things and restore it to its original position.
May 18, 1976 - Letter to Brahmananda:
Somehow or other I want that the Nairobi center is maintained, not closed. As sannyasi you can come and go, but my only ambition is that the center may not be closed.
You can inform the Mr. Motichand Shah, the gentleman who has started "Krishna Industries," that he can pay at least 50% of his income to the temple. If he wants to serve Krishna and he doesn't spend anything for Krishna, then it is not at all good.
I am writing a letter to Caitya Guru das to issue one letter of explanation and apology to Mr. Amarshi B. Shretta, P.O. Box 53, Kisumu, Kenya, explaining what the reason was for not bringing his car at the time appointed.
May 19, 1976 - Letter to Caitya-guru:
I have received on report from Brahmananda Swami in Nairobi about an incident that took place that took place when you were there. One Mr. Amarshi B. Shretta, P.O. Box 53, Kisumu, Kenya, had lent his automobile to you that you might use it for me when I came to Kenya. However, it was reported that you disappeared with the car overnight. Mr. Shretta is very much upset at this and he demands an explanation and an apology. There have been many complaints at the mismanagement in the past and now Brahmananda Swami has worked very hard to regain the respect and support of the Indian community in Kenya. Needless to say they are supporting our movement in Kenya and we must be straightforward in our dealings with them. I want you to write a letter of explanation and apology to Mr. Shretta and also you can send one copy of your letter to Brahmananda Swami at the Nairobi Temple address, P.O. Box 28946, Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa. Kindly do this immediately.
October 5, 1976 - Letter to Brahmananda:
I have just informed Tamala Krishna also, that Africans should not be allowed to live in the temple unless they are danger-proof. Of course you must preach but if you allow them to live you must be little careful--better not to allow. Chant and distribute prasada and let them come, take prasada and become practiced for Krishna consciousness. In suitable cases they can be 1st initiated but no 2nd for the time being.
[A very similar message was sent to Tamal Krishna Goswami a few days later.]
Regarding land, yes, contact Ambarisa immediately and remind him that he wanted to invest some money. If he does that, that will be very nice, and I will give my sanction if he wants. You can purchase--that place is nice where Damji lives. (Ambarisa can be contacted through the Boston temple.) Mortgage is not to be done as the interest will be too high.
December 2, 1976 - Letter to Brahmananda:
I'm very glad to hear that Mr. Karsan and others are prepared to collect the entire amount for the house in Mombassa. I am enclosing a letter of encouragement for Mr. Karsan.
I like your idea for side by side arrangements to preach to the Africans and the Asians. Do it nicely, Krishna will give you all intelligence. I like the pictures you have __ __ __ chanting. One may remain perpetually illiterate, but if one practices the devotional service activities, he will become a devotee. That's all, train them up to become devotees. How to play mrdanga, how to play karatalas, take prasadam, attend arati, etc. They'll never understand the books. They are less than sudras, candalas. Just train as Vaisnavas, then all education is there.
January 5, 1977 - Room Conversation, Bombay:
Gopala Krsna: That's good idea? So Hrdayananda Swami and Kirtanananda Swami are going to Africa. And on the 9th they told me to send a telegram signed by you saying you are sick and you want Brahmananda to come immediately. So then Kirtanananda Swami will personally bring Brahmananda Swami to India. But they want him to become your permanent secretary again.
Prabhupada: I have no objection.
Gopala Krsna: You have no objection. Okay. And Hrdayananda Swami is ready to manage Africa till the festival.
Prabhupada: He was experienced, Brahmananda, in Africa. Where is that Cyavana? He is gone?
Gopala Krsna: Cyavana?
Jagadisa: He is a big mess.
Gopala Krsna: Cyavana? Cyavana Swami? (break) I think they're going to have war in Africa pretty soon. They're going to have war.
Prabhupada: War. Civil war?
Gopala Krsna: No, between... Not where Kenya is but between Rhodesia and Zambia, in that area.
Hari-sauri: Whites and blacks.
Prabhupada: That is inevitable. The whites cannot...
Gopala Krsna: Rhodesia has rejected...
Prabhupada: ...cannot kill them, repress any more. That is not possible. The other blacks will join.
Gopala Krsna: And it appears that even President Carter of America is more soft on the blacks now. He is more sympathetic. So if they get American support...
Prabhupada: Nowadays you cannot be a suppressor of any particular foreigner. That is not possible.
Jagadisa: Except the religious community.
Prabhupada: Yes. They will suffer, both of them, because this is not civilization. This is assembly of dogs. So there trouble must be there. You cannot keep the dogs peaceful. That is my final... If you keep them animals, how you can expect...?
Jagadisa: That's not only between nation to nation.
Prabhupada: Everywhere. Everywhere. If the men are kept as animals, you cannot expect them peaceful citizens. That is not possible. The fighting will go on on one plea or another. You cannot stop.
January 22, 1977 - Room Conversation, Bhubaneswar:
Prabhupada: [ ] What is the situation in Africa?
Brahmananda: Which? What?
Prabhupada: About these Asian, African, like that.
Brahmananda: Well, it's the same. I mean everything is going... The government creates more difficulties, but still, everything is going on. No one is... I mean some are leaving, but of course many are staying.
Prabhupada: Is it necessary to leave?
Brahmananda: Well, the small men are leaving, but the big men, they're not leaving. Things are still going on.
Nanda-kumara: Last year the government said within five years every Asian would be out of Kenya.
Prabhupada: This government says like that?
Brahmananda: I don't know if the government has said it, but people talk like that just to create some atmosphere of uncertainty. These unstable governments, they like to create this kind of atmosphere.
Prabhupada: There are many Indians. Practically Indian.
Brahmananda: Yes, everything. Tamala, when he came there, he said that Mombassa was like Bombay...
Brahmananda: ...and Nairobi was like Delhi.
Prabhupada: Yes. And they are living nicely. Why this government disturbing them?
Brahmananda: Well, that is their policy.
Prabhupada: They cannot manage nicely. The Africans are not so qualified. The Indians, they are managing business, everything.
Brahmananda: Now Amin in Uganda, he's now inviting so many Indians to come as teachers, doctors. He's getting them from India now.
Hari-sauri: He just kicked them all out.
Brahmananda: Now he's getting them back again.
Prabhupada: Such a rascal. They are thrown away from the established condition; so now he wants them back. In one sense it is right, that these rascals may not imitate him.
Brahmananda: Yes. That's one thing. Like Kenya, they are more sensible. They see what happened in Uganda. Uganda's economy is very bad.
Brahmananda: So they will not do the same thing.
Prabhupada: They must be intelligent persons. Otherwise how he can... The Britishers, they took away these Indians to organize Africa. Otherwise, they conquered, but the Indians organized.
Brahmananda: They were all the administrators.
Prabhupada: Yes. After all, Krsna is there. He'll look after. So so far we are concerned, there is no disturbance.
Brahmananda: Oh, no. No.
Prabhupada: That's all right. Then develop. We are getting good place without any monetary difficulty.
Brahmananda: Then Mombassa, the leader of the community there, he has pledged to collect all the money for buying this big house, and the house is very nicely situated right in the Asian area. And he's a big contractor. Also they will do all the alterations. So this is another good opportunity.
Prabhupada: If I go, they will have objection?
Brahmananda: No, I don't think so. You mean the immigration? I don't know.
Prabhupada: No, no, last time... Not last time. Before that.
Brahmananda: Before that there was. Nava-yogendra Maharaja, he got a work permit. He got for one year.
Prabhupada: Oh. He's intelligent. Doing nice?
Prabhupada: That's nice.
Brahmananda: So the only difficulty there is that we cannot make devotees from the local population.
Prabhupada: Either Indian or African.
Brahmananda: Yes, either one. So unless we get men from overseas, then for us to expand is very difficult. Just like for this Mombassa. We get this big house. Unless we have men to maintain it, then why should we take it?
Prabhupada: But overseas, we have got enough men.
Brahmananda: We only have twelve devotees there and two temples. It's very less.
Prabhupada: You cannot export from America?
Ramesvara: Yes, we have to. We have to.
Prabhupada: It is your missionary activities, American.
Brahmananda: So far for the Africans, we're giving them prasadam and kirtana. But anything more than that, we cannot expect. If we give them that, they are satisfied.
Prabhupada: They're hearing kirtana?
Brahmananda: Oh, yes.
Prabhupada: Then it is all right. One day they'll come. That will cure them.
Nanda-kumara: On the street, almost any African you say "Hare Krsna," he'll say "Hare Krsna."
Prabhupada: That is nice.
Ramesvara: Hrdayananda Maharaja is becoming interested also in Africa, because it's very close to Brazil. He will also be able to send men as a demonstration of his interest.
Prabhupada: Then do it. Some way or other, manage. It is Krsna's business.
February 15, 1977 - Evening Darshan, Mayapur:
Tamala Krsna: We have to be very cautious in dealing in these countries. We talked with Hrdayananda Maharaja, and he said that now they are changing their tactic a little bit. They are becoming more cautious, because before they were too bold. Just like Brahmananda was describing, when he first went to Africa, they had the van...
Brahmananda: With loudspeakers and... We were very ambitious. So the people, they'd never seen anything like this, and so they accepted it. But then after a while, they resented. If you become too much... Actually, the governments feel very threatened. That was one of the reasons why you were not permitted to land in Kenya, because it was so much advertised, they put banners across the main avenue and radio, TV announcement, posters. They saw this as a..., something that will eclipse their government, their own president. You were more famous. (Prabhupada laughs) Therefore they tried to say, "No, I am more famous." So therefore they didn't want you to come.
Tamala Krsna: So it's better in some cases to be a little cautious, low key. Better to go slowly sometimes than very...
Prabhupada: Yes. Not become aggressive.
March 2, 1977 - Room Conversation, Mayapur:
Satsvarupa: Permission given for Norway, Vienna and Copenhagan for the next year. Brahmananda Maharaja has been given permission to turn the following preaching centers into temples with Deities: Mombassa and Mauritius, and permission for a new center in Lagos.
April 29, 1977 - Letter to Brahmananda:
The letter which you have sent from the student, Charles, is wonderful. I have asked that it be published in our English Back To Godhead as well as in all of the Indian language Back to Godheads here in India. Charles' letter shows that he is very intelligent and has begun to understand our philosophy. It is very encouraging. Take care of all of these good souls that Krsna is sending you. By your own exemplary behavior, train them all as ideal Vaisnavas. This will greatly please me, and if it is possible for me to come to Kenya, I shall be very glad to meet all of them. The photographs which you have sent are also very good and we are going to display them here for all visitors to see. The program which you are now conducting should be expanded more and more. By prasadam distribution and kirtana everyone will become attracted to Krsna consciousness. I am also enclosing a letter to Jayanta which I hope will encourage him.
There is no harm if the land in Mauritius is jointly in the name of ISKCON and the Gita society.
Why do these life members not come on time to see the Deity? Yes, in special cases you can open the curtain for a moment. But they should be instructed next time to come at the correct time to properly respect the Deity. The best thing will be if you immediately send a printed schedule to all of the life members showing what are the times of darsana.
Hoping this meets you well.
Your ever well-wisher,
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada.
These photos above were taken by Camerapix photographer Mohamed Amin of Nairobi, and were provided to Keystone Press Agency, Inc, 170 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010, #WA 4-8128