Sally Agarwal Recalls Swami Prabhupada’s Stay With Her Family In Butler, PA In 1965

Sally Agarwal recalls Swami Prabhupada’s one month stay with her and her husband in Butler, PA in 1965.

Upon his arrival in America in the fall of 1965, Srila Prabhupada was hosted by Gopal and Sally Agarwal in Butler, Pennsylvania for nearly a month. During that time, Srila Prabhupada had the opportunity to acquaint himself with the American lifestyle. He developed a particularly affectionate relationship with Sally Agarwal who said that she cried when Prabhupada (“the Swami”) left for New York City to spread Krishna consciousness to a wider audience.

 

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Srila Prabhupada didn’t forget his gracious hosts as evidenced by the following letters to Sally written from Dr. Ramamurti Mishra’s yoga studio. Ever the preacher of Krishna consciousness, Srila Prabhupada outlined his future plans to Sally and even tried to engage her in starting a business to help fund his preaching work. These letters provide us with a fascinating look at the beginnings of the worldwide Krishna consciousness movement as conceived in the mind and heart of Krishna’s beloved pure devotee.

 

Srila Prabhupada Writes to Sally Agarwal

CAMP: C/o Rammurti Mishra
100 West 72nd. Street
Studio 501
New York 23, N.Y.

November 6, 1965

My dear daughter Sally,

I am so glad to receive your very affectionate letter of the 3rd instant and have noted the contents carefully. Yes I have got this nice typewriter by the Grace of the Lord and I am very much satisfied with it working. Before receiving your letter under reply I have sent two letters both to you and Gopal. I understand that you have received them. In one of them I have requested Gopal to dispatch 25 sets of books to Paragon Book Gallery and I am anxious to know if the books are already dispatched.

Regarding your reminder for my good cooking, I am very much thankful to you and next time when I shall go to your home, I must serve you with good lunches without fail. Now I am far away from you otherwise I would have at once gone to you and entertained you with such lunches. I am anxious to learn about the health of you all specially of your little children. How is your naughty daughter Kamla. Please offer them my love and blessings and so also accept both of you. Please write to me occasionally and as Gopal is not accustomed to reply promptly I shall henceforward write to you. Did you meet your good father and mother in the meantime? If you meet them please offer them my respectful regards. Both your father and mother are good souls and therefore you are a good daughter of your parents. I remember all of you always.

Please offer my good wishes to your friends who still remember me. I shall meet them again when I go to Butler. I like Butler more than New York and specially the quarters in which your home is situated. Had I had the means to rent a house independently I would have gone back again to Butler and hold my Bhagavatam discourses daily with good friends.

So far I have studied the American minds they are eager and apt to receive Bhakti Cult of Srimad-Bhagwatam because the Christian religion is based on the same principle. My mission is not turn any one from the affiliation of a particular religion but I want to let them know more knowledge about God and devotion.

Dr. Rammurti Mishra is also very kind gentleman and I am living very comfortably at his care. He is keen after looking my all kinds of comforts. I am negotiating with some booksellers and publishers and I hope I shall be able to settle something before I leave for the next station. I shall be New York still for a few days more and I shall let you know when I leave the station. I am so grateful to your kindness and surely I shall ask you if I need anything. I have left my hearth and home in India but here by the Grace of the Lord I have got good sons and daughter like you. So I do not feel any foreign complexion.

Hope you are all well and awaiting your early reply,
Yours affectionately,

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

* * *

CAMP: C/o Rammurti Mishra
100 West 72nd. Street
Studio 501
New York 23, N.Y.

November 13, 1965

My dear daughter Sally,

I thank you very much for your letter of the 9th instant and I am very glad to note that your little Bijo is growing to be more adventurous nowadays. Generally the son acquires the qualities of the mother and the daughter acquires the qualities of the father. And such children become happy in life. You have acquired the qualities of your intelligent father and your son will be as intelligent as you are and thus your son will be as good as your noble father. I wish that you be happy more and more with your growing children. You can take me also as Old Bijo and therefore even at my ripe old age I have taken some adventurous task and as your little Bijo requires your help always in his little adventures so also your old Bijo requires your help in his adventures in America.

Yes I am living here in a precarious condition and I wish to leave this place at any time. There is a room suitable for me but the lady wants $55.00 per month which I cannot pay. But there is a good suggestion for you also. If you be interested in your improvement of economic condition I would suggest you to start a lucrative business in New York. As you have liked my cooking so also here all the friends who have tasted my cooking have liked it. And by this I am suggesting you why don’t you start an Indian restaurant here in New York? I am sure if you start a business like that you will earn at least $2000.00 a month net. This is not a dream but actual fact. In New York there are so many restaurants and all of them are full with customers so I thought like that you should also start a restaurant supplying new palatable dishes and they would like them surely. There are about three hundred item of good vegetable preparations and if they are introduced in America it will be recorded in the history of America. People will forget meat eating. I do not say that cent percent people in America will be vegetarian but I am sure that at least the higher section will turn to be vegetarian if they get such nice vegetable dishes. Why not introduce this new thing in America and help my mission also at the same time. It will be very profitable business and I wish that you may earn your fortune and help my mission at one stroke.

This west 72nd street is just in the centre of the city and I see there is a suitable place also now vacant for this restaurant business and if you come here for a day or two you can see the place and decide if you can start the business. The house is suitable for residence of the restaurant keeper and you see all these personally if you come here for a day or two. If you come here there will be no inconvenience for you because there is one lady friend at west 108th street and she will be very glad to accommodate you for a day or two. I think you should come and see the prospect of the business. I am sure you will get very good profit if you start this business and I shall teach you how to prepare nice vegetable dishes. I wish that you may consider this proposal a little seriously and decide to come here for a day or two.

Yes I have extended my visa period up to 1st April 1966 by paying ten dollars but I do not know how I shall live. Another ship of Scindia Navigation is starting on the 17th November but my negotiation with some publisher is not yet finished. The Paragon Book Gallery has received the 25 twenty five sets of books as sent by Gopal. The arrangement is that after selling the 25 sets they will pay the money and further sets will be taken. Similarly I may arrange with other booksellers in Los Angeles because it learnt that in California people are more interested in such books. But I cannot go to California for want of money. Besides that I have to embark on ship from New York. California is 3000 miles away from here and it is better to return to India from California directly without coming back here. But I have got my return ticket from New York.

So I am not very fixed up what to do or not. The first consideration is that I must be in New York at least for ten to fifteen days more for deciding the publication affair and then I may leave this place for India or California. But the place where I am living now has so many inconveniences which I do not wish to narrate in this small letter. Yes I am taking my meals once only for this inconvenience. In the evening I take some milk and fruit and nowadays the night being very long, I feel sometimes for this night starvation.

Yes there was all darkness in New York on the 10th instant and it was not a happy incident. I learn that may people remained in the elevators and in the subway trains for more than seven to eight hours in darkness. I do not read newspapers but there must have been some mishaps also which we may not know. That is the way of material civilization too much depending on machine. At any time the whole thing may collapse and therefore we may not be self complacent depending so much on artificial life. The modern life of civilization depends wholly on electricity and petrol and both of them are artificial for man. You will be surprised to know that I had to take help of the old crude method of lightening by burning some vegetable oil and use the small bowl as lamp to save myself from the extreme darkness. I could not procure any candle from the shop but by the Grace of Krishna one friend Mr. Bill happened to come and he arranged for some fruits and candle. Yes in India we such experience failure of electricity but I was surprised to see the same thing in America. In India the village people say that in Europe (Vilait) also there is ass. And I saw it practically that it is true. Even in such an advanced country there may be possibility such failure but failure in America is more dangerous than that in India. In India they are not so much dependent on electricity but in America the whole activity is dependent on electricity and think on that night it was a great deal of loss to the American nation. Any way the danger is passed but from the papers it is learnt the loss is very great. I do not feel much cold now but it is learnt that it will increase more and more and before that I wish to leave this place. But if you start the business I am sure I shall be very comfortable at your good motherly care. If you decide to come for a day or two please drop me a letter immediately when you are coming.

More when we meet and hope you are all well. With my blessings and good wishes for you all. Awaiting your reply.

Yours affectionately,

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

* * *

CAMP: C/o Rammurti Mishra
100 West 72nd. Street
Studio 501
New York 23, N.Y.

November 19th 1965

My dear daughter Sally,

I beg to thank you for your kind letter of the 16th instant and I have noted the contents carefully. I am glad to learn that you had been to your parents house for a few days and now you have returned home. I am still more glad to learn that you are going to observe the third birthday of Miss Kamala Agarwal on Saturday next. On this occasion I should have presented her some ornaments but as I am a Sannyasi I can simply offer my blessing for her long life and good prosperity. She cannot now read otherwise at least I should have presented a set of my books. But you set aside one set of my books for her future reading when she will grow up a beautiful and educated girls with full god consciousness. I am obliged to your good daughter for awarding me a good degree as SWAMIJESUS which is actually a great honour for me. Some time the Lord speaks through innocent child and I take this honour as sent by Lord Jesus through an innocent child free from all formalities of the current society. Lord Jesus preached the message of God and I have taken up the same mission, and it would be a good luck for me if I can follow the foot prints of Lord Jesus who preached the message of God in spite of all persecution. Lord Jesus is a living example how one has to suffer in this material world simply for the matter of preaching the message of God. In Bhagwatam also there is another example like Lord Jesus. He is Prahlad Maharaj a boy of five years old but because he was a great devotee of God and preaching the message of God among his little class mates, his atheist father tried to kill him. So the atheist class of men are always inimical to the devotees of God even though such devotee happens to be the atheist’s son like Prahlad.

I proposed for starting the restaurant with a view that you may become one of richest family in America. One can become rich only by trying his luck in business. It is not possible by serving other. One should have independent source of income that is possible only if one is engaged in business or in land lordship. If you can invest $20,000/- in a property in New York which is worth $100,000/-, you can have at least $1000/- per month as the rent of the house. So that in 15 years time you become the proprietor of good house in New York which would fetch you $1000/- rent per month. That is my next proposal. I think you can invest $20000/- some way or other and if you can please do it immediately because that is chance also.

You can send me $40/- and it will help me going over California. I have decided like this. I am expecting a letter of reception from California and if I get it then I shall start for the country otherwise by the first week of December next I shall return to India. If I return to India then I shall return your money before I start otherwise I shall spend it for my California journey.

I hope you are all enjoying good health and with my blessings for you all, I am

Yours affectionately,

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

 

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Author: Mukunda dasa

I desire to fully surrender my life and soul to Srila Prabhupada. Then I can become instrumental in assisting him with his mission of delivering all the conditioned souls to the shelter of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai and Sri Sri Radha Krishna.

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