History of ISKCON in Mauritius

Part 2
   

 


This photo of Srila Prabhupada, as well all the others used in this web-site,
were taken in Mauritius by Bhargava das.

Setting the Scene
A few days before Prabhupada's actual arrival three sanyasis flew in. Pusta Krishna Swami from South Africa (Prabhupada's next destination) and Chayavana and Brahmananda Swamis from Nairobi.
These swamis were so impressed with the beauty and the peaceful setting of the place that they were convinced that if Srila Prabhupada saw it, he would surely agree to spend a few months here to carry on translating Srimad Bhagavatam.
The stage was now set for the pure devotee of Krishna to arrive.
During the summer of 1975 Srila Prabhupada was on his tour of the North America, visiting the major centers there and inspiring the devotees with fresh enthusiasm to carry on the preaching work. Meanwhile in Delhi, devotees had been trying to arrange for a meeting between Srila Prabhupada and Srimati Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India.
While in Toronto, Canada, the message came that if Prabhupada wanted an interview with the Indian PM, he would have to come to Delhi at once.
Prabhupada decided to fly back to India immediately, and on August 22 he got the promised meeting with the Prime Minister. From Delhi Prabhupada proceeded to Vrindavana.
In the meantime Pusta Krishna Swami had been trying to arrange for Prabhupada's visit to South Africa. At the same time the devotees and life-members in Mauritius had suggested that Prabhupada meet Sir Sewoosagur Ramgoolam, the Prime Minister of Mauritius. They requested him to officially invite their spiritual master, ISKCON Founder Acharya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, to visit Mauritius. On Sept. 11th a letter was sent to Srila Prabhupada in Vrindavana from the Prime Minister's Office inviting His Divine Grace to come and meet him. Dr. S. Ramgoolam wrote to Srila Prabhupada inviting him to please come and visit Mauritius to bless the island and its people with your holy presence.”
On September 19th Prabhupada confirmed his arrival in Mauritius in a letter to the PM for September 30th.

September 30th, 1975
Srila Prabhupada arrived from Bombay, accompanied by his secretary Harikesha dasa and a photographer from the BBT, Bhargava dasa. While in the plane Srila Prabhupada was approached by Mr. Madan Gujadhar, a leading barrister in Mauritius. Mr. Gujadhar, a member of the most affluent Hindu family in Mauritius, had been approached by the devotees before. He had appreciated their presentation and was considering becoming a Life member of the society. Now he had the great fortune to have Srila Prabhupada's personal association.
The reception committee at the airport was composed of Brahmananda, Chayavana and Pusta Krishna Swamis as well as Prabhanu dasa, the temple president. From the Life-member side there were Mr. Gowtam Teelock and Mr. B. Ramlallah. The Minister of Youth, Hon. D. Basant Rai was also present to welcome His Divine Grace. The MBC was filming the arrival and conducting a short interview with Srila Prabhupada. He put the emphasis on the fact the leaders of society have to show, by their good example, how to lead a god-conscious life. Then it will be easy for the common man to follow. But if the leaders are degraded, naturally the common people will imitate them and also engage in all kinds of vices.


Reception at the airport: (left to right) Mr. Khemraj Gungah, Mr. B. Ramlallah,
Srila Prabhupada and Mr. Gowtam Teelock

For the three-fulltime devotees serving in Mauritius it was almost unbelievable that Prabhupada would come to this small island. But somehow or other it came to happen that someone suggested that the then Prime Minister, Sir Sewoosagur Ramgoolam, should meet Srila Prabhupada. Mauritius, apart from India and Nepal, being the only country in the world with a Hindu Prime Minister, it was felt that Prabhupada would be much interested to meet with the PM. And so it was. When Srila Prabhupada heard of this idea he was keen to come to Mauritius.
It was the first time that the leader of a country had officially invited him, so upon reception of the letter, Srila Prabhupada, re-adjusted his busy schedule, and replied to Dr. S. Ramgoolam as follows:
Your Excellency,
Please accept my best wishes. I am in due receipt of your kind letter dated September 11, 1975 and I thank you very much for your kind invitation to visit Mauritius. I am pleased to inform you that I am arriving in Port Louis from Bombay on the afternoon of September 30th instant. I look forward to meeting with your Excellency.

The contacts with the Prime Minister had been made through Mr. Teelock, who was a junior Minister in the Government. Mr. Teelock had in the past much appreciated the preaching spirit of the devotees and he was supporting them with all means possible. Especially valuable were his innumerable contacts in the higher circles of the Mauritian society. Mr. Teelock, who would often speak to them personally and convince them to support this movement, recommended many of the Life-members already enrolled. Despite his busy schedule he was always ready to selflessly help the devotees in pushing the movement forward.
It was him who had arranged a Mercedes to take Srila Prabhupada and his party from the airport to Pointe-aux-Sables, where His Divine Grace would stay during his visit.

Srila Prabhupada's blueprint for a perfect society in Mauritius

When, upon landing at the Pleasance Airport of Mauritius, Srila Prabhupada was ushered into the VIP lounge and received by the enthusiastic ISKCON life-members and supporters, Gowtam Teelock, Mr. Ramlallah, editor of the Mauritius Times, the following conversation was recorded:
Gowtam Teelock:-“We are very pleased to have you among us, and we welcome you on behalf of the people of Mauritius. Have you had any idea of Mauritius before coming here?”
Srila Prabhupada replied, “My idea is to preach Krishna Consciousness, because for want of this knowledge our mission of human life is failing all over the world. Therefore I am trying to introduce the Krishna Consciousness movement all over the world, without any distinction of caste, creed or color. God is for everyone. And we have forgotten our relationship with God, therefore we are suffering in so many ways. His instruction is there in the Bhagavad-gita, so if we follow, then we become happy.”
When asked about his schedule and programs for the island, Srila Prabhupada replied, “I want to see the leading men of this place, because if they understand the importance of this movement, then my mission is a success. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said ‘yad yad acharati shestas, tad tad evetaro janah,’ the leaders, whatever they do, the ordinary common man follows.(Bg. 3.21). So if the leading men of Mauritius, if they understand the importance of this movement, then I am sure it will be very beneficial for everyone.”
( from ITV tape “Prabhupada on tour.”)

In the January 1976 issue of the Back to Godhead magazine, which was distributed in many countries around the world, the following article appeared:

A recent tour of Africa took His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada through East and South Africa, and to the island state of Mauritius, six hundred miles off the coast of Madagascar. There he spoke with many people, among them Mr. Gautum Teelock, ex-Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, and Mr. Khemraj Gungah, president of the Narmadeshvara Shivala temple in Rose belle.

Contrasting ancient Vedic culture with modern civilization, His Divine Grace noted: “Vedic society is based on the principle of love – between husband and wife, father and son, the king and the citizens, and so on. Civilization must be founded on love, not law.
Modern civilization lacks this basis of love, so everything is superficial and false. But if devotion to Krishna, God, is made the basic principle, then people will be happy.”


Knowing of local plans to reorganize social and political structures, Srila Prabhupada then proposed that an ideal state based on the instructions of Bhagavad-gita be set up in Mauritius. “People will be very inclined to it,” he said, “In a big state – especially a highly industrialized one – it would not be possible, but in a small state like Mauritius you can make it happen. You would not be making a new experiment. This experiment has already been made and proven successful. In Vedic days, people lived strictly according to the principles summarized by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita. They made the test and proved that the principles are true. So you just have to follow what is already there. You simply have to accept the Ved
ic authority.”

In his arrival address, Srila Prabhupada said, This Krishna consciousness movement is a very important movement. We are inviting all intelligent persons, the leaders of the society, to understand the basic principle of this movement. If the leaders of the society lead the people in the proper channel on the basic principle of spiritual life, then everything will be solved. Everyone will be happy. These instructions are there in the Bhagavad-gita - very elaborately given. Simply we have to follow those instructions. It is not at all difficult. Then all the questions – social problem, political problem, economical problem, religious problem, everything will be nicely solved.
We are presenting, therefore, Bhagavad-gita As It Is. And you take any question and the answer is there in the Bhagavad-gita, very nicely given. Just like, say, our first problem is an economic problem. So Bhagavad-gita says, "Yes, economic problem will be solved very easily if you produce food grains." Annad bhavanti bhutani. You produce food grains. Just like in your country I see there is enough land. If you people produce your food grains – within three months you can get all the necessities of life for the whole year. And the balance time you can save, nine months. And these nine months you can utilize for advancing in spiritual life.” (please click this: Srila Prabhupada in Mauritius – The Body is Superficial for the complete lecture)

In a class on the Bhagavad-gita on October the 1st His Divine Grace said;
“This rascal havoc has ruined the whole world. Otherwise, if they would have preached Bhagavad-gita as it is, the world situation would have been different. Everything would have been in order, with tranquility and peace, and everybody would have been prosperous. But the rascals will not do that. That is the defect. Therefore our tiny effort is how to present Bhagavad-gita as it is. This is our mission. Even now, in this distorted condition of the world, if we accept Bhagavad-gita as it is, then still, we will be benefited. There is no doubt about it. Therefore our appeal is that throughout the whole world people should come, try to understand Bhagavad-gita and set up examples and do the needful. Then everything will be peaceful. This is the peace formula. Bhoktaram yajna tapasam sarva loka mahesvaram suhridam sarva bhutanam.(Bg.5.29). Suhrit means well-wisher. Here is the supreme well-wisher, Krishna. He wants that wherever you live, you live peacefully and happily; and therefore He is called suhrit. He desires everyone's happiness. Therefore He comes Himself to advise, to instruct how to live, how to follow His instruction, and He leaves these behind Him, such books as Bhagavad-gita, and He sends His representative occasionally to revive our consciousness. This business is going on, not only in the human society, even in the animal society. Anywhere, even in demigod society, things are going on like that. Therefore we should know, whatever Bhagavan says, there cannot be any mistake, any illusion, any cheating or any imperfectness. Then it will be very nice. And that is the fact.”


Chayavan filming Srila Prabhupada's lectures. Thanks to him ITV has the film "Srila Prabhupada on tour," containing a half hour of footage of Srila Prabhupada in Mauritius.

In a press conference held on October 2nd, Srila Prabhupada was asked about ISKCON’s possible political involvement elsewhere, to which His Divine Grace replied:-
“Oh, yes. When we are many in number, then we shall take politics also. Yes. First of all let there be perfect men. If there are no perfect men, the government will be imperfect. If there are perfect men, the government will be perfect.
Reporter: “Do you think, Swamiji, that man can become perfect?”
Prabhupada: “That is the chance of a human being. Therefore in the human society there is school, college, education, culture, not in the animal society, because they can be made into perfect beings, not the animals. So if they are denied proper education - that is the greatest harm. They have got the opportunity for spiritual education, but the authorities are not giving them that opportunity. They are imperfect and they are taking advice from the imperfect. Therefore it is very difficult for them to understand, because they do not take advice from the perfect person, Krishna. Apashyatam atma-tattvam – they cannot see. Without guidance from the Supreme Person nothing can be managed.”
Reporter: “Do you mean the perfect-ness is to become God or a perfect man?
Prabhupada: “You never become God.”

Reporter: “What does perfect-ness mean?”
Prabhupada: “Perfect means to become godly.”
Reporter: “Can you be interested directly in politics?”
Prabhupada: “Why not? Krishna... Krishna was in politics. So He instructed Arjuna to fight. This is politics - for a good cause. When Arjuna denied that ‘Krishna, I am not willing to kill, on the other side, my brothers and my uncles, and so on,’ the Lord chastised him that ‘kutas tva kasmalam idam visame samupasthitam, why you are talking like a non-Aryan? (Bg. 2.2). What is this nonsense? Anarya means less advanced. So this movement is to make the people Aryan. ”
Kshatriya means one who gives protection from being hurt, kshat. Kshat means hurting. So suppose if I unnecessarily hurt you, then it is the duty of the government to give you protection. So unless I am also punished by violence, the government cannot give you protection. So this is also necessary. Therefore in the society there must be ksatriya. The brahmanas should be learned; they should give instruction, advice. The kshatriyas should give protection; the vaishyas should produce, economic development; and rest, they should assist – shudras, that's all. This is the program of Aryan society.”


In a recorded morning walk conversation, Srila Prabhupada instructed his disciples, “If the government here accepts you as guide, then everything will be all right. Tell them that: ‘We are not going to take any salary. You simply take our advice and govern.’ The modern legislative assembly, they should be composed of first-class brahmanas, no salary. Then the government will be first-class. The governments today are supporting the most outrageous sinful activities, so how is it possible to reform the general mass of people.”
Disciple: “Do you mean to say government can be perfect?”
Prabhupada: “Government means nowadays – all rascals. They are elected by rascals and they are rascals. That is the difficulty. Everywhere you go, you meet only rascals. Manda – the definition is given in Srimad-bhagavatam, manda – in Kali yuga, all rascals. Even in our camp, there are so many rascals. Even they have come to be reformed, they remain rascals. They cannot give up their rascal habits. Therefore it has been generalized – manda – all bad. But the only difference is, in our ISKCON camp, the rascals are being reformed. Outside there is no one being reformed. There is no hope of their becoming good. Outside, there is no hope. That is the difference. By following Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s reformatory process, one can become good. Mahaprabhu’s name is patita-pavana. He is delivering all bad men. In Kali-yuga there are no good men at all – everyone is bad, so how the government will be good? And the taxation is divided among them. The tax is meant for public welfare. Instead of public welfare, they divide it amongst themselves and enjoy wine, woman, motorcar and flesh. That’s all. This is going on. All this income tax is simply a plundering process. This income tax means a plan on how to take away everything from the actually earning members of society. That is income tax. And that is divided amongst administrators.”


In this context, Srila Prabhupada has written the following in his best selling and internationally famous multi-volume translation of the Srimad Bhagavatam, as follows:-

“The statutory laws of the state are imperfect imitation replicas of religious codes. The secular state, or the godless state, allows the citizens to break the laws of God, but restricts them from disobeying the laws of the state; the result is that the people in general suffer more by breaking the laws of God than by obeying the imperfect laws made by man. Every man is imperfect by constitution under conditions of material existence, and there is not the least possibility that even the most materially advanced man can enact perfect legislation. On the other hand, there is no such imperfection in the laws of God. If the leaders are educated in the laws of God, there is no necessity of a makeshift legislative council of aimless men. There is necessity of change in the makeshift laws of man, but there is no change in the God-made laws because they are made perfect by the all-perfect Personality of Godhead. The codes of religion, scriptural injunctions, are made by liberated representatives of God in consideration of different conditions of living, and by carrying out the orders of the Lord, the conditioned living beings gradually become free from the clutches of material existence.” (Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 1, chap.13, text 42, purport.)

“The real qualification is to become a devotee of the Lord, and gradually all the good qualities worthy of possession develop. The great kings used to consult great sages and learned brahmanas, who could advise him by the sastras how to execute the state administration. Such great kings were more responsible than modern elected executive heads because they obliged the great authorities by following their instructions left in Vedic literatures. There was no need for impractical fools to enact daily a new legislative bill and to conveniently alter it again and again to serve some purpose. The rules and regulations were already set forth by great sages like Manu, Yajnavalkya, Parashara and other liberated sages, and the enactments were all suitable for all ages in all places. Therefore the rules and regulations were standard and without flaw or defect. Kings like Maharaja Pariksit had their council of advisers, and all the members of that council were either great sages or brahmanas of the first order. They did not accept any salary, nor had they any necessity for such salaries. The state would get the best advice without expenditure. They were themselves sama-darshi, equal to everyone, both man and animal. They would not advise the king to give protection to man and instruct him to kill the poor animals. Such council members were not fools or representatives to compose a fool's paradise. They were all self-realized souls, and they knew perfectly well how all living beings in the state would be happy, both in this life and in the next. They were not concerned with the hedonistic philosophy of eat, drink, be merry and enjoy. They were philosophers in the real sense, and they knew well what is the mission of human life. Under all these obligations, the advisory council of the king would give correct directions, and the king or executive head, being himself a qualified devotee of the Lord, would scrutinizingly follow them for the welfare of the state. The state in the days of Maharaja Yudhisthira or Maharaja Pariksit was a welfare state in the real sense of the term because no one was unhappy in that state, be he man or animal.” (Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 1, Chap.16, text 1, purport)

When Bhagavat-dharma (God-made laws), which is strictly meant for developing animal consciousness into human consciousness and human consciousness into godly consciousness, is broken by advancement of foolishness, the whole system of peaceful and progressive life is at once disturbed. (Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 1, Chap. 16, text 31, purport)

“The age of Kali means mismanagement and quarrel. And the root cause of all mismanagement and quarrel is that worthless men with the modes of lower-class men, who have no higher ambition in life, come to the helm of the state management. Such men at the post of a king are sure to first hurt the cow and the brahminical culture, thereby pushing all society towards hell.” (Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 1, Chap.16, text 4, purport.)

param shushrushanam mahyam, syat praja-rakshaya nrpa
bhagavams te praja-bhartur, hrshikesho ’nutushyati

O King, if you can give proper protection to the living beings in the material world, that will be the best service for me. When the Supreme Lord sees you to be a good protector of the conditioned souls, certainly the master of the senses will be very pleased with you.
Purport:The whole administrative system is arranged for the purpose of going back home, back to Godhead. Brahma is the representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and Manu is the representative of Brahma. Similarly, all other kings on different planets of the universe are representatives of Manu. The lawbook for the entire human society is the Manu-samhita, which directs all activities towards the transcendental service of the Lord. Every king, therefore, must know that his responsibility in administration is not merely to exact taxes from the citizens but to see personally that the citizens under him are being trained in Vishnu worship. Everyone must be educated in Vishnu worship and engaged in the devotional service of Hrshikesha, the owner of the senses. The conditioned souls are meant not to satisfy their material senses but to satisfy the senses of Hrshikesha, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the purpose of the complete administrative system. One who knows this secret, as disclosed here in the version of Brahma, is the perfect administrative head. One who does not know this is a show-bottle administrator. By training the citizens in the devotional service of the Lord, the head of a state can be free in his responsibility, otherwise he will fail in the onerous duty entrusted to him and thus be punishable by the supreme authority. There is no other alternative in the discharge of administrative duty. (Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 3, Chap.13 , text 12)

The French, during the 18th Century, parceled out about half of the islands lands to farmers, who grew 24,000 acres of grains, (wheat, rice, oats, maize and barley), 9000 acres of sugarcane, 30,000 acres of fruits and vegetables, and 10,000 acres of cotton, coffee and spices, while 120,000 acres remained indigenous forests. After the English took over in 1810, emphasis was put on sugar and tea production, which today accounts for more then half the land use, at about 108,000 hectares. While being driven around Mauritius, Srila Prabhupada saw simply sugar cane and tea plantations, which he said was typical of British influence, and emphasized in many of his talks that the prime necessity of any country was to be self sufficient in food production. Bhargava das, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) photographer who accompanied Srila Prabhupada on his visit to Mauritius, and who took most of the photos of Srila Prabhupada used in this web-site, (and most of them taken during Srila Prabhupada’s Mauritian tour), remembers Srila Prabhupada emphasizing that the first duty of a nation is to become self sufficient. He therefore instructed his disciples to develop an ISKCON farm in Mauritius to serve as a model of such self sufficiency.

In one of his lectures, Srila Prabhupada said, “I see that on this island of Mauritius you have enough land to produce all your food grains. You produce food grain. I understand that instead of growing food grains, you are growing sugar cane for exporting. Why? And you are dependent on food grains, on rice, wheat, dhal. Why? Why this attempt? You first of all grow your own eatables. And if there is time and if your population has got sufficient food grains, then you can try to grow other fruits and vegetables for exporting. The first necessity is that you should be self- sufficient. That is God’s arrangement. Everywhere there is sufficient land to produce food grains, not only in your country. I have traveled all over the world, Africa, Australia, and other, in America also. There are so much land vacant that if we produce food grains, then we can feed ten times as much population as at the present moment. There is no question of scarcity. The whole creation is so made by Krishna that everything is purnam, complete. Purnam idam purnam adah purnat purnam udacyate, purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate.(Sri-upanishad 1.1).
(For the full lecture, please click this: Srila Prabhupada in Mauritius – Illusions of Enjoyment)


Bombay
Upon his return to Bombay, after visiting Nairobi, Srila Prabhupada commented on a morning walk along Juhu beach: That sugar, they say that the ants they like intoxicants; therefore they like sugar. Sugar is intoxication. Wine is made from sugar.”
Disciple: “Yes. Molasses.”
Prabhupada: “Molasses. Ferment molasses with sulphuric acid and then distill. It is wine, liquor. People are producing unnecessary quantity of sugarcane; therefore the drinking habit is increasing. Because from sugar the molasses is the by-product, so they have to use. They are finding out what is next industry, and the next industry is liquor, wine. So when they produce more wine, then they must sell, and the people must drink. This is going on, one after another. And in Hawaii, Mauritius and in so many other places we see they have produced unnecessary quantity of sugarcane. And then molasses... And then wine, and it must be sold.”
Disciple: “So this is sinful activity.”
Prabhupada: “All sinful activity. Ugra-karma. And if you drink wine, then you must require meat. Otherwise your liver function will be bad. There must be lump of meat. And as soon as wine and meat combine, then you require illicit sex. It is one after another. This is scientific. So we stop immediately: "Stop these four principles." Then one will be free from sinful life. Then he'll understand what is God. Otherwise it is not possible. A sinful man cannot understand what is God. Why the whole world is godless? On account of the sinful life, they cannot understand.
Disciple: “So the means of production have to be changed into pious type of...”
Prabhupada: “No. If you stop sinful activities, the production will automatically stop. If there is no market for wine, then it will stop automatically. So you stop drinking, and the market for liquor will stop.”

Many people revive their dormant spirituality when they read or hear Srila Prabhupada's empowered preaching, which frees us from the illusions deeply rooted in our minds and hearts. During his tour of Mauritius in 1975, he has certainly provided us all, as well as future generations, with a feasible blueprint for establishing a perfect society, by simply establishing the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna, in the center of our lives and consciousness, and by following His direction, as given in His Bhagavat-gita.
If the leaders of Mauritius, present or future, accept this Divine Grace, then our island could become a positive and uplifting example for the rest of the world.
Om Tat Sat.

 
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