All the Vaishnavas Are Poets
(Click to enlarge painting of Sri Krishna and Bilvamangala Thakura)

(The next day, May 12th, Poet Allen Ginsberg comes in early in the morning, having spent the night at the temple. Prabhupada immediately suggests that he write poetry on the subjects and pastimes of Krishna. He mentions one of the peculiar qualifications of a devotee, that of lunacy.)

Prabhupāda: What is called? Lunatic, compact in thought. (laughs) So Kṛṣṇa lover is also another kind of lunatic effect.

Allen Ginsberg: Except that it would mean concentrating all my consciousness on the one single image of Kṛṣṇa.

Prabhupāda: Not image.

Allen Ginsberg: Or the one single thought or name or feeling or awareness.

Prabhupāda: That we have got varieties of duties. Just like we are. You have seen all these boys. They are always engaged. Always engaged. Similarly, everywhere they are always engaged in Kṛṣṇa. We want extra time to work for Kṛṣṇa. The twenty-four hours is not sufficient for us. Yes. Then we shall see that we are sleeping, wasting time. Gosvāmīs, they used to sleep for one half-hour only. That also sometimes forgot.

Allen Ginsberg: To dream?

Prabhupāda: No. They were always engaged. Volumes of books they have written. When there is no writing, chanting, dancing, talking, and like that—engaged in Kṛṣṇa always. That we have been taught by our Guru Mahārāja, twenty-four hours engagement with Kṛṣṇa. So māyā has no scope to enter in our mind. She always remains aloof: "Oh, here is fire. I cannot touch." Bhakti mukulitāñ... Bhaktis tvayi sthiratarā yadi bhagavan syād daivena phalati divya-kiśora-mūrtiḥ, muktir mukulitāñjaliḥ sevate 'smān. Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, a great devotee, he executed devotional service for seven hundred years. He lived for seven hundred years in Vṛndāvana. That picture you have seen, Sūradāsa? Yes.

Allen Ginsberg: Sūradāsa, the poet.

Prabhupāda: Yes. He is known as Sūradāsa.

Allen Ginsberg: Teacher of Tulasī Dāsa, or student of Tulasī Dāsa.

Prabhupāda: He may be different, but Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, he was also blind. He made himself blind. You know the story of Bilvamaṅgala?

Allen Ginsberg: No.

Prabhupāda: Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, in his previous life, he elevated himself to the loving stage of Kṛṣṇa. Not exactly, just previous, bhāva. It is called bhāva, ecstasy. But some way or other, he could not finish, so according to the instruction of Bhagavad-gītā, he was given birth to a nice brāhmaṇa family...  So very rich. Śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe, in that way. Rich family, at the same time, brāhmaṇa family. But richness, generally, sometimes glide down to wine, women, and intoxication. So by bad company he became woman-hunter, prostitute-hunter. So he was too much addicted to one woman, Cintāmaṇi. So his father died, and he was... He did not marry. In your country it is called girlfriend, and in our country it is called prostitute. So he was that about that prostitute, Cintāmaṇi. So he was performing the rituals, but he was thinking of his girlfriend, that Cintāmaṇi, "When I shall go there?" Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura? Yes. So he asked his servants, "Give me some food. I shall go to Cintāmaṇi." So anyway, he performed rituals... or did not perform. His mind was there. He took some nice foodstuff, and when he went, there was a big river, and it was raining heavily, and the river was flooded. So he thought, "How shall I go the other side?" So one dead body was floating. So he thought, "It is a log," and he took the help of the log and went the other side. And it was heavy raining. And then, when he reached that Cintāmaṇi's home, he saw the door is locked already. Blocked. So he jumped over the wall, taking the tail of a serpent, and when he reached inside, he knocked the door, and Cintāmaṇi was astonished. "How did you come? So heavy rain. You had to cross the river." He said everything, that "Oh, I cannot stay without you." So she was much inquisitive: "How did you come? How did you jump over this wall?" And so he showed everything, that there was a big snake, and so he thought it as rope and jumped it. And then, when he went to the riverside, he saw that was a dead body. So at that time Cintāmaṇi thought, "Oh, this man is so much addicted to me." So she told, "Oh, this much attraction if you would have with Kṛṣṇa, oh, how nice your life would have been." So immediately he came to his senses because he was lifted to that position in his previous life. So immediately he left and was going alone to Vṛndāvana. And on the way he saw another beautiful woman. So his business was to be attracted by woman. So he again became attracted. So he was following. So this woman, after entering, she told her husband, "Just see, this man is following from a distant place." So he asked him, "Oh, come on." He saw he is nice gentleman. He was a rich man, brāhmaṇa. "What is this?" He said plainly, "Oh, I have been attracted by your wife, by the beauty of your wife." "All right, come on!" You enjoy my wife. You are brāhmaṇa. You are..." So he was received well. And at night, when he was given place, then he asked that woman, "Mother, will you give me your hair pin?" He took the hair pin and pushed in the eyes: "Oh, these eyes are my enemy." Since then he became blind. And in that blindness he was worshiping Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa was coming to him. And he would not touch. He'll sing, dance, and He'll supply milk and go away. So this Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura wrote one book, Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta. It is very valuable book. That is very highly estimated, Lord Caitanya.

Allen Ginsberg: What century is that?

Prabhupāda: It is since seven hundred years...

Guest: Fourteenth...

Prabhupāda: Yes, fourteenth century.

Allen Ginsberg: Bilda... How do you pronounce his name?

Prabhupāda: No. Fourteenth century, not Bilvamaṅgala. Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura, some time before.

Guest: Bilvamaṅgala.

Allen Ginsberg: Bilvamaṅgala. Bilvamaṅgala. No, I didn't know the name.

Prabhupāda: Yes. There are many poets. He was great poet. If you read this Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta poetry, ah, you'll find...

Guest: Vaiṣṇava, (Bengali) ...Vidyāpati, Candidāsa.

Prabhupāda: Vidyāpati, Candidāsa, Jayadeva.

Allen Ginsberg: Jayadeva, I know.

Guest: Jayadeva is a great Vaiṣṇava.

Prabhupāda: There are many nice poets.

Allen Ginsberg: I know some of the Baul poetry in English.

Prabhupāda: You just try to read this Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura especially.

Allen Ginsberg: Who?

Prabhupāda: Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura.

Allen Ginsberg: Nartham.

Prabhupāda: There are many...

Guest: Narottama.

Prabhupāda: That song you were reading last night, Nitāi pada kamala? That is Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura's song. For the Vaiṣṇava, to become poet is another qualification. Vaiṣṇava has twenty-six qualifications. I think it is written there.

Allen Ginsberg: And one of them is to become poet also.

Prabhupāda: Poet. He must be poet. All the Vaiṣṇavas, they are poet.

Guest: Because they are so deep in love with God.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Poetry comes out in deep love with something.

Ginsberg: Is that published somewhere?

Prabhupāda: Yes... Hṛṣīkeśa, you can read loudly. We'll hear.

Hṛṣīkeśa (reading): "Qualifications of devotee: 1) kind to everyone,
2) does not quarrel with anyone, 3) fixed in the Absolute Truth, 4) equal to everyone, 5) faultless, 6) charitable, 7) mild, 8) clean, 9) simple, 10) benevolent, 11) peaceful, 12) completely attached to Kṛṣṇa, 13) no material hankering, 14) meek, 15) steady, 16) self-controlled, 17) does not eat more than required, 18) sane, 19) respectful..." (laughter)

Prabhupāda: Not insane.

Hṛṣīkeśa: "...20) humble, 21) grave, 22) compassionate, 23) friendly, 24) poetic, 25) expert..."

Prabhupāda: Poetic.

Hṛṣīkeśa: "...25) expert, and 26) silent."

Prabhupāda: These are the qualities.

Allen Ginsberg: Whose list is that? Is that an old list or have you made that up for young Americans?"

Prabhupāda: Yes. No, these are taken from authoritative śāstras. Yes. This is the test, whether you are becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious or not. You have to test yourself, whether you are developing these qualities. This is for testing.

Allen Ginsberg: I'm slowly developing all qualities except sanity. (laughter)

Prabhupāda: Insanity for seeking Kṛṣṇa, that is required. Yes. Unless you become insane after Kṛṣṇa just like Lord Caitanya became... Yes. His worship is to become insane after Kṛṣṇa.

(Srila Prabhupada Conversation with Allen Ginsberg, May 13, 1969, Columbus, Ohio)
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