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If I tell you I am God, will you believe me?

Giriraj Swami: Every Sunday in Boston we used to go to Cambridge Commons to do kirtana. Different rock bands used to come and perform, and thousands of young people used to come and hear, dance, picnic, wander around and mingle, or just sit. So on Sundays Satsvarupa would lead the devotees to an area in the commons where they would chant and dance in a circle, joined by other young people. And some devotees used to wander around the crowd to distribute books and get donations.

At that time, 1969 - 1970, there was a lot of interest in spiritual life, and one boy I approached was especially friendly. He said he was interested and had an Indian guru who was God. I said, “How do you know he is God?”

“He says he’s God.”

“Just because he says he’s God you believe him?”


“So if I tell you I am the president of the United States you will also believe me? Being president is not as great as being God.”

“Yes, I will believe you.”

“Very good. So if I am the president you have to do what I say.”


So I said, “Take all your money from your pocket.”

He took out all his money. There was a lot! In those days young people didn’t have much money, but he pulled out ninety-seven dollars.

“You accept that I am the president?”

“Yes.” He was stubborn; he didn’t want to admit his philosophy was wrong. He persisted just to maintain his false prestige.

So I said, “Okay, give me all your money.” He gave me his money, and in return I gave him a book, invited him to the temple, and disappeared in the crowd.

About two hours later the boy found me, still distributing. “You know, I just gave you my whole pay, and tomorrow I have to pay the rent. Could you give me twenty dollars?”

Srila Prabhupada heard about the incident and was pleased. He even mentioned it in one conversation in Los Angeles: “Our Giriraj took some money. Yes. Somebody said, ‘Everyone is God.’ So Giriraj said, ‘I am God?’ ‘Yes, you are God.’ ‘Then I can take your money?’ ‘Yes.’ And he gave him some money, all the money. Out of sentiment, whatever money he had in his pocket, he gave him.” When one devotee commented that the boy had been caught in his own philosophy Srila Prabhupada agreed, “Yes.”

Srila Prabhupada preached vehemently against the impersonal philosophy, following his own spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, for whom, in appreciation, he wrote:

Absolute is sentient, thou hast proved, impersonal calamity, thou hast moved.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura in turn appreciated how Srila Prabhupada had understood his mission. We can similarly be recognized by our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, if we understand his mission and execute it to the best of our ability. So this is our line, parampara, and this is our mission: to demolish the mayavada philosophy and establish the bhaktisiddhanta - the conclusion of pure devotion - through Srila Prabhupada’s books.

Reference: Watering the seed by Giriraj Swami