August 1973: PARIS, FRANCE – Temple at 4 Rue le Sueur, Mayor’s reception, Meeting with Cardinal Danielou, Installation of Radha Paris-isvara, Initiation, Departure
Jyotirmayi dasi: All the devotees with Prabhupada are just arriving at the new temple that we got just a few months ago on la Rue Le Sueur. So Bhagavan thought that rather than Prabhupada speaking in the temple room, he should speak from the balcony so that he could speak to the people in the street. And also he liked the idea that it was a kingly way of speaking as in the past, the French kings would speak from the balcony to the crowds. But he had to ask for permission. So he asked the administration of Paris if it was possible and the officials told him, “Yes, it’s possible, but you cannot use a microphone.” So when he said that to Prabhupada, Prabhupada started to laugh and he said, “This is the way to say yes when in fact you want to say no,” as it’s impossible to talk to a big crowd of people without a microphone, they will not hear.
In the London temple, the Deities were carved by Shyamasundar; and here also the Jagannatha Deities have been carved by the devotees themselves. So it was a French devotee who was a sculptor who was called Dayamrgya who carved Them and then I painted Them, and there is two particularities on Subhadra here. First She is smaller, she should be a little bit bigger; and the reason is that when Dayamrgya wanted to carve Her, he forgot that he needed to have the little topknot on Her head. Then when he realized he had to do that, then he had to make Her shorter in order to be able to carve the topknot on Her head. So that’s why She is smaller. She also has different eyes than most of the Jagannatha Deities, and the reason was that I painted them according to a picture that I got from India. But I didn’t like the look of the eyes of Subhadra so I just changed the eyes and I made them lotus-shaped eyes, which no Subhadra Deity ever had in any Deities from India. But everybody found it very, very beautiful, and Prabhupada found Them very beautiful though very unusual eyes for Subhadra.
Indradyumna Swami: Later during that visit to London before Bhagavan and I went on to Paris, Srila Prabhupada called us into his room to give us some more instructions and inspiration; and I was very much hoping at that time to receive a personal instruction from Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada gave many general instructions but, of course, a disciple always hankers to have some personal interrelationship with his spiritual master and receive some special instructions. I was a little shy to ask, but at one point I spoke up and I said, “Srila Prabhupada, could you give me some instruction?” So Srila Prabhupada leaned over the desk at that time and looked at me in my eyes and he said, “Preach boldly and have faith in the Holy Names.” I’ve always tried to follow that instruction of Srila Prabhupada as a guideline for the rest of my life. I was so nervous at the time, I don’t remember how I felt. I just felt blessed that Prabhupada would see me, notice me and give some instruction that I could build the rest of my devotional career upon. Then Prabhupada, to further encourage both of us, he reached over into his drawer and he gave me one of his dhotis and he gave Bhagavan das one of his undershirts and he just smiled. Then after a little more conversation, we left for our service in Paris, France. I did wear that dhoti actually. It was bright saffron and, of course, I was a grihastha at that time; but it was the tadiya, it was the paraphernalia of the spiritual master and, therefore, divine. We know that Mahaprabhu Himself, in order to encourage His own followers, His own disciples, He would sometimes give them pieces of cloth. A piece of His cloth was sent to Maharaja Prataparudra, who worshiped it as nondifferent than the Lord. A piece of His cloth was sent to Gopal Bhatta Goswami in Vrindavan. So this tadiya, this nectar, this mercy of my spiritual master, I took that very seriously. I used to wear that as a chaddar actually. And sometimes when the sannyasis would come through, they would chide me, “You’re a grihastha and you’re wearing saffron?” I said, “Yes, this is no ordinary cloth. This is the dhoti of our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada. I’m not taking it off for anything.”
Yogesvara das: Those of us who came into France as devotees from outside the country quickly learned that French culture was a highly intellectual culture. I think a young person in France in those days by the age of 13 or 14 probably knew more about history and politics than a college graduate in America. And one thing that we went out of our way to do was arrange as often as possible for Srila Prabhupada to meet with intellectuals and thought leaders of the day. So he met with college professors and he met with Cardinal Danielou and he met with leaders from the World Health Organization, he met with leading Sanskritists, and the meetings were important because it gave us an opportunity to see how does a pure devotee of the Lord speak to different levels of people. I think what was most astonishing was Srila Prabhupada’s ability to listen carefully to each person’s particular level of spiritual development and address them on that level. As they approached him, Srila Prabhupada would reciprocate, sometimes becoming very, very firm, very outspoken: “Why do you speak this philosophy? Don’t you understand the dangers here?” He was concerned, not out of any kind of pride or sense of superiority but because this was dangerous, these philosophies are leading people astray. Atma-hana, killers of the soul.
Hansadutta das: One of the leading figures in the Rosicrucian movement in Paris came to see Prabhupada, and he was quite naïve because Prabhupada kept saying, “So what is that?” and “What does that mean?” as if Prabhupada had no idea about anything. It was a technique that he was employing; and me and Yogesvara, we started to get the giggles and we were sitting behind the man, because whatever the man said, Prabhupada would say, “Why?” Anyway, after leading this person on and on and on, finally Prabhupada said, “So what is the ultimate?” He said, “It’s indescribable.” Then Prabhupada said, “That means you don’t know.” But still the man never became put off by Prabhupada. He thought that Prabhupada really wanted to learn about the Rosicrucians. It was really very funny. Another point that Prabhupada said, “So what is the highest thing?” He said, “Well, it’s a flame.” Prabhupada said, “A flame?” “Yes.” Prabhupada said, “Why a flame? Why not a person?” But like I said, the man never caught on that Prabhupada was just pulling him along into this endless forest of foolishness.
Jyotirmayi dasi: One of those that we invited was a psychiatrist, and the reason we invited him is because he was Christian but in his care of his patients he was using religion, talking a lot about Christianity. So we thought it would be very interesting to have him meet Prabhupada, so we invited him to come. I went to meet him to bring him to Prabhupada and the first thing he said was, “Where is the patient?” So we said, “There is no patient. We invited you to come and meet our spiritual master.” He said, “But I came to see a patient. Where is the patient?” And when he saw there was no patient, he didn’t want to come and he just left. So I was kind of embarrassed, and I went back to explain to Prabhupada that he didn’t want to come up because he thought he was coming to take care of some sick person. So Prabhupada just laughed and he said, “He didn’t realize he was the patient and we were going to cure him.”
Harivilas das:When Prabhupada arrived at the airport in Paris, of course there were a lot of devotees there with flower garlands and so many things; and at the same time, the Indian ambassador to France arrived. It so happens that the French government did not send a proper welcome party for the ambassador, and one of the ladies that was supposed to do something ad hoc for the French government saw the devotees and she thought very quickly, “Well, we didn’t prepare anything, but they look like they’re prepared.” So she came up and begged the devotees if they would help out receive the ambassador and the devotees said yes because we already had garlands, we were dressed, we were doing kirtan. So a group of devotees accompanied the few French officials that came and welcomed the Indian ambassador to France and garlanded him and said Hare Krishna. The French officials that were there, especially the one lady, so appreciated that the devotees came at the last minute and really gave a welcome by which the ambassador felt very pleased and honored that she offered to help us out. The devotees very astutely said, “Well, our spiritual master has just come. Is there any way you could honor him?” She said, “I will do what I can,” and she arranged that Prabhupada be honored officially by the city of Paris and by one of the French city officials.
Jyotirmayi dasi: So when I received that letter saying that Prabhupada could be greeted officially at the Paris City Hall, the letter was saying how it would be the vice-president of the Paris City Council that would be receiving Prabhupada, which is an equivalent of what a mayor will be in America. So that was a very, very important personality. In this greeting speech, he was explaining how Paris had always been conscious of the spiritual values, so Paris was very happy to receive someone who is an ambassador of Indian spirituality. Then because Yogesvara in his letter had explained a little bit of who Prabhupada was, so Mr. Assouad, the mayor, gave some praises of Prabhupada’s achievement, saying how it was wonderful that at this age of 70 years old he came to France and started this spiritual movement. So a lot of very, very nice words of appreciation of Prabhupada.
Yogesvara das: This woman here is the official reception director for VIPs coming to Paris. In fact, she was the woman who arranged for Srila Prabhupada’s reception at the Paris City Hall. The protocol was made very clear to us – that when we go into the reception room, everyone should stand and the mayor will give his opening remarks and then Srila Prabhupada can reply. The way it worked out was somewhat different. The mayor waited and Prabhupada sat, and the mayor started getting nervous and Prabhupada sat. Then everyone was looking at Srila Prabhupada and I leaned over and said, “Srila Prabhupada, they’re waiting for you to stand.” Srila Prabhupada looked at me and said, “I’m supposed to stand for who?” and refused to stand. So the mayor started his remarks and gave his greeting to Srila Prabhupada seated, probably the first time in the history of the country that anyone had been received in City Hall without standing up. Then when the mayor was finished saying how Paris has always been such a spiritual city, Srila Prabhupada stood at that moment and said, “Mr. Mayor, you have spoken very nicely about how France is such a spiritual country, etc. Let us examine what is spiritual,” and went right for the jugular, that there is a soul within the body and any government that is unaware of the difference between the soul and the body is a demonic government. “Just like your Napoleon Bonaparte,” (he pronounced the name “Napoleon Bona-partee”), “he said, ‘I am France.’ France is there. Where is Napoleon? The soul is gone. Where has it gone?” This is the importance of proper spiritual training is to understand the difference between the body and the soul.
Jyotirmayi dasi: He took seriously what the mayor had just said about the importance of the spiritual values in life. So he told him, “The government’s duty—the duty of the politicians, the duty of all the leaders of the people—is to train the citizens in God consciousness and spiritual life. And if they do not teach the values of spiritual life, how there is a soul different from the body, if they do not teach how there is God who is the supreme controller, then they are not doing their duty. They are simply doing harm to the citizens.” So that was pretty bold for Prabhupada to talk in such a stern way to the mayor of the city of Paris, and we could see when looking at him that he was astonished by what Prabhupada was telling him. But Prabhupada really took the opportunity to give them a lesson on being good politician and doing really their duty as the leaders of France.
Yogesvara das: He was strong, and that was Prabhupada’s style. He was strong. He didn’t mince words. He could be very understanding and was always sensitive but never compromising. An opportunity like this in the City Hall of Paris before the mayor, before press, before dignitaries, Srila Prabhupada was the acharya, the representative of Krishna and Krishna’s world, and there was no compromising the message at all, ever.
Jyotirmayi dasi: I will not remember exactly everything that Prabhupada had said during that lecture, and it’s sad that it’s not in the sound track and no recording was done because the recorders didn’t work. You can see them on the movie, they are trying to get the recorder to work and it doesn’t. But right after the City Hall reception when we went back to the temple, all the devotees wanted to know what happened. So I told them the whole story of what happened during the whole reception, and they wanted to know what Prabhupada had said and what the mayor had said. I was able to retell the devotees exactly with all the details everything that Prabhupada had told the mayor, and the reason was that when Prabhupada would talk, he’d talk always in such a perfectly structured way that it was extremely easy then to reconstruct the whole lecture, even though it was something like maybe a 15 minutes talk, 15-20 minutes talk, because the points were really following each other in a very logical order. I realized that a few times after having in the same way repeated to devotees different lectures that Prabhupada had given when the devotees could not be around. And I was always amazed by that; of how Prabhupada was able to speak so concise, so precise, so perfectly structured. And that’s one of the things I always liked so much and admired so much in Prabhupada: was his intelligence in the way he knew the philosophy, wrote the books, explained the philosophy. But that when he was speaking in public, it was always in such an effective way. It was really remarkable.
Yogesvara das: What made it ironic was that at the very same time that Prabhupada was being received as a VIP in the City Hall, Indradyumna was leading a sankirtan book distribution party in the Paris Metros and found himself under arrest by the Paris police. This was not an uncommon irony, that Srila Prabhupada would be received as a dignitary, a missionary ambassador of peace from India, and yet the program for peace that he was initiating rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. So they didn’t dare not receive him because they recognized that as someone with a large following who was very respected by Indian culture, they had to receive him. But yet at the same time, they would do whatever they could to suppress the sankirtan activities.
Jyotirmayi dasi: A few reporters were there. There were articles. At that time, there were a lot of reviews, different magazines but very intellectual magazines that were writing articles about us; and most of the time these magazines, that was very nice what they were saying about us. But the general daily newspapers, they were also very often writing articles on us and sometimes it was very nice but sometimes it was making fun of us because we were so strange and they could not take it seriously, all these people in these yellow and white robes dancing in the streets with the little sikha. It was so strange to them and they would call them the “fou de Dieu,” which means “people who are mad for God,” because they would see us chanting, our arms raised and so ecstatic and so happy and smiling. So for them we were the “fou de Dieu,” people completely mad after God. Even though they were sometimes making fun of us, it was nice and kind so it was not bad. It was not like much later on when we had these anti-cult groups; then that was very, very bad and nasty, but not at that period. So right after the official greeting, then we went with everybody at the room where we had prepared all the prasadam. We had a buffet with all kinds of very wonderful vegetarian dishes, and everybody talked very happily. It was very nice. When Prabhupada saw this magnificent historical building, he was so astonished to see that he said, “I didn’t know that this kind of building still existed.” And then when he came in, Prabhupada was just saying how beautiful the building was because he was seeing all this wood carving on the walls and all these Greek and Chinese vases and big, big, big chandeliers on the ceilings, the furniture it was very, very antique, all the draperies. It was very luxurious, very, very beautiful. So in one of these articles, one of the journalists who was there saw that when Prabhupada came in, all the devotees paid obeisances. So the way he reported it in the newspaper was that all these Hare Krishna devotees kissed the carpet where so many great personalities had been walking like the General DeGaulle, like the Queen of England had walked on this carpet and the devotees were kissing the carpet. It’s true that to people who see us doing that, they all interpret it in such funny ways. It was strange for them. For us, we don’t even pay attention to it, it’s so normal. But for them, it’s really weird.
Yogesvara das: The brilliance and genius of Srila Prabhupada’s mission was that he started off in such a humble way and always made himself accessible to people on all levels so that moments like this in official government receptions or other elegant environments in no way should be interpreted as an aloofness or a sense of elitism on his part. They were nice to-do’s when they could be arranged. It brought a certain notoriety or cachet to a visit. The really significant moments, however, were not receptions by fleeting politicians but rather the in-depth philosophical meetings that Srila Prabhupada had, sometimes with very ordinary people.
Jyotirmayi dasi: When I invited him to come, a Christian priest, I explained to him about monotheism in India, and he was very astonished because most people think that Indian religion is only polytheist. So when he heard that there was also monotheism – only the worship of one God – he was very, very pleased. And then I explained to him about how bhakti was the devotional part of the various schools of thought in India and that it was so close to the Christian understanding of love of God. So he was very, very pleased; and when I invited him to come to Prabhupada, he said yes, yes, he wanted to come. And this time when Prabhupada talked with him, he had a very nice and sweet and gentle talk with him and not the heavy talks that he had sometimes like, for example, when he was talking with the Cardinal Danielou. Then he talked also with a gentleman called Mr. Geoffroy. He was the founder of La Vie Claire, which means the clear life, the pure life, which was the first vegetarian health food store that we had in France. So this was a very, very wonderful personality. It was Prthuputra who made him come, and Prabhupada had a very long talk with him about eating pure food. Mr. Geoffroy, of course, was explaining how they wanted to give very pure food in their stores. Prabhupada, he wanted us to have a farm at that time. We didn’t have it yet; we didn’t have New Mayapur. So Prabhupada was telling him, “So we will have honey in our farm. So we can bring our honey and you can sell it. And we will have milk. So you can also sell our milk.” But Mr. Geoffroy was saying, “Yeah, but the problem is that it’s going to be very polluted.” And Prabhupada said, “No, we are not going to use pesticides so it’s going to be pure.” But the gentleman said, “But even if the grass is pure, the air is impure. So it will go on being polluted.” Then Prabhupada said, “Well, that’s the reason that it’s impossible to have everything perfectly pure. So that’s why we are offering everything we are eating to Krishna. That’s the way to have things perfectly pure. Otherwise it’s impossible in this material world to have completely pure food.” Yogesvara had tried to get some people from politics to come see Prabhupada, and one of them agreed to come. He was called Mr. Mesmin, and he was a senator. What was very interesting was that Prabhupada, whenever he was talking, especially with Christians but also with politicians, he always wanted to talk about not killing the cows, not killing animals. So they had a discussion and Prabhupada was telling this gentleman that “If you absolutely want to eat cows, then just wait until their natural death and then you can eat them.” And we were very surprised because it was the first time that he heard Prabhupada mentioning something like that. But Prabhupada said, “In that way, you will always have meat to eat because there will always be cows dying and you don’t have to kill them.” So that was very surprising also to the gentleman, who certainly didn’t put it in practice. But it was an interesting point that Prabhupada could consider, “OK, if you absolutely want to eat meat, then do but at least wait until their natural death.”
Harivilas das: I remember going on a morning walk around the Bois de Boulogne in which there are some lakes, and I remember asking Prabhupada a question. I asked several questions, but one specific question was, “Srila Prabhupada, what does it mean to be humble?” And his answer was really incredible. He said, “Humility means that you are convinced beyond any doubt that there is nothing in this world, absolutely nothing in this world, not your money, not your family, not your fame, not your gun, not your education, nothing that will save you except the mercy of Krishna. When you are convinced like this, then you are humble.” And that explanation really impressed me. In other words, he was saying when you depend completely on Krishna and no longer rely on any material thing or formula as a backup, you have no longer any backup, just the mercy of Krishna, then you will actually be humble. So that was a wonderful explanation that he gave, and that stayed with me all these years because that is actually the foundation of humility in Krishna consciousness. And obviously Prabhupada was an example of that.
Harivilas das: I had made friends several years before with a lady who had a circle of friends that met regularly. She had a center for esoterical and inter-religious dialogue. I had spoken at her center several times so she and I had become very good friends, and it turns out that she was a personal friend of Cardinal Danielou, the chief cardinal of the Catholic church of all of France. At that time, she was actually dying. I went to see her, and I begged her if she would do a favor for me. I told her that Srila Prabhupada was visiting and that he had been received by the city of Paris officially, and I begged her if she would please help us arrange a meeting with Cardinal Danielou and she agreed.
Yogesvara das: Paris in these early ’70s was a very political environment, and Cardinal Danielou fit right in. He was known as the bohemian priest. He had a very strong following among young people, even though young people for the most part were very anti-religion. If anyone had an ability to circulate among them it was Danielou. He managed to maintain a very broad-minded and open-minded position among young people. Danielou in his own way was making a contribution, I think, reaching out to young people who were completely atheist and attempting to bring some sense of the value of a God-focused life into their purview. Still, because it was a ritualistic Catholicism, he didn’t appreciate, for example, the philosophy of the soul present in all life forms.
Harivilas das: The devotees were amazed by the discussion because it showed that here is the top man in the Catholic Church, and he’s an intellectual. He’s not only a performer of ritual, but he’s a top intellectual. And in the presence of Prabhupada, he was not able to discuss significantly the topic of compassion and nonviolence. He was unable to comprehend the subject, and it made me realize why Srila Prabhupada agreed to meet such people. It was more for the devotees than any other reason because we were able to see that although these were big people in French society or in society, they actually were very small in comparison with a pure devotee of Krishna and that was important for the devotees to see.
Kanti dasi: I remember thinking when I was really early, “Why did my parents have to die?” So that was already in there. Then the Bible School and the Christians having fun things, and you’d go to that and spend a week and they tell you stories about Jesus and it always seemed very attractive to me. Then as I got older I started going to churches with friends, different Protestant churches. We’d get to a point in the Sunday School and I’d ask a question about “What happens to all those people that don’t know anything about Jesus, the Eskimos or the people in Africa or whatever?” And they’d always come up with this idea that “Well, no, to be saved you have to know about Jesus.” It just didn’t seem fair and I’d argue a little bit, and then I’d lose interest in that church. Eventually I ended up at the Catholic church, and when I asked them that question they said, “Well, innocent people don’t go to hell. There’s purgatory or there’s limbo and we pray and there’s a process, and they can move up to heaven.” It seemed to make sense to me and I thought, “OK, that seems fair.” Sruti-rupa and I by then had gotten also interested together. We had been friends since elementary school and lived down the street from each other. So she and I and my two sisters started going to Catechism at the Catholic church, and we did that for a while and eventually my sisters and I got baptized. The Catholic nun, Sister Dominica, she encouraged me to go for Confirmation. It’s the next step in the Catholic Church. You pass a slight little test, they ask you questions, and if you have any doubts, this is when your doubts would be cleared up because you’re going to go through this ceremony and you’re going to take the Catholic faith as your faith. And if you fall away later, it’s a more grave sin, it’s a mortal sin, a stain on your soul that cannot be removed easily. So I was going to classes, and now I came up with a different question: “What happens with my pets? Do my pets go to heaven?” It was totally sentimental on my part because I wasn’t a vegetarian, but I just wanted to know. She was very sorry, the nun put her head down a little and said, “No, the animals don’t have souls. Only people have souls so only people go to heaven.” Again, that just didn’t seem fair to me. I was by then 12. In the end, I went ahead and got confirmed because I thought, “Well, I haven’t found anything that makes more sense.” Then life goes on and adolescence comes in and you get distracted, and you’re a teenager and so many things happen. Interestingly enough, Sruti and I remained good friends and we would get into other things together. We’d talk about Siddhartha or Eastern stuff in general, not real deep but it was the hippie kind of thing to do, it was kind of cool. At some point in all of that, I had made a type of commitment that if I hear the truth I’ll accept it. Soon after that, I happened to see a TV show with the Hare Krishnas on it. It was a news thing, quick, from out of Miami, and that would have been local for Key West. But the thing that I remembered was the four regulative principles. So I heard that and I immediately made a decision, “I don’t know if I want to find out too much more about this because it might actually be the truth,” and I just didn’t really want to risk…the four regulative principles seemed a little severe to me. So I just didn’t really want to know, and I even almost made an effort to avoid the devotees. Once I saw devotees across the street and I went to the other side of the street. Then a little time passes and Sruti and I decided to take a trip to Europe. We were going to meet friends in Germany that were in the Army and travel with them a little bit, and just before we left somebody at the airport gave us a Teachings of Lord Caitanya and a BTG. So we traveled. We immediately realized after some difficulty and some ups and downs with our friends that we didn’t really have too much in common with them, and we just traveled on our own a little bit. Then we decided, “Why are we traveling all around? What are we looking for? We should just go back to our home and try and just be stable people.” So she gets the idea, she has this BTG, she says, “Why don’t we go to the temple?” It was a difficult trip to get to Paris. We had trouble with being vegetarians. So we got to Paris and we got off at a train stop, and there were two quite large men that were selling there. Sruti immediately went up to them and asked them directions how to get to this address, and they kind of gave us instruction. We started heading in that direction, and we realized that it didn’t seem quite right. So we stopped and asked in a hotel, and that man told us we were going in a completely wrong direction. So we left the hotel and we turned and we started heading the way he told us to go, and then we realized that these fellows were following us. It could have been coincidental; but then when we changed directions, then they also still were following us. It was just a scary scene. We were starting to walk faster and faster, they were walking faster and faster. We were hoping that at the end of this street there was going to be the door with the number on it. So we see the 4 on the door, we start pounding on the door, and that’s when the door swings open and light just comes pouring out and incense comes billowing out and music comes out, the chanting comes out. And Indradyumna, dressed in white, looking very angelic says, “Yes? Can I help you with something?” We said, “We need help! We need to come in!” He said, “Sure,” and he lets us in and he closes the door. And it was like he closed out all the scary stuff on the other side, and everybody looked up and smiled at us. So he took us upstairs and he said, “These girls just arrived,” and Bhagavan was very friendly. He came out and he said, “Oh, hello,” and we talked for a little while. We ended up staying up all night and working and being helpful. We took showers and had something to eat. Then the next day was the Rathayatra Festival, so we went to the park and there was a feast and a class and nice kirtan. I remember sitting there listening to that class. It was really sweet and the philosophy was so clear, and I could just feel the tears coming out of the sides of my eyes because I was thinking, “This appears to be the truth.” I looked at Sruti and she looked at me, and she just said, “This is amazing.” I was agreeing, we were just stunned: “What did we stumble into?” Bhagavan walked around after that, and he asked us how we were doing. We said, “OK.” He said, “Our spiritual master is coming in a few weeks. Why don’t you girls think about staying for a couple of weeks and then you could meet him.” And he said, “You could help. We’re trying to get ready. We need some sewing, we need some cleaning, we need painting, and we’ve got the new temple.” When we didn’t look like we were jumping at the opportunity, he said, “And you can always go sightseeing. It’s in Paris. You could go to the museums and then just do a little work during the day.” Of course, we never went to any museums. We stayed and pretty soon we were fully engaged doing things around the temple, all the usual things that have to be done. I was sewing a lot. That’s what I had done before I was a devotee, I was a seamstress. So I was sewing every day, and I did a lot of the sewing in Prabhupada’s room – his asana, the curtains and things like that. I remember distinctly every day going in and praying because I was kind of confused. These seemed like really nice people, and that’s how I would pray. I said, “These seem like really nice people, and they say this man who is coming is Your servant. I don’t know if that’s true or not. But in case he is, I would like to be a little bit helpful and I would like to know if he is.” So that was the mood, and that went on for a few weeks. Then Srila Prabhupada did come, and it’s a flurry of excitement because he didn’t come to France very often. So the devotees were really getting ready with programs and people to come see him – dignitaries and educated people. Everybody was real excited. When Prabhupada came in, I remember him sitting on the vyasasan talking, but I can’t really remember what he was saying. I don’t remember really connecting with him. He seemed nice enough, but I was more involved in the activity. There was always something to be done and somebody directing you, “Take this here, take that there.” So everybody was very gracious, and I particularly remember that Yogesvara was very gracious. He was always trying to include, and I was still kind of bewildered. Yogesvara was really excited about Prabhupada speaking to this cardinal, and he was playing it for us. I was interested, and so he starts the tape and Prabhupada is speaking with Cardinal Danielou and we’re listening. There’s translation and you’re getting the gist of it, and it seems like two elderly gentlemen that seem to be equally dignified exchanging ideas about spiritual life. It’s kind of vague, but I got the gist of that and it flows. All of a sudden out of the blue Prabhupada says, “What about the animals?” Even today…without a doubt, even today I get chills when I think of that because I said, “What?” And Prabhupada says, “What about the animals?” and he goes into a whole thing about the animals. And the cardinal says the same thing that the bishop had said to me years before, “Well, the animals don’t have a soul,” and he makes all these justifications, “You need the meat to eat, and it’s more important to feed people.” Prabhupada answers one question after another, and the cardinal persists. It seems to be almost like a…I won’t say a battle, but Prabhupada is very…he won’t let him off the hook. Finally he brings up the analogy of if a man has two children and one child has diminished capacity, does he love the one that’s not so intelligent less than the one that’s qualified? And of course the animals have a soul and of course the animals… It never fails to move me. All of a sudden I felt this real clear understanding, almost like a voice, “Yes, this man is My servant. Yes, this man will answer your questions. He will answer the questions you forgot you had and the questions you haven’t even thought of yet.” It was so clear that I was stunned. So I didn’t have a doubt. I’ve had lots of ups and downs and I never had a lot of association with Prabhupada, but I just felt that Krishna had answered that request. I had had that simple request, “I would like to know.”
Harivilas das: The previous year Srila Prabhupada had come, we had organized a big festival for him. He had wanted us to install Deities. We we had a very small temple at that time. So when we finally secured this building in a very prestigious neighborhood and arranged for the Deities to come and then Srila Prabhupada to come for the installation, it was really a moment of great happiness and auspiciousness and a wonderful culmination of years of work doing sankirtan and so forth in Paris. So I remember walking to the temple that day, and I noticed outside peering in the windows was one gentleman. This was a gentleman that had been following our movement for years. When we were in the small apartment, he would come and ask us questions. He was a Christian and he would always try and discourage us by telling us, “Your movement has no hope. The French people won’t accept it at all.” So very clearly he was peering in the window trying to see what was happening. There was a large crowd milling around outside and inside. I said, “Oh, you’re here,” and he was surprised when I said that. I caught him looking in the window. He said, “Oh, how are you?” I said, “I’m fine. What are you doing here?” He said, “I just came to see what you’re doing.” I said, “Well, what do you think now?” And now Prabhupada is present and large numbers of devotees and a temple in a prestigious area of Paris, and he was livid. I said, “Well, you see, Krishna has a big plan for the French people and now you’re seeing it unfold, and it’s thanks to you also because you were always encouraging us,” and he almost choked when I said that. I said, “Yes, you were also encouraging because you kept coming and telling us there’s no hope and every time you said that, that gave us more hope to do something for our spiritual master.” So I just left it at that. So it was really wonderful walking into the temple and seeing all the fantastic preparations, and I remember just the sheer ecstasy of chanting Hare Krishna during the whole installation ceremony. All the devotees were very enthusiastic, inspired and in a great state of bliss with the presence of Prabhupada and the installation of Sri Sri Radha Paris-isvara. And the Deities were so beautiful, it was electrifying just seeing Them. They were just brilliantly shining and glowing, and every one of the devotees was also glowing.
Madan Mohan Mohini dasi: I’m just remembering back to 1972 Amsterdam. Srila Prabhupada was installing Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra, and most devotees know the situation that was occurring at that time. There were a lot of faux pas as far as the fire yajna went. I was watching Srila Prabhupada install the Deities and I was seeing Prabhupada’s concern that the Deities be taken care of nicely, that everything be first class for the Deities, and unfortunately it wasn’t and Prabhupada became very angry. And I was watching this. There were reporters there, there were guests, there were devotees. Prabhupada was not even concerned with what they thought. He was concerned that the Deities should be taken care of properly and that everything be first class. So that incident along with what happened in Paris… The next year was 1973 when Radha Paris-isvara were installed. I was also there and everything was first class. The fire yajna was very nicely set up, it was very opulent, Prabhupada was very pleased with that, and just his care and concern for the Deities. These two incidents in the beginning of my Krishna consciousness were the foundation for my own Deity worship. I’ve been engaged in Deity worship for over 30 years, and just to see Srila Prabhupada personally present serving the Deities impressed upon me so much how we must always take care of the Deities under any circumstance. I think this is something that I can never forget.
Jyotirmayi dasi: When we received the Deities from India, we noticed that it needed a little bit of retouching of the painting. When I was painting Radharani, I noticed that She had a little brown spot on the white marble. So I wanted to cover that little spot. So I painted over the little brown spot on Her cheek, and you see here that Prabhupada is rubbing Radharani’s cheek. The reason is what happened is that when he saw Her, She was completely white; and then when Bhagavan poured on Her the different oils, the oil made the paint go away. So suddenly he saw the little brown spot appearing, and that’s why he is rubbing Radharani’s cheek in order to see what’s going on. So, of course, later on after the Deities were installed, I went back to repainting that little part on Her cheek and it became white again. Then Prabhupada mentioned two things about Radharani. One was that when we dressed Them… We didn’t have yet very very wonderful, nice clothes. We had some very simple clothes that we got from India, and the skirts were falling very flat around Krishna’s body and Radharani’s body. So Prabhupada told us that the skirts had to be very wide, looking very pretty and very wide. So he said, “You should put some sticks underneath to have the skirts open very wide around Them.” And then he said another thing, which was very surprising to us. He said that “Radharani has come to France as the most beautiful French girl because in the whole world, the girls with the most beautiful faces are the French girls.”
Yadubara das: During one of the temple kirtans, I had put down my movie camera and picked up the still camera to take pictures. I took a few pictures and then put that down and joined the kirtan. As I was dancing in kirtan, I turned to Prabhupada. He was motioning for me to come over. So I approached the vyasasan and he said something I couldn’t understand because of the loud kirtan. So I put my ear very close to Srila Prabhupada’s mouth and I heard the words, “Never put down your camera.” Immediately I ran over to the camera, picked it up and started taking pictures. And I’ve tried over the years, although not always successfully, to carry out that order.
Harivilas das: During that fire yajna and the bathing of the Deities, I was a little bit obsessed with burning frankincense in the yajna. So I kept putting frankincense on cinders, and it caused a lot of smoke. Of course, it was very fragrant smoke and obviously auspicious. But Prabhupada kept looking at me, what am I doing with the fire. I kept continually putting more and more grains of frankincense so it kept filling the room with fragrant frankincense. I guess this was my way of sneaking in a yajna of incense as a precursor of my developing the business of Spiritual Sky, but it certainly led to a very successful business as well as, of course, the successful installation of the Deities.
Yogesvara das: The temple was not very big, hugely crowded. There were people from the area at the windows outside wondering what on earth is going on, and the Deities were very, very beautiful. It was a very exciting time. We had not had Krishna Deities in Paris before, so this was very meaningful to everyone. While the Deities were being dressed, that is to say after the bathing ceremony and while the Deities were being prepared for the first unveiling, Srila Prabhupada went out for a walk. When we came back from that walk, the curtains opened and Srila Prabhupada stood looking at the Deities for a long, long time. Kirtan was going on. Then he turned and walked down the marble temple room to his vyasasan, and we all noticed that there were tears streaming down his face. He sat on the vyasasan and used the edge of his dhoti to dry his eyes and started his lecture by saying that “The meditation on the Lord begins from the lotus feet. Therefore, I am inquiring why are there no ankle bells?” In our haste to dress the Deities in time for Prabhupada’s return from his walk, we had neglected to put Krishna’s ankle bells on. Prabhupada, of course, noticed. But it was a very touching moment because God must be real. Look at how much love this person has for Him. It was very obvious to everyone there that we have not been led into some kind of cultish practice or something. Here is Prabhupada, there is Krishna. Here is Prabhupada weeping out of love of seeing the Lord of his life. This is real.
Aditi dasi: I was upstairs with Himavati, and we were gluing together the peacock fan for the aratik that Prabhupada was going to do. So we were finishing up the peacock fan. I remember when it came time to offer the camphor…usually we’d put a little ghee wick and sprinkle a little bit of camphor on it. Prabhupada, he didn’t want that. He sent it back up. He wanted a big chunk. So he put a big chunk of camphor and then the big billowing camphor. We never did that because it would make black and everything. So we would be very conservative, put a few sprinkles, but he wanted a big piece. Then the fan was OK, he used the fan.
Srutakirti das: I guess it was several months later, there was an article in BTG on this installation and they brought the magazine to Prabhupada – he was in Vrindavan at the time – which they would always do. Whenever there was a publication, wherever Prabhupada was, of course, they would rush and bring it and show him the last Bhagavatam that was produced or the BTG. So he was at his sitting desk right here at Krishna-Balarama and they brought in the BTG, and Prabhupada started paging through it and it had the pictures of the Deities on the altar. Prabhupada looked at the one picture, and in the picture it was Krishna and Prabhupada. You could see the shot that was taken was Prabhupada and Krishna, and Prabhupada smiled. “Just see,” he said, “I am looking at Krishna and Krishna is looking at me.”
Harivilas das: After the installation, when Prabhupada did the arati…he performed arati for the Deities, and that really amazed all of us. I remember playing the mridanga and standing very close to Prabhupada. All the devotees were so happy—it was just incredible—and Prabhupada was meditating on Radha and Krishna while he was performing the arati. I had never seen Prabhupada perform arati before that, and it was quite an experience. He took his time and he meditated deeply on the Deities, and it infused everyone with deep spiritual ecstasy.
Then as he came to the end of the arati and he blew the conch shell, the devotees were all jumping up and down in ecstasy and Prabhupada was clapping his hands. He started slowly, he was just watching and clapping his hands. Then Prabhupada started jumping up and down, and that created waves of ecstatic dancing and joy in all the devotees. It was an overwhelming experience. I remember just banging on the mridanga. I had really a feeling that I was no longer part of the material world, that I was with my spiritual master and all the devotees in the spiritual world.
Anada dasi: I was allowed to come and see Srila Prabhupada for the first time. It was in the evening. Srila Prabhupada’s room was dimly lit. I remember sitting near Srila Prabhupada, and he asked me a few questions. He asked me what my father did, and I replied that he had been in the foreign service. He asked me if I would like to be initiated and I replied, “Yes, but I’d like to know more about it.” I felt that I should do something in order to deserve being initiated, but I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be and I wish I had said yes. That first meeting with Srila Prabhupada completely changed the course of my life. I knew right then that I’d never met anyone like Srila Prabhupada in this lifetime and I would never meet anyone like Srila Prabhupada again. There was this universal feeling that emanated from Srila Prabhupada. It was like he possessed the power of the universe. It was a very, very amazing feeling that you only feel in the presence of Krishna’s pure devotee. I remember all the devotees offering dandavats, and that included the ladies. As soon as Prabhupada came in the room, in the hall, everyone just went down like sticks or dominoes, and that was very impressive to a newcomer. There were a couple of things that also impressed me. Hansadutta wanted me to go to Germany, and Bhagavan wanted me to stay in France because I spoke a little French. But a godsister reported back to me that Srila Prabhupada had replied that “She can go wherever she wants, she is free.” So looking back, I always appreciate that. That even though I was new, that freedom was always there, that choice was always there, and he made that clear. Another thing, there was some criticism going on between the devotees and Harivilas’ name came up in a negative way, and Srila Prabhupada immediately praised him and put him in a positive view, which again was always Prabhupada’s…he always put us up rather than…he never put anyone down unless it was to correct them or point out a definite fault.
B. A. Paramadvait Swami: I guess like many other disciples of Srila Prabhupada, we worried very much how to please Srila Prabhupada the most. We also were a little bit envious with all those other devotees who had the intimate relationship with Prabhupada, traveling with him to different places and doing confidential services, etc., etc. I joined very far away from Srila Prabhupada, and the first time I actually went to meet him, personal encounter, was in Paris. In that meeting, it was upon my mind the thought that maybe I should also leave my service and join his more close company. Then as I went into his room, I offered my obeisances and as I came up Prabhupada looked at me very piercingly and he only had one thing to say: “The vani is more important than the vapu.” Then he went into lengthy details to say that some devotees, they are very close physically to the spiritual master but they don’t understand what he really wants to be done and they cannot catch that, whereas another devotee who is very surrendered to the spiritual master in some very long distance from him, he may get his most intimate blessings. So when he said that, I was immediately cool in my brain and I could immediately see the capacity of Prabhupada to harmonize my feelings.
August-September 1973: LONDON, ENGLAND – Bhaktivedanta Manor, Installation of Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda on Janmastami, Vyasa Puja, Walk
Srutakirti das: Prabhupada stayed here for over a month, I think, or at least a few weeks he was here, and it was a really beautiful time of year, which is not real common that you can get several days in a row with sunshine. But we seemed to, and Prabhupada even commented about it. He said, “England is very nice, but when the sun shines it’s one of the nicest places in the world.” He would come here every afternoon and sit down right on the lawn. At this time, they had just published a book, Lord Caitanya in Five Features. So that was the first volume to come out of Caitanya-caritmarta, the Adi-lila. So we had a copy of that, and when Prabhupada would sit down here in his place, sometimes he would have me read from there. Prabhupada always would sit and like to listen from his books, either read them himself or hear others read them, and he enjoyed hearing the philosophy that he was translating for us. And he always enjoyed it in the same mood that we did, just relishing Krishna katha. Anyway, the one day I remember I was reading from this book and, of course, it had the transliteration, had the Bengali in there, so I was just reading. Prabhupada had an audience and there were some Indians in there, and he was very happy. He said, “Just hear him. See how nicely he reads this Bengali. Even he has no experience, he can read it so nicely.” So, again, he always appreciated he had made devotees, and he liked to see them that they were capable in doing these things. So he liked to show the Indian community what he had done – he had turned these Westerners into devotees, into Vaishnavas. Prabhupada liked the simple things – sit outside. So in the afternoons if the weather was nice, he would sit out there. From his quarters, of course, this whole area, this is what you would see from his sitting room; and sometimes he would, again, as he would walk around in his room chanting and he would look out the window onto the lawn and the trees.
Bala Gopal dasi: This is Svati’s son, Sivajvara. Prabhupada holding onto his hand and Sivajvara doesn’t quite know… He wants him to let go. But every day—Sivajvara got a lot of mercy—every single day he would come out there, and he would have a lot of interaction with Srila Prabhupada. It was very sweet.
Ramadevi dasi: Someone had told me that Prabhupada liked very lightweight, very fragrant garlands. So there are some English flowers like stock and sweet peas which are very, very fragrant, very pretty colors and very lightweight. So I would buy these from the flower market and in the van on the way to the Manor, I’d make the garland for Prabhupada. I was there one day and somehow or other Malati got hold of me and I was helping her, and the garland didn’t get to Prabhupada during class time. She said, “Well, bring it up now with the prasadam.” So she took me up to Prabhupada’s room, and I had the garland and I was holding it as if inviting someone to take it from me to give it to Prabhupada. Prabhupada looked at me and he raised his head and indicated that I should come and give the garland. So I went forward. Needless to say, I was extremely nervous. I didn’t want to touch Prabhupada, I didn’t want to drop it on his head, I was petrified. But as I put the garland over his head, the top of his ear brushed the inside of my hand and it was so soft – I can still feel it now when I think about it – and he was smiling like anything. It was so wonderful. He said, “Thank you very much.” For some reason, that day I was there for a long time. Prabhupada was walking around outside in the afternoon, and he still had the garland on. Those flowers are very, very delicate, and that garland was still as fresh as the minute I had put it on him and they said he’d been wearing it all day.
Rajashekar das: I went on sankirtan with Tribhuvanath. We were very close friends in those days. So one day we came back to the Manor and we saw that Srila Prabhupada was sitting on the lawn with only Shyamasundar. We thought that this is a wonderful opportunity to have intimate association with the spiritual master. So we rushed down to the lawns and we went over there and sat down. Prabhupada looked at us, and he seemed to be a little bit disturbed. He kept looking at us and talked a little bit to Shyamasundar, then he was looking again and he didn’t look very happy. Then suddenly he turned to Shyamasundar and he said, “These men have no work? They have nothing to do?” So I thought, “Oh, my goodness.” So I realized also at that time that there are a lot of people who wanted to be seen with Prabhupada or to be with Prabhupada, but this was not very important. And during the course of my time there, I was taking his slippers and giving him his cane and every morning taking him down to class and bringing him back but I never said anything except, “Jaya Srila Prabhupada.” I didn’t feel that I wanted to impose upon him.
Krishna Bhamani dasi: The women were making so many nice preparations. I didn’t live there so I had no place to prepare anything but I thought, “I have to offer Prabhupada something. So I’m going to make some popcorn, but I’m not going to give it to Prabhupada myself. It’s just a cute thing that the kids can give Prabhupada.” So I made some popcorn and I must have put it in a bowl covered over, and I sent Vaishnava and Manjari. So Prabhupada sees we’re holding something and it’s covered up and he’s looking, anticipating, “Oh, what have you got for me?” And the kids wouldn’t take it; they refused to take it from me. I was so embarrassed. This is not what you offer your spiritual master, some popcorn.
Tribangananda das: I remember I used to walk sometimes slightly in front of Prabhupada and sideways on so I could half see where I was going because I’d had the unfortunate experience once of practically treading on Prabhupada’s heels and felt extremely excruciatingly embarrassed by it and great anxiety. But I really wanted to be close enough to Prabhupada so I could hear what he was saying. So he was just walking past the gates of Letchmore Heath as they used to be, and Prabhupada was talking about how there are so many glow-worms in the Age of Kali, so many people trying to offer spiritual solutions. Then he looked at me right in the eye and said, “So what is the use of so many stars when with one moon you can light up the whole night?” And it was such a touching experience, Prabhupada talking in that way directly looking in my eyes so deeply, seeing for the first time Prabhupada’s depth of purpose. It felt like Prabhupada was asking, “So when you are going to become a moon?” Because this is what Prabhupada wanted to do, he wanted us all to become moons.
Shyamasundar das: Prabhupada on his way to his throne. This is the first vyasasan at Bhaktivedanta Manor. That was built after the Queen’s throne in the House of Lords in Parliament. We got an invitation from Lord Sorenson, I believe it was, to attend a session at the House of Lords one time in a visitor’s pew, and I took the idea from seeing the throne there that Prabhupada would look very nice in such a throne. Prabhupada was always very low key about everything, but look how regal he looks.
Ramadevi dasi: Then he went into the temple room and they had built the vyasasan incorporating the railings from the staircases, and it was very big. Prabhupada looked at it and he asked, “Oh, who is this for? This is for Lord Shiva?”
Sakshi Gopal das: About six o’clock in the morning I was sitting on the vyasasan sideways, I’m painting these lotuses. Everyone had been up all night and the temple room was a whole hive of activity. And I must have nodded off. I opened my eyes and I was sitting there with a paintbrush still in my hand and the temple room was empty, and the door that Prabhupada used to walk through out onto his morning walk was open. And there was one devotee there. I said, “Has Srila Prabhupada been through already?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “Did he see me here on the vyasasan?” He said, “Yes, of course.” “What did he say?” “Prabhupada saw you there sitting on the vyasasan with a paintbrush in your hand, sound asleep, and he laughed.”
Bhargava das: Wherever you get people together there’s politics and I thought, “I’d better ask this question,” and I said, “Prabhupada, sometimes I have a question and it’s too detailed for the scriptures and the spiritual master isn’t around. What should I do?” He said, “If you chant Hare Krishna very nicely, all the answers will come from within.”
There was this English fellow who came; he was in his 30’s. I can’t remember his name. And he was rather disturbed over the story of Junior Haridas, that he had committed suicide for seemingly such a small offense. Lord Caitanya chastised him so heavily. So Prabhupada explained it this way. He said, “Junior Haridas, he went back to Godhead.” He said, “Just because the father chastises the son, it does not mean he does not let him back into the house.”
Yadubara das: One day we were sitting in Srila Prabhupada’s room, and all of a sudden George Harrison walked in with a group of Indian people. He paid obeisances, and he was very excited that he had a song he wanted to play for Srila Prabhupada. The song was “Krishna, where are You?” He had produced it and played instruments on it, and Laksmi Shankar, who was with him, sang the song. So Prabhupada listened to it and as he was listening, he was smiling and tapping his knee in rhythm. Then afterwards Srila Prabhupada said, “Yes, this is the proper mood, always searching for Krishna. Not that we have found Krishna, but we are always searching for Krishna—just like the Six Goswamis.” Of course, George was very, very happy. He and Srila Prabhupada had a wonderful relationship. When George walked in and paid obeisances, you could really see his great feeling and humility. “Krishna, where are You?” can be found on the album “Shankar Family and Friends,” referring to Ravi Shankar. The words are: “I am missing You. O Krishna, where are You? Though I can’t see You, I hear Your flute all the while. Please come wipe my tears and make me smile.” Here’s a short cut from it.
Srutakirti das: Another time he was looking out there and just looking across the lawn and the trees and he said, “So, do you know what is the most beautiful animal?” Whenever Prabhupada would ask you a question like that, of course, you either wanted to know the right answer and say it or you didn’t want to say anything at all because you didn’t want to say the wrong answer. So, of course, I was thinking. I was thinking of different animals and I thought you had to say a cow. Krishna loves the cows, He’s Govinda. So finally after a little bit I said a cow and Prabhupada just laughed and he said, “No, no, the horse. The horse is the most beautiful,” he said, “its body and its muscle structure.” I said, “Oh, yes, Prabhupada.”
Dhananjaya das: A lot of devotees don’t know this, but actually Prabhupada did name the land New Gokula and that’s why he named the Deities Radha Gokulananda. And he wanted the main activity there to be goraksha, cow protection. He wanted 150 cows kept on the property and I said, “But that’s not very practical because of the 17 acres of land, there’s only 6 acres which is pasture land.” I said, “You need at least one acre per cow,” and he said, “So you buy another 150 acres of land. What is the difficulty? This is the most important duty, to look after the cows and explain the importance of cow protection.” He said also we should purchase a double-decker bus and drive the bus into central London and fill the bus up with Western tourists, Western people, and bring them out to the Manor so they can be educated in simple living and high thinking. He said besides showing them how the cow is protected, we should also be producing milk for sale and butter and yogurt and also ghee. He said, “If we make our own ghee, so many people will want to purchase the ghee because there’s nothing like homemade ghee.” And he said that the other activities the devotees should be doing there is spinning and weaving and different handicrafts. This is what he wanted to happen there. Then I asked him about the Indian community. I said, “Should we cultivate the Indian community?” and he said, “They are already Krishna conscious.” He said we should concentrate on the British community. He said, “They know nothing about Krishna.”
Hansadutta das: During this time, Shyamasundar had a program where he was inviting different prominent persons to come see Prabhupada for darshan—celebrities. It was during this time that Donovan came to see Prabhupada and Schumacher, I think he wrote a book called Small Is Beautiful. Lord Brockway. One reporter during a darshan asked Prabhupada if we worked. Prabhupada said, “No, we don’t work. Why should we work? We are the sons of the richest man.” Then he said, “You see this manor, right? What do you think it’s worth?” So the reporter said, “Half a million pounds or more.” He said, “So do you think that if you worked your whole life you would have enough money to buy it?” And he said, “No.” He said, “Well, you see? We don’t work but we’ve got it. Someone gave it to us. So why should we work? We get everything we need.”
Bala Gopal dasi: In 1971, Prabhupada had a pandal in Delhi, the first pandal, and these Deities were used for the pandal. Then afterwards They were just sitting. Then there was discussion that we would eventually get a new temple because Bury Place was becoming too small. So then Prabhupada mentioned that these Deities were available. So immediately Dhananjaya called up India and started the action of, “Can we get these Deities over here?” So it was already set in motion, and then Srila Prabhupada asked, “Well, where is the money?” Because one man had volunteered to pay for the Deities to be sent over but he hadn’t handed the money in hand, and Prabhupada said, “No.” He said, “Don’t do anything until you get the cash in hand,” because we had no extra money at all. So when Dhananjaya called again to try to stop—wait until we get the money—the Deities somehow, they had cleared Them through customs and They were already on Their way. So Prabhupada made the comment, he said, “Well, if Krishna wants to come, who can stop Him?” So then Radha Gokulananda arrived, and They sat up in the pujari room in Bury Place for about a year before They came out here. We hadn’t had the Manor, we didn’t even know where we were going to have a temple at that point. Then Bhaktivedanta Manor was found, and so Radha Gokulananda were always destined to come to the new temple wherever it was going to be in England. They came with seven outfits. It was meant to be installed on Janmastami, and we did it on Janmastami. Now he’s offering. This is the first offering to the Deities, and Prabhupada is personally offering the Deities Their bhoga. Prabhupada is very involved in the whole installation. He comes down into the temple room. They’re about to offer him a garland, he doesn’t accept the garland because there’s none on the Deities. Then he personally supervises the bathing of the Deities. Then he personally supervises the men that carry the Deities and put Them up. Then Malati dressed Krishna, I dressed Radharani. Then he came in. Personally he’s hurrying us up to dress the Deities quickly. Prabhupada was you do it in a certain amount of time.
Malati dasi: The Deities, They were originally meant to have gone to Scotland, but I guess Krishna’s desire was to stay at the Manor because that’s where They ended up. Anyway, I picked Them up from the airport. We had this Russian vehicle at the time, and I remember driving this vehicle out to Heathrow Airport to the cargo area and there were the two boxes with the Deities in them. I’m trying to think, “If I just say Deities, will he understand?” Also I knew a little bit about packing Deities, and quite often Deities arrive broken. Generally they actually weren’t broken in transit, but in the opening of the box they would take some crowbar or something and apply pressure and that was when They would break. So I was very worried about if I had to open Them up, how would it be done. He said, “All right, now, what’s this?” So I very authoritatively said in my best authoritative voice, “This is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His eternal consort,” and they didn’t flinch, they’re British. And I said, “It’s for a temple— religious.” That was it, they let it go. Two big boxes, they didn’t open them.
Yogesvara das: This was such a beautiful place that George Harrison had purchased and given to Srila Prabhupada and the devotees. We finally felt that we had a real home in England and there was a sense of permanence about it. So the installation of the Deities had significance on many different levels, not the least of which was this feeling of having achieved a long-term goal of establishing Krishna consciousness in the UK, which, of course, had historic significance as well as emotional significance. England having been the invading force that had governed India for so long, and now Krishna consciousness coming to England and establishing itself permanently as the spiritual force in England was very significant. There must have been something about this because Srila Prabhupada was so energized during this installation ceremony. His lecture after the Deities had been installed and he offered the arati ceremony and this wonderful dancing, he was jumping up and down, going around and around the Deities.
Visakha dasi: When Srila Prabhupada offered the first arati to Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda, I was photographing him. I stood behind the arati tray and simply focused the entire time on Srila Prabhupada. As I was doing that, I was struck by how gracefully he offered the different items – the beautiful circles he made with the ghee lamp and the little circles within the circles. Also, I was even more struck by how focused he was on Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda. I was certainly focused on him and all the other devotees pretty much were focused on Prabhupada, but Prabhupada was focused on the Lord and on pleasing Them. This whole event was not about him, but it was about the pleasure of Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda and the pleasure of his spiritual master. Looking at him as I was, I could feel that. Then when he finished the arati and he started circumambulating the Deities, again his movements were very graceful, very rhythmic, and it was for the pleasure of the Lord. We were so engrossed in what Prabhupada was doing that when he gave just a little movement of his hands indicating that we also should participate in dancing for the pleasure of Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda, immediately all the devotees were involved in dancing for the Lord and it was an ecstatic moment. We were so delighted to be part of this historic event, that now Srila Prabhupada had a firm base, a beautiful base, Bhaktivedanta Manor, where Krishna consciousness could be expressed by his followers, and from that base they could start to spread Krishna consciousness throughout the country.
Bala Gopal dasi: When you got to do personal service to Srila Prabhupada, I always felt like I was in another world. You were just so wrapped up in the service that you were performing and so intent on doing it that everything else…almost nothing else…probably the world could have blown up around you and you wouldn’t have noticed that that had happened. So this is Prabhupada doing this arati, and to be personally so involved and be able to dress the Deities and being in the Deity room when Prabhupada offered the prasadam and now doing the arati, it was definitely a very exceptional feeling. And after, you’ll see when he comes to the point where he starts circumambulating the Deities and then invites the whole temple room into the Deity room, there’s a lot of space. This is a big room so there’s space behind the altar. There were very few occasions I felt this amazing energy. Every time Prabhupada danced or he raised up his hands for people to dance, there was this energy and the whole…everyone felt it and you were just lifted off your feet by this ecstatic energy. To be able to do that with Srila Prabhupada and dance with him so closely, it was absolutely amazing.
Ramadevi dasi: I was serving in Bury Place at the time and it wasn’t my time to go out to the Manor, we all had turns. But I just felt there was no way that I could miss this installation of Krishna by Prabhupada, and I ran away for the day. I didn’t actually get to see very much of it because there were so many devotees there and it was so crowded. I just remember seeing Prabhupada placing a garland over Gokulananda when He was standing in the steel bowl on the floor. But then once the curtains were open again when the Deities were dressed and Prabhupada had performed arati, he led everyone in circumambulation around the Deities and he danced all the way around there. And everyone was just beside themselves with joy in seeing Prabhupada’s happiness at having Radha Gokulananda there.
Malati dasi: After the Deities were installed, Prabhupada instructed me that “Krishna has come. Now you have to look after Him.” Still there was no money at the Manor. So myself and another devotee, Gangamayi, became the personal collectors of Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda, and we’d go out every afternoon until eleven o’clock at night and collect for Them. You know where we went? We went to the pubs. We had these cans and we’d just say…because it was so raucous in the pubs, you couldn’t really talk… we’re collecting for charity. Sometimes we’d say “for the blue boy at the Manor.” So as a purification and an atonement and to remember why we were doing what we were doing, we would wake up the Deities every morning and perform mangal arati. I remember one night we got in really late and the temple was locked. It was actually locked on purpose because some people were objecting that we were getting this money and it was going directly to the Deity fund. Prabhupada told us; he said there had to be a bank account for the Deities and that money would only be used for Their maintenance and care. So I knew that it really wasn’t an accident the doors were all locked. So Prabhupada saved us. There was one little window by the vyasasan, a small one, that we managed to squeeze through and get in.
Bala Gopal dasi: It was a very full day because Shyamasundar had invited all these dignitaries. So there were all these people that came in the evening time for Janmastami.
Yogesvara das: His lecture was energized. He sat down on the vyasasan and said, “There is another world, a spiritual world, beyond this world,” and then went on to describe in the most vivid, visceral terms the universe where Krishna lives where souls dwell eternally in loving service to God. It was breathtaking. He just transported us out of the material world in a sentence, “There is another world,” and we were there. He could do that with a sentence because he was speaking from realization.
Shyamasundar das: We were always trying to keep Prabhupada with us as long as possible. We were gluttons for Prabhupada, very selfish. So very early on we hit on the idea that if we keep Prabhupada busy talking to famous or influential people that he’ll stay and stay and stay. So we made a long schedule of visits. We scheduled philosophers and clergymen and wherever Prabhupada could get an interesting dialogue with people who we knew would engage Prabhupada’s intelligence, where he would really unleash the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. For Arnold Toynbee, we had to go to his home in London for that. You name it – people from all walks of life would come and engage in a conversation with Prabhupada that would be remarkable, and Prabhupada would talk about it the rest of the day and into the night and bring it up in his lectures the next day what was discussed at that meeting. And this kept him occupied and kept him very happy there in London.
Rajashekar das: We knew that Srila Prabhupada had some program in London. So he had driven from the Manor, which is about an hour or something. I rushed to the door and Srila Prabhupada’s car was just pulling in. I said, “Oh, my goodness, there’s nobody here, just me.” I ran out to the street and Srila Prabhupada came from his car, and he didn’t even wait for the other devotees. He just very merrily started walking towards the temple. So on the footpath itself I paid my obeisances and I stood up and I said, “Jaya, Srila Prabhupada,” and he said, “Jaya!” And when he said “Jaya,” I got the picture of Bhaktisiddhanta in my head, that when I said “Prabhupada,” he was thinking Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta. And I thought, “Wow!” The humility, I already saw Srila Prabhupada’s humility, especially on his arrival at the Manor the very first time and even from his pictures. When I was a karmi, that’s the thing that I recognized about him, this supreme humility of a pure devotee. But then when I chanted “Jaya Prabhupada” and he said “Jaya,” then I knew that he wasn’t thinking himself as Prabhupada. He was thinking this is Bhaktisiddhanta. I firmly believe that he took only the title of Prabhupada just to glorify his own spiritual master.
Yadubara das: This is such a beautiful scene – Srila Prabhupada taking his Vyasa-puja feast in his room. Somehow or other Visakha devi and I were alone with him. She was taking stills and I was filming. In my years of filming Srila Prabhupada, this is one of the most memorable times. He was totally fixed and concentrated on taking prasadam. He seemed to be able to tell the quality of the preparation with his eyes.
Srirangapriya: My mother, father and grandmother were talking with Prabhupada. It was upstairs in Prabhupada’s room, and there were a few other of Prabhupada’s disciples there. I was just playing with some string in the back. I must have been about 7 or 8. My father had been talking with Prabhupada, and then my father called me. The next thing I remember is that one of the disciples said, “Prabhupada, should we train him up for initiation?” And he said, “No, he is our brother’s sisya. He is our brother’s sisya.” Then my father spoke some more things to him, and the next thing I remember Prabhupada saying, he said that “This boy will spread Vaishnavism throughout the world, for which he has my full blessings.” He was sitting cross-legged, and he actually put his foot flush on my head. I just felt really happy that Prabhupada had put his foot on my head. I didn’t think much beyond that. So after Prabhupada left, I wanted to have the initiation into ISKCON, which my father was very much against. So I took initiation, and that initiation didn’t bear the proper fruit. So I feel now that I made a move which maybe was not in accordance with Prabhupada’s greater vision of my destiny. Always from childhood I was always very much attracted to Sriman Narayana and Rama, and I felt that Prabhupada knows the bhava in which I have to relate to the Lord. He knows my relationship with the Lord. That’s why I always remain totally indebted to Prabhupada. I didn’t understand anything what he meant about “he is our brother’s disciple” or anything like that. It was only later, decades later that thinking back I realized that by his brother he meant Ramanujacharya and he knew that I am only to take initiation in that line.
Kishore das: There was an incident in Prabhupada’s darshan room, and it was packed out with guests and devotees. At the time I had a young stepson whose name was Premananda, and he would have been about 5 years old at the time. There we were in Prabhupada’s darshan room with Prabhupada addressing his audience and the door opened and Premananda’s head poked around the door, a little shaved head, and his mother had dressed him as a sannyasi with a danda. Prabhupada’s eyes opened up wide and he stopped what he was saying and his focus totally went onto this little boy standing at the door with his danda and he said, “Ahhhh, Maharaj, come!” The room was packed out, so Premananda literally had to climb over people. It was like an ocean of waves, and he just climbed literally over all these people and sat before Prabhupada’s table. Prabhupada just beamed at Premananda and offered him a sweet from his plate. “Jaya, Maharaj,” he said. “You stay.” And, of course, Premananda sat there, and it was an incredible sight to see. Now, the interesting part came the next morning. Prabhupada was out for his morning walk and Premananda was downstairs, which is now in the prasadam room downstairs, big room, and he was still dressed in his sannyasi outfit and he still had his danda. This time he was messing around with his friends and they were fighting and squabbling, and he had his danda and he was hitting them over the head with the danda and he was really causing a big ruckus. And suddenly there was Prabhupada at the door. He had returned from his walk with the disciples, and Prabhupada’s face was grave as anything. He immediately looked over and saw what was going on and he turned to one of the disciples and he said, “Where is the father?” and I was also in the room. So I came over to Prabhupada and he very gravely looked at me, and I could feel the gravity of the situation. He said, “He must not dress like this anymore. Sannyasa is very serious business.” And that was that. So I felt quite chastised because it was my responsibility, but also I experienced how…I had already…as a young brahmacari, I was thinking ahead about sannyasa as though, “Well, I’ve been around for a couple of years now. It’s about time I was thinking about taking sannyasa.” I was already thinking the young brahmacari thoughts. But I think that really nailed that one because in that moment, I realized for myself how serious…those were Prabhupada’s words, “Sannyasa is very serious business.”
Shyamasundar das: These were some of the most enjoyable walks in all of my time with Prabhupada was walking through these wheat fields around the Manor. Prabhupada would discuss everything from the natural things we would observe along the way right up to the person he talked with the day before. This was the culmination of his spiritual master’s directive to him that he should start Krishna conscious centers all over the world, but in particular London. Bhaktisiddhanta dispatched some devotees to London who tried to do something, so there was a history of emphasis on London. He was very much appreciative of what the grihasthas were doing in London and used that as a model. He thought that the grihasthas should be the managers of these centers and the activities of centers, the money, and I suppose some of that came from observing what we did in London. Prabhupada was appreciative of everyone’s devotion, whatever it was. Whether you were a brahmacari or a sannyasi or a grihastha, he was very much thankful to his devotees for their service.
September 1973: STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN – Arrival, Interview
Vedavyas das: Prabhupada went to Stockholm, to Sweden for the first and only time, and we took buses and went all the way up to Sweden to meet him again there, September. We went to the university several times, Prabhupada lectured there. There was one incident. We had started the festival program so that means we had amplification system, speakers and amplifier and all this, microphones. So we had taken all that up to Sweden. During one class, this same devotee who had made the recording of “Krishna Meditations,” in the temple room he had made all this arrangement. He had put down the speaker somewhere, he had the microphone for Prabhupada and the amplifier. Then somehow or other the microphone didn’t work and Prabhupada was tapping on the microphone, “Doesn’t work? Doesn’t work?” Then this devotee, Uttal was his name, he was twiddling the knobs and trying to get this thing going. And you could see, such a small place, such an arrangement – big speakers from a festival system and microphone and this and that. Prabhupada, he started to laugh, he said… and I would have to look up the Sanskrit…that such a big arrangement and no result, and he gave the example of in the early morning you many have big, big clouds in the sky and there may be thunder but then there’s no rain. Or there’s a fight between husband and wife, the screaming and everything, and at the end nothing, it’s peaceful. Or he said goats, and he made the noise of two he-goats when they fight for a female and they’re banging each other, the heads. So much noise and at the end nothing. So Prabhupada gave that example for us making such a big arrangement for amplification and at the end no sound. Typical Western idea.
(LIVE SOUND TRACK)
Today is the arrival of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He is the head of the Hare Krishna Movement with 5000 members worldwide. He is also the guru of George Harrison who has given the movement recognition in his latest record album. The Hare Krishna Movement has been criticized by some for being a romantic religious group that is operating solely for commercial purposes. But the members say they are very serious and are striving for eternal spiritual life.
Srila Prabhupada: Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you very much for your kindly receiving me. This is the first time I am coming in this country, Sweden.
Reporter: Is it a serious Movement? If the Beatles are telling the truth, Hare Krishna is a little bit of a bluff.
Srila Prabhupada: Who says bluff?
Reporter: The Beatles.
Srila Prabhupada: Who is that fool? He's a rascal.
Hansadutta das: George Harrison has just bought us a big house.
Srila Prabhupada: Some rascal might have said but I know, George is our very good devotee.
Srila Prabhupada: A very good devotee.
Reporter: George Harrison is your member?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Oh, yes.
Reporter: Do you have lots of members?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, certainly. Don’t you see?
Reporter: How many?
Srila Prabhupada: Thousands.
Devotee: About five thousand all over the world.
Reporter: Five thousand all over…
Srila Prabhupada: Those are initiated. Otherwise, there are many thousands our admirers.
Reporter: In all countries?
Srila Prabhupada: All over the world.
December 1973: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Cookie distribution, Walk, Marriage
Bhakti Swarup Damodar Swami: After the first meeting of Srila Prabhupada in 1970, then Srila Prabhupada started giving me instructions. And since I was still a Ph.D. student at the University of California at Irvine, whenever Prabhupada came to New Dwaraka, Los Angeles, I used to come and have darshan of Srila Prabhupada regularly. The main program was to join Srila Prabhupada in the morning walk, and that morning walk was a very animated discussion and basically about the role of scientists in the modern world and how to give them some principles of Krishna consciousness.
Saci devi dasi: We could hear the Bhagavatam class in our individual apartments through an intercom, and so we knew when it was time to rush into the temple to bring our kids up for cookies. Prabhupada once said that if you want to make a friend, you give him a cookie. There was a whole assembly of kids in the Los Angeles temple in the old temple room, and my son Bhakta Rupa wanted some kartals that Chandrashekar was playing and he was a whole lot bigger than my son. So he tried to grab for the kartals and when he couldn’t get them away, he started to cry. Prabhupada leaned over with his kartals and handed me the kartals, and then he nodded for me to give them to Bhakta Rupa, which I did. Bhakta Rupa stopped crying and he just stared at Prabhupada and he kind of froze. Prabhupada smiled. Then he began to play them, and everybody was happy. It was the greatest satisfaction as a mother to have your child, your son, be blessed by the spiritual master. It was unparalleled.
Jagadhatri dasi: Most of the kids are really small. So my son began to pick up the kids, the little ones, because you can see they’re having a hard time, some of them can’t quite get the cookie and whatnot. This is the morning where Prabhupada did not give Raghunath a cookie. Usually after Raghunath would hold the little child out to get the cookie, then Prabhupada would give him one. I understood that this is the spiritual master and whatever he does is perfect, but I was really upset. How come my son didn’t get a cookie? Everybody else did. Raghunath, he just accepted, “Oh, I didn’t get one? OK, I didn’t get a cookie.” See, Raghunath is bringing another little kid out. So the next morning when Srila Prabhupada would come down from his quarters on the side stairs and Karandhar would drive the Rolls Royce up to take Srila Prabhupada on his morning walk, and Raghunath and I were out there… Oh, look – Raghunath took a cookie. He didn’t get one. So the big sannyasis were there and they were going to go on the morning walk to Venice Beach with Prabhupada, and he motioned to Raghu to come and had Raghunath come inside the car and sit next to him. And for the next two or three mornings, he took Raghu on the morning walk with him. So I thought, “Raghu didn’t get a cookie, but Raghu got to go on the morning walk.” So the pure devotee always does wonderful things.
Tripurari Swami: There was a little bit of a push and a shove to get near his company, but I was determined to stand in that spot. I didn’t want to fall asleep during his classes, so that’s one of the reasons I stood. I used to meditate on his hands playing the kartals, and I would sing right into his right ear. On one occasion, I was chanting and I was thinking to myself that “Really I don’t know the significance of what I’m chanting, but I know that it gives a lot of pleasure to Prabhupada. So let me with that spirit chant selflessly just for his pleasure, no other motive.” Traditionally after the class there would be a short kirtan, and so there would generally be some vying for the microphone and who was going to lead. I remember on one such occasion Sudama prevailed, Sudama Maharaj, to lead the kirtan. But just as he began to lead, Prabhupada stopped him and turned to me, “Let this boy lead.” So I was very much moved by that, how he had felt my sentiment and my thoughts and my heart with regard to the chanting, and he taught me what was the right spirit behind the chanting, that it should be chanted only for the pleasure obviously of God and guru.
Praghosh das: There was a discussion about who initiated book distribution in America, who should get the credit, and they were talking about Kesava and Karandhar. Prabhupada stopped and he said, “No, no, no. Jayananda, he was the first,” because Prabhupada didn’t actually see book distribution just from the perspective of somebody who went out and sells the books. In a real sense, he saw it from the perspective of the person who paid for the book itself to be produced. She then he said, “Where is Jayananda? Call Jayananda.” So Jayananda happened to be on the walk, but he was way in the back. So then everyone turned and somebody said, “Jayananda prabhu,” and he came walking up and he stood right in front of Srila Prabhupada. His chaddar was over his head. He had a transcendental look about him, and he was smiling at Prabhupada. And Prabhupada said, “You were the first, were you not?” And Jayananda said, “What is that, Srila Prabhupada?” He said, “You were the first to organize book distribution.” And Jayananda said, “I don’t know, Srila Prabhupada, if I was the first.” He said, “Yes, yes, you were the first. You get the credit. You printed my Teachings of Lord Caitanya.” So Jayananda, I remember he said, “Thank you, Srila Prabhupada.” He just said “thank you.” I was a new devotee, I was just watching everybody interact with Srila Prabhupada, and I remember that particular experience. It just came back to me now, how affectionate Prabhupada was to him and how much he wanted to give him credit.
Kaumadaki dasi: Srila Prabhupada had a fire sacrifice. One of his sannyasis had become involved with a woman. And so Prabhupada announced that he was going to marry them, and everybody was very surprised because we didn’t know that that could happen. Prabhupada gave a talk about Krishna consciousness and he initiated the woman and then he married them. He made it clear that he was caring for us and he was keeping us engaged in Krishna’s service. He didn’t want us to go away. He didn’t want us to give up. If we couldn’t serve in this capacity, then he wanted us to serve in whatever capacity we could. It was so kind and fatherly of Srila Prabhupada, the way he treated the whole situation. Later I heard a tape of a conversation Srila Prabhupada had with another sannyasi who had left and married a woman and then after some time he came back, and Prabhupada accepted this lady and initiated her. She did some wonderful service. I remember the conversation. The sannyasi was saying to Prabhupada, “Lord Caitanya rejected one of His followers for just looking at a woman lustfully, and yet I have given up sannyasa and I have gotten married. So does that mean that you reject me?” And Srila Prabhupada said, “Lord Caitanya is the Supreme Personality of Godhead so He can reject like that. But I am only His humble servant and you are all helping me, so I can never reject you.” It was so kind. Srila Prabhupada’s total detachment and total kindness. There was never anything egotistical or material about Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada: Spread this Krishna consciousness movement. parama ananda-kanda. People will be happy. Our mission is to see—sarve sukhino bhavantu. We don't want to see that we exploit somebody else and I become happy. No. We want to see everyone happy. But they do not know how to become happy. Therefore we are trying to spread this Krishna consciousness movement that everyone will be happy. Jai.
So Krishna is go-brahmana-hitaya. He takes care of the cows and the brahmanas. In other words, in a human society if there is no protection of the brahmana and cow then it is demonic society. Therefore it is said, go-brahmana-hitaya ca. The brahminical culture must be maintained.
March 1974: MAYAPUR, INDIA – Gaura Purnima Festival
Srutakirti das: He seemed very happy to just be in Mayapur, which at the time it was almost in the middle of nowhere. It wasn’t like Vrindavan – we’d go up and down the road, there was lots of activity. But here it was just very peaceful, and Prabhupada really enjoyed it. Sometimes in the afternoon or the morning he would go out with his beads, walk around on the veranda and would look out and just like here, you just see expanses of beautiful fields – nice, peaceful, flat – and he would walk around and chant. He would gaze across from his veranda. When he went to other areas, like in L.A., there was different kinds of management. When he went to Vrindavan for that one month and had all those activities, Nectar of Devotion classes, he had a program, there was a mission. But when he went here, it didn’t seem like that. Prabhupada was very casual, very relaxed, and certainly he manifested at different times his deep emotion for Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda. If you follow that one tour when he went from Los Angeles and he went to Mexico City, then he went to Caracas, and then Miami and Atlanta, they all had Gaura-Nitai Deities on the altar. And each lecture, his arrival lecture, he started talking about the mercy of Lord Caitanya and Nityananda, the two Lords, how merciful They were. It climaxed in Atlanta where he barely got out two sentences and he just went into ecstasy. So he definitely had this incredible mood and love for Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda and everything that They had done, that he had seen Them accomplish through his efforts.
Ajamil das: I was also here in Mayapur for the opening of the Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir, the Lotus Building, when Radha Madhava were invited to Their new building. There must have been about a thousand devotees. It was really packed with devotees. Srila Prabhupada arrived in the evening, and then on the next morning we had mangal aratik. It was the first big mangal aratik with Srila Prabhupada in the Lotus Building for that festival. So that mangal aratik was absolutely tumultuous. From where I was, I looked around and nobody’s feet were touching the ground. It was almost like everyone was on the ceiling. Everyone was dancing. They were jumping, really jumping, so much so that most of the time in the kirtan you only saw them in the air. And the sound was absolutely tumultuous. It was so ecstatic—very special kirtan—and it was led by His Holiness Tamal Krsna Maharaj. So after the kirtan, Tamal Krsna Maharaj went up to Prabhupada’s room and spoke with him. Then Prabhupada immediately said to him, “If you all keep chanting like this, then Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur himself will personally come here and take you all back to Godhead.”
Satadhanya das: Krsna das Babaji Maharaj was there and he was a very close friend of Prabhupada’s, a godbrother, and very pure and effulgent. Prabhupada had told us that he was a pure devotee, and they were discussing in Bengali. It was just Krsna das Babaji, Prabhupada and myself inside the room. But at that time, Subal Sadhu, a funny, eccentric fellow, old man, came in but at one point he started really chanting “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,” and he started rolling on the floor in Prabhupada’s room. I thought, “I must do something about it.” So at that time, what little Bengali I could speak I told Subal, “Prabhupada is very tired now. So you please come another time,” and I stopped him from rolling very gently and I lifted him up and I showed him out the door and I shut the door. I went back and Krsna das Babaji Maharaj, he was always prone to laugh. He would laugh at everything. Especially what the Western devotees would do and say, he found very humorous. But this time he was heaving; he was going hysterical. And as he laughed more, Prabhupada began to laugh, and they were both laughing and laughing and laughing. Then Prabhupada, in the midst of his laughter, he looked at Krsna das Babaji and he said in Bengali, “Khub bhalo bangla bolche,”that “He speaks real good Bengali,” and they laughed and laughed and laughed.
Ajamil das: Here was Srila Prabhupada’s position. He had practically conquered the world with Krishna consciousness. He had been all around and he came back here to Mayapur, and now he was establishing something really big. It was the opening of the Lotus Building, and in those days this was a big building. It was bigger than practically anything else around in Mayapur, and there was no one more successful. It was clear now that he was more successful than any of his godbrothers. It was clear that he was Krishna’s representative, that he was the special sankirtan general for the whole world. That day Srila Prabhupada gave the class, and I clearly remember the first thing that he said in his lecture. Before he said anything he said, “Actually I am unfit to be your leader,” and everyone was very quiet. And actually he was quite choked up as well and he said, “You are all spreading Krishna consciousness in the Western countries because of your previous connection with the sankirtan movement, and Lord Caitanya has put you there.” Then he said, “And you are actually doing everything and I am not fit to be your leader.” When he said that, I thought, “Now, hang on. This is a level of humility that I cannot understand,” because he really meant it. It was obvious that he was doing some really big things, but he was absolutely taking no credit for it and he really meant it, otherwise he wouldn’t have said it. Actually, when I first heard that I was bewildered, I couldn’t understand what he was talking about. But as I’ve reflected upon that over the years, now I understand that he is actually completely humble. He has no sense of thinking that “I am the doer.”
Bhavananda das: Prabhupada said, “You should distribute prasad, let people know that we are giving out prasad.” And the first time, this was ’72, Prabhas used to cook it and we’d put it in buckets and people came with their little bowls and we had leaf plates, and Prabhupada watched through his window because it was right below his window. “Yes, this is very good, prasadam distribution.” So this was the first Food for Life, so to speak. Now, of course, I was asking someone about the prasadam distribution. They said, “Well, not so many people come anymore because the whole area has become so prosperous due to ISKCON.”
Raghunath das: Prabhupada invited all of his godbrothers from the surrounding maths to come and have a group get-together. The different Gaudiya Math leaders and many of their disciples also came. Of course, for a long time they were sitting in Prabhupada’s room talking and laughing and speaking in Bengali; we couldn’t understand. But then later on he brought them all out onto the veranda and had them all sit down and gave them all leaf plates, and he had his devotees serving them prasad and Prabhupada was personally directing the serving. I was standing way down at the other end of the building just looking at this and I was thinking, “Wow, that looks so nice, that prasadam.” I was thinking in India we never have the Sunday feast; in Dallas we had a Sunday feast every week. So even if you were austere all week, you had the Sunday feast to look forward to. And just at that moment, Prabhupada turned around and he motioned to me, “Come here.” I thought, “He probably wants me to help serve.” So I walked over and I said, “Yes, Prabhupada? How can I serve you?” And he said, “Sit down.” I shook my head, I thought, “I didn’t hear this right.” But he said it again, “Sit down.” I sat down and Prabhupada said, “Give him a plate, serve him some subji, give him puri, give him sweet rice,” just like that, he was directing all the serving. He was going up and down and as he was serving his godbrothers and their disciples; he was serving me also. I couldn’t believe it. I was in ecstasy eating prasad served by my own guru, and it was really, really good; but at the same time, I was so embarrassed taking service from my guru. At one point Prabhupada said, “Would you like more puri?” and I was too embarrassed to say yes. I said, “No, no, that’s OK.” But Prabhupada knew my heart so he said, “Give him more puri.” That was one of the most incredible experiences in my entire life. It says volumes about the relationship with the guru and the disciple, how the guru is so exalted but he’s willing to serve his disciples at any moment.
Bhima das: On Gaura Purnima morning, we went to the Ganges. In those days, in ’74, the Ganges was a long way away from the temple. It was a good 15-minute walk to the Ganges. So we were down there shaving our heads, and then we were going to take bath. I remember that the devotee who was shaving my head was with this dull blade and my head was getting cut and so many things. Then Srila Prabhupada transcendentally came down with the sannyasis to the bank of the Ganga. He squatted down, took three drops of water on his head and said that’s the same as taking a bath. Then he walked back to the temple.
Baradraj das: So after struggling for almost a year with the whole process of learning, I actually got to the point where I thought, “OK, now I can do something.” So I made a diorama of Narasinghadev; Hiranyakasipu being ripped apart. I wanted to impress Srila Prabhupada with the pyrotechnics of it, so it was all very realistic. So this was the first exhibit of maybe 15 or so exhibits. Trying to hide my pride, I toured Prabhupada around the exhibits. We came to the first one, he studied it for some time, and then he asked whose it was and I said that it was my work. He said, “It is not yet perfect. You must study some more. Then you can go to the West and teach. But you have to study some more.” And that’s all he said. He didn’t elaborate on it in any way. He looked at other exhibits; there were several. At the end was the exhibit of Rukmini, Rukmini had made one too because we both studied together. It was a diorama of Lord Caitanya fainting before Jagannatha, and Prabhupada stood at it and was visibly moved and happy to see it. He said, “Who has done this?” I said, “Well, this is Rukmini’s work” And Prabhupada said, “The wife is better.” I felt, in a nutshell, humiliated, chastened, but grateful. I expected some encouragement, but it didn’t come then. It came later, though, when we completed the work in Vrindavan for the installation.
Jananivas das: So we wanted to do the boat program , go village to village preaching by boat. Actually we were discussing the name of the boat, and finally Srila Prabhupada accepted that the name should be Nitai Pada Kamalam. Then he installed the Gaura-Nitai Deities there. The abhisek was performed by Jagadisa prabhu. I remember the day before they were leaving in Prabhupada’s room. Bhavananda was going to go out and Sudama was going to be the cook, and Srila Prabhupada said, “By doing this program, you will get so much mercy from Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. So much mercy.” He said that “This program should not stop.” Then he actually went on the boat. He didn’t sail it, but he went on the boat at the ghat. He was walking on the boat and they sang Nitai Pada Kamalam with Prabhupada.
Garuda das: Prabhupada, of course, was lecturing a lot during that week. Prabhupada was reading from the Caitanya-caritamrta and, of course, I was sitting there as always listening, trying to imbibe everything and hearing all that Prabhupada was saying. By this point, a lot of devotees were not attending because they were sick—they were out on their back—but I was fortunate enough to be well. But something happened to me that evening of Gaura Purnima. I had this strange feeling of hankering to read Prabhupada’s books in a way that I never had before. I even felt like going right back to the States and reading Prabhupada’s books, just absorbing myself, doing nothing but reading Prabhupada’s books, even though the Vrindavan part of the festival had not yet occurred and, of course, who would want to miss that. But I suddenly realized my relationship with Prabhupada was through his books and I felt that I was going to have a special relationship with the books, although I had no idea that I would end up being part of the Bhaktivedanta Institute and then going on to Harvard and conducting studies. But it all began there that evening in Mayapur.
Laxmimoni dasi: In Mayapur, Srila Prabhupada was always really concerned that the women had nice prasadam. He talked to me a couple of times about making sure there was milk every night and that I could go heat it. He made an arrangement so that there would be a fire set aside so that we could heat milk for the ladies who were nursing or pregnant. He wanted to make sure that we didn’t get sick and that we had good prasadam, especially milk. But it was real nice. We were staying right there, all the women, and Pisima. Pisima would never go into Srila Prabhupada’s quarters without another lady, so she would just grab you. But before she’d grab you she’d wash you off with Jamuna water; then she’d grab you and she’d ask you to come in with her. So some ladies who didn’t often get to be with Srila Prabhupada got to go in his room because they would go with her. Pisima couldn’t really understand what was being said because he was always speaking in English, but she would just like to sit and listen and see Srila Prabhupada.
Pushkar das: I was running up to the brahmacari room one evening, it was getting dark, and I noticed there were a lot of people at Prabhupada’s end – Bhavananda and Rasaprayana and Jayapataka, Pradyumna, they were all congregated past his room near the end. So I heard very quickly that there had been a snake sighted in Prabhupada’s bathroom. So they were looking for the snake and they were looking; it might be two snakes. So while all this furor was going on, Prabhupada was leaning very relaxedly, nonchalantly. They were all with flashlights looking here and there in the different pipes outside of Prabhupada’s room, outside the bathroom. Prabhupada was leaning very nonchalantly and he said, “So many men for one snake?” in this deep, grave voice with a humorous inflection to it. Only Prabhupada could get away with saying something that would sound very grave, very humorous and superintelligent and totally time and place. It had everything all built into one statement. He just said, “So many men for one snake?” Pradyumna was very worried about where he would sleep, on a shelf, he was still worried the snake hadn’t been found. So in the morning I’d forgotten about the snake incident, and I was waiting outside Prabhupada’s room; and the door opens up and a couple of people with Prabhupada, he has his cane, and the first thing he says is, “Anyone was bit by the snake?” also with that kind of humor and biting kind of wit. Then he walked to the steps and he stopped again and he said, “Pradyumna has fled?” because he knew Pradyumna was particularly worried about the snake. The whole idea was funny, “Pradyumna has fled.” And in the class, it was one of Kunti’s prayers. Maybe it was manye tvam kalam, that Krishna is time. Prabhupada gave the example, he said “So we think we are very safe in our four-story marble building, but the snake is there and the snake is death.” It’s an example of how Prabhupada would utilize everything for his preaching. “The snake is death. We think we are very safe.”
Pankajanghri das: It was in his room and all the leading devotees were there. It was really silent, it got pretty heavy then. Prabhupada was just looking around at everyone and he wasn’t saying anything. Then he said, “So, there are no questions?” and nobody answered. It got even more heavy. Prabhupada said, “Why there are no questions?” It got even more intense. “It is the disciple’s duty to question the spiritual master. Why there are no questions?” Then somebody said, “Srila Prabhupada, in Srimad-Bhagavatam such person said this, is this right?” He said, “Fool! It says in the Bhagavatamand you ask me if it is right? What kind of question is this?” Then it got even more intense. Then Hridayananda Maharaj asked a pertinent question and it broke the ice.
Narahari das: He was walking down an aisleway back to the vyasasan to give Bhagavatam class. Everyone was down prostrated offering our obeisances. I remember when Prabhupada walked by, I reached to touch his feet as everyone else was doing and I touched his feet and they felt amazing. It was like touching some type of spiritual velvet. It was the most amazing feeling. Then all of a sudden a dark cloud came over me where I realized, “Oh, my God! I’m holding onto Prabhupada’s feet and he can’t go!” and I was petrified at what I had just done. Then I lifted up my head from down on the floor and I looked up at Prabhupada, and he was just smiling at me. It was like the sun had risen after a dark monsoon rain, and it was just brilliant and it seemed like everything was bright and happy. I released my hands from Prabhupada’s feet, and he smiled and just continued walking back to the vyasasan.
March 1974: VRINDAVAN, INDIA – Walk, Parikrama
Brahmananda das: Prabhupada would walk on the Chatikara Road, it was all agricultural land. One morning this one sadhu, he was wearing saffron, he greeted Prabhupada. And then the next morning again he was there. He would do this every day, and then he started following us. Then each day he would come closer and closer to Prabhupada so that he could hear. Then one day he said something to Prabhupada, and Prabhupada replied him. Then each day he would come and they would talk more and more. Then at the end of the walk when Prabhupada would go in the temple, he would go on his way. But then one morning he came in, did the morning program. And then one morning…Prabhupada would go into his house before coming to the temple and then he came in, Prabhupada had invited him. Then Prabhupada told me, “All right, he is joining. Prepare him. Give him a room, whatever facilities,” and he was Gour Govinda. That’s how he joined, Gour Govinda Swami. Prabhupada initiated him, gave him sannyas, everything. But he was living in Vrindavan as a sadhu, as a renunciate; and just by seeing Prabhupada on the morning walk each day, more and more he became drawn in and then he surrendered. So Prabhupada was making devotees just by going on a morning walk.
Aditi dasi: I remember one lecture in Fogel Ashram Prabhupada was saying, “So my devotees, you are so many and you have spent each so much money to come here.” He was adding it all up and he was saying, “This is the right use of money,” that devotees should come every year to become inspired and then to go back and to preach. So he was encouraging devotees to come.
Giriraj Swami: One morning we took a walk with Srila Prabhupada. At one stage, a bullock cart passed by with a few passengers in it. Srila Prabhupada commented how nice the simple life was, how people don’t really need motor cars and luxuries, they can just live very simply. We would walk past fields and Prabhupada said that all you really need to live is grains, rice and dal. He said you don’t even really need to have vegetables to live, you can just live from grains and save time for Krishna consciousness.
Visala das: I was having trouble with Rahu planet for 18 years and I think 9 or 10 more years to go. I went to an astrologer in Vrindavan, and he told me to wear a yantra. So when I came to the gate to Krishna-Balarama Temple, who would greet me there but Brahmananda Maharaj and he said, “What are you wearing, Visala?” I said, “I’m wearing a yantra. I just came from an astrologer, and he said this will counteract the influence of bad stars.” Brahmananda’s reply was, “Prabhupada says you don’t have to add anything to this process.” So I said, “Well, I want to speak with Srila Prabhupada.” So he set up a time, and Srila Prabhupada asked me about the astrologer. He said, “How much did he charge you? Who he was?” and I mentioned. I said, “Srila Prabhupada, I was wearing it because I thought it would help me become more Krishna conscious,” and Prabhupada quoted the verse sarva-dharman parityajya, he said the whole sloka, 18:66. Prabhupada said, “If you just surrender to Krishna, Krishna with a slight kick can annihilate 100,000 Rahu planets.” Then I still wasn’t exactly sold on it. I said, “Srila Prabhupada, your spiritual master, he was a great astrologer,” and Srila Prabhupada cut me off real quick and then he said, “But he did it for a short time.” After that, I cut the yantra off my neck and tossed it somewhere in Vrindavan. I don’t care where it is.
Spring, 1974 : WEST BERLIN, GERMANY—Temple activities
B.A. Paramadvaiti Swami: A young man from the second channel of the German television visited our temple which was in the very heart of Berlin. He came in and told us that he wanted to make a documentary about the Krishna conscious movement. At that time our temple president was Sivananda das, an American devotee, who had been sent to Europe by Srila Prabhupada, who was very enthusiastic and very kind, but he did not speak German yet. So, since I was a talkative fellow, he asked me to please take care of this documentary making
together with the film crew. The most important activity here is to try to satisfy our spiritual master. We can accomplish this by distributing the message of Krishna consciousness to everyone. This is the Ku'damm— the heart of Berlin. It's like the top road. We were only six blocks away from the hot spot of Berlin so we used to walk to sankirtan. And then I bought a megaphone somewhere in a secondhand shop. You saw me using that. Actually what I did in those days, I looked up the newspaperswhat was the daily headline. I would just talk about
that headline and as you see practically hundreds of people stay and listen. And devotees would go out and sell the books to them. So it was very entertaining and of course we interrupted with
singing and dancing all the time. It was a beautiful style of sankirtan. I mean if you look at that: this straightforward, honest, going and singing there in dhotis, speaking to the public and giving out Prabhupada's books like "Easy Journey to Other Planets." It was absolutely spectacular. Of course, I was speaking to the people, like people usually do, after a little Harinam, and to invite people over to our temple. And you can see in the pictures,the temple was lively. Many, many new faces were there all the time, and we were very, very happy. You could say the temple president was very good, prasadam was very good, we were very satisfied.
Madan Mohan Mohini dasi: The temple was right off Kurfurstendamm, 153, so we were
right in the heart of the city there. I mean you walk down the street and you had all the night clubs and theaters and restaurants. So we were right smack dab in the middle of Kali-yuga. Our little temple, the storefront, was right next to a restaurant and during mangal arati we could
hear them clinking glasses, drinking, and smell what they're eating, and it was quite abominable. And across the way there was like a night club or something and they had speakers outside on the roof. And when we went to sleep at nine o'clock at night, they would turn the speakers on, full blast. And then we'd get up in the morning while they were just ending their hoopla. So it was quite interesting. A lot of bikers were there. It was a pretty crazy scene to be right in the middle of that, but yet it afforded us to do a lot of preaching and book distribution and we knew that this was very pleasing to Prabhupada. It was so blissful.
Sivananda das: One time were taking a walk and Prabhupada said, "The Germans are the most intelligent amongst the Europeans "and they’re also the most materially attached." Prabhupada was very much desirous of having his books presented to the German people
because they were intelligent people and he felt that if we presented his books properly and very nicely, that the German people would be affected by that. When we got there, of course,
there wasn’t anything in German. As a matter of fact, Srila Prabhupada at the beginning, told us to go and get jobs. This was around ’69 or ’70. So I got a job and Krishna das got a job. Of course Krishna das was going there also to learn the goldsmithing trade. I got a job working for the Botanical Garden in Hamburg. The early book publication started when Jaya Govinda got there. Jaya Govinda was in India with Achyutananda. And then Prabhupada had instructed
him to come to Germany to do that. And so he came and they got a press and then we started a magazine, Back to Godhead magazine. We called it "Zuruck zur Gottheit." And from there, the Bhagavad-gita in German came out and Hansadutta had it printed on Bible paper and Prabhupada was very pleased with that edition.
Madan Mohan Mohini dasi: Here's our altar. We didn't have Deities then, at least not here. We had small Radha-Krishna Deities in another part of Germany. Oh, this is the washing. We used
to wash everything by hand. We were told this is how Prabhupada washed his clothes—by foot. And that's me making vases. And I remember when I went in the Kudamm on book distribution. You know, I had to learn German. I remember that it was a little bit difficult for me. But somehow or other, I managed to do book distribution and I remember hearing one tape of one devotee who was very enlivened in book distribution in those days. He was from America and I heard one tape of him about book distribution. It fired me up so much that I would carry books in English, in German, in all different languages, because there were people from all over the world there.
B.A. Paramadvaiti Swami: Every time when we would go to the S-Bahn to go to sankirtan, we could actually look over the Wall, the Berlin Wall, into the East and we were very, having mixed feelings, because at that time Berlin was like an island within the East and so
you have compassion. You feel, "Oh, these people on the other side cannot get Krishna consciousness." So we were always thinking from the very beginning how to move onwards and also reach out to Easy Germany. You know Prabhupada's spirit was with us. I had a little accident and I couldn't go out on normal sankirtan, so in that time I used to go everyday to East Berlin through Checkpoint Charlie and the West Germans had a 24-hour visa only into the East. They could not stay longer than that. Sometimes we took one or two books in our pocket. It was extremely prohibited, but you were not always completely searched. So just one or two books, that was able. So that's how the first books got there. So I would go in the morning and come back at night I would go to Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse in the East, change myself into a
dhoti in the bathroom, and walk out of the bathroom now as a robed monk. And I would just
run around in the streets, what is the hot spots of East Berlin, and people would approach me
and I would start talking to them. Then we used to have a Sunday feast in East Berlin, every Sunday in a different park, and only the more closer, really trusted people, they would know where the next feast is. So it started working up. We ended up with Sunday feasts for 50 people. So it was a totally undercover thing, and as a matter of fact one day one man who had a little farmhouse, he had invited us to do a gathering in his farmhouse. So when we went there, that moment one spy from the Eastern government actually ended up in our program and from then on we were persecuted. But still the devotees managed somehow. The movement never stopped
ever since we started there. And later one devotee was initiated by Prabhupada. I used to go everyday, but then my health got better again and Sivananda also wanted to go.
Sivananda das: I went over to East Berlin with my japa beads and I just chanted Hare Krishna and walked around. And not very many people approached me. But then they had in Berlin a Jugendfest, which means a youth festival. And young people from all over the communist block countries came to East Berlin and this was in 1974. So what everybody was doing was they had these kerchiefs around their neck and they would meet somebody
from Poland and they'd say, "Oh, sign my kerchief." So then when they saw us in dhotis they thought, "Oh my goodness gracious, "I better get this guy to sign my kerchief here."
So they would walk up to us and say, "Please sign my kerchief." So we'd sign Hare Krishna and then gradually we'd get a whole group of people all around us and then we'd just speak about Krishna consciousness. Prithu came to take part in that also. And then at the end of the youth festival we were walking down in Alexanderplatz, the main section in East Berlin, and then a young man approached us and said, "Oh, Hare Krishna." And this was to eventually become Eka. So Eka was living in East Berlin and carrying on activities and then he eventually became
initiated by Srila Prabhupada.
Madan Mohan Mohini dasi: We tried to get Eka out of East Germany. It was very difficult to preach there and he was having a difficult time. You know, the phones were tapped. People were following him. We had one young American boy, army boy, that was coming to the temple in Berlin, and we asked him, “Do you have more than one uniform?” and he said yes. The American army boys were allowed to go through at the checkpoint—Checkpoint Charlie. And they didn’t look at ID. They just let them go through. So we rigged up this whole thing that he would wear one uniform on top of another, he would go to a certain place—it was a club— and they met in the bathroom, made sure no one was there, they had a password and the American army boy gave Eka an American army uniform to put on. Now Eka doesn’t speak any English. The only thing he spoke was ‘tanking up’ because whenever we would cook prasadam there he said he would eat for a week, because there were hardly any vegetables there in East Berlin. So he’d always say 'tanking, tanking-up,' and that was all he spoke in English. So they leave this club and they go through Checkpoint Charlie and the American army boy goes through but they saw Eka and they said “You haven’t been through here before,” and they put the gates down. Eka had taken off his glasses so he couldn’t even see. And of course they said, "Who are you?" and Eka couldn’t speak English. So they knew something was up, so they threw him in jail. But he said that when he was in jail, anytime they would ask him a question, he would answer, “Hare Krishna.” “How did you know them?” “Hare Krishna” “What’s your name?” "Hare Krishna,” “Where do you live?” “Hare Krishna.”
B.A. Paramadvaiti Swami: They tried anything and everything to make him part from our philosophy which they didn't manage. I think he was chanting 64 rounds there, in this confinement. And finally they got so disgusted with him, that one night they took him for a ride and he thought they were going to kill him and they took him out into a forest and they said, "Walk this direction and never come back." And when he kept walking, all of a sudden he was in West Germany. So he was the first Krishna devotee who was actually thrown out from East Germany because they couldn't convert him back to a normal communist. And of course at that time also the preaching started in the East. We met the first person from Czechoslovakia, Turiya, and that's when the Polish yatra also got the first messages from the East Germans. They took something there, and also first preaching in Hungary. We smuggled in a van full of
books and did a lot of preaching there.
Woman (Mother of devotee): I asked him how much money he makes and he said, "We make 500 to 1000 marks a day." I asked him, “Where all this money is going?” He said, “I know that 400 to 500 dollars are sent to America where they are purchasing large properties.”
Madan Mohan Mohini dasi: This devotee, we couldn't remember his name, but his father
was in the police department and he was in cahoots with, I believe, a Catholic priest. Now, this devotee's parents did not like the fact that he was a devotee and they would try everything to
get him out of Krishna consciousness. And it was due to his father that this whole thing happened in '74 when they came and raided the temples. They would put articles in the
newspaper against the devotees, and of course people would read those and then we'd get a
lot of flack on sankirtan. And even though we got a lot of flack on sankirtan, we still were able to distribute books. Some people were just curious. It made them curious about what
Krishna consciousness was really about. They had to find out. So despite the fact that all kinds of ill things were being said about Krishna consciousness and the devotees, and a lot of nontruths,
still it brought people to the point of buying Prabhupada's books. The set up for the temple,
there was one door and on each side were two huge picture windows. The curtains were open
practically all the time. And it was like living in a fish bowl; people were always looking in,
especially during arati. Didn't matter if it was the daytime or the nighttime; people would
come and take a look and just couldn't believe what they were seeing. You can tell by this woman's face. "What is this?" I had an encounter, actually, with the Mafia one time There were a couple of men from Italy. I could tell they were from Italy. They were having a good time. They had money. So I went out and I asked them for a donation, "Take a book please." And they said,
"Well we're going gambling, "but whoever wins, we'll come and give you the money and then we'll get a book." I said, "OK." But they came back and they gave me money, and then they said,
"We want you to meet our boss." And I turned around and there was this long limousine and they said, "Get in." I was scared to death. I didn't know if they were going to close the doors on me
and that was going to be the end. Anyway, I got in the very back and there was a gentleman that looked just like the books you read about and the movies you saw as a kid. The Godfather. He looked exactly like that. He was an elderly gentleman—I was scared—but he couldn't speak English. So here's the young man, who had been at the window, he brought me in, we were sitting in the limousine, and I'm trying to convince this man to take a Bhagavad-gita, a German Bhagavad-gita, an Italian-speaking man and I'm speaking English. So, I said some things. Somehow or other, he took the Bhagavad-gita and gave a very nice donation. And I was actually able to get out of the limousine and off they drove and I never saw them again. It was a very interesting experience; a test of faith, to say the least.
B.A. Paramadvaiti Swami: We were starting to learn English with Prabhupada's tapes because it wasn't an English-speaking country, so in the beginning it was difficult because Prabhupada's intonation isn't that easy. But quickly we learned it and then listening
to Prabhupada's tapes was really one of our main joys. Without Srila Prabhupada, nothing
would have happened at that time. He had this mystical power to reach us, even though we were so distant from him and knew so little about him, but he had us electrified. And whatever the plan of Krishna was, it was definitely meant to happen and Srila Prabhupada was floating in that nectar of his Movement reaching out everywhere. But when you went to Prabhupada or when you talked to him about any specifics, you could see that he was so aware of all the details: just like perfectly the pure devotee in contact with the Supersoul, knowing what to say and what's going on, even though it's impossible that he knows it all simultaneously. But he was always there for each and every one of us and we felt that protection. That's why not only it worked at that time, it also works for those who follow him even afterwards because nowadays there are
so many generations of devotees. But I have a very, very strong feeling that there's not much difference of them to us because even though we are fortunate at having met Prabhupada personally, the mystical influence of Prabhupada's outreach, it just reaches anybody who loves him and who has a feeling that he wants to do something for him. And that's a mystical power
which definitely keeps working just like as if he was still with us.