March - April 1974: JUHU, BOMBAY, INDIA – Roof darshan, Walk, Guru Puja, Evening Arotik, Prasadam distribution
Aditya dasi: For a very short time we had that flat for Prabhupada, and when he lived there he used to go to the rooftop every evening and give darshan and he’d chant his Gayatri. One time when he went up there he said, “I have two favorite places in the world, this Juhu and Hawaii. Why? Because wherever there are palm trees, that is paradise.” At that time, I counted all the trees. We had over 200 trees on the Hare Krishna Land, palm trees, and Prabhupada loved it there. The tenants that lived in the back side, they would line up along the road. As Prabhupada would come in, they would all be standing there ready to greet him and Prabhupada would smile and speak to every one of them. It was such a very nice thing. Sometimes as devotees we had a little problem with the tenants, but they all loved Prabhupada and they must have felt his love.
Harikesa das: At this time, there were not that many people who came; but the people who did come were very devoted, like Manmohan das Kejariwal. We did all kinds of Life Member-making together in Bombay. And these ladies, Gandharvika’s mother, they cooked and they cleaned, they did everything. There was an awful lot of devotion in these very few people. When he gave lectures at night, there maybe had been 30, 40 people came. They were very attentive, and they were willing to do anything. Like Mr. Sethi when he came, he built the temple as a gift to Prabhupada more or less and rebuilt it also. We rebuilt it in one day, practically speaking, when they tore it down. So at this time you can’t really say anything was really happening. It was just try to collect some money, try to get it together. But Prabhupada really liked it there. I think he felt very at home in Bombay. He liked his quarters, even though they weren’t very spectacular, it was just a plain old apartment. He just liked being there, he liked the weather. He liked very much sitting on that roof at night. That’s Mr. Sethi, he was very devoted. He practically did anything. This is the daughter of the Warriers, they were incredibly devoted people, the whole family.
Smriti Warrier: This is the gurukula kids. All of us came up, and we had made these garlands and we all offered it to Prabhupada. It was such a festival. We were all excited, at the same time very anxious. At that time, the temple was small so it was more like a family. So everyone knew each other and everyone…it was one big family. We were there every evening. Daddy was there like clockwork. He used to go to mangal aratik and guru-puja, and then he’d go to work. And the evening aratik, he would be there too. We had pictures at first on the altar and then Navayogendra Swami, he had given us this Chaturbhuj Krishna. So we used to go ahead and have aratiks, and every day evening aratik was my job. I was the pujari at home. That was one thing Daddy had started at home was to have the evening aratik. Six o’clock I had to come back in, take a shower, by seven I had to do the aratik. Before he passed away actually, the night before he got really sick and he had to go to the hospital he said, “No, until Baby finishes the aratik I’m not going.” So then I came, I did the aratik and he was breathing real heavy, he was really, really sick. Then after the aratik he left for the hospital, and the next morning at ten o’clock he passed away. That was the last I saw my dad was after I did the aratik, he gave me a big hug before he went and that was it. If it wasn’t for Prabhupada, we wouldn’t be doing that aratik. He taught everything we have, everything we know. That’s my dad and mom, and that’s Mr. Menon there. That’s my dad.
Yasomatinandana das: Here we see Srila Prabhupada, so transcendental, so detached, and watching these girls dance. He is so patient. Jagat Guru of the whole world, he is writing books that will last for 10,000 years, and yet he is so at home in all situations. He is so peaceful. That’s what now we see after 30 years because in those days we were very young, we took it for granted. But now that we have become older, we realize that even in the old age Prabhupada had no anxiety or no worries. His only worry was how to save the world in Krishna consciousness. Here in Bombay he was very intimate with all the devotees as well as the guests. Whoever came forward was blessed by Prabhupada immensely. So this was a place you can say where Prabhupada distributed love of God very freely. Patrapatra-vicara nahi, nahi sthanasthana. Without considering of who is deserving and who is not, without considering this place is OK or not, Prabhupada just magnanimously passed out loving devotional service. He is smiling so royally, so blissfully. This is his famous style. He would nod his head, approving whatever was going on. Akshayananda Maharaj, he is asking Prabhupada, showing the book, and he is going to read now. This was Prabhupada’s another famous pastime. A guest would come, he would quote a verse from Bhagavad-gitaand then he would say, “Open the Bhagavad-gitaand start reading.” Then he would ask us to read the whole verse and the purport and again speak on that. This way every darshan became a perpetual Srimad-Bhagavatamclass. From four o’clock in the afternoon till nine o’clock or practically till he took rest, he would constantly speak.
Bhagavat das: One evening I was alone on the roof with Srila Prabhupada, and we were talking about varnasrama. This was just after he gave the varnasrama talks in Vrindavan and he was telling me various things, similar things that he had discussed on the walk. Then he started talking about Gandhi. He said that Gandhi actually wanted to establish varnasrama throughout India. His plan that he had presented to Nehru and the others was that first every village should become self-sufficient in making their own clothes, food, etc., etc. But he said Sardar Patel and Nehru betrayed Gandhi and they went ahead with the British plan to introduce factories immediately, and he said because of that India has become spoiled. Had they set up the villages first the way Gandhi taught, he said then the spiritual progress of India would have remained intact. Then after that he was almost tearful and he said to me, “I loved Gandhi. He really wanted the best things for India.” I was just amazed that Prabhupada said that. So the next morning we went on a morning walk. Every morning Prabhupada would walk on the beach in Bombay. At different times, some of the Indian gentlemen, Life Members, etc., would join our party. When they would join the party, as is customary they would offer with folded palms pranam to Prabhupada, namaskar, and Prabhupada out of respect would do the same to them. So on the morning after this discussion with Srila Prabhupada, we took a much longer walk than usual – way down to the end of the beach. So when we got very far down the beach, and I was on his left-hand side, he turned to his left and he offered his pranam in a very deep and generous way. And when I looked there was no one there, but way up there was a statue of Gandhi under a gazebo. Prabhupada had walked to the end of the beach to offer a respect to Gandhi. Then we’re walking back and some of the Life Members come and join, and one of the Life Members brings up something about Gandhi. So they were saying Gandhi said this and that in the Gita and what did Prabhupada think. Prabhupada said, “Gandhi destroyed the Gita, Gandhi said this, Gandhi said that, he made all mistakes,” and then Prabhupada was going on and on, now criticizing Gandhi’s translation of the Gita and his different ideas and concepts, like that. Then after he finished saying all these things, he turned and he looked at me and he smiled.
Giriraj Swami: Many aristocratic people take their morning walks on Juhu Beach. One morning as we were approaching the end of the beach, some very poor and humble fisher ladies approached Srila Prabhupada and they very humbly joined their palms together and offered respects to Srila Prabhupada and said “Hare Krishna.” Srila Prabhupada commented that they are hundreds of times better than the rich people who don’t know how to respect a saintly person. Another time as we were walking back from Juhu Beach, Dr. Patel noticed the compound wall that Mr. Sethi had built around the property on Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. So Dr. Patel told Srila Prabhupada that “People are saying now you have a prison inside there.” Prabhupada paused for a moment and said, “No, the prison is outside. Inside is freedom.”
Pancadravida Swami: I was walking with Prabhupada on the beach, and I wanted to impress Prabhupada. So I said, “Prabhupada, just look how all these people are mad after sense gratification,” and he turned to me and he said, “You brought the poison with you.” Which means that previously India was Krishna conscious and the Westerners brought the sense gratification of Western civilization to India, they brought the poison with them.
Ekanatha das: When he passed that one particular tree, it had quite a lot of foliage on it; and that morning there were a lot of birds in that tree, and they were making racket like anything. It was very noisy to the extent that you couldn’t really hear what you were saying, it was very noisy. Then Prabhupada stopped and looked at the tree and pointed his cane towards the tree and he said, “They are discussing Krishna-katha.” We were all looking, “What?” And then Prabhupada turned around and he kept walking. And we were all…“Really?” Prabhupada was quite serious.
Giriraj Swami: Sometimes Srila Prabhupada would point to the seagulls or small birds that would walk just by the border of the ocean and he would say, “The huge ocean with such huge waves, at any moment the waves could drown the little birds. But still they dare to walk just at the tip of the water. Why?” Then Srila Prabhupada said, “Because the ocean is under the control of Krishna, and the birds know the ocean is under control. It cannot suddenly go out of its boundaries and drown them and, therefore, they dare to walk by the edge of the ocean.”
Devotee reading Krsna Book: “And we simply think how much we are obliged to Him for giving us protection in so many dangerous situations. My dear Uddhava, when we think of Krishna’s beautiful face and eyes and His different activities here in Vrindavan, we become so overwhelmed that all our activities cease. We simply think of Krishna, how He used to smile and how He looked upon us. When we go to the banks of the Yamuna and other lakes of Vrindavan or near Govardhan Hill or the pasturing field, we see that the impressions of Krishna’s footprints are still on the surface of the earth. We remember Him playing in those places because He was constantly visiting them.”
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore, Mayavadi takes that this Krishna-lila is maya. They are surprised how God can be affectionate like this – He is nirvikara, He is without any attachment. They cannot understand this philosophy.
Yasomatinandana das: On one occasion, Srila Prabhupada was criticizing the Mayavadi philosophy, especially the philosophy of Vivekananda and Ramakrishna. Yatha math, tatha path: as many ways, so many conclusions. In this philosophy, it means that whomever you want to worship you can worship. Whoever your heart goes to you can worship, and you will attain the same supreme destination. Srila Prabhupada was extremely opposed to this conclusion. So whenever such idea came, he would put them down forcefully and call them rascals who believes in such nonsense philosophy. So one time one of the Dr. Patel’s friends, Mr. Shah, he started screaming, “Why you always criticize?! You always criticize so many different people!” So devotees were ready to push him away but Prabhupada said, “No, no, no, don’t do anything.” So for three or four minutes he kept criticizing, and we kept walking. Finally Prabhupada said, “What can we do? We have to train our disciples against all kinds of deviant philosophies. Therefore, sometimes we have to criticize. Krishna also criticizes in the Bhagavad-gita, na mam duskrtino mudhah, prapadyante naradhamah. Krishna also in this way criticizes people who do not surrender to Him. Therefore, we also have to do that,” Prabhupada would say. So then he kept quiet. It was about five minutes before we came to the temple, just at the corner of Gandhigram Road. So we all came back quietly. Prabhupada would not let any of us become upset with the man. Then as usual we came to the vyasasan and Guru-puja was going on. We were offering flowers. So this Mr. Shah also came to offer flowers. He offered flowers to Prabhupada’s lotus feet, then he put his head on Prabhupada’s feet and started crying like a little baby. He was just crying incessantly. He knew he had committed a great offense. Srila Prabhupada was so kind, he just put his hand on his head and said, “It’s OK, it’s OK.” So gradually cooled him down. After that, next day Prabhupada said, “We don’t want to talk because if Dr. Patel comes he will again argue. Let us instead read Krsna Book.” So this is how this Krsna Bookreading started instead of the discussions.
Bhagavat das: From the morning walk, Srila Prabhupada would come up to the temple. We’d open the curtains, he’d offer his respects to the Deities. We would then offer flowers to the Deities and flowers to Srila Prabhupada, and that would be our morning greeting of the Deities and Srila Prabhupada. On this particular morning when we came, Srila Prabhupada was asked to sit on the vyasasan. Then when he sat on the vyasasan, a full arati was offered to Srila Prabhupada and the prayer sri-guru-carana-padma was sung in glorification of Srila Prabhupada. We all went up and we all offered flowers to Prabhupada and offered our dandavats. Then after this puja was done to Srila Prabhupada, then Srila Prabhupada greeted the Deities and then we offered our respect to the Deities. This was the first official guru-puja. It happened around April of ’74, if I’m correct. From that point on, it spread to all the temples in the movement. I went back to Africa, and then I told them that this is now how we’re going to conduct the morning program. Similarly other devotees went back to other temples, and this became the standard by which we worshiped Srila Prabhupada and the greeting of the Deities in the morning.
Dinanath das: One evening we were having a very ecstatic kirtan. We were singing and singing and dancing and it was very, very ecstatic. So I was trying to keep to the schedule more or less so that he could give class afterwards, but the kirtan this night just became very, very…it was a wonderful kirtan. Then the conch shell blows and the arati is over. So I said, “OK, let me lead one more round.” I led one more round and it got ecstatic. I said, “Well, maybe one more round,” and it got really ecstatic. I said, “OK, this is it, we’re going to stop.” The devotees had finished responding, and I stopped the kirtan. I was in the process of bowing down and I heard the kartals still playing…ding ding ding ding ding ding…and I looked up and Prabhupada, he was still going at the same tempo and he was still in ecstasy. I came back up and started chanting again, and Prabhupada’s head was rocking side to side but we kept on singing. That was very, very wonderful. Then we went on past the time to start the class and everything. At that time, I waited for a signal from Prabhupada to stop. It wasn’t really he said “now stop,” but you could tell when he was finished, it was OK to stop. So I waited for a cue, a physical cue from his body. At that time, I became more attentive to his ecstasy as opposed to my ecstasy or our ecstasy.
Gangamayee dasi: Always the kirtans after class. Every time Prabhupada finished a class he’d say, “Thank you very much.” Then the kirtan would start, and that was very special. The classes were so sweet and so nice and so fantastic that you felt like jumping up and down after Prabhupada gave the class. We just leapt up in the air in gratitude. We went wild.
Lokanath Swami: There I am, dancing in kirtan like crazy. Prabhupada would be noticing, looking at us. When we would see his appreciation on his face, we could read the appreciation, that would give us further boost and then higher we would jump. We were realizing this was giving him great pleasure. We were young and energetic and we thought that was the best use of our energy, just dance for Prabhupada’s pleasure. And, of course, Radha-Rasabehari were pleased. Great kirtans. That was an amazing place and amazing times. We were so fortunate being in Bombay.
Aditya dasi: Dinanath was there and he was leading, and he would lead such a wonderful kirtan. Gargamuni had come from Calcutta with his tape recorder because he liked to make tapes to give to his Life Members. So Dinanath was going from one end of the temple to the other end of the temple and all the brahmacaris running back and forth with him doing an ecstatic kirtan, and Gargamuni was so funny chasing after him with his tape recorder and trying to keep it to his mouth and chasing this way and chasing…it was really a funny scene. And Prabhupada was sitting on the vyasasan laughing.
Giriraj Swami: Although Juhu had some opulent hotels, it was originally just a fishing village and there were many poor people who lived in the area; and their children would come to the evening programs and join the chanting and dancing and, of course, they would take prasad from Srila Prabhupada’s hand at the end of the arati. But Srila Prabhupada was concerned about them and he actually said that we should keep bins, one for clothing and one for food grains, and we should give the clothing to the poor children and give them prasad. In this way, Srila Prabhupada wanted to take care of them as young devotees of Krishna.
Brahmananda das: So one evening Prabhupada was giving out prasadam to all these kids. I said, “Oh, Prabhupada, let me do it,” and I went to take the plate from Prabhupada. And, oh, Prabhupada looked at me. He said, “I will do it.” He was actually giving mercy. That was his mission. This is the program – to worship Krishna and take Krishna prasadam. In New York in 1966, it was an apple, a cut apple, and here it is just some fruit. But this was Prabhupada’s program, very simple but very deep. And Prabhupada gave his full attention to it. He wasn’t doing it in some offhand quick way, but very deliberate.
Visakha dasi: Prabhupada pointed out in his talks that even well-to-do people would come to get this prasadam. They didn’t need it, they weren’t in need of food, but they valued it as something spiritual, something that could help them in their spiritual life. And this Prabhupada said was the purpose of prasadam. It’s not just an altruistic activity that we give prasadam to poor people or destitute people. We can do that, but prasadam is for everyone because spiritually we are all poor, we are all destitute. We need this mercy from Krishna, and Prabhupada was very generous about it. The children would sometimes come twice or even three times, and Prabhupada would smile and wag his finger at them; but he would give them again and again.
Sridhar Swami: Prabhupada came and he went into this room where there was a cushion and bolsters and a little table. He sat down to speak to the team, and I brought him in a plate of sweets and fruits and things and put it down in front of him. He just stopped and he turned and looked up to me and he said, “Thank you very much.” I knew that he did not mean “thank you for the fruit” or “thank you for cleaning the apartment.” He was saying, “Thank you for giving your life.” And that was so gratifying when any devotee got that kind of reciprocation with Prabhupada, it made it all worthwhile.
Brahmananda das: So this is Jayanta, the only African at this time that Prabhupada initiated. We brought him to meet Prabhupada. Prabhupada came to Kenya four times. When he asked me to go, I had just come from Pakistan. This is in Bombay. Prabhupada said, “What will you do? What is your program?” He said, “I think I will send you to Africa. If you go there, then we will be on all the continents.” And he said it in such a way that, oh, it was so inspiring.
Aditya dasi: Another time in that same little temple room, Prabhupada came down to give the Bhagavad-gita class but Yasomatinandana was there. He had come from America, trying to settle in Bombay. So Prabhupada told him, “You give the class.” Just like that on the spot he had to sit in front of Prabhupada and give the Bhagavad-gitaclass, and he gave it in Hindi. And Prabhupada just sat on the vyasasan and smiled, he was so pleased with his class, and every once in a while he would tell him something in Sanskrit. Otherwise he just let him give the whole class all by himself.
Dinatarine dasi: I had received an inheritance in the spring of 1974. I was in Bombay at that time, and Giriraj Brahmacari came and said that there was an apartment becoming available and we had to buy the apartment so that the people would leave. So I was able to give part of the money to help buy that apartment. It was an amazing apartment with this beautiful gray very cooling granite, and it had wide open verandas and porches so a wonderful cross breeze came through. So with the combination of the granite and the cross breeze, it always was cool in there even if it was very hot outside. Srila Prabhupada liked those rooms very much. He lived in that apartment the whole time he was in Bombay. One of the salient features of the apartment was a big open roof. Srila Prabhupada would go up there and sometimes cut kerala and dry them on the roof in the sun. So Palika and I had an idea to make him a wonderful asana up there, and we arranged to have big white pillows made and a big white seat for him and put them in front of a neem tree on the roof. Srila Prabhupada would go up there every evening, and he loved to sit on that asana in many different poses. Sometimes he would sit horizontally with his legs over one pillow and his head over another, and sometimes he would sit cross-legged and sometimes up with his knees drawn up. And it appeared to me at that time that he was extremely robust in health and very jolly in his mood. Things were progressing in Bombay nicely at that time. He would sit up there and whoever would come, they were destined to see the most wonderful aspects of Srila Prabhupada’s personality, his character, his nature, his eloquence, his gracefulness, his aristocratic bearing. So many aspects of him were in full display.
Srila Prabhupada: In other words, the spirit soul is person as much as God is also person. Imperson means the covering. Try to understand. The covering is impersonal, not the living being who is covered. He is not impersonal, he is person. Very simple example. The coat-shirt is imperson but the man who is putting on coat and shirt, he is not imperson. He is person. So how God can be imperson? The material energy is imperson. That is explained in the Bhagavad-gita: maya tatam idam sarvam, jagad avyakta-murtina. This jagat is avyakta, impersonal. That is also energy of Krishna. Therefore He says, “I am expanded in the impersonal form.” That impersonal feature is Krishna’s energy. So the material covering is impersonal, but the spirit soul or the Supersoul is person. Any question in this, it is a very intricate question, anyone?
Satsvarupa das Goswami: I remember around this time I unfortunately grew restless with my duties while I was in Juhu and I wanted some other service rather than just being a servant. So I wrote Prabhupada a note about that, and I put it on top of the letters one day. He instructed me and he said, “Don’t be a monkey jumping here and there, looking for some different service. Keep the service that you have and be satisfied with it.” So I immediately felt terrible that I had asked to leave my service, and I wrote him another note back and apologized that I asked to be transferred and I said, “Please, I’m satisfied, I don’t want another service. Don’t throw me away.” And he wrote me a little note on top of that one and he said, “You are very pure. May Krishna save you from calamities.” But then later in Geneva, very animatedly he was talking about the need for a library party. “Who is going to do this? We need this. We need our books distributed all over the world. We need a library party, but no one is doing this. So who will do this?” I was in the room and I said, “I’ll do it.” He said, “Well, then do it.” Then I left the room and I was with the other sannyasis and I said, “Well, I guess I’ve got this new service,” and they said, “Yes. Well, you’ve wanted some new service, so now you have a new service.” Then later I said to him, “Do you really want me to do this service?” and Prabhupada said, “Yes, you can do it. Get some other brahmacaris and do this. But you have to get a replacement for your servant duties. I think you can get Brahmananda Swami, see if he’ll do it.” I found out if he could replace me, and he said he wanted to do it.
Visala das: I brought my wife to Bombay with me and I said to Srila Prabhupada in front of her, “Srila Prabhupada, the brahmacaris for years have kind of criticized the women, saying they’re less intelligent, their brain is smaller, they’re lustier, things like that. Is that true?” And Srila Prabhupada’s answer was, “You are chanting Hare Krishna and your wife is chanting Hare Krishna. Where is the question of being less intelligent?” I remember reading in Caitanya-caritamrta in Prabhupada’s purport, “The women in our movement are preaching. Therefore, they are as good as their brothers.” Then I said to Srila Prabhupada also, “Srila Prabhupada, I understand that the husband is representative of the spiritual master and the wife is representative of her husband. Srila Prabhupada, should she do everything I ask?” And Srila Prabhupada said, “And you should be so arrogant?”
Harikesa das: I had been cooking for Prabhupada for a long time, but I really had a hard time making chapatis because we were always in places where there were no proper stoves. To make a good chapati you need a gas stove at least or coals, and here we are in Mauritius and I’m cooking in a closet on a one-burner electric stove that didn’t even have enough power to boil water and I have to make a full meal that he likes up to his standards. So Prabhupada was complaining and complaining about the chapatis and I said, “I can’t get any wheat, I don’t have any stove, it is impossible.” This was going on many times in many places, just having to cook in the worst facilities you can imagine. So finally we get to Bombay and there are good facilities and there is good wheat, Prabhupada knows it. However, the gas stove I had had such a low pressure there was only maybe a little flame like this. So I had made chapatis, and they didn’t blow up all the way. I was really trying my best. So then Prabhupada tells me, “You are so useless. Big, big brain, you can’t even make a chapati.” I had been struggling with those chapatis for months now, and I was so fried with hearing about chapatis. I said, “Prabhupada, no one can make a good chapati in that kitchen.” Prabhupada said, “No one?” I said, “No one.” He said, “Get out of my way.” He stood up, he marched into the kitchen with me following behind him. He sits on the floor. He says, “Give me the dough.” He was making with the dough, rolls his chapati, puts it on the burner, takes it off the burner. And I’m just sitting there very peacefully, waiting for the outcome. And he’s looking at me, and then he puts the chapati on the flame, turns it over, it doesn’t blow up. I thought, “I got him now. He’s never going to get on my case about that chapati again.” Prabhupada looks at me like he’s going to burn me to ashes. He’s making with the dough, rolls his chapati, puts it on the burner, takes it off the burner, puts it on the flame, it blows up perfectly. He picks it up with the tweezers and throws it right in my face. It bounces off my nose. He stands up and walks out of the kitchen, and I’m sitting there. It was really funny. We had that kind of relationship sometimes.
Haridas: Sometimes ’74 Prabhupada asked me I should go all over the world and cook and kirtan and preach. So then again after one month Prabhupada comes to Bombay. He said, “Why are you here?” I said, “I cannot go. I am not getting passport.” He said, “Why you are not getting passport?” I said, “In the form required father name, and I don’t know who is my father.” He said, “OK, bring that form.” Then he called Aditya and said, “Type his father name A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada,” and then he signed in that form. Then he put the stamp, ISKCON stamp, and after two days I got the passport. And ever since in all my legal document, if my father name required the Prabhupada name comes.
Srila Prabhupada: When we become free from these artificial designations – American consciousness, Indian consciousness, African consciousness – there is no such thing, this is artificial. Even bird and beast, they also feel consciousness, pains and pleasures. Just like when there is scorching heat, you feel some pain. Is that American, Indian or African? The scorching heat is everywhere, feeling. If you say that “I am feeling scorching heat American way…” [Hindi: What do you think? Can that happen? No.] Simply these are artificial. Everything is depending on consciousness. Everything is depending on consciousness. Therefore, Krishna consciousness is the original standard consciousness. So we have given the name Krishna consciousness very thoughtfully.
Brahmananda das: Prabhupada had installed Bankibehari in Nairobi and I was getting offering plates and so on in Calcutta, and I had this idea to get a pair of padams, sadhu shoes, but made of silver and very nicely engraved and with Prabhupada’s name and Founder Acharya. My idea was to take these and touch them to Prabhupada’s feet and then bring them back to Nairobi and worship, have on the altar. So one morning at the guru-puja, very ceremoniously I placed them on the cushion for Prabhupada’s feet where the flowers were put and Prabhupada saw them, bright shiny silver, and he was approving very nicely. Then he put his feet into them and Prabhupada was wearing them. After the morning program, then Prabhupada went to leave wearing the shoes. I just wanted Prabhupada to touch his feet and I was going to take them, and Prabhupada took them and I was surprised. Prabhupada could see my surprise, and then he understood that I wanted them. So then he stopped and took them off, I could have them. But he was wearing them very nicely.
Giriraj Swami: In order to build the Juhu temple, we needed a No Objection Certificate from the police commissioner. After waiting and waiting and making so many efforts, finally the police commissioner sent a letter in which he refused to issue the No Objection Certificate on the grounds that the bhajan singing which has been complained about in the past is likely to be a nuisance in the future as well. We sent news to Srila Prabhupada in Vrindavan, and when he received it he became furious. In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna says satatam kirtayanto mam, that one should always engage in kirtan, and how dare the commissioner call kirtan a nuisance. So Srila Prabhupada wanted to protest the words of the commissioner and the refusal of permission, and so he asked the devotees who had come to India for the annual festival in Mayapur and Vrindavan to travel to Bombay. He wanted them to do Harinam Sankirtan throughout the streets of the city, to distribute books and to hold programs. And then when the people of Bombay were convinced about the value of Krishna consciousness, they themselves would prevail upon the government to give us the permission for the temple. He also wanted some of the more qualified devotees such as Balavanta prabhu to meet with the political leaders to get support. Eventually we were able to meet the Chief Minister of Maharastra, and he somehow saw through the whole case. He saw that actually we were innocent and we were being victimized by political interests, and within one day everything was reversed. The news spread everywhere to every government office that the Chief Minister is in favor of the temple, and it was like night and day. Suddenly everyone was very friendly and cooperative, and very soon thereafter we began the construction.
April 1974: HYDERABAD, INDIA – The Deities of Radha Madana-Mohana relocate to Their new temple
Anandamaya das: We had just constructed a temporary temple in the center of Hyderabad and the land had been donated by one prominent sweet merchant Sri G. Pulla Reddy. So Srila Prabhupada came and he offered arati to the Deities. At that time, we had not given any name to the Deities. We were just waiting. And immediately, Srila Prabhupada saw the Deities, he gave the name of Sri Sri Radha Madana-mohana. They had been brought from Jaipur by Srimate Palika devi dasi. There was no installation ceremony as such. That would be done later on when
the main temple became completed in August, 1976. At that time Prabhupada came again and he installed all the Deities including Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, Sri Sri Jagannath, Subhadra, Baladev and Sri Sri Radha-Madana-mohana. So, two prominent sannyasis, disciples of Srila Prabhupada, can be seen in this movie. One is His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami, who was at that time GBC for the whole of India, and the other sannyasi is His Holiness Yasodanandana Swami, who was preaching at that time in South India. And he will be also present in the main installation ceremony.
Yasodanandan das: The installation of the Deities of Radha-Madana-Mohana occurred in August of 1976. We discussed with Prabhupada and made an arrangement to get 12 South Indian Ramanuja Vaishnava brahmanas under the leadership of Sampath Kumar Bhattacharya who were very versed in these ritualistic ceremonies of how to open a Vaishnava temple. When Srila Prabhupada came from the airport, they gave him a very grand reception and they actually performed acharya puja. There is even a recorded lecture where Srila Prabhupada discussed how in this age there are very few brahmanas left but he was pleased that in South India, he considered that there were still some bona fide brahmanas. Prabhupada had a very interesting conversation in his room with some of these brahmanas. He requested them to arrange to take Srila Prabhupada to all the major temples of South India. “I want to go there and re-establish varnasrama dharma in South India.” And Srila Prabhupada was preaching to them how it was the responsibility of these educated scholarly brahmanas, very cultured people, to take this up and preach to the local people. And Prabhupada said, “I will come and show you.” But overall Prabhupada was very pleased with the opening of the temple, and on the Vyasa Puja Day there was a grand ceremony, so it was a pretty blissful experience.
April 1974: TIRUPATI, INDIA
Yadubara das: Srila Prabhupada stayed in Tirupati for three days, and the highlight of that trip was a special early morning darshan at 2:00 a.m. I remember it was just a very mystical atmosphere, entering the Deity room by torchlight and then coming in front of Lord Venkateshwara and the pujari waving the ghee lamp to illuminate His form. It was wonderful to see Srila Prabhupada gaze in reverence upon his Lord.
May 1974: ROME, ITALY – Cooking, Program
Bala Gopal dasi: At the time, Prabhupada wasn’t very well. So he was traveling with his own personal cook, who was Satsvarupa Maharaj. But when they arrived, they had just come from India, Satsvarupa had hepatitis. So then it was decided that I would be his cook. So because of that, Prabhupada was very involved in the cooking. So on three different occasions he came into the kitchen, and on this one particular time he came in to cook lunch and he cooked the whole meal along with me and whoever was helping, Narmada. For some reason, I’m pretty sure we made asparagus that day. I had cooked for him previously, but one of Prabhupada’s endearing qualities was his pure innocence. He would come into the kitchen, and this was a very, very tiny room. Prabhupada would walk into the kitchen and he’d see a bowl of chickpeas. He’d point at everything, “What is that?” He was just so curious, but never imposing. He would just be pure innocence – “What is this? What is this? What is this?” – curious about everything. So we had a couple Italian devotees cook an Italian preparation on a few days and Prabhupada inquired what it was before he ate it, but he enjoyed them.
Dhananjaya das: This particular footage was taken in May of 1974. It was the very first big public festival program that Prabhupada was present at. It was held in Hotel Parco dei Principi, which is a five-star hotel in a beautiful park called Villa Borghese right in the heart of Rome. The auditorium had seating for 500. So I was thinking in the back of my mind that day, “What if only 25 or 30 people show up? It’s going to be a terrible impression.” It just so happened that I was with Prabhupada the whole day, and we got there quite late. Actually when we got to the hall, the lights were down and we were showing “The World of Hare Krishna.” So then after about 5 or 10 minutes we were called that the film had just finished, so could we please immediately come onto the stage. And when we got onto the stage and the lights went up, I noticed that every single seat had been taken. It was absolutely amazing. Then I noticed that there were people standing at the back of the hall, there were people down the two sides of the hall, and there was even people sitting in the aisle in the middle. So I reckon there must have been at least 800 came to that program. Prabhupada turned to me and he said, “Oh, these Italians, they are very interested in Krishna consciousness. They want to hear.” So after the kirtan, Prabhupada started to speak and the translator was this very nice Italian devotee called Alikrsna. So Prabhupada spoke for 45 minutes. Then he asked for questions, and there was a forest of arms shot up. It was just amazing. There were hundreds of people wanted to ask a particular question. Prabhupada turned to me again and he said, “Oh, just see, they really want to understand. I am very happy that they have this enthusiasm for learning Krishna consciousness.” So Prabhupada spent about an hour answering questions. Then we had another kirtan, we distributed prasadam, and then we went back to the temple on Via Mistretta.
Dayanidhi das: I was a very young student. I was 17 years old, and I was very much interested in looking for some serious answer, real answer. Because I was born in Assisi, I was willing to join the monks there. I started to become a monk. But then I became discouraged because everything was very mysterious, no answer to my questions about death, about life after death, no answer. I discovered the temple was very close to my house, a hundred meters. So they invited me for the Sunday Feast. Because they just arrived there I never saw them before. I went to the Sunday Feast, and practically I joined almost immediately. I stayed there up to midnight. Somaka prabhu was the devotee who was preaching to me, and immediately we became very close friends. After a month, Prabhupada arrived in the beginning of May. The first impression I had was that the devotees, they were working so hard for Prabhupada’s arrival, working day and night, especially Somaka prabhu. So much love the devotees had for Prabhupada, I never saw anything similar before, and that love impressed me even more when Prabhupada arrived because I remember there were many devotees coming from all over Europe. When he arrived, everybody crying. All the devotees, maybe 150 devotees, everybody crying, chanting and crying. Such a deep affection, such a deep love, and I saw a very, very deep relationship. What impressed me another thing that Prabhupada arrived in Rome coming from Delhi, from India. Immediately he went to the temple, and I was so impressed how very slowly he paid his obeisances with such deep devotion. We had Gaura-Nitai just installed a few days before. Immediately after he sat on the vyasasan, he gave a class, he gave a speech to the devotees. I thought he is coming from a long, long distance, he must be very tired and he was traveling in the night, but he was very fresh. Everybody was so enthusiastic, and it was such an unbelievable atmosphere. I was becoming convinced very quickly that he was in touch with God. So I got such clear information from Prabhupada’s philosophy. I became immediately convinced by the philosophy. When I saw Prabhupada, I saw a very, very powerful person and my eyes, my heart, my consciousness became completely attracted. That week changed completely my life, completely, and I can see after more than 30 years that Prabhupada has become the main thing in my life. The day I became initiated I felt not part anymore of this world. I had the fortune to distribute Prabhupada’s books for many years. I always faced many difficulties. They put me in jail. As soon as I joined, I served a month in jail because I was doing sankirtan on the street. I was one year in Greece doing sankirtan on the street, a couple of times somebody tried to kill me with a knife. But I don’t feel difficulties thanks to Prabhupada’s mercy. He completely changed my life forever.
Dhananjaya das: We went for different morning walks in different historical parts of Rome, the Colosseum. He turned to me and he said, “What is this?” I said, “Well, this is an old Roman ruin where they used to hold games, entertainment. It’s like a big entertainment theater.” Prabhupada said, “What is the purpose of it now?” I said, “It’s considered an historical monument.” Then Prabhupada asked me, “Are there any toilets inside?” I said, “No, there’s no toilets.” He said, “What is the point of maintaining such a huge building and you can’t even go to the toilet?” He was just joking obviously. Then we took him to this place called EUR, which is a new development that came up during the time of Mussolini, and it’s a type of architecture called fascist architecture. There were very tall buildings there, and Prabhupada commented. He said, “Just see, they have not learned from their mistakes. They have this big historical building which is useless called the Colosseum, and still they’re making big skyscrapers. And what is the use of these skyscrapers? They are simply increasing their eating, sleeping, mating and defending. This is useless civilization. They are not learning anything. This is just simply chewing the chewed.” We had this house that Prabhupada stayed in. He stayed with us for nine days. It was a detached house with its own garden, and Prabhupada very much liked the weather there. All the neighbors on that small street where the temple was on Via Mistretta would come every morning, knowing exactly what time Prabhupada was going to go for his morning walk, and they would be standing in line ready to offer Prabhupada a freshly picked flower from their gardens. Some were also offering fruits to him too. They were so respectful. Prabhupada had a very nice impression. Actually he said the Italians, they are religious by nature. They desire the blessings of God, and it’s up to us as devotees to teach them how to become qualified to get those blessings.
June 1974: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Welcome by Governor, Program, Temple
Guru Gauranga das: At the end of May, Srila Prabhupada left Rome, Italy, for Geneva. This is Prabhupada accompanied by Satsvarupa and myself, greeting him at Geneva International Airport. For us, this was just the most inconceivable thing, that we could have Prabhupada in a very small temple for 10 days. This is Indradyumna, who was not a sannyasi at the time, leading kirtan. This particular film was done by the Swiss National Television in French and it was broadcast on the evening news that night. We had a very busy schedule for Srila Prabhupada. We had 10 days of meetings with some very famous, prominent people. Everything took place in French and I was very fortunate to be able to be Prabhupada's main translator. We had a very cute villa or house in the close suburbs of Geneva to downtown, and we organized
a fire sacrifice and ceremony. And this is all in the backyard of the temple. Here we have an explanation by Yogesvara prabhu. Prabhupada was received upon arrival by the Governor of Geneva in the main government building in the very same room where Pope Paul IV was received. The Governor of Geneva was very concerned about what might happen to the Swiss economy if many of the young people join the Hare Krishna Movement, and after the official greeting and the informal conversation, I translated his queries to Prabhupada and Prabhupada gave him a brief description of the varnashram system and tried to allay his concerns. Almost a year later when I was going to the Mayapur festival, I traveled from Bombay to Calcutta on the same plane with Prabhupada and Prabhupada remembered this Governor very well. He called me over and asked me to sit next to him and said, "So is the Governor still worried about the Swiss economy if everyone joins the Hare Krishna Movement?" and then he laughed. We organized a festival in the "Salle du Faubourg" in Geneva, a very famous room. Over 1,000 people came. If you consider that Geneva is a famous city but a very small city with, at the time, I think about
180,000 to 200,000 residents, getting 1,000 people into a festival hall, that's a significant
percentage of the local population. We distributed books for so many years. We would literally knock on every single door in the country about once a year. And we had to make sure that
people had a pleasant experience with a devotee knocking on their door. Hopefully they would take a book, but even if they didn't take a book, we'd be back a year later. So the cumulative effect of all this was that Prabhupada's books, on a per capita basis in a country, I've got to think that it's probably one of the most dense distribution of books in the world.
Sri Kama dasi: About that time, I was on a serious spiritual search, looking at different spiritual groups of all sorts and was never satisfied. And I somehow landed up near Geneva in France living in a kind of community. I actually had spent many months on my own, very disillusioned with material life and the kind of people that were living around me. And I had a boyfriend who went to New Zealand and sent me beads and Bhagavad-gita and books. So I spent months just reading, chanting and praying, actually very sincerely to Krishna to help me find what I was looking for. And chanting on my own, I didn't even know really how to do it, and reading Gita and Nectar of Devotion, and painting my first picture of Krishna with a deer. And then one day a friend from the community said, "Oh, I've been in Geneva and there's a poster. The leader of this Movement, the ISKCON Movement, is coming to Geneva. Do you want to come?" So I said, "Yeah, OK, it sounds interesting." So we went off to the temple that day in Geneva. I'd never been to a temple before, and we were ushered into the garden, and there I saw Srila Prabhupada
and he was performing a fire sacrifice. I saw a devotee, a lady prostrate at his feet, and I stood there and just looking in wonderment, really. And suddenly Srila Prabhupada looked straight over at me and into my eyes, and I really felt I was the only one in the garden at that point. It had a two-fold effect. First, I just wanted the ground to open up. I felt my soul naked, exposed and all my anarthas, which were very many at that time, flooded forward and I felt like disappearing into a hole in the ground. And the other enlightening moment was that I just looked at him and I knew that split second, this was my spiritual master. I just knew it in my heart, this is him. So it was a very profound experience, actually, very profound. It was another year until I eventually met Srila Prabhupada again and got initiation.
Guru Gauranga das: A Swiss writer and lecturer who was quite famous, Sergius Golowin,
came to visit Prabhupada. He came all the way from Bern. He had quite a following in his day. He was viewed as a genuine spiritual leader. He took his seat on the floor in Prabhupada's room and Prabhupada said, "So, do you have any questions?" And Sergius Golowin just said "No. No, I have no questions." I was sitting there. I had organized all of this, and I thought, "This fellow has come all this way, and he has nothing to say and nothing to ask." And then he said to Prabhupada, "I'm just so fortunate that I can be here in your presence and benefit from the company of a great master like yourself." And then he fell silent. He never said another word. And Prabhupada obviously felt a certain sympathy for this man because he pulled out the harmonium and he made a 30-minute bhajan and everyone just listened intently to Prabhupada. At the end of 30 minutes Prabhupada stopped. He was obviously in rapture with Krishna during that time, and it was perceptible to everyone, including this fellow, who said, "Thank you very much." And then Prabhupada said to me, "Make sure he gets prasadam on the way out." On June 6th, Prabhupada was invited to give a talk at the World Health Organization at the United Nations. They are responsible for all the family planning efforts of the U.N. all over the world. And Prabhupada at the time was translating Fifth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, specifically lecturing on Rishabhadev and His 100 sons. So Prabhupada spoke about that at the World Health Organization. He said that, "When someone is Krishna conscious, he is not a burden to the earth and there is no excess of such people and they can all live together in peace and harmony." And the title of Prabhupada's lecture was "The Myth of Overpopulation." It got a good turnout at the U.N. because it wasn't the perspective they're used to hearing. We had a few Swiss devotees. The blond girl, Krishna Kanta was her name, a very sweet devotee, French-Swiss. Who would have ever thought that Prabhupada would come to Geneva. But why not? Geneva is, in the world history of religion, a very important city. It was there that one of the great proponents of the Reformation Jean Calvin, organized the Protestant Reformation. So Prabhupada was organizing
the Krishna conscious reformation of Switzerland and the world.
Yogesvara das: Here we are, this is entering the City Hall of Geneva. This is Srila Prabhupada being shown through the entranceway. Somehow or other we managed to have Srila Prabhupada received as a dignitary in the large capitals of Europe. That happened in Rome, it happened in Geneva, it happened in Paris. This is a telling moment. Here you see Srila Prabhupada seated while the mayor of Geneva issues his greeting, and that’s Guru-Gauranga translating the mayor’s remarks from French to English. Often there would be a declaration or some kind of plaque or something that would be handed over as a way of acknowledging Srila Prabhupada’s visit to the city. Then Srila Prabhupada would reply, commenting as he often did on such occasions about the duty of good government to train citizens in what is spiritual life, also warning that any government that does not take the responsibility seriously is a hellish government. I remember that that caused some consternation in Paris when he was received at the City Hall there. The mayor got very nervous.
Bhargava das: Two French reporters came to visit Prabhupada. One was an older man, and one was a woman probably in her early 30’s. Prabhupada didn’t tell pastime stories. Mostly he preached about you’re not that body, a lot of philosophical things, but he didn’t generally tell so many stories. This woman was sitting there, and he starts telling her the story about how this demon kidnapped 16,000 princesses and Krishna finally came and killed the demon. The princesses approached Krishna because they were really attracted to Krishna, and Krishna looked at them and He said, “Come on,” and that’s how Krishna ended up with 16,000 wives. So as I’m listening to the story I’m thinking, “This is a pretty incredible story to tell a reporter, especially in the Western culture where everything is so rationalistic.” But he told that story, and when he quoted Krishna as saying, “Come on,” that reporter’s face lit up as only a woman who had some experience in the world of heartbreak could understand. And even though the number of wives may have sounded so incredible, that affection He had towards those princesses touched that woman’s heart and she just lit up. It was beyond the rational, it was just on the level of an appreciation of the loving heart of Krishna by this very intelligent, very sophisticated French reporter; and it was a very wonderful moment.
Jayantakrid das: I remember Prabhupada in our small temple in Switzerland. At one time he gave a class, and he was describing how we should create a very nice singhasan in our heart and invite Krishna there and it should be as beautiful as we can. It can be in gold, it can be in jewels, diamond, and we should seat Him there and worship Him. It was very impressive. I remember also asking Nitai, who was Prabhupada’s secretary at that time, “Did Prabhupada mention where he would go next life for preaching?” Nitai told me, “Prabhupada said he would go on the lower planets to preach in the next birth.” That was the most far-out thing. He said very clearly, “Prabhupada said he would go in the lower planets to preach the message of Krishna.”
June 1974: PARIS, FRANCE – Room darshan, Program, Walk
Narottamananda das: We had just finished completely changing the temple room – putting in arches, creating a new area for the Deities. Radha Paris-isvara had been sitting in the pujari room, which is located behind the altar, while the work was going on. Of course, you know what it’s like when Prabhupada is coming. In Chicago, they were still laying the floor while Prabhupada was practically walking in the door. So everybody is always working to the last minute. So they had just finished the work and the Deities were still in the pujari room and they said, “Prabhupada is here!” So then Sitala and I were carrying Paris-isvara back to the altar, and then she was just making the hair and making sure the crowns were neat and everything. We had just finished, and then Prabhupada walked in 30 seconds later. It was nerve-wracking but the temple room looked beautiful, the Deities looked fabulous, Prabhupada was in ecstasy, the devotees were in ecstasy. It was magical, a very magical time.
Satarupa dasi: I became Miss Denmark, and that propelled me to a career as a model. I became the most expensive model in London and Paris and I was working every single day for Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire. In 1974, I had a cover of Paris Match, which is a big newspaper, and it was sold in 24 countries with my cover with a sari on and the line was “I left everything for Krishna.” There were four pages inside – me making garlands in front of the Deities, dancing around Tulasi, dancing and chanting Harinam in front of the Eiffel Tower. So when Paris Match came out, of course they sent it to Prabhupada in Bombay, where he had it on his desk for one week. He would say to the people coming, “She gave up everything for Krishna, now you should do the same thing.” Prabhupada would be preaching like that.
Adisekar das: It was a serious, not so easy path, a path of spiritual emancipation. The more I learned, the more I understood it may not be finished in one life. So I asked him if when I leave my body and I’m not a pure devotee, in my next life is it you who is going to be my spiritual master. Prabhupada reflected and he said, “You don’t have to worry, all the arrangements are already made. Every day you are chanting janme janme prabhu sei.” That was important for me, the relationship with this person is eternal, it’s not going to be broken. I try my utmost all my life but then if something happens, is he going to be there in the next life? Prabhupada said yes. That was very, very important for me.
Jyestha dasi: I can see myself here getting my initiation beads, and this is I think the best moment of my whole life – to actually get my beads from Srila Prabhupada and to feel like this connection was made. I think I cried the whole way through the ceremony. I remember when my neck beads were put on, Krishna Bhamani put my neck beads on. She is saying to me, “You can’t cry in front of the Deities,” and just looking at Srila Prabhupada and this moment of actually getting initiated was so overwhelming that I just couldn’t stop the tears. I remember looking at Prabhupada’s eyes. It looked like Srila Prabhupada had tears in his eyes. His eyes were wet, they were floating with this water.
Jyotirmayi dasi: Srila Prabhupada liked to receive the devotees in his room, and very often when the devotees were coming they were also bringing their children. So there were some very nice sweet exchanges between Prabhupada and the children. The little children would go next to Prabhupada or go under his desk and play with his feet and do some little nice things children do, and Prabhupada was always very, very sweet and kind with them and, of course, most of the time would give them some prasadam. But, of course, the biggest thing about children with Prabhupada was his teaching of how to manage the gurukula; and because I did the gurukula for 10 years, I have a lot of experience with Srila Prabhupada and the children. The thing that was the most important was, one, that devotional activities should never be forced on children. It should always be presented to them in a way that they like it. And the other was that to use our common sense in dealing with the children; because so many things were done wrong because of trying to apply in a very, very rigid way the principles of Krishna consciousness as they were applied to adults, and this brought a lot of havoc in the gurukulas. But Prabhupada, when he saw these problems, reminded everybody, “Use your common sense.”
Gopaswami das: We had a very big engagement for him in the biggest hall of Paris, which was called Salle Pleyel. Srila Prabhupada sat on the vyasasan on the stage and immediately at the back of the hall French students started shouting, “Get down! Not on the throne!” So Prabhupada said, “Well, you can sit on this throne, anybody can sit on this throne if he is qualified.” Then they quieted down and he started his lecture by quoting the Bible, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God.” Because France is traditionally actually a very pious country, many monks and monasteries were started there. So he knew how to attract the heart of French people, at least some of them – not the revolutionary ones, which are not the only ones. And it worked. Many devotees were made at this engagement. I was one of them. Then later on he said to the devotees, “Next time you just put a simple carpet on the stage for me.”
Adisekar das: He had the sankirtan leaders of that time from Bhagavan’s zone a little meeting with us. First he congratulated the devotees for the results. And he asked the first question, I think the only question he asked us, and he said, “Are you reading my books?” Then Brighupati said, “You know, Prabhupada, we don’t have much time, we don’t have time to read.” Then I heard, I was near, Prabhupada said, “What is the use?” I could see he was deeply hurt. It was a major priority. Our life was to be used to investigate this message, these books, these thousands of hours of work. So, of course, we were distributing, but then Prabhupada was more interested whether we were reading his books.
Sitala dasi: Being a pujari, I was missing everything – the morning walks, the room conversations, everything, and I was getting more and more stressed. People weren’t turning up for their service, and I was getting more and more resentful as the day went by. So it was the last night that he was there, and I was crying. I wanted to see Prabhupada. Then Bhagavan came into the kitchen. He immediately just understood somehow, there must have been a black cloud surrounding me. So Bhagavan ordered me, “I want you to go up and see Prabhupada right now.” The thought of going up and seeing Prabhupada in this state was terrifying. He said, “No, I’m going, you come up with me.” I thought OK, and I started walking behind him up to Prabhupada’s room and I was getting smaller and smaller and feeling like I wanted to disappear completely. As soon as I walked into Prabhupada’s quarters, it was from night to day. I became so satisfied and so happy, almost like a child sitting in the lap of his mother. We were sitting, and then I think it was Yogesvara asked Prabhupada if he would sing. So Prabhupada came and sat down in the middle of the room and the few of us that were there surrounded him, and Prabhupada did bhajan for maybe half an hour and they did recordings. It was the most intimate and wonderful and beautiful experience to be there with Prabhupada singing with such emotion. I remember Yogesvara saying, “Prabhupada, your voice is so amazing, it’s so extraordinary!” And Prabhupada looked very shy and he said, “Oh, no. No, no. That’s all right.” He just wasn’t accepting that. It was very, very sweet and such a humble mood of Prabhupada. Somehow or another my attitude had gone way off track; and although at the time I wouldn’t have thought of it, but now I see it as Prabhupada carrying Vrindavan with him in a way that we were all in that little bubble and you didn’t feel that you were anymore in Paris or in the material world but you were in that little Braj bubble that Prabhupada allowed us to enter into by his presence. So extraordinary!
June 1974: FRANKFURT, GERMANY – German anti-cult film shot at the Schloss Rettershof temple
Hansadutta das: Prabhupada came and we picked him up in a fleet of Volkswagen buses which were all brand new because our sankirtan activities were fabulously successful, and Prabhupada was very impressed by that. When we rolled into Schloss Rettershof, the owners, who kept horses and had an academy for training horse riding and jumping, for some reason they took it upon themselves to line up with their horses and when Prabhupada came by, the horses all made a bow. They were obviously very well-trained horses. Prabhupada really liked that, and we also, of course, liked it.
Bhaktivaibhava Swami: This particular footage from Germany would have been lost if it would not have been handed over to us by one Christian priest who was in ownership of this footage. He mentioned that the film began to deteriorate and it might be beneficial for us to take possession of it before it would be lost forever. I thought it is a nice example of cooperation between different religious beliefs. This is me talking to a journalist from the Christian organization in Germany. When I listen now after so many years to my interview, I am amazed how forceful but also perhaps a little fanatical I presented the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. My personal understanding of fanatical is that when we were young devotees, we were very enthusiastic and convinced about practicing and spreading Krishna consciousness but naturally not very mature and not very experienced in doing so. This in itself should not be seen as a fault or mistake. It’s natural. We have seen on several occasions how Srila Prabhupada defended the behavior of his disciples, who were very serious and sincere, yet he certainly expected that in due course of time they would become more and more mature.
Prithu das: At that time Professor Dürckheim came, and he is a huge well-known personality in psychological departments of practically every university. He brought Zen Buddhism to Europe. He at that time had many German bishops, Catholic bishops, becoming very interested in Zen Buddhism. He had about 30 of them coming for retreats. So he was hugely influential. And I thought this Dürckheim is the guru of the Catholic bishops, let him become the disciple of Srila Prabhupada. So when he came he was quite reserved, but within minutes they struck up a very cordial relationship. They were contemporaries. Dürckheim was about maybe six years younger than Prabhupada. Prabhupada talked with him so nicely that immediately they developed a very wonderful relationship, and Dürckheim started to listen to Prabhupada. I remember they walked over the fields and that Dürckheim also had so many ideas in his head and he started trying to impress Prabhupada, and Prabhupada looked at him and said, “Look, this is not very intelligent.” Dürckheim said, “Why?” Prabhupada explained to him why it is not intelligent, and Dürckheim laughed and said, “I suppose you are right.” It was beautiful to see these two elderly men talking to each other like friends. I remember at the end of one discussion Dürckheim actually paid his dandavats to Prabhupada. And while he was in the dandavat position, he looked up and said, “Please accept me as your younger brother,” which was really nice, seeing such a huge personality accepting Prabhupada’s superiority. So when I brought Dürckheim back to the railway station, he was talking about Prabhupada. He said, “It is quite amazing, this visit.” He said, “I have met many people in my life of spiritual standing, but I’ve never met a person like this master.” He said, “He is er ist durch.” That means, “He is through, he made it, he achieved the perfect plane.” He said, “It is a remarkable day in my life.”
Cakravarti das: We recorded all these different lectures Prabhupada gave. I usually did the translating, which was an experience in itself. Prabhupada would start with a single sentence, then I would translate, and I must say my English at that time was much worse than it is now. Next time he had two sentences, next three sentences, it was getting longer and longer. By some time he would speak for two or three or four minutes, and I had to memorize everything to be able to translate it. It was quite an experience. But sometimes later in the years I listened to the tape that we recorded during those room conversations, morning walks, etc., and there was one sentence in there which either I had forgotten it or I hadn’t heard it but I could also not remember that anyone ever talked about it before. All of a sudden I hear this sentence: “Now you have become so successful in Germany, very soon the government is going to come down on you.” He made a prediction. Five months later this prediction came true.
Himavati dasi: Hansadutta and I were anticipating Prabhupada’s coming to Germany. We wanted him to come to Germany more than we wanted anything else because it would give the devotees inspiration; and I wanted to share Prabhupada with them because most of them had not met Prabhupada, and we had a lot of devotees there who only knew Krishna because of us and the books. In the beginning, of course, it seemed like nobody knew how to do anything. Nobody knew how to take care of the Deities or cook or clean or set things up. Everything had to be taught. It was wonderful how they wanted to learn, and we had a way with them that Prabhupada had actually taught us. I don’t think that it was something natural. I think that Prabhupada had empowered us. We were artists and we were loners before we joined the movement, and now here we were surrounded by people day and night and more and more people wanting to join us and we always found a place for them. So I was always very, very busy.
Veda Vyas das: I was translating Prabhupada’s books together with Sacinandana, and Nikhilananda was there also. Hansadutta, he was showing Prabhupada around in the Schloss. Then suddenly, of course, Prabhupada came in, he showed also the translator’s room. I had been working on Teachings of Lord Caitanya. So Prabhupada came in and he asked what we were working on, and I showed him this book is practically published. We had the galley proofs from the printer. So then suddenly he said, “Read.” I started to read the introduction of Teachings of Lord Caitanyafor quite some time – three, four paragraphs. Prabhupada was just standing there smiling, big smile, and listening, although obviously he couldn’t understand German. But for him to see that the book is in another language and was coming out was his great, great pleasure.
Sacinandana Swami: I had put my alarm clock exactly on seven-and-a-half minutes. All of a sudden as I was lying behind my desk, I heard the voice of Srila Prabhupada inquiring about the German translations. First I thought it was a dream, a nightmare. Then as I emerged to the ordinary wakeful consciousness, I actually became aware Prabhupada is standing in our room. A few days before he had said that he was never like the servants in the Dalhousie Park who pretend to be busy but in reality sleep, and now I was sleeping under the table. I was really sleeping only for seven-and-a-half minutes, and it was necessary to concentrate after the heavy breakfast. But my spiritual master, who only comes once in a lifetime in my area of service, now has found out I am sleeping. I felt so bad, but I calculated it will be even more bad when Prabhupada finds me lying under the table. So I better emerge. So I somehow, as gracefully as I possibly could, brought my body in the sitting position. At that moment, Prabhupada looked at me a little surprised because I came out like a soldier comes out under camouflage. Then he laughed into my face with eyes sparkling with energy and joy and he seemed to communicate, “It’s all right, it’s all right, we all need sometimes a rest.” I was very much pleased by that very human feature of Srila Prabhupada’s smile.
Himavati dasi: So I was mainly concerned with Prabhupada’s well-being. When he came, I knew him to be a little bit fatty and here he was quite thin. So I thought that my cooking would be so good that he would eat. I remember the first day he ate everything, he cleaned his plate, there was absolutely nothing left. There were always devotees outside the door waiting for his remnants, and there was nothing left. Then he slept. He usually napped in the afternoon after he ate, but he slept. He must have slept until six o’clock that evening after he ate, and I was so worried. When he woke up I asked him, “Nobody bothered to wake you because you were so soundly sleeping, and was there something wrong with my cooking?” He said, “Oh, no, no, it was very good, I enjoyed. I haven’t enjoyed that much for a long time.” So I was very happy. Another time I remember I brought him food, and I gave him very good portions; and when I came back to get his plate, he had barely touched anything. I said, “Prabhupada, what’s wrong? Did I not prepare it properly?” He seemed to be deep in thought and he said, “Oh, Himavati, I’ve tasted everything there is to taste.” He taught us how to eat. He cooked for us. I wanted to be close to Prabhupada, and so I was very obedient and I did everything that he told me to do in person and in his letters. I took his direction.
Hansadutta das: Once we were taking a walk. So because I always had a frustrated and irritable kind of mood on account of so many obstacles being put up by German authorities, I said to Prabhupada, “You know, Prabhupada, sometimes I think I would rather be engaged like a ksatriya in killing people than preaching.” Prabhupada stopped and looked at me and he said, “Never do anything in anger, and don’t touch politics.” Sometimes Prabhupada would refer to the history that Parasuram, he drove out the ksatriyasand that they settled in this part of the world, especially Germany. He remarked that the Germans are the most intelligent people on the planet and that their Sanskrit scholars actually are better than Indian Sanskrit scholars, and he pointed out that the philology of German is identical or almost the same as Sanskrit. One thing he used to say, even after he visited Germany, whenever he would see Himavati or myself he would say, “What is that? Trinken und rauchen. What is that?” I would say, “Prabhupada, it’s drinking and smoking.” “Yes, yes, I saw everywhere trinken und rauchen.” He noticed that early in the morning they had beer vending machines and that people were drinking beer in the morning. One day he said, “Yes, I saw in Germany the man urinating on the street.” He said, “How degrading. What is this civilization? The man is urinating on the street.” So some devotee commented, “But Prabhupada, in India they pass urine and stool in the street,” and he said, “That’s different, that’s different.”
June - July 1974: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Arrival - Initiation, Program at Monastery, Rathayatra, Ormond Hall, La Trobe University, Walk - Departure
Sabhapati das: So this is Srila Prabhupada’s visit to Melbourne in 1974 when he came out specifically for the Rathayatra Festival. I had an arrangement with the Immigration Department that we could bring Srila Prabhupada through as a VIP so he wouldn’t have to go through the normal immigration procedures. So that was all right, but I had to actually stay with his luggage so that they could check the luggage out. So Srila Prabhupada went through, met with the devotees, and they kept Satsvarupa Maharaj and myself behind and we had to stay there with the luggage while it was being checked. By the time we came out, the devotees and Prabhupada had all left; and Satsvarupa Maharaj and myself, we were stuck at the airport with the luggage and all the devotees were gone. But there was one devotee who had not left, and fortunately we caught his attention and we put all of Prabhupada’s luggage in his van and Satsvarupa Maharaj and myself, we had to actually sit on the luggage in the back of the van to go to Melbourne temple. So at the airport, Srila Prabhupada had a television interview. Two or three television channels came, and some newspaper reporters came. Actually most of his visits to Australia we got a lot of press coverage, and that’s why Srila Prabhupada liked coming. We had very good newspaper articles, a big feature article on the second page of The Melbourne Age, and quite a few other articles and good television coverage. So at this television coverage, there were two or three television stations there – there’s only four stations in Australia anyway – and that evening we told Srila Prabhupada we were expecting it to be on the news. So Ugrasrava, he brought in a television set into Srila Prabhupada’s room, and we were watching and we were watching and watching the news. And each time the feature would come on the news and it wasn’t Prabhupada, he’d look away and let the feature go. Then the next feature he’d look to see if it was him, and unfortunately he wasn’t on. Nothing appeared. But actually that evening on the ten o’clock news there was a good feature on Prabhupada on Channel O. So Ugrasrava, he caught that and we told Prabhupada the next day and he was very pleased.
Hari Sauri das: Prabhupada was very frank and strong with reporters. I think he enjoyed the exchange because sometimes reporters, they like to try to find some fault and Prabhupada would really be very strong with them. But the keynote that they picked up on unfortunately was not Prabhupada’s talk. The devotees had hired a Rolls Royce and as Prabhupada got into the Rolls Royce outside, then a parking warden came up and stuck a parking ticket on the window just to make a statement. So the headlines in the newspaper, of course, had little to do with what Prabhupada had said in the news conference, and they were all mainly about how either the devotees had lavished this Rolls Royce on someone who’s supposed to be an ascetic sadhu or the fact that we got this what we call a “bluey” in Australia or a parking ticket.
Caru das: A reporter from the newspaper Melbourne Age had come to visit Prabhupada, and Prabhupada took a lot of care with this fellow. He really explained everything in detail, and a lot of the questions and answers had to do with reincarnation. Prabhupada explained how you could become less than human in your next life and he explained it in great detail, took a lot of time with this man. I was eager to go out the next morning and get the newspaper, see what illuminating article would have been printed, and I was very crestfallen when I opened it up and saw the title, “Swami says he’ll be animal in his next life.” I was just shattered. I thought, “Prabhupada spent so much time with this guy.” It was with frustration and anger that I brought the paper to Prabhupada, and I thought I should preface my giving it to him with something to prepare him. I said, “Prabhupada, he didn’t understand or chose not to understand anything you told him. He just twisted your words.” He said, “What is the title?” I said, “Swami says he will be animal in next life.” “Does he mention Krishna?” I said, “Yeah.” “Is Krishna’s name in the article?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Count.” So I counted maybe seven times Krishna’s name and he said, “What is the circulation of that paper?” I said, “I don’t know – two, three hundred thousand.” “What is two or three hundred thousand times seven?” He said, “My spiritual master said any time people say Krishna’s name it is always a success.” So then he said, “This article is a great success.”
Dayasara das: I remember when Prabhupada arrived, then we would hire the Rolls Royce. And that was a cause of a lot of publicity actually, it made the evening newspaper. The headline was “His Divine Grace comes Rollsing in.” We put up all these posters. The poster read “His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada at whose feet all masters sit,” and then it had a nice picture of Prabhupada and then the program for the five days or so that he was going to be in Melbourne. And then there was an overpass on the freeway from the airport, and someone had plastered all posters right across the walkover so they were clearly visible about 20 feet up from the roadway. We were all following Prabhupada’s Rolls Royce, and I remember the Rolls Royce slowed down for Prabhupada to see. We had the side doors of the vans open and we had kirtan following Prabhupada all the way through the city and into the temple. This is Prabhupada at the small temple in Burnett Street in Saint Kilda. It actually was a terraced house, and the temple room was very, very small. Actually Lord Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balarama were on an altar directly above Radha-Vallabha’s head. Unfortunately, there were so many devotees, not everybody could fit into the room. He actually gave an initiation here, fire sacrifice. I remember the smoke was pouring out of the room and we were in the corridor, and you couldn’t even see the vyasasan from the doorway. Nevertheless, Prabhupada seemed very unfazed by the smoke.
Krishnarupa dasi: So everyone was gearing up for Prabhupada to come, installing the Deities. My brother was coming every day after work to build the altar. Of course, all the devotees were saying, “Prabhupada said this, Prabhupada said that, Prabhupada says, Prabhupada…” And I kept on thinking, “When I meet him, what if I’m disappointed and say what’s the big deal?” I was hoping I wouldn’t be disappointed, but I reserved the right to make my own opinion. As usual, Prabhupada arrived when all the devotees had gone to the airport. We’d just finished cleaning and I was in the brahmacarini room, and I remember hearing, “Prabhupada’s here! Prabhupada’s here!” As I rushed out of the room at the top of the stairs to go down, just at that same instant Prabhupada was at the door to come in. I always get very choked up when I recall this because it was such a momentous moment. As soon as I saw Prabhupada, I knew without a doubt that Prabhupada was everything everyone said about Prabhupada. Anyway, so it was fabulous. Prabhupada to me looked effulgent, and he was glowing. And just to look at the physical form of Prabhupada, I had no doubt, no doubt whatsoever that Prabhupada was a pure devotee.
Kurma das: The lecture in the Melbourne Town Hall, right opposite where our current Gopal’s Restaurant is today…there’s a Lower Melbourne Town Hall and there’s an Upper Melbourne Town Hall. The upper one is a gigantic cavernous concert hall with the organ. So we chose the Lower Town Hall so it wouldn’t look out of place if we only got a few hundred people because the large one holds thousands of people. We got quite a few hundred people along to attend Prabhupada’s 1974 Town Hall lecture, and it was quite a wonderful event. We see Srila Prabhupada wearing that gorgeous saffron silk outfit that he’s wearing there on that incredible saffron vyasasan that was built by Shyamananda das. It was made of saffron silk, and it was quite astonishing. It all came to pieces, and we were able to carry it to various venues. Some places we even had extra pieces attached that were on a motor and would spin around with little lights on them that would attract the spotlights, but that turned out to be rather of an over-endeavor.
Srila Prabhupada: This movement, Krishna consciousness movement, is teaching the science of God. And if you accept the name of the God…name of God, Krishna, this is also affirmed in other system also, then you will be able to associate with God immediately.
Ragatmika dasi: Srila Prabhupada stayed in our house in Brighton when our temple was in Saint Kilda. At that time, the quarters for Srila Prabhupada at the Saint Kilda temple weren’t so nice. So my husband and my family moved out of the house, Srila Prabhupada moved in. Prior to him moving in, the devotees adjusted the house. They covered all the wall-to-wall carpet with white sheeting. I would be at the house and Srila Prabhupada would be walking down the hallway and smiling and his gentleness in his eyes, and at times he thanked me for him staying in the house. I would ask him if he wanted something to eat or what he would like, and he was always so polite and he would say, “Yes, thank you” or “No, thank you” or “Do not trouble yourself.” Actually, one time Prabhupada said, “Is there any service that you need?” And I didn’t know what to say to Srila Prabhupada when he asked me that so I said, “No, Srila Prabhupada, just being here in your presence is all the service that I need.” I didn’t ask any spiritual questions of Srila Prabhupada, I was always sort of speechless in his presence really. I think I was a little bit too shy to ask him anything.
Srila Prabhupada: Here in this material world, the name and the substance different. Just like if I am thirsty, I want water, so the water must come to me. If I simply chant, “Water, water, water,” that will not be effective because it is relative world. But in the transcendental world, Krishna is the name of God and it is God also. So by chanting Hare Krishna, you are directly in contact with God. This is the meaning of Hare Krishna.
Dvaipayana das: Originally, my family lived in Melbourne. So I rang up my father and told him, “My spiritual master is coming to Melbourne on such-and-such a day and it would be really good if you could come and see him,” and he did. He came that day and saw Prabhupada. He came along there and merged with the crowd and listened to Prabhupada. Although he was a fairly serious Christian himself, he was very pleased to come along and he had nothing but words of praise for Prabhupada. He’d always supported me becoming a devotee, having years earlier dropped out of university and become a hippie hitchhiking around the country. And every time I’d come home I’d be onto some different kind of trip and I’d rap to him about it. But when I actually committed myself to fully participate and join the Hare Krishna movement, he was very happy and supportive of that. I found out some years after I’d been a devotee that he was involved in some inter-Pacific conference about religious toleration because I found a printout of the conference when I was a devotee in the temple. I didn’t even know about it when it was happening. But he got up in front of everyone and said, “My son has joined the Hare Krishna movement. It isn’t my beliefs, but still I fully support him to be involved in it and I think it’s a good thing.” My father was a schoolteacher. He was teaching in a grammar school, I think it was a Church of England school. But still, after the new temple was opened in Melbourne in Middle Park with the beautiful Radha-Vallabha and Gaura-Nitai and Jagannatha Deities, he organized an excursion from the school every year to come visit the temple, have darshan of the Deities and have prasadam; and he did that for many, many years.
Srila Prabhupada: This is not enjoyment. You have got a car, but you are running 70 mile speed going to your business and there are earning hundreds and thousands of dollars. So you are thinking that you are enjoying, but this labor is suffering you forget. And in order to forget this suffering, then I take to wine, take to this, take to that to forget the suffering. So actually we are suffering, but we are accepting it as enjoying. This is called illusion. So whatever we are doing in certain type of body in this material world, that is suffering. That is not enjoying. Because why you are placed? Because I wanted to enjoy life like that. So purusah prakrti-stho hi bhunkte prakrti-jan gunan. And this profit is nothing but acceptance of the quality of material nature. That is very practical, we can understand. Just like we are getting…I get, say, fifty thousand dollars in a check. So I think that I have got fifty thousand dollars. But what is this fifty thousand dollars? It is a piece of paper. You see? This is called illusion. In this way, you study your life, you will see; if you are sober, if you are actually thoughtful, you will find that this is not my life. This is not my life. But I am falsely thinking that I am enjoying life. So, therefore, all these varieties of life, they are being controlled. Not controlled, he accepts to be controlled. Prakrtidoes not want, nature does not want to control you. Just like police force. Police force is not meant for controlling you. But when you accept to be controlled by police, when you become a criminal, then police force controls you. Not that police force is made by the government unnecessarily to control you, no. It is to help you. Government has arranged policeman in every crossing, they are wandering in the street. They are meant for helping you. They are not meant for controlling you. But when you agree to be controlled by the police, then it will control you. Prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah. Then you become under the police control, if you become criminal. Therefore, frustration. Next stage is frustration. Everyone, we are frustrated because we are in this material world. Therefore Prahlada Maharaja says, a great devotee, his father asked him, “My dear boy, what best thing you have learned?” He said, “My dear father…” He did not say father. His father was first-class materialist. So he addressed him “the best of the demons.” Anyone who is very much sensuous, very much attached to sense gratification, they are called demon. And those persons who do not indulge in sense gratification but utilize this body or this life for God realization, Krishna realization, they are called gods. There are two classes of men, demon and god. Those who are engaged in God consciousness, they are not God but godly. And those who are not…because this human life is meant for this purpose. Forgetting our father, forgetting our God, we are criminal within this material world. Therefore, our only business is how to get out of this prison house and go back to home, back to Godhead.
The quality is the same, a drop of Atlantic or Pacific Ocean and the ocean. If you taste the drop, a small drop, it is salty, you can understand that the ocean is also salty. But the containing…the contents of salt, that is very small; and the contents of salt in the ocean, that is very big. That you cannot imagine. God is like you and me, a person. But He is Pacific Ocean, we are drop. Yes?
Madhudvisa das: Wait a second, hold on.
Srila Prabhupada: What is your question? Please, this gentleman. Yes?
Guest: What’s your doctrine? What is the doctrine (inaudible)?
Srila Prabhupada: Doctrine?
Madhudvisa das: He wants to know what the doctrine of Krishna Consciousness is.
Srila Prabhupada: Krishna Consciousness means that you are part and parcel of Krishna or God. You being separated, I have already explained, you are suffering in this material world. So you back to your father, go back to your father and be happy, that’s all.
Devotee: You’re saying that God is spirit, we are spirit, and what follows from there? So we’re spiritual ideas of God. So, therefore, the material state of mind…
Madhudvisa das: So what is the question?
Madhudvisa das: In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is a scripture that we study, it says that Krishna did not want us to come to this material world. The question is, if Krishna did not want us to come, why are we here?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. You forced Krishna to allow you to come. Just like sometimes a child forces the father. Father says, “My dear son, do not do this, do not go there.” But he insists, “Father, I must go, I must go.” “All right, you go at your risk.” That’s all. And you suffer. What can be done? Because you are son of God…God has got independence, full independence, almighty. Therefore, you have acquired the quality of your father, you have got little independence. So God does not interfere with your little independence. If you persist that “I must go and enjoy independently,” so God says, “All right, you can go.” This is the position. You have to take sanction, that is a fact. But when you persist, God sanctions and you come and enjoy. Beginning from Lord Brahma down to the worms in the stool, gradually. According to your work, according to your desire you manufacture your different types of body and enjoy and suffer, that’s all.
Caru das: My job was to do the speaking engagements for Prabhupada, the bookings, and one such booking was at a monastery, a monastery-seminary combination called Saint Pascal’s. Prabhupada gave a wonderful lecture. I listen to that lecture once a year just to remind myself of how wonderful it was. He was speaking to seminarians, people that were committed to another religion, and he created a broad basis of commonality. It was a wonderful nonsectarian lecture about God consciousness. And it wasn’t overly long, but there was a very nice question period which was prolonged because he had definitely piqued their interest. I remember one of them stood up and he said, “What do you think of Saint Francis?” and Prabhupada didn’t know who Saint Francis was. So as he often did, he said, “What is his philosophy?” And the seminarian said, “He saw God everywhere. He called the tree his brother or the bird his sister.” And Prabhupada’s eyes got wide. He just looked at this seminarian and his head went back and he looked around at everybody and he said, “That is real God consciousness.” And that brought tears to some of these guys’ eyes, that here was a man from India, had never heard the name of Saint Francis five minutes before, and on the basis of this very much to-the-point description probably had more respect for him than anyone in the room, than the people coming from his very own tradition; and that impressed them. Then there were some other questions which were deftly handled, and then we came to the point where Prabhupada invited them all to join us in kirtan. He said, “I have heard that the Greek word for Krishna is Kristo.” And he said, “What happens when you say it repeatedly? Kristo Kristo Kristo Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna Krishna. So you have your word for Christ and we have our word for God, and it’s the same word. So let’s join.” And, by gosh, they did. During the course of that kirtan they all stood up, they all were clapping, they all were chanting, and for the second time I saw tears coming from their eyes.
Srila Prabhupada: Facility of this life or this form of life is given to us just to understand God. Other forms of life – cats and dogs, trees and so many other things, there are eight million four hundred thousand forms of life – so in other forms of life, it is not possible to understand what is God. If we call all the dogs of your country, “Come here, we shall talk about God,” there is no possibility of understanding. But in the human form of life, there is possibility. Doesn’t matter whether it is in India or America or Australia. Any human being, if he tries and if he reads the scriptures – never mind Bible, Bhagavad-gita, Bhagavat – then he will understand God. At the beginning of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, janmadyasya yatah: Absolute Truth is that from Whom everything has come into existence. Now, what is the nature of the Absolute Truth? Everything means there are two things, matter and spirit. Two things. Just like this table is matter and we living entities, we are spirit, the spirit soul. This material body is my covering, just like dress. Every one of us is dressed, covered by some kind of dress. Similarly, all living beings, they are dressed by the material covering. So we, the spirit soul, part and parcel of God, at the present moment we are covered by two kinds of dresses: the subtle dress – mind, intelligence and ego – and the gross covering. Subtle means we know there is this thing but we cannot see. Just like you know I have got mind, I know you have got mind; but I don’t see your mind, you don’t see my mind. I know you have got intelligence, you know I have got intelligence, but we don’t see what is that intelligence. Similarly, identification, I am this consciousness. That also, you have got consciousness, I have got consciousness, but we don’t see it. So things which are not visible to these material eyes, that is called subtle. And spirit soul is still subtler. So human life is meant for understanding that spirit soul and the Supreme Soul.
Guest: Your devotees say that you aim to get beyond the disease of material existence. I didn’t quite pick up what your process was for doing this, and could you tell me what the end result is once you do get beyond this?
Srila Prabhupada: What is that?
Madhudvisa das: In Krishna consciousness, the process is to get beyond the disease of material existence.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes.
Madhudvisa das: The first part of his question, how to do this. The second part of his question, what is the end result after taking to the process.
Srila Prabhupada: The process is to transfer yourself from material energy to spiritual energy. We are under energy. The God has got two energies, material energy and spiritual energy. We are also energy, we are marginal energy. So marginal energy means we can remain under the material energy or on the spiritual energy, as we make our choice, marginal. Just like on the beach you find sometimes on the border of the water the water is covering the land, and sometimes the land is open. This is called marginal position. Similarly, we are marginal energy of God, living entities. So we can remain under the water, means the material energy, or we can remain open also.
Madhudvisa das: What is our view of Lord Jesus Christ?
Srila Prabhupada: Jesus Christ, Lord Jesus Christ, he is son of God, the best son of God. We have all respect for him. Yes. Anyone who is teaching people about God consciousness, he is respectful to us. It does not matter in which country, in which atmosphere he was preaching. It doesn’t matter.
Guest: Saint Francis of Assisi found God in the material rather than utilize the material for God. And Saint Francis used to talk about “brother dog” and “sister cat” and “sister water” and “brother wind.” What does His Grace think of Saint Francis’ approach to the material?
Madhudvisa das: Saint Francis, the found of this particular order which we have been invited to speak to, found God in the material world. And he used to address the aspects of the material world as brother and sister – “brother tree,” “sister water,” like that. What is your view upon this?
Srila Prabhupada: This is real God consciousness. This is real God consciousness. Yes. Not that “I am God conscious and I kill the animals.” That is not God consciousness. To accept the trees, plants, lower animals, insignificant ants even as brother, samah sarvesu bhutesu, this is explained in the Bhagavad-gita. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma, na socati na kanksati, samah sarvesu bhutesu. Samah, samahmeans equal to all living entities. To see the spirit soul, anyone, it doesn’t matter, either he is man or cat or dog or tree or ant or insect or big man, they are all parts and parcel of God. They are simply dressed differently. Panditah sama-darsinah. One who is pandit, learned, his vision is equal. So if Saint Francis was thinking like that, that is higher standard of spiritual understanding. Yes.
Vaibhavi dasi: We were pushing to have them finished for the festival on the following day. So I was in there sewing and then somebody came running in shouting and screaming, “There’s a big fire!” It was right next door. It was some sort of sewing facility also, I think. There were a lot of people on the top story that were working there, ladies. And it turns out the whole building was on fire and they were trapped on the top floor. So everyone is trying to decide what to do. They were all screaming and shouting, “What can we do?” I think it was me that might have suggested, “Take this canopy.” So we took the canopy, which was made of ripstop nylon, very strong; and we took it out and the men, there was a large number of men there, devotees, and they held it a few feet off the ground taut as they could make it and told the women, “Jump,” and at first they didn’t want to. But when the flames started whipping out the window and the smoke was coming and they just couldn’t take the fire any longer, then one by one they started jumping and they all jumped successfully. As one jumped and landed, then they would tighten up the canopy again and another would jump. Then the last one to jump, who was the most fearful, she was a pregnant lady. And when she finally jumped, at that time the canopy gave way and split where the seam was. However, she was fine. She survived that jump, and the baby survived also. So I was glad to see everyone safe and sound, but I immediately started thinking, “Aha! How can we use this for publicity?” So I suggested someone go and call the press quickly, and we got the newspapers there and we explained what had happened so that in the following morning’s newspaper the headline news was “Hare Krishna heroes save ladies from fire” or something like that. They showed it to Prabhupada, and he was extremely pleased. And it was very good advertising for the Rathayatra because we were on the front page the very day of the Rathayatra Festival, so we had a huge crowd that year.
Madhudvisa das: The irony surrounding the whole Town Hall engagement and the Rathayatra Festival was that the people that were issuing us thousands and thousands of dollars worth of tickets for chanting, dancing in the streets and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books in the streets were the same people that we had to go to to get the permits to conduct the Rathayatra Festival. So I remember when I first had to go there to the Melbourne City Council – big, dark oak draped council room with 30 or 40 of these City Council men sitting around the table when I walked in with my shaved head and my dhoti and had to convince them that they should allow us to have the Rathayatra Festival. So when I walked in, he had this big pile of tickets on the table. And the head of the City Council, the mayor of the city said, “What are we going to do about all these tickets here?” I convinced him or Krishna convinced him that they should not let these unpaid tickets have a bearing on their opinion whether they should give us the Rathayatra permit or not. I remembering thinking to myself, looking at the mayor’s chest and saying that “Krishna, You are in his heart. Inside his chest is his heart, and inside his heart You are there. And if You want to allow us to have this Rathayatra Festival, then You instruct him from within that he should allow us to have this.” So the mayor was very flamboyant and he said, “Just tell me one reason why I should allow you to have this festival, seeing that you have flaunted, you have snubbed us by not paying one single ticket that we have issued to you, which is thousands and thousands of dollars. Why should we give you the permission to parade through our streets?” I looked at the Council, and I knew the egalitarian sentiment of the Australians. They always wanted to give people a fair chance because the history of Australia is that they were subjugated by the Britishers, the prison colonies were started there, and they were always for the common man. So I looked at the mayor, and I used one of the Australian idiomatic expressions. I said, “Well, can you give us a fair go? That’s all we’re asking for is a fair go.” The mayor look around, and he didn’t want to be the one to say that he wasn’t going to give someone a fair go. He looked at the members of the Council and he said, “All right, we’ll give you a fair go,” and he stamped the permit and we got the permit to have the Rathayatra. So the same people that were giving us tickets had to give us the permits, and Krishna arranged it in such a way that they didn’t hold it against us. So the Rathayatra went on and Srila Prabhupada’s speaking engagement went on in the Melbourne City Hall, and the newspapers gave us favorable reviews.
Hari Sauri das: When Prabhupada came in for Rathayatra, it was mid-winter, June. That was partly because he had told Madhudvisa, “If you become the number one book distributors in the world, then I will come.” And so we did actually. He organized the BBT party, and Australia was consistently at the top of the book distribution ratings even though we were just a tiny yatra at that time, maybe about 50 or 60 devotees in the whole country. But Prabhupada kept his word, and he came in ’74.
Sabhapati das: It was in the middle of the Melbourne winter. It was very, very cold. It was about…probably that day it was about 12 degrees. Prabhupada came and joined us about halfway through the parade in Collins Street. Of course, when Prabhupada arrived in the actual parade, the devotees were in ecstasy. In front of the Rathayatra cart, we had this big diorama of Lord Caitanya, big golden diorama. He was about 14 feet high. He was following in front of the rath cart, and we were walking in front of Lord Caitanya. Every now and again, Prabhupada would stop and he would turn around and he would just look at Lord Caitanya in complete ecstasy. Then he would look at Lord Jagannatha, and you see in these shots he is very, very happy. Then he would turn around and he would walk again. Then Prabhupada walked for about two miles. So this Rathayatra was quite astounding for us. And although it was a very, very cold day and there weren’t so many people in the streets or actually following the procession, it was so potent and so powerful it was as though Srila Prabhupada had conquered the whole of Melbourne. It was like he was the king of the whole of Melbourne. Everything stopped for Srila Prabhupada. Look at how much ecstasy he is in there. And the devotees all present felt like this was the center of the universe because Srila Prabhupada was there and Lord Caitanya was there and Lord Jagannatha was there. So it was a very, very ecstatic program.
Caru das: I remember that Vaibhavi had stumbled upon a technique called anodization where she made breastplates and armlets for the Deities, Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balarama, out of foam. Then you submerge them in a solution which would make them shine like silver or shine like gold. So we’d bedeck Lord Jagannatha and Balarama with these wonderful warrior-like breastplates, and I think there were even ksatriya turbans and armlets on Them. They just looked gorgeous. Prabhupada walked a lot of that route, I think the entirety of it. And I remember there was a fellow, I think his names was Bob Jones, who had a big karate school in Australia at the time, and he provided a couple of body guards for Prabhupada, they walked on either side.
Yasomatinandana das: That’s me playing the big bass drum. Sometimes we’d have a big kirtan in Sydney temple and just as a kind of embellishment, Madhudvisa brought out a big bass drum one time. I used to be a drummer in an rock ‘n roll band before I joined the Hare Krishna movement, so I would put on the bass drum and I would give a bit of an extra thump, a bit of an extra impetus to the kirtan. So when we had Rathayatra, myself and my brother, Jamal Arjuna, would strap on these big marching band bass drums and play them in a rhythmic mridanga-type what we called the “nama hatta beat,” a moving, exciting sort of rhythm, and it would add a new dimension to the kirtan and to the Rathayatra parade. It was very nice to see Srila Prabhupada coming off the rath cart and actually walking in the Rathayatra procession with us.
Vaibhavi dasi: We had the three carts, and we had Subhadra’s cart set up for Prabhupada to ride the whole way – very comfortable, big vyasasan on the front. And I was very fortunate, I was going to be on the cart there because I was the pujari for Subhadra. So I was sitting right up there alongside Prabhupada, and I was thrilled. But then I was very demoralized because Prabhupada didn’t get on the cart because he was so attracted to and fascinated by the big golden Lord Caitanya that we’d made, and he just loved to walk alongside it and dance with it. So he wouldn’t get on the cart. He walked the whole parade. It was cold and it seems like it was about three miles long, but he danced and walked the whole way. When we got to the end of the parade, then he got onto the cart inside of the hall and at that time he gave the lecture sitting on the cart. But I don’t think I’d slept for several days because we were making the carts and there were so many things going on preparing for Prabhupada’s coming, and I was falling asleep on my feet. So when Prabhupada started giving his lecture and I was fanning Subhadra, I just kept falling asleep. Lady Subhadra is very kind, and Prabhupada just glanced now and again. I can’t imagine what he was thinking, but I did my best to stay awake. We would do that in those days. We would just work so hard that we couldn’t survive once Prabhupada actually arrived. We were all preparing for him to come, and then we missed half the classes.
Madhudvisa das: I was reading a letter yesterday that Prabhupada said, “I appreciated very much how you were leading the kirtan and at the same time taking care of my personal while we were walking along on the Rathayatra Festival.” You wouldn’t think that Prabhupada would observe that, but he saw how I was leading the kirtan and at the same time “taking care of his personal,” that’s the way he worded it. In other words, making sure that everybody was around Srila Prabhupada and not blocking the way.
Pratapana das: I had had books which I had purchased a couple of years before when I was an attorney downtown. So I had those books on my bookcase, and occasionally I’d pick up a Bhagavatam and try and read it to see if I could understand it because I’d never really understand, I couldn’t make head or tail of it. But I knew, somehow or another I knew that this was it, this was the truth, this was the real thing. And also Prabhupada, I just had the conviction that this person, he was a person that had no ego and that he stood for what was the truth. Then just prior to the Rathayatra, on the Thursday I was on my way to one of my favorite joints, a wine bar, and next to the wine bar there was a big poster which was promoting the Rathayatra and Prabhupada. On the poster, there was a beautiful picture of Prabhupada with the caption that said, “At whose feet all the masters sit,” and it really impacted on me. I looked at the poster and I thought, “Yes.” Then the Saturday came around, so I went to the Rathayatra. Then in the distance I saw these amazing huge chariots, there were three of them with amazing canopies and this amazing statue which was maybe 30, 40 feet high of this golden personality with His arms in the air. And there were literally hundreds of devotees, it appeared to me, were dancing ecstatically and blissfully; and it was a swirl of color and movement, there were a couple of marching bass drums, and it was just a wonderful sight. I was struck with wonder. Then in the middle of the chanting party was this diminutive personality, Srila Prabhupada, who I had recognized from the books and from the poster. When I first saw him, he was actually dancing blissfully with his arms in the air; and I could see all the devotees were completely caught up in rapture. So it appeared to me in retrospect Prabhupada was like the full moon surrounded by the stars in the sky on a cloudless night. It was just a wonderful sight to behold, and I was completely overcome with joy myself at seeing it. At this stage, I was hooked. So I followed the procession up the street and into the exhibition buildings, and there Prabhupada gave a lecture but I really couldn’t understand what he was saying. But it was something that was totally out of this world and something that I just felt, “This is it, this is it, and I want to be a part of this, whatever it is.” I was caught up. I had Prabhupada fever very quickly. It was very contagious. It was spreading right throughout, and I caught Prabhupada fever that first time that I saw him and I still have it today. Apparently it’s incurable. Once you catch Prabhupada fever, you have it forever.
Sabhapati das: Over the years I’ve met many, many people who actually saw the parade and saw Prabhupada on that day. Just a couple of years ago in our restaurant one lady came in, and she told me how she had seen our leader on this festival going through the streets of Melbourne and how she saw this big golden form at the head of the parade leading the procession. And she said it really profoundly affected her and that over the years many, many times she’d had dreams of that particular festival and of that particular golden form of Lord Caitanya. So that was the potency of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Jagannatha and the Rathayatra Festival.
Kurma das: After the Rathayatra parade, which was extremely successful, we wheeled all three carts into the Royal Exhibition Buildings, which were the final resting place of the Rathayatra Festival; and Prabhupada gave a nice lecture from the cart. After his lecture, he came down the stairs and he rested on a chair in a small room as we were preparing to distribute the feast. And one of Prabhupada’s disciples, Gopinath Acharya, entered the room with some incense.
Gopinath Acharya das: So Srila Prabhupada is sitting there resting a little on a seat, and Deepak prabhu introduced me to Srila Prabhupada and said, “Oh, this is Gopinath Acharya das. He is one of our leading book distributors.” So Srila Prabhupada was actually very interested; and he turned his head very regally, he looked at me and asked me what I said to sell the books. So I mumbled and fumbled something to the effect that, “Oh, Srila Prabhupada, I just tell them it’s about yoga. They think it’s about exercises and like that.” Srila Prabhupada thought very pensively for 30 seconds or so and he said, “You should tell people that these books will solve the problems of life and help reduce the miseries of life.” In retrospect, I believe Srila Prabhupada must have been thinking of the verse from the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam: anarthopasamam saksad, bhakti-yogam adhoksaje, lokasyajanato vidvams, cakre satvata-samhitam. “The material miseries of the living entity, which are superfluous to him, can be directly mitigated by the linking process of devotional service. But the mass of people do not know this, and therefore the learned Vyasadeva compiled the Srimad-Bhagavatam.” So I felt very blessed to be privy to Srila Prabhupada’s personal instruction what to say to distribute his books. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been able to introduce that kind of presentation on the street when we were selling books for many years. But later on when we were selling Srila Prabhupada’s sets of books, that proved to be very successful. People warm up to that. Actually everyone is suffering, and Srila Prabhupada’s real business was to somehow or another give people some happiness through Krishna consciousness. So then he began to speak about the prediction in the Caitanya Bhagavat: prithivite ache jato nagaradi gram, sarvatra prachara hoibe mora nam, that Lord Caitanya’s name would be heard in every town and village. So Srila Prabhupada went on to say that this means that there will be a Radha-Krishna temple in every town and village with at least six brahmanas to worship the Deity.
Pratapana das: The next day I was told that there was a big program down at Ormond Hall. I used to go to Ormond Hall back in the mid-’60s when I was a jazzer, and jazz bands used to play down there. So it was one of the joints that we used to frequent. So I went to Ormond Hall and I walked in and there’s this amazing kirtan going on, and Lord Caitanya…once again that golden figure is in the middle of the room, and the devotees are just ecstatically dancing around. It was an ecstatic, blissful kirtan. Once again we had those marching bass drums, I think there was about three of them, and the devotees were just wild with enthusiasm and they were dancing around like Indians surrounding a wagon train, whooping. It was once again another amazing sight. By this time, after seeing Prabhupada and the devotees at Rathayatra, seeing Prabhupada gliding past me at the temple, and then seeing this wonderful sight at the Ormond Hall and then Prabhupada walking in and giving a lecture…once again I couldn’t understand what he was saying…but by this time I was completely convinced that “Yes, I have to become a devotee.” So virtually a couple of days after that I moved into the temple, and a day after that I was out on the street selling incense and collecting donations.
Sabhapati das: We had big ecstatic kirtan around Lord Caitanya for about 45 minutes, Madhudvisa was leading. And it was such an ecstatic kirtan that when Madhudvisa stopped the chanting, Prabhupada motioned like this to continue. He was just in ecstasy watching and hearing the kirtan. He loved Madhudvisa’s kirtan so much. Then after that, he gave a lecture. And then after the lecture, another nice feast was served. Especially after the festival the day before when we had a big program and a big feast, he was very pleased with that. But then the next day, it was on a Sunday, another big feast was served and he said, “Who has cooked this?” He was very, very pleased that the devotees had gone to so much trouble to cook two beautiful feasts in two days.
Dvaipayana das: As usual, my service was to cook a huge feast for the program. As I remember, I had to cook a huge feast, Ekadasi feast. I can’t remember exactly everything I made; but I do remember that I was busy during the program when Prabhupada was talking, organizing the food and getting it ready to be served out at the end of the program. So I couldn’t be present at the whole program. But what we did was arranged all the plates and served them all out in a room that was nearby or next to this hall where everyone was chanting and hearing Prabhupada talk. And when the program was over and Prabhupada was walking out, he walked past and saw all the plates of prasadam spread out and he looked at Madhudvisa and said, “Oh, who has done all this?” And Madhudvisa said, “Dvaipayana has done this.” And Prabhupada said, “Oh, this is very good.”
Kurma das: The large murti of Lord Caitanya that we see in the Ormond Hall lecture here, that was created by Dhoumya das; and Dhoumya had perfected the art of cold electroplating. He was able to build this murti in pieces and then create a wonderful shiny gold coating and then with pegs assemble the murti and bring it to various events. It was there at the Rathayatra Festival and, as we can see, Prabhupada encouraged us with a wave of his hand that we all circumambulate the Deity. He was like the general ordering the troops and just with that little movement of his head and the little movement of his hands, we took his lead and we danced ecstatically around the murti with those very big bass drums that we had used the day before at Rathayatra.
Srila Prabhupada: Complete knowledge. So if you read Bhagavad-gita, you get complete knowledge. Lord Bhagavan says: idam tu te guhyatamam, pravaksyamy anasuyave. Bhagavan Krishna is teaching Arjuna. So in the Ninth Chapter He says, “My dear Arjuna, I am now speaking to you the most confidential knowledge.” Guhyatamam. Tamammeans superlative. Positive, comparative and superlative. In Sanskrit, tara tama. Tarais comparative and tamameans superlative. So here Bhagavan says, the perfect Personality of Godhead says idam tu te guhyatamam pravaksyamy, “Now I am speaking to you the most confidential knowledge.” Jnanam vijnana-sahitam. The knowledge is with full knowledge, not that imagination. Jnanam vijnana-sahitam. Vijnanameans science, practical demonstration. So jnanam vijnana-sahitam. Yaj jnatva, if you learn this knowledge, yaj jnatva moksyase asubhat. Asubha. Moksyasemeans you get liberation, and asubhameans inauspicity, inauspicity. So our present life, at the present moment…present life means so long we possess this material body it is full of inauspicity. Moksyase asubhat. Asubhameans inauspicity. So what is that confidential knowledge? Namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te, krsnaya krsna-caitanya-namne gaura-tvise namah. Srila Rupa Goswami, when he met Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu at Prayag… There is a place, holy place in India which is called Prayag. So Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, after accepting His renounced order or sannyas, He went to Prayag and other holy places. So Srila Rupa Goswami, he was minister of the government but he gave up everything and joined this Hare Krishna movement with Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. So when he first met and he offered this verse: namo maha-vadanyaya. Vadanyameans the most magnanimous. Yes, Krishna asks that “You rascal, surrender unto Me.” You are all rascals, you surrender to Krishna. Then your life will be successful. That’s all. This is the sum and substance of Krishna’s instruction. Sarva-dharman parityajya, mam ekam saranam vraja. Krishna is not asking only Arjuna, He is asking all us, all rascals, that “You are manufacturing so many things for becoming happy. You will never be happy, rest assured. But surrender to Me and I will make you happy.” That’s all. One line. So what can be done? Krishna is offering all opportunities and we, humble servant of Krishna, we are trying to preach it, but the rascals will not accept it. What can be done? That is the difficulty. They want to continue to remain as rascals. That is…what can be done? This is the difficulty. Otherwise, everything is there if we take it. Even a child can take benefit out of it, of Krishna consciousness, that you have seen practically. But we will not take it. That is the difficulty.
Venugopala das: Prabhupada would be giving a lecture and his glance would fall over you, and he’d just be looking straight through you. The devotees, they felt that Prabhupada was seeing right into their heart. I’ve heard that from a lot of devotees, and I’ve felt that also. Definitely that’s reality because it’s confirmed by not just me but it’s confirmed by so many devotees, they felt Prabhupada looking right into their hearts even though he was giving a lecture. And certain things he would say in the lecture, he’d look at you and that thing that he was saying was applying to you. He wasn’t just talking to the crowd, he was talking to you, and what Prabhupada was saying at that particular point in time really penetrated deep into your heart.
Kurma das: We were very fortunate that William Kerr, who was a freelance cinematographer and filmmaker, gave his services to film a lot of the footage that we see of Prabhupada in Australia. He had a whole team that would come and film as many of the events that they could including the installation of the Deities, the opening of the temple, morning walks, the classes, the Town Hall programs, and he was filming over a number of years from 1973 all the way through to Prabhupada’s 1975 visit. So he would have a big camera actually on a dolly and wheel it through the Botanic Gardens and take a lot of that classic footage. So we are very indebted to him for doing that.
Dayasara das: There were three major universities in Melbourne, and La Trobe University was one of them. We had arranged a program. I remember we went into the hall, it was an auditorium, and there weren’t many students there even though we had extensively advertised. There might have been about 50 to 100 students, and it was a huge auditorium and it wasn’t filled up. So then Madhudvisa had the idea to take all the devotees out…and Prabhupada hadn’t arrived yet…and do a big Harinam on the main quadrangle in the university and try and bring more students back, and it had the desired effect because it was right at lunchtime. He was like the Pied Piper. Madhudvisa brought all these students, and the hall auditorium was full to capacity. But as it happened, it was only about two or three minutes into Prabhupada’s lecture then that the students started heckling.
Madhudvisa das: At this time in the early ’70s, La Trobe University was in the throes of Vietnam protests. The Vietnam War had become a very unpopular war throughout Australia, and Srila Prabhupada was identified by the students as someone who was taking the thunder away from their anti-war demonstrations by preaching peace and love. Instead of encouraging students to demonstrate against the war, Prabhupada was telling people to chant Hare Krishna and to solve the problems of the world like that. So they had strategically placed many students in the audience that were specifically there just to disrupt the lecture. So after the kirtan was over, Srila Prabhupada began to speak and immediately one student stood up and started to object to what Srila Prabhupada was saying. The gist of what they were saying is that Srila Prabhupada was there just to disturb their anti-war sentiments. Then we had that person removed and brought into the back. Then as soon as Srila Prabhupada started to speak again, someone else stood up and started to speak; and they would be using profanity and wouldn’t be reasoned with. I tried from the microphone to try to diffuse the whole situation, but they were determined that they wouldn’t listen to any logic. Although the audience wanted to hear Srila Prabhupada speak, these hecklers were determined to stop the meeting. So after three or four of those people did this and wouldn’t allow Srila Prabhupada to speak, then Prabhupada finally said, “Just chant.” So we chanted, and then Srila Prabhupada left. But while this whole thing was going on, the devotees were taking these hecklers out and bringing them into the vestibule and the fistfights…there was a big fistfight broke out. So although it appears to be calm in the auditorium, just outside the doors there was a full-fledged donnybrook going on. The devotees were defending themselves, and it became quite a bloody scene. One of the students had a knife, and he threw the knife on the ground and he said, “Look, look, they have a knife! They’re trying to stab me!” So the security guards came, and it was a big commotion out there. But Krishna was working in such a subtle way. The temple president of Sydney, Australia, now whose name is Atmarama…he was initiated by Srila Prabhupada, but at that time he was a student at La Trobe University. He saw all these people walking into the men’s room, they were all bleeding, bloody noses. He said, “Gee, I thought those Hare Krishnas were peaceful people. How come there’s a big fight going on?” He said, “Oh, they were heckling his spiritual master.” He said, “Oh, these guys are really committed,” and he was profoundly affected by the devotees’ fierce loyalty to Srila Prabhupada. Soon after that he became initiated, and now he’s the temple president of Sydney. So Krishna works in strange ways. Also, the students up on top of the underpasses, as the devotees were leaving they dumped black paint on our white vans. So it was an orchestrated thing by these anti-war demonstrators. So when Srila Prabhupada got back to his rooms, he said, “Now we know, we cannot have any free speaking engagements anymore. Whenever I speak in public like this, you must charge five dollars or two dollars. There must be some admission charge because when we have these free assemblies, then any riffraff can come and cause a disturbance.”
Madhudvisa das: Now, if the intelligentsia of Australia cannot sit for half an hour and listen to a gentleman speak about love of God, it does not speak very well for you. We are simply not asking for disturbance, we are not asking for violence, but we will meet violence with violence. We are not artificially pacifists. We are asking you to listen like gentlemen. We have come here in good will. We have come here not to cause any disturbance. So we ask you please to have that much respect for our spiritual master. At this time, if there is any questions about Krishna consciousness philosophy, not about fighting…we can go out in the street and fight, and we can solve everything out there. We have come here to speak about spiritual matters. If we want to speak about spiritual matters, let us speak together like brothers and sisters. Let’s not cause disturbance. I have an ego, you have an ego. If you do something to flick off my ego, I may get mad. If I do something so flick off your ego, you get mad. So we’ll go out into the street and settle it like a cat and a dog? No. We’re not here in this university to act like that. We’re supposed to have raised above that platform. So please, we ask you to present sober questions to our spiritual master. Yes, sir?
Srila Prabhupada: He is coming, welcome, we shall welcome. Yes. That is very good news that Jesus is coming.
Student #1: Jesus had no reputation, he wore sandals, and he was crucified between two thieves.
Student #2: He didn’t carry flick knives.
Student #1: And your spirituality is on a Rolls Royce, on a padded seat and you’re all into money, you Krishnas. You want money. You rip off people in the streets.
Jagattarini dasi: We came for this university program independently, not with the devotees. So we sat in the audience rather than on the stage, and it became quite unpleasant. And because it was so disturbing…it was a little bit shocking, I remember, for myself. Later I remember Srila Prabhupada said that under such circumstances they should have just immediately started kirtan and not done anything else and that kirtan would have been enough.
Madhudvisa das: You had three questions. Maybe there’s somebody else who has a question. Another question? Yes, sir?
Student #3: Do you consider your movement the major form of enlightenment emanating from the United States today? What order of priority is your movement in the White House psychological warfare department? Will you also be coming on to our July 4 demonstration again this year to try and [profanity deleted] it up and divert people away from taking up real political issues concerned with Australian democracy?
Madhudvisa das: We can answer one at a time. I can answer them for you if you like. Our movement is not coming from the United States. If you have some paranoiac stigma about everything coming from the United States, that’s your hang-up, not mine. Second of all, our spiritual master, he came to the United States to start this Krishna consciousness movement because he got a free ticket on a boat to go there. And because it was the mercy of this one lady who gave him the free ticket on the boat, he came to America on the orders of his spiritual master. This is the reason he came to America to start Krishna consciousness. If you had sent him a free ticket, he probably would have come to Australia first. He was a monk, he was a monk, a penniless monk in India, and he was trying to follow the orders of his spiritual teacher by spreading love of God. He’s not trying to stop any kind of a political movement. Actually, he is trying to spark a revolution in consciousness. I think that you are also interested in revolution. We are also interested in revolution also, but we are interested in the revolution which will help people to feel peace with themselves whether they are Communist or a Marxist or Leninist or whatever “ist” you like.
Sabhapati das: This is a morning walk in the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. They’re very beautiful gardens that are over a couple hundred acres, and each morning Srila Prabhupada would go for a morning walk with different devotees from different departments in the temple. One morning the pujaris would go, next morning the devotees from the book distributors, the BBT party, would go, the devotees who were working for Spiritual Sky. So in this way, all the Australian devotees had an opportunity to go out on the morning walks. Of course, we were chanting japa and the devotees were asking many, many questions.
Cittahari das: I went on this morning walk, and I was sitting next to Prabhupada. There were only a few of us. Prabhupada was looking out at the people all going to work along Saint Kilda Road, and they were all dressed up in their suits, men and women. It was one of the very up-market parts of Melbourne, and all these people were dressed up and all rushing off to work. I was sitting next to Prabhupada and I remember I was looking out thinking, “Oh, how fortunate I am. I’m here with Prabhupada, I’m here with the great pure devotee of the world, and there are all these people just going off like mudhas to work.” Then Prabhupada was looking out at them too, and then Prabhupada turned around to me and I saw that he had tears running down out of his eyes. He looked at me and he said, “How can they be saved?” That was the most important question Prabhupada ever asked me in my life. I’ve been dwelling on that ever since – how can they be saved? So while we were thinking of how fortunate we were, Prabhupada was purely thinking of the people who he couldn’t connect with because of the barriers they put around themselves in different ways.
Dayasara das: It was early in the morning around 6:30 a.m. and one person was practicing his golf putting, and Prabhupada stopped in the middle of a walk and said, “What is he doing?” A devotee said, “Oh, he’s practicing his golf, Srila Prabhupada.” Prabhupada said again, “What is he doing? He’s wasting his human form of life.” The same austerity as he’s going to practice his golf at 6:30 in the morning he could easily be directing towards Krishna. Actually Prabhupada had tears in his eyes watching his determination to practice his golf.
Cittahari das: We were in the gardens on a morning walk. I was having a bit of trouble chanting my rounds. I was thinking how difficult it was to follow the regulative principles, and I remember I… I very rarely asked Prabhupada questions, but on this occasion Prabhupada was talking about transcendental anxiety and I said to Prabhupada, “Is it transcendental anxiety, Prabhupada, when you’re worried because you can’t get your rounds done or you’re worried about following the four regulative principles and things like that?” Prabhupada said, “No.” He said, “That is material anxiety. Transcendental anxiety is where Mother Yasoda is worried that Krishna may get attacked by a monkey, she said, or fear for Krishna. It’s anxiety for Krishna, it’s not anxiety for yourself.” He said, “That’s mundane.” So Prabhupada cleared me up on that one. I always realized from then on that all my anxieties are basically material.
Ugrasrava das: We had the temple in Saint Kilda, and Srila Prabhupada was still staying at my house in Brighton. I’d pick Srila Prabhupada up for the morning lecture. Prabhupada would go inside and give the lecture, and I would listen to the lecture. Then when Prabhupada had finished, I would bring the car around the front, double park it in the street, and I’d pick up Srila Prabhupada and put him in the car. This particular day Cittahari said to me…begged me that could he take the Fairlane for a drive. I said, “OK, take the Fairlane for a drive, but don’t take long because Srila Prabhupada is nearly finished. It has to be back in time.” So Cittahari didn’t come back, and Prabhupada was finishing his lecture. So I raced around the back of the temple. We had this old combi-wagon which had Radha-Krishna painted up on the side door. It was what we used to take all the rubbish to the tip and all the excess prasadam down to the beach to throw into the ocean. The lecture was finishing up so I raced around, I’ve thrown all the rubbish out into the laneway, I got a broom, I got a hose, I tried to clean it as best I could. It stunk. I’ve got the combi-wagon, I’ve come around, I’ve double parked because Cittahari still hasn’t turned up. Prabhupada walks out, sees the combi-wagon, and I put him in the front seat. So the two of us take off to Brighton, and it was raining. So the windscreen wipers were on. So every time the windscreen wiper went backwards and forwards, the horn would go “beep.” So the windscreen wiper is going, the horn is going as we’re going down the road, Burnett Street, and Prabhupada looked at me and he said, “What is going on?” I said, “Well, Srila Prabhupada, Cittahari didn’t come back with the car. I had to get the old truck.” So Srila Prabhupada watched the windscreen wiper and listened to the horn go and he just broke up, he thought it was the most hilarious thing. And we went into a great discourse about Indian cars similar to the one that we were in at the moment.
Sabhapati das: We actually had many nice preaching engagements for Srila Prabhupada. The first one was a meeting with three scientists from the Commonwealth of Australia Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. They had a very, very nice conversation, and they were concerned with the food problem of the world. They wanted to know how specifically the Hare Krishna movement could help with the starving people of Asia. Prabhupada just said, “Get them to chant Hare Krishna, and that will solve all problems,” and they sort of looked. That was a very jovial conversation actually, and they were very respectful of Prabhupada. At the end, one of the men admitted that his daughter had been given a copy of the Srimad-Bhagavatam in the street by the devotees and that he and one of the other gentlemen there were actually reading the Srimad-Bhagavatam. And Prabhupada said that “Because they are reading the Bhagavatam, these men are gentlemen.”
Caru das: There was a fellow, a scholar, who had an idea to interview Prabhupada’s disciples in order to work up psychological profiles on them and perhaps get an angle on what type of person might be most inclined to join the Hare Krishna movement. He went to Prabhupada to get Prabhupada’s permission to interview his disciples and ask them what it was they had been doing before they joined the Krishna consciousness movement. Prabhupada said, “No, it doesn’t matter whether they were hippies on the street taking drugs, it doesn’t matter whether they were Ph.D.’s. Whatever they were, it was black, all black. It is not worth writing about. What is important, what is notable is the fact that they have joined this Krishna consciousness movement. And as far as trying to work up a psychological profile of what type of person joins the Krishna consciousness movement, it is simply the quest for the truth. If you want the answer to your question without a lot of research, those who are interested in the Absolute Truth, they will join the Krishna consciousness movement. And their lives will have little or no meaning or value and are certainly not worthy of the subject of study before becoming devotees. But after becoming devotees, yes, that is worthy subject matter.”
Amogha das: So we used to try to think of some gift to give to Srila Prabhupada. What can we think of? So one morning in the Saint Kilda temple in Melbourne, which was quite small and all the devotees from all over Australia were crowded in there, Prabhupada entered the room and we all offered obeisances. I just heard Prabhupada say, “Don’t touch the Bhagavatam to the floor.” Somebody had touched the Bhagavatamto the floor because Prabhupada said, “Don’t touch it to the floor.” So I had this idea we could get a nice cloth made to wrap around the Bhagavatam, and I asked the ladies who do the sewing for the Deities. So they had this nice gold brocade cloth and with gold tassels at the end, and I asked her to make that. Then I went into downtown Melbourne and I found some really nice-looking mangoes. I think I bought about six. So I put these things all in a Back to Godheadbox. Then I went to the house where Prabhupada was staying, and I entered the room where Prabhupada was sitting behind his desk and talking to a whole roomful of devotees. So at one point he paused and he looked over at my box. He said, “So? What is this?” So I got the book cover cloth out. I guess you could say when I entered the room I thought, “Well, I’ve got these really good gifts to offer to Prabhupada,” thinking this is pretty good, I’ve got something. So I picked the cloth up and I said, “Srila Prabhupada, I heard this morning you said that we shouldn’t touch the Bhagavatamto the floor, so I got you this nice cloth to keep around your Bhagavatam.” Prabhupada said, “I don’t touch my Bhagavatamto the floor.” Then I wanted to explain what I meant, what led to me deciding to do this, but Prabhupada, every time I started to say something he’d interrupt me. So I’d say, “Oh, but I mean…” “No, I don’t touch my Bhagavatamto the floor.” And every time I tried to explain, he stopped me. “I’m keeping my Bhagavatamon the shelf. I don’t touch my Bhagavatamto the floor,” and he was very stern. Then all the devotees started laughing and laughing really loud. Then he said, “This is for you.” So in that way I was totally humbled. I just felt like if I could crawl in a hole and hide, I would. Everybody was laughing at me, and Prabhupada was so stern. I meant to give him a gift, but it sounded like an insult. I didn’t mean it as an insult, but I can’t explain it. I can’t describe the feeling. I just sat there and waited. Then he said, “Then?” At this stage, if I get these mangoes out, what’s going to happen if I get them out? So I picked the mangoes up and I said, “I also got you some mangoes.” Then Prabhupada looked at the mangoes, and then a big smile came on his face and he said, “Ah, this is a gift! Mango is the king of fruit.” Then his whole mood changed from stern to beaming, and I was totally relieved. But it relates to the idea that if you offer something with pride, then Krishna doesn’t like it, it’s not the right mood. But he created that mood in me, begging, “Please accept this offering.”
Ragatmika dasi: Prabhupada to me was a man full of grace. He was a gentle man, a gentle person, and compassionate and cultured. He displayed so much culture, and yet he led such a simple life and needed very little to comfort him. So every day when I return from work, I always go to our puja room at home and thank Srila Prabhupada just for the knowledge and allowing us to know all these wonderful things. Actually I get very emotional when I start to think about it, and I miss Srila Prabhupada very much. I would like to say, “I love you, Srila Prabhupada.”