Be a Part of History
Posted March 29, 2007
For the last 16 years we at Illumination Television have traveled to London, Melbourne, Sydney, Fiji, Mayapur, Vrndavana, Alachua, New York, San Francisco, San Diego, and New Vrndavana among other cities, to collect the oral histories that comprise the “Memories of Srila Prabhupada” series. Now we are asking you to come to us with your stories about His Divine Grace that we might not know of. If you or someone you know has at least one anecdote that you or he/she would like to share, please call or e-mail us at the info below so that we might arrange your memory to be recorded. We are wrapping up this series and would like to include as many pastimes that are out there yet to be told. As inspiration, we are including a few examples from our latest offering, “Memories-Part #47”.
Gurudas: I always stayed with Srila Prabhupada as much as I could because watching him was to see Krishna consciousness applied practically. So, once we were at a gathering where many enthusiastic people were giving Prabhupada presents and getting his darshan. Prabhupada turned to me and said, “Just see how they are treating saintly people.” He didn’t refer to himself, he just said “saintly people.” At that time people were touching his feet and he told me that if someone touches a guru’s feet, a sadhu’s feet, they have to be able to absorb all the karma of that person. And he said, “That’s why I’m patting them on their head, so I can give them their karma back.”
Sukhada: In one lecture Prabhupada talked about prasadam, and afterwards one of the devotees asked, “Prabhupada, is it true that if you take prasadam even once you’re guaranteed a human birth?” Prabhupada said, “Yes,” and all the devotees said, “Hooray!” We were thinking, “Wow, we’ve got it made. We’ve got a human birth coming, and that’s all we have to think about.” But Prabhupada became grave and didn’t say anything for a few seconds. Then he said, “But there are some species of monkeys that are considered human.” We all had to think about that for a while and get serious.
Tribhuvanath: In the early days we were like a family. Prabhupada used ride in the van with us when we went for programs in people’s homes. Sometimes the people who invited us were Bangladeshi refugees and Srila Prabhupada would sit with us on their floor honoring prasadam. Then we’d all get back in the sankirtan van and return to the temple. Srila Prabhupada was always eager to preach, even when he was ill. Nothing seemed to stop him. Once, when we didn’t arranged any programs because Prabhupada was ill, Prabhupada asked, “Why are there no programs?” We said, “Because you’re sick, Prabhupada.” “Sick?” Prabhupada said, “I am like the cow. Wherever you take me, I will give milk.” That was such a nice expression.
Annada: I bought Srila Prabhupada a chadar and I don’t know why, but for some reason I didn’t want him to know that it had come from the Khadigram at the Ashoka Hotel. So I took all the tags off it and put it in a brown paper bag so there was no indication of where it had come from. I put the package on his desk and offered my obeisances. As I was getting up, Srila Prabhupada said, “This is from Ashoka Hotel?” To this day I understand that if it is Krishna’s desire, Prabhupada can know everything, everywhere, at all times. Prabhupada’s vision can be supernatural. One tends to forget that.
Dravanaksha: We were in a separate departure lounge, and Prabhupada asked Jagadish to read from the Bhagavatam. As Jagadish read, Prabhupada went to the back of the room and laid down on one of the benches, as if he was going to nap. Sometimes Jagadish’s voice could put a charging elephant to sleep. He read one purport and all of us were nodding off. Jagadish stopped and looked up. Prabhupada lifted his head and said, “I am listening.” Prabhupada wasn’t really sleeping, he was always aware.
Dhirasanta: Srila Prabhupada was walking in St. James’s Park, tapping his cane on the ice that had formed overnight. At one point he asked, “What does this mean?” We looked at each other and wondered what we should say. Prabhupada asked again, “What does this mean?” We couldn’t fathom what Prabhupada meant. Suddenly he said, “Ice is maya. The original constitution of water is liquid, but when it comes in contact with freezing weather it becomes hard ice. And when there is ice, there is the possibility that you may slip.” Prabhupada may have been breaking the ice because he didn’t want anyone to slip. He continued the analogy, explaining that the heart becomes hard, but just as the sun rises and melts the ice, in the same way the continued chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra softens the heart and reinstates the individual in his natural constitutional position.
Hansadutta: Srila Prabhupada was sitting on his bed and I was sitting in front of him. I said, “Swamiji, I’m so nervous I can’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep this night or last night or the night before last.” He said, “Ohhh. That’s good.” He leaned forward, looked me right in the eye and said, “Actually our aim is to make sleeping zero, eating zero, defending zero, and sex zero. We don’t preach that, but that is the aim.” That was my first one-on-one instruction from Srila Prabhupada.
Bhuta Bhavana: When Prabhupada heard we had come he said to Brahmananda, “Send them up immediately.” So Hari Kripa and I went up to his room. There we saw Prabhupada in all his grandeur, sitting cross-legged, with a huge smile on his face as if someone had just told him a joke. He said, “Four hundred years ago your ancestors were taken away from here as slaves.” He made his eyes real big and said, “But, ah, just see, you have returned as masters.” I thought, “How poetic! Who could say something like that?” Generally in the black community if you refer to slavery, it’s not a very jovial thing, but Prabhupada made it wonderful. We had returned to Africa in Krishna consciousness. Then he told Brahmananda to give us prasadam, and we left to honor it.
Vasudev: Prabhupada never used to criticize anyone. He never criticized. Once I asked him about a certain devotee, if he’d gone or fallen down or if something happened to him, but Srila Prabhupada didn’t answer me. I never heard Prabhupada criticize any devotee. He loved his devotees, all his devotees.
Ranadhir das: Once, Prabhupada called all of the temple presidents to Los Angeles to see how a good temple was run. At the time, Kirtanananda was the temple president in New Vrindavan, but somehow I was elected to go. One of the things that I was supposed to do in Los Angeles was to tell Srila Prabhupada about how everybody in New Vrindavan was frustrated with having to deal with Hayagriva. We wanted an official sanction against Hayagriva so that he wouldn’t continue to make our lives miserable. I hitchhiked to Los Angeles and rehearsed the litany of grievances that we had against Hayagriva. When it was time for my darshan with Srila Prabhupada, I was introduced, “Prabhupada, this is Ranadhir from New Vrindavan.” I paid my obeisances. With a look of love and affection on his face Prabhupada said, “And how is Hayagriva?” And there went my whole thing. I definitely could not say a bad word about Hayagriva. That’s an example of the spiritual master not only knowing your mind but also knowing how to change your heart.
Jayapataka Swami: Once Srila Prabhupada got a letter about a devotee in Australia who had been asked to leave the temple because he had a problem. Prabhupada was crying. He said, “This devotee has done so much service. You should fall at his feet and beg him to take up Krishna consciousness again. Why you are throwing him away? At least fall at his feet and beg him three times. If he still doesn’t come after that, then what can you do?” Prabhupada wanted every devotee to be treated very nicely and given every opportunity to remain in Krishna consciousness. At the same time, if someone was preaching mayavada philosophy or something, then Prabhupada had to take a strong action to protect the others.
Ugrasrava: In the early days, my father was a demon. He used to pay guys to disrupt the sankirtan party and rough up the devotees a little. When Prabhupada was staying in Australia, my envious father called and said that he was going to disrupt Srila Prabhupada’s visit. I said to my father, “Before you come, call an ambulance because you’ll need one to take you away.” I told Srila Prabhupada about my father’s phone call and how he had arranged for the sankirtan party to be disrupted. I wanted Srila Prabhupada to instruct me to do something against my father, but Prabhupada was very severe. He lectured me, “In this life and in your next life you are responsible for getting your parents out of this hellish situation, so start mending your relationship right now,” which I did. I didn’t like to do it but I thought, “Okay, Srila Prabhupada said it, so that’s what I’ve got to do.” Prabhupada also told me that I had to do the sanskara performances at my parents’ funerals, which I also did.
Mulaprakriti: After Srila Prabhupada left Los Angeles, people like Ujjvala and some other ladies who were in charge of cleaning, used to quickly gather up any kind of nectar Prabhupada had left behind and give it to some devotees. Once she gave a little notebook to my husband, Gopavrindapal prabhu. On the front was written, “Hong Kong Hilton,” and we kept that notebook for many years always thinking that there was nothing inside it. For some reason, we never looked at it carefully. Then one day we were going through all our Prabhupada nectar and putting it into a little sacred box, when all of a sudden Gopa said, “Oh, look!” There was one page near the back of that notebook where Srila Prabhupada had written a phone number and a couple of other things, and then made what looked like some transcendental doodles. At first we were wondering, “What does it say?” And then we suddenly saw it clearly. It was very amazing. Two times in his very beautiful script, the way he signed his name but even more ornate, he had written, “Save the world from godlessness. Save the world from godlessness.” That was a treasure.