So we are trying to complete some of the pastimes of of Srila Prabhupad and we have almost come to the end. But whatever I can think of, I will say tonight.
Once there was an MLA of Panihati was part of the Congress and after him came the CPM government. So Prabhupad went to Panihati and he saw the banyan tree that Nityananda sat under. He said we can construct a temple which will allow people to freely access the tree. But the temple would have a second floor and the devotees could reach there. Next to the Nitai Gaur temple by the banyan tree there was a small temple. So Prabhupad, he talked to the sevite there and then he went to the house of Raghav Pandit and Damayanti. On the way he met a brahmana who was worshipping at the small temple. This was another temple and that brahmana offered Prabhupad a Shaligram shila. So he accepted it and that was the first Shaligram for Iskcon. And then he went to Raghav Pandit and Damayanti’s temple where Lord Nityananda had His pastimes. Srila Prabhupad said if we construct a temple we should take a photo of the existing temple to show this was an ancient place. It turns out that someone else bought the temple. And they put on display Raghav’s jhalli, different preparations which were sent down from Bengal to Lord Caitanya. Some had expiry date of one month, some two months, like that, different dates. Some six months, some one year. These were carried by devotees in bags. The bags became known as jhallis and it was a big part of the procession to Jagannath Puri to see Raghav’s jhallis. So Prabhupad said we went there on two occasions. Prabhupad said from Calcutta to Mayapur we should have a boat service and we can stop at Panihati and giving them a flat rice, yogurt fruit snack. So this was Prabhupad’s concept.
Prabhupad wrote me a letter. He said that I may be working too hard and that I should stay in Mayapur and have the devotees carry out different services. He asked me to take care of the devotees. At that time, they were all my god brothers and sisters and he also asked me to unify his god brothers and to serve them.
We were going around Calcutta. Prabhupad said that Calcutta should have at least 10 temples in the future. So he had the vision of spreading Krishna consciousness throughout the metropolis. His parental home was in north Calcutta. But as was the custom, his mother went and stayed at the place of her relatives and it is kind of special that he took birth under a jackfruit tree, because he met Om Vishnupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur under a jackfruit tree! I do not know if you know what a jackfruit tree is like? The wood is yellow in color and the centre of the tree is very hard. But the edges of the tree are subject to decay. I made a desk for Srila Prabhupad out of jackfruit wood. I was a simple boy so I thought it was very nice. But later I saw other devotees had carved opulent furniture for Srila Prabhupad as in teak wood, etc. Opposite his desk he had a carving of Radha and Krishna and he could not tell where Radha began and Krishna ended. They were unified.
In one room he had Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar maharaj come and sit next to him. He invited him to visit the temples around the world. He offered him the position to be president of Iskcon. And after they talked, Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar maharaj led the kirtan. I remember because he started out the kirtan very slow, Nitai Gaur Haribol Haribol Haribol Haribol. And then the whole room exploded in kirtan. Prabhupad was encouraging everyone. Unfortunately, Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar maharaj did not go overseas. He took a train to Jagannath Puri. Prabhupad knew he had to take train to Howrah, then take a change to Odisha. He said it easier to get on a plane and fly directly to New York or London! But none of his god brothers went with him. But he went to Navadvip and visited the temple of Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar maharaj. He was sitting in a room and one of the older brahmacharis came up and said, you don’t have tilak. He looked at the brahmachari and said, I am a Paramahamsa, I don’t need it! The brahmachari scurried away! Then Prabhupad put on his tilak.
So when Prabhupad was a grihastha he had a special room where the Gaudiya sanyasis would visit, they could enter there and stay there. So he had so much respect for Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar maharaj, so it was very frustrating that his god brother did not go with him to the western countries.
This reminds me of two things. One is that Prabhupad asked me to see that the
Temple of Vedic Planetarium was constructed. Sometimes he would take a group of devotees by the side and he would say I am depending on you to build the temple. Then he would bring another group and tell them, I am depending on you to build the temple. Ha! He made everybody fully responsible. So he told me also. Ha!
He wanted a nice temple for Radha Govinda. He also wanted that the Kolkata Ratha Yatra be the largest in the world. The first year we made two rathas, the second year there were three. So the year we had three rathas, the Balaram ratha broke down and the Balaram ratha in Puri also broke down! So we were told that when Balaram’s ratha breaks down there is going to be a major war. That was the Iraqi war, the Desert Storm.
I was just learning how to do things. So I went to Deshapriya Park in Kolkata and there they had a steel swinging door. So I stood on one side with a basket of puris and I thought, I will distribute these. But the enthusiasm in Kolkata is something unexpected. They jumped over the fence pushing me down and took all the puris. Ha!
Prabhupad said to Trivikrama maharaj that he should learn Bengali and that people would worship him. I was there and I love Bengali, I learnt Bengali and we have a good relationship! I think we have about 16 thousand disciples in Bengal.
At first Prabhupad gave some money to start the temple in Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. He told one of the preachers, you should have the courage of an English soldier and the heart of an Indian mother. So I was going to Nepal on several occasions. I met the king and his wife, the queen. But I did not meet the president – that was a recent thing. Now there is no more king and there is a president.
So Prabhupad was concerned that we have a temple, we made a temple in Haridaspur. Prabhupad was very happy. In Haridaspur everything was named after Haridas, Haridas High School, Haridas Elementary School, Haridas village. And Haridas Thakur stayed there for one day. He chanted his rounds once and since then the whole village is known as Haridaspur. So Prabhupad said that in Hyderabad we want to make our own Krishna conscious village. And in Mayapur we want to make a Krishna conscious city and in Haridaspur we want to take an existing village and make it Krishna conscious. I remember Prabhupad said we can also build a temple in the lake across from 3C Albert Road. He said you can convince the government. Use flattery or anything. Ha! Code words! Ha!
Now we have like 150 namahattas, I may have the number wrong, it may be more.
In Calcutta we were doing kirtan. Prabhupad heard we were begging for money. He said, we do not beg for money. They will have a bad idea of us if we do that. Rather we want to give out the prasadam to them. So we would do kirtan and some crazy people would chant with us. I mean really crazy people. They would undress on the road, they were crazy. We went on kirtan from Grand Hotel to Babu Ghat.
Prabhupad wanted a 24 hour kirtan. At first in the temple we would have a group that would always chant. So in the temple they would have chanting or dancing, some transcendental sounds. But then one child who was the beloved of all the devotees, he was declared sick. But his mother stayed in the temple and chanted. So they asked her, won’t you go to the hospital? She said what can I do, I will chant before the Lord. He can do anything. So the surgeon went inside the operating theatre. And came out with an x-ray. What is this? What is this? I am going to London – they had a group in London. Here it shows a tumor, but I open him up, no tumor! So since then our 24 hours kirtan started at the Bhajan Kutir.
We only had a budget of Rs. 35. So I said I can grow with that 35 rupees. I remember His Holiness Tamal Krishna maharaj said, what can he do, he is a westerner, he does not know. But I bought magazines from Delhi, Indian Agriculture or something. This was made by the government. So they gave ideas of how to grow different types of crops. So I did that and we became self-sufficient. Once the devotees grew radish. There were all kinds of preparations with radish, radish green, radish fruit, the devotees said, please no more radish. Ha! Every day radish, radish, radish! You are self-sufficient, you grew what you grew and you ate what you grew. Bhindi, tomatoes. And I got some award for growing award winning rice!
Prabhupad at that time he said that I will leave my body either in Mayapur or Vrindavan. If I leave in Mayapur, my Samadhi should be in Mayapur. If I leave in Vrndavan then my Samadhi should be in Vrndavan. But I should have a Pushpa Samadhi in either places.
Now the place of Prabhupad’s birth is surrounded by squanderers but in 1978 people from Bangladesh came and took shelter in India, around that time. So we got some of the land, some is still pending. Some letters were shown tome by Sankarshan das. So that is one of the projects on Prabhupad’s birthplace.
There are a couple of more stories but I don’t remember now.
I remember that one Home minister met and touched Srila Prabhupad’s lotus feet. So Brahmananda was about to hit him. Prabhupad said it is a local custom. He did not need to hit the Home minister. So then the Home Minister said I think these devotees were previously born in India and Prabhupad said, yes. So then Prabhupad told him that I was born in India. I was being humble, I said, how can it be? I am so fallen. Prabhupad raised his voice and said, DO NOT DOUBT THE WORDS OF THE SPIRITUAL MASTER, I WAS SAYING THIS, DO NOT DOUBT IT.
He had dysentery one time and his god sister made luchis or puris and put a little salt on it and he had hot fried puris. So that seemed like quite opposite for dysentery. But Prabhupad said, no, this is the cure.
So we were learning every day.
One of Prabhupad’s secretaries lost part of the manuscript of the Bhagavad Gita. So he was feeling very bad. So Prabhupad preached to him that he should not feel bad when the spiritual master is present. If he is not present you may feel anxious, but if he is present you should be happy, and so it is my order, be happy!
Haribol! Srila Prabhupad ki jai!
8 May 2018