These days we have been discussing about the different orders Prabhupad gave me. When we had the grass hut, Prabhupad took some ashes and marked out the temple. He said, here there will be a temple and here there will be an ashram. And he established Anantasesha. A hole that was more than 10 feet deep. So of all his god brothers came – almost all of them. That picture is still available somewhere. So Prabhupad invited all the Gaudiya matth leaders that we should all unify together and that would supply a foreign devotee for each ashram so that they could use him or her to preach but no one accepted. Then he placed Anantasesha in the ground and the Sesha was covered and all the devotees chanted around the Anantasesha.
One time Prabhupad said to me, I have given you the spiritual world, now you develop it! How can you develop the spiritual world?! But that was the order of His Divine Grace. He wanted that all the devotees from different countries stay in the Long building. They all got Bengal Belly. They were not used to the Indian spicing and they did not have South India – no idlis! Prabhupad said that if they worked then then can digest even stones. So he started them all on parikrama and he had me take out the parikrama party and thus the devotees developed an appetite.
He had different kohl experts. This one guy said he was the best mridanga player in the world. He could make the mridanga speak – Nitai Gaur going to the Ganges (Guru maharaj in a singing tone). Ha! And he would have all kinds of short sayings. But we wanted not a kohl player, we wanted a maker. So then Prabhupad hired another devotee to as a maker. I don’t know if he was hired or worked for free. The difference is that they salted shoe leather but for mridanga no salt and the cow should die naturally. So then you had to guard the cow or the bull from the dogs, they would be after the skin. Ooooo……. There would be a whole pack. So then the skin was stretched out in the sun and the dogs were kept away. Then the skin and became dry and then they were made into strips and then they made the two ends. There was a whole technique of how to make the gab. (Guru maharaj showed this on the mridanga). I am not the world’s best player! So they would make the strips and the gab, the ends of the mridanga. In the West they made the Balarama mridanga where the drum is made of fibre glass and others were made of leather. Everything was the same except for the fibre glass. So Prabhupad wanted us to be able to make all these things. We had mridangas, kartals, we had handloom and then we made very good dhotis. But we were frustrated because the devotees purchased their dhotis from Navadvip town. So we wondered why? The professional dhoti makers would make the centre thin and the edges thick. So you think it is a good deal but actually they would wear out faster. We would make it thick all the way through. We made gamchas, sarees.
Prabhupad was taking a morning walk and one simple man bowed down to Srila Prabhupad. And he asked him what he could do? He said, he could make thing in handloom. Then Prabhupad said, good, we don’t want lazies and crazies! So he was our first handloom operator. But he could not see the thread!! He was too old. So then we suggested why does he not get glasses? He said, I never thought of that! Ha! So we sent him to Navadvip and got him a pair of glasses. So then he could make all the things. He is still in Mayapur.
The Long building would go east to west. So while making mridangas we were making that. On the other side there was shade so there we would grow broccoli. And the local farmers came and said too bad, your cauliflower got the black plague! Ha! They had never seen broccoli. This was how our days would go by!
Sometimes Srila Prabhupad was there and sometimes he would travel around the world and send us news clippings or letters. I would send pictures of piles of briks and stones. He would write back, I don’t want to see piles of bricks and stones, I want to see buildings! So Prabhupad was pushing.
The Ganges was very far and so we sometimes bathed in the irrigation culvert. I lost three watches that way! So I decided to get a waterproof watch. And they would ask are you not going to take your watch off? I said no, my watch runs on water!
So we were there, about 6 or 7 devotees and now we have 7,500. Prabhupad predicted that in the future we would have 15 to 25,000.
Question: During the class, you were saying that devotees were making mridangas and handloom work, so it was only for the devotee community or for commercial use as well?
Guru maharaj: When Prabhupad started he was concerned that these skills be learned around the world. So that no matter what he would have the devotees doing the basic mridanga making, dhotis, sarees. We are still doing in the Jagannath temple.
But at some time the deities told Prabhupad to also preach in India. The local people knew how to do all these things. They were the foreigners who did not know. But now we have about half Indians and half foreigners. The Indians make mridangas and sell to all the foreigners.
Question: Was there two Anantaseshas installations in Mayapur?
Guru maharaj: Yes, one Anantasesha by the pukur and one in the back by the field.
Question: Hare Krishna guru maharaj, you are an inspiration to all your disciples and other devotees. I have a question. What keeps you going despite the obstacles that are faced?
Guru maharaj: Well I would like to be with Prabhupad, Lord Caitanya, Radha Madhav but I want to finish the service I was given. But I am not able to do it very well. So if you can help me I would appreciate it. Service to Lord Caitanya, Gurudev is so much nectar, why would I want to do something else? When you are young you want to use your senses. But I was engaged in this building of Mayapur. I always thought I would like service where I could do many things. So Prabhupad gave me that and if we think how Prabhupad sacrificed so much then why don’t we also want to do what we can to serve him? And there is so much bliss! The body is causing some problems, but that reminds me how this body is temporary. Sometimes there is happiness and sometimes there is pain. So rather than be concentrated on the body, we would rather be concentrated on Lord Caitanya’s sankirtan movement.
Now, today is the birthday of two devotees. So I heard there is a cake I have to cut. I cut the cake but you eat it!