Wednesday, 4 April 2012

My experiences and associations with Prabhupada Part-2

Anyway this broadness has been very clearly indicated but at the same time Prabhupada also maintained a very strict understanding of Krishna. Like, at the beginning, when Prabhupada was establishing ISKCON, and he declared that the name of the institution will be The International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Then many actually suggested that better would be to call it The International Society for God Consciousness. But Prabhupada was adamant, ‘No, International Society for Krishna Consciousness.’ And there is reason that Srila Prabhupada did that. People may not understand Krishna, that Krishna is God. Prabhupada said, ‘I have come here to to make everybody understand that Krishna is God.’ That was Prabhupada’s mission, to make everybody understand that Krishna is God.
And many times Srila Prabhupada dealt with this issue. Sometimes especially when he
was dealing with the Christians, Prabhupada used to ask that, ‘You speak about God?
Who is God? What does He look like? Where does He stay? What does He do? So if you
do not have any information about Him but if I have some information, if I provide the
information then why shouldn’t you take it? You do not have any information. I have the
information. So you have to accept that I know better than you. You are speaking about
God but you do not have any understanding about God. You are speaking about God but
you do not have any information about God. So why don’t you accept? Why don’t you
take an honest stand? And accept that, “Okay, I don’t know about God and here is the
information about God. Let me honestly accept it.” But instead you just keep on saying
that, “My God is the only God.” But you don’t have any understanding of God. Who is
your God? You just have the three letters, God. What does He look like? What does He
do? Where does He live? No information. So if somebody comes and provides you some
information, why don’t you accept it?’
So in that respect, Srila Prabhupada was very strong. That, ‘If you want to know about
God, come to me. If you want to know about God, come to me. I can tell you what He
looks like, what His name is, where He lives, what He does and I can even give you His
phone number.’ So this is how Srila Prabhupada was very clearly and emphatically
establishing Krishna Consciousness.
Anyway so another incidence in that program I remember that somebody in a rather
challenging way he was asking, ‘Why don’t you worship Rama? Why you always
worship only Krishna?.’ Prabhupada said, ‘No, we worship Rama also. Our
understanding is Rama and Krishna is the same Supreme Personality of Godhead. When
we are chanting Mahamantra, we are saying Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama.’ And
so the man was quite argumentative and Prabhupada became more and more upset the
way the man was. And Prabhupada’s voice became louder and louder. And finally
Prabhupada was screaming at him, although physically Prabhupada was quite weak at
that time.
Prabhupada’s health condition was quite weak. When he used to come, actually when
Prabhupada was in Mayapur, his health condition deteriorated considerably. Previously
Prabhupada used to walk on his own. But in Mayapur, we had to kind of, hold Srila
Prabhupada when he was walking. There was one way we used to hold Srila Prabhupada
when he was walking. Prabhupada used to have his stick. He used to hold the stick with
his right hand and we used to hold Prabhupada. With the right hand we used to hold him
around his waist and with the left hand we used to hold him on his shoulder. And this is
how we used to give him the support, when he used to go to bathroom, or any place.
When he used to go down to give class or went to attend some programs in the temple,
then Prabhupada was carried in a palanquin. There was a thing made, It was a chair made
with handles and a few devotees used to carry Srila Prabhupada down the stairs and up
the stairs.
So in Bombay other sannyasis, actually Tamal Krishna Maharaj and Bhavananda used to
go beforehand to the program and then at some point Prabhupada and I used to go to the
program. I used to assist Srila Prabhupada. So Prabhupada’s health condition was quite
weak and Prabhupada was giving the class. And he used to sit there. He used to sit there
quite hunched and weak with his physical frailty. But then as Prabhupada would start to
speak, his body would become straight. And then finally Prabhupada was practically
sitting at the edge of his seat, straight and erect as a bolt, and screaming with a pitch, at
the top of his voice, chastising. And I remember, the people also became so upset with
that man, they practically carried him and threw him out of the crowd.
So, sometimes Prabhupada in India especially, sometimes Prabhupada used to have this
kind of confrontation with the people. It’s unfortunate that such a glorious country with
such an inconceivable spiritual asset, that some people are just so adamant and unwilling
to recognise the greatness of a saintly person like Srila Prabhupada. At times I lament that
when Prabhupada was on this planet so few Indians recognised Srila Prabhupada’s
greatness. Nowadays we hear so many people come and say, ‘Oh, I met Swamiji.’ If you
met Swamiji, then why didn’t you come and help him? Why didn’t you surrender to him?
You met Swamiji but what was the use of that meeting? Some bed bugs also met Srila
Prabhupada. (Laughter) So anyway this is the misfortune that they couldn’t recognise
Srila Prabhupada’s glory, Srila Prabhupada’s greatness and take advantage of that. Srila
Prabhupada often used to have this.
Anyway I was just thinking Prabhupada used to go out in the morning walks. So in
Bombay I heard Prabhupada used to go for morning walks. And those morning walks
were very interesting. But I didn’t have the good fortune to go out with Srila Prabhupada
on the morning walk because those days when Srila Prabhupada was in Bombay, he
didn’t go out on a morning walk. That is because his health condition was so bad. But
sometimes when Srila Prabhupada would go back after the program I would go with Srila
Prabhupada and then he would lie down on his bed and I used to massage his feet.
One day Prabhupada was asking, ‘So how did you like my lecture?’ So I said,
‘Prabhupada it was very nice.’ And then Prabhupada said, ‘What was so nice about it?’
Then I related whatever I recalled. And Prabhupada was very pleased.
Then after the program was over, Prabhupada came back to Bombay temple, Juhu
temple, and Prabhupada’s apartment was complete by now. Complete in the sense, yeah,
more or less complete. Only the lift was not in full operation. The lift was used only
when Srila Prabhupada had to use it, at the beginning. When we went down, and up, we
went on foot, climbed the stairs on foot. And those days, so, just Tamal Krishna Maharaj
and myself.

Monday, 2 April 2012

My experiences and associations with Prabhupada Part-1

Hare Krsna,
So we were discussing about Srila Prabhupada, my experiences and associations with Prabhupada.
So from Mayapur Srila Prabhupada went to Bombay. The main reason for Prabhupada’s going to Bombay was a big Pandal program in Cross Maidan. In the main city of Bombay there is a large park called Cross Maidan. A program was arranged for Srila Prabhupada for three nights in Cross Maidan. When Prabhupada arrived in Bombay the devotees drove Srila Prabhupada to his quarters. In Bombay Prabhupada used to previously live, he had his quarters in one of the old buildings. Actually Bombay property had many apartment buildings and there were many tenants also. So Prabhupada used to live in one of the apartments, when he used to be in Bombay. So devotees drove Srila Prabhupada to his old apartment.
And Prabhupada asked what happened to his new apartment. And the devotees told that it was not ready at that time. Prabhupada said, ready or not he was going to stay there. And Prabhupada insisted. Now probably you have seen Prabhupada’s apartment in Bombay temple, the top floor of one of the towers is Srila Prabhupada’s apartment. Prabhupada just insisted on staying there now. The apartments were not ready. The lifts were not ready, and it was on the fifth floor. And the doors were not fixed and, it was, But Prabhupada just insisted he wanted to stay there.
And then Tamal Krishna Maharaj actually made, Prabhupada went up there and the work was still going on. The floors were not (inaudible). Prabhupada just insisted that he wanted to stay there. And then Tamal Krishna Maharaj suggested that since the program is in the city, Cross Maidan, maybe it is better for Prabhupada to stay in the city in somebody’s house. He already phoned someone, one very important man in Bombay who had a big palatial building, I mean, not palatial building, he actually had a palace. He was like a king. His name was Bhogilal Patel. So first Tamal Krsna Maharaj contacted Bhogilal Patel but Bhogilal Patel was not in Bombay at that time. Finally it was arranged that Prabhupada will stay in Kartikeya Mahadevya’s house, another life member, who was very close to Srila Prabhupada and a very important person. He had a very beautiful apartment on the beachfront, sea-facing. It was very luxurious apartment buildings. And so arrangement was made that Prabhupada would stay there in Kartikeya Mahadevya’s house. So Prabhupada moved in there with a few of us. Three of us were there with Prabhupada, Tamal Krishna Maharaj, myself. At first NavaYogendra Maharaj, no NavaYogendra didn’t come yet. Bhavananda Maharaj joined after a few days. And so three of us moved in with Srila Prabhupada and myself, three of us, moved in that apartment. Kartikeya Mahadevya with his family moved out, he vacated the apartment for Srila Prabhupada and us. And he moved in, in the same complex in some other apartment. I think they had some relatives and the whole family moved in there. So Prabhupada stayed in Kartikeya Mahadevya’s house for a few days and every evening Srila Prabhupada used to go to the program. And this was a very successful program. There were thousands of people, used to participate, must have been about close to 10 000 people used to attend the program every night. And from that program I remember a few things, a few incidents that were very memorable.
One day, one evening Srila Prabhupada noticed that an Arab gentleman dressed up in Arabic attire, like the way the Arabs dress, long kurta, Al khanna they call it and then the head is covered with a ring on top, all white. So the man was standing there in the crowd. And Prabhupada sent one of his sannyasis to bring that man on the stage. He was a Muslim. Prabhupada brought him onto the stage. And Prabhupada started to have some exchange with him. And it turned out that that person was the Police Chief of Kuwait. He was the Chief of Police of Kuwait. He came to Bombay for some treatment and that evening was the first time he was allowed to go out of the hospital. He just came for a walk in that park, and he saw this gathering. And out of curiosity he just came there and Prabhupada just invites him onto the stage.
Prabhupada had some very sweet exchange with that person. Prabhupada noticed that that person had a set of beads in his hand. So Prabhupada asked him, ‘What is that? What do you do with that?’ So he said something like, he just fiddles around with that. And Prabhupada showed him his beads. He said, ‘I also have one.’ And then Prabhupada pointed out that these beads are meant for chanting the Holy Name of the Lord and keep count. And Prabhupada pointed out that, ‘Your beads also is meant for that. It is meant for chanting the name of Allah and keep count of that.’ And Prabhupada said that he didn’t have any bead bag or that sort of thing, it was some sort of stone kind of beads, a
crystal. And then Prabhupada said that, ‘That is a very sacred thing and it must be kept in a sanctified way and that’s why we put it in a bead bag, so it does not become exposed to any unclean thing.’ And so in this way Prabhupada had very sweet exchange with this man.
And it was quite an impressive sight also that here is Srila Prabhupada, a big spiritual leader with his followers from all over the world spreading Krishna consciousness all over the world. And next to him there is this Arab gentleman, obviously a Muslim, sitting, Prabhupada invited him to come onto the stage. I think Prabhupada even asked him to speak but that man did not want to speak. He had some reservations because he was from Kuwait and from a Muslim country and he was the Chief of Police there so he didn’t want too much publicity also.
So that shows how broadminded Srila Prabhupada is. Just as I think, yesterday or the day, before in the offerings one of the devotees mentioned about the reporters in San Francisco, when asked about conflict, possible conflict between different religions. Prabhupada’s reply was, ‘No, all the religions are speaking about God. They are propagating the teachings of God, glory of God, so why should there be any;postID=6531569416765851026 conflict?’ But the conflict is due to misunderstanding or no understanding about God and all kinds of claims that my way is the only way. Then only the trouble starts. At some point you may have to say the our way is the way, because if the others are not in the name of God consciousness, if they speak all kinds of nonsense then somebody has to go and correct them. So that way there may be some conflict. But if all the religions are speaking about the Supreme Personality of Godhead then there is no possibility of conflict. This has been very clearly indicated time and time again by Srila Prabhupada through his actions.
I also remember once Prabhupada was having some discussion with some reporters. And they actually challenged Srila Prabhupada. No, I’m sorry they were actually, they were not reporters, they were Christian priests, Catholic priests. They asked Srila Prabhupada, ‘Why are you converting the Christians into Hindus?’ Prabhupada’s response was, ‘No, I am not converting Christians into Hindus or Muslims into Jews. I am simply making better Christians out of Christians, better Jews out of Jews and better Muslims out of Muslims, better Hindus out of Hindus. Prabhupada is situating them in their perfect identity. Jesus came and spoke. Who is a Christian? A true follower of Jesus Christ is a Christian. And what did Jesus preach? Jesus simply spoke about God, the Father. Who is God the Father? Are there many Fathers? Are there many God, the Fathers? There is only one God, the Father. So that God, the Father is Krsna. Who is Allah? Is there any difference between God, Allah, Krishna, Jehovah? So we have to understand that essential truth. If that essential truth is properly understood, then there cannot be any conflict between different religions.