Prabhupāda traveled with three disciples: Śyāmasundara as his secretary, Pradyumna as his servant and Sanskrit editor, and Nanda-kumāra as his cook. The first stop was Singapore, where, without explanation, immigration authorities refused Prabhupāda entry into the country. Sympathetic Indians in Singapore had arranged for Prabhupāda to lecture and had even mailed hundreds of invitations, but Śrīla Prabhupāda, disappointed and feeling ill, had to continue the twelve-hour flight to Sydney.
April 1, 1972
Prabhupāda planned to stay a few days in Sydney before going on to Melbourne. Although the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement was young in Australia, Prabhupāda saw positive signs: devotees to initiate, TV and radio appearances, and an interested crowd at his morning lectures in the temple.
This was only his second visit to Australia. On his first visit, almost a year ago, he had installed the Deities Rādhā-Gopīnātha and had prayed to Them, “Now I am leaving You in the hands of the mlecchas. I cannot take the responsibility. You please guide these boys and girls and give them the intelligence to worship You very nicely.” Now, on returning and seeing the Deities beautifully dressed and well cared for, he felt happy. After five busy days of preaching he flew on to Melbourne.
Upananda: In Melbourne Prabhupāda spoke at the Town Hall, and all the Melbourne hippies came. There was a man there called the Wizard. He used to be a professor at the university, but he resigned his post so he could carry out his shenanigans. He was very intellectual. He was dressed in a black cape and leotard, and he got up as soon as Śrīla Prabhupāda asked for questions. He had a group of his own followers. First he spoke very respectfully. “Excuse me, Your Divine Grace. I’ve been listening to your lecture, but I have one thing I would like to say in this regard. I believe that I am God. I am the center of the universe. And I will prove sometime next year that I am the center of the universe.”
Prabhupāda said, “That’s all right. Everybody is thinking like that. What makes you different?” Actually, the Wizard’s whole game was that he wanted to be different-his dress, everything. So Prabhupāda exposed this, exposed him as just another materialistic fool. Everybody started laughing and clapping.
April 14, 1972
The devotees had just opened a temple in New Zealand a few weeks before Prabhupāda’s arrival. Prabhupāda stayed a couple of days and installed Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Deities.
Bhūrijana: Prabhupāda installed large marble Deities, but there was only one girl to take care of Them. Prabhupāda was insisting that the Deities should be installed anyway and that They should be taken care of properly. He demanded that They should have many sets of clothes immediately. So some devotees built a temporary wooden altar and put up a curtain for the Deities. The curtains fell down. Everything was going wrong. It was confusing, and everyone was upset.
So Śrīla Prabhupāda just took over. He said, “Put this here. Put that back up there. Do this. Do that.” He completely took command of the whole situation. The devotees put the curtains back, and Prabhupāda said, “Get rid of this vyāsāsana.” And they took the vyāsāsana out, because it was so big and the room was so small that there was no room for the people. Prabhupāda just put a mat on the floor and sat down on that.
Prabhupāda visited for one night in Hong Kong, where he lectured at a program arranged by Bhūrijana and his wife, Jagattāriṇī.
Bhūrijana: We had taught the Indian children to sing the prayers to the spiritual master. So we had them sing for Prabhupāda. He looked at me, and he was really pleased. Then he said, “Your wife said there are no interested people, but you have so many students here.” I said, “You have so many students, Prabhupāda.”
At the end of the lecture Prabhupāda asked if there were any questions, and a little Indian boy raised his hand and asked, “Who started the forest fire?” The boy was thinking of a forest fire mentioned in the Kṛṣṇa book in Kṛṣṇa’s pastime, but all he said was, “Who started the forest fire?” But Prabhupāda took the question in a different way-that this material world is like a blazing forest fire, just like the prayers to the spiritual master had described. So Prabhupāda said, “No one started the forest fire. It starts automatically-just like in the forest, by the rubbing of two bamboos a fire may start. But by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa we can get out of this forest fire of material life.”
In Japan the devotees lived in an old farmhouse in the hill country outside Tokyo. Śrīla Prabhupāda stayed in a nearby hotel, installed Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Deities in the temple, and awarded sannyāsa to ISKCON Tokyo’s leader, Sudāmā.
Prabhupāda said he knew “the pulse of his disciples.” Thus he had recently sensed a tendency in his leading managers to be too absorbed in management and not enough in preaching. He had been telling his secretary that G.B.C. men should not simply sit behind their desks and try to centralize power but should become detached, take sannyāsa, and travel and preach. With this in mind he had awarded the sannyāsa order to two of his G.B.C. secretaries, Tamāla Kṛṣṇa and Sudāmā. Now he advised that they not give up their managerial burden but follow his example of preaching and managing their G.B.C. zones in a renounced spirit.
Śyāmasundara: Prabhupāda’s hotel room had rice paper walls and was very cold. It was like coming back into the northern climate, but without central heating. One day I came to Prabhupāda’s room for maṅgala-ārati and I had a blanket wrapped around me. I said, “Are you cold, Prabhupāda?” I could see he didn’t like the cold, but he wasn’t going to let that stop him from serving Kṛṣṇa.
Nanda-kumāra: At the Sunday feast there were about thirty Japanese people, mostly young, and every single one brought Prabhupāda a flower, put it at his feet, and paid full daṇḍavats. They were so respectful. Prabhupāda said that it was a good sign that “these boys and girls are able to honor a saintly person.”
Bhūrijana: We had arranged a program in Kobe. Many Indians and Sindhis lived there. It was a long journey out of Tokyo. They put Prabhupāda on the third floor of the house, and there was no elevator. Prabhupāda just put his chin out and walked right up, even though it was a tremendous effort for him.
The engagement was arranged in such a poor way that on the same speaking program with Prabhupāda was a Māyāvādī sannyāsī. Prabhupāda wanted to speak first, so he spoke in English. There were quite a few Indians there-about a hundred. Prabhupāda explained very clearly and strongly that Kṛṣṇa is God.
Then the other sannyāsī began speaking in Hindi. Prabhupāda was just sitting there with his eyes closed, chanting japa. Suddenly he looked at us and said, “Start kīrtana immediately.” So we got up in the middle of the sannyāsī’s speaking and started kīrtana Prabhupāda left quickly after the kīrtana.
When we got back to the room with Prabhupāda, he explained what had happened. He said, “First he was preaching nicely. And then he started explaining pañcopāsana, about the five different features of the Absolute. And then when he said that the Supreme is ultimately impersonal, I could not tolerate it.” Prabhupāda said, “I am like a lion when I am out and a lamb when I am home.”
Prabhupāda had business in Tokyo with his printer, Dai Nippon. He was greatly pleased with the faith Dai Nippon Printing Company placed in him, giving him hundreds of thousands of dollars credit just on his word. One of the Dai Nippon executives even approached him submissively, inquiring about whether his son who had died a year and a half ago had gone to the Buddha.
A young Japanese executive, who translated the older man’s questions and Prabhupāda’s answers, explained to Prabhupāda, “Since then he has been very religious.”
“He was the eldest son?” Prabhupāda asked.
“Twenty years. Youngest son.”
The two executives spoke briefly.
“He is asking how he can be relieved from such sadness when his son has died.”
“Oh, yes,” Prabhupāda said. “The point is that the success of everything depends on how Kṛṣṇa is satisfied. That I have explained.” He related the example of Sāndīpani Muni, the spiritual master of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. Sāndīpani Muni’s son had died, and he requested his two students, “My dear boys, I lost my child very young. If You kindly bring him, then I will be very much pleased.” So Kṛṣṇa went to the planet of Yamarāja and brought his son back.
“So you try to satisfy Kṛṣṇa, and you will be blessed. Your son will be blessed. You pray to Kṛṣṇa-wherever your son may be, he will be happy. You believe in reincarnation, next birth?”
The young man spoke to the elder executive in Japanese. The older man nodded.
Prabhupāda continued, “Yes. So your son, he must have taken a body somewhere. So if you pray to Kṛṣṇa, your son will be happy. He will benefit.”
When Prabhupāda’s G.B.C. secretary for the western United States, Karandhara, arrived in Tokyo to assist in dealing with the Dai Nippon Printing Company, Prabhupāda talked with him about his new project in Bombay. He also wrote two letters to Girirāja, urging him to begin constructing the Bombay buildings as soon as possible. He wanted Girirāja to model the temple after Jaipur’s famous Govindajī temple and erect beside it a modern high-rise hotel. “And then you shall have the perfect Juhu plan.” Prabhupāda said Hans (now Surabhi) should finish the drawings and get the city council’s approval by June so that they could begin the foundation before the monsoon. “I do not think that it is possible,” Prabhupāda wrote, “but if you can try for it that will be nice.”
May 6, 1972
During Prabhupāda’s week-long stay in Honolulu, he installed the five Deities of the Pañca-tattva: Lord Caitanya, Lord Nityānanda, Śrī Advaita, Śrī Gadādhara, and Śrī Śrīvāsa. He also lectured on yoga at a local yoga-meditation center. During his morning walks on the beach, he spoke about the fallacies of Darwinism. Waikiki Beach, he commented, was not as beautiful as Juhu.
Nanda-kumāra: At that time all the devotees in Hawaii were wearing sleeveless T-shirts and bright colors, and they had really big śikhās hanging down very long. Prabhupāda said, “Gaudiya Vaiṣṇava śikha is an inch and a half across-no bigger. Bigger śikhās means another sampradāya. And they have to be knotted.” So I told everyone that, and they came back all bright and shiny with saffron shirts and proper śikhās.
Govinda dāsī: Prabhupāda stayed at a big house on the Makapu side of Oahu, right on the ocean-a very pleasant place. In the morning Prabhupāda would walk on the beach, and when he would return from his walk, he would sit down on a wooden bench on a little rock patio. We would all sit around, and he would give a little morning lecture. Later he would walk around and around in his room, chanting.
One evening I went in while he was chanting, and he said, “Sixteen rounds finished today?” and I said, “Yes, Śrīla Prabhupāda, I am on my sixteenth round now.” He said, “That is good.”
Prabhupāda was also thinking a lot about his Bombay center, and he asked me to do an architectural rendering of his idea for the Bombay buildings. Fortunately, an architect friend drew it up very nicely, and Prabhupāda was pleased with it.
Prabhupāda had received a letter from a French disciple, Mandakinī devī dāsī, who was going to join a Russian boy in the Soviet Union. She was going there to marry him and assist him in propagating Kṛṣṇa consciousness. When Prabhupāda read this letter, he smiled in ecstasy. The thought of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement increasing in Russia gave him great joy.
Then he turned to Govinda dāsī and said, “Preach while you are young. When you are old, retire to Vṛndāvana and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, these centers in India are being built. But you cannot retire unless you have preached sufficiently. The mind will agitate. If you have preached, you can retire and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa-so preach as much as possible.”
Although sometimes Prabhupāda could spend only a day or even only a moment with an individual devotee, that brief association would leave a permanent inspiration. The devotees would realize that although Prabhupāda had touched them and given them guidance in a way that made these the most important moments in their lives, Prabhupāda was also beyond the moment and the place that he shared with them and was contemplating deeper issues and praying to Kṛṣṇa with an intensity that they could not yet understand.
Prabhupāda received a letter in Hawaii from Girirāja that made him doubt his Bombay manager’s abilities to deal with the clever Mr. N. Girirāja had reported matter-of-factly that he had just paid 7,500 rupees to Mr. N., and Prabhupāda wrote back, “On what account is that paid?” Girirāja had intended it to be an installment toward the agreed two lakhs per year that they were supposed to pay Mr. N.-after they had received the deed. But why should they be unnecessarily paying Mr. N., since they still had no deed? Prabhupāda began to worry about his Hare Krishna Land.
Time and time again his thinking turned to Bombay, Vṛndāvana, and Māyāpur, but he did not talk much about the problems. Rather, the devotees and nondevotees in each place he visited got the full blessings of his attention. While lecturing on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, he was in full concentration, and when he spoke privately, cultivating a guest or guiding an individual disciple, he fully gave himself. That he took responsibility for many persons and worldwide matters and did it all so graciously, always appearing before his devotees each morning on a walk or in the temple as fresh as a morning-blooming lotus flower, was the expert nature of his devotional service to Kṛṣṇa. He was open and simple, with a motive so pure that anyone could see it, and yet he was also grave beyond anyone’s vision. He served Kṛṣṇa simply in each time and place, whether riding the hotel elevator with his two disciples in Hong Kong, or curiously noting the details of Japanese culture, or walking on the beach beneath a Hawaiian sky.
* * *
May 18, 1972
Word had spread that Śrīla Prabhupāda wanted G.B.C. secretaries to get out from behind their desks and preach, and four American G.B.C. men, eager to become sannyāsīs, were waiting when Śrīla Prabhupāda arrived in Los Angeles.
Satsvarūpa: Prabhupāda said that because we were taking sannyāsa in the prime of youth, we had ample opportunity to do much more than he. He said he had taken sannyāsa at the fag end of life but that “a little is better than nothing.” Everyone laughed at the thought that we could do more than Prabhupāda. One by one we went to the vyāsāsana, and Prabhupāda gave us our tridaṇḍas and said, “Now preach, preach, preach.”
Immediately afterward, Prabhupāda had us up in his room. We asked him if there were any special instructions. He said there were two restrictions in sannyāsa life. One was that when meeting a rich man and seeing his opulent wealth we must not think, “Oh, I have given up everything, but I wish I could enjoy these things.” And the other restriction was that when we see a beautiful woman we must not think, “I had a beautiful wife, and now this beautiful woman is here. I could enjoy her.” In other words, do not have any regrets about having taken sannyāsa.
Jagadīśa: Prabhupāda had all the G.B.C. men come to Los Angeles, where some of them took sannyāsa, and we discussed reapportioning preaching zones. We had one special meeting with Prabhupāda. All the G.B.C men were sitting there in the room, and Prabhupāda looked us all over. He said, “Are you all convinced?” We just sat there. Nobody said anything for about two minutes. It was one of the heaviest moments of my life-Prabhupāda challenging us: “Are you convinced? Are you sincere?”
As Prabhupāda spoke, his G.B.C. disciples listened intently. “As far as I am concerned,” he said, “I am convinced. Therefore I am pushing on. It is a fact. I am pushing on because it is fact, not fiction. That much I am personally convinced. Whenever someone says, “You believe,’ I say, “No, I do not believe. It is fact.’ So you must spread your conviction by your literature, arguments, preaching, facing opposing elements. But are you convinced? If you are not convinced, then it is not good for me. The first thing is enthusiasm. Don’t be dead. You have to work more than me. Anyone who has life, he can preach.
“So the local president and treasurer of the temple will manage. The G.B.C. can supervise that things are going on. But the first management is that each and every member is chanting sixteen rounds and following the regulations. Otherwise, that is our spiritual strength.
“Now it is in your hands. That was my plan-to give it to the Americans. But you have to be spiritually strong. If superficially you want to be managers, it won’t be good. And simply touring is not required. By traveling you have to do something substantial to increase the society. At the time of Lenin, he had just a few men, and he took over the entire country. It is up to you to spread God consciousness. Don’t be stagnant. Go and preach. Your duty is to inform them, “My dear American brothers, you have so much wealth and pleasure. Use it for Kṛṣṇa. If not, it will be degradation.’ ”
Śrīla Prabhupāda met with many U.S. ISKCON leaders in Los Angeles and saw the wide array of Kṛṣṇa conscious activities in his Western world headquarters. He heard a new recording of Kṛṣṇa bhajanas, performed with guitars and other Western instruments, produced at the devotees’ own Golden Avatar studio, and he approved it, saying, “This is better than George Harrison.” He visited the art studio, where the devotees were painting illustrations for his books, and he made suggestions.
Anaṅga-mañjarī: Prabhupāda was going around looking at all the different temple offices. In one office Karandhara was showing Prabhupāda a new computer. “Prabhupāda,” he said, “all we have to do is type the words Rūpa Gosvāmī, and then it will automatically write everything you have ever said or written about Rūpa Gosvāmī.” Prabhupāda had been looking at the computer without showing much interest. But when Karandhara said the name Rūpa Gosvāmī, Prabhupāda raised his eyebrows and said, “Oh? Yes, everything can be used in Kṛṣṇa’s service.”
Then we walked out of that office and went to the telex machine. Prabhupāda sat before it in the chair, and everyone stood around him while Karandhara explained what the machine did. “It can write a message all the way to New York, and they can send a message back immediately, Śrīla Prabhupāda.” So Karandhara typed on the telex machine, “Hare Kṛṣṇa. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda. Please respond.”
There was no answer, so he typed it out again, and again there was no answer. So he typed it out again, and this time he typed out, “All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda. Śrīla Prabhupāda is sitting right next to the telex machine. Please respond.”
All of a sudden the machine started typing out a reply, and Prabhupāda was sitting there watching it. The type read, “Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda, please accept our most humble obeisances at your lotus feet. We will be very eager to see Your Divine Grace in three days in New York.” Śrīla Prabhupāda spoke out, “Jaya! Haribol!” The message from New York was signed by many devotees, and Prabhupāda just smiled and said, “This is very nice.”
At this time, distribution of Prabhupāda’s books by his disciples was taking on a new dimension in America, and Prabhupāda heard the latest reports. From the beginning of his preaching in the West he had stressed printing and distributing his books as the most important method of preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness. He said his spiritual master had told him to print and distribute books and that he was following “blindly.” Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī had been pleased if a disciple distributed even only a few copies of his magazine.
In the beginning years of ISKCON Śrīla Prabhupāda had also been pleased when his disciples had distributed a few hundred copies of Back to Godhead each month. Gradually his will for increasing the distribution of transcendental literature had manifested through certain devotees. In Los Angeles in 1968, Tamāla Kṛṣṇa had daily taken a large kīrtana party downtown. The party, in addition to chanting and dancing, had circulated among the crowd and distributed Back to Godhead magazines, as many as a hundred in a single day. When Prabhupāda had heard these reports, he had felt encouraged and had asked for the devotees to increase.
Prabhupāda saw book distribution not only as the best method of preaching but also as a fair means of income. In India the brahmacārīs in the traditional gurukula system would beg from door to door, but in the West such a practice would not be respected. “But every gentleman will give a quarter for Back to Godhead,” Prabhupāda had said.
Even as Prabhupāda turned more toward India and his projects there, he continued to encourage his disciples, especially in the West, to distribute his books: “Please increase your program of distribution to the public as well as trying to place our books and magazines in the libraries. I am simply interested in the book distribution.”
To the devotees in New York he had written in 1971,
I’m especially pleased to hear that your distribution of books and magazines has increased. Go on in this way, increasing more and more. Each time someone reads some solid information about Krishna his life becomes changed in some way. These literatures are the solid ground upon which our preaching stands, so I want that they should be available to everyone, as many as possible. So please try for this.
To the devotees in Australia he wrote,
The best news is that you are increasing nicely the distribution of my books and literature. This is the best activity, to distribute solid information about Krishna. Our preaching stands solid on these books. No other movement has such vast background of authority.
And to the devotees of Africa Prabhupāda wrote,
Distribution of books and magazines is our most important activity. Without books, our preaching has no solid basis. Especially the Africans want our books.
Śrīla Prabhupāda said that if there were ample books, then everything else in ISKCON would succeed.
Practically, our Society is built on books. One book is not very impressive. Still, a blind uncle is better than no uncle at all, so it is very nice that one book has appeared, and that BTG is appearing at least several issues in other languages. But now try to produce at least four or five new books per year in several languages, plus regularly BTG every month… apply yourself fully to this very great responsibility of producing numerous books in foreign languages.
Back in 1968, when ten thousand copies of Teachings of Lord Caitanya had arrived at the temple in New York, Brahmānanda Swami had wondered how they would ever distribute so many hardbound books on the lofty philosophy of Lord Caitanya. But in 1970, with the publication of another book, Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, some of the devotees in San Francisco had begun to go door to door, person to person, and sell the books. And not only one or two books, but twenty, thirty, even forty a day. The enthusiasm had spread as devotees in other temples had begun to sell increasing numbers of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books. Next, the young men had begun traveling in vans, going out all day, day after day, to discover the greatest ecstasy of distributing Prabhupāda’s books.
Then a competition had started. Keśava’s boasts that the devotees in San Francisco were the best had drawn challenges from the devotees in Los Angeles, New York, Denver, and Dallas. A “saṅkīrtana fever” had begun. And at the center was Śrīla Prabhupāda, assuring that unquestionably book distribution had the topmost priority of all his missionary activities.
Prabhupāda also stressed that all the devotees should regularly study his books. The books were not only for the public; the devotees must read them and know them. Or else how could they preach? In the Los Angeles temple room Prabhupāda would have the devotees take part in pronouncing and chanting responsively the daily Sanskrit verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Then individual devotees would take turns chanting the verse alone, while the other devotees would again respond collectively.
Hṛdayānanda Goswami: When Prabhupāda came to Los Angeles in 1972, he started the Bhāgavatam class where everyone chanted the Sanskrit. One effect was that devotees became more grave, a little more civilized. Just at that time things were a little wild in America. The saṅkīrtana parties were doing so many wild things, staying out all hours of the night, sleeping anywhere, eating anything. Previously the temples had been a little sedate, and actually, even a little dry, because the devotees weren’t giving out many books. And then, when the saṅkīrtana got a little heavy, it was almost like a rodeo consciousness, this wild saṅkīrtana-like bronco busting. But Prabhupāda came and introduced the chanting of Sanskrit mantras word for word, and the devotees submitted to a more grave and formal program.
On the first of June Śrīla Prabhupāda left Los Angeles for Mexico City. He said he would return in a few weeks.
* * *
Prabhupāda conducted an intensive three-day lecture campaign in Mexico City, speaking at the National University of Mexico, the Masonic Lodge, and the Theosophical Society, and appearing on a television show with some thirty million viewers. He also held initiations at the temple on two consecutive days. Mexico was similar to India, he said, with pious people and a tropical climate. Even when he walked early in the morning in Chapultepec Park, many people followed him back to the temple. They recognized him as a saint and wanted his benediction.
Cit-sukhānanda: On Sunday afternoon there were more than five hundred people in the temple room. After the lecture Śrīla Prabhupāda went back to his room alone, and there was a big kīrtana with five to six hundred people chanting, “Jaya Prabhupāda! Jaya Prabhupāda! Jaya Prabhupāda! Prabhupāda! Prabhupāda! Prabhupāda!” They became very, very ecstatic, and it seemed like the temple walls were going to come down. I was in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s room, and he said, “What is this? Kīrtana? They are making so much noise.”
I said, “They are chanting your name.” And I went down to see what was going on. And all the people were waiting to come into Prabhupāda’s room. It was like they wanted to charge up to Prabhupāda’s room to be able to see him. They kept yelling his name, “Prabhupāda! Prabhupāda!” So I came up to Śrīla Prabhupāda. “Prabhupāda, they want to see you.”
And Śrīla Prabhupāda said, “Well, let them come.”
So I immediately arranged that people could come in. He had two doors in his room, and they were coming in through one door on the left side and leaving through the door on the right. One by one, in a line, they just filtered through like a great parade, coming and offering different words to Śrīla Prabhupāda. Most of the people were saying in Spanish, “Your Divine Grace, Your Holiness, please bless me. Give me your benediction.” Everyone was praying for his benediction. And as the people would come in, they would bow down. Everyone was extremely submissive, and there were many people with tears in their eyes to see the great saint Śrīla Prabhupāda. And they said to Śrīla Prabhupāda, “Please give me your blessings.”
Prabhupāda asked me, “What are they saying?” And I said, “”Give me one blessing, one benediction.'”
So he had his hand in his bead bag, and with his finger outside his bead bag he would point to them and say, “Hare Kṛṣṇa.” And they were all very happy.
Prabhupāda also traveled to Cuernavaca, where he lectured out-of-doors at the city plaza before a crowd of thousands. The audience sat patiently and heard his words translated into Spanish.
Cit-sukhānanda: Just then we had turned out our first book, La Conciencia de Kṛṣṇa Es el Sistema Mas Elevado de Yoga [Kṛṣṇa Consciousness, the Topmost Yoga System], and Śrīla Prabhupāda, during his lecture at the plaza at Cuernavaca, saw Haihaya dāsa arrive with newly printed copies of this red book, La Conciencia de Kṛṣṇa Es el Sistema Mas Elevado de Yoga. Śrīla Prabhupāda looked at him and was very happy to see his book printed. He stopped his lecture and said, “Now you can all take one of these books and read them.” And the people actually came up to Śrīla Prabhupāda to get the books. We only brought about fifty copies, but all fifty copies Śrīla Prabhupāda sold personally. The people took the liberty to ask Śrīla Prabhupāda for an autographed book, and he auto graphed almost all fifty copies.
After the plaza lecture there was a hotel lecture, and then Śrīla Prabhupāda was supposed to go to a devotee’s home in Cuernavaca to take prasādam and rest. But Śrīla Prabhupāda decided he wanted to return to the temple in Mexico City. He got back around eight P.M., so from eight in the morning until eight that night he had not taken a bite of food, only a little water. We offered him fruit and things, but he didn’t want anything.
When he returned to his room, his eyes were shining and his smile was broad, and he said, “This is the way to be happy. Work all day for Kṛṣṇa.” All he wanted was a cup of hot milk with purīs and a cup of sugar. He pressed the purīs into the sugar, and he drank the milk with great joy and happiness. He said, “This is our life, to serve Kṛṣṇa. Work all day for Kṛṣṇa and take a little prasādam at night.”
* * *
On returning to Los Angeles, Prabhupāda was again the center of the burgeoning Kṛṣṇa conscious activities there. But again his thoughts turned to Bombay, and he telegrammed Girirāja, instructing him to settle the conveyance immediately.
Girirāja, after receiving Prabhupāda’s cable, went to Mr. N., only to learn of a further complication. After Prabhupāda had signed the sales agreement, the Indian government had passed a law obliging Mr. N. to pay a five-lakh gains tax upon executing the conveyance. Mr. N. didn’t have five lakhs at present and told Girirāja that ISKCON should pay it, and he would apply it toward the mortgage. But Bombay ISKCON didn’t have five lakhs either, so Mr. N. suggested Girirāja take a bank loan or secure funds from ISKCON temples in the U.S. He promised that in the meantime he would not sell the land to anyone else.
Girirāja tried to get a loan from the bank, but he had no security or credit. He turned to some of the life members for help, to see if they could act as guarantors for a loan. But although sympathetic, they could not help him raise the money.
Girirāja also began to doubt Mr. N.’s word. Although naive about legal matters, Girirāja was becoming suspicious of Mr. N.’s character and of his dealings. Talking with life members, Girirāja learned that actually Mr. N. was notorious for illegal business tactics. When previously Mr. N. had signed an agreement with C. Company for the very same land he was now selling to Prabhupāda, the sales agreement had eventually been canceled because C. Company had not gotten permission from the municipality for subdividing plots of land-and one of the conditions of Mr. N.’s sale of the land had been that C. Company get government permission to use the land. According to some of the businessmen with whom Girirāja spoke, Mr. N., through his political connections, had influenced the government against the C. Company.
Mr. N. had seemed very helpful, giving the devotees a good price for the land, and even providing workers for clearing it. And Mrs. N. had often attended Prabhupāda’s classes. But there also seemed to be many contradictions in Mr. N.’s behavior.
Hearing of these problems by mail, Prabhupāda considered them manageable. If a government tax had been imposed, then the devotees should deal with that and also continue trying for a loan. Certainly Mr. N. was tricky, but Prabhupāda felt ISKCON’s position was strong. Girirāja should persist, without becoming confused by Mr. N. Prabhupāda advised Girirāja to approach Mrs. Sumati Morarji and other supporters for financial help.
It is a unique temple in the world and if you show your wonderful abilities as American and European boys and girls to manage everything superbly, she will not hesitate to entrust you in every way. Therefore, there must always be good will and cooperation amongst yourselves for this huge task ahead. I always think of our Juhu place, and I want that it shall be the model for all the world to emulate and respect as the perfect example of a Krishna Conscious community.
June 8, 1972
From Los Angeles Prabhupāda went briefly to Portland, where fifty of his disciples from San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver, as well as Portland, had congregated to meet him. From Portland he rode by car to Eugene, where he lectured at a large hall before an audience of mostly hippies.
Every temple in the U.S. wanted Śrīla Prabhupāda, and although Prabhupāda could not visit them all, he remained open to brief visits and public lectures in faraway places. He would sometimes confide to his traveling secretary that his disciples should do this preaching; but then another lecture opportunity would arise, promoted by an enthusiastic group of devotees, and Prabhupāda would surprise everyone by agreeing to go.
After returning to Los Angeles for four days, Prabhupāda then flew to New York for a week and then on to London for two weeks. In London George Harrison and Ravi Shankar visited him several times at the Bury Place temple. When George asked if he should shave his head and try to live like the other devotees, Prabhupāda replied that he should continue to be a singer. “If you tell people to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa,” Prabhupāda reminded George, “they will do it.”
From England Prabhupāda went to Paris, where he lectured and performed an outdoor initiation ceremony at the Luxembourg Gardens. Hundreds of people, most of them student radicals from the nearby university, gathered to watch. Śrīla Prabhupāda began his talk, saying, “You French people have a history of being revolutionary, because you are looking for a better way of life.” When the words were translated into French, the students cheered and applauded. Śrīla Prabhupāda continued, “Therefore, you should inquire into this Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is a revolutionary movement for reviving our original God consciousness.” About thirty devotees from Germany had come to Paris, and most of them, along with many devotees from England, Amsterdam, and Paris, received initiation that day at Luxembourg Gardens. In Paris Prabhupāda also attended a successful four-day indoor festival, where he was pleased to lecture and lead kīrtanas each night.
In Amsterdam Prabhupāda installed deities of Lord Jagannātha, Lord Balarāma, and Subhadrā and lectured at Vondelpark before thousands of hippies. One day at Vondelpark a devotee was addressing the crowd when Prabhupāda suddenly told his disciples to stop. “These people are useless,” he said. “Just hold kīrtana.”
Later he wrote to a disciple in the West,
We are observing here in Europe many, many hippies have become so disgusted with material life, but they are also now so much degraded that they will not hear our philosophy, simply mocking. So our devotees may become very much learned to remove their doubts and become very much fixed up in Krishna consciousness. But so far preaching to the general public, especially the hippie class, it is better not to preach very much philosophy, just somehow or other get them to chant Hare Krishna mantra, and if some of them are curious to learn something, they may purchase one of our books. Only if they chant with us, that will help them.
At Edinburgh Prabhupāda was greeted by almost a dozen reporters from various newspapers in Scotland.
Kiśora: Edinburgh is a stuffy, puffed-up, tradition-steeped place, but Prabhupāda was very cordial and humble with the reporters. He was giving them so much credit about how nice the country was and how nice Edinburgh was-what nice buildings we have here-and he was saying, “You have two colleges here?” “Yes, yes, we have two.” Very proud they were. “So you have many students here?” “Yes, yes.” “It’s a very affluent city, Edinburgh?” “Yes, oh, yes, very rich and opulent.” And then Prabhupāda said, “So you have so many students, and you have so many nice big, big buildings. You have so much facility for enjoyment.” And they were agreeing: “Yes, yes, we have all this.” And Prabhupāda just looked at them straight and said, “Then why are your universities producing hippies?”
They looked at one another, and no one could answer. And Prabhupāda began to explain how society cannot bring happiness or contentment simply with buildings. “Stones and windows,” he said. “Where is the happiness there?”
In Glasgow Prabhupāda lectured at Woodside Hall before an audience of almost one thousand.
Kiśora: Prabhupāda was sitting onstage on his vyāsāsana. The crowd was very large, and even the balcony was overflowing. When Prabhupāda arrived, the students greeted him like a pop star. They were cheering and whistling. Prabhupāda immediately began lecturing very heavily on the basic science of Bhagavad-gītā-how Arjuna became a successful devotee by killing all his friends and relatives. At the end of the lecture, I was a little apprehensive as to whether the people would accept that heavy lecture or not. But they cheered and applauded.
When it came to question-and-answer time, one man came all the way down the aisle from the back of the hall and stood at the foot of the stage and looked up at Prabhupāda. For several moments he spoke, on and on and on, talking very proudly-“I am this. I am that “-and then concluding, “I am God.” That was the conclusion of his little monologue. The whole crowd was hushed, and I thought, “What’s going to happen now?” Prabhupāda simply looked down and let the silence continue for a few moments more. Then Prabhupāda spoke. “So, you are God-you have nothing more to say? You are not God-you are dog.” And immediately the crowd stood up and applauded and cheered. The man just looked at Prabhupāda, and a smile came on his face. With just those few words he had been defeated. He simply walked all the way back again to the back of the hall and was finished. It was ecstatic, because the crowd was participating in the whole thing. They all realized that God is not cheap.
Then we had kīrtana, and everyone in the audience was dancing. At that time they had gotten a bit lax at the door, and the local street urchins from this low-class area of Glasgow came into the hall, and they all began dancing and singing. Some of them tried to get up on the stage. Prabhupāda was also chanting, and so these kids were all trying to get around him and get on the stage to chant. The devotees started to push these dirty little children off the stage, but Śrīla Prabhupāda said, “Don’t do that. These children are all devotees. Let them chant.”
When Prabhupāda finally got up to leave again, he reminded me of some big celebrity. He was smiling and waving and walking off the stage, and the audience were all shouting, “No, no, no!” They began chanting, “More, more, more, more!”
When Prabhupāda returned to London and heard that Sumati Morarji was arriving there, he went with a group of his disciples to meet her at the airport. He talked with her about his plans for Hare Krishna Land at Juhu and of his desire to form a board of trustees consisting of ISKCON’s Bombay life members. Sumati Morarji agreed to be president of the board, which would meet regularly and give advice for managing ISKCON’s Bombay project. Each trustee would also contribute a large sum of money toward developing a particular area of the project. Prabhupāda asked Mrs. Morarji to donate for the temple. He would request Mr. Khandelwal to donate for the library and Mr. N. for the two other wings.
That Mr. N. had not yet produced the deed, however, continued to weigh heavily on Prabhupāda’s mind, and he questioned Mr. N.’s intentions and Girirāja’s competence. If the only obstacle was the five-lakh tax, then Prabhupāda had already instructed Girirāja to approach ISKCON’s wealthy friends and secure a loan. What was the difficulty? But Girirāja’s communications sounded as if such a solution was “impossible.” On August 27 Prabhupāda telegrammed Girirāja: “HAS CONVEYANCE DEED BEEN SIGNED IF NOT FINISH IMMEDIATELY AND WIRE DETAILS.”
Again Girirāja went to Mr. N., although anticipating Mr. N.’s reply. This time, however, Mr. N. added yet another complication, reminding Girirāja that ISKCON had not yet obtained permission from the charity commissioner. ISKCON was a public charitable trust and so required permission from the charity commissioner before acquiring property. Mr. N. put the burden back onto ISKCON.
At the charity commissioner’s office, Girirāja learned that he should have applied for permission six months prior to signing the agreement for the land. To Girirāja and the other devotees in Bombay, the affair had become a huge Gordian knot.
* * *
New Vrindaban, West Virginia
August 30, 1972
Only two days remained until the Janmāṣṭamī celebration, and more than three hundred disciples had gathered to be with Śrīla Prabhupāda. Janmāṣṭamī, Kṛṣṇa’s appearance day, is always followed immediately by Śrīla Prabhupāda’s appearance day, and this year, with so many devotees gathered in a holy place with Prabhupāda, the occasion promised to be especially auspicious.
Prabhupāda had agreed to lecture every evening in an outdoor pavilion, constructed for the occasion atop one of New Vrindaban’s many hills. The lecture series was titled “Bhāgavata Dharma Discourses,” and through these meetings Prabhupāda set an example for his disciples that they hold similar festivals in other parts of the country. Through bhāgavata-dharma discourses and book distribution, the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement would increase its purifying influence throughout the world.
Prabhupāda lived during these days in a small wood-frame house in the New Vrindaban woods. He regularly received visitors and lectured in the evening. Each evening, before his lecture at the pavilion, the devotees would hold a kīrtana and carry Prabhupāda up the long, steep hill on a palanquin; and afterward, as they carried him back down, he would be surrounded by chanting disciples bearing lanterns and torches.
Sureśvara: The path from the pavilion wound down and around on its way to the temple. I got there at dusk and beheld Śrīla Prabhupāda floating jubilantly in his palanquin atop a sea of devotees. There were hundreds of devotees, with tumultuous kīrtana and roaring, plus dust was being kicked up everywhere from all the people. It looked spectacular, like a panoramic scene from one of those epic movies, The Ten Commandments or Exodus, only much more, because it was transcendental. I just fell down in the dust as Prabhupāda’s palanquin came gliding past. It was very wild, but devotional.
Baṭu Gopāla: It was a small palanquin carried by four men. There were some ropes for Prabhupāda to hold on to, and it wasn’t a very comfortable ride for him. But it was an amazing scene. Devotees with torches-electric torches and fire torches and lanterns-and Prabhupāda coming down in his palanquin, down the trail. Hundreds of devotees were surrounding him. Kīrtana was roaring. I kept trying to get up close to Prabhupāda and get a glance.
Jāhnava-devī dāsī: We were running down the steep hill in the dark amid the loud chanting of a river of devotees. And our feet seemed to never touch the ground. About halfway down, I caught up to the palanquin. But then I realized that being close to Śrīla Prabhupāda meant far more than physical proximity and that I needed to become much more serious about Kṛṣṇa consciousness in order to feel less distant from him.
On Janmāṣṭamī night Prabhupāda went to the temple and listened to readings from Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead about Lord Kṛṣṇa’s birth. Around two A.M. he noticed many devotees were nodding. “You are getting tired,” he said, smiling, and he ended the program.
Even in the midst of such a large festival, Prabhupāda was again plunged into the struggle over the Bombay land. A letter arrived from Girirāja explaining his failure to secure the five-lakhs loan owed the government and the government’s refusal to grant permission. He also mentioned his suspicion that Mr. N. was influencing the charity commissioner’s decision.
Prabhupāda had a copy of the purchase agreement with him, and he studied it carefully. Again he concluded that his position was strong, since he was occupying the land according to the terms of the agreement. He had paid two lakhs as promised, but Mr. N. had not turned over the deed. Now more money was being demanded, and Prabhupāda had said Girirāja should pay this money and get the deed. As for the permission from the government charity commissioner, there was no mention of it in the agreement. Although Mr. N.’s tactics were apparently bewildering Girirāja, Prabhupāda saw them as only empty bluffs. He telegrammed Girirāja, “TAKE BANK MORTGAGE PAY OFF N.” Before receiving any reply from Girirāja, Prabhupāda sent another telegram: “WHY DO YOU SAY CONVEYANCE IMPOSSIBLE EVERYTHING CLEAR IN AGREEMENT OF PURCHASE CONVEYANCE TO BE EXECUTED IMMEDIATELY ACCORDING TO TERMS OF AGREEMENT OF PURCHASE.”
On Śrīla Prabhupāda’s appearance-day morning, he went up the hill to the pavilion to speak. It was a beautiful late summer’s day, and he sat on the stage on a red vyāsāsana beside the Deities of Rādhā-Dāmodara and Lord Jagannātha. In addition to hundreds of his disciples, hundreds of guests were also present, the entire audience numbering about one thousand. The festival was a newsworthy turnout of the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement, and reporters from The New York Times and other newspapers were on hand, along with television film crews.
Prabhupāda spoke, explaining how, although an observer might misunderstand the devotees’ worship of their spiritual master, no one should think that the spiritual master was presenting himself as God. Prabhupāda compared the spiritual master to a tax collector. As the tax collector collects money only on behalf of the king, so the spiritual master receives honor, but on behalf of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Everyone should serve and bow down to the Supreme Lord, and the spiritual master comes and “collects” obeisances and worship on behalf of God, who accepts any sincere worship of the spiritual master as an offering to Himself.
Prabhupāda ended his lecture, and a great feast climaxed the day and a half of fasting. Prabhupāda then returned to the back yard of his little house, where he talked with some of the devotees.
Hṛdayānanda Goswami: Prabhupāda was taking his massage, sitting on a straw mat outside his cabin. Suddenly, two little kittens appeared by his mat. And they were rolling around, tumbling. They were wrestling, tumbling, rolling around and around. Immediately I thought, “Oh! They are contaminated. I have to get them away.” The cats actually tumbled right onto Prabhupāda’s mat. They rolled in a little furry ball right over to Prabhupāda’s feet. Prabhupāda began tickling them under their chins. He was laughing, rubbing under their chins. Then he turned to me, sort of in a very jolly mood, and said, “Just see, even here there is love.”
Śrutakīrti: I was in charge of the kitchen, so I was too busy to see Prabhupāda at all. He was there for a week, and practically the whole time I didn’t get to see him. I was so upset. I was doing all this service, and I had no opportunity to see Prabhupāda-always cooking until midnight. I felt so bad.
So the day before Prabhupāda left, Kīrtanānanda Mahārāja came up to me and said, “So you are going to be Prabhupāda’s servant.” I said, “Oh, no! This is wonderful! No, this is terrible!” I was so worried. Then he said, “You’ll be leaving tomorrow morning to go to Pittsburgh.” I thought, “Wow, that was quick! I didn’t know anything about it.”
The following morning Kīrtanānanda Mahārāja brought me over to the farmhouse Prabhupāda was staying at. He took me into Prabhupāda’s room and said, “This is Śrutakīrti. He is going to be your servant.” Prabhupāda looked, and I paid my obeisances. Kīrtanānanda Mahārāja said, “He cooks very well, Prabhupāda.” And Prabhupāda said, “That’s very good.” “But he hasn’t massaged,” Mahārāja said. I had never done it before in my life. And then Prabhupāda said, “That’s all right. Anybody can massage. It is very easy.”
Satya-nārāyaṇa: I was with a group of devotees. We would travel around the country in an old bus, preaching. On the bus we had Deities, a kitchen, and a shower. Prabhupāda was outside of his cabin when we drove up in the bus. When he came on, we received him just as in a regular temple, and we gave him caraṇāmṛta. He looked at everything and said that there should be hundreds of buses like this. It wasn’t such a big event for him, but he really liked it.
Satsvarūpa dāsa Goswami: I saw different leading devotees go down to that house to see Śrīla Prabhupāda on important business. I had no important business that hadn’t been answered by him in letters, but I began to feel anxious that I was not going to him while others were. Finally, one day my anxiety grew so great that I decided I would go and see His Divine Grace.
When I arrived at the door of the house, Prabhupāda’s servant gladly let me in, and in a moment I was seated before Śrīla Prabhupāda. He was seated to take his massage. I expressed to Śrīla Prabhupāda that I had no very urgent questions to ask him in particular, but that I had become anxious to see him, and so I had come. Prabhupāda replied that I should know better than to come to him out of such anxiety. He said he had already answered everything in his books. Actually, this was very inspiring. On the one hand, he was telling me that as an older devotee I should be assured that by studying his books everything was there. Not that out of anxiety I should feel a lacking and on an impulse have to personally see my guru.
But now, since I was in his presence, Śrīla Prabhupāda asked me, “What are you doing?” When Śrīla Prabhupāda said that, I got the strong impression that he was regarding me in the proper place, as a tiny fool. Here I had just been initiated sannyāsa, and I was coming before Prabhupāda with my assistant and asking for his attention. Now that I had asked for his attention, he gave me a surveillance-glance, and by his question he seemed to imply that I was doing nothing or very, very little to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That was how I interpreted his question, “What are you doing?”
I replied that I was, according to the instruction that I had received from him in a letter, going from temple to temple in my zone and implementing his desire that the students there study the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the morning class. I had previously felt very confident that I was exactly following direct orders I had been given in a letter from him. But to my surprise, in that room in New Vrindaban, he began to tell me that visiting temples was not the most important thing. He said that he was pleased with the program of Viṣṇujana Mahārāja, who was traveling on a bus. He said I should do like that.
I immediately replied, “Then your instruction that I should go to the different temples is not very important? I should take a bus?” And Śrīla Prabhupāda became annoyed and said, “It is not that because one thing is more important the other thing is less important. Everything is important. Not that just because I say this is important, to travel in a bus, now you say traveling to the temples is not important. Kṛṣṇa’s head is important, and Kṛṣṇa’s foot is important. Everything about Him is important.”
While Prabhupāda participated fully, both formally and informally, at New Vrindaban, he still carried a special burden of concern for Bombay. Although he had appointed G.B.C. secretaries to oversee the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement in various parts of the world, he was the real G.B.C. secretary of India. Wherever he traveled, therefore, he remained partial to those projects.
He was setting the perfect example of a G.B.C. secretary. While conscientiously tending to practical affairs, he remained always transcendental-fully dependent on Kṛṣṇa and always preaching. After drafting a telegram to Girirāja or hearing of difficulties in Bombay, he would immediately return to his peaceful routine and active preaching. He would take his late-morning massage, bathe, put on tilaka methodically and delicately, say his Gāyatrī mantra with silent composure, take his prasādam, rest for an hour, and in the evening, after a full day’s activities, go into the temple room of whatever temple he happened to be in, sit on the vyāsāsana and chant Jaya Rādhā-Mādhava, and speak pure Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
After New Vrindaban Prabhupāda went to Pittsburgh, where he attended a successful engagement at a large hall, the Syria Mosque. He also met with a Catholic bishop, whom he asked, “Why do the Christians kill cows in slaughterhouses and thus break the commandment “Thou shalt not kill’?” Prabhupāda had often asked this question of Christian priests and was always unsatisfied with the answer. This was no exception.
In an informal gathering in his room, Prabhupāda stressed outgoing preaching programs, and he advised his newly initiated sannyāsīs present to follow the example of their Godbrother Viṣṇujana Swami: to travel in a bus from town to town and hold festivals and distribute books and magazines.
* * *
The devotees in Dallas had purchased a large church facility and were forming the first ISKCON children’s school, known as Gurukula. Prabhupāda, while traveling in India during 1971 and 1972, had sent a series of letters to the Dallas teachers, explaining the basic direction he wanted them to take for beginning a Kṛṣṇa conscious primary school.
We will teach the basic requirements of reading and writing but also give them real spiritual knowledge how to live perfectly. What other school of learning offers such a wonderful educational opportunity?… Last night the topic of my lecture at our Delhi pandal was the necessity for teaching Krishna Consciousness in all our schools and colleges. This is a revolutionary thought. But we have seen that the practical outcome of so much godless education in technology and science is that they are producing only hippies, one after another. What is the use of their skyscraper buildings if their sons will not maintain them? The old system of gurukula should be revived as the perfect example of a system designed to produce great men, sober and responsible leaders, who know what is the real welfare of the citizens. Just as in former days, all big, big personalities were trained in this way. Now you have got the responsibility to inject this idea in your country. Please do it with a cool head, and very soon we shall see the practical benefit for your countrymen.
These letters had assured the Dallas devotees that they were doing the most important work for the pleasure of Śrīla Prabhupāda. The school had gained support from other ISKCON members, and many parents had sent their children. By the time of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s visit, about fifty students were enrolled.
Prabhupāda said Dallas’s weather reminded him of Calcutta, even though he felt uncomfortably hot. Disdaining the use of air conditioning, he shed his kurtā and sat on the lawn with his inexperienced but eager group of teachers. The best system of education, he said, was as he had known as a child: one teacher in a room with up to fifty students of various ages and aptitudes. One at a time the students would come to the teacher’s desk, receive guidance and a further assignment, and then return to work.
The gurukula teachers were particularly concerned and puzzled about how to discipline children without being punitive, and Prabhupāda un hesitatingly solved all their puzzles. He said the students should both fear and love their teachers. The teacher, by stern countenance, may threaten an unruly child and make him submit, but the teacher should not hit the child.
The next day Śrīla Prabhupāda went into a classroom and sat on a cushion before the class. Holding a blackboard pointer in each hand, he joked that one stick could be used for hitting the students’ heads and the other for hitting their hands. The children and teachers became delighted to see Prabhupāda’s playful mood. And when he asked if anyone wanted to get hit, both teachers and students moved forward, holding their hands out for a merciful slap from Śrīla Prabhupāda.
To demonstrate how to teach, Prabhupāda called for a volunteer. Dvārakādhīśa came forward. Prabhupāda, placing his venerable hand over the boy’s, guided him repeatedly in forming the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet.
News of Bombay followed Prabhupāda to Dallas. A devotee who had recently come to the West from Bombay informed Prabhupāda of Girirāja’s recent talk of resigning as president of the center. Depressed by his ineffectiveness in dealing with Mr. N., the lawyers, and the government, and harassed by bickering and uncooperative devotees, he was considering himself unworthy to keep the charge.
Now Girirāja’s anxiety became Prabhupāda’s as again he concerned himself with all the affairs of his Juhu project. There seemed to be no one he could discuss this with, since the devotees in America knew almost nothing of matters in Bombay.
The night was too hot for sleeping, and Prabhupāda could not concentrate on translating Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. So he stayed up late, talking with his secretary about Bombay. Surmising the mind and mood of Mr. N. and expressing his concern for his Hare Krishna Land and his wonder at the devotees’ hesitation and disheartenment, he turned the argument this way and that, considering it in different lights, until in the early morning he finally put it aside. Afterward, he composed another telegram: “SETTLE LAND IMMEDIATELY AT BEST PRICE POSSIBLE N. PROMISED TO PAY IT IF HE WONT WE CAN PAY SUGGEST 15000 DON’T CHANGE PRESIDENCY UNTIL I COME.”
Large marble Deities of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa arrived in Dallas by trailer from New York. Prabhupāda had specifically selected these Deities for Dallas Gurukula while in India and ordered Them to be shipped to the United States. The Kṛṣṇa Deity was magnificent. He was tall, bigger than most ISKCON Deities, and His limbs and head were strikingly large. According to one story, the Deity was several hundred years old and therefore carved according to an ancient tradition. Even though the devotees in Dallas were unprepared to install Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Deities, Prabhupāda told them to get ready in two days for the installation, which he would personally perform.
Jāhnava-devī dāsī, however, unauthorizedly removed the original paint from the Deities and began to repaint Them. When Prabhupāda heard this, he became furious. He called the Dallas president, Satsvarūpa dāsa Goswami, to his room and demanded an explanation. Satsvarūpa said that he was a fool but that Jāhnava had also acted without his permission.
Prabhupāda then called for Jāhnava and yelled at her furiously. She began to cry. “Why have you done this?” Śrīla Prabhupāda demanded.
“Nonsense,” was her choked reply.
“Nonsense,” Śrīla Prabhupāda affirmed, “suicidal nonsense! You are a nonsense, and you will always remain a nonsense. So, what are you going to do about this?”
“Well, Śrīla Prabhupāda,” Jāhnava replied weakly, “I called up Baradrāja in Los Angeles, and he said if I use a certain kind of paint…”
“Baradrāja!” Prabhupāda yelled. “Who is this Baradrāja! I am your spiritual master, and I am sitting before you. Why do you not ask me?” Disgusted, he then turned to the others in the room. “So, what is to be done about this?” One of the ladies said that with a quick-drying paint, they could repaint the Deities just as before in time for the installation. “Yes,” Śrīla Prabhupāda said. “Do it immediately.”
Jāhnava stayed up all night, carefully repainting the Deities as before. Early the next morning, which was to be the morning of the Deity in stallation, Kṛṣṇa looked very beautiful, although His body was tacky in spots from the fresh paint.
During that morning’s walk around White Rock Lake, while talking philosophically about various topics, Prabhupāda turned casually to Satsvarūpa Mahārāja and asked about the preparations for the installation. When Satsvarūpa said he was uncertain whether Kṛṣṇa’s paint would be dry enough, Prabhupāda suddenly stopped. If the Deities weren’t ready, he said, there was no use in his staying any longer in Dallas. Turning to his secretary, he told him to change their flight reservations as soon as possible. Satsvarūpa begged forgiveness and said that maybe everything could still be done on schedule. Prabhupāda’s angry mood changed, and he continued walking, talking about other matters.
Later in his room, Prabhupāda talked alone to Satsvarūpa, continuing on the point of his morning lecture about materialistic life. In a casual way, as most people would talk about ordinary things, Prabhupāda spoke of the foolishness of the conditioned souls. “They think that just by having a big family and being absorbed in mundane activities they do not have to concern themselves with death or with the next life.” As Prabhupāda spoke, he shook his head in disbelief, considering the incredulous position of the materialist.
All of Prabhupāda’s disciples noted the same amazing thing about him: wherever he went, his consciousness was always in transcendence. Whether staying up late worrying and talking about Bombay, or criticizing devotees for repainting the Deity, his mind was ever moving from one Kṛṣṇa conscious consideration to another. The devotees with him would sometimes observe his awesome Kṛṣṇa consciousness from a respectful distance. At other times they might, in the name of service, speak up and become more personally involved. Or they might find themselves thrust under the direct scrutiny of his demanding attention. No one could presume or accurately predict in what way Prabhupāda would act in his constant, grave service to his spiritual master.
While sitting with Satsvarūpa Mahārāja, Prabhupāda began humming and singing a Sanskrit phrase from the morning’s Bhāgavatam class, gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām… Then he asked, “So, how is the Deity?” Satsvarūpa said he thought He was dry.
Prabhupāda stood and walked into the room where Jāhnava was examining the repainted Deity. Calmly he stood before Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, singing to himself. “Yes,” he said, “now it’s all right.”
Later that morning in the temple room, Prabhupāda sat on his vyāsāsana and installed Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, reciting the prayers from the Brahma-saṁhitā. He then offered the first ārati to the Deities, who had been hastily dressed and placed on an almost bare altar. Prabhupāda seemed pleased, however, and later went up to his room and wrote on a piece of paper, “Radha Kalachandji, the Deity of Dallas, September 12, 1972-A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.” Kālacandajī, he said, meant “black moon.”
* * *
Prabhupāda was preparing to return soon to India via a western route, and he paid another visit to his Western world headquarters in Los Angeles. On the very day he arrived, however, he wrote more directions to the devotees in Bombay, reassuring them the Juhu land was not just a trouble spot but a special place where a great plan would be carried out. It was worth fighting for.
… now I am anxious to hear if the conveyance deed has been signed and what are the contents. Kindly send me the copy duly signed as quickly as possible. This will give me great relief. As soon as the conveyance has been signed you may begin the building work immediately. I am coming to India soon, at least by October, and I want to see that the building projects in Bombay, Mayapur and Vrndavana are going on nicely. This Bombay project is one of our most important projects in the whole world and I am looking to you and the others there in Bombay to see that it is done very magnificently.
Prabhupāda’s secretary had recently shown him a new advertisement booklet printed by Air India in which the art theme was exclusively dedicated to Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana. Prabhupāda was encouraged to see that Air India was enticing tourists to come to India to experience Kṛṣṇa culture. This confirmed his idea that in the future Hare Krishna Land and his other Indian projects would be important showpieces for tourists wanting to experience real Vedic culture.
Mail from Bombay always received first priority, and every morning Prabhupāda would ask for news from Bombay, giving any letter from Girirāja immediate attention. Early in October he received a long letter from Girirāja.
We just cannot control the material nature, and although everything is going on slow, Mrs. Morarjee, Mr. Munim, the bank, and Mr. N. all feel that they are proceeding as quickly as possible. And they do not respond very favorably to being overreminded by me of the urgency of the matter and of Your anxiety that it be finished.
Nothing new had developed; the deed still had not been signed.
Although Girirāja said he now had no intentions of resigning his post, Prabhupāda, after studying the letter, concluded that other senior devotees in India should also help. He therefore wrote to Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Goswami and Bhavānanda, both in Vṛndāvana, asking them to go immediately to Bombay and try to expedite the conveyance.
Prabhupāda was asking Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Goswami to revive his active status as a manager in India.
… Girirāja is finding difficulty, from his letter I can understand. So I think you have to revive your position as G.B.C. again and look after all the business of India affairs nicely.
Prabhupāda also wrote Girirāja, informing him that other devotees were coming to help and reminding him to also work with the board of trustees.
I cannot tax my brain so much from such distant places as to what to do if there is any difficulty, therefore I am relying completely on you, my trusted senior disciples, to finish up these things nicely.
Prabhupāda repeatedly instructed the managers in Bombay not to deviate from the terms of the purchase agreement. He was willing, as a matter of concession, to pay the five lakhs, to be deducted from the total price. But no more changes. The devotees should press Mr. N. to the original agreement.
Prabhupāda was worried that he had not heard from his lawyer, Mr. D. Two weeks before, he had telegrammed both Mr. N. and Mr. D., asking for reports on the delays, but he had received no replies from either of them. He had since written to another lawyer, a friend in Bombay, asking about the delay, and in Los Angeles he received the reply: Mr. D. was no longer his attorney. A couple of days after receiving this shocking news, Prabhupāda received a formal letter from the office of Mr. D, informing him of the same.
Of all the recent news from Bombay, this was the most disturbing. Prabhupāda began to see how Mr. N. had been devising a devious plot from the beginning. It was not just a matter of slowness or bureaucratic delay; Mr. D. had been in league with Mr. N. They were cheaters. So now it was going to be a real fight. ISKCON would have to go to court and file criminal charges against Mr. N. There was no avoiding the fight, but Prabhupāda still felt that his position was legally very strong.
Before leaving Los Angeles, Prabhupāda thought of a further tactic. He wrote to Girirāja that he should put a notice in the newspapers advising the public that ISKCON had signed an agreement for purchasing Mr. N.’s land at Juhu. He then traveled to Berkeley.
During his brief visit to Berkeley, Prabhupāda met with a group of professors from the University of California and also installed Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Deities in the Berkeley temple. But still he was meditating on Bombay. He wrote to Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Goswami,
The Bombay dealing has been muddled by the tactics of Mr. N. and Mr. D. Girirāja is in trouble. He is a child in these worldly dealings, so immediately go to help him… But you must be careful to pay the money in the court (registrar’s office) and not in the hand of Mr. N. or his solicitor… Settle up the things properly, otherwise let us go to the court for specific action, either civic or criminal against the tactics of Mr. N.
Prabhupāda decided to send Karandhara, whom he considered expert, to help in Bombay. He also wanted to send Śyāmasundara, but Śyāma sundara had gone to London regarding a large country estate George Harrison was donating. Prabhupāda notified Śyāmasundara, however, that once the London transaction was completed, he should go to Bombay. Prabhupāda was ready for the fight. He would not be cheated.
During his return trip to India, Prabhupāda again visited Hawaii. Then on October 11 he went for the first time to Manila, where a small number of disciples had arranged preaching programs for him, both in the temple and at the Hotel Intercontinental.
In Manila Prabhupāda carefully considered his position regarding the Juhu property and concluded that he would come out victorious. He listed the points of his argument in a letter to Girirāja.
1. We have fulfilled all the conditions as purchaser.
2. Mr. N. has purposefully delayed with a motive to cheat us as he had done with some others in this connection.
3. But this time he cannot cheat us because we are in possession of the land and our deity Radha-Krishna is installed there.
4. Therefore we must immediately go to the court for enforcing him to execute the conveyance immediately.
5. Even if the court case goes on for a long time, still our business there cannot be stopped.
6. Without going to the court, we cannot make any compromise with him.
7. But I think we can arrange the full amount of 14 lacs to get out this rascal out of the scene.
8. But we cannot do it without going to the court otherwise we shall become a party for breaking the purchase agreement. Therefore we have to go to the court before making any compromise.
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