Thursday, 30th March 1972
Srila Prabhupada travelled with three disciples from Calcutta to Sydney via Singapore. Syamasundara acted as his secretary, Pradyumna as his servant and Sanskrit editor, and Nanda Kumara as his cook. After the plane departed, Srila Prabhupada took his meal from the well-stocked tiffin containers that Nanda Kumara had filled before departing.
Nanda Kumara: I cooked Srila Prabhupada a dry potato subji with a lot of turmeric. I had par-boiled the potatoes whole, then cut them up and pan-fried them, adding powdered coriander and cumin to form a nice crust. I had also packed puris and a tasty tomato chutney, the recipe for which I had got from Anand brahmacari, Prabhupada’s Godbrother — just tomatoes, salt, pepper with some fresh methi, mustard seeds and some gur. I had also brought chidwa — a nice combination of nuts, fried dal with crunchy chickpea flour noodles, and a mango chutney. Srila Prabhupada enjoyed the prasadam, and after he ate, the three of us happily ate the remnants. Srila Prabhupada was in a very jovial mood on this leg of the trip.
Srila Prabhupada was scheduled to stay in Singapore for two days. One Indian gentleman, Jamnadas Bhajwani, who had trade connections with Australia, had booked a large hall and mailed hundreds of invitations to the local Indian population.
On arrival at Singapore airport, however, without explanation, Immigration authorities flatly refused Srila Prabhupada and his entourage entry into the country. Nanda Kumara spoke to the head man, a Chinese official. Mr Bhajwani, who was there to greet Srila Prabhupada, also tried frantically to appease the authorities. But they were unrelenting and would give no reason — Prabhupada and the devotees could not enter Singapore. Prabhupada sat down in the crowded transit lounge, disappointed and feeling ill, while Syamasundara went to try to book a flight to Sydney.
Prabhupada had often complained about Immigration officers, who, totally ignorant of spiritual etiquette, would question a sadhu at the border. He compared them to barking watchdogs: “Yeow, yeow, yeow — where is your visa?” Formerly, he had explained, a sadhu would be allowed unhindered entrance, even to a king’s palace.
In the course of preaching, certainly Prabhupada was prepared to undergo difficulties. But this unequivocal refusal of entry was particularly disturbing.
Nanda Kumara: As Syamasundara was trying to arrange an onward connection; I stayed with Prabhupada, who described his symptoms as dizziness and nausea.
I suggested that he might like to take a little fruit. “Yes,” Srila Prabhupada said, “maybe that will help”. I cut one orange and he ate it and afterwards Srila Prabhupada said: “I feel totally relieved.” He spoke some nice philosophy, explaining how Krsna was so expert that he had produced this fruit — a perfect air-tight package full of sweet juice. “Just see,” Srila Prabhupada said: “After one orange, I am completely relieved of all trouble.”
Syamasundara had managed to book a flight to Sydney via Perth, leaving in another four hours. He wanted to ring the Sydney temple, but had no telephone number. He sent a telegram instead, advising of the updated arrival time.
Although Prabhupada appeared tired, he did not sleep during the remaining hours before arriving in Sydney.
Nanda Kumara: I was, as usual, impressed with Srila Prabhupada. As soon as we got on board a plane, we would immediately go to sleep, but Prabhupada would chastise us: “Why are you wasting time? Why don’t you read? Take my books and read,” he would say.
The flight to Perth arrived very early in the morning. Prabhupada decided to bathe and sent Nanda Kumara to find a bathroom. Prabhupada’s shower was brief — there was only cold water — but he emerged looking refreshed for the remaining four-hour flight to Sydney.
Biographies and Glorifications of Srila Prabhupada-The Great Transcendental Adventure-Part I –Sydney & Melbourne, 1971–1972-Kurma das
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