Memories 

of Srila Prabhupada

 

 

.
 
 
Memories of Srila Prabhupada
 
 
Contents-
* Dinadayadri Dasi's memories
* Experiences with Srila Prabhupada- Visoka dasa
* Memories of Srila Prabhupada- Locanananda dasa
 
 

Eternal Reality

by Dinadayadri Dasi

Dearest prabhus,

A thousands thanks to our dear godsister Jayaradhe dasi for her beautiful

description of the Radhastami festival that she attended at New Jagannatha

Puri (Berkeley, CA). Please, Jayaradhe prabhu, don't ever doubt your ability

to transmit to others the glories of Krsna Consciousness that you have

experienced -- you are coming through loud and clear! And please don't

consider that the genuine devotional feelings you experience are "sahajiya"

or not "real." I understand your shyness about expressing them, for fear

others will misunderstand, but I wish devotees would share these experiences more often because we all have had them from time to time and they serve to confirm that Krsna Consciousness is indeed the reality, whereas the phantasmagoria of our material lives are but fleeting distractions only.

 

Regarding appreciating the beautiful appearance of the Deities: one time in

Bombay sometime around 1971, the pujari Tunga Bhadra dasi had dressed the Deities in a new set of dresses she had made and when Srila Prabhupada saw Them he was very, very pleased, especially with how beautiful Srimate Radharani looked. At that time, His Divine Grace told Tunga Bhadra, "Always make Radharani more beautiful than Krsna. Then He will be attracted to Her and He will never go away."

 

One thing Jayaradhe said in her description of Radhastami brought back a very sweet memory of my own. Jayaradhe said, "I felt Her sweet kindness more than ever before, as if She mercifully made it easier to perceive this..." I was sent to India in the second wave of devotees to go there in 1971. We had been working very hard in preparation for the first big Delhi pandal festival, where many important Indian government officials were invited to be guest speakers. I was nearly beside myself with excitement when Srila Prabhupada arrived in Delhi for the festival as this was the first time I had seen Srila Prabhupada in India, his native place where he seemed exceptionally relaxed and "at home." There were only a handful of devotees in India at that time and we were working and living under very crude conditions to say the least, sometimes "camping" on roofs of houses or in tents, and Srila Prabhupada benedicted us with a great deal of his very loving personal association and mercy, as if in reward for the austerities he knew we were suffering on his behalf. So when Srila Prabhupada first arrived in Delhi, he invited us all into his room for a wonderful darshan where he was lounging back in a very relaxed manner on his cushion (no big vyasasana to set him apart), and he was laughing and joking about how he had just come from Calcutta and that "the milk in Calcutta is finished" (at that time it was very difficult to procure cow's milk and oftentimes it was cut with water and chalk powder). I was feeling so unworthy to be present in this amazing entourage with Lord Krsna's pure devotee in the very land of the Lord's divine appearance that I could barely bring myself to look upon Srila Prabhupada's beautiful face. I had to begin by first looking at his lotus feet and then gradually working my way up. His effulgence in this informal setting was so intense as to be practically blinding. So even when I got the courage to take a peek at his lotus face, I was forced to look away quickly as it was almost too much for my grossly contaminated senses to bear. So I was sitting there, glancing up and down at my beloved spiritual master in complete awe at my undeserved great good fortune, when all of a sudden with each glance Srila Prabhupada's countenance began transforming itself into a creature of the most otherworldly beauty that I can scarcely describe it. There are really no words in the English language to do justice to the breathtaking beauty Srila Prabhupada was displaying at that moment. It was as if he were "mercifully making it easier to perceive this," just as Jayaradhe prabhu said of her experience with Srimate Radharani in Berkeley. His appearance was of a much more youthful being than Srila Prabhupada's supposed chronological age, neither male nor female, with very dark luminous eyes that extended almost around the side of his head, and his lips were a gorgeous reddish color that I have never seen before or since. He was glancing at all the devotees with so much love that it was practically piercing like arrows and literally made me swoon, and I thought I would faint. Tears of gratitude sprang uncontrollably from my eyes as I mentally offered prayers of thanks to Lord Krsna for bringing me to the lotus feet of this most amazing being for shelter. Srila Prabhupada, my most beloved spiritual master, in remembering you that day I have no desire but to see you again, for that is my eternal reality.

 

Your most unworthy servant,

Dinadayadri dasi

 

 

 

 
Experiences with Srila Prabhupada by Vishoka dasa
 
excerpts from coming Jayananda book
 
 Meeting Srila Prabhupada at the San Francisco airport, 1975
 

It was the summer of ‘75, and we were hustling like anything, getting ready for Ratha-yatra and the coming of Srila Prabhu­pada. We all greeted Srila Prabhupada at the Frisco airport, and Jayananda was there with an umbrella and bouquet for him. There is a very nice photo of this in the Vyasa Puja book for '97. You can look at the photo and see the person holding the umbrella over Prabhupada, with flowers in his hands for Prabhupada, but can't see the person's face. One could notice that this person wore a cuffed white shirt, like a business shirt. Jayananda didn't even have a decent kurta to wear to the airport, and he wore this dress-type shirt along with his dhoti. But he looked good in it; it was totally him, Jayananda. And Prabhupada was smiling so wonderfully. You could see the relationship, the master and the servant, and how Prabhupada was happy to be with his dear servant, Jayananda.

At the 1975 San Francisco Ratha-yatra-

The next day we were having the parade and Srila Prabhupada got out of his car to ride on Subhadra's cart. As he was walking toward the cart, he did a 180 degree turnaround and looked directly into my eyes. There were hundreds of people there, but he seemed to look right into my eyes alone. It was as if he was saying, “Yes, I know you're here.” I've heard many stories like this from other devotees. We all had this similar experience with Srila Prabhupada, sort of like how Krishna was with all the gopis but each gopi thought He was with her alone. It is a mystical thing, and since other devotees have told me the same thing, I suppose I was not delirious to think that it actually happened to me.

The real initiation

The best moment was when Srila Prabhupada was giving the lecture from the platform. There were thousands of people and I could not even get close to the stage, and I could not see Srila Prabhupada. But while listening to the lecture, every word I heard penetrated my heart very clearly and deeply, and it was an unusual time of aural reception for me. Every word from Srila Prabhupada was very profound to me. It was so heavy and wonderful that I could not stop the tears from flowing down my cheeks. It was a true moment of full consciousness, and I truly understood the nectar words of my spiritual master at that time. I feel that this was my actual initiation, rather than at the ceremony. As they say, divya-jnana is injected into the heart of the disciple by the bonafide spiritual master, and that is initiation.

Jayananda forgot to tell me

It was the summer of '75, and a bunch of us were up for initiation. Bhakta Dasa and Jayananda and Bahulasva Dasa were acting as temple presidents. I kept waiting for Bhakta Dasa or Jayananda to tell me that I was getting initiated, but they didn't. I was with Bhakta Dasa for an hour or so the night before Ratha-yatra, and I expected him to tell me about the initiations the next day and how I was a candidate, but he never said anything. Neither did Jayananda. And so I was thinking that I wasn't getting initiated.

Then we had the festival, and when evening came I did my night watch to guard the Ratha carts. Consequently I was sleeping in the next morning. I was suddenly awakened by Jayananda, who exclaimed, “Oh Bhakta Tom, I'm so sorry, I forgot to tell you – you were supposed to get initiated this morning. I'm sorry, you missed it. But don't worry, Srila Prabhupada wants to see you in his room.” I said that I thought I wasn't going to get initiated, and Jayananda said how I was “humility personified,” which was his usual way of praising other devotees.

Tooting my horn

So I went to Berkeley and got to go into Srila Prabhupada's room and be alone with him for a minute. This is another tall tale, but I was paying my obeisances and while reciting the pranam prayers, I happened to glance from the corner of my eye at Srila Prabhupada and saw a bright glow all about him. Blinding glow in fact. I've been told in retrospect that auras are easier to see from a peripheral angle of vision. Oh well, this is another story like the one in Vaiyasaki's book, Radha-Damodara Vilasa, with Vishnujana Swami telling of how Srila Prabhupada's room was full of blinding light. But since we've all heard stories in ISKCON even more amazing than this (how tears shot out from Srila Prabhupada's eyes when he was singing Jaya Radha Madhava, some devotees getting sprinkled by these teardrops several feet away, and how some devotees saw him floating down some stairs, his feet not touching the stairs, and so on) then I see no harm in telling what I saw. Then I got my beads and my name of Vishoka Dasa.

Before I entered the room, I was thinking of how the disciple should always feel a fool before the spiritual master. I had no problem feeling the fool. But ... there was a vestige of pride in my heart. It was like I was thinking, “Well here I am – I'm getting initiated by the greatest acharya that was ever on the planet.” Even though this was philosophically correct, I was feeling unnecessary pride in my heart, and I was mentally tooting my own horn, so to speak. Srila Prabhupada looked at me and saw right through me and immediately detected the pride. Srila Prabhupada could read others' minds. He gave me a hard look and a sarcastic smile that cut me to the quick, totally devastating my petty pride. Although I was raised in Kansas, and although I never thought of myself as a hick, always thinking I was a city slicker – I had only one thought in my mind at that time, “I am just a hick from Kansas ... and that is all I am ... nothing more.” It was as if Srila Prabhupada projected this humbling thought into my brain.

Experiences in Los Angeles

Srila Prabhupada talks to Krishna

Here is another far-out mystical story. Actually, it's not so mystical for one who is a resident of the spiritual world, where it's a normal everyday affair to see devotees talking to Krishna. For Srila Prabhupada, it's a normal thing to do ... but down here, amongst us earthlings, it's a rare sight to see Krishna's pure devotee talking to Him in His Deity form. For one who's bankrupt in faith, the Deity appears as a statue, and actually this perception is hellish, naraka. As Krishna says, “For the doubting soul, there is happiness neither in this world or the next.” But for one who is stocked up in faith, and who hears from Krishna's pure devotee, especially of the many stories of Deities – like how the Sakshi Gopal Deity walked thousands of miles to bear witness for the reputation of His devotee; and how Lord Chaitanya saw Krishna standing in threefold bending form with a flute within the Deity of Lord Jagannatha; and in Los Angeles, how Lord Balarama would jump off the altar when pujaris were late, and so many other stories – then such faithful devotees see the Deity as directly the son of Nanda Maharaja. Just as our dear friend Sriman Kusha-kratha Dasa, our modern-day Vaish­nava poet, who dreams in Sanskrit and composes and translates thousands of verses in glorification of Sri Radha-Krishna, says in his Sri Sri Radha-Mukunda-Stava – “I worship glorious-limbed Sri Sri Radha-Mukunda, who, pretending to be stone statues, truly stand, silent and unmoving by Their wish, in many temples in this world.”

So, I was fortunate to see such an exchange of love between Krishna and His pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada. I was in the temple room in Los Angeles when Srila Prabhupada arrived from the airport, and I was in such an angle of vision to see him say a few quick words to Sri Sri Rukmini-Dwarakadhisha. I felt fortunate on one hand, and on the other hand felt like I tres­passed into confidential territory. Still, it was a maha moment for me, to see how Krishna comes in His archa-vigraha form and converses with His own pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada. When we see the Krishna Vision slide show and we hear Krishna Prema Prabhu's wonderful recording of the many Holy Names of Deities from around the world, we become awestruck to realize how Krishna agrees to appear hundreds of times, all over the world, all for the sake of His pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada.

Be quiet and listen

Hearing from our spiritual master is the most important process of devotional service. This was vividly illustrated in another experience I had in Srila Prabhupada's presence. We were all on a walk with Srila Prabhupada on Watseka Avenue in Los Angeles, California, across the street from the temple. A major thing I remember was the profound silence around Srila Prabhu­pada. Usually on Watseka Avenue, there's always a great din in the air, like babies crying in the background, or shouts of “hari-bol,” or devotees talking everywhere. But in the presence of Srila Prabhupada there was an absolute silence around the sidewalk. It was as if the Supersoul in everyone's hearts was telling us all to just be quiet and listen to the divine master. Adults, kids, insects, birds and animals were all silent in his divine presence. And we were all listening for the nectar from his lotus lips.

your servant, Visoka dasa -  surf on to Jayananda.com
 
 
 
 

Remembering Srila Prabhupada
 by Locanananda dasa-
 
I always consider myself very fortunate to be living in New York 
because it is so easy to perceive Srila Prabhupada's transcendental 
presence here. On Fridays I do administrative work for the Doughnut 
Plant in the Lower East Side. Mark Isreal, the doughnut man, using 
his grandfather's recipe, has rolled out what has been called the 
best doughnut in the country. Although he does not advertise that he 
is a devotee, the doughnuts are prepared with love and devotion, and 
are offered daily to Lord Jagannath. 
 
To get to the Doughnut Plant, I have to walk through the neighborhood 
where Srila Prabhupada lived before opening his first center at 26 
Second Avenue. The subway stops near Grand and Bowery where Srila 
Prabhupada did his banking at First National City Bank. Just down the 
street we find 94 Bowery where he lived in an artist's loft on the 
fourth floor, with no elevator. When I stand in front of that 
building I remember how he used to have to step over drunks lying in 
his doorway and then walk up four flights to his apartment. I do not 
know how it was possible for him to do that at age seventy because I 
could not do it today at age 53. People in the neighborhood still 
remember him with great affection.
 
Srila Prabhupada said that he had been loitering in NYC for six 
months when the appearance day of Lord Caitanya came in 1966. He 
thought of how his godbrothers were all assembled in Vrndavana and 
Mayapur to celebrate and how he was struggling alone in New York 
City. Remembering that he was here to fulfill the order of his 
spiritual master, he did not really feel alone because he was not 
separated from his Guru Maharaja even for a moment.
 
We were not only separated from Srila Prabhupada by his physical 
disappearance, which is already cause for lamentation, but we have 
had to witness the deterioration of his institution, which was his 
hope for the future. I moved out of the Brooklyn temple in 1998, 
after learning about the abuse that children had suffered within 
Iskcon, of the offenses that were being committed against Srila 
Prabhupada's personal associates, and about how so many devotees were 
being kicked out because they would not support the GBC's deviations 
from Srila Prabhupada's instructions. This news was so painful to me 
that I had to go into seclusion. I could not come to grips with the 
fact that so many lives had been shattered by self-serving 
mismanagement and poor leadership, and that Srila Prabhupada's hope 
for the future had also been shattered.
 
Now there appears to be new hope. This assembly of devotees is one 
indication that a revival of Srila Prabhupada's mission is in the 
making. If each of us tries to bring in a few more sincere vaisnavas, 
we will become a force. If that force represents the will of the 
spiritual master, it will bring about positive change in the lives of 
the council's members as well as in the general devotee population. 
If the truth is known to devotees in general and if the leaders do 
not embrace it, they can no longer lead because they will not be able 
to command respect. That is the dynamic of leadership in any 
organization, especially in a spiritual movement. The leader must be 
exemplary or no one will follow, and that is one lesson Srila 
Prabhupada taught by his personal example. We agreed to serve him
at his request, to help him execute the order of his spiritual 
master, and we did this out of love. That love is still there, just 
as fire is within the match, and good association will ignite it.   
 
Your servant, Locanananda dasa

 


 

 

 

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