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Fsp Dvd 6-107

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The irony surrounding the whole Town Hall engagement and the Rathayatra Festival was that the people that were issuing us thousands and thousands of dollars worth of tickets for chanting, dancing in the streets and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books in the streets were the same people that we had to go to to get the permits to conduct the Rathayatra Festival. So I remember when I first had to go there to the Melbourne City Council – big, dark oak draped council room with 30 or 40 of these City Council men sitting around the table when I walked in with my shaved head and my dhoti and had to convince them that they should allow us to have the Rathayatra Festival. So when I walked in, he had this big pile of tickets on the table. And the head of the City Council, the mayor of the city said, “What are we going to do about all these tickets here?” I convinced him or Krishna convinced him that they should not let these unpaid tickets have a bearing on their opinion whether they should give us the Rathayatra permit or not. I remembering thinking to myself, looking at the mayor’s chest and saying that “Krishna, You are in his heart. Inside his chest is his heart, and inside his heart You are there. And if You want to allow us to have this Rathayatra Festival, then You instruct him from within that he should allow us to have this.” So the mayor was very flamboyant and he said, “Just tell me one reason why I should allow you to have this festival, seeing that you have flaunted, you have snubbed us by not paying one single ticket that we have issued to you, which is thousands and thousands of dollars. Why should we give you the permission to parade through our streets?” I looked at the Council, and I knew the egalitarian sentiment of the Australians. They always wanted to give people a fair chance because the history of Australia is that they were subjugated by the Britishers, the prison colonies were started there, and they were always for the common man. So I looked at the mayor, and I used one of the Australian idiomatic expressions. I said, “Well, can you give us a fair go? That’s all we’re asking for is a fair go.” The mayor look around, and he didn’t want to be the one to say that he wasn’t going to give someone a fair go. He looked at the members of the Council and he said, “All right, we’ll give you a fair go,” and he stamped the permit and we got the permit to have the Rathayatra. So the same people that were giving us tickets had to give us the permits, and Krishna arranged it in such a way that they didn’t hold it against us. So the Rathayatra went on and Srila Prabhupada’s speaking engagement went on in the Melbourne City Hall, and the newspapers gave us favorable reviews. When Prabhupada came in for Rathayatra, it was mid-winter, June. That was partly because he had told Madhudvisa, “If you become the number one book distributors in the world, then I will come.” And so we did actually. He organized the BBT party, and Australia was consistently at the top of the book distribution ratings even though we were just a tiny yatra at that time, maybe about 50 or 60 devotees in the whole country. But Prabhupada kept his word, and he came in ’74. It was in the middle of the Melbourne winter. It was very, very cold. It was about…probably that day it was about 12 degrees. Prabhupada came and joined us about halfway through the parade in Collins Street. Of course, when Prabhupada arrived in the actual parade, the devotees were in ecstasy. In front of the Rathayatra cart, we had this big diorama of Lord Caitanya, big golden diorama. He was about 14 feet high. He was following in front of the rath cart, and we were walking in front of Lord Caitanya. Every now and again, Prabhupada would stop and he would turn around and he would just look at Lord Caitanya in complete ecstasy. Then he would look at Lord Jagannatha, and you see in these shots he is very, very happy. Then he would turn around and he would walk again. Then Prabhupada walked for about two miles. So this Rathayatra was quite astounding for us. And although it was a very, very cold day and there weren’t so many people in the streets or actually following the procession, it was so potent and so powerful it was as though Srila Prabhupada had conquered the whole of Melbourne. It was like he was the king of the whole of Melbourne. Everything stopped for Srila Prabhupada. Look at how much ecstasy he is in there. And the devotees all present felt like this was the center of the universe because Srila Prabhupada was there and Lord Caitanya was there and Lord Jagannatha was there. So it was a very, very ecstatic program. I remember that Vaibhavi had stumbled upon a technique called anodization where she made breastplates and armlets for the Deities, Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balarama, out of foam. Then you submerge them in a solution which would make them shine like silver or shine like gold. So we’d bedecked Lord Jagannatha and Balarama with these wonderful warrior-like breastplates, and I think there were even ksatriya turbans and armlets on Them. They just looked gorgeous. Prabhupada walked a lot of that route, I think the entirety of it. And I remember there was a fellow, I think his names was Bob Jones, who had a big karate school in Australia at the time, and he provided a couple of body guards for Prabhupada, they walked on either side. That’s me playing the big bass drum. Sometimes we’d have a big kirtan in Sydney temple and just as a kind of embellishment, Madhudvisa brought out a big bass drum one time. I used to be a drummer in an rock ‘n roll band before I joined the Hare Krishna movement, so I would put on the bass drum and I would give a bit of an extra thump, a bit of an extra impetus to the kirtan. So when we had Rathayatra, myself and my brother, Jamal Arjuna, would strap on these big marching band bass drums and play them in a rhythmic mridanga-type what we called the “nama hatta beat,” a moving, exciting sort of rhythm, and it would add a new dimension to the kirtan and to the Rathayatra parade. It was very nice to see Srila Prabhupada coming off the rath cart and actually walking in the Rathayatra procession with us. We had the three carts, and we had Subhadra’s cart set up for Prabhupada to ride the whole way – very comfortable, big vyasasan on the front. And I was very fortunate, I was going to be on the cart there because I was the pujari for Subhadra. So I was sitting right up there alongside Prabhupada, and I was thrilled. But then I was very demoralized because Prabhupada didn’t get on the cart because he was so attracted to and fascinated by the big golden Lord Caitanya that we’d made, and he just loved to walk alongside it and dance with it. So he wouldn’t get on the cart. He walked the whole parade. It was cold and it seems like it was about three miles long, but he danced and walked the whole way. When we got to the end of the parade, then he got onto the cart inside of the hall and at that time he gave the lecture sitting on the cart. But I don’t think I’d slept for several days because we were making the carts and there were so many things going on preparing for Prabhupada’s coming, and I was falling asleep on my feet. So when Prabhupada started giving his lecture and I was fanning Subhadra, I just kept falling asleep. Lady Subhadra is very kind, and Prabhupada just glanced now and again. I can’t imagine what he was thinking, but I did my best to stay awake. We would do that in those days. We would just work so hard that we couldn’t survive once Prabhupada actually arrived. We were all preparing for him to come, and then we missed half the classes. I was reading a letter yesterday that Prabhupada said, “I appreciated very much how you were leading the kirtan and at the same time taking care of my personal while we were walking along on the Rathayatra Festival.” You wouldn’t think that Prabhupada would observe that, but he saw how I was leading the kirtan and at the same time “taking care of his personal,” that’s the way he worded it. In other words, making sure that everybody was around Srila Prabhupada and not blocking the way. I had had books which I had purchased a couple of years before when I was an attorney downtown. So I had those books on my bookcase, and occasionally I’d pick up a Bhagavatam and try and read it to see if I could understand it because I’d never really understand, I couldn’t make head or tail of it. But I knew, somehow or another I knew that this was it, this was the truth, this was the real thing. And also Prabhupada, I just had the conviction that this person, he was a person that had no ego and that he stood for what was the truth. Then just prior to the Rathayatra, on the Thursday I was on my way to one of my favorite joints, a wine bar, and next to the wine bar there was a big poster which was promoting the Rathayatra and Prabhupada. On the poster, there was a beautiful picture of Prabhupada with the caption that said, “At whose feet all the masters sit,” and it really impacted on me. I looked at the poster and I thought, “Yes.” Then the Saturday came around, so I went to the Rathayatra. Then in the distance I saw these amazing huge chariots, there were three of them with amazing canopies and this amazing statue which was maybe 30, 40 feet high of this golden personality with His arms in the air. And there were literally hundreds of devotees, it appeared to me, were dancing ecstatically and blissfully; and it was a swirl of color and movement, there were a couple of marching bass drums, and it was just a wonderful sight. I was struck with wonder. Then in the middle of the chanting party was this diminutive personality, Srila Prabhupada, who I had recognized from the books and from the poster. When I first saw him, he was actually dancing blissfully with his arms in the air; and I could see all the devotees were completely caught up in rapture. So it appeared to me in retrospect Prabhupada was like the full moon surrounded by the stars in the sky on a cloudless night. It was just a wonderful sight to behold, and I was completely overcome with joy myself at seeing it. At this stage, I was hooked. So I followed the procession up the street and into the exhibition buildings, and there Prabhupada gave a lecture but I really couldn’t understand what he was saying. But it was something that was totally out of this world and something that I just felt, “This is it, this is it, and I want to be a part of this, whatever it is.” I was caught up. I had Prabhupada fever very quickly. It was very contagious. It was spreading right throughout, and I caught Prabhupada fever that first time that I saw him and I still have it today. Apparently it’s incurable. Once you catch Prabhupada fever, you have it forever. Over the years I’ve met many, many people who actually saw the parade and saw Prabhupada on that day. Just a couple of years ago in our restaurant one lady came in, and she told me how she had seen our leader on this festival going through the streets of Melbourne and how she saw this big golden form at the head of the parade leading the procession. And she said it really profoundly affected her and that over the years many, many times she’d had dreams of that particular festival and of that particular golden form of Lord Caitanya. So that was the potency of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Jagannatha and the Rathayatra Festival. After the Rathayatra parade, which was extremely successful, we wheeled all three carts into the Royal Exhibition Buildings, which were the final resting place of the Rathayatra Festival; and Prabhupada gave a nice lecture from the cart. After his lecture, he came down the stairs and he rested on a chair in a small room as we were preparing to distribute the feast. And one of Prabhupada’s disciples, Gopinath Acharya, entered the room with some incense. So Srila Prabhupada is sitting there resting a little on a seat, and Deepak prabhu introduced me to Srila Prabhupada and said, “Oh, this is Gopinath Acharya das. He is one of our leading book distributors.” So Srila Prabhupada was actually very interested; and he turned his head very regally, he looked at me and asked me what I said to sell the books. So I mumbled and fumbled something to the effect that, “Oh, Srila Prabhupada, I just tell them it’s about yoga. They think it’s about exercises and like that.” Srila Prabhupada thought very pensively for 30 seconds or so and he said, “You should tell people that these books will solve the problems of life and help reduce the miseries of life.” In retrospect, I believe Srila Prabhupada must have been thinking of the verse from the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam: anarthopasamam saksad, bhakti-yogam adhoksaje, lokasyajanato vidvams, cakre satvata-samhitam. “The material miseries of the living entity, which are superfluous to him, can be directly mitigated by the linking process of devotional service. But the mass of people do not know this, and therefore the learned Vyasadeva compiled the Srimad-Bhagavatam.” So I felt very blessed to be privy to Srila Prabhupada’s personal instruction what to say to distribute his books. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been able to introduce that kind of presentation on the street when we were selling books for many years. But later on when we were selling Srila Prabhupada’s sets of books, that proved to be very successful. People warm up to that. Actually everyone is suffering, and Srila Prabhupada’s real business was to somehow or another give people some happiness through Krishna consciousness. So then he began to speak about the prediction in the Caitanya Bhagavat: prithivite ache jato nagaradi gram, sarvatra prachara hoibe mora nam, that Lord Caitanya’s name would be heard in every town and village. So Srila Prabhupada went on to say that this means that there will be a Radha-Krishna temple in every town and village with at least six brahmanas to worship the Deity. The next day I was told that there was a big program down at Ormond Hall. I used to go to Ormond Hall back in the mid-’60s when I was a jazzer, and jazz bands used to play down there. So it was one of the joints that we used to frequent. So I went to Ormond Hall and I walked in and there’s this amazing kirtan going on, and Lord Caitanya…once again that golden figure is in the middle of the room, and the devotees are just ecstatically dancing around. It was an ecstatic, blissful kirtan. Once again we had those marching bass drums, I think there was about three of them, and the devotees were just wild with enthusiasm and they were dancing around like Indians surrounding a wagon train, whooping. It was once again another amazing sight. By this time, after seeing Prabhupada and the devotees at Rathayatra, seeing Prabhupada gliding past me at the temple, and then seeing this wonderful sight at the Ormond Hall and then Prabhupada walking in and giving a lecture…once again I couldn’t understand what he was saying…but by this time I was completely convinced that “Yes, I have to become a devotee.” So virtually a couple of days after that I moved into the temple, and a day after that I was out on the street selling incense and collecting donations. We had big ecstatic kirtan around Lord Caitanya for about 45 minutes, Madhudvisa was leading. And it was such an ecstatic kirtan that when Madhudvisa stopped the chanting, Prabhupada motioned like this to continue. He was just in ecstasy watching and hearing the kirtan. He loved Madhudvisa’s kirtan so much. Then after that, he gave a lecture. And then after the lecture, another nice feast was served. Especially after the festival the day before when we had a big program and a big feast, he was very pleased with that. But then the next day, it was on a Sunday, another big feast was served and he said, “Who has cooked this?” He was very, very pleased that the devotees had gone to so much trouble to cook two beautiful feasts in two days.

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Duration: 18 minutes and 27 seconds
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Language: English
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Posted by: lopter001 on Jan 3, 2022

Fsp Dvd 6-107

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