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Following Srila Prabhupada _ DVD 205

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Most people had their faces skewed staring and wondering "What are they doing?" We even tried to preach to him in English. As soon as the kirtan party would stop, we would all either chant japa with some ferociousness or go out and preach to whoever was standing and staring at us. There's the famous Brothers Airway prop plane that was really not a fit for human travel. It was the inside of a freight company's plane with absolutely no facility. You could see straight into the cockpit from the main body of the plane. I remember there were these guards with big machine guns, huge, huge guns, pointed at Giriraj as he was walking along. We couldn't put him in a category and we're sure what he was invocating, but they had their guns on him, and he was completely oblivious, immersed in the Holy Name. I took a walk. I just didn't want to watch, and I took a walk around the plane, chanted myself, you know, prayed for protection. And when I came back around the plane, I looked over. The first thing I saw were two machine guns leaning up against the bus, and Giriraj Maharaja holding one guy in each hand, and these Egyptian military guys are jumping up and down chanting Hare Krishna big grins on their face. Our sankirtan party from Europe in England arrived in India on October 4th 1970. And I was only in Bombay for under two weeks but those two weeks were two of the most powerful two weeks in my life because at this time, Srila Prabhupada allowed us to taste kirtana in Lord Krishna's Bharatavarsa. The center of our activity every single day was nagar sankirtan. That was our main engagement. We had prasadam in the morning, a morning program, chanted our rounds and then went out on kirtan, sometimes twice a day. This kirtan party was so wonderful. We were like a family, a tight family, and each person played a role. Those are Malati's banners, the same ones we brought from England. The heartbeat of our kirtan were the mridangas of Dinanath and Rishi Kumar, they kept the rhythm going, and all of the rest of us played either another drum or kartals. And we were shoulder to shoulder, just like godbrothers and godsisters, with so much affection and respect we had for each other. We felt as if Srila Prabhupada were our father and we were all his spiritual children, and there was such a nice mood in this early sankirtan leg of Srila Prabhupada's mission in India. We were enthralled by the streets of Bombay, everything was so new and exotic, and I think the people were enthralled by us to from the way they looked at us. But we were thrilled to see how Krishna conscious the people were. You would see people wearing dhotis and kurtas and, of course, most of the women wore saris. We'd see cows. We'd see names of buildings and businesses that included the Holy Names of Krishna and Rama. And we were just enthralled, and at the same time filled with a sense that we were pioneers in Srila Prabhupada's mission, working to please him and serve him according to his superior guidance and vision, and we had faith that the whole process would culminate in some wonderful result. There were many engagements and Prabhupada would just have us set up anything for him to speak. It didn't matter if it was small or large or in a seedy part of town; and when he spoke about Krishna, and sang the Holy Names he was happy and he would get energy. Sometimes we would even say, "Well Prabhupada, we went to this place before and two people showed up, and we don't know if it's worth your time to go there." And Prabhupada would say, "No, I'm like cow, I give milk anywhere. That is what I like to do." And we would go, just go with him, - this place, that place, this town, that town. We just like to be with him. After kirtan took place, Srila Prabhupada wanted his books displayed. And he would inevitably speak something of his books or have a disciple speak something about his books, and surround himself with his books, and I can think of no place where this activity didn't take place, where he didn't want his books displayed, and sold, and made available. He was very oftentimes give a gift copy to whoever was hosting. Srila Prabhupada taught us how to drink water without touching the glass, and how to peel a banana without touching it with our left hand with our teeth, and he said, "You know, everyone will be watching you very carefully, so you know, you should do these things nicely." He was tireless, when we were in India. He went from engagement to engagement to engagement. And then in the evening, he would speak public lectures, and then every morning, we would get up early and have arati and morning lecture on the Bhagavatam in his room. The Somanis were a very religious and wealthy family of Bombay. So the senior Somani at the time was G.D. Somani and he became a Life Member, and gradually the other brothers and then sons and nephews also became Life Members. But they were very devout Hindus, and they were very active in promoting Hinduism in India. And when they met Srila Prabhupada, and practically all the pious and aristocratic Hindus of Bombay and India in general, when they came to know about Srila Prabhupada and the work he had done to spread sanatana-dharma in the West and throughout the world, they were astonished. They felt here is the first time that someone from India has gone abroad and really made an impact on people's lives, really brought people to sanatana-dharma to Krishna consciousness, and they wanted to come forward and help. They wanted to be part of the great movement that Srila Prabhupada had started. At the same time Srila Prabupada had the idea that the people of India want to imitate the West, they want to imitate the Americans. So Srila Prabhupada had the idea that if the Americans take to Krishna consciousness, and then the Indians see it, they will also want to imitate the Americans taking to Krishna consciousness. And actually Srila Prabhupada's thought worked. People looked again at their own tradition, at their own culture, at their own practices and saw there must be more there than they even thought themselves. Otherwise, why would Americans and Europeans who had every chance to enjoy material facilities and sense gratification, why would they be chanting Hare Krishna and dancing, studying Bhagavad-gita and preaching, and then why would they come to India? So they were thrilled. And sometimes they were so moved when they saw us tears would come to their eyes, they were just so so touched. At the end of Srila Prabhupada's visit, Kailash Seksaria arranged a huge program on the terrace of his house and invited all the elite of Bombay and they came. But the thing that struck all of us was Srila Prabhupada's humility. Here he was addressing some of the most affluent and aristocratic and influential people of India, and he spoke very briefly. He referred to His disciples in his work in the West, and then he appealed to the ladies and gentlemen present. He spoke the verse from Prabhodananda Saraswati, dante nidhaya trnakam padayor nipatya, "You're very learned and intelligent and pious people. I stand with a straw in my teeth and I beg you, please chant Hare Krishna." And then he went into the last kirtan. One time they were having a yogi sangha or samelans were many yogis come from all over India to speak, a venue on Chowpatty Beach in Bombay. Many different swamis and yogis were sitting up on this stage, and each day several of them or one of them would speak and they invited Prabhupada and us to come down there. At first they didn't like the idea that Prabhupada would have us up there on the stage with him. But he told them that "These Western Vaishnavas are every bit as spiritually advanced as the other yogis and swami is here. I want them up with me," and they agreed. Prabhupada was introducing us to India as the real authentic thing that we were swamis and yogis in our own right. He was very proud of us. And at the same time he was showing us his country, he was also showing his countrymen what he had done in the West. Huge crowds came down all very intelligent, high class families came down to hear the yogis speak, and here was Prabhupada stealing the show. No one could put on a show like we could. Nobody even came near. This was in Bombay. The program was a sankirtan procession where they took deities on a kirtan procession. They had bands. The bands were playing the Mexican Hat Dance, thump, thump, thump, the ROM, ROM, ROM, ROM, ROM, the ROM Tara, Tara. You know, the Mexican Hat Dance? That's what the band was playing for the deity for Radha Krishna deities. We were chanting along with the Mexican Hat Dance, I remember that. We got out on this pier, and there were several speakers to speak, and one of the other speakers was one of the most famous Mayavadi sannyasis in Bombay, and Prabhupada knew his name. He was in the Shivananda line, which is the big Mayavadi Shivite line in India. Almost every one of the big gurus that came to the West was a disciple of Swami Shivananda in Bombay, and this guy was his successor. Then Prabhupada spoke and he said "So you've been listening to such-and-such or such-and-such is here and he's very famous," and he mentioned him by name "and he is impersonalist. He does not believe that Radha Krishna are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But I will tell you something that I know. In secret, he is worshipping Radha -Krishna deities." And the man smiled real big and Prabhupada had him. He said, "Even though he says he does not believe that God is person, he cannot resist worshipping Radha Krishna." Sankirtana at Mathura Junction station, this being such a holy place and the first time that any of us had touched the holy dham. We were in a trance of ecstasy feeling Lord Krishna's presence by Srila Prabhupada's mercy. When we jumped from these trains to do kirtan, it was the life giving aspect of our existence. The trains were just vehicles to take us from one kirtan to another. That Srila Prabhpada allowed us to become so attached to kirtan is a miracle, but it was from the beginning in India, our main activity. Very oftentimes people didn't join in the kirtan because they were so quick, just a short four or five minutes in a station, sometimes 10 minutes. And it was so nice our party, various people would lead kirtans. It was not one person all the time, people shared the leading of the kirtans. Such a nice experience, and again, the camaraderie was so strong. When we passed Kurukshetra, Srila Prabhpada called us all to the train car. We were standing, looking at out the train car door, and Srila Prabhupada took his left hand and unfolded his arm and said, "This is where the Battle of Kurukshetra took place," and all of the devotees payed obeisances while we were speeding along in the train. Then we had a small stop in Kurukshetra Station, and we jumped out and performed kirtan. We all felt so fortunate to be with Srila Prabhupada. Arrival in Amritsar. Srila Prabhupada was so tireless in this preaching phase. From mangala arati until 11 o'clock at night we had engagements, and all of his youthful devotees, 25, an early 30's could barely keep up with Srila Prabhupada. When we weren't having kirtan at the pandal itself, we did nagar kirtan throughout the streets of Amritsar and they were very receptive to our kirtan party. This is a very large Sikh population where the Golden Temple is. One day we were brought to have a tour of the Golden Temple, and no pictures like a mosque; and at the top of the little temple there's a grantha, the holy book is there, and they sit reading it all the time. After we went there, we went to the chapati room. And those days they were feeding anywhere from six to 8000 people a day a free meal. The pit itself must have been about 12 or 14 feet across. And suspended over the middle of the fire was a big old cast iron plate. Then around the room were all these Indian men and women rolling chapatis. As we sat and watched, there were chapatis unpuffed and puffed flying through the air in the room all the time, like flying saucers. Prabhupada said," See how they are doing this. This is how you distribute prasadam." He really liked it. He said, "Learn to do like this." The citizens of Surat would greet us with sandalwood paste and kumkum, and many times they would come and give us bananas and mangoes and whatever kind of fruit they had. We were pulled into people's houses from the middle of kirtana and offered a cold lassi or some sweets. The whole town was just suffused with Krishna consciousness. The entire town was on fire with devotion. They made us even more spiritual and more devotional. We've done harinam in many places, but the people made this an experience of a lifetime. Prabhpada was tireless. He would speak nonstop. He would greet the children and give them the little sweets, and he would sit for hours and have darshan with thousands of people. People were just so kind to us and so genuinely sweet. Prabhupada said when we were in Surat, "This is a city of devotees." They basically closed the whole town off for Prabhupada. They would close off streets and have parades with him and every shop would shut down. The man who we stayed at his home, Bhagubhai Jariwala was a beautiful, small bodied, elderly, very healthy looking Indian banker. I remember, we all had dysentery there, too. It was pretty serious, 20 sick devotees, and they just took care of us. They just kept taking care of us, whatever we needed, they would take care of it. And at the end, when we left, Bhagubhai Jariwala talked, and he said, "I want to thank all of you for this wonderful experience. It's been an honor to serve you. And please forgive me for any offenses I've committed." He started crying. Prabhupada looked over at us and he said, "Just see, this is a Vaisnava." And then he gave us all money after we'd been offensive and sick in his house. But they never took offense, they never took any... the whole family they just served and served and served and served and served. I remember, in one town we were we arrived that the whole town had closed shop, the mayor came, everyone came to the train station. In other words, the whole town closed down to greet us to greet Prabhupada. And I don't know who is the mayor, but some dignitary said that even if Indira Gandhi had come to this town, she would not have received a reception that they have organized for Prabhupada. Especially this program in Surat, every day, they would take us to a different part of the town to do harinam, and devotees were just received like they just, you know, flown in from a heavenly planet. I mean, it was just overwhelming. I remember at one point I started weeping because I could understand that this is what's meant by Lord Chaitanya's mercy and the flood of the sankirtan movement. Because just a few years before we were just on the street, vagrants and hippies and whatever. I mean, the potency of Prabhupada was manifested through his early disciples, in settings like Surat in India, where people by the thousands I mean, they were hanging out the window, off the roof in the street, it was packed wall to wall, just enough room for the devotees to pass through. But they were so and enchanted and mesmerized by the presence of the devotees,chanting Hare Krishna, you could understand that this was because of Prabhupada. We were just following behind him like, you know, little ducklings follow the mother. Sometimes gentlemen would come to meet Srila Prabhpasda and discuss with him. Once I was struck, when Srila Prabhupada told one gentleman, that the government of India should have a department of Bhagavad-gita, that Bhagavad-gita is the greatest asset of India and it should be preached all over the world. But then he said, "Unfortunately, the government is neglecting." Quite often, he would say that, India's ambassadors go all over the world and beg, "Give me money, give me rice, give me this give me that." And Srila Prabhupada said, "But I am going, not to beg, but to give. I'm giving the knowledge of Bhagavad-gita, and people are appreciating."

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Duration: 24 minutes and 35 seconds
Country: Andorra
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Posted by: lopter001 on Sep 9, 2021

Following Srila Prabhupada _ DVD 205

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