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Following Srila Prabhupada _ DVD 107

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It was July of 1969 when I first joined the temple. Prabhupada was there that day, and I had just come out of a downward slide in hippie life and I was feeling such relief and such happiness to be in a safe and transcendental environment. And Prabhupada, after he finished his prasadam, he got up to leave the room and a whole pathway was formed so Prabhupada could walk and we all paid our obeisances. And I watched out of the corner of my eye Prabhupada's feet coming toward me, and then his feet stopped right where my head was and I just almost lost my breath. And I looked up to see what was going on and Prabhupada turned to Tamal and he said, "So when will she be initiated?" and Tamal said, "Oh, very soon, Srila Prabhupada." So Prabhupada went out of the room, out of the exit and around the side of the temple. He was getting ready to leave and I was standing on the steps and I must have had a smile past my ears. I was so happy that Prabhupada had acknowledged me and blessed me. Prabhupada was standing on the top step and I was standing on the bottom step and I looked up to Srila Prabhupada - his golden head and his beautiful golden skin and there was a complete blue sky kind of a canopy behind his head - and he smiled at me and he said, "So you are happy now?" And I said, "Oh yes, Srila Prabhupada, I'm so happy." He said, "Very good." We had eight sankirtan parties going out every day. We would come back and then at night go out again. We would stay out till twelve o'clock, one o'clock every night. The whole spirit behind this, I have to say, was Vishnujan. This person could chant Hare Krishna on a drum all day long. He must have been a divine personality because I don't see how a human could do that. People were anxious to go on sankirtan, and it was such a wonderful sight to see. People would watch us for hours and hours and hours. It was so attractive. And then we used the conch shells to hold the money, and the deal was you'd give a Back to Godhead with a pack of incense for a buck. In those days, Prabhupada had me order Back to Godhead, and we would sit down once a month and he would give me the order. It came out to about 250 000 a month at that time. And he would say, "How much New York?" I said, "Well, Prabhupada, you said 30 000." He says, "Make it 40." He would put adjustments. We were taking the most, L.A. We were taki ng 60 000 to 70 000 a month, and there was no problem in distributing them. By the end of the month, we were all out. That's how big sankirtan was. I used to distribute books always from the beginning of my good fortune meeting Srila Prabhupada. I distributed 108 Back to Godheads in Los Angeles. Usually I went to Venice Beach. And I came in. Mukunda Maharaja I remember was there and there were sannyasis and so many Godbrothers and Godsisters were there and I said, "Srila Prabhupada," "I just distributed 108 Back to Godheads" "in the hot sun! May I go to India?" Prabhupada said, "You are Narada Muni, you can go wherever you like." Well I was happy because I was free to go wherever I wanted to go. So this initiation took place on the property of John Lennon, which is known as Tittenhurst Park, about 25 miles outside of London. There were supposed to be four of us taking initiation that particular time. And to my right there was this English fellow called Jimmy Doody. He was a businessman. He was quite wealthy and he had this really pretty girlfriend, and he hadn't actually shaved up. When Prabhupada was just about to start putting the colors for the fire yajna, Jimmy Doody's girlfriend appeared at a window just to the right of Prabhupada. She didn't want to participate, but she wanted to catch Jimmy Doody's attention. Finally he looks up and sees her. So he stands up, goes over to Prabhupada and whispers in Prabhupada's ear and he says, "Excuse me, Prabhupada, I just have to step outside a moment. Is that all right?" And Prabhupada just casually nodded his head, and didn't say anything, and that was the last we saw of Jimmy Doody. So when I got the name Dhananjaya, Prabhupada explained... Obviously, this means, 'the winner of wealth'. He said that "Money is flying in all directions", and he started making some gestures with his hands. And he told me, "In this life, you'll have no difficulty with money". This is the momentous occasion of the installation of Sri Sri Radha-London-isvara on December 14th, 1969, on the occasion of Odana Sasthi. The night before this event, Srila Prabhupada had us put two candles on the altar where the Deities would stand and have a long kirtan to prepare for greeting Them. This was all photographed by the BBC who brought their cameras. And there was great advertising. There was standing room only and people actually standing outside the temple looking in the window. The days leading up to this were feverish preparation. The altar was put together at the very, very last moment, much by Shyamasundar's great and hard work. Shyamasundar worked so hard on this event that Srila Prabhupada asked for a plaque to be installed at the front of the temple honoring Shyamasundar for all the work that he had done in the preparation of making this a habitable place for the Lord. We were initiated as a grihastha family: my father, my mother and two other brothers. This was on the 14th of December, 1969. Here we see the start of initiation ceremony. We were nine, ten at the time, and initiation had a great significance for my parents because they were born in India; they had been raised in a family where initiation was considered important. We were surrounded by lots of devotee well-wishers and people who were really very, very pleased that we were being initiated and equally we felt that wonderful beginnings of reciprocation which you'd feel when you do become initiated; and how that grew in subsequent years, and how we came to relish the wonderful pastimes which Srila Prabhupada told us and the stories that he told us from various parts of the Vedic literature. One of the highpoints of that installation of the Radha-Krishna Deities at the time, was also my personal initiation. If I remember, I was probably let's say the third or fourth brahmachari to be initiated by him. But initiation was to me very, very personal because I was at a very young age - 16 and a half, 17. It was Srila Prabhupada after meeting him that I became attracted to Krishna consciousness, because before then I hadn't really had any interest in spiritual life apart from doing a little meditation under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi but that was when I was at college. And for some reason Prabhupada came to me like a father figure more than as a spiritual teacher. He could see that I was at a very, very young age, he could see I was very vulnerable, so he didn't really preach that much to me about philosophy or about Krishna or whatever. It was much more of a son-father relationship. And he was more concerned about my personal well-being: my health, my age. That's how I was drawn to him. I thought, "This is the man I've been looking for all my life." And it was through his guidance and support that I've managed to carry on what I'm doing now. Even now at my age - 55, 56 - the principles that he taught me of humility, forgiveness, kindness, caring, are still there in my everyday existence. I don't think if I'd met Srila Prabhupada when I was 16 and a half, 17 that I would have probably survived physically beyond 19, 20 or 21 years of age, because that the way things were in those days. You lived dangerously doing whatever you were doing and you died young. And Prabhupada came and saved me from that sort of existence. Srila Prabhupada's saying not to cross over the Krishna bead. There's 108 beads plus one Krishna bead. So we chant on the gopi beads, and just showing my father not to cross over the Krishna bead but to go in opposite directions. This is Jai Hari also getting initiated. After many visits at the Conway Hall lectures, and at Srila Prabhupada's flat in Baker Street, and Ascot, John Lennon's estate, finally my father and mother are initiated in Bury Place. This particular film was taken by Gurudas Prabhu. We were initiated, both my brothers, at the same time on this occasion. In addition, my father and mother had second initiation given to them. About six other devotees, including Dhananjaya Prabhu, were initiated for their second initiation. It's a week after Sri Sri Radha- London-isvara were installed. What was striking about that time in Bury Place, with Srila Prabhupada being there, was that it was like a family. The brahmacharis were all like my brothers. The brahmacharinis were like my sisters. The elders, like Yamuna, Malati were like my mothers. For me, it was like being in my real home. I finally thought to myself, "This is what I've been looking for for the last 16 years." "This is home." It felt like home, because nobody patronized you or told you off for doing something that you shouldn't do. Everybody supported each other. It was very, very much like a family. In due course of time that family got bigger as the years went by. And I think that's probably where it became perhaps sometimes a bit impersonal, whereby younger devotees that joined didn't have the experience of association of senior devotees to nurture them. And this is where I was very, very lucky, is because Prabhupada nurtured me. He knew the kind of qualities I had: whether I was restless, whether I had doubts, whether I was scared, whether I had issues emotionally. And without even me saying anything verbally to him, he knew it and he would say something. "So you have a problem with something?" or "Are you ok?" And I would always think to myself, "Well how did he know this," "that I had an issue with something?" But he knew it, just by looking into my eyes. He had that ability to just look into people's eyes and know exactly what they were thinking or what they wanted to do. Travel was one of them that I wanted to do, so he encouraged me to travel, whether it was to Paris, to Amsterdam, to Los Angeles, wherever. There was never, oh you can't do this, or you're too young for this, or this isn't allowed. He gave me the encouragement and inspiration to just do it and get it out of my system. And perhaps you made a mistake; that's neither here nor there. The fact is that it's the experience of doing it. So if you have made a mistake... It's like Prabhupada always said, "You can make one mistake," "but never make the same mistake twice." So in that respect, he was forgiving and he knew that no one was perfect, and mistakes can be made very, very easily. The day of that initiation was like amazing, absolutely amazing. It was just so purifying and awe-inspiring. I'll never forget that day; changed my life completely. Shyamasundar Prabhu had the wonderful vision of bringing the California redwood from America to build this Bury Place temple. Srila Prabhupada did comment that once we moved to Soho Street we were to keep that wood and we did keep it at Chaitanya College. And later on I had the privilege of working with Mayesvara Prabhu to build the Rath cart which we still have today - the same Rath cart that has that California redwood. The wood was so solid and it had a transcendental aroma. I remember when we were cutting it up and building the pieces for the Rath cart, it was a transcendental experience just working with that wood. Prabhupada waited for months. He pushed me so hard to finish this temple. I mean this temple was a work of art that we put our hearts into. Because we were located in the center of downtown London, we wanted a very, very nice place where people could come; cosmopolitan people could come. Londoners could walk in and feel at home - not a run down storefront but a proper temple. There were only two or three of us doing the work. We spent months building this temple room out of redwood that I brought from California and wood that we bought in England. It was a massive renovation. We tore out one floor above and made it a two-story high room. And we had to soundproof the entire premises because we were right in the middle of a residential district. So everything was double-walled. Prabhupada was very patient. But finally after sitting in John Lennon's place and in various apartments for month after month - he arrived I think in September - finally he gave us a deadline; that we had to have the temple opening by December. We were so busy. There were so few of us and we had so many activities to perform that we didn't plan ahead very well. We didn't even know where we were going to get Deities but we knew Krishna would take care of it somehow. This was the kind of spirit that prevailed in those days; just work as hard as you can to spread Krishna consciousness and things will happen - the magic will happen. Srila Prabhupada is very pleased. This was his first Indian disciple that he'd made in London. Of course not many Indian disciples came forward in those times. He wrote about 50 letters to my father about what was going on in the movement. My father felt Srila Prabhupada confided in him a lot. The Deities appeared, just as if by magic, only days before the installation was to take place. After so much preparation, months of building this temple and no Deities. We didn't give a thought. Where are these going to come from? So Krishna had to appear. He had to. He promises. But anyway, there They are and They are still the most beautiful Deities. They're in the Soho temple now, in downtown. The Soho temple in London still maintains the spirit of Bury Place. It's right in the heart, just off of Oxford Street. Still attracts the same kind of young people, curious young people along with men in suits and women in nice clothes. It's not just a hippy center. That was the purpose of being in the center of London with a nice place. It attracted a higher class of people. But Prabhupada was very anxious to get moved in. When we left John Lennon's place, the temple quarters were still not finished, so we took a temporary apartment on Baker Street for Srila Prabhupada, just near Regents Park. That's where he saw the so-called moon landing on television. We worked day and night at Bury Place to finish by Prabhupada's deadline. When Prabhupada set a deadline, that was it. There was no budging. He was very lenient up until deadline time, and then it had to be finished. We worked right up until the last moment to build the altar. In fact the altar was not very well made because it was so hurried. Much more time was spent on the vyasasan and other features of the temple. George Harrison donated the marble for the altar. So we had a very nice slab of marble that was selected by David Wynne, who was the sculptor laureate of England. No canopy was made so we had to very quickly construct a canopy. And you probably have read the story how that collapsed during the installation ceremony. Prabhupada became like Nrsimhadev, he was so angry. He held the canopy up from collapsing on the Deities. I'd gone upstairs. I'd collapsed myself - so exhausted from the work. Afterwards I found out about it, I felt very bad. I came into Prabhupada's room to apologize for such a sloppy construction job - tears in my eyes. And Prabhupada laughed and he said "Never mind," "They did not want a canopy over Their heads." He was so merciful, Prabhupada. So glorious was this Bury Place Temple. The Deities are given the name Sri Sri Radha-London-isvara, or the isvaras, the Grand Supreme Lord of the whole of London. Such a poignant moment witnessing Srila Prabhupada leaving the Bury Place front door on his way to Boston on December 21, 1969. All the devotees went to the airport to see Srila Prabhupada off, save myself who stayed back at the temple. At the moment of Prabhupada's departure just before he left, he walked into the temple room to say goodbye to the Deities. He came in and paid obeisances, full out flat dandavats on the blue carpet, stayed on the ground for a long time, and when he got up I noted that he had tears in his eyes. And he looked over at me and very matter of factly said, "If you just" "do as I have instructed -" "what I have taught you so far - you can go back to Godhead." "Do it. Just do it." And at that point I, of course, teared up and folded my hands and simply watched Srila Prabhupada as he turned and walked away out the front door. This is a thrilling film for me to see the airport, seeing as I didn't see it personally but now I'm seeing it through the footage. Seeing all the devotees hanging onto every moment of Prabhupada's last few minutes with them. I'm always caught at the at the wonder of watching baby Saraswati who was only about 13 months old at this point but so spontaneously involved in the chanting of Hare Krishna and the worship of Prabhupada: sometimes following him very, very shyly behind her mother's sari and sometimes very boldly out front. But she was so present during the time that she spent with Srila Prabhupada. She was just a little baby body but very consciously present. So devotees who experienced these going and comings, either an arrival or departure, were always wondering if they would ever see Srila Prabhupada again. And trying to capture the moment where he carried his bag and with his servants, headed towards the departure gate and got on a plane and left. Thank you Prabhupada, thank you.

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Duration: 23 minutes and 4 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Posted by: lopter001 on Jun 7, 2021

Following Srila Prabhupada _ DVD 107

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