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Following Srila Prabhupada DVD 304

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This was a very bizarre experience. The people were just mobbing. It got to be almost like a frenzy, like a hysteria. They were so excited to have the devotees there. And as we were going down the street, we were knocking over vegetable stalls. So Prabhupada appeared to be feeling ill. We couldn’t tell if he was sleeping or if he was fainting. Then we ended up in some kind of sports stadium, and Prabhupada was in a little room. We closed the gates, these big wooden doors, and then the people just wanted to see Prabhupada but Prabhupada wasn’t well. So the devotees got him in this room and closed the room and wouldn’t let the people come in, and they just got more and more upset and they were banging on these gates trying to get in. I was getting scared – were they going to break down the doors and stampede us, what were they going to do to us, because they were getting a little angry too. It was like that, people just thronged Prabhupada like some rock star or something and wanted to rip him apart, get a piece of him. So I don’t think Prabhupada ever did speak. I don’t even remember how we got Prabhupada out of there. But I do remember that he sent groups of devotees out to have contact with the people. I remember myself and Nara Narayan being sent out as a team, and we went to this little temple and Nara Narayan gave a little talk and we had a little kirtan and the people were satisfied. They wanted to see us too, the white sadhus. It was so exciting for them to see these white sadhus. See, look at Prabhupada, he looks…because at some times he was sitting on this thing with his eyes closed and his head nodding. We didn’t know if he’d had a stroke or if he had fainted from the heat or if he was sleeping, it was just really strange. This was one of the most intimate and relaxing highlights, Prabhupada’s stay in Jaipur in the palace grounds as a guest of the queen, Gayatri-devi. But she was so thankful to have Prabhupada there. The devotees coming in and out of the Govindaji’s temple would parade by Prabhupada’s bungalow throughout the day, and there were so many wonderful devotees in Jaipur. Every one of Prabhupada’s lectures, morning and night, were packed with thousands of people, devotees of the Govindaji temple there. He was appreciated in Jaipur in a way that he had not been appreciated in other cities in India. Almost every citizen came to these speaking engagements. They were already full-fledged Vaisnava devotees. He was very happy in Jaipur. At that time, Prabhupada lived in the grass hut. There was no other place to live in. I remember Prabhupada, one time we were sitting in the grass hut and he just said, “This grass hut is in the mode of goodness, and this is all you need for spiritual life – live in a grass hut and live by the side of the holy river, chant Hare Krishna. But if we do this, people won’t come here. So we have to build the big buildings with concrete and steel and bricks. Those buildings are in the mode of passion. But for preaching, we can build those buildings. But for our own selves, this would be enough.” Before the festival, I had approached Srila Prabhupada on the balcony in Calcutta and said, “Srila Prabhupada, I’ve been trying to understand what you want of us, what your desire is.” I could see that Srila Prabhupada was really listening and taking every word into his heart. And then I said, “Two things seem to please you the most – distributing your books and building the big temple in Mayapur.” And Srila Prabhupada’s eyes opened wide, his face lit up, he smiled and he glanced at me and he said, “Yes, you have understood.” And then he said, “If you build this temple in Mayapur, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur will personally come and take you all back to Godhead.” Bhavananda prabhu said, “Srila Prabhupada, we are sitting in the middle of these rice fields. I’m from New York, Surabhi the architect is from Amsterdam. We’re all from the cities. Jayapataka is from… We’re all from big cities, and we’re sitting in the middle of these rice fields and you’re asking us to build a big temple and a city. How we can do this, Prabhupada?” And he said, “Prabhupada, where will all the money come from?” Bhavananda is always thinking, “Where will the money come from?” He said, “Actually here you have Radha-Madhava.” He said, “Madhava means the husband of the Goddess of Fortune. You simply serve Madhava nicely and everything will come. You don’t have to worry about money.” “But Prabhupada, we don’t know where to start even.” They had the design for the Lotus Building, then where to put it. We were really bewildered, standing in the middle of rice fields. Prabhupada, he didn’t procrastinate as we say. So Prabhupada said, “Come with me.” We had three acres of land at that time, one strip of land from the road. So Prabhupada, he put a clod of earth down and then he just paced so far down, then he put another clod of earth. Then he just turned and he paced the other way, put another clod of earth, paced up the other end. So he put four clods of earth and he said, “Build it here.” That was it. This is Prabhupada establishing the Ananta Sesa in 1972. He invited all of his godbrothers to come. Many godbrothers had already left so there were disciples of godbrothers, his spiritual nephews. So he invited them all to come, and then he spoke to them that “Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur wanted us to all work together. So why don’t we all combine and work together? Now I have temples around the world and I can give you some devotees from foreign countries to help the preaching. We should all work together.” But they didn’t accept. They didn’t really say anything. He had told us to dig a pit, and we dug a pit about 15 feet deep and probably around 6 to 8 feet wide with a bamboo ladder going down inside. He said he was going to set the cornerstone. We had no idea what setting a cornerstone was going to be like. But apparently his friend and godbrother, Puri Maharaj, had come bringing a little solid 24-carat gold Ananta Sesa. He was about an inch-and-a-half high. So Prabhupada was going down into the pit and Ashokamrita was holding the ladder. Then somebody came, “Prabhupada wants you.” “What?” “He wants you to go down into the pit. Prabhupada wants you to go down into the pit.” I saw Prabhupada is walking down the ladder, and I came over and I went down in the pit with Srila Prabhupada. To me it was symbolic enough. I’m in a pit with a ladder and Prabhupada – what more do I want? We gather an accumulation of bricks, and then a bucket comes down with mortar and a trowel. So I didn’t know what to do, and Prabhupada just gestured. “We are building a temple here,” he said like that. So I pick up a brick and I butter it with mortar and I set it down, then I put another one, and I start to set it just very nicely like a chimney or something of that sort. Prabhupada said, “No, no, no, not like that.” And I said, “How?” He said, “Every which way.” When he said every which way, he meant randomly. And I started building and I built this thing and there was a gap in the middle, and then Srila Prabhupada came and placed the Ananta Sesa and said, “Put more.” After I’d pretty well hidden the Deity with bricks, he told me to go up and others came down. So he went down…you see that ladder, bamboo tied together with pieces of string. He goes down and he comes up, and everybody is…his all godbrothers are there, we are all there. And he now sees Brahmananda, Gargamuni, Devananda, Tamal Krishna is there. So everybody was thinking, “Who is going to speak? Who is going to speak?” I remember I was also thinking that way. And then he says, “Malati, you speak.” Everybody was floored. I was floored. So what could I say, and I’m just looking around. Here’s all these learned Vaisnavas, certainly more learned than I’d ever be. I just stood up and spoke about Srila Prabhupada. I remember I was crying a little bit. And then afterwards, I remember Gargamuni came up to me and he said, “That was very nice.” I always appreciated that. I was just reflecting on Prabhupada’s expertness and putting us forward and then utilizing us for the benefit of his mission and knowing each one of our particular ability and our limitations and even using our limitations to the best advantage. Because in this situation, as I mentioned, I was not a pandit. I don’t know Sanskrit verses, I wasn’t fully learned in the Bhagavatam, but I had no hesitation about speaking on the glories of Srila Prabhupada. And it was actually the right thing to do at that time. While we were at Mayapur, one young man named Bob Cohen came to our camp. And we were really surprised because we didn’t get visitors just coming like that. Bob Cohen was very intelligent and sober. He was a Peace Corps worker in India. So he came to meet Srila Prabhupada. He had attended our pandal program at Desha Priya Park in south Calcutta, and he began to ask Srila Prabhupada very intelligent questions and Srila Prabhupada gave very elaborate answers. It became a regular routine that Bob would come and ask questions to Srila Prabhupada and, knowing that there was going to be an important discussion, I would ask Srila Prabhupada, “Should I call the others?” and he would say, “Yes.” My experiences with Prabhupada, of course, occurred in the bhajan kutir where devotees wanted to know if I had any questions, which I certainly did. So I got to sit in there, I think, for several hours a day over probably a four-day period and discuss with Prabhupada my philosophical issues. I didn’t really know a whole lot about what was going on in terms of parampara and how things work. I knew a little, but I just appreciated the qualities of Prabhupada. He made me feel very comfortable. His humor was very disarming. And Prabhupada was on a platform, so I was on the floor. So I’d always be looking at Prabhupada’s feet, and somehow that gave me some blessing. One of the most dramatic moments for me personally is when I realize it’s time for me to leave Mayapur. Because the night before on Gaura Purnima night, Jamuna had come to me with tears in her eyes. And I remember the moon reflecting in her eyes and she had tears and she said, “You are so fortunate. Prabhupada is spending so much time with you.” She said it with such conviction that I was completely overwhelmed, and I realized that I might have to surrender. So I went behind the temple, behind the pandal and just collapsed in the rice paddies and started crying. I said, “I can’t give everything up.” So the next morning Prabhupada called for me again, asked if I had more questions. I said, “Thank you very much for what you’ve done, but I have to leave now. I have to get back to my teaching.” The Peace Corps had no idea where I was or what I did, so I could go back or not go back. And Prabhupada said, “Don’t talk L-E-A-V-E,” he spelled it out, “talk L-I-V-E. Don’t talk leave, talk live.” So I said to Prabhupada, “So you want me to stay longer?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Well, if you tell me to, I will.” And then he said to me, “Good boy,” the same way you would say it to your pet. So at that time, in my heart I felt I had become Prabhupada’s pet, not realizing that I in essence had accepted him as my guru. Though when I think back at it, after that time, I was sold out to Prabhupada. A minor incident, but for me it was very major. And Prabhupada timed it just perfectly well to capture me. One of Srila Prabhupada’s most enduring projects was the Juhu land and Juhu development in what was then a remote suburb of Bombay. It was open marshland and swamps and coconut groves, very few people there in those days. So it was difficult for some of the devotees to understand why Prabhupada wanted this land so much. Most devotees are familiar with all of the squabbles that went on for this land over such a long period, many years, and the fights, litigation that was waged over this land. But Prabhupada was so insistent that we acquire this land, and he was ultimately triumphant. What we were thinking was mostly at that time they were hippies. So they are being converted into good people, so we should help them whatever way we can. We are not rich or anything, but whatever little in the house is there we should give. They used to come for cold water because March-April was so hot. They are not used to this climate, and then we used to give nimbu water and whatever is available in the house we used to give them. Then once he was walking in the garden, Prabhupada. So some new devotees had come in the morning. So he shows our house and tells, “This is Hare Krishna annex. You all have left your mothers and come. Here is a mother for you and anything you want to know, you can ask her and that is the house,” and he pointed to our house. Afterwards we asked the devotees what he was telling. They said, “This is Hare Krishna annex.” My name is Smriti Warrier, and I lived on Hare Krishna Land, B Building, on the ground floor. My parents were Mr. and Mrs. Warrier that helped a lot with the temple, the devotees, and did a lot of seva, and I basically grew up on Hare Krishna Land. I was there before the devotees came. So when they first came, I was 6, 7 years old. Of course, we’d never seen foreigners so much before. So then they would come and we would stare at them. They were like celebrities. We’d just sit there, every move they made we were watching them. Of course, at that time, we used to tease and chant. We would chant, but we would teasingly chant Hare Krishna or say “Haribol.” As time went on, we started to like them. They would be so nice to us, so we would always go up and anything they wanted we would run and get it for them. When they were living on the rooftop, they would bathe up there. I remember we used to see these soapy white lathered heads – Gargamuni, Brahmananda, Madhudvisa. This must be in Acharya’s garden that he’s getting massage because he came out of there and went right into the house. Later on they started a Gurukula, which we attended. That was the only Gurukula we really enjoyed going to, and the three of them did it. It was so much fun. We used to do all kinds of things – little projects, learning slokas, chanting, putting on dances when Prabhupada came. Before even having the title to the land, he had a cornerstone-laying ceremony. Prabhupada was the expert in everything, he was the supreme strategist, and he said that “If we install Deities on the property, no one will take Them down. This is not done in India,” that this would give us further right to the land. So he conducted this cornerstone ceremony. Later when the police did try to close down the Deities, there was a public outcry which forced the situation towards Prabhupada’s favor. But it was another year-and-a-half from this cornerstone-laying ceremony before Prabhupada actually acquired the deed to the land. But this was another maneuver Srila Prabhupada thought was important – to establish our right to the land by installing Deities and having a very elaborate cornerstone-laying ceremony. Prabhupada was teaching us all the time how to do business, how to manage our affairs. We were so innocent, we had no knowledge or experience in these kind of affairs – buying land, getting titles, and what to speak of in India where things are 10 times more difficult than the West. I came after shaving my head and then when I was asked by Brahmananda to go and see Srila Prabhupada. Then when I walked in he said, “Oh, now you look very nice.” First he asked me where I was from. I said, “I’m from Holland.” Then he asked me, “What is the use of decorating dead bodies?” Then I said, “No use,” and he said, “Exactly. Don’t waste your life in decorating dead bodies.” I was an artist, I was a designer, I would make things, beautiful things. I was definitely a decorator, so I understood the hint. So he would say, “Don’t waste your time on making beautiful things for the wrong purpose.” And then immediately he hinted that “Krishna has sent you here to design His temples,” that’s the next thing he said. “And tomorrow we have a ceremony here, it’s called the initiation ceremony, and then you will be initiated.” And then he asked the secretary, he said, “Give him some paper and some pencils so he can start designing, and you can sit over there next to the secretary.” So then he called Shyamasundara and he asked him to give me the photos of the Radha-Gopinath Mandir. So I got 20, 30 different photos, different shots that they had taken, and that is the temple he liked. He wanted that type of temple to be built in Bombay. I knew enough about the movement that that was a great honor, and I could hear the reactions around me that people said, “Krishna! Krishna!” They were making certain sounds that “This is quite unusual,” and I was also told later on that they had no record that Prabhupada ever did that before – a guy walking in and give him initiation the next day. So I could feel yes, there was something that gave me the energy, there was something that allowed me to do this that normally I probably wouldn’t be able to do. That I could feel, what does it mean to be empowered. And when Prabhupada tells you, “You are going to do this,” and then it actually happens, then you believe for the rest of your life that it exists. In the same house, Prabhupada gave me a conch, left-handed conch, and he said, “Karttikeya has been such a great host to us and is well-wisher and so generous to us, and he has given me this conch, which is supposed to bring a lot of wealth, and I want to give it to you.” So he gave me the conch and he said, “I never expected to be able to do all this. I thought maybe we could just have some chanting, we could have a few devotees, but I never…” and he referred to all the temples, all that. Because Prabhupada, when he was saying that “I never expected it,” he was kind of laughing at himself. He was saying, “Hey, I went after a little fish and I caught such a huge fish, I don’t know what happened.” So I said, “Do you remember, Prabhupada, the story of Mullah Nasiruddin where Mullah Nasiruddin is sitting by a lake and putting some yogurt in the lake. And people say, ‘What are you doing?’ He says, ‘I am trying to see if the whole lake will catch to become yogurt.’ They say, ‘How could that be possible?’ He said, ‘Yes, it’s not possible, but what if?’” And we both laughed and laughed, “What if? What if?” I said, “Yours was the same thing. You just ‘what if’ and it caught on,” and he says, “Yeah,” and we just laughed around that. It was a very joyous time.

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Duration: 23 minutes and 56 seconds
Country: Andorra
Language: English
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Posted by: lopter001 on Sep 9, 2021

Following Srila Prabhupada DVD 304

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