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Following Srila Prabhupada _ DVD 201

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That scene is one of the harinam we had daily going down Tottenhamon Court Road, and actually, harinam was the life of the temple in Bury Place. It was a very wonderful temple, a very tight family. Actually, the father and mother were Gurudas and Jamuna, and they were taking care of us in a very personal way. These are the devotees arriving from a concert tour in Germany, and a group of devotees headed by Mukunda and Tamal went over there. And it looks like they're coming back to London for the Rathayatra. After our Hare Krishna Mantra record was released in Europe, it became very popular to the point where we had an agent who was booking us concert tours all over Europe, especially England, but in other countries too. And we became so famous that we would put on these concerts with 1000s of people in the audience who would pay to come and chat Hare Krishna, and see this famous group called Radha Krishna Temple, and they would line up for autographs after the concerts. We used to go out to George's house in Esher, just the six of us, for kirtan with George and his wife and sometimes his friends would come over. On one occasion, George says, you know, we ouhgt to make a record. One thing led to the other and very quickly, George called us into the studio and we did this Hare Krishna mantra record. And I should also mention that Mukunda and Gurudas and I always knew that we would be doing this. So from the time we got to London, we began acquiring instruments and practicing. We were pretty practiced group so that by the time George discovered us, we already knew how to do this stuff pretty well. Jamuna with her voice and Mukunda he was the lead musician. He had everything orchestrated. He played the harmonium, the drums whatever was required. By acquired an esraj, which is an Indian instrument, bowed instrument that sits in the lap. You get that eerie violin type sound. So we were already kind of a group. Before we met George, we knew that when we met George that we must have some kind of a musical relationship. So we were already pretty well polished. And so when we went into the recording studio to do this record, we've, we did it in about an hour. The record was in the can in an our Paul McCartney was there and he did a lot of the mixing in the control booth. This was an exceptionally ecstatic Rathayatra. This is the first real formal Rathayatra. We had in London. We had one in 1969 where I built a cart. There were only six original devotees plus a few English devotees and the cart collapsed 100 feet after it got started and Marble Arch caused one of the largest traffic jams in London history. And there was no one around to record that. This is really the first major ratha Yatra in England 1970. And there were so many devotees there from all over Europe they came, and from America, even one of the most ecstatic, Rathayatras in London ever. And harinam, we went, I believe, three times on harinam – in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening until night to Piccadilly Circus. When we were coming, it was to take a little prasadam or to see the aratik and to read Bhagavad-gita and whatever scriptures we have. So we were fully absorbed. So it was really our meditation, this harinam. We used to meditate on hearing and chanting the Holy Name, trying not to be distracted from all the crowd and all the shop windows, and actually we got so absorbed that everybody was feeling full of bliss and joy. When we first joined and Prabhupada saw us dancing with our nylon bright pink and blue saris, he was very kind. He said, “These young girls, they are just flowers blowing in the wind.” At that time I was maintained. My family was selling hippie bells and beads on Oxford Street and the devotees used to pass by the harinam that was quite an interesting harinam sometimes. There used to be one devotee called Ishan he was French Canadian. He used to play trumpet, and he used to wear a dhoti. It was a leopard skin pattern dhoti it wasn't leopard skin, but you know, there were quite a funny crowd and I used to go down in Oxford street chanting and sometimes I you know, I joined on once or twice. So finally then the record came out the Hari Krishna record. And that one I used to play all day long at my little apartment, and then we heard well, the Guru's coming, Prabhupada didn't disappoint us, he arrived on time. And then I attended the first lecture in Conway Hall. Actually, I didn't understand anything that Prabhupada was saying, really, I mean, see a little words that could get now and again, but I just sat there, you know, just drinking the vibration and the whole Divine Presence of his, of his being and so by the time the interval came in, and I went to speak with the devotees and said, "Okay, when I can join?" It just enough to see Prabhupada one time. By the time he opened his mouth, and by the time he closed, his mouth was enough for me. And around a week later, I moved into Tittenhurst Park. The devotees were living on John Lennon's estate at that time. And so I arrived there, I got out of the van. And the first person I saw was Malati, and she said, "Prabhupada is in the temple room, quick quick! Prabhupada is in the temple room." So I run down this path through the trees into the temple room. And I entered into the doorway, and I could see Srila Prabhupada and he was just blessing a newborn baby, I think it was the baby of Ishan. Ishan was holding out the baby to Prabhupada, and Prabhupada placed his hand on the baby's head. Then Srila Prabhupad got down from the vyasasana, and he walked towards the doorway. I was just getting up from paying my obaisances, and Malati immediately said, "Prabhupada, these people are coming to Krishna consciousness." I just looked up at Prabhupada, and Prabhupada looked down at me and he said, "Hare Krishna!" and a big, big smile on his face. It was like at that time everything just went spinning. It seemed that I had been traveling through so many universes and so many lifetimes just to come to that point, to see my spiritual master and spiritual father and pure devotee of the Lord stood before me just looking at me in this first meeting. It was something really, really strong. So then one week later I got initiated, and it was during that initiation ceremony actually that I heard the four rules and regulations from the mouth of Srila Prabhupada himself for the first time. But that was OK with me because I just was magnetized and fixed on Prabhupada, “Yes, Prabhupada.” Anything Prabhupada said was OK, so no problem. Part of satisfaction, of course, of a Rathayatra like this in those early days was just the mere miracle of having pulled it off. We really were just a handful of young people. There was also a certain sense of fulfilling of a mission, a prophecy, and that Srila Prabhupada had told us that this was Lord Chaitanya’s prediction. And the sense that we were a part of the fulfillment of that prediction was a very exciting thing, especially back in these days when Rathayatra was not an established annual event in every major city. This was a first. This was a very, very big accomplishment. Our sankirtan for Lord Jagannatha and for the Rathayatra Festival was, as you can see, completely ecstatic. Jagannatha was the center of our lives. The Lord Jagannatha came to us before Radha-Londonisvara came to us via Shyamasundara. Shyamasundara carved these beautiful deities and They, like in San Francisco, were the center of all the devotees’ lives. During prasadam, we used to even speak about Lord Jagannatha and Lord Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balarama’s beauty, and we would race up from prasadam just to sit at Their feet and sing jagannathah svami nayana-patha-gami bhavatu me. So by the time this event came, you can see how ecstatic the devotees are chanting. In some cases, it was the first time that devotees from all these three European countries were together in one place. London Rathayatra became so famous as the long walking yatra. Later Srila Prabhupada walked in great ecstasy, or danced in great ecstasy throughout the whole event. Srila Prabhupada commented about this Rathayatra. He said, “Make the deities so beautiful that everyone will be attracted to Them. Make it very opulent.” So that was the direction that we were heading was to try to make the deities visible for those that were witnessing Them for the first time, the passersby, and to increase the love of the devotees already familiar with the Lord. How nice to see people that would never have had access to Lord Jagannatha. So this was a real growth period in London. Just as there was a burgeoning of youth interested in spiritual life and breaking out of the mold of the ‘50s and ‘60s in the United States, this happened in London at the same time. So mostly through the Holy Name, the sankirtan, we attracted people. Sometimes it was prasadam, but mostly it was through sankirtan. Look at them, the crowds, just immense. And this is only after being in England for two years. The first year, 1968, we were the handful, ’69 it was increasing, and this is by ’70, not even a full two years. Of course, Srila Prabhupada’s arrival in 1969 was the catalyst. We were the seeds being planted, and he was the blossoming creeper of Lord Chaitanya’s love. And when he came, everything ignited like a firestorm! It was like a firestorm actually, with the thunder and the voracity and the speed of a firestorm. I remember he sent us several letters guiding us on Rathayatra, saying things like “I wish that I was there.” We knew we couldn’t expect him to be there, but he was with us. Don’t forget, this was the height of Krishna awareness in London. Everyone knew us. We were famous. The flashing billboards in the center of London, Leicester Square, everyone knew about the temple. We were part of the broad band culture of London at that time, 1970. George Harrison was our friend. John Lennon was our friend. All the famous people of England were aware of us. We were appearing in concerts. We were on the street every day, Oxford Street, and you can see by this time many people were curious to see, “What is this Hare Krishna phenomenon?” And more and more Indian people had joined us. At first they were very leery of what we were doing and they stayed away, they shied away. We had several core Indian families who were very, very helpful and very solid. Gradually the majority of Indian people in London began to understand that this was the real thing, that this was Vaisnavism. Nicely dressed gentleman. Prabhupada always used to say that only two places in the world a gentleman can live – India and England. He liked the higher level of culture in England. The bobbies everywhere. They were helping. They were helping move the deities. Afterwards they all said, the bobbies all said that was one of the most delightful public displays they’ve ever seen. Everyone was perfectly mannered. They got a little taste of the ecstasy themselves. All of the devotees were so enlivened in England in those days. It was such an ecstatic experience all the time. Things were humming. They had a play, “Civil Disobedience.” Not a great theme. We were children. We didn’t know much about tact and diplomacy, politics. We did this for Prabhupada because we knew he would be happy. Dhananjaya playing the role of Chand Kazi’s men and Tribhuvanath was playing a styrofoam mrdanga, and we’re enacting the scene here where Chand Kazi and his henchmen are attacking Lord Chaitanya’s sankirtan party. The origins of the street chanting were 500 odd years ago in West Bengal when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the most recent incarnation of Krishna, brought the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra into public. Here you see yours truly playing the role of Lord Chaitanya, albeit with contemporary microphone, and this was the enactment of a story that took place 500 years ago in India. Here we see Gurudas, one of the first six disciples of Srila Prabhupada to come to London to open a temple, leading the chanting. I suspect this is toward the end of the play where Lord Chaitanya has convinced the Kazi to allow the chanting to go on. The next day all the newspapers in London, all the front pages were filled with descriptions of the 1970 Rathayatra. They had never seen anything like this in London before. Normally when this many people would gather in public for a parade, it would be some protest march. This was a celebration. We sent clippings from the newspapers that covered this Rathayatra to Prabhupada, and he showed them to everyone. He said, “You see, my devotees have conquered London.” Srila Prabhupada called San Francisco “New Jagannatha Puri.” So devotees would come from all over the world to attend the Rathayatra because Srila Prabhupada was there in attendance. There were no Rathayatras in Australia or Tokyo or Los Angeles, New York. So people would come from all over the world, and so it was a great occasion for the devotees to come together and celebrate that festival with Srila Prabhupada. This is in front of the 518 Frederick Street. This is right on the sidewalk in front of Frederick Street. Devotees painting the canopy and upholstering the asanas. This was the biggest festival that was ever held in ISKCON in the early days, 1970 Rathayatra. It was like this monster. Out of this little storefront, we created this huge publicity campaign and we mobilized the whole city of San Francisco. All of this happened, all these three huge ratha carts, all generated out of this little teeny San Francisco center. You really couldn’t call it a temple, it was just a storefront. It was teeny. Imagine the energy, and there was no consideration of yourself. You just never thought about yourself, “Oh, I’m tired,” “Oh, I’m wet,” “Oh, I’m cold.” You just got on with it. You couldn’t disappoint Prabhupada. At the time I was a new devotee, had been a devotee about four months. Of course, I had been hearing Prabhupada’s lectures and reading his books and listening to some of the recordings, and there was a lot of anticipation about Rathayatra in general. But the airport, when we went to the airport to greet him, there were so many devotees there and we were having this huge kirtan waiting for Prabhupada to come. I had joined in ’69 at 518 Frederick Street, but I couldn’t stay because I was a Canadian. So I went back up to Canada and moved into the temple in Vancouver, and I stayed there for six months. We came down for Rathayatra, and by that time I was really psyched up. You’re meeting the spiritual master of the universe, you’ve been wandering throughout the universe for millions of lifetimes, now with this meeting your karma, everything is going to be relieved. So I was quite excited. We were waiting for the plane to come in, and Prabhupada was coming off the plane and he was walking up. It seemed like to me he was by himself. Maybe there were some devotees in the background, but the image I have is Prabhupada was walking up this plank and he had this very innocent expression. I had never really seen a person exemplify that kind of humility before because he was walking up and he had this expression as if to turn around and see who everyone had come to meet. But I got all the temple presidents to spend $100 each and buy these white gardenias, those big beautiful highly scented gardenias. Each president stepped forward and gave him a huge white gardenia garland, just covered with gardenias. His eyes were very penetrating, something about his eyes. It seems like Krishna bhakti comes from his eyes or something, but just for a second feeling his glance and just feeling the depth of that glance. And the intensity of emotion that everyone felt, we were just caught up. Everyone around me and myself, tears were just coming from our eyes and just seeing a person who had characteristics that I had never experienced before and feeling the intensity of the kirtan, it was very moving to this day. We used to be able to do that – go into an airport and just rock it down. Everything was for Prabhupada. We didn’t know anything else, we didn’t know anyone else. We were like clean slates. He taught us everything. We had no outside influence. Look at that. He’s dancing right in the airport. Why? Because he got a wonderful welcome and the devotees were so enthusiastic. So you reciprocated, and the more you could do for him the more he would reciprocate in kind. That’s the lot. Three carts are being built in that lot. This is where Srila Prabhupada came to visit the Rathayatra cart, and he amazed all the devotees. He just laid out flat on the dirt and paid his obeisances to the Rathayatra cart and he said, “The ratha is as good as the deity.” You can see, Jayananda and Nara Narayan are there.

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Duration: 23 minutes and 47 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Posted by: lopter001 on Sep 9, 2021

Following Srila Prabhupada _ DVD 201

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