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Following Srila Prabhupada _ DVD 101

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The ashrama was open only on the weekends. So we would come out friday night, driving Swamiji and Guruji and our son, and then on sunday night come back. Early on I was given the name 'Mother of the Ashrama'. So if I were 'Mother of the Ashrama' though I was only in my thirties, then he had to be the 'Grandfather of the Ashrama'. My memories of him were mostly of him smiling and laughing, because when he was with Shri Ramananda, then dr Mishra, they carried on in hindi, and they usually ended up in total laughter. Guruji after the program of vedantic readings and chanting... Guruji would turn over the latter part of the evening to Swamiji. And he would try to caution him, "Swamiji, only fifteen minutes remaining," "at most twenty minutes, Swamiji." And Swamiji would look at him very sincerely and say, "I know, I know, people need rest, it is late..." "I will do a little bit... chanting." But it was to no avail, because when Swamiji went into that divine... chanting... the bhakti chanting... he lost all sense of time and space, every time he chanted. And it was seldom that it was less than... an hour. And Guruji knew it. He would... It was his joke with Swami Bhaktivedanta. He was serious only when he was chanting or talking about Krisna-counsiousness. But when he was relating to people, and certainly relating to Guruji, his face would light up, he had a radiance, because he was happy. When Swamiji was happy, it showed. He... I guess, because he... did love a travelling on his own... had become self-sufficient in the kitchen. And he also loved, absolutely loved to make meals for Guruji. And he would make a lot of food. So we knew, when Swamiji was cooking, that he could serve about twenty people, although he was cooking mainly for Guruji. And... we would gather around as he was cooking, we wanted to learn from him what he was doing, so we would ask him questions, and he wouldn't answer. Because he was totally absorbed in his moment to moment activity. And although we were in a happy mood, because we were anticipating in a lovely meal, and beeng with the two of them, he just remained serious, until the last morsel was being finished. And he was just... just one-pointed in everything he did. It was felt about that he was a deeply serious man. Serious about life... He never talked about his past, his personal life. I did ask him once or twice, question here and there, and he waved it away, saying 'Not important... That's not important.' And then I began to feel, it wasn't important. What was important was what he was doing now. It was only once when he touched me so much. I asked, if... if I could hug him... He said something like 'why not?' Cause nobody touched him usually. Guruji did. He would put his arm around him. But this was after I knew him for a while. But it was the indian way of hugging. You know... somehow they managed to hug you and being miles apart... in the hug. But at the same time, although the bodies were kept apart, it's only really the shoulders that's come together... it's indian style... But... I felt... Swamiji's love. He was a tender man... He was a caring man... and an innocent man. And in the company of innocency he relaxed completely, and so I was always relaxed with Swami Bhaktivedanta. That's when I decided I want to get into film and when I came back to America I took two courses at Columbia, and then I was lucky enough to get a job with Leacock-Pennebaker. Who were the preeminent cinemavariete documentarians and there I learned to edit, to take sound, and this film that we're talking about was my first venture as a cameraman. This was entirely on our own and we selected this, because this was a movement that was different. I also... was touched by... in a sense, their naivite. One of the people I remember asking him, how he felt, said: "Oh, this is the most wonderful thing," "I am so moved, I want to devote my entire life to this." I said: "How long have you been involved?" He said: "Since yesterday." We went to the storefront "Matchless gifts", and I've always been so taken with that sign, and I can still remember it. It was beautifully done. It was so artistic. Saying matchless gifts, you know, wonderful colors, and swirls and everything. So we entered, it was a... quite a simple room, and they were eating on the floor. And I don't remember any women being among that first group. My feeling about the Swami... is... that... I think he was in some kind of a state and I think that perhaps... he passed something to us in that interview. But at the same time I was having a very good time. I actually thought we were onto something big. You know I have a journalist instinct but I also have a... I... I... it sounds terrible... a spiritual instinct. You know, after all this was a very small little room. And... and the Swami was interviewed by us in the back. In a smaller room with a curtain over it. So that's had... to me, that's where it started. Now, maybe it started before in some place else, but... amazing, we were there. And for me that's very significant. Hayagriva first ran into Prabhupada on the street at Bowery and Prabhupada invited him to come and attend his class that he was holding at 26th Second Avenue. So he came back to the apartment and told me, so the next night we both went to hear Prabhupada at 26th Second Avenue. I was very attracted to Prabhupada right from the start. His... his message rang a bell. and... his voice when he put the sanskrit - it was it was just like music to me. anyway, it... I very quickly became Prabhupada's assistant. and we would... cook together for the... all the people that would come to share Prabhupada's lunch. Everything was put on Prabhupada's plate. And then from Prabhupada's plate, he would distribute chapatis and rice and dhal - everything. to 10-15 people that gathered there. And it was always enough with everyone was always full. We cooked the prasadam in his apartment kitchen, and then we've served it in his... in his bedroom. We all sat around in a circle on the floor. He had no furniture. The thing that'd attracted me most to Prabhupada was his certainty. He didn't say "Maybe this is the truth" or "My opinion is..." He wasn't like the professors I knew at Columbia. He spoke with finality. "Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita such and such..." "this is the way it is." And he was sure. I was in a very desparate state... I was brought up middle class, Brooklyn jewish, TV-dinner... kind of background... kind of pampered, I guess. And here I was... out on the streets, in a dangerous spot of town. With no money, and... affected by LSD and my own unbalanced mind. and... so I came to Prabhupada. to ask him... rather than asking him... you know, how can I somehow become more stable, or some normal approach to my problem. I was just thinking of one thing. I asked "Swamiji", I told him, "I work hard all day long..." "I'm... I'm like you, I'm also spreading the word" "You know, I'm also speaking to the people." And I thought I was preaching somethin. And Srila Prabhupada just looked at me, shoke his head and he spoke to me very strongly. And he said: "Simply join us, we will solve all your problems." Of course in hindsight we understand the depth of what Srila Prabhupada was talking about. No more birth, no more death, no more desease, no more old age... At that point he handed me a cloth. I thought it was a dhoti. And I rejected it. I... started stepping backwards, So I... as I was kind of walking backwards towards the door, I... told him, that not quite ready in a very halting manner. And as I was going out the door... Srila Prabhupada has his hand on the doorframe and And I distinctly remember he had a tear coming out of his eyes. And he said "Please, come back." Just like that... And... well I did come back, but I didn't come back the way he wanted me to. Right at that moment I walked out and... and I almost got killed by some thugs right around the corner and it was the instant reaction... I remember his face. I don't remember his body... it's interesting, I remember his face. We did get these wonderful closeups of his face. That's where his power... his focus... and his calm presence were all gathered - in his face. But... here... it was the beginning for us for meeting many spiritual masters. And it was also the beginning of the 'Hare Krishna' movement, and it was also the beginning of a trend that grew towards the appreciation of eastern religions in America. You know we had a big tape recorder that weight fifty pounds I was in charge of that. Brahmananda would bring it down from Prabhupada's closet every night. So my job was to set up the tape for Prabhupada's lecture. I mean Prabhupada was very insistant in having his lectures tape-recordered. I mean so much so, that when the tape went out he would stop, and wait for me to rethread the tape with a new one. In those days we didn't have money and those tapes worked I remember it were like 3-4 dollars... for a Scotch. Scotch tapes... So Prabhupada wanted everything tape-recorded, we didn't think it was important in those days. But now we do... They're important for preaching. As usual I just breezed in to Srila Prabhupada's apartment and I said "Swamiji, I'd like to do something to help." As if I were God's gift to the world, or to his mission. But immediatly, it's almost as if that's what he was waiting for and immediatly Srila Prabhupada picked up this huge tray of prasadam and handed me this whole tray of prasadam and said, "You could be the one, who distributes the prasadam to the devotees." It was his exact words. So I was... ok, I had my... not only a service, but a whole position now. I was the prasadam-distributer. But unfortunatelly I was so spaced out, that I was standing on the top of the stairs outside of Prabhupada's apartment, to go down to the storefront, and I was just thinking, how am I gonna negotiate the stairs and not drop the tray and some hippi devotees, whoever they were, they grabbed it from me, They didn't have time to wait for the space-gazed, to decide how he's gonna walk down the stairs, so I lost my service but I did continue my service of taking prasadam In the beginning there was only one or two who're thinking "How to give Prabhupada something?" "Instead of just taking from him." 'Cause I had asked Prabhupada, I said "Swamiji, you know, we're here with you and..." "what do we supposed to do?" "You know, we come here, we take Krishna-prasadam, than we all go away, but..." "what do we supposed to do for you?" "What're we here for?" "I want something definite." And Prabhupada said: "The duty of a disciple..." "is to assist the spiritual master in his work." It's all he said. So then I thought "work"? You know later on I pondered on this subject "work", and I said "Prabhupada doesn't work." What does he do? You know... He doesn't... have a job. He's a religious teacher. So then occured to me 'Cause one thing he does do every day, and that's translate books. And he's using this typewriter. Prabhupada wasn't a typist, you know, he used just his index fingers. I mean that's how he was typing his books. So I was walking one day, 'Cause there was four or five shops, that we carried 'Back to Godhead'. And I've always stopped at the shops, if there's selling. So on my way I passed this Grundig shop. And something in the window cought my eye. It was like a miniature tape-recorder. And it said: dictaphone. I said, "What the hell is a dictaphone?" So I went inside. And I went up to the man, I said "What's that dictaphone?" He said "Well, it's used by lawyers and doctors..." "...to keep notes." I go "oh, yeah?" I said "I know somebody who's translating books, it would be good for him?" He said "Oh, yeah!" So he showed me how to use it. I said, you know, "I'm gonna buy this for Prabhupada." "Now I'm helping him." "'Cause this will go a lot faster... than typing." I mean practically speaking, the dictaphone revelutionized Prabhupada's books. Because he wanted to do the Gita. And so, you know, it would take ages for him to finish typing by hand. So... It was like 150 bucks I think. So I brought it to Prabhupada. You know I was all excited and puffed up. And I said "This is, you know, helping Prabhupada." And so I thought "Boy, how I'm gonna show Prabhupada how to use this thing?" He's from the village... Vrindavana... They don't know what a dictaphone is. So I brought it to Prabhupada's room, and I showed it to him and you know I showed him the mic you know, and he looked at it I said "Prabhupada, there's an instruction book here, how to use it," "I'll go through it with you." He said, "No, that's ok, I know." I was shocked! And sure enough, Prabhupada knew, he pressed the right buttons, he was testing it, and I was shocked, he never even looked at the book. Hmpf! It took me an hour with the guy to... he had to show me everything. And here I'm showing it to someone from the village, and he didn't even have to look at the book. And then I realized that this person... he's not human. I mean how does he know how to work with this if he never had one. Prabhupada was very easy with electronics. He wasn't at all intimidated. And then, boom, Prabhupada started doin' the tapes and it was great. But then we had the other problem. The tapes were buildin' up. And the tapes were expensive. You know, at the end we had like 6 or 7 tapes and we didn't... we didn't have money to keep buying tapes. For some reason nobody knew, how to type properly. Because you have to have coordination. I think because we're all on LSD. Nobody could coordinate their foot with their with their fingers. Because you had to use a foot pedal and then you had to hear Prabhupada and coordinate... you know, like driving a car. And nobody could do it. So... All of a sudden just Neal shows up. And he's from Antioch College. He has to do a summer course... 3 months course. Joining our religious organization, and... writing about his experiance, that was his paper. So he thought, you know "Hey, I'll join you, guys..." He said "I'm gonna do it" I said "Fine", you know, So I immidately asked "You know how to type?" We just thought we'd ask and he goes "Yeah, I can type." I said, "Do you know how to use a dictaphone?" "Oh yeah, that's easy." And then right away, the guy started to type 60 words a minute. And we used to watch his foot, man, the foot was gone a mile a minute. He knew how to go back and go forward like in a second, if we didn't understand anything, and we go "wow" and we looked at each other. This is mystical. Because this was the person we needed. And all of a sudden he shows up, knocking at the door. I mean you don't know that devotees had an inner communication with each other. When things like this happened, we looked at each other and go "wow". "This is mystical." And then we understood that Krishna provides, that was the famous word. Krishna provides. That's why... you really felt secure when you were with Prabhupada. 'Cause you've felt nothing could hurt you or touch you and you felt wonderful. We always wanted to be around him. Because you felt fully protected. That feeling... that everything's gonna work out when you're with Prabhupada. 'Cause everything did work out. The first dancing was in Tompkins Square Park. Myself and Acyutananda. Prabhupada introduced this style of kirtana, which is very meditative, Yeah, when Prabhupada sang in the park that first time I danced and Acyutananda got up, and we danced as I was dancing I felt I should dance with the kirtana and I should dance as long as Prabhupada has the kirtana. Not that I should stop dancing and sit down that would somehow be disrespectful to the Swamiji. So I danced for as long as Prabhupada had the kirtana. And Prabhupada had the kirtana for 3 hours. Nonstop. He was singing. That's the way Prabhupada had it. Very long kirtanas, and very meditative... I once asked Srila Prabhupada, "What is the best way" "to sing kirtana." He replied, "That you sing in such a way, you never get tired," "so that the kirtana should be able to go on endlessly." The New York Times... they came to that kirtana, and they took a photograph of Acyutananda and myself, and Prabhupada sitting there, you see the back of Prabhupada's head. And he's holding the bongo drum that he played. The caption was... 'The Swami's flock finds extasy in the park' Prabhupada said, the Times of New York was the most important newspaper in the world "This article" he said "marked the beginning of my movement."

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Duration: 22 minutes and 57 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Views: 6
Posted by: lopter001 on Jun 7, 2021

Following Srila Prabhupada _ DVD 101

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