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Following Srila Prabhupada _ DVD 206

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Before we went to India for the first time in San Francisco in 1967, Achyutananda sent us pictures of Srila Prabhupada about on nagar sankirtan in Calcutta. And when we saw Prabhupada chanting in the streets of India, in this one still picture, all of us were just praying for the day that we would join Srila Prabhupada. And he said he would take us to India, and show us India on foot; and when we were in San Francisco, we had no idea what that meant. But this is what it meant. Going on pilgrimage to a place is one thing; but until you're on foot in the streets, walking as those before us have walked chanting the Holy Name, you can't taste India. Surat is near Dwaraka. And so it's a traditionally Vaisnava province. They worship mostly Bal Krishna in the Vallabhacharya line, but any Krishna worship is very popular there. And so Mr. Jariwala was very respected in the town. And he, you know, like he every day he had our kirtan route printed in the newspaper. So people knew exactly which streets we were going to be on, and they had those streets streamered with sari cloth all the way across the roads, everybody had little white chalk auspicious diagrams in front of their houses on the sidewalk, and they were out there with kumkum and rice and flower garlands to put the red kukum and rice on our foreheads and garland us. We've got so many garlands put on us that after a while, we had to take 20 of them off and put pass them out to the crowd, and next thing you know, we'd have 20 more garlands on, we got garlanded at 50 times in the course of each procession, and people were doing arati to us in the street as we went by in the kirtan procession. Basically, that was just a ton of fun. Generally, the women were placed in the front in sankirtan in those days rather than in the back, and we all danced in the same way. Or sometimes we were in the middle of the kirtan party and the men surrounded us. Shyamasundara and Kausalya and Yamuna and Malatai and Hamsadutta, Chidananda, Giriraj, Gopal. This was the time when we met Mr. John Griesser for the first time who came to film Srila Prabhupada, and he joined our party. I think he was the only nondevotee in our party, and that person later became Yadubara dasa. I first met Srila Prabhupada here in Surat. I'd come to India to do a master's degree thesis in photography on the origins of Krishna consciousness in India. The summer before I'd done a couple of magazine articles on the movement. That's me in the blue shirt. I brought those magazine articles with me and showed Srila Prabhupada, and he liked them. He went through each of them page by page, much to my embarrassment because one of them had some nudity in it. Srila Prabhupada didn't bat an eye, he just kept going through until he reached the article on Krishna consciousness. And then his comment was, "Even we find gold in a dirty place we take it." The second day I was there Srila Prabhupada asked me, "So you're going to become a devotee?" I couldn't imagine myself wearing the robes in the shaved head so I said no, although inwardly I felt I was. So Srila Prabhupada's reply was, "Then you cannot stay." I was naturally shocked. And I didn't leave, I stay with the party for two months. Every day I'd sit in Srila Prabhupada's room, and invariably when a visitor came in, he'd introduced me. He would say, "This is Mr. John, he is from America. He is an expert photographer." In this way Srila Prabhupada encouraged me, and he could understand I was becoming a devotee gradually. We were brought into the Durga temple. This one was new, the deity was new, she was nicely dressed, and nicely worship. When we came into the room, I remember Prabhupada said, "Do just exactly like I do". And when Prabhupada came before the Deity of the demigod, he bowed down before the demigod, just like he'd bow down before the Radha Krishna altar; but instead of putting his left side toward the altar, he put his right side toward the altar. He said, "When you bow down before a demigod, you keep the demigod on your right. The understanding is your spiritual master is in front of you, and Radha and Krishna are on your left. So you're still bowing to Radha and Krishna and your guru, but you're also offering respect to the demigod at the same time. And that's how you offer respects to a demigod with your right hand side toward the altar." In other words he was respectful to Durga but he didn't want her worshipped in the same way that we would worship Radha and Krishna, so that's the distinction. Not only did we have kirtan through the streets of Surat, many times, they would invite us outside town for engagements in the villages. Prabhupada was so available to us at all times, and one time I had gone into his room. We were staying at the house of Bhagubhai Jariwala. I went into his room and I told him I had memorized the Sri Isopanisad. So on one of these engagements after speaking, he called me and said, "Kausalya, come here." So I came up to him, and he said, "Sing Sri Isopanisad." I thought, "Oh God, I'm on the spot now." So I did it, I sang the Sri Isopanisad. And the whole time I'm looking at Prabhupada while I'm singing and his smile, he's gradually becoming more and more pleased, and his smile is getting bigger and bigger. And when I finished, he called me closer to him and I started to pay my obeisances, and he grabbed my head and put it on his lap, and patted me on the back and rubbed my head. I felt like a puppy dog. It was really special. As in other places, we would go into Srila Prabhupada's room early in the morning and sing the prayers to the spiritual master. So one morning, after the prayers Prabhupada gave a little talk and then he asked, "Why does Krishna come into the material world?" So different devotees gave different answers but Dinanath prabhu gave the answer, that He comes to give pleasure to the devotees. And Srila Prabhupada said yes, that was the right answer, because the other purposes can be fulfilled by other agents, but only Krishna could come and satisfy His pure devotees. So after Dinanath gave the answer Srila Prabhupada said, "Now you are liberated, because the Bhagavad-gita says janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah, that one knows about the appearance and activities of Krishna in truth, tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so'rjuna, he never has to take birth again, but he goes back home, back to Krishna." When we would come back from the harinam sankirtan in the mornings, many of the people of Surat would be following the harinam party. But although Prabhupada wasn't with us physically, on the harinam sankirtan, he was in the back of everyone's mind. He was in the back of our minds, because whatever we were doing was for him, and he was in the back of everyone else's minds, because he was the great saintly person had gone to the West from India and taken Krishna consciousness to the foreigners. So when we got back to the Jariwala house, people wanted to see Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada would be in his room doing his own work. But sometimes the demand of the audience from below was so great that Prabhupada would emerge onto the balcony and give them darshan from the balcony. The throngs were elated, and so were we. This was the first time that all the devotees from all over India came together. Prabhupada had arrived in Calcutta and other devotees had arrived in Bombay, and for a whole year, people were doing preaching at different places. Some devotees were preaching in Delhi, some devotees had gone down south, but at this time Prabhupada was going to reorganize all preaching in India. So devotees came from all over different parts of India to be with Prabhpada at this specific time. So in the morning Srila Prabhupada would go out and take his walk, and he wanted to have a kirtan party, you know, going on with him when he took his morning walk. And as we walked through the different camps, sadhus would come out and pay their respects to Srila Prabhupada. As Srila Prabhupada described this Magh Mela at the time, they reported 7 million saintly souls that went to take part in the festivities throughout the month. Never had we been in such crowds of people or lived amidst so many people. Srila Prabhupada determined what activities would be from morning till night at this pandal. So it was both for purification and for example of what Vaishnavas do. And while a program of Deity worship went on with aratis and offerings throughout the day, one of the main engagements of the day was prasadam distribution. So virtually people were cooking and distributing prasadam throughout the whole day, and different devotees volunteered for that cooking service. Sagar Maharaj was instrumental in showing us how to shop in this environment, and Rebatinandan Maharaj was quite instrumental in the making and distribution of both halava and kichari. I didn't get to go on a single one of those morning kirtans. I had to cook for 45 people breakfast on the fires. Then I had to cook lunch on those fires. Then one day Prabhupasda said... after lunch was over he said, "I want you to prepare rice, puris and chutney for 700 people," and that was to be passed out in the pandal in the afternoon. And then after that, I had to get dinner ready for 45 people. I had two little wood fire pits, and all we had was sticks, just sticks. Not even chunks of wood, you could make a bed of coals out of, you know, just sticks. So all you had was flame and soot. The pots were covered with soot, I was covered with soot. Somehow I was putting out every bit I had to do that service at that time. It was the hardest thing I ever did materially. I was just following the crowd, most of us were. And then we arrive in this place by foot and it's just you know, like all the bizarre things you'd ever thought about or heard about India, were right there in front of your face and going on, - you know, the naked nagar babas, men riding on elephants, the snake-charming babas - it was just all happening there. And every day Prabhupada, as you can see, would take us out on nagar sankirtan. There's my daughter, haribol. This is a very ancient festival. Prabhupada told us it goes back many many thousands of years. At this time, that the all the holy man, they come and they gather because there's a very auspicious constellation; and if you take bath at that time, you're guaranteed liberation. And I remember asking Prabhupada whether that was really true. Prabhupada said, "Yes, it's true." He said, "But we don't we didn't come here to be for that because we're already liberated. We came here to preach Krishna consciousness." But I did go for the... you know, the because I wanted the guarantee. I went, and you have to go early in the morning about four o'clock. And there are no lights, its very cold, the wind is blowing because wintertime, and just hundreds of people are wandering towards the river. And it was a really sensational experience. Here you can see Srila Prabhupada is shaving. Tthere was no hot water available. But perhaps someone heated a little water up for Prabhupada. But the amazing thing was that Prabhupada, at such an advanced age, came to this place with with so many devotees to live in a tent. Everyone was living in a tent and it was wintertime, it was cold. Of course, during the day at warmed up a bit because of the sun. But it's also said that a certain day, in the course of this festival, it rains, and sure enough when that day came, it rained. And so it was really miserable after that because everything was damp and very difficult to keep warm. So here we see Srila Prabhupada and the devotees getting ready to make a visit to the local Gaudiya Math. Of course Prabhupada lived in Allahabad for a number of years, and you had to business there, and he told us also later, that he donated the deities there. I remember what struck me when we went there that day was there was Prabhupada in the lead, and then there was the eight or nine rickshaws following behind, again like little ducklings. Wherever he went, we followed behind, that was our relationship, never knowing exactly the full significance of what what Prabhupada was doing. But as I said before, looking back now, it's clear to me that Prabhupada knew exactly. It was like a great campaign that he had planned and been carrying out. The Rupa Gaudiya Math in Allahabad. This is the most exciting event for all of Srila Prabhupada's Western disciples. Not only were we attending a program with Srila Prabhupada, but we were attending a program at a temple that he was very instrumental in serving in the years before he left India when he lived in Allahabad. Here's the deities. We were all aware of the fact that Srila Prabhupada had, in his business years, arranged for the arca-vigraha at this mandir the Radha and Krishna deities. It was his service. This is in fact, one of the first arca-vigraha that I ever saw a photo of in my entire life. When we were in San Francisco in 1967, and some very early photos were sent from Calcutta taken by Achyutananda and Ramanuja brahmcary, we had a photograph of these deities that were sent to us in San Francisco. And so it was one of the first Radha and Krishna deities that I ever saw from India. So they always remain very dear to me. Srila Prabhupada was very proud of the fact that all these pandas that the Magh Mela that year, none attempted a deity worship program of Radha Krishna arca-virgahas but ours. So we became very famous for even that aspect of our presence. The arca-vigraha was Sri Sri Radha Madhava. Prabhupada on another day, he took us all through... not all of us but I know I was with him and we drove through the city and he pointed out different places where he lived and where his business was and things like that. I remember one day Prabhupada told us that many yogis come here, and some of them are very old, up to 300 years, and he said that they appear just like young boys, so you wouldn't recognize them. He said two came to see him and they told him that they lived in the jungle with some tigers. I remember being amazed because it was the first time Prabhupada spoke about some of the siddhis that the yogis there had. He told us, "You must be very careful because these are very powerful yogis here," and that many of them have very powerful siddhis and they can go down in the Ganga at the Himalaya and come up here at Triveni. They have the siddhi to be able to move between places. He said, "So you must be very respectful, very careful."

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Duration: 19 minutes and 2 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Views: 5
Posted by: lopter001 on Sep 9, 2021

Following Srila Prabhupada _ DVD 206

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