Batu Gopal das Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Batu Gopala: We were with Prabhupada in his room during what appeared to be a more formal darshan since Prabhupada was seated on the vyasasan. A frequent guest named Henry spoke up and asked something about Krishna having a name. I don’t remember exactly what he asked, but Prabhupada became very serious, and he kind of snapped at him, “You have a name and I have a name. Why are you denying Krishna His name? He is the Supreme Person. Certainly He deserves a name.” The man was quite crushed to be reprimanded in that way and he fell silent. That was that for the darshan. Early the next morning when Srila Prabhupada was taking his walk out towards Lake Michigan shore, he ran into Henry, who had also gotten up early that morning. Srila Prabhupada walked right up to him, “Oh Henry, how are you? How are you this morning?” He greeted him by name and asked him how he was doing and was so friendly. When Henry told me about this afterwards, he was just overwhelmed with appreciation of Srila Prabhupada. So that is an example of how Srila Prabhupada could quickly switch his mood. One moment he appeared to be throwing thunderbolts and the next moment flowers. Prabhupada was truly the friend to everyone, but sometimes he had to be the surgeon and lance the boil, for example.

During an informal gathering, Srila Prabhupada was answering questions as he sat on some cushions on the same level as his guests and the rest of us. One of the guests asked about China. As I recall, his point was that the Chinese, in spite of being such a significant population on the planet, didn’t seem to have any access to Krishna consciousness. What about them? When he asked that question, over the next few moments, Srila Prabhupada’s demeanor changed in a very dramatic and amazing way. His posture became straighter, he lifted his head, his face became grave and sober, and he raised his finger just like you would see the picture of Madhvacarya or one of the great predecessors. He said, “The Supreme Personality of Godhead says first they must suffer severely, and then they can have some Krishna consciousness. Therefore, the bomb is now ready, and in the next war it will be used.” You can imagine how everyone was trembling. What I remember most from that was the change in Prabhupada’s demeanor. Here was Srila Prabhupada, so affectionate, so accommodating, so familiar, and suddenly there was jagat-guru, representative of Sri Krishna, the Absolute Truth, the viceroy speaking for the king. It was remarkable.

On a subsequent visit Srila Prabhupada made to Detroit, I remember that Srila Prabhupada was going to take caranamrita as I was there ready to pour the nectar into his hand. The caranamrita table had a large, marble top with the caranamrita, the silver pitcher and things for water to wash his hands. I offered Srila Prabhupada the caranamrita and rinsed his hand with a little towel. Prabhupada stopped and said, “This is not right. The caranamrita should not be on the same stand as the washing water.” He was quite grave about that and then he went on. I was the temple president in Cleveland at that time, so immediately when we returned to our temple, we made sure that things were adjusted properly regarding caranamrita.

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