Jayapataka Swami Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Jayapataka Swami: Prabhupada’s presence was so powerful that when you came in his presence, you felt as if you were no longer part of the material world. You felt that you were in some kind of a spiritual, transcendental environment. I didn’t know about Vrindavan then, but now we would say that Prabhupada brought Vrindavan with him. We felt the Vrindavan mood whenever we came in Prabhupada’s presence. He was carrying Krishna in his heart. I didn’t understand that but I felt it. Just being with Srila Prabhupada I could feel myself change. I could see that he was a genuine spiritual master, and that he practiced what he preached. Other people that I visited had books and teachings, but they didn’t practice those things. Seeing this helped build my faith and Prabhupada was very merciful to me. He immediately engaged me in service by having me assist his secretary, either Govinda dasi or Gaurasundar das. When they went shopping during Prabhupada’s afternoon nap, I sat outside in case Prabhupada woke up and wanted something. Sometimes Prabhupada would call me in and ask me different things. He told me, “If I get a flower every day it will increase my longevity,” and he asked, “Can you bring me a flower; a rose?” I was very excited. My spiritual master was asking me to bring him a rose daily. I said, “Yes.” I went back to the temple and told the temple president that I was going to get a rose for Srila Prabhupada. He said, “What are you doing? You’re in maya. You can’t do that.” I said, “Why? Prabhupada told me to get him a rose.” I thought, “I do everything else you say, but Prabhupada asked me to bring him a rose and I am going to bring him a rose.” I phoned a florist and was going to go pick up a rose. The temple president got angry and said I couldn’t do that, that I should do something else. So I became a little angry because he was yelling at me. I walked off with the vibrations ringing in my ear, and I came to a dead end. Nearby there was a florist shop. I walked in and the salesperson said, “I’ve been waiting for you. Here is the rose.” It was the shop that I had called, but I had forgotten the address. I offered Prabhupada the rose, and he said, “Thank you very much.”

Once Srila Prabhupada was giving a lecture about how we have to be cent percent Krishna conscious. He was ramming home the point that we have to surrender to Krishna one hundred percent. At the end of the class the devotees were serious. They were looking down thinking, “Who can come up to the standard of complete surrender?” As if he could read their minds, Prabhupada relaxed his mood a little bit and said, “If you can be ninety percent Krishna conscious, then you can also go back to Godhead.” He was on a large, high vyasasana, four feet in the air, and had to go down some steps to get off the vyasasana. As he started down he said, “Even if you are eighty percent surrendered, Krishna will still take you.” Then he got off the vyasasana and started walking away. His chaddar was flowing behind him, dragging on the ground. He stopped, looked at the devotees and said, “Even if you are seventy percent Krishna conscious, still Krishna will take you.” He threw his chaddar over his shoulder and walked off with his head high.

A devotee told me, “You should ask a good question every time Prabhupada gives class.” So at the end of every class I would always ask a question about something that related to the class. Once I asked about Radharani. Prabhupada said, “Who are you to ask about Radharani?” I asked questions every day, and Prabhupada would respond in a different way every day. At that time, we worked outside to maintain the Montreal temple. There was no other source of income. So I could only attend the morning class and had to miss the evening class. But the next day I would listen to the tape of the evening class. Once I was listening to the tape, and at the end of class Prabhupada asked if anyone had any questions. Nobody had any, and he said, “That Jay, he has nice questions.” Hearing that was a big thing for me because normally Prabhupada didn’t praise disciples to their face. He was very grave with his disciples. But sometimes he would comment to other devotees, and you’d hear it through the grapevine. That time I heard it on the tape.

I was on a morning walk with Srila Prabhupada when he stopped near a church. He looked at it and said that in the future our ISKCON temples were going to be something like the churches in that there would be some devotees living in the temples and many devotees living around the temples who would come on the weekends and for festivals. At that time, 1970, there weren’t many temples, and the whole mood was making temples, joining the temple, and becoming a temple devotee. But Prabhupada was saying that in the future the temples would be a center with big communities of devotees around them. Now I am coordinating congregation programs, and that instruction has a lot of importance to me, although at the time I really didn’t know what to think of it. It was a prediction.

In Montreal we would walk to McGill University or walk around the block, and Prabhupada would make observations. Once he said that if you see a big, healthy person, you can ask him where he does his grocery shopping because, since he’s healthy, he must have a good source. It happened that a taxi drove up and the taxi driver was very big. Prabhupada said, “Yes, ask him where he does his shopping.” Prabhupada was spontaneous in that way. A devotee asked the taxi driver where he did his shopping, and the taxi driver was bewildered. Why would someone ask him such a question?

One day they found a cockroach in the Montreal temple. Prabhupada took the cockroach in his hand, opened the window, and told the cockroach, “Here, I am giving you the whole world. Now enjoy it.” Then he threw the cockroach out the window and closed it.

We contacted a doctor who had just built a new house that he was going to make into a clinic. No one had moved in it yet. The doctor thought, “I will give it to you for six months. It will be auspicious for some sadhus to come and stay in my new house.” Then we had a place to invite Prabhupada. In the meantime, Prabhupada had left America and gone to Japan. We sent him a message that we had a separate place for him. Prabhu- pada said, “I am coming,” and we arranged for a big reception at the Calcutta airport. The media was there, and a whole truckload of Gaudiya Vaishnava devotees came to receive Prabhupada with kirtan. We invited all of Prabhupada’s God-brothers. We said, “Who would like to come and receive him?” because he was a conquering Gaudiya Vaishnava missionary who had successfully spread Krishna consciousness in places where no one had even ventured before, and now he was returning. One God-brother, Puri Maharaj, said, “Oh yes. I would like to go.” At that time I didn’t know much about the internal workings between the different Gaudiya Math people. But a grihastha devotee came up and said to Puri Maharaj, “Maharaj, how can you go? You are an older God-brother. You took initiation before Bhaktivedanta Swami did. You took sannyas before he did. You cannot go to him, he should come to you.” I said, “What does it matter if you were initiated earlier or later? Someone has done wonderful preaching.” In the end none of Prabhupada’s God-brothers came to the airport to meet him, but some disciples of his God-brothers came. Prabhupada noted that and was not very happy that none of his God-brothers had come. Then one of his God-brother’s disciples said, “Your God-brother is waiting for you at his temple. He has a feast for you there. He wants you to go from the airport to his temple.” Prabhupada became very grave and said, “Let us go in the car.” Before that we had had a big reception, a press conference, and an arati in the VIP lounge. Prabhupada didn’t have to go through any customs or immigration, he went straight to the VIP lounge and then came out and went to the car. We had a big American car from a Life Member for him, and Prabhupada got in it and said, “Take me to the house. I will not go to my God-brother’s temple. You can go later and bring the prasadam that they’ve made to the house. We will go straight to our house.”

We were invited to a Bhagavad-gita conference in Maharastra sponsored by Vinoda Bhave, a disciple of Gandhiji. Vinoda Bhave was one of the most famous saints in the Gandhi tradition, and big political leaders used to meet with him. One of his last campaigns was for cow protection. Somehow, he was holding a big conference on the Bhagavad-gita, and he invited Prabhupada and many other sadhus to come. I was there for that conference. Vinoda Bhave’s many women disciples chanted chapters of the Bhagavad-gita and Vinoda Bhave spoke. Then Prabhupada had us, his men and women disciples from all over the world, chant Hare Krishna in a big kirtan. Everybody got into the kirtan, laughing and clapping, and then Prabhupada delivered a very nice lecture. A Mayavadi sannyasi was upset at Prabhupada’s kirtan and the positive effect it had on the crowd. Normally this Mayavadi would have just given a Bhagavad-gita class, but now he wanted to do a kirtan also. He told the people, “You should all chant with me. We will have a kirtan.” It seemed as if he made up some unusual mantra right on the spot. Nobody was inspired by it. In the middle Prabhupada said to the devotees, “Chant Hare Krishna again,” and the devotees jumped up with kartals and mridanga and started chanting. Everyone was relieved because the Mayavadi’s chanting was so strange.

I was there with some other devotees when Srila Prabhupada went to meet Indira Gandhi. Prabhupada had a list of things he wanted to discuss with Indira Gandhi, but at that time she was very upset because the President of Bangladesh, Mujhibir Rahman, had just been assassinated. Still she made time for Prabhupada to see her on a Thursday afternoon. Prabhupada didn’t consult with astrologers much, but he didn’t want to have an important meeting on a Thursday afternoon. He said that it was not an auspicious time. That was about the only astrological thing he observed. He said, “Either in the morning or the evening, but not in the afternoon.” So they changed the time, and we all went together. But the devotees with Prabhupada only got as far as the door. Indira Gandhi came and met Prabhupada, and he went on alone to talk with her. Later he said that she was very respectful to him. She actually asked him, “How do you know that your followers are not CIA agents?” He explained, “I went to the West and preached. These people have sacrificed everything. They gave up their bad habits. They are getting up at four in the morning, attending mangal arati. If they were CIA, they would live in five star hotels and have a whole different lifestyle. They wouldn’t be vegetarians and give up all these habits.” She was convinced and said, “All right, I will give your devotees long-term visas.” After that meeting she passed some order, and the devotees who needed long-term visas got them.

Sometimes when we walked through the fields in Mayapur, Prabhupada would ask me to lead the way because there were narrow paths between the rice paddies. He said, “These are like little highways in the fields.” One winter day we were walking, and he said that he wanted to go to the Ganges. The river was low and clear, with a little saffron color. The flow had reduced so much that we could see the bottom. It was rare to see the Ganges like that. Prabhupada said that we must take bath. His secretary said, “Prabhupada, we don’t have any gamshas or towels. We just came for a walk.” Prabhupada looked around and said, “There are no women here. We can go in our kopins and then wear the top piece.” He took off his top piece and with all the brahmacharis and sannyasis went into the Ganges. Then Prabhupada did something I never saw anyone do before. When he was dipping under, he closed all the holes in his head. He put two fingers over his mouth, two over his nostrils, two over his eyes, and his thumbs over his ears. He took three dips and then came out. It was an ecstatic, spontaneous bath with Srila Prabhupada.

Once Prabhupada was sitting in his room in Calcutta when a Life Member businessman said, “Can you show us some miracle?” Prabhupada said, “Some yogis show a miracle by creating some rasgula. I went to America with forty rupees, and in a short span we now have temples all over the world worth more than 400 million rupees. Isn’t that a miracle?” The businessman thought for a minute and said, “That’s a miracle.”

We were walking near the river Jalangi one day when a villager came by with a big basket of vegetables on his head. Srila Prabhupada asked, “Are you going to sell those in the market?” He said, “Yes.” Prabhupada said, “How much will you sell them for? Sell us the whole basket.” Prabhupada had been telling the devotees how he liked fresh garden vegetables, how we should offer our vegetables to the Deity, and how you can save money if you buy wholesale. Prabhupada started bargaining with the villager. He told him, “If you go to the market, you will spend the whole day sitting there with the basket. I will buy it from you right now. You can do something else. You won’t have to walk two miles to the market and sell your goods.” He bargained him down to six rupees for the basket. Then he said, “Go to the temple and they will pay you.” The man went off with the basket, entered the temple and sold those vegetables. The devotees cooked them for the Deities and Prabhupada had them as well.

Once a Maharaj was cooking hot puris, and we were taking hot puris with date gur, date molasses. Prabhupada looked through the window and saw the sannyasis and brahmacharis taking hot puris with date gur one after another. He said, “This is not very good for sannyas life.”

One time, Tarun Kanti Ghosh, the Home Minister (the number two person in the state government in charge of the police), came to see Srila Prabhupada. He comes from a family of Vaishnavas. His grandfather said that Bhaktivinode Thakur was the seventh Goswami and wrote a book about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Now Tarun, his grandson, was a big politician and the editor of a major newspaper. When he came to see Srila Prabhupada, he went behind Prabhupada’s desk and tried to grab Srila Prabhupada’s feet. Brahmananda was about to jump on Tarun Kanti Ghosh. Prabhupada said, “No, no. It’s all right.” Tarun Kanti Ghosh grabbed Prabhupada’s feet and put them on his head.

Once he was strongly chastising me and giving me some instruction. The next time I came to see him he had changed his mood. He said, “I am sorry. Maybe I dealt with you too harshly. I am a very hard person to tolerate. I deal very harshly.” I couldn’t believe Prabhupada said such a thing to me. I said, “No Srila Prabhupada, I was offensive. There was no wrong on your part.”

Prabhupada came to Mayapur all of a sudden. The new building wasn’t ready, but Prabhupada stayed there, on the third floor, anyway. Since the piping hadn’t been connected the toilets didn’t flush, and our service was to empty the refuse. One day Prabhupada started calling out, “Jayapataka! Jayapataka!” I ran to the bathroom. Prabhupada was holding the door semi-shut. A venomous serpent was stuck in the door and was trying to bite Srila Prabhupada. It was leaping out and just missing him. By the pressure of the door that Prabhupada held, the snake was slightly crushed and couldn’t get loose. I hit the snake with a stick and got Prabhupada out. This was a very unusual circumstance and an urgent situation, but Prabhupada never lost his composure. He was calling out, but he was cool and calm under the circumstance. Later he said, “If there is one, there must be two, because snakes always go in pairs.” But the other one disappeared down the hall. We could never find it.

Prabhupada was walking down the stairway in Calcutta. Many devotees were there. Prabhupada slipped a little bit, and it looked like he was going to fall down. One of the senior devotees said, “Watch out, Srila Prabhupada.” Prabhupada stopped and said, “It is your responsibility to watch out. You have to take care of the body of the spiritual master. The spiritual master looks out for your spiritual well-being, but as far as whether I fall or not, that you have to guard against.”

We were on a morning walk with Srila Prabhupada in north Calcutta. Srila Prabhupada said, “Oh, here is a Life Member’s home.” For some reason Prabhupada wanted to stop in at the house of a wealthy Life Member. He went in and told the servant, “Tell your master that Bhaktivedanta Swami is here.” After a while the servant came out and said, “The master is worshiping his Deity. He will be here after some time.” Prabhupada commented, “Krishna is more pleased when the devotee is served than when He is served. If this person was more advanced he would have appreciated, ‘A spiritual master has come,’ and left his Deity worship to receive the devotee of Krishna. But because he thinks that his Deity worship is more important than receiving the devotee of Krishna, that shows that he is a neophyte, or kanistha adhikari.”

There was a con artist who dressed like a sannyasi and collected money in the name of ISKCON. He gave himself the name “Achyutananda” and was known amongst the devotees as “Achyutananda Number Two.” He was based in Rajastan and collected near Jaipur. He made a big construction plan for building a temple and somehow copied receipts, rubber stamps and everything else one needed to collect money. Some of the people who donated money to this Achyutananda appeared in Bombay and said, “We were made a Life Member by Achyutananda in Jaipur.” Achyutananda Number One was in Hyderabad so we sent a few devotees to find out who this Achyutananda was, and they discovered that he was a thief. Somehow, they got him to see Prabhupada in Mayapur. Prabhupada had called the CID, the equivalent of the FBI in India, and the Superintendent of Police. In the meantime, Prabhupada talked with Achyutananda Number Two, who said to him, “You are a great spiritual master, a saint, and I feel changed after talking with you. I want to surrender at your lotus feet. I am going to surrender my life to you and do whatever you say. I am giving up all my bad ways.” Prabhupada called in the big police officers who had come to take this person away (a case had already been registered) and said, “I have to give this person asylum because he has surrendered to me. As a spiritual master, if someone surrenders to me, I have to give him shelter.” The police were ready to dive in on him and take him away, but they said, “Guruji, what can we say? But we don’t believe this person. He is a thief.” Prabhupada said, “What can I do? If he sur- renders then I have to accept.” Prabhupada told Achyutananda Number Two, “If you follow, you are safe. But if you leave, I am going to turn you over to the police.” To keep him engaged Prabhupada had Achyutananda do some writing for him, but after about ten days some devotees spotted him during mangal arati trying to leave the front gate with a bag. They grabbed him and brought him to Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada said, “You said you were surrendering, and I gave you a chance. But now you have revealed that you are not sincere.” He called the police and gave Achyutananda over to them.

When we moved from the grass hut to the lotus building, the first multi-story temple guest house where Prabhupada’s quarters were, we had a big feast and invited many villagers to come. After the feast was over, all the leaf plates were thrown behind the temple and Prabhupada went upstairs to his room. I was sitting with Srila Prabhupada in the room when we heard a dog barking in the back. Prabhupada got up and walked all the way to the veranda, looked over, and saw the big pile of banana leaf plates. So many people had taken prasadam that there was a big pile of leaves (using a leaf as a plate is the organic way that one eats in India). There were some very poor young children with torn clothes and sticks in their hands who were beating off the dogs to get the remnants of food that people had left on their plates. When Prabhupada saw how children had to fight dogs to eat throwaways, he started to cry. Tears were coming down. He said, “How hungry they must be.” Who would stoop to that situation, to fight off dogs to eat things that other people had thrown away? Prabhupada was so moved by these hungry children that he said, “We have to organize in such a way that nobody within a ten mile radius of the temple is hungry. Everyone should have food to eat.” That’s when they organized “ISKCON Food Relief,” which later became “Food for Life.” Prabhupada wanted a regular program of prasadam distribution, and we were distributing seven days a week; Five days for children and pregnant and nursing mothers, and seven days for anybody without discrimination—Hindus, Muslims, and Christians, men, women, young and old. Prabhupada was so moved when he saw that the people were hungry.

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 02 - Jayapataka Swami, Govinda dasi, Badrinarayana

Interview 02

Jayapataka Swami: Once, at a disappearance festival for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Prabhupada was explaining how the disciple tries to carry out the order of his guru and the previous guru, the grandfather guru, as well as the order of the previous acharyas. He gave us the example of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, how he had begged door-to-door to build the first temple at Mayapur Dham, and he explained how the different acharyas had contributed to the development of Mayapur Dham. Prabhupada said, “To please my spiritual master and the previous acharyas, I am also trying to do something in Mayapur Dham. I am very grateful to everyone who is helping me.” Then he couldn’t speak any further. He choked up and started crying. There was a long silence. We didn’t know what to do. Prabhupada finally said, “The secret of success is to satisfy the desires of the previous acharyas.”

Prabhupada invited all of his God-brothers from the Gaudiya Math to attend the Ananta Sesa inauguration to put the Ananta Sesa at the bottom of a twelve-foot foundation hole for the new temple. Prabhupada said to his God-brothers, “For the pleasure of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, let us all cooperate together and form a governing body. If we unite and preach together he will be pleased.” Everyone was amazed. Prabhupada had already created forty temples, yet he was inviting everyone, “Let’s work together.” Prabhupada showed us what Krishna consciousness is. To please the guru he desired total cooperation. But nobody accepted. Maybe people had different attachments, but Prabhupada’s vision was universal. He said, “Okay, they don’t want to work together, but we will do it.” Then he established the Governing Body, and he said, “I am doing everything simply as an offering to please my spiritual master. There may always be detractors, but I am simply trying to do this to please the previous acharya.”

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 15 - The 1996 NYC and LA Reunions

Interview 03

Jayapataka Swami: For us Bombay is a very important place. Prabhupada said that Vrindavan was his home, Bombay was his office and Mayapur was his place of worship. So for us in Mayapur, Bombay was also a very important place. It was one of the important places that Prabhupada was related with. He mentioned that because Bombay was the most modernized, financial powerhouse in India. It was also becoming the most westernized and the home of the Bollywood movie industry. Prabhupada wanted to establish a temple that would have a mission. The Bombay temple has a mission to stop the westernization or to preserve the Krishna consciousness of India. Sometimes Prabhupada would confide in us how his guru maharaj had ordered him to preach in the west. He said, “My guru didn’t specifically order me to preach in India, so whenever I preached in the west I was very successful.” So his idea was to build temples in Vrindavan and Mayapur for his western devotees to come and visit the holy places, but then he said how could he stand by and see India going to hell? Seeing how Indians were giving away their culture by following the west and becoming degraded in various ways of losing Krishna consciousness was disturbing to Srila Prabhupada. He said it was his personal mission to preach in India. Brahmananda Prabhu said that Prabhupada told him that the deity, Lord Dwarkadhish in Los Angeles, personally spoke to him and ordered him, “You have to go back to India and you have to organize the preaching there.”

Srila Prabhupada established the Mayapur Vrindavan trust. In the trust he said there should be some kind of perpetual seva security for the deities. He mentioned thirty percent for Radha-Rasabihari, thirty percent for Vrindavan’s Krsna- Balaram and Radha-Shyama deities, thirty percent for Mayapur’s Radha-Madhava and Panchatattva deities and ten percent for Hyderabad. This exemplifies how Prabhupada related to these deities very intimately.

I was there present when Sridhar Maharaj asked permission to get sannyas from Prabhupada. Prabhupada said, “Are you one hundred percent sure you can be a sannyasi.” Then Sridhar Maharaj, who was very humble said, “Well, no I’m not one hundred percent sure that I can.” Prabhupada asked, “Are you seventy-five percent sure?” Sridhar said, “Seventy-five percent sure? I’m not seventy-five percent sure either.” “Are you fifty percent sure?” He said, “Fifty percent sure? Well, yes, I am fifty percent sure.” Prabhupada said, “Okay. Then I’ll give you sannyas.”

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 49 - Jayapat S, Sruto, Gargamuni, Gurukrpa, Narayani, RupaV, Hari, Ranjit, Nrsimhanda

Interview 04

Jayapataka Swami: I was in India with Achyutananda when we heard that some devotees had received sannyas initiation in Los Angeles. To young brahmacharis, sannyas was something super wonderful. Then one evening, when we were just taking rest, Srila Prabhupada called for Achyutananda. I didn’t have a clue what sannyas was, but I thought, “Maybe Prabhupada is going to give him sannyas.” Instead, I heard Prabhupada raising his voice to chastise Achyutananda. I thought, “Hmm, it doesn’t sound like he’s getting sannyas.” The next thing I knew, Srila Prabhupada was asking me questions about things that I didn’t know about. Then Prabhupada said to Devananda, his secretary, “He doesn’t know anything. He’s clean.” Just before this, in 1970 in New Vrindavan, four sannyasis had declared that Prabhupada was an avatar, and Prabhupada had to exile them from Iskcon. Prabhupada was afraid of this serious and dangerous situation. He explained to us how this mayavadi poison had crept into Iskcon. He said that one of his God-brothers had told Achyutananda that Prabhupada wasn’t actually preaching, but was acting as an extension of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakur. This God-brother of Prabhupada’s said that it was actually Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakur who was doing everything, initiating everybody, and that Srila Prabhupada was what they call a ritvik, not responsible for anything. Srila Prabhupada’s disciples were not his but were actually disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Somehow, Achyutananda explained this in a letter to Brahmananda. And Prabhupada said that Brahmananda and the other sannyasis started to speculate that, “If we’re initiated by Prabhupada but are not Prabhupada’s disciples but Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s disciples, then we could also be Bhaktivinode Thakur’s disciples because Bhaktisiddhanta is representing Bhaktivinode. And if we are Bhaktivinode’s disciples, we could be the Six Goswamis’ disciples. And if we could be the Six Goswamis’ disciples, we could be Lord Chaitanya’s disciples. And since Lord Chaitanya is Krishna, then we’re Krishna’s disciples.” Through this logic, they somehow came to the conclusion that Prabhupada was Krishna. Srila Prabhupada said that Achyutananda was innocent as he had just transmitted this message. Srila Prabhupada warned us that we had to be very careful. Any little deviation from the philosophy, any little new introduction, could create a huge misconception in the future.

Once Srila Prabhupada got a letter about a devotee in Australia who had been asked to leave the temple because he had a problem. Prabhupada was crying. He said, “This devotee has done so much service. You should fall at his feet and beg him to take up Krishna consciousness again. Why you are throwing him away? At least fall at his feet and beg him three times. If he still doesn’t come after that, then what can you do?” Prabhupada wanted every devotee to be treated very nicely and given every opportunity to remain in Krishna consciousness. At the same time, if someone was preaching mayavadi philosophy, then Prabhupada had to take a strong action to protect the others.

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 47 - Twenty Disciples Remembering SP

Interview 05

Jayapataka Swami: Srila Prabhupada went to Birnagar to make a courtesy call to Lalit Prasad Thakur, the brother of his spiritual master, Om Visnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Birnagar is Bhaktivinode Thakur’s birthplace and Bhaktivinode Thakur spent a good part of his childhood in that beautiful place, which is about an hour drive from Mayapur. It was impressive to see Lalit Thakur, a pure soul who was from a whole other century. At that time he was 97 or 98 years old and he would chant nonstop all day. He had been a lifelong brahmachari and had worked for the government until he retired in his 50’s. But throughout his life he practiced sadhana-bhakti. It was nice to know that Bhaktivinode Thakur had more than one child who was active in Krishna consciousness. The Deities Lalit Thakur worshiped were on the second floor and he had a library of Bhaktivinode Thakur books. He was doing nama-hatta preaching in Bangladesh as well as in different parts of Bengal and he had a lot of disciples. One of his more intimate disciples was an elderly lady, in her 60’s or 70’s, called Bhakti Ma. Another disciple, Sacinanda, was actively preaching in the villages. Lalit Prasad Thakur used to sit on his bed in a little room and not move much. He was bathed in his bed, he went to the bathroom in his bed and his disciples bragged that even though he would go to the toilet there it smelled like roses. And I did notice that there was no bad smell in the room. When we first went there, Lalit Prasad Thakur seemed agreeable to ISKCON having a temple to honor Bhaktivinode Thakur at his birthplace in Birnagar. Prabhupada talked about building a library, a display, an exhibition, an ashram, a preaching facility, and fixing up the temple at Bhaktivinode Thakur’s birthplace. At that time a small, broken-down temple marked that spot and when Prabhupada saw the poor condition it was in he practically cried. However, later some of Lalit Prasad Thakur’s followers insisted, “We shouldn’t give ISKCON any land,” and so the second time Prabhupada went to finalize everything there was a different mood—they weren’t agreeable to having an agreement with ISKCON. Neither did they themselves have the capacity or the wherewithal to develop the birthplace of Bhaktivinode Thakur. Prabhupada became impatient and upset that everything was being canceled with no reason and that Bhaktivinode Thakur, who was so great and who deserved to have a wonderful monument for his greatness, was not being properly honored. Suddenly Prabhupada became intense. In a loud voice he said, “Isn’t it sinful that you cannot develop the birthplace of Bhaktivinode Thakur and you won’t let anyone else do it either?” In other words, the birthplace was their responsibility but they couldn’t develop it, and although we could develop it they wouldn’t let us. It was going to stay in an undeveloped state and in fact today it’s in worse condition than it was then. Prabhupada loudly and intensely asked this question four or five times very loudly, almost…I wouldn’t say shouting, but I would say just maybe one level below that. Nobody said anything. Then as Prabhupada walked out he turned to the few of us secretaries and assistants who were with him and said, “Because I asked a question, there was no offense.” Srila Prabhupada was talking to the brother of his spiritual master so the etiquette of seniority was there, but at the same time, from Prabhupada’s point of view, Bhaktivinode Thakur was being offended. Therefore Prabhupada expressed that he had a right to question the situation and that questioning wasn’t an offense. To accuse, to say, “You are nonsense, you didn’t give,” would have been offensive. But questioning, “Isn’t it offensive? Isn’t it sinful?” was not offensive. So if somebody intensively inquires, it’s technically not an offense.

When Srila Prabhupada was going from Calcutta to Mayapur he would leave early in the morning and stop to have a breakfast picnic at a little mango orchard that was owned by a devotee—it was his favorite picnic spot. Once, on the way to this spot, Prabhupada noticed a picture of Krishna and Balaram on the windshield of his car and he asked the devotees, “Who is more powerful, Krishna or Balaram?” Someone said, “Balaram is more powerful, He’s the older brother,” and someone said Krishna is more powerful. Prabhupada said, “See, Balaram has His hand on Krishna’s shoulder—Krishna is holding up Balaram—so Krishna is more powerful.” At this time one of Prabhupada’s God-brothers, Damodar Maharaj, was with us and when we got to the mango orchard Prabhupada had some mats set up and he took prasadam with Damodar Maharaj and the rest of us also took prasadam a short distance away. It was a little picnic in the garden. After Prabhupada and Damodar Maharaj had taken fruit, Prabhupada said, “You can serve Damodar Maharaj water.” Damodar Maharaj said, “But after fruit we shouldn’t drink water.” Prabhupada said, “The secret is you take a sweet, then after the sweet you must take water.” If you take water after fruit, the water washes out the fruit’s nutrition. But if you take a sweet, that somehow caps the fruit’s nutrition and you can take water after that. So when you get thirsty after taking fruit just take a nice maha prasad sandesh or rasagulla, remember Srila Prabhupada, chant Hare Krishna and then drink a little water.

After the welcome address, Prabhupada came upstairs, sat down on his seat, leaned back relaxing, took his golden goblet, held the cup high to drink a little water, and sighed a sigh of relief and satisfaction. He said, “To be in Mayapur is wonderful. If you live in Mayapur or if you die in Mayapur, it’s all the same.” We thought, “Living or dying is the same? How is that, Srila Prabhupada?” He said, “Mayapur is the spiritual world. So if you’re living in Mayapur, you’re living in the spiritual world. And if you die in Mayapur, you go back to the spiritual world. So both are the same.”

In Mayapur Prabhupada told us that the devotees in the Gaudiya Math are expert at taking care of guests, but we are not yet so expert. He said, “You should take nice care of guests, feed them nice prasadam, give them personal attention, ask them how they are doing and what they need.” At that time a VIP came, a commissioner from the government, and Prabhupada said, “Now I will show you,” and he sat there and instructed us, “Give him more water, give him more rice, give this…” The person was flattered, “The acharya is personally overseeing my meal.” While he was eating, Prabhupada told jokes—we never saw him tell so many jokes. Prabhupada said, “During prasad the talk should be light, it’s good for digestion. Do not preach heavily when somebody’s trying to eat.”

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 44 - Arjuna, Bahushira, Gokularanjana, Jnanagamya, Jayapataka S Udayanand

The full Prabhupada Memories Series can be viewed here and also at www.prabhupadamemories.com

Following Srila Prabhupada

Interview DVD 03

Jayapataka Swami: 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.”

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.

Interview DVD 04

Jayapataka Swami: When the devotees came to Mayapur, then Prabhupada took us out on parikrama. He took us to the different temples and showed us Lord Chaitanya’s historical pastime places. Then he wanted us to go out every year. So here we’re going to Srivasangan, where the original sankirtan party was held, and we are dancing very enthusiastically at the place of the original kirtan in the garden of Srivasa. Prabhupada wanted the devotees to be engaged. In those days there wasn’t so much interaction between ISKCON and the Gaudiya Maths, but once a year we could go and visit Lord Chaitanya’s places and that was the amount of interaction that we had.

This is the birthplace temple. Originally the birthplace temple was actually a grass hut because Lord Chaitanya was born in a grass hut. Then they changed it to a concrete replica of a grass hut, and Prabhupada expressed his dissatisfaction that they couldn’t have maintained…it would have been nice to maintain it in it’s pristine form.

Prabhupada was so happy that we had cows. He said, “This is very auspicious.” He said, “If the cows are grazing on the land where we’re going to build the temple, then by passing cow dung and walking over the land it’s going to make it very auspicious for the temple.” Prabhupada wanted us to feed the local villagers. So even before we had a building, we had a big pot for cooking and distributing prasadam. Prabhupada used to go on walks, and he liked to walk along the pathways in between the fields. He called these the little highways. As he would be walking, then the villagers would offer him respect and pay obeisances. It was a very informal, friendly environment with all the local villagers. Prabhupada would walk out in the fields and then he would look and say, “Here there will be a spiritual city one day.”

One day was Govardhan Puja, and we built a big mountain of rice and we fed many people. The people took their leaf plates after taking prasadam, and then they threw them behind the building. Then Prabhupada was living up on the second floor, and we were sitting in the room together. Then he heard dogs barking and kids shouting. So then he got up and walked back on the veranda behind his room. Then he looked over and he saw that there was this big pile of leaf plates of people that had eaten their meal and there was little scraps on the plates. So then there were some very poor children with sticks in their hand fighting off some very hungry dogs, trying to get the scraps of food that people hadn’t finished eating on their plate. When Prabhupada saw how these children were so hungry that they had to eat the things that people threw away and how they were fighting with the dogs to get these scraps of food, tears swelled in his eyes and he said, “We have to see that nobody goes hungry within a 10-mile radius. The temple is the house of God. God is everyone’s father, Krishna is everyone’s father. So in the presence of the father, the son doesn’t go hungry. So we have to make an arrangement that people get fed.” And so that was the inspiration for regular prasadam distribution.

Prabhupada was trying to involve his godbrothers and work cooperatively with them. Especially he made a lot of effort with Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Maharaja because they were very old friends. He used to come and visit Prabhupada in his house and stay at the guest house. So he was inviting him to come even to the West and see the temples, see how the preaching was going on. But he declined, he said it was too far. So he invited him to come over to Mayapur. So he agreed to come. So then Prabhupada had him share a seat on the vyasasana with him, and he was very accommodating and loving to him.

Interview DVD 07

Jayapataka Swami: Srila Prabhupada, when he would come, it was such a momentous occasion for everybody. The devotees would be waiting and waiting, and he would come in a caravan of cars. I remember that sometimes there would be lookouts on the top of the building watching to see when Prabhupada was coming. Then when they could see him, his car coming around the corner from a distance, they’d set off a firecracker. Then everybody would know that Prabhupada was coming and start blowing conches and running. When the news came, sometimes the devotees would run out several hundred meters from the temple to receive Srila Prabhupada and then walk with him in a huge kirtan and then accompany Prabhupada all the way to the temple.

Interview DVD 10

Jayapataka Swami: I remember we were walking one time and Prabhupada said, “You build the buildings and people will come and stay here, you will get plenty of guests.” Some people expressed how are they going to come when it was such a remote place. And Prabhupada said, “No, people will come here. You will see, so many people will come.” And now Mayapur is packed with tens of thousands of people every day – twenty-five, thirty thousand people on the weekends in the winter. Big festive days, over a hundred thousand. Initially there was nobody, it was very quiet in the early ’70s, and now it has become very active just as Prabhupada predicted. He had the vision. I remember one time he was walking with so many GBCs and he turned to one and then the other, and he would tell them how he was depending on one or the other to build a big temple in Mayapur. He was trying to inspire them to fulfill his mission. After telling them that they should do it, how he was depending on them, then he also told that he was depending on me. We knew it was a team effort and it was going to require many devotees’ cooperation to pull it off, building a spiritual city here and temple of the Vedic planetarium which will propagate the message of Lord Chaitanya all over the world, fulfilling the desire of the previous acharyas.