Mahavisnupriya devi dasi Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Mahavisnupriya: Srila Prabhupada said that Hawaii was the place where the demigods came for water sports. He also told us that Hawaii was fifty years behind Kali-yuga because, while we had jungles and forests with no predators, we had no aggressive, ferocious animals. We didn’t even have snakes. From my Hawaiian history we didn’t have mosquitoes until the 1830s when Chinese cargo ships started off-loading cargo in Hawaii. And then rats and cockroaches and lizards and scorpions ran free in the Hawaiian Islands.

Srila Prabhupada would say that all of his temples were Vaikuntha, but the real truth is that Srila Prabhupada brought Vaikuntha with him everywhere he went. We had the opportunity to step into that Vaikuntha atmosphere, and when we did, we could feel bliss, a comforting protection and an overarching feeling of love. That was the Vaikuntha bubble that Srila Prabhupada lived in, and he shared it with us.

As I listened to Srila Prabhupada’s lectures, I realized he was brilliant. He knew everything about everything. There was a tree that grew on the driveway of the Hawaii temple that was a strawberry guava tree. It grew up for the first few years very straight and tall and it suddenly started bending to the right. Srila Prabhupada walked around the temple grounds and stopped at the tree and said, “This tree is trying to go into the temple to see Lord Caitanya.” And when he said that, it just struck me that not only does he know everything about nature, he knows everything about human nature as well.

Once Srila Prabhupada was leading us all in “Jaya Radha-Madhava” prayers. Tears started flowing from his eyes. They were rolling down his cheeks, and when he was finished, he said, “This song is so wonderful because everything is there: Krishna, the cows, the gopis, the gopas, His parents, His extended family, the forest of Vrindavan, the Yamuna River. Everything is there.” He said, “It is so wonderful.” Another time I was sitting on the side of Srila Prabhupada and he was chanting the maha-mantra so forcefully, with so much impact and so powerfully, that tears were flying out of his eyes. I was on the side looking at him and I could see his tears were like arrows flying toward the Deities.

At one particular time in Hawaii, Prabhupada was telling us there may be a war. Krishna had told him that, “There may be a war.” We were concerned about what would happen after the war, and he said, “The preaching would be very good. Just chant Hare Krishna and take shelter of the Lord.” Then that led to someone asking, “What happens to us Srila Prabhupada after you leave this planet? What then?” Prabhupada said, “Do not worry. Krishna will send so many good-hearted souls and so many devotees will come forward to help you. Do not worry.”

Srila Prabhupada was always encouraging us to preach. He said, “It is so important for us to spread this Krishna consciousness movement all over the world.” He would say, “We have to do this before the world goes mad.” I always thought when he used the word “mad,” that he was using the British sense of the word, which is “crazy.” We had to preach, we had to deliver these books to others, distribute love of God before the world goes crazy. But I was recently watching a YouTube clip and Srila Prabhupada said, “When I say ‘mad,’ I mean ‘the sum total of all stupidity.’” I’m glad he cleared that up, [chuckles] the difference between “craziness” and “stupidity.”

One special memory of Srila Prabhupada concerns my mother, who was very worried about me after I moved into the temple. I invited my mother to come and meet Srila Prabhupada in the middle of 1975 to get more insight into what I was doing, where I was living, and what was going on. I was hoping to put her at ease by meeting my guru and she agreed. My mother is native Hawaiian and her family goes back to the 1600s in Hawaii. She was a hula dancer since the age of four. She was very athletic and was a hatha-yoga instructor for the last thirty years of her life. So, I thought, “Maybe she will like what I am doing.” When she arrived at the temple during a Sunday feast, I said, “Mum, just follow me. Just do everything I do.” So she did. [chuckles] We were sitting on the side of the vyasasan listening to Srila Prabhupada, and I asked her, “Do you understand what he is saying?” She said, “Oh, yes. I think so, yes.” Afterwards she said to me, “I like your guru very much. You are in very good hands. I don’t have to worry about you anymore.” I was obviously overjoyed that not only did she feel I was in good hands, but she also loved the Deities, she loved the prasadam, she loved the incense, she loved the rhythms, and she loved the maha-mantra. I was so pleased that it was such a positive experience for her. The next day I went out to Waikiki and distributed Back to Godhead magazines. When the sankirtan devotees returned to the temple, we walked into the prasadam room because we were hungry and thirsty. There were four huge boxes of mangoes, and not knowing where they came from, I yelled into the kitchen, “Are these mangoes offered?” They said, “Yes, they are. Help yourself.” I asked, “Where did they come from?” The cook walked out of the kitchen and said, “Your mother brought them this morning. She said she got your aunt and your uncle to help her pick these mangoes from your grandfather’s tree.” I had just read in the Nectar of Devotion that someone could be moved to spontaneous devotional service just by seeing a pure devotee for the first time. I immediately thought, “The Nectar of Devotion is right!” This is actually true. This happened! My mother did spontaneous devotional service. I was so pleased. I could only think, “Thank you, Srila Prabhupada, for all your blessings. Thank you for all your mercy. And thank you for giving me this opportunity for a wonderful life, which I now enjoy.”

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 75 - The Hawaii Connection

The full Prabhupada Memories Series can be viewed here and also at