Nava Yogendra Swami Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Nava Yogendra Swami: Prabhupada said, “What’s your name?” I said, “Prabhupada, my name is Yogendra Kumar Sharma.” He said, “From today onward you’re no longer Yogendra Kumar Sharma, you’re Nava Yogendra das.” Practically he initiated me at our first meeting and I was very happy. I said, “Prabhupada, when I was young I had my horoscope done, and it mentioned that I was ‘very fortunate.’ I could make a lot of money in the material world but I’m not going to do that.” Prabhupada paused for some time and then looked at me and said, “Your fortune is that you’ve come to me.” It’s true. My good fortune is that I have come to Prabhupada.

Around 9:30 p.m. one summer evening in Vrindavan, Srila Prabhupada called me to his upstairs quarters to give him a massage. Afterwards he said, “Now you can take rest.” It took me about fifteen to twenty minutes to prepare my bed and mosquito net in front of Prabhupada’s quarters. About 10:00 p.m. I heard a noise inside Prabhupada’s room. Prabhupada was supposed to have been resting, but when I looked in the window I saw him translating. Prabhupada translated until the morning. When Prabhupada called me in, I said, “Prabhupada, you didn’t take any rest, and you’re not feeling well. You should have taken some rest.” Prabhupada looked at me and said, “Nava Yogendra, some times this body will be sick, some times it will be okay, but in any condition you should serve Krishna. That is your eternal credit. That alone will go with you.” How much Srila Prabhupada thought of serving Krishna! How much he was dedicated to his Lord Krishna! He was at an advanced age and not feeling well, but he did not sleep. He didn’t work hard to make money. He worked for everyone’s welfare, for everyone’s benefit. Prabhupada worked for the benefit of mankind. Prabhupada said, “This body is useless. When an animal dies, his body is useful. It’s skin, it’s bone, it’s flesh, everything is useful. But the human body is useless after death. Whatever we can do in Krishna’s service is to our credit. While we’re living, we should serve Krishna. We should not give up serving Krishna. If someone is not serving Krishna, this is his misfortune.” How Prabhupada was dedicated! He didn’t care for his body, but he thought of others. I was deeply moved by his compassion.

In Vrindavan, one of Prabhupada’s Bengali Godbrothers massaged Prabhupada. Prabhupada was his exalted God-brother, so he massaged Prabhupada. Then this God-brother of Prabhupada’s started cooking for the Deities. And he started stealing sugar and ghee. Prabhupada’s disciples didn’t say anything to this person, because he was Prabhupada’s God-brother, their respectable uncle. But one day Prabhupada heard that his God-brother was stealing. Prabhupada said, “Why didn’t you tell me?” The devotees said, “Prabhupada, since he was your God-brother . . .” Prabhupada said, “God-brother means he can steal from Krishna? Kick him out. He’s not fit to be here.” I couldn’t believe that Prabhupada said that. Prabhupada did not show favoritism. No. The law is the law for everyone. Prabhupada’s God-brother was kicked out.

One of Prabhupada’s disciples in Vrindavan was selling things to the devotees. In Prabhupada’s darshan, this devotee would speak with Prabhupada in Hindi. Later on Prabhupada found that this person was keeping two rooms without paying and was doing business. Prabhupada was furious and said, “Kick him out. This is not some business place. This is a temple. The guesthouse is for guests.” This devotee started explaining himself to Prabhupada. I mentioned, “Prabhupada, I had a feeling that he was not a good person.” Prabhupada said, “The eagle flies high in the sky, but his eyes are on the earth looking for a dead body to eat. Similarly this person had an opportunity to become Krishna conscious, but instead he’s doing business. He’s still looking down. He’s so unfortunate.” This person was kicked out of the temple. I was amazed. Prabhupada maintained our standards.

On a morning walk in Vrindavan, Prabhupada stopped, looked back, and said, “What is that ‘ghad ghad ghad ghad ghad ghad’?” He told the devotees, “Chant properly!”

I was sitting in front of Prabhupada’s room in Vrindavan when Prabhupada was translating. Mangal arati started, and Prabhupada called me and said, “Count how many devotees are in mangal arati.” Although he was translating, he was concerned about other things also. I counted the devotees, came back, and told Prabhupada, “This many devotees are there.” He said, “Call the temple president.” When the temple president came, Prabhupada asked him, “How many devotees are staying here?” The temple president said how many. Many devotees were not at mangal arati. Prabhupada was angry. He said, “Even I should go to mangal arati. I am not going because I’m doing very important work. Why isn’t everyone going to mangal arati? My temples are not hotels. They are places to perform worship and sadhana bhakti. Everyone must go to mangal arati.” When I was in Bombay, Prabhupada was told, “Prabhupada, devotees don’t come to mangal arati.” Prabhupada said, “Everyone must come to mangal arati.” Then someone proposed that devotees who don’t attend mangal arati must fast. Prabhupada said, “Yes.” Someone wrote a paper to that effect, and Prabhupada signed it. Prabhupada was very careful and wanted us to come to a certain standard.

In Mayapur there was a harinam contest. Different groups were chanting, and the best chanters were to get a prize. Prabhupada called me and said, “Look, Nava Yogendra, this harinam contest is namaaparadha [an offense against the holy name of the Lord].” I said, “Yes, Prabhupada, it’s nama-aparadha.” I told Bhavananda. Bhavananda said, “Jayapataka arranged this harinam contest.” Then Bhavananda asked Prabhupada, “This harinam contest is nama-aparadha?” Prabhupada said, “Yes, this is nama-aparadha.” They immediately stopped the harinam contest.

A servant was supposed to be guarding Prabhupada’s upstairs room. I was inside the room doing something for Prabhupada, when Prabhupada pressed his buzzer. I said, “Prabhupada, do you need anything?” Prabhupada said, “Where is this rascal guard? I came out, and he was not there. Go and find him.” I saw the guard walking, and I said, “Prabhupada wants you.” Together the guard and I entered Prabhupada’s room. In an angry mood Prabhupada immediately said, “Where were you?” and this devotee was so scared he started shivering. He couldn’t utter a word. I also started shivering. I felt, “Oh, my Guru Maharaj is angry. It’s not good to make a pure devotee angry.” Prabhupada said, “You rascal, why aren’t you loyal to your duty? You’re supposed to stay there. Why weren’t you there?” Prabhupada wanted to make sure that he guarded the room. Otherwise anybody could walk in. This devotee went back to guarding. I felt “Now Prabhupada is very angry. It’s not good that Prabhupada is angry.” But as soon as that devotee went out, Prabhupada started talking to me in a normal tone. I couldn’t believe it. Prabhupada didn’t look angry at all. When you get materially angry, everything gets disturbed, but Prabhupada was completely normal. He was making a show of anger to rectify us. Once when Prabhupada was in a good mood I said, “Prabhupada, when you get angry, what should we do?” Prabhupada said, “You should laugh.” I said, “Prabhupada, why should we laugh?” He said, “When the spiritual master gets angry, it means Krishna is kind upon you. In the material world so many people are doing so many nonsense things, but does anyone correct them?” I said, “Prabhupada, no one.” He said, “When the spiritual master corrects, that’s Krishna’s mercy upon that soul.”

Prabhupada’s secretary told me that I should not touch Prabhupada’s feet, so when I was massaging Prabhupada’s legs, Prabhupada asked, “Why aren’t you massaging my feet?” I said, “Prabhupada, I was told that no one should touch your feet.” He said, “Who told you not to touch my feet? You can touch my feet, not others.” I felt, “He’s so merciful.” A week before Prabhupada left his body I was about to leave Vrindavan. Prabhupada’s secretary said, “Did you have Prabhupada’s darshan?” I went to Prabhupada’s room. Prabhupada was lying down. I said, “Prabhupada, your most fallen disciple of all is leaving.” He opened up his eyes. He knew he was not going to meet me again. I didn’t know that. I thought he was going to get well. Although he was very weak, he lifted his head and called me close to him, and then he placed his right hand on my head and smiled. I felt great. That was my last meeting with Srila Prabhupada.

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 24 - Mahatma, Srutirupa dasi, Ganesh, Radha Kunda, Nava Yogendra Swami

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