Prabhavishnu Swami Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Prabhavishnu Swami: Once, Prabhupada was giving darshan on the roof, when somebody brought him some mangoes. Prabhupada asked one of the brahmacharis to cut the mangoes, but that brahmachari didn’t know how to cut them properly. So Srila Prabhupada took the mango and showed how to cut it. Prabhupada said that a brahmachari should be expert in everything.

Once we were walking with Srila Prabhupada on the beach near the edge of the ocean in Jagannatha Puri. Srila Prabhupada said, “When I was a young man, just married, I came here dressed in khadi cloth and ran on the beach and jumped in the waves, but now just see the position.” He was walking along with his cane. He said, “Don’t think that this won’t happen to you.”

After we had toured the east coast of India, we came to see Srila Prabhupada in Hyderabad. Prabhupada called us into his room and asked us how many sets of books we distributed and what the professors thought about the books. He told us, “You should keep very good health on traveling sankirtan. It’s best if you don’t eat any grains. Just eat vegetables, fruits, milk products, and nuts, cashew nuts; every day like ekadasi. In this way you can keep your health very strong.”

Once I went into Prabhupada’s room when he was sitting in the corner with his head in his hand. He sat there for a few minutes with a pained expression on his face. Then he looked up at me and said, “This Bombay project is such a headache. It is such a headache.” He paused and then said, “But it is for Krishna, so it is all right.”

In Delhi we were taking a morning walk in the park, when we saw a man doing some yoga exercise by standing on his head. Some of the devotees laughed at him. Prabhupada cut them short and said, “Don’t laugh. This makes the body fit for spiritual life.”

Once a professor from a University in Aligarh offered Srila Prabhupada a set of Bhagavatams that included the commentaries of all the different acharyas. I was requested to pick the books up. It was about a threehour journey from Vrindavan, and I went there in the temple car. The books were in two piles on the floor. One pile was Cantos One through Nine, plus Eleven and Twelve. The other pile was Canto Ten, which contained about eleven commentaries. I was about to take the books, when the professor said, “I would like to become a Life Member in exchange for these books.” I wasn’t sure what to do, but I thought, “I’ve come all this way, and Prabhupada needs these books, so I’d better take them somehow or other.” I said, “I’m sure you’ll be able to become a Life Member, but I’ll have to ask Srila Prabhupada. In the meantime, I’ll take the books back to him.” When I brought the books back, Prabhupada examined them. He was pleased and said, “These are suitable.” Then I told him that the man wanted to become a Life Member. Prabhupada said, “These books are worth 1,000 rupees. Tell him to pay the balance and then he can become a Life Member.” At that time, Life Membership was 2,222 rupees, but when I informed the professor, he did not want to pay. He wanted to take the books back, but Prabhupada never gave them back. I think that matter was settled many years after Srila Prabhupada’s departure. Prabhupada used those books for translating the Srimad-Bhagavatam and writing his commentaries.

Once in Vrindavan in 1974, I was in Srila Prabhupada’s room during the Mayapur-Vrindavan festival. At that time Madhudvisa Swami was leaving and was saying good-bye to Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada thanked him for his service and told him, “You are a perfect leader.” Madhudvisa said, “I’m just trying to follow you, Srila Prabhupada.” Prabhupada replied, “Of course. Without following properly you can never become a perfect leader.”

In 1973 I was the president of the Bury Place temple in London. The previous president had formed an organization called The Radha- Krishna Temple Guild, which was made up of congregational members who wanted to do some service, like buy gifts for the Deities. Once, at Prabhupada’s darshan in the Manor, one of the ladies from this Guild made a complaint. Afterwards Srila Prabhupada called me into his room and chastised me. He said, “We only have one kind of membership; Life Membership. We don’t require any other kind of membership like Guild Membership.” Then he said, “Only properly qualified persons should be allowed to speak in the temple,” and he repeated that point four or five times. “Only the most qualified persons should be allowed to speak in the temple room.”

In the beginning of 1973, Prabhupada said, “I’m very pleased to hear the good news of the traveling party in England. I am pleased to hear that the people of that country are interested in Krishna consciousness and are taking our books. Go on in this way, traveling to every town and village. Don’t worry about your destination. Go on preaching Krishna’s message and distributing these books. Sometimes it must be very cold there, and you must not be getting proper sleep or proper food, but because you have properly understood the philosophy of Krishna consciousness, therefore you have surpassed the feats of millions of yogis and transcendentalists and have come to the topmost platform of surrendering to Krishna. My challenge is let anyone see how hard our devotees are working for Krishna and how they have surpassed the feats of all yogis and transcendentalists.”

Once we had a program in Kensington Town Hall in London. The Hall was packed, and Srila Prabhupada received a wonderful reception. At the end of the program, a Christian asked a challenging question, and Prabhupada asked Revatinandana Swami to answer. Revatinandana Swami answered in a very convincing style, completely defeating him, and the whole audience erupted in applause. I was sitting on the side of the stage, and Srila Prabhupada turned toward us with his face lit up in an effulgent smile. He looked like the sun. He was happy to see how his disciple had so convincingly defeated this rascal.

Prabhupada once asked me about my personal life, “Where do you come from, and how long have you been in the Movement?” After I told him I was from Britain he said, “The British expanded a big empire, so you spread the empire of Krishna consciousness.” On three different occasions he told me that. Once I brought my parents to see Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada was very courteous to them. He took off his garland and asked me to put it on my father. Then he said, “Nice son, nice father. Whenever the son becomes a devotee, then ten generations in the past and ten generations in the future will be delivered.” My parents were very impressed by Srila Prabhupada’s kindness and courtesy.

The last time I got personal instructions from Srila Prabhupada was in July, 1977. We’d been doing big preaching programs in Bangladesh, when some Muslims attacked the temple in Mayapur. The papers in Bangladesh said, “Cruel Foreign Vaishnavas Attack the Timid Muslim Villagers,” and the National Security Intelligence arrested us and told us to leave the country. I came to Mayapur and suggested to my GBC, Jayapataka Maharaj, that it might be good to open a center in Nepal. Jayapataka Maharaj gave me a letter, and I went to Vrindavan to see Srila Prabhupada. Early in the morning, I saw Srila Prabhupada on his balcony. He was very ill. I had never seen him in such a condition. He looked thin and was wearing dark glasses, but as soon as I came he began to thank me for preaching in Bangladesh. He told a story about a Bengali poet who went to England but who was frivolous, lost all his money, and had to beg. He got nothing until finally a Bengali gentleman gave him a donation. The poet said to that gentleman, “You’ve got the courage of an Englishman and the heart of a Bengali mother.” Srila Prabhupada said, “Similarly, you should preach with the courage of an Englishman and the heart of a Bengali mother. The British were famous for courage, expansion, and spreading an empire all over the world. In fact, the British even created America. In the same way, you should spread the empire of Krishna consciousness. If you need money, I will give you foreign currency. Preach in these countries. You’ve got two nice fields of preaching, Bangladesh and Nepal.” I said that in Nepal we needed some foreign currency to show the government every month, otherwise we couldn’t extend our visa. Prabhupada asked how much we needed, and I said, “Six hundred dollars a month.” Prabhupada said, “Take that money. Open a bank account, and I’ll send you money every month. Similarly in Bangladesh, I’ll send foreign currency, and you can print books and preach. Publicize that this is A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami’s money. Ventilate this in the press.” Prabhupada used those words, “Ventilate it in the press.” Publicize, “This is not American government money, but it is money which I have earned by writing books, printing books, and selling books.” In this way he gave his blessings. He said, “Take the courage of an Englishman and the heart of a Bengali mother and preach.” That was the last instruction I got from Srila Prabhupada.

Srila Prabhupada was extremely humble and gave all credit to his spiritual master. Once when he was about to leave the Manor, Srila Prabhupada said, “I have no qualification. My only qualification is that I tried to follow the instructions of my spiritual master.” Then he stood up, went to the picture of his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and touched his head to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s lotus feet. Then he left.

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 25 - Sama Priya dd, Vrindabaneshvari dd, Kanka dd, Deva Didhiti dd, Bhavat and others

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

Following Srila Prabhupada

Interview DVD 03

Prabhavisnu Swami: So I often had the chance to drive Prabhupada from the temple to the park where he was going to walk in our Ford Transit sankirtan van, and he would sit in the front seat and chant japa quietly. Sometimes he would be reciting Siksastakam in a barely audible voice, ceto darpana marjanam, he would sing it to himself. I remember once we were walking in Hyde Park and there was a big group of devotees and they were all chanting japa so it made quite a bit of noise, and there was some bum sleeping on a park bench. So he was woken up by this, and then he saw this big crowd of devotees bearing down on him and he was a bit frightened or freaked out. Then Prabhupada said, “Good morning,” in a very polite way, and then he responded.

Interview DVD 11

Prabhavisnu Swami: I went to Vrindavan, and I had a letter from Jayapataka Maharaj explaining about the idea of going to Nepal, to go and start a center. So Prabhupada got the letter, and then he called me. He was sitting on the veranda upstairs, and he looked very ill. I had never seen him looking so ill. And then he welcomed me and he thanked me for preaching in Bangladesh. Then he told a story about one Bengali poet, Michael Madhusudan Dutta. He had gone to London, and he squandered all his money. Then he was asking everyone to please help him, and no one would give him any money except this one gentleman called Vidyasagar. So he gave him some money, and so this poet glorified that man. He said, “You’ve got the courage of an Englishman and the heart of a Bengali mother.” So then Prabhupada said that “You are an Englishman, a Britisher, and you have to show that courage. The British were famous for expanding an empire.” He said, “They expanded an empire all over the world. Even America is your creation. So similarly you should expand the empire of Krishna consciousness and do it with the courage of an Englishman and the heart of a Bengali mother.”