Ugrasrava das Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Ugrasrava: Prabhupada told Madhudvisa to send me to the Philippines to check up on the “Haribols” which was a fringe movement that sprung up at the time. After that I went to check up on what was happening in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Bangkok. At this time Guru Kripa was in Bangkok and he was getting a little wishy-washy. Then I went to Mayapur and reported to Srila Prabhupada. Regarding Guru Kripa, Prabhupada said, “When a cow gives good milk and occasionally kicks, you do not chastise.” I’ve seen a lot of people use that quote in different situations but that’s where it came from. “When a cow gives good milk, do not chastise her for occasionally kicking.”

In the early days, my father was a demon. He used to pay guys to disrupt the sankirtan party and rough up the devotees a little. When Prabhupada was staying in Australia, my envious father called and said that he was going to disrupt Srila Prabhupada’s visit. I said to my father, “Before you come, call an ambulance because you’ll need one to take you away.” I told Srila Prabhupada about my father’s phone call and how he had arranged for the sankirtan party to be disrupted. I wanted Srila Prabhupada to instruct me to do something against my father, but Prabhupada was very severe. He lectured me, “In this life and in your next life, you are responsible for getting your parents out of this hellish situation, so start mending your relationship right now,” which I did. I didn’t like to do it but I thought, “Okay, Srila Prabhupada said it, so that’s what I’ve got to do.” Prabhupada also told me that I had to do the sanskara performances at my parents’ funerals, which I also did.

I had friends in the advertising industry, and one day they came to the temple and said, “The Wrangler Jeans Company wants us to advertise their product and we have the idea to use the Hare Krishnas in a sankirtan party—playing mridangas and kartals, wearing dhotis and full tilak, coming down Burk Street. One of the devotees will wear a Wrangler denim shirt along with his dhoti, and the caption on top of the photo will read, ‘I ain’t going unless I wear my Wrangler shirt.’” When he heard the idea, Madhudvisa said, “That’s terrific, let’s go ahead with it.” So I told my friends, “We’re happy with it. How much are you going to pay us?” “We’ll give you this amount of dollars.” Madhudvisa said, “Okay.” We did it, and then two days later we had to do a bit more work and Madhudvisa said, “Get more money.” I told my friends, “Sorry, but we need more money.” They said, “Okay.” Every day as we did more work, I asked for more money and got it. When the ad was finished I got paid in cash. They’d never done that before as usually people had to wait months for payment. The ad was hugely successful. It was displayed around the world on billboards forty feet by twenty feet—devotees saw it in London—and it won awards. But I was getting harassed by the brahmacharis because I was the only householder, and the mood was that if you weren’t in orange, you were in maya. They said, “This is not what Prabhupada wanted. Prabhupada wanted us to sell books.” So one day Prabhupada wanted to go for a drive. I drove him through the suburbs, and then came back through the city and parked right underneath a big billboard on a building called Maya that is a huge network of shopping centers in Melbourne. Prabhupada was chanting and looking around. I said, “Srila Prabhupada, what do you think of that ad there?” Prabhupada looked at it for a long while and said, “Ah, the boy who did this is very intelligent.” Then he said, “So, it is you?” I said, “Yes, Prabhupada.” He said, “Ah, that is very good.” I went straight back to the brahmacharis and said, “Listen, don’t tell me that the Wrangler ad was maya. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Prabhupada thought it was fantastic.”

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

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

Following Srila Prabhupada

Interview DVD 06

Ugrasrava: We had the temple in Saint Kilda, and Srila Prabhupada was still staying at my house in Brighton. I’d pick Srila Prabhupada up for the morning lecture. Prabhupada would go inside and give the lecture, and I would listen to the lecture. Then when Prabhupada had finished, I would bring the car around the front, double park it in the street, and I’d pick up Srila Prabhupada and put him in the car. This particular day Cittahari said to me…begged me that could he take the Fairlane for a drive. I said, “OK, take the Fairlane for a drive, but don’t take long because Srila Prabhupada is nearly finished. It has to be back in time.” So Cittahari didn’t come back, and Prabhupada was finishing his lecture. So I raced around the back of the temple. We had this old combi-wagon which had Radha-Krishna painted up on the side door. It was what we used to take all the rubbish to the tip and all the excess prasadam down to the beach to throw into the ocean. The lecture was finishing up so I raced around, I’ve thrown all the rubbish out into the laneway, I got a broom, I got a hose, I tried to clean it as best I could. It stunk. I’ve got the combi-wagon, I’ve come around, I’ve double parked because Cittahari still hasn’t turned up. Prabhupada walks out, sees the combi-wagon, and I put him in the front seat. So the two of us take off to Brighton, and it was raining. So the windscreen wipers were on. So every time the windscreen wiper went backwards and forwards, the horn would go “beep.” So the windscreen wiper is going, the horn is going as we’re going down the road, Burnett Street, and Prabhupada looked at me and he said, “What is going on?” I said, “Well, Srila Prabhupada, Cittahari didn’t come back with the car. I had to get the old truck.” So Srila Prabhupada watched the windscreen wiper and listened to the horn go and he just broke up, he thought it was the most hilarious thing. And we went into a great discourse about Indian cars similar to the one that we were in at the moment.

Interview DVD 08

Ugrasrava: At the end of the lectures, he would stop at the temple doorway and I’d put his slippers on his feet. And he would allow me to pick him up, and he would put his arm around my shoulder and I’d carry him up the stairs in Danks Street. Sometimes he would give me little comments on the way just the two of us could hear. Other times he would be very sober. But all the time, once we got past the doorway, I would get a little jovial comment of some sort. But the amazing thing was, I always never, ever, ever forgotten this point that it always seemed to me as though he was weightless. There was no weight there at all. I could walk up the stairs with him easy with just holding him, carrying him up. It was amazing how weightless he was.

There were the two solicitors, and the other guy with the long hair was the photographer that took the ad for the Wrangler shirts, which was that billboard ad that was around the world. The photographer’s name was Bob Bourne. He was a personal friend of mine, and he won awards for that one photo. How it came about for him to do the Wrangler ad, we had just done the temple up in Burnett Street and the Deities had just been all clothed in new clothing and Vaibhavi had been decorating everything. I organized Bob Bourne to come and take the photos of the Deities for this particular time of their new dress. Bob had the Hasselblad camera, which is the one you viewed through the top, and he kept on referring to the Deities as “them” and “it” virtually, “those.” One time where he was lining everything up, and Vaibhavi was just making sure that everything was in particular position for the photo. And it just so turned out that she walked out of the Deity room and I walked out of the temple room, we were discussing something. And within seconds Bob came out and said she’d moved. We said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “She’s moved, you have to go and straighten Her up.” And Radha had turned, the Deity moved. So Vaibhavi had to go in and straighten Her up again. So from that time on, he never referred to Them as “them” or “it,” it was always “Radha and Krishna.” And after that, he wanted to do the photo for the Wrangler ad.