“As Krishna gave us Srimad- Bhagavatam, which has all kinds of stories about Him so that we can develop not just knowledge of Him and His teachings, but also an attraction for His personality, similarly, by hearing these Beautiful stories about Srila- Prabhupada, we can love Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada explains that unless there is love, we cannot fix the mind. We cannot fix the mind on something we don’t love. So we must love Srila Prabhupada. And one of the ways to love him is to hear about him. The stories we hear are significant because they teach us the heart of the pure devotee and the concerns of the pure devotee. And they can melt our reluctance to surrender.”
“ If we look of ISKCON as Prabhupada’s body, and we’re all helping to carry that body, we all have to cooperate in order that Prabhupada’s not inconvenienced at any point. We have to really work together. It doesn’t matter about our size, shape, when we come, what our different services might be- they all have to be coordinated in such a way that as Prabhupada’s movement grows, Prabhupada’s not inconvenienced to the point where he becomes upset by the way we act and treat each other”.
One day Prabhupada said, “ I’ve given you this big ISKCON movement. If you can, please expand it.” He said, “ At least maintain it. Don’t let this decrease,” Then he said, “Please cooperate,” as he said so many times before. And then Prabhupada started to cry. Everyone in the room started crying That was probably the most painful moment of my life, to see Prabhupada cry. So we have this movement. It’s Prabhupada’s movement. We have the good, we have the bad, and we have the ugly. But we just have to be determined to never leave the ISKCON movement. We just have to always try to push if forward. If there’s a problem, push it forward. Because when you leave ISKCON, you make Prabhupada cry. So let’s make Prabhupada happy and push on Krishna consciousness to every town and village.
With the Publication in video and print of “Memories- Anecdotes of Modern- Day Saint”, Siddhanta has made a contribution of monumental and historical proportions to our understanding of Srila Prabhupada, the modern Gaudiya Veisnava movement, and human religiosity in general. All too often, the contemporary followers of a great religious leader have failed to adequately record his or her life and teachings, resulting in long centuries to frequently futile debate and conflict among historians and religionists alike.
Thus Siddhanta’s documentation in both video and print of the testimonies of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples about their master provides an invaluable, irreplaceable, and unique treasure of information to all those who desire today, or seek in the future, an accurate, reliable, true picture of Srila Prabhupada, the Founder- Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Siddhanta’s patient, creative and professional work will surely by seen by future generations as one of our generation’s greatest contributions to the human family. Thus it is with the soundest of reasons that I acknowledge here my deep personal gratitude to Siddhanta, congratulate him on his outstanding achievement, and urge all those seriously interested, for whatever reason, in Krishna, Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON, and spirituality itself, to stock the favorite shelves of their library with the singular treasure of the Memories series.
My First Contact with the Hare Krishna movement came in the summer of 1969 when I saw it’s members chanting on the streets of Hollywood. My initial reaction to the Shaven heads, saffron- colored robes, and seemingly strange activity, was one of the bewilderment and to some degree, comic relief. It was not until a year later that I was able to appreciate the sound philosophy that stems from one of the world’s oldest religious traditions. I soon realized that there was a tremendous wealth of knowledge and logic behind the activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and that it was far from being a cult. In fact, the information I obtained by reading my first back to Godhead magazine answered all the questions I ever had regarding life, its purpose, and more.
It was in Dallas in 1970 when I actually came in personal contact with the author of that magazine, the founder- acharya of the Hare Krishna movements, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. I greeted him along with the other devotees at the airport and then followed the procession back to the temple, where Prabhupada gave a Sunday Feast lecture. What struck me most about that lecture was Prabhupada’s answer to one question that was asked of him by a member of the audience. In his lecture, Srila Prabhupada had been stressing the importance of chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. The guest asked what Srila Prabhupada personally felt when he chanted this mantra. Without hesitation, Srila Prabhupada answered, “I feel no fear”. Because his response was so immediate and filled with such conviction, I immediately sensed in my heart that not only what he said was absolutely true, but that he was in direct contact with God. I obviously felt an urgency to try the same mantra mediation process myself.
Over time it became apparent to many who observed him first hand the Srila Prabhupada was steadily situated in a higher state of consciousness beyond anything that was part of our common experience. But that we not all. After a further study of the teachings in his books and observing his interactions with others, I realized that here was a person who was not materially motivated. He was not interested in mundane acquisition, exploitation, or adoration. He was also in complete control of his senses, the very foundation of all yoga practice. By his own example, he was a perfect teacher of the divine process of devotional service, or bhakti- yoga. And by means of his unconditional love and devotion, he was in touch with and connected with the Supreme Being. His mission appeared to be for all of our best interests by making me, and everyone else who cared to listen, spiritually happy by engaging our mind, body and soul in serving God, Krishna. Srila Prabhupada taught that as a fish out of water cannot be happy simply engaging in activities meant to satisfy our material senses.
Year later, after accepting Srila Prabhupada as a pure representatives of God and having taken spiritual initiation from him, I had the opportunity to personally be with him again when he visited the temple in Denver, Colorado. My previous conviction that Prabhupada was in direct contact with the Absolute Truth was Further solidified when I offered flowers at his feet and our eyes met. When Srila Prabhupada looked at me, he looked right through the external me, touching the internal me, the soul. I felt naked in front of him, feeling as though he could not only read my mind but me heart as well. It was the most humbling and purifying experience of my life.
That morning, during Srila Prabhupada’s daily walk, he was talking about prasadam, food offered to God before it is personally consumed. Prabhupada said prasadam is so spiritually potent that if a human being simply eats prasadam once, in his next life he will take birth in a wealthy family or a family of devotees. He then stated that if an animal eats prasadam, in its next life it will immediately take birth in the human form of life, jumping over all other species of life that a living entity would normally have to pass through before obtaining a human birth in the process of transmigration of the soul. After this discussion, I was contemplating asking him about something that had been bothering me for some time. I had been engaged as a book distributor of Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental literature, but I had become affected by so many people I met who would say that we as devotees should get jobs and not take from society by asking for donations. I said to Srila Prabhupada, “People think we are just trying to escape material life by joining these sankirtan movements.” Srila Prabhupada turned to me, smiled, and asked, “A rich man, does he work? We are rich men. We don’t work. Any rich man, he is not working. So is that escaping? We are rich men. We are Krishna’s sons.” He said the problems we have are eating, sleeping and mating, and we can arrange for these things very easily. Prabhupada taught the Philosophy of “Simple Living, High Thinking”. One can till the ground anywhere and get some food. He said, “I keep some cows, and I have got land- my whole economic question is solved”. He asked, “Why shall I make big, big arrangements for these things?” He continued, “You may do it, but why should you forget your real business? That is the defect, that you are so foolish that only for maintaining this body, you have forgotten your real business- self realization.” Prabhupada then said, “In the spiritual world there is no question of working. You get everything. So why not endeavor to go there?”
Prabhupada then looked around the beautiful park that we were walking in surrounded by trees, lakes and swans. He noted how there was no one else in the park that someone had worked hard to create, and how we were the only ones who were taking advantage of the park and all its beauty. He said, “They worked so hard, yet they are sleeping. We are taking advantage.” To exemplify this situation with an analogy, ho told us the story of the mouse and the snake. Prabhupada said, “The mouse builds a nice home for himself underground and lives comfortably. Then the snake comes and eats the mouse and live comfortably in the home the mouse has built.” He finished by telling me, and the others that accompanied him on his morning walk, that we can tell people that actually, “Yes, we are escaping this horrible condition of life- meat eating, drinking and intoxication. We are escaping these things, but not happiness.”
In his kindness, Prabhupada helped me realize my foolishness to think. I had to fulfill the exportations of the public by having a nine to five job . I had been affected by the negative feedback I received from the people I met, but Prabhupada reminded me that the point of life is self-realization, and our role in the varnashram scheme of things, was to remind others of that fact. He had dispelled my doubts with the torchlight of knowledge.
Later on, I realized that if had this small glimpse of truth from being with Srila Prabhupada for such a brief period of time, there had to be many more devotees who had just as much or more association with His Divine Grace who could also share their experiences and realizations. It was obvious that each devotee’s encounter would be unique and would reveal other aspects of Srila Prabhupada’s personality and boundless wisdom that were not necessarily contained within his transcendental books. I believed that these encounters with Krishna’s pure devotee not only inspired the devotees at the time, but could help anyone who hears these lessons in his or her present daily lives. It is with that belief that I ventured out to acquire to stories contained in this book. These stories are not only informative but also entertaining and inspiring in the way the devotees express themselves, seemingly going into a regression- type trance as they recall those times spent with Srila Prabhupada.
One poignant realization that came from one of Srila Prabhupada’s grand disciples was that through these memories we can learn about the qualities of Prabhupada and thus develop our at traction and love for him. Just as we become attracted to and ultimately love Krishna by learning about His qualities and activities from readings them in the krsna book, we can also develop love for Srila Prabhupada by becoming aware of his compassion, humanity, wisdom, humor, wit, knowledge, determination, love and how he dealt with life in a practical Krishna conscious manner.
This Book of oral Histories is a transcription of the DVD series “Memories- Anecdotes of a Modern –Day Saint.” The interviews contained within this book are from the direct disciples, with a few exceptions, of the Founder- Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. These fortunate souls had that all- important association with a pure devotee of the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna. His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, has been well recognized by scholars, religionists, and lay persons alike, as one of the most prominent ambassadors of India’s spiritual culture in modern times.
The recollections presented here are testimony to the transcendental character of Srila Prabhupada, whose purity, compassion, knowledge, humor, humility, strength, and determination seemed to be almost effortlessly exhibited on a daily basis. To get a complete picture of Krishna consciousness, it is essential to not only have the written teachings contained within Srila Prabhupada’s books, but also how he acted in so many circumstance, so that we may follow in his footsteps, as he is a true acharya, one who teaches by examples. Many times, Srila Prabhupada did mention that everything society and culture, and we can only offer as a disclaimer that the interviews documented here have been accepted at face value, with the onus of veracity left to the integrity and memory of the interviewed party. However, since the interactions described in this book were witnessed by more than one person, we as the publisher, feel all of the accounts are genuine.
As mentioned in the preface to Prabhupada Nectar, the glories and pastimes of the Lord’s pure servants are seen to be as sweet and instructive as the Lord’s own unlimited pastimes. In the same mood of appreciation for Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental glories and instruction, we hope this volume will be of some value for initiates and novices alike who are thirsting for new or revisited facets of the spiritual jewel that is Prabhupada-sanga.
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