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<font color=#669999>Dear Prabhus,


Pita Dasji has been favoring us with his story on the Dharma Mela. I thought that I would cross post it here for everyone's enjoyment. I hope you're OK with this, Pita Prabhu.<hr></font>


Dear Prabhujis,


Hare Krishna! Please accept my humble obeisances! All Glories to Shree Shree Guru and Gouranga!


I first heard the devotees clanking their kartals on Board Street in Philadelphia. My friends and I were invited to the Love Feast. We made it to the temple late Ekadasi during the Jhulan Yatra of Shree Shree Radha Krishna, accompanied by our dates and intoxicated. We swung Their Lordships, but were so stoned we didn’t even see them on the swing We took prasad of stir fried green pepper and tapioca puris and our taste buds exploded.


We were given the Holy Name by Nayanabhiram Prabhu who told to just chant this Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare mantra and never stop. We became even more intoxicated on the Holy Name than the pot and when we got back to our dormitory, we excitedly told everyone that the Maha Mantra makes you higher than reefers. They told us we were fools and that we should never go back to that place again. “If you didn’t give them your address, you’re still safe,” was their advice.


Time went by and I would see the devotees more and more whenever I went into town, but I never wanted to speak with them. My friends would always buy their books and give them to me. “Look at this art, it’s fantastic,” they would say and I had to agree. The books would then get lost somewhere in my messy pile of possessions. When I did pick them up, I noticed that they always smelled of incense.


I would admire Shree Krishna and remember what was the devotees told me, that when Krishna plays His flute, the rocks melt and the birds fall from the trees in ecstasy. I could understand that these pictures of te cowherd boys running with Krishna through the groves of Vrindavan and Shree Shree Radha Krishna with their confidential maidservants were coming directly from Goloka. Gradually I had collected many such paintings and would continuously admire them.


Time passed and I fell into a group of friends who were taking great amounts of drugs and mixing them with the occult to control each other. I gradually recognized what nonsense this was and so I left their association. Then I looked to the devotees as better friends. Rabindra Swarup Prabhuji spoke to me from time to time when I came to the Philly temple, where I often stayed overnight.


I was so crazy that most of the devotees considered me a lost cause. They would go into the basement under the temple room and bang on the floor under me with hammer where I would sit in the yogic lotus position. But Rabindra would continue to show mercy towards me, feeding me Lord Jagannath’s Maha Prasad.


One day, Rabindra gave me a flower and ask me to offer it to Srila Prabhupada one day, but I had reservations. Why should I offer a flower to a man? I thought. But then I thought he is helping me and all I’m doing here is showing appreciation. When I bowed down to His Divine Grace for the first time, I just became so happy -- my bad times in life disappeared and became only bad memories to be forgotten.


I then traveled to a few temples to see if the mood was the same everywhere. I wanted to meet many devotees, but I didn’t see enough to really become a part of it. At the same time I certainly didn’t see much in life outside the temple that was at all interesting, as Krishna had given me a small transcendental taste.


My goal was to meet His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada personally. So in Miami after hearing Vishnujan Swami’s kirtans, I decided to join his band of kirtaniyas, but by mistake joined the Miami Temple, which wasn’t such a bad experience at all. Narahari and Raghava engaged me in many services to Their Lordships Goura Nitai, who were very kind to me. There was always service to do among the pots and pans of the Miami temple kitchen.


That year Vishnujan Swami spent a few months in Miami and when he decided to travel I had to go with them. I left the temple to join the Radha Damodar traveling sankirtan party. There I met Brahma Dasji, who is part of this forum. He had a bus full of merry bhaktas. There were many different buses and many devotees on each bus. We distributed lots of Srila Prabhupada’s books. Each day we would hear Srimad Bhagavatam and take prasad and then go out to places where we distributed our books. Many kinds of places -- parking lots, bowling alleys, drive-in theaters, streetlights – basically, we went anywhere we could.


Then came the chance to met Srila Prabhupada in Atlanta. I was personally introduced to him and my wish had come true. I saw Srila Prabhupada again after that time in the same year, when we were back in Philadelphia for the Rathayatra. It was an overcast day, but when His Divine Grace arrived, exited his car and walked towards the cart, the sun came out and seemed to shine on him like a spotlight.


Srila Prabhupada told us how Lord Jagannath took on his fantastic form. After hearing His own pastimes with Radha described by Rohini to Rukmini, Krishna was stunned in remembrance of His eternal relationship and thus took the form of Jagannath Swami.


We then visited New Vrindavan where we stayed for a few weeks working in the fields. The mood here was very rural and the devotees didn’t seem to have the same interest in Krishna consciousness as in the other temples. They were just as interested in communal life and farming, it seemed. So I left with a very nice godbrother, Vanudara Prabhu and we hitchhiked to San Diego together.


In the San Diego temple we were asked to silkscreen women’s breasts on T-shirts. What is this? We were told, “Oh, it’s okay. We sell them to head shops and it brings money to the temple. Jayatirtha has told us we could do it.” I refused and left very shortly to New Dwaraka, the L.A. temple. It was there that I finally found very nice service that kept me very happily engaged.


Somehow I was able to get authorized to leave the San Diego temple allowed to go up to New Dwarka.


It was my greatest desire in those days to join with the artists who were painting for Srila Prabhupada’s books but this was never to happen. Instead I was made into an apprentice to the best artist that ever served in ISKCON, Bharadraj Prabhu. He was also a wonderful kirtan bhajan leader.


Bharadraj and Adideva Prabhus had just returned from a long stay in Shree Dham Mayapur where they had learned the local Bengali art of doll making under Srila Prabhupada’s direction. Actually they were not dolls as we understand them, but figures made of straw and mud mixed with cow dung and rice husks.


Srila Prabhupada wanted an exhibition of these dolls that were to be the sculptural counterparts of the paintings. These were to be exhibitions to teach Krishna consciousness. This was something that his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Prabhupada had pioneered.


Saraswati Thakur would spend all of the money his sannyasis collected and put it into these doll exhibitions. When the sannyasis asked His Divine Grace where all the money they had just given him had gone, he would say, “Oh, I spent that money on dolls. Go out and collect more.”


Our Srila Prabhupada told us this story himself when he visited our studio in 1976.

We worked at least eighteen hours a day, seven days a week, for two years to complete an exhibition of the introduction to Bhagavad Gita. We were grateful to be so nicely engaged in serving Srila Prabhupada in a way that he had personally requested us and wanted so much to see it happen.


Some others, however, came and sneered at us, telling us we were in Maya, using all the society’s money to make such a useless thing as a doll exhibition, even they were well aware who had ordered and wanted it. This was the same person who had been with Vishnujan Swami when I joined the Radha Damodar party.


His opinion was completely in opposition to Srila Prabhupada’s and I later saw how he has created more chaos in our society than I could ever calculate and he continues to do so from the sidelines, without restriction.

I want to avoid as much as possible the bad guys and go over the wonderful experiences, as there is more than enough to tell about them. Over time, the bad elements will fade and their offences will be burned up.


New Dwarka was, as Srila Prabhupada called it, our western world headquarters. There was the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust with its studio of devotee artists, the archives department, the different translation department, where books were translated into Spanish and German. The book distribution departments which we all time to time help to distribute.


The temple Deity department and the devotees whom took care of their Lordships. There was also a sound studio Golden Avatar and the incense company, Spiritual Sky. In the three years I was there, the fourth to the ninth cantos of Srimad Bhagavatam and the complete Chaitanya Charitamrita were printed.


As we worked in the studio making our exhibition, some devotees would be engaged in reading the Srimad Bhagavatam to us. We had all of Srila Prabhupadas books read to us during those doll studio days.


Mangal arati was the high point of the day and I personally hated to miss them. New Dwarka also had a great selection of kirtan leaders. Kirtan with a hundred or more devotees was always very exciting. Rising up after cold showers and in clean cloth to see Shree Shree Rukmini Dwarkadish each day, I soon noticed they were smiling. Their Lordships were real and they were the center of our meditation as well our whole goal in service. The devotees all loved Rukmini and Dwarkadish and I soon became infected with their love.


In New Dwarka there were always many festivals we celebrated that I have never seen celebrated anywhere in ISKCON, like the cleansing of the Gundicha Temple. One day after we read the lila in the Chaitanya Charitamrita, as the time was approaching, we all decided to cleanse the temple.


The whole community came with buckets and we washed the temple room with a river of water pouring out. I remember our godbrother Guru Das taking a very big part but others, like always, criticized us and said we were Sahajiyas and that was the last Gundicha Cleansing festival in New Dwarka.


It was in New Dwarka that I first heard many devotees the senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada preach Krishna Consciousness. I enjoyed very much hearing the classes of Hridayananda Maharaj, Nara Narayan Prabhu, Ramesvara, Jadurani Prabhu, Dravida Prabhu, Veda Vyas Prabhu, Jayadwaita Swami, and host of others too numerous to mention.


The atmosphere was nice, but it became even nicer when Srila Prabhupada personally came. Preparations were made for weeks in advance. Recently, during Gour Purnima this year, I saw Bhakti Tirtha Swami. He kept saying that he wanted to instil the devotees under his care with the "Prabhupada is coming mood." He was also thinking that this was the best of attitudes, but is it really possible to instil it today? Bhakti Tirtha Swami thinks so. I thought it was a nice idea and a sweet memory.


Srila Prabhupada did come while I was in New Dwarka, and he stayed at least a week. His Divine Grace came to our doll studio as I have said before.


One of the things he did on that visit was to request certain devotees to stop reading his Chaitanya Charitamrita together in isolation. There was a group of devotees who got the idea that if they just read the parts of the Chaitanya Charitamrita that described Radha Krishna’s pastimes, they could become gopis in their next lives. For a few weeks they had been meeting after evening classes and reading these portions in the BBT offices. In ISKCON gossip, they became known as “The Gopi Bhava Club.”


Srila Prabhupada was quite upset with them and told them to stop. Like many of these ISKCON heresy tales, the same person I mentioned above for opposing the doll exhibition took a major part in stirring up this witch-hunt and finding the culprits.

He has been behind all the heresies in ISKCON and at the same time is their source and their cause. We need not say his name, as it is too sweet to use in relationship to himself, in my humble feelings.

<font color=#dedfdf><small>


[This message has been edited by Jagat (edited 07-04-2001).]

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Originally posted by Jagat:



<font color=#669999>Dear Prabhus,


Pita Dasji has been favoring us with his story on the Dharma Mela. I thought that I would cross post it here for everyone's enjoyment. I hope you're OK with this, Pita Prabhu.<hr></font>


Dear Prabhujis,


Hare Krishna! Please accept my humble obeisances! All Glories to Shree Shree Guru and Gouranga!


"In the San Diego temple we were asked to silkscreen women’s breasts on T-shirts. What is this? We were told, “Oh, it’s okay. We sell them to head shops and it brings money to the temple. Jayatirtha has told us we could do it.” I refused and left very shortly to New Dwaraka, the L.A. temple. It was there that I finally found very nice service that kept me very happily engaged.


Somehow I was able to get authorized to leave the San Diego temple allowed to go up to New Dwarka."


Pita, perhaps you were misinfomed about Jayatirtha 'authorizing' the San Diego devotees to 'silkscreen women's breasts on t-shirts', as he went from being temple president of New Dwarka to temple president of the manor, in England after Ramesvara took over the LA temple. As a matter of fact, I'd never heard the story of t-shirts with female breasts on them being sold in head shops (has anyone else?). Once Ramesvara took over it was he who was in charge (someone correct me if I'm wrong) and became the GBC 'authority' for San Diego.




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I remember Srila Prabhupada in New Dwarka preaching to us on deviation, or changing the teachings of Krishna Consciousness to suit ourselves, or as one devotee would say, explaining the Bhagavad Gita “as I would like it to be,” not “as it is.”


I remember this point as Srila Prabhupada stressed it in every class. In one class he told us, “Jumping, jumping, jumping over the head of the Spiritual Master just like monkeys; you will all become monkeys in your next life. That is what happens to disciples who deviate from the instructions of the spiritual master. They become monkeys in Vrindavan. There are already enough monkeys in Vrindavan."


On my last visit to Shree Vrindavan Dham, I couldn’t help but notice the overpopulation of monkeys there these days and had to think, “Have that many of my godbrothers passed away already?”


Each day Srila Prabhupada would go on his morning walk, but only a few devotees would be able to go with him. When Srila Prabhupada saw an old man jogging. he said, “For a young man this is life, but for an older man it means a quicker death because he is using up all his breaths.” Then Srila Prabhupada told us that at the time of birth, according to our karma, we are given a certain number of breaths. When we die, it appears to be from illness or any number of other things, but actually it means that we have simply used up all our allotted breathes. He explained that according to this principle, the yogis have been able to extend their lives through breath control.


When bringing up these points, Srila Prabhupada would often preach about the worthlessness of a long life without Krishna consciousness, and he would give the redwood tree as an example of living so long without understanding the meaning of life.


“What is the meaning of human life?” We would hear Srila Prabhupada ask us. "To know love and serve God Krishna there is no other purpose."


We were told that on his walk Srila Prabhupada saw a retired man making some putts with his clubs on the grass in Santa Monica Park near the ocean.


“What is he doing?” Srila Prabhupada asked the devotees.


“Well, Srila Prabhupada, he is playing golf.”


Srila Prabhupada asked, “What is its purpose?”


The devotees replied, “To get the ball from one place to another.”


Srila Prabhupada then gave his sour face look and said, “What a worthless waste of time! Old age is meant for spending our time in remembering Krishna and he is using it to push a ball!”


New Dwarka in those days presented us with the appearance of a shooting star by the name of Ramesvara Prabhu. When I first came to New Dwarka, he was just another BBT brahmachari and was always seen with his godbrother partner Radhavallabha.


As we took morning prasad, Ramesvara started to give us his talks with inside information on Srila Prabhupada’s whereabouts, ISKCON policy, book distribution, always hyping up the prabhus. I mean, the guy had it in the sales department.


I remember one of his statements going something like this: “Lord Chaitanya is the most merciful and munificent incarnation ever. He has descended just to give us Love of Krishna and I’m going to take full advantage.” As he made this statement, he would almost squirm about, twisting his body. Each day he would do another performance that would outdo the last. I use to think someone would ask him to stop, but he was inspiring so he was encouraged.


Ramesvara was on fire for many years. At morning prasad, he would jumping in to give a few messages and he had sankirtan scores right after Tulasi puja. He would jump up and give us his one-man ishtagoshti for about 20 minutes, always looking like he expected a senior devotee like Nara Narayan to tell him to sit down and shut up, and always doing his body squirm to emphasize points. He was good and he did get us going. In those days, I enjoyed his pep talks.


Then Ramesvara was put in charge of the BBT; and after a short time, made a sannyasi; then after that, GBC of New Dwarka; and after that, a Divine Grace with his own Vyasasan -- all within four years. A mouse-cat-dog-tiger-mouse. So sad, so very sad. We also wanted to see him get the full mercy of Lord Chaitanya


Toward the last days Srila Prabhupada was with us, in 1977, Srila Prabhupada would have one GBC stay with him as secretary each month. Ramesvara left and took his turn in about February of 1977. Satsvarupa followed him, and then the person who stayed till Srila Prabhupada's departure, because he wouldn’t let any other GBC replace him.


We all heard about this from Ramesvara’s purports after Tulasi Puja. As soon as Srila Prabhupada became ill, we all knew about it, as Ramesvara told us almost everything he knew in his 20 minutes news flashes from the ISKCON grapevine, which was almost as fast as today’s Internet.


When Ramesvara was secretary, he made notes of his time with Srila Prabhupada and would let us hear them in his nectar reports after Tulasi worship.


Srila Prabhupada would order Ramesvara to eat from his plate after only taking a few things and tell him to fill up to his neck.


He told us of how disappointed Srila Prabhupada was with his godbrothers and made a statement which he told us came from Prabhupada about them assisting him in his preaching, "If passing air would save your life, they would not do so."


As long as one was fully engaged in service New Dwarka was a wonderful place and if not, it would quickly become not so transcendental. As one devotee Bhakta George complains, what it is now, it always was for the idle. Service is being blessed; losing service is being cursed.


There always was and still is an eternal Watseka Mela going on in front of the temple apartments, sometimes in full view of Their Lordships. I was just there in May of this year and the Watseka Mela main topic now is: "His Holiness Narayan Maharaj: Do you or do you not approve of him?"


These great purges, like those in China during the Cultural Revolution, which at first were followed by the people so reverently, in the end are not as important as they seem.


There are always lots of topics flying around on Watseka Ave. It’s like that park in London where people stand on soapboxes and preach their philosophy. This goes on eternally on Watseka. Many new revolutionaries have been born or sprung up on that holy avenue.


There was and still is the very far out and extraordinary devotee, Nara Narayan Vishwakarma Prabhu, whose input came in spurts from time to time in my days there, it’s still the same today.


One day, in one of Ramesvara’s after Tulasi puja talks, we heard of the recent pastimes of Jayananda and how he was snuck out of a NYC hospital and taken to some place in Mexico for treatment and that he may come to New Dwarka. Very soon though Jayananda was there and the whole community met him.


Ramesvara was very kind and served Jayananda with all respect and so did we all, understanding Jayananda to be a genuine saint.


Though his body was in the final stages of Leukemia and his skin yellowed by the illness, Jayananda didn’t want to just sit and wait for death to overtake him. He cornered Ramesvara and told him it was a disgrace that we had such nice Jagannath Deities in New Dwarka, but still had no Rathayatra.


Jayananda wanted the devotees to drive him around to see what would be a good route for such a festival. They first took him to Venice beach. When he saw the wide concrete walk there, he told them that the Rathayatra had to be held there. Jayananda personally went to all the city officials in his wheelchair and got all the permits for the festival.


He then instructed a crew of devotees how to build the cart and observed them doing so until he was too sick to leave his room. One day, Mukunda Maharaj took me to met Jayananda. Jayananda was staying with Mukunda at his office in the downstairs apartments.


The day after I was introduced to Jayananda, I saw him sitting in his wheelchair outside his room and went over to sit with him. We just sat together, not really speaking as he was a bit contemplative.


The only thing Jayananda said to me was, "I’m very happy I will be living my body before Srila Prabhupada, because I don’t want to see ISKCON after His Divine Grace leaves."


I was thinking then, “What is this? What is he saying to me? Will I see ISKCON after Srila Prabhupada leaves? What has he revealed to me?” Now of course his words have much more meaning to me than they did then.


Jayananda understood what was going on within the hearts of many persons in ISKCON and without Srila Prabhupada to check them, he knew they would create all kinds of havoc that they have.


This Dharma Mela is like a small temple. We can call ourselves a small society of devotees and we can either bring peace in our midst or chaos. Everyone should respect everyone else. Younger devotees should respect the older devotees and if anyone says he or she is more advanced, then they should be chastised by all of us.


If someone preaches apasampradaya teachings, he needs to be exposed and this is done to protect the sincere followers, not for some ego magnification.


It is better to reveal one’s identity or at least stick to one and tell us about yourself. If you like personalism, then be personal with us.


To be impersonal is to be afraid of your spiritual identify and relationships. This was also learned in ashram life -- great tolerance.


We should be very happy to hear from the older devotees and if we heard something that seems to be questionable, then we should request them to restate it and present it for our understanding.


If we are new to Krishna Consciousness, we first just hear. I some time wonder how many are just readers out there and never speak up?


Please speak up let us know you are there, we are ready to serve you in your spiritual search. We are not looking for any thing from you but your attention and reactions.


We are very happy to also preach to the walls if necessary and do so all the time because we are Srila Prabhupada’s disciples and that’s what we do. Birds fly and devotees preach Krishna Consciousness. <small><font color=#dedfdf>


[This message has been edited by Jagat (edited 07-06-2001).]

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<h3>Prabhupada visits the diorama studio</h3>


Bharadraj Prabhu told us about Srila Prabhupada’s idea of what the exhibition should be and the real situation: that many of the movement's leaders were not willing to surrender to Srila Prabhupada’s desires to make it a reality.


Srila Prabhupada wanted the Doll Exhibition in Los Angeles city. His idea was to create something like what Universal City became years later, with a permanent exhibition on the introduction to Bhagavad Gita. His Divine Grace said people would throng to such an exhibit.


Jayatirtha was the main person who supported the project and I suspect that we were able to at least finish it because of him. Today it is hidden away in distant portion of the New Dwaraka Community.


If the leaders who were controlling the money flow to the project had done what Srila Prabhupada instructed, the exhibition might have become as popular as Universal City and a great preaching asset.


As time in ISKCON passed, we would see these young men taking over Srila Prabhupada’s temples and applying karmi learned understanding of market economy into effect instead of the instructions given to us by Srila Prabhupada. Everything was based on money and getting it. Love and trust and pleasing Srila Prabhupada seemed not to be an important goal in ISKCON almost the moment Srila Prabhupada left His lotus form. It was preached that His Divine Grace would never leave but the actions of the society were, “He is gone and it’s ours now. This is your area and that is mine.”


It took me some time to firmly understand that this really was the mentality of the leadership. ISKCON was presenting the most sublime information that has ever entered into the western world, but the dissemination has been so poor.


As we finished up the exhibition our group of artists had less and less to do. We were asked by Srila Prabhupada to make deities for worship in the new temple in the Fiji Islands, Shree Krishna Kaliya temple. I was put to work making Their Lordships’ lotus bases.


After this we also made the Shree Pancha Tattva deities for the Laguna Beach Temple and Pandu Prabhu did a wonderful mural behind them of Shree Dham Mayapur landscape.


We then started to produce the murtis of Srila Prabhupada done by Lochan Prabhu, which are in almost every ISKCON temple today.


When Srila Prabhupada visited our studio, all the small scale-sized mark-ups of the exhibition were placed in the studio to show him. As he saw each small exhibition His Divine Grace would make his comments. When seeing the changing bodies diorama, Srila Prabhupada quoted the verse and said from boyhood to youth to old age the body changes but the soul does not.


“This is a universal problem, not a Christian one or a Muslim one. We all have this problem. So this is a science not a religion. We are showing how to stop this cycle of birth and death.”


Srila Prabhupada’s murti was placed in the far back of the studio and the murti was made to move its head up and look out a window. The exhibition was of Srila Prabhupada in his small room at Radha Damodara temple in Vrindavan, and from his room you could see the samadhi of Srila Rupa Goswami. It is within these rooms Srila Prabhupada wrote his Bhagavad Gita translations "As It is" and so the murti was made to move its head as if to look at Srila Rupa Goswami’s Samadhi.


Lochan Prabhu had placed it behind some partitions and when His Divine Grace first saw it, his expression was of total satisfaction and happiness. When the murti began to move his happiness seemed to increase by 100%. There is a photo of this in the archives.


Lochan then told Srila Prabhupada that we could make murtis of himself and place them on his Vyasasans and Srila Prabhupada said, “Yes, this is good. Then I will never leave. I will always be with you.”


These few moments were one of the nicest memories I have of my time in His Divine Grace’s ISKCON.


We then showed Srila Prabhupada the work areas where the dresses were made and Srila Prabhupada saw some small angels on the wall in different sizes as they were to be placed into the universal form exhibition. “Who are they?” Srila Prabhupada asked. “They are Gandharvas, Srila Prabhupada.” His Divine Grace said, “No, Gandharvas do not have wings. They do not need wings to fly. Only Garuda has wings. He is unique in this.”


Wow! We got the information - angels have no wings! And those were the highlights of Srila Prabhupada’s tour of our studio.



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<h3>On my way to India</h3>

As the exhibition finished up, I was looking for more service to do. I wanted to leave and go to be with Srila Prabhupada in Vrindaban somehow. I learned the way one was given permission by a devotee Abhinanda Prabhu, which I have already written about before I was able to get the permission granted and after about five weeks was off to India.


It was arranged that I was to return to Radha Damodar party for collection of my fare to India and I was to go to Lousiville Kentucky and stay with Kavi Chandra Swami who managed a small preaching center in that place.


Kavi Chandra Maharaja was a wonderful person to be around He sent me out to the main street lights with sticks of incense and I approached cars asking them to take a stick of air fresher and please give a donation.


I would also give them a Back to Godhead or if they gave me a bill, a small book like "Krishna the Resevoir of Pleasure"or "Raja Vidya, the King of Knowledge," or "Easy Journey to Other Planets." These small books were distributed profusely by the devotees for years and years.


I remember when I was in Art School, one of our roommates home one night with "Easy Journey to Other Planets." He was all excited and showed me the book as he went into to his room. “Look at this book I just got!!” he told me. “Isn’t that fantastic !!! Leave me alone because I’m going to take an easy journey to other planets!” and he shut the door to his room.


After about an hour he returned to my room and threw Srila Prabhupada’s book at me and said, “It didn’t take me anywhere. You can have it. Maybe it will work for you.”


Well since then, and that was in the year 1971, we have been proceeding to all kinds of interesting places either directly or indirectly assisting Srila Prabhupada's mission, but yes, we are still here on this planet, at least for today.


Kavi Chandra Maharaja helped me in keeping track of the money I collected and one day he told me you now have enough money to buy a ticket to India. He gave me all the money and sent me off to NYC.


Just before that though, we were sent to assist Shravanananda Das, as he was preaching to the Indian community in a nearby place and we went for the kirtans. On hearing I was about to travel to India, one very nice Indian lady, a Miss Usha Gupta, gave me 100$ to help me out. I was very happy of course.


We proceeded to NYC and took shelter of Radha Govinda at Their Manhattan address. I spent about a week at the New York temple getting my passport and visas and then took a very cheap flight to London. We stayed at the Bury Place temple under the protection of Shree Shree Radha London Isvara.


This temple was donated to Srila Prabhupada by George Harrison. It was a 4 or 5 story row house down the street from the London Museum. As I told the devotees I was only there to purchase ticket to India, they told me the price was about 250 quid. “What? Quid?”


“Yes, about 260 dollars one way. But you will be cheated, so I will take you.” This very nice devotee took me to at least 20 travel agents in the Piccadilly area and got me the cheapest ticket we could find.


The atmosphere in the temple was always one of a large family I was told of a story by the London devotees.


Once there was this Indian gentleman who would come and sit very quietly in the back of the temple everyday for the morning greeting of the Deities.


No one gave him much attention. When it came time for prasad he would insist on serving all the devotees and taking prasad only after all the devotees had taken their fill. He would also insist on washing up the prasad area the pots and pans in Shree Shree Radha London Isvara’s kitchen. Then he would leave and come back the next day.


Each day he would do the same thing and this went on for about a week at the end of that time he introduced himself to the devotees. He was Dr Kapoor, the godbrother of Srila Prabhupada. He was in London on a visit was very happy to be able to see the temple, serve the devotees and Their Lordships.


I was quite taken aback. One should be very careful, I thought, how one treats the worshipers in the temple. They are the guests of the deities and we are their humble servants. We are distributing Their Lordships’ prasad on behalf of Srila Prabhupada’s Srila Guru Maharaj.


Soon I was on my way to India in shaved head and bramachari dress. I arrived in England in western clothes, but left in devotee dress. The plane set down in Kuwait and we spend a few hours among the Arab Kuwaitis, with each one addressing me with “Salam aleikum. How come you are dressed like a Hindu?” They were mild, but very surprised that a Westerner had become a Hindu. How strange. How odd. Why, why, why?


The waiting room was just that, a large square room with maybe five hundred men in white robes with loops around their heads on one side and about the same amount of women all dressed in black woollen robes. And in the middle, a bald-headed saffron-dressed Pita Das.


It was comforting to get back onto that plane. There must have been other Westerners, but I certainly can’t remember any now.


As the sun rose, we arrived in India. And as the morning light started to make the object of Bombay visible, I could see that a huge number of people were already up and about. It seemed the whole city was early risers, but I couldn’t understand then that this was just a small minority of a giant population that infested this living space then known as Bombay.


When the sun had completely risen, I arrived at our ISKCON Temple, Hare Krishna Land, and the taxi took me to the back of the property. I gave the driver a 20 rupee note for a ten rupee fare and he laughed and thanked me for my tip. I was told later that it was a very good tip, but it didn’t matter. I was finally there.


The sound of sellers and crows cawing is what I first remember. My first thought was that I had come all this way to stay at a construction site within a huge slum.


This material image very quickly faded as I met the first devotees and was warmly welcomed. I was told to come quickly to see greet Srila Prabhupada as His Divine Grace was preparing to leave for Vrindaban.


I don’t want to describe this part of my story again, as seeing Srila Prabhupada then was quite painful. It was a very sad experience; it was as if we were saying goodbye to His Divine Grace. We felt that Srila Prabhupada was to leave us. We didn’t understand then that Srila Prabhupada was such a great yogi, such a great devotee, that he would enter our hearts and never leave us. We had so little faith.


We chased Srila Prabhupada’s car down the road until we could run no longer. I became very depressed. It seemed that my newly found spiritual life was falling apart, but very soon the reassurances of the devotees and the nice service I was given, raised my spirits and enlivened me again. The service I was given was a fine one: I joined the Bhaktivendanta Book Trust library party.


I had come to be with Srila Prabhupada, but to do this I was first given a service to do in an Indian temple.


On my first day I meet Garga Muni Swami who was in charge of the party. He was very kind to all of us and all of the devotees on the party liked and respected him as they all told me Garga Muni always takes care of us. I was happy to be with him.


On my first meeting with Garga Muni Maharaja, he told me: “These temples are maya for you brahmacharis. So I want you to fill the vans full of books and go out at once to the libraries and sell them. You never need to return except to get more books.”


He then told me that just a few days before, he had prepared a large map of India with different colored pins representing the numbers of full sets of Srila Prabhupada’s books that had been distributed. He had taken it to show Srila Prabhupada. When Srila Prabhupada understood how many books the chart represented, he starting to cry, thanking Garga Muni.


With a heavy heart, Garga Muni also confided that Srila Prabhupada had gone to Vrindaban to leave his body. “I cannot stay in ISKCON without Srila Prabhupada,” he said.


The sum total of his greeting was thus: “Happy that you made it here. I’m leaving the temple. I’ll let you in on a secret: the essence is to stay away from the temples and just travel preach and distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books far and wide.”


Many things happened that first day. The devotees almost went on strike, wanting to leave Bombay en masse to go to Vrindaban. “We should all go. Why are we staying here?”


And Gopal Krishna tried to convince us to just carry on, that to serve Srila Prabhupada’s mission was higher than associating with Srila Prabhupada personally. So we mostly went back to our service.


In few days, Garga Muni left and didn’t return. Palika Dasi took over the management of the party as she had been Garga Muni’s secretary. She sent us what we needed on the road. I was placed with a group of devotees and we drove north in to Gujarat and started the library work.




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About one week after arriving in India, we were out distributing His Divine Grace’s books, all the time praying for Lord Nrisingha Deva to, if He wished, please save Srila Prabhupada, to please keep him with us.


As the sankirtan began we learned how to approach the librarians and present Srila Prabhupada’s complete works to them, which we called a “Standing Order.” It was a wonderful service and we managed to sell so many of Srila Prabhupada’s books.


The group of devotees I was with became my best friends and they are still the main prabhujis with whom I am closest. The benefit these prabhus have given me in friendship and association really seems to be eternal. I pay my obeisances to all of them.


Matunga Prabhu now lives with his sweet wife in Malibu and he has a very nice family that he has led in Krishna consciousness.


Birsingha Prabhu took sannyas a few years back and is now known as Narasingha Maharaj. Narasingha Maharaj has not changed a bit over the years always fixed in distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books. A few years back I ran into him on a very hot (and I mean hot!) Bangkok afternoon. There was Maharaj in sannyas dress, carrying a large book bag and going from shop to shop. He is still doing the same and recently asked me to join him to start preaching in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. He is not called Narasingha Maharaja for nothing. He is fearless to go anywhere to serve His Divine Grace and give Srila Prabhupada in book form.


I also recently saw another library party godbrother, Abhinanda Prabhu, who is now back in Shree Vrindavan Dham with our old leader, Garga Muni. Mahaman Prabhu is temple president of Shree Shree Krishna Balaram Mandir and Bhima, also one of our library party godbrothers, is president of Hare Krishna Land, Mumbai.


There were also Maha Vishnu Maharaj and Prabhavishnu Maharaj, who together have made such a wonderful temple in Kathmandu, Nepal, for Srila Prabhupada that after one visits there one thinks that here, the old mood has never been affected. This is because of Mahavishnu and Prabhavishnu Maharaj’s great service to Srila Prabhupada for so many years. The small group of devotees there show all the good qualities of fine Vaishnavas.


Before re-entering Shree Vrindavan Dham, I enjoy visiting this temple first, staying there for at least a week’s time in order to wash off the Chinese dust and the materialism I have had to associate with while there.


Then there is Chanura Prabhu, my dearest friend, whom we would jokingly call Frenchie when we first met. Chanura hails from France and in those days had a very strong French accent. From the day we first met twenty-five years ago to this day we are in almost constant contact. Chanu is now in Korea where he has been for almost as many years as I have been in China.

Then there was Mathura Das. Mathura was also a very sweet associate, always engaged in kirtan and preparing very nice prasad for the devotees to relish. Whoever was fortunate enough to have Mathura on his party knew there would always be nice prasad to honor and sweet kirtan to partake in.


Unfortunately, I have not seen Mathura over the years, but have heard that he is constantly going back and forth from India to the UK looking for nice sadhus to associate with, kirtan to join, and prasad to prepare and distribute.


We also met Satya Narayan Prabhu, but not long after arriving at Hare Krishna Land he was sent to Thailand, Bali and Jakarta to sell to the libraries there. Years later, when Satya Narayan Prabhu and I were both working for Srila Prabhupada’s Charity Trust, he would send me to meet Srila Sridhar Maharaj and later to also meet Srila Narayana Maharaj on "official ISKCON business." He told me, “I want you to meet them so you can have their blessings.” I hold these short meetings very closely to my heart and reflect on them often, like great gifts that never go away.


Satya Narayan emailed me just a few weeks ago that the ceremony for the installation of Srila Ananta Deva has just taken place in Bali where he is sponsoring the construction of one of many temples that our godbrother Gaura Mandal Bhumi is building there. This wonderful devotee Gaura Mandal Bhumi has single-handedly translated all of Srila Prabhupada’s books into the Indonesian language, printed them and there are now over a thousand initiated devotees there. He has been able to build a very nice temple in Bali for only $8,000 because of the Indonesian currency’s devaluation. With the strong American dollar, it goes a very long way.


At the time of our arriving in Bombay, however, no one was in Indonesia preaching Krishna Consciousness. There was only one lady writing to our Indian BBT asking us to come.


We also had the association of Jaya Prabhu, who no one seem to like as he was a bit loud and large but he showed us his love and dedication and we all had to respect him.


Later Sriman Kundali Prabhu also joined our party, coming in just after the Iranian revolution.


I was just like a flea among so many advanced godbrothers and with their advice and association I was shown what devotional service in India was to be like.


Our party was divided into teams of five men each. The team I was on went north into Gujarat. We visited the towns of Baroda, Bharuch, Surat, Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Somnath, Porbandar, Jamnagar and Dwarka. We also found a place known as Chota Uddaripur.


It was very captivating seeing the people of Gujarat in their daily lives, which in those days rang with the greeting of “Jai Shree Krishna!”


We slept in all kinds of places -- from barns to temples of the Goddess Durga. Sometimes we stayed in guest houses and tourist bungalows (“Gujarati five-star”), but these were very few and far between. We also slept on the porches of rich men’s homes that these pious men offered to us out of charity.


Each morning we would always rise at 5 a.m., have mangal arati and chant our rounds as the Sun rose. We would then prepare kriti fruit and papadams, have Srimad Bhagavatam readings and class, and worship His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, bowing down to his lotus feet and asking for his mercy on us to continue on.


By Srila Prabhupada’s mercy we were very successful and everyone seemed to want the books we were selling. Almost everyone took a book; we were really distributing.


After travelling for a few weeks I understood that even if all the temples in ISKCON were to go away, one would always able to take shelter in any number of numerous places to preach the glories of Shree Shree Guru and Gauranga.


We visited the places where both Lord Krishna and Lord Balaram left this planet. We saw the place where Srimati Tulasi Devi and Shree Shalagram Shila were married. We visited Muchukunda's cave in Giri Mountain, the same mountain that Krishna and Balaram jumped from. In Somnath we saw a major temple to Lord Shiva, Somnath, and travelled on to Dwarka.


Then one day Mathura and I received a very mystical communication from an old sadhu sitting in the gateway of a Hanumanji temple. "What are you doing here?" he asked us. "Your Guru Maharaj is about to leave his body. Go to him.”


“Yes, you are right.” I said and looked at Mathura. We turned around left that temple and went at once back to the devotees telling them that we had to go at once to be with Srila Prabhupada.


That was two weeks before Srila Prabhupada departed because of the mercy of this sadhu I was able to be with Srila Prabhupada those last few days. These last few days with Srila Prabhupada were very sweet and Srila Prabhupada showed that he was completely transcendental to the material situation.


His Divine Grace showed us how to leave one body, surrounded by his disciples all chanting the Holy Name. The last few sweet memories of his association become sweeter with time and are like a wealth we try to share. Srila Prabhupada’s awareness and intellect were never defeated.


His Divine Grace would often comment on the wonderful nature of the Vrindavan atmosphere. There was a painting of Shree Radha Krishna and one of Shree Krishna Balaram at His lotus feet and Srila Prabhupada would speak about their Lordships.


After Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, ISKCON changed quickly, but at first we did not notice very much. If you place a frog in a pot of cool water and gradually turn on a flame, it never understands that the heat is cooking him. It will not protest or jump from the pot, and so it was like this with myself after Srila Prabhupada left. I continued on and I am still trying to continue on sweeping my dirty heart, for I know that if I stop I will never be able to cleanse it.


Haribol, Prabhujis! More later.




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Dear Jagat Prabhu,

Hare Krishna!Please acceapt my humble obeisances!All Glories to Shree Shree Guru and Gouranga!

I just found this ,thank you in assiting me to hand out Srila Prabhupada's Gulubjammons to all the assembled bhaktas

your illiterate


Pita das



Pita das

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Maybe it was two days after His Divine Grace re-entered Shree Shree Radha and Krishna’s eternal pastimes that I was to understand what our godbrothers were planning.


During the two weeks with Srila Prabhupada His Divine Grace had made it very clear that no one person was to be the Acharya of His ISKCON. I heard Srila Prabhupada tell them: “Of my disciples, no one has my qualities.” When he looked at this or that disciple, he could see some of his qualities and when he looked at them all together certainly there was some percentage, so he had SOME faith that the movement would go on. The test of our love would be shown how well we worked together. This was clearly the main instruction.


The "I am not appointing any one person as acharya" announcement came maybe four days before His Divine Grace’s departure. There were many clearly unhappy godbrothers in the room after that talk. The air was thick with an anti-climactic crescendo. Even I, who was perhaps the least knowledgeable of anyone, could understand this.


We had heard Srila Prabhupada previously tell our godbrothers during many long discussions that if they had philosophical questions about the process of accepting disciples after he had departed, they should approach Sridhar Maharaj and for answers on how to conduct his samadhi arrangements, they should approach Narayan Maharaj.


Then two days after His Divine Grace’s Samadhi there was an ishtagoshti in the temple that was attended by HH Narayan Maharaja and Paramahamsa Akinchana Krishna Das Babaji.


Jayadwaita asked a question of Narayan Maharaja, “How can we understand that our godbrothers are now nikunja-yuno rati-keli-siddhyai, intimately assisting the gopis in the pastimes of Radha Krishna's loving exchanges?”


The answer was that godbrothers who were not accepting disciples would not see this, but that the disciples of these godbrothers had to. In my opinion, this was the exact instant that the flame was lit under the frog.

A few days later, the temple authorities said that those devotees who had not received second intiation would have to accept a godbrother as Guru.


I saw my old friend Jayadwaita on the side of the Krishna Balaram Temple and said, “This is crazy. What’s going on? How could anyone accept any one but Srila Prabhupada? I am His Divine Grace’s initiated disciple (A sacred thread chanted on by Srila Prabhupada had been sent to Ramesvara with my name on it.)


Jayadwaita said to me, “This is the guru parampara.”


“Could you do it?” I asked. “You know them. Now I must leave ISKCON and take shelter of Narayan Maharaj.”


“No, no, you cannot do this. Prabhupada said we must show our love for him by working cooperatively.”

It's very hard from this point not to be political, because from here on, practically day by day, the flame under the frog was turned up more and more. I will try to just recount the sweetest times.


I stayed in Shree Vrindavan Dham for a month after Srila Prabhupada’s Samadhi. I was assigned the libraries in the Mathura District to visit and each day I would hire a rickshaw to take me into Mathura and then drive me back afterwards.


I remember one day as I was leaving a school a lady approached me to please come and speak some good lessons to her daughter. “Please convince her to join your Hare Krishna Hare Rama society.”


I agreed and when we got to their very nice house here was this young lady, born in Mathura and stoned out. She had gone to school in New Delhi and had gotten into pills of some kind and many other kinds of drugs. And this was the only topic she was interested in talking about. What kind of drugs have you taken before?


It was quite useless talking to her, but her mother kept pleading with me to please help her. She would plead with her daughter, “Darling, they were all like you. They were drug users and now they only want Krishna. Please go there.” But the girl had no interest in Vrindavan. As soon as her holiday was over, she was going back to Delhi to party.

As soon as I left that house, my Rickshaw Prabhu and I were back in the Dham.


Off we went to another university, singing Hare Krishna back and forth. If I sang an ISKCON tune, Rickshaw Prabhuji could not follow, but as soon as I remembered a Vrindavan one, we were very happily powered on Harinam all the way back to Raman Reti.


In the evening we would visit the many temples in Shree Vrindavan and hear kirtan going on in so many places. Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhu, who had just arrived in Vrindavan that summer, knew a kirtan routine of the temples. He knew exactly where to be and at what time in the evening to hear the nicest kirtan. He took me to the Radha Raman temple at a certain time when very expert devotee would sing sweet bhajans at the back of the darshan area. We also went to the small Mira Bai temple, all covered in green vines inside, take darshan and hear more sweet nectar of the Holy Name.


That month in Vrindavan I would often walk chanting japa down the cowherd path to the Yamuna. As I walked through the sandy trees and groves of the path, I would always see peacocks amongst the trees on either side of the path. One day I stopped and prayed to one peacock for his blessings to be born in Shree Vrindavan Dham to view the activities of Krishna and Balaram. I considered this peacock must be a great saintly personality and I was sure he did bless me.


After this month in Vraja, our devotee group of book distributors was reformed and sent back across India to Gujarat, this time to Surashtra. We visited places where the people told us white persons hadn’t been there since the British left India and now we had returned in the dress of Sadhus!!!


When we entered a town, it was like we were famous movie stars. A large crowd would surround the van every time we arrived, but when we went for sankirtan on rickshaw, no one took much notice.


Every day it seemed we were in a different town. Some were wonderful and some not so nice, but we spent the same time in each place, as our only business was to distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books and go on to the next town.

Once we visited a very large and newly constructed temple of Lord Shiva. This temple was the main overpowering structure within the whole town and Lord Shiva was known as Somnath, as it was not so far from the famous Somnath temple. We entered Lord Shiva’s Temple and were given water to offer and I commented to one of the pujaris how large the Shiva linga was. It was about five feet tall and there was a large crack on the side. The pujari told us a story of the temple:


<blockquote>A long while ago, the king of the land was nastika, an atheist. His queen, however, was a very great devotee of Lord Shiva. One day when walking in the woods the queen saw a cow and wondered what a cow was doing within the woods approached it only to see from her udder milk was pouring and dripping onto a small Shiva Lingam. The queen bowed down and began to worship the Shiva Lingam, returning each day until one day the king followed her. Seeing his wife worshipping Shiva Lingam he became enraged and drew his sword and smashed it. When he did this, the Lingam grew to this size and so we have now built this temple here. </blockquote>


We all respectfully agreed that was an amazing story and very respectfully left the temple.


After a few days, we also visited another temple about 20 kilometers away. This was a temple to Gopal Shree Nathaji. When the pujari came to greet us he also had a story of how Shree Nathji had been placed in that temple. His story went, “A long time ago, there was a king and he was a atheist, but his queen was a very good devotees of Shree Nathaji.” We heard this story in about ten places. After a while, we would laugh as soon as they started and say we had already heard the story, but the temple was very sweet anyway.


In one temple we had kirtan in front of the Deities and many persons came into the temple to join us. After the kirtan they told us, “You danced in front of Krishna! One time many years ago an old sadhu came here and chanted and danced like this also.”


Outside of Somnath we met a Brahmin Pujari who insisted we all go with him to his home and so the whole group of us did. This Brahmin wanted us to meet his older brother and it was a very special afternoon. Their family had lived in the same house for 700 years and in front of the house there was a small temple of Lakshmi Devi. This was their family temple, which was also the same age.


Each day their family would distribute prasad from this temple to the poor and the older brother was a palmist and astrologer. He looked at each of our hands and told us you will all have good lives and nothing else. He then lead us in kirtan which lasted hours starting with Om na mo bha ga va te va su de va ya drawn out very long and slowly so we could hear and taste the transcendental sound vibration and very very gradually building the tempo to a ISKCON type speed and then back again and again and again. In 25 years I have never forgotten the melody. I am completely captivated by the tune even today.


When in America leading kirtans in the home of our Gujarati members in Houston, I would sing this nice Brahmin tune and these devotees would tell me that that kind of method of kirtan was the traditional tunes that their grandfathers would sing.


From this place we visited Porbandar, famous as Gandhi’s hometown. We visited his ashram in that city, but they would not take Srila Prabhupada’s books. They wanted us to join their ashram so they could teach us the teaching of Gandhi. Of Gandhi, Srila Prabhupada would say, “Among politicians he was a saint, and among saints he was a politician.” <small><font color=#f7f7f7>



[This message has been edited by Jagat (edited 07-20-2001).]

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dear Jagat Prabhuji,

There is one other July 20 about Dwaraka Dham and the openning of Bombay temple.

I have been flying most of last wks just arriving back to China.

And Ill place the next one soon mediating on the contents.

Thank you for your assitance

Your servant

Pita das

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From Porbandar we drove to Shree Dwarka Dham. As you enter Dwarka, there is a temple to Rukmini Devi on the right side of the road, standing in the stark sands of the beach. We only saw two major temples in Dwarka: this one and that of Dwarkadhish, within the city itself.


On the beaches near Dwarka we saw he ruins of temples which had once been decorated with elaborate stone carvings, but these had been erased by the winds and sands of time. Just a few walls were left where the carvings had not been eroded and could still be admired.


All of Dwarka is gupta, “covered.” Only someone with spiritual vision can understand that this place was once the kingdom of Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, on Earth.


There is an island near Dwarka that the residents call “Old Dwarka,” as it is considered by some to be the original site of Krishna’s city, but we knew that it could not be so, as Lord Krishna's city floated on the sea and was not just an island.


This old Dwarka Island is very small and bare, with very few persons living on it. Mostly only pilgrims visit; they stay a few moments and then return again across the short stretch of sea.


While in Dwarka Dham, we spent many days at the Dwarkadhish Temple. Lord Dwarkadhish appears on the cover of Srila Prabhupada’s volume 3 of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.


The pujaris allowed the devotees to watch the morning puja and dressing of Lord Dwarkadhish, which like in our temples took place behind curtains and was closed to the public.


The beautiful temple is similar in style to Lord Jagannath’s Temple in Puri, all carved from stone. In the evening, we showed His Lordship the movie "The Hare Krishna People" in the nat mandir in front of Lord Dwarkadhish, and it was also enjoyed by all the devotees who had gathered for darshan that evening.


We soon finished our travels and proceeded to return to Bombay. Two Prabhus though, Chanurai and Mathura, left to first visit Nathdwar, a fair distance away in Rajastan, to take darshan of Gopal Shree Nathji, the beloved Deity of Madhavendra Puri. While there, they saw Jayatirtha Prabhu, who blasted them for visiting Nathdwar independently -- as he himself was doing, alone. He told them, “You just wait. At Mayapur we will dismantle your BBT Library party.”


When we all met back at Bombay temple, we were told what Jayatirtha had said to these prabhus and the heat was turned up on the party a bit more. We knew that ever since Garga Muni had left, the other leaders wanted the many successful preachers on our BBT Library party to stop their service and work with them.


We all remained in Bombay from January to Gaura Purina that year, serving Shree Shree Radha Rasa Bihari. The temple was nearing completion and so was the time for its opening. The devotees had promised Srila Prabhupada to open the temple by a certain date and we were all trying to assist in making the deadline.


The temple construction had been going on for many years with most of the devotees spending almost the full time there in service to complete the temple. Every day, one would also see many men and women laborers working to finish the construction.


All of the marble carvers were Muslim and it was very common to see the men sitting on the side of the roads between the buildings saying their five-time daily prayers. One day as I chanted my rounds I watched one of the marble carvers praying just as a huge rainstorm suddenly came upon us. The man never broke his prayers and continued on saying them in the pouring rain.


Many ladies also worked on the construction site, carrying large loads of sand and cement on their heads. Some of them had very small babies that they placed at their feet next to them in the sand.


There were a whole new group of devotees serving at Hare Krishna Land at that time. First there was Surabhirabhipalayantam Swami, whom we all called Surabhi Swami, of course. Surabhi Maharaj was the architect of the temple and the person in charge of the construction.


He engaged me in finishing up the dioramas within the temple. Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhu had come from Vrindavan and together we finished up the work of the Indian artists. The dolls were not really dolls of the kind we had been making before in New Dwarka, but the finishing up was the same.


The temple had invited a very upper class British gentleman named Mr Michael Lord to open the temple restaurant. Mr Lord was the former valet of Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India. After the British had left India, Mr Lord ran a health spa for the Royal Family in London, but had now retired and become a lay member of the London temple. He had now taken a chance to return to India to run the temple restaurant as a retired gentleman. He was given a room in the guesthouse to stay.


Mr Lord was full of stories of when Mr Gandhi would come and see Mountbatten: "He would shiver in the air conditioning waiting to see him and they would make him wait. I would bring him a blanket. Poor Mr Gandhi, he always got so cold!”


When the television people came to report on the opening, they were always directed to Mr Lord for interviews. He was very good at this and the Indian TV liked interviewing him. Though Mr Lord wasn’t interested in actually taking up devotee life himself, he did try to perform service and, for a short while, was able to do so.


There was Narottamananda Prabhu, the main pujari for Shree Shree Radha Rasa Bihari. Narottam was always engaged in serving the deities and working with Mother Visba (?) in designing Their Lordships’ outfits.


Then there was Gopal Krishna Prabhu, the main person overseeing the whole temple management. I would observe Gopal Krishna finishing up his daily rounds late in the evening in the temple while I was painting Lord Nrisingha Deva's diorama. For the few weeks I worked to finish the Lord’s painting, it seemed that Gopal was there every night, chanting.


I have never ever known Gopal Krishna not be fully engaged in Srila Prabhupada’s service. I am sure at this very moment he is pushing to get some deadline finished somewhere, arranging for some kind of festival or gathering the devotees together to glorify Srila Prabhupada, always under great pressure and stress. At that time, however, the older devotees didn’t seem to like him very much and they were always picking on him. He had quirks that some of his godbrothers found annoying and they would test his tolerance, which is a bit of an understatement.


One night, the older godbrothers decided to play a trick on him. As Gopal was usually the last person to take rest, he sometimes disturbed the other devotees sleeping in the BBT offices. Gopal slept in the same room with Surabhi Swami, Achyutananda Swami and Bali Mardan, who knew that he was very afraid of the Bombay rats that sometimes came into the room through the windows at night.


These godbrothers tied pieces of string to various objects all around the room. They pretended to be asleep when Gopal came back to take rest. We were sleeping in the next room and were suddenly awakened by Gopal Krishna screaming, "What's that? What's that?"


We heard the others answer, "It’s nothing, go back to sleep." Then, after twenty minutes or so they started pulling their strings all around the room again. This would wake Gopal Krishna up and he would scream, "What’s that? What’s that? The room’s full of rats!" The others pretended to calm him down: "No, it’s nothing. Go back to sleep." They kept poor Gopal up all night, or at least for a few more hours than necessary.


The Bombay temple, like Los Angeles, was a large community of devotees. We were also engaged in making members for the temple going out and collecting alms for the Guru. I enjoyed going in the city to see these businessmen and request them to become members of the temple, but I did not like going alone. When I went together with another godbrother, I would never get tired, but alone I would quickly burn out.


Around this time I remembered something I had read many years before. My father used to have this red encyclopedia he was quite proud of. He would tell me anything I wanted to know was in that encyclopedia. It did have many points of information I would see later in my life. There was a listing for bhakti yoga that I remember reading as a child, but there were only a few lines like:

<blockquote>BHAKTI YOGA: a practice where the disciples goes out to collect donations on behalf of the teacher and gives his whole life to his service, in exchange the teacher teaches the disciple to understand God. </blockquote>


I had been living in the temple for a few years already when I suddenly remembered what I had read in that encyclopedia one day, after going out collecting for Srila Prabhupada.


At the time, Shree Shree Radha Rasa Bihari were still residing in a temple made of bamboo, plywood and tin. During Bhagavatam class, I would watch small rats sneak out of holes and eat the marigolds hanging from the altar doors.


Soon the temple was ready to open, however. Karandhar Prabhu arrived just before that and became our temple president. I remember it was Karandhar Prabhu who carried Rasa Bihari in his arms from that shack of a temple into the marble palace where He lives today. A promise made by Srila Prabhupada to Shree Shree Radha Rasa Bihari was finally fulfilled by the strong arms of Karandharji.



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The Bombay temple opening commenced in January of 1978. The then Prime Minster of India Morarji Desai was rumored to be the chief guest and because of that every international news service was there for the event. There were news reporters from the BBC, UPI and even Japan.


We library party members were given the service of escorting them around the temple. I was in charge of the UPI reporters, all Americans. I remember saying to them, "It must be a real hardship service for you here in India!" One of them answered, "Yes it is -- no hamburgers here. That's what we really miss!" Then he said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I guess I shouldn't have said that." I just told them, remembering Srila Prabhupada’s words while he lived with the American family in Butler, PA, "Think nothing of it. Let me show you more of the temple.”


My very sweet and kind godbrother Jagat Purusha Prabhu had organized what he called Bhakti Kala Kshetra. In our Bombay temple we have a first class stage and theater. It was like Broadway and able to seat about 500 people, with the stage placed below all the seating.


Jagat Purusha cultivated all the famous Indian movie stars, singers and dancers, who make Bombay their center. Each week, very famous Indian singers, musicians and dancers would come to perform at the temple. I saw most of the performances during those days: Kathakali, Bharata Natyam, and dancers from Manipur and Assam. Big name bhajan singers would often come and all were there for the temple opening. One very memorable performance was of two dancers playing Radha and Krishna in a swing type dance, which was really like seeing the Divine Couple performing Their Jhulan Yatra pastimes.


Morarji Desai never came but he sent another big minister named Raj Narayan to take his place. This man always appeared with a bandana tied around his head like a sadhu baba or a present day rap singer. I did not hear the speech he gave.


And then there were the professional Brahmins who were hired to perform the fire sacrifice. I was told that this had to be done or no one would accept that Westerners could actually invoke the Lord’s presence, even under the instructions of such a great acharya as Srila Prabhupada.


After all, it was not as though Srila Prabhupada was listened to very widely, as it is usually after their disappearance that people like Srila Prabhupada become truly famous.

This is because while they are still present, they will correct those who approach him directly, so few were really interested in doing so. Afterwards, however, the worshipers flood in and so they did at the Bombay opening.


We continued to serve there assisting in whatever service we could until the 1978 Mayapur Gaura Purnima Festival. That year there was a lunar eclipse on the Gaura Purnima. We were told that this had not occurred since the Lord birth and so all the devotee spent the entire eclipse bathing in the Ganga, but none of the other residents joined us. It seems that the tradition of taking shelter of the Ganga during a lunar eclipse had been lost. Formerly, people would bathe in the Ganges and chant Hare Krishna to ward off the inauspiciousness of the eclipse and it was while all the residents of Mayapur and Nabadwip were doing so that the Lord took His birth.


We arrived late for the festival, but it had already been decided by the leaders of the Indian GBC that the Library party would be disbanded. The party was completely broken up and the Indian BBT has never since sold Srila Prabhupada books in that way. That party made us very independent, but at the same time we were all surrendered to Srila Prabhupada and his movement.


Our service was taken away mostly because the leaders hated Garga Muni and didn’t want anything he had created to continue on. Many people were angry with him.

They would tell us how horrible he had been to us and how Srila Prabhupada used to protect him. I had to think about what service to take up and concluded that if I could somehow be given second initiation I would be able to take up pujari service.


During that 1978 Mayapur festival, the leading godbrothers made or prepared all of their political moves. My life within ISKCON also changed at this point as I adopted a wrong conception of how things were to be organized, as did most of us. At that time, I considered that I would not be able to avoid accepting a godbrother as guru, as a result of my understanding of what Srila Prabhupada had said in his room the last two weeks about carrying on initiations after his disappearance.


I thought about whom to approach for second initiation. I looked for someone who was more or less permanently situated within India and decided to ask him. The moment I entered the room he was staying in at Mayapur Chandrodaya Mandir, he was having a talk with his old cronies and I knew what they were discussing. It was a “will the devotees accept them as initiating gurus” discussion. My understanding was this person my godbrother was a proxy of His Divine Grace now that he has left this planet. I was unconcerned that they were speaking about whether the devotees accept this or not. And I knew very well what was being spoken about before I entered the room, as I had to wait for at least ten minutes to gain entrance.


When I was allowed in to speak to the person I was approaching, I told him in front of everyone that a sacred thread had been sent to Ramesvara from Srila Prabhupada for my second diksha, but that it has not yet been given to me. That person told me it is impossible now because Srila Prabhupada has left the planet and cannot accept you as there had been no fire sacrifice. So I told him, “Then I request you to give me second initiation.” The other men in the room looked at each other as if to say, “See, it is going to work.” I told him that I knew him from Radha Damodara TSKP of which I had been a member and that is why I was asking him. As he had been given or had taken Bombay as his next place to serve or rule, it was planned that on Ram Navami there would be initiations.


From this point on, fire raced through the math. There was one just one offense after the next. The whole nature of ISKCON changed to small islands of more or less bogus deviations from the teachings of Srila Prabhupada.


I now truly feel that there are for there are as many different interpretations of Srila Prabhupada’s message as there are preachers in ISKCON. I really feel it is just a great disservice to the poor newcomers to give them these greatly diluted versions of His Divine Grace. Such are the rages of time and Durga Devi on us. I often remember Srila Prabhupada final warnings to us in Vrindavan: "You boys are just children. You do not understand how serious Maya is in her service to Krishna. If you don’t become completely 100% Krishna conscious, she will crush you."


So I left Mayapur and traveled back to Bombay. After a few days, there was the first incident, which was a very interesting one indeed.


There was a very serious devotee by the name of Amogha Lila Prabhu in Bombay. One day Amogha told everyone he had seen Srila Prabhupada appear before him. Prabhupada told him that what was happening with the society was displeasing him. Then other devotees said that they had also seen Srila Prabhupada appear again and this time His Divine Grace was speaking with three or four other prabhus and not just Amogha Lila

A small revolution erupted, but the leaders managed to put it down by convincing everyone that neither Amogha Lila nor the other devotees were close enough to His Divine Grace to be blessed with such apparitions. After all, he wasn’t a GBC or an initiating guru; he was just a prabhu, a brahmachari. Come now -- get real!


It was very strange Very soon after that, Amogha left Bombay and went to preach in Pakistan, a place where devotees were hated by all. Srila Prabhupada once told us, “I take the dust from the feet of anyone who goes and preaches in Pakistan and I place it on my head.” Amogha stayed there to preach for many years, but I have no idea what has become of him now.


After that time another very inauspicious incident took place. One godbrother had left the temple to marry a Hindu girl whose mother was a Shakti worshipper of Durga. This woman wanted to take over the temple and she made a plan to do so through her son-in-law, our godbrother. She told him that if he went and stood in the ocean all night, chanting mantras to Durga, everything in the temple would be just given to him when he returned there.


This crazy fellow followed his witch mother-in-law’s instructions, but when he came into the temple grounds, he was carrying a straight razor that he started to use to slash the devotees. He slashed Karandhar very deeply across the stomach and Jagat Purusha across the arm. He then walked into the temple room, laid the razor at the feet of the devotee giving Srimad Bhagavatam class and started to listen to the lecture like nothing had happened. He was arrested, but was released from jail just a few weeks later. I met him on the bus and he told me that all the devotees were mere neophytes.


His mother-in-law wasn’t finished yet, however. She then sent a Tantric priest to put a curse on Maha Buddhi, who had taken over when Karandhar gave up his post after the attack. Karandhar felt that he was being cursed for returning to the temple after spending many years away from it and so he quit.


So one day, as Maha Buddhi told us later, this sadhu came to the temple asking to meet him. Maha Buddhi came to greet him and asked him to please be seated in the guesthouse lobby where they could talk. The man, who was dressed in priestly clothes, at once took out a achaman cup and different article of puja paraphernalia and quickly started chanting and doing a puja. As the priest took some hair from him, Maha understood that he was not doing an ordinary puja, but putting a hex on him and so had him thrown out.


After that, many brahmacharis started complaining of nightmares where they would be walking with other devotees and would say, “I know you are my friend, but I am sure you want to kill me, so I must kill you first.” The strange thing was that about ten persons in the room that night all had exactly the same nightmare. I myself, though, did not and slept well, even though many more strange things occurred, of which I will tell you later.

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Now recalling these things that happened it really has bizarre feeling about it.

At that time also one very friendly and good-hearted godbrother was Patita Pavan as he like to call himself but his real name was Patita Uddharan Prabhu. He told me he wanted to be known as Patita Pavan as he was so very fallen. He was an old India hand -- someone who had spent years there.


Patit, as we all called him, came to me on my first day in India to help me buy dhotis and show me around. "Oh you have just come, I always like to take the ones who have just arrived on a tour."


We went to a school that made homespun khadi dhotis that he knew of and purchased a few pieces and then he took me to many small temples of demigods and goddesses. Many, many temples of god and goddesses. “Here is the goddess of smallpox,” Patit showed me. "You come here if you get smallpox and ask her to hid them from you." I’ll remember that one Patit!!! Thanks.


Patit was also studying astrology and today is still doing this as his career in San Francisco. Patit did a very long chart on my life which was really very clear. He seemed to go over everything that had happened and would happen and from that chart everything he told me has actually happened, except for one -- a major war in which I wouldn’t die. It was to take place in the United States when I was in Asia.


I’m very happy that part of his prediction never came true. He told me what my relationship with ISKCON would become which he put very simply as I would always be within the outer circle. At the time I could not see or understand what he meant.

He knew of the physical problems I had and of the history of my father and his difficulties in life.


He told me that he saw me surrounded by people of low birth and that I would be working with them in some regard and trying to uplift them but that they would not be devotees.


I have been working with fifty artists here in China continuously for over ten years now. He told me he saw that I would be confined for many years and he thought I would have to go to prison. When I first started my work here in China I stayed within a house hardly ever leaving for four yrs. And he told me I would always have nice places to live in, but that they would be taken away from me and destroyed.

My last house here was a very nice Chinese stone house, but the city came one day and sprayed the Chinese character on the wall which means "cut" I was informed that this meant we were to make room for the new loop city road that house is now within the road completely gone.


So Patita Pavan Prabhu was quite accurate. Patita was also full of wonderful stories of how when he first saw George Harrison at the Bury place temple he was so awe-struck of him and the service he was doing for Srila Prabhupada he bowed down to him in the mud. George didn’t like that too much.


And then he told me very proudly that when there were no flowers left to shower on Srila Prabhupada when he was departing the temple he went and pulled up grass and showered Srila Prabhupada with this. “Srila Prabhupada then called me excentric! I through if no flowers then we should offers leaves and as there were no leaves I offered grass."


Patita Pavana Prabhu Ji Jaya


Patit also wrote a very nice introduction for pilgrims to Vrindaban guide which he had printed there always Patit gloried the qualities of Srila Prabhupada.


Another very memorable Bombay devotee was Raghava Chaitanya Das, who was over 90 yrs old. He lived in the ashram like just one of the prabhus. We were told that Raghava Chaitanya was the first life member in ISKCON and that he had come to spend his last days within Srila Prabhupada’s ashram. I often quote Raghava’s words here on the Dharma Mela and if ever there was a siksha guru to worship I worship him. He blessed me with the statement one day as he singled me out near the ashram and looked into my eyes with, "Even if the whole world turns its back on you, never give up the Lotus Feet of your Guru Maharaja."


Raghava Chaitanya Prabhu Ki Jaya! Srila Prabhupada Ki Jaya!


Then last but certainly not least, there was our godbrother Sridhar Maharaja who is a very different and wonderful soul, always very kind and jolly and full of enthusiastic ways to serve somehow, some way, through all kinds of ups and downs. When the godbrothers started setting on the big chairs in the temple room one day Sridhar Maharaja was given a pillow cushion to set on during prasad, His Holiness said, “Oh, what is this? An “ass sana”? For me too?”


As I was about to leave Bombay to collect for the BBT in Europe, Sridhar was asked to leave the temple he had served for years because he was disturbing the mood of the person giving initiations with his disciples. How to tell my story without bringing in the bad guys? As this story goes, on they get in very close. I will try to pass by and let them fade.



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The person who was to be the initiating guru for Bombay arrived back there for that purpose just after the Mayapur festival in 1978. When he arrived he moved into the entrance of Srila Prabhupada’s room in the right wing of the guesthouse and set up his office there.


I had a meeting with him one day in preparation for receiving second iniation. He told me that what he needed was a group of followers who would be surrended to his mood. The example he gave was Kirtanananda Swami of New Vrindavan.


I told him that I could never see anyone but Srila Prabhupada as my spiritual master. He was of course my godbrother, but my understanding was that he was acting as a proxy for His Divine Grace. I gave the example of a man who wants to marry, but is away at war. So he has a brother stand in as proxy for him at the wedding. In the same way, I wasn’t taking him as my spritual master any more than the the brother’s wife was taking the proxy brother as her husband.


His reply was, “It isn’t artifical. But you are still to pay obeisances each time you see me, just like you would His Divine Grace.” My reasoning accepted this: if I saw him as a proxy, then I should be ready to do this. As a result, I agreed to take accept second iniation from this person.


He at once started marking Hare Krishna Land Bombay with the signs of his authority. He had two new vyasasanas carved out of white marble to fit into the decor of the temple. They were much smaller than Srila Prabhupada’s vyasasan, but were placed on its left hand side.


This person then each night would read from his diary he had written during the time he acted as Srila Prabhupada’s secretary. This was full of many very private and personal comments attributed to Srila Prabhupada. One of these was very harsh and crtical of a well-known godbrother, Jaya Sachinandan Prabhu. If Srila Prabhupada had actually made such a statement, it certainly hadn’t been meant for general public consumption. But here this person was reporting it to the assembled devotees. It became a very hot topic and eventually Jaya Sachi must have heard about it. He left ISKCON and never returned.


After a week of the new “guru’s” diary classes, Surabhi Swami called this person’s bluff in front of the guest house, in full view of many devotees. “I know what you are preparing to do. You know what I think of your diary? I urinate on it.” The guru stopped his diary readings at once. Only last year, he pulled them out to rewrite the history of those days.


After the Ram Navami Festival, we were asked by Gopal Krishna to fly to Europe to collect money for the India BBT. Before that, though, I was able to begin some service to Radha Rasa Bihari for a few weeks.


Early in the morning, I would rise up and help Narottam Prabhu prepare the items needed in making offerings to Their Lordships. While I was grinding the sandlewood pulp, I would hear the sounds of the rest of the city rising and the calls to prayer from a mosque somewhere nearby.


Then I would assist in dressing their Lordships, Shree Shree Goura Nita. Each morning as we dressed them, I would hear Giriraja chanting in the temple. Giriraja is a very kind and mellow person, very grave. He hardly seemed to speak unless first spoken to. As he chanted, though, he seemed to be repeating, "Here gidhi gidhi gidhi gidhi... here gidhi gidhi gidhi.” These are the sounds I remember from those days.


The new initiator also made point that he the fragrances offered to Srimati Sita Devi had to be given to him each morning. So each day at the deity greeting, Narottam would pass him these oils on a cotton ball, which he would then place within his ear.


One morning, the new initiator decided to take morning walks on Juhu beach with his new disciples just like Srila Prabhupada used to do. A few morning walks later, he found a small silver deity of Krishna in the sand. This kind of small statue was sold in tin shops all over Bombay as we later saw, but it was proclaimed that he had found a self-manifesting deity. This became such a well-known story around the temple that a member of a former Indian royal family had a Radharani made out of solid gold to accompany the silver Krishna.


This devotee then became very interested in worshiping his new deities in his room, as by then he had had new quarters build for himself overlooking the temple courtyard, with the floor all done in white marble. He placed his little altar to his new “self-manifesting” Radha and Krishna deities in this room and from then on he stopped coming into the temple for Mangal Arati. He would only come to give class and greet the dieites.


H.H. Satsvarupa Maharaj came around this time and said it wasn’t so wonderful that he found the Krishna on the beach, but what he did after he found Him. And we had to agree that it was nice that he had started to worship them at once. As I look back, though, I have to wonder what his motivations were.


These deities were later given to Sankarshan Das, our godbrother, who was taking care of this person’s tape ministry in Houston. We visited him in Houston and were shown the tapes from Vrindavan in 1977 – two rows of TD4’s. two yards long. We understand that only about twenty of these tapes are currently in the BBT Archives. We feel that these tapes have been destroyed, lost or hidden.


In May of 1978, I flew from Bombay to Rome. As soon as I entered the Rome temple -- and I mean a few feet past the doorstep – I was thrown into another crisis. As I looked into the temple room, I saw Bhagavan Das on his own Vyasasan, right next to Srila Prabhupada’s. The devotees were washing his feet in milk!


Just after the Mayapur festival, a few devotees from his area told me, “We will not make a mistake with Bhagavan Das as we did with Srila Prabhupada. We are recording everything he says!” We thought, “What a bunch of fanatics!” But these were our godbrothers, not his new disciples.


“Is this happening in Bombay?” was the first question I was asked as I entered the temple. The president of the temple, Sundararupa, was standing there waiting for my answer and all I said was, “No, not at all like this.” Sundararupa told me, “That is enough. Don’t get into all this.”


I met Bhagavan later in Barcelona, as I wasn’t given permission to met him in Rome. The first thing he asked me was “What do you think of the temple I have inherted?” His Divine Grace had only left the planet barely six months earlier. How fast everything had changed!<small><font color=#f7f7f7>


[This message has been edited by Jagat (edited 08-06-2001).]

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Bhagavan asked me to go to the Canary Islands to make the Indian community there life members of ISKCON Barcelona, but I told him I was sent by Gopal Krishna to help the Indian BBT party and that was why I had come to Europe.


He didn’t like that we were sent to his area to collect money for India, but within his zone allowed me to work only in Amsterdam where my friend Mathura and his friend Vacmuktasunga were running the temple. So I went there by train and was welcomed by Vacumktasunga and was given the facility to collect for the BBT.


Vacumktasunga was a very nice gentlemen and the temple was well=organized. It was a very sane and Krishna conscious temple, with all the devotees very much devoted to their service and was little affected by the mood we saw in Rome. When Bhagavan came though one day, the lady devotees all went wild with excitement. Vacumtie, as we called him, said "I think these lady devotees are attracted to their guru on a more than pure spiritual platform."


That was that, we just let it pass. We just did our service, which was mostly outside going door to door meeting the people of Holland and Belgium. In Belgium we would go in full devotee dress and the people were so pious it was almost like being in India. One woman greeted me saying, “Please come in. Please explain the Bhagavad Gita to my son.” She told her son, “This priest has a book I want you to learn from” and she purchased Bhagavad Gita and I explained the first three chapters to her son.


We stayed at monasteries and the priests and brothers gave us free rooms or a place to camp on the monastery grounds. They also liked Srila Prabhupada’s books. Some of the devotees would discuss theology with the Catholic priests.


That summer passed quickly and I returned back to Bombay about mid-July. When I arrived, I found the temple was almost empty. All of the devotees had been arrested the day before and there were only a few prabhus taking care of the deities. I was told that the day before there had been a death outside the temple entrance.


This is what I was told had happened: A family of squatters had been living in a make-to shack in the back of the temple property for years. In India, that is legal; anyone is allowed to build a place on whatever land they can, and after some time cannot be removed. So these people, a man, his wife and brother, lived in the back of the temple property. The brother was a thief by profession and had one day decided to steal the shoes that temple guests left at the entrance to the temple.


The hired temple guard had caught the man stealing the shoes. He had restrained him by tying him to a chair and then called the police. He then humiliated the thief by making a garland of shoes and placing them around his head. The guard and visitors to the temple were having a good time, mocking and laughing at this man while they awaited the arrival of the police. But before they came, the older brother and his wife saw what was happening and started a fight to release the man.

The guard carried no weapon except for a six-foot heavy metal pipe and when the older brother told the man in the local language "to do his mother," the guard hit the man on the head with the pipe, killing him instantly.


During all these events, Maha Buddhi, the temple president, was there trying to calm down the situation, but as soon as the man fell, his wife (now his widow) screamed at Maha Buddhi, "You killed my husband," not even addressing the guard who hit the man in the first place.


So when the police arrived there was a whole crowd of people saying that Maha Buddhi had killed the man. Maha Buddhi and all the devotees in the temple, of which there were over twenty, were all taken to jail. If I had been in at the temple a day earlier, I also would have been arrested. The newspapers and the press had a field day saying the temple was just a front for the CIA and that the temple domes were radio antennas meant to communicate with Washington.


The newspapers said that the devotees were bhaktas by day and playboys by night, only returning to the temple at four a.m. for mangal arati. We never slept? The situation became quite dangerous and the whole temple had to be closed up, as groups of people threw rocks at the temple and broke the windows in the guest house.

This went on for a few weeks.


There were many persons in Bombay who wanted to take the temple over or have it expropriated by they state so they could take the money which would be earned. That first year after the opening, there were many attacks against Hare Krishna Land.

After twenty days or more, most of the devotees were released from jail except for Maha Buddhi. He was finally allowed out, but he had to leave India as there was no question of a fair trial


It was only when all the rich people and famous movie people ran a two-page ad in the paper saying they would sue any one who printed any more lies about the temple that all of the trouble just stopped at once.


I didn’t stay long in Bombay after this time and returned again to Europe and then back to the USA. After being in India for almost two years, returning to the USA was very difficult and bitter. I sometimes ponder what my life would have been like now if I hadn’t returned then. This was a crossroads period for me in this life and many directions changed for me at this time.


As I left Hare Krishna Land, I made a prayer to Lord Nitai to please bring me back soon, but this has yet to happen. We have only visited for very short periods since then. My life, though, may continue on for some time and one never knows what is in one’s future.



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When we got back to Bombay that summer The iniating guru had been asked to leave. He had overstepped his position and the godbrothers together forced him out he lasted eight months.


He then went to Dallas, Houston and Chicago to rule. That whole Texas zone was very underdeveloped. The Gurukula had been there and the building was really in bad shape. When I left Europe I went to Dallas to assit him in his zone which was a real hardship. Out on the parking lots again I went but this time it seemed there were no people around.


I remember being dropped off at a place way out in nowhere at a store and just wandering around that lot. It must have been close to 100 degrees and there was no one and I mean no one to approch. So I sat down and just read Srila Prabhupada’s books most of the day. What could be done, I thought.


When I returned to the temple, this person asked me to come into his room and report how I had done. I told him the place I had gone to was just impossible and I was hardly able to collect anything that day.


“So what did you do?” he asked me.


“I did the only thing I could in such a situation. I sat down and read Srila Prabhupada’s books, what else?”


He screamed at me, "What do you think you will find in those books?” Welcome to America and the market economy.


Then Christmas Marathon time approached, which was early that year. The whole temple was to don Santa Claus suits and collect It was the day after Thanksgiving.

As I am a big guy I did well in the Santa Claus collection. We then became travelling Santa Clauses and were always getting kicked out of this place or the other, so on to another city in Texas we would go.


I remember one day we were arrested and the police were all laughing. It was the first time they ever arrested Santa. The lady police woman said, "Oh, a little girl in another car just had the strangest face on when she saw me arresting Santa!"


That Christmas season we were able to do quite well, but the day after Christmas this leader told us we will all have to go out again as Santa as it was so big and to the Superbowl game as it was right there in Dallas. “No Maharaja, its impossible. It’s the day after Christmas!”


He forced us to go anyway and it was a big mess. All these redneck footballers screaming at us get out of there. No one collected anything and we were just humiliated, especially when that leader laughed at us when we got back. He was like that: anything for a buck. We were also given classes on the change-up techniquess by one of Tripurari’s men, Vaiyasaki..


"Here’s how you do it. If they give you a big bill. Try to get a big bill and tell them ‘Can you leave it at that?’ Thats your mantra, Prabhus: ‘Can you leave it at that?’ Then give back a few more dollars and again say, ‘Can you leave it at that?’”


I was very disgusted. Was this what was necessary to keep the temple going? Is this service? We were told that it was and Tripurai Maharaja would preach to us that "the end justifies the means." I now reflect, “So what is the end now?”


Tripurai finally began preaching in a different way. We really wish that he could have been preaching to us in such nice ways back then. Just see what a wonderful blessing Srila Sridhar Maharaja has given our society of devotees. His Divine Grace has certainly helped us in inexplicable ways. We are just beginning to understand.


This heavy collection mood was too much for me and I made it clear to the the leaders that if I was to serve there I would have to do so in different ways. This was abit of a disgrace and I wasn’t liked because of it. They called me unsurrendered, lazy, and not willing to preform the highest service.


This mood of collecting as much money as possible continued and the Christmas Marathon continued on to become an eternal marathon to buy a farm in Oklahoma. The leader wanted to have a farm community so he called his friend in the real estate business, Abhiram, to go there and help him find land.


They finally brought a place for three million dollars -- a huge piece of land for which huge payments had to be made. Thus we had an eternal marathon of collecting to accomplish. When the collection wasn’t happening enough to the meet all the payments, this same leader told us to go out and get jobs and give our salaries to the temple. One day he held this big one way ishtagoshti.


“You can even work at McDonald’s,” he told us. “It’s okay. It’s for the temple.” There was no disagreement with this announcement, just a underlying mood of confusion. The men working under Tripuri, Sura and a few others, went to Kirtanananda Swami and told him what was going on in Dallas. He told them, “Oh, you can all come here.” So the Dallas leader dropped that idea.


I went to Houston, never wanting to ever return to Dallas again. They were quite fanatical. I did have to spend time there reluctantly over the time I was there in Texas.

They continued their marathon for a few years, collecting money and building up the Dallas temple and setting up a nice restaruant that is still going on today with great success, but I saw too many huge offenses to ever really ever want to return to that place again.


That leader later held a big ishtagoshti a couple of years later, at which he encouraged his godbrothers to sit on their Vyasasans and blasted Sila Sridhara Maharaja for at least an hour, all in front of Their Lordships Shree Shree Radha Kalachandji. I will not go into the contents of that lecture.


Only a few months before, that same person had told me in Hong Kong that Srila Sridhara Maharaja was the greatest living Vaishnava on the planet. In America ISKCON was like a cult, whereas in India it was a mainstream belief. The difference in the way this leader acted and preached in India compared to the way he did in America were like night and day -- as was the way he treated the devotees.


We were very young and naive, just in our early twenty’s. Right after that last ishtagoshti, it was learned that the land that they brought was overpriced and its value less than two million dollars. Because of this, they just abandoned the farm project and lost all the payments that had been made, which was over a million dollars.


Marathon for nothing prabhus! So many people had been pressured for nothing.

Now in ISKCON, if someone was to lose a million dollars of the society’s -- Srila Prabhupada’s – money, you would think that there would be some adjustment made in the leadership. But no, no adjustment was ever made. We were just beginning to understand who controlled the society.


The Houston Temple was like day to Dallas’s night. The mood of the temple was very much in the hands of the temple president. In Houston our temple president was Janardan Prabhu and no one could have asked for a nicer person to be around than he. The temple was all brahmacharis except for BrahmaTirtha Prabhu and his sweet wife, who lived outside.


I at once assisted Brahma Tirtha in his preaching to the Gujarati Indian community.

BrahmaTirtha was well known because as a young Peace Corps worker in India, he had met His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada in Shree Dham Mayapur and their conversations were made into a very nice booklet that Srila Prabhupada called "Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers."


Brahma Tirtha was cultivating a large group of people for many years there in Houston and was very good at it. We would visit people in their homes and have kirtans a few times each week. After I had been there for a few months, Brahma Tirtha left and joined H.H. Hridayananda Maharaj and has been with him ever since.



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<h3>Houston temple, 1979</h3>


As I said before, the Houston temple was doing very well under the management of Janardan. There were many transendenal Prabhujis, all working together. The temple was a three-story brick house that looked like a row-house, but was the only one.


There was a gay bathhouse near the temple on the other side of the street. When our Hari Nam party returned from the downtown area, Janardan liked to stop in front of that bath house and chant near the entrance a few moments.


Bhuvaneshwar Prabhu was our cook, whom we used to call Boo Prabhu. He was accompanied by Mahadeva, who was also our cook. The two of them would really cook up some wonderful feasts. Mahadeva was especially famous for his vegetarian turkey dinners, which he made for Thanksgiving. He would make a loaf out of panir and then sliced it over a stuffing that would never be stuffed into anything but the devotees’ mouths. He was able to make a complete traditional Thankgiving dinner non-violently. Boo Prabhu usually kept silent, but would sometimes make a few jolly grunts of disapproval and giggle. These two were the most steady of all of us.


There was Dipak who was initiated after I left. Dipak would buy all the bhoga for the temple. He was a very humble and happy fellow, always coming every Saturday morning with the best buys from the farmers’ market. Dipak was also an engineer and worked full time in the same company as Brahma Tirtha.


Everything went on very well. Devotees from Dallas would come down often, but we were pratically independant it seemed. There was Kalki Das, a very nice gentleman who was always distributing books, and Shankara Pandit, who I remembered with an eternal smile on his face. There was Sankarsan, who always had a cold, even in the hottest weather, and Radhanath, who was an expert at deaf and dumb sankirtan. That needs a bit of explaining:


Radhanath found that if he played deaf and dumb on sankirtan he was able to do much better.”Hey, all I want to do is get a book to them, right? Nobody is interested in what I have to say!" So he would do this act and he was very expert at it. The problem was that he became very sick soon after that -- not deaf and dumb, but crippled. He just took it as Krishna’s mercy, however, and never felt sorry for himself. He still collects for different causes, which he likes to help. Radhanath is always full of compassion.


Then there was Ramasuran, one of our India BBT library party prabhus from Australia. One could always count on Ram for a few short lines of sanity in insane situations. "Let get out of here and go have a soda!" Ram and I would later visit every Patel Motel in Texas, hundreds of them, trying to connect them to the temple in Houston.


We would arrive at any motel and 99.9% of the time it would be owned by a Mr. Patel. Even if the hired help were Texans, we would ask for Mr Patel and there would always be one!


Our opening line would be, “Mr. Patel, we have come from the Hare Krishna Hare Rama temple in Houston. Can we have a free room at your place tonight? And can your good wife prepare kitcherie so we may offer it to Krishna and have kirtan in your home?”


They almost always took us up on the offer. During the day we would just visit with the Patel families, but as night fell we always found a place to stay and preach. We always found a place for a kirtan and kitcherie prasad and when we returned we usually had a good amount of lakshmi to offer Shree Shree Nitai Chaitanya Chandra, which was the name Subuddhi Roy Prabhu gave Their Lordships.


Then there were Padabja, our temple accountant, and Mukunda Dutta, the Lord’s main pujari. Mukunda Dutta was always memorizing verses from various scriptures or fasting for the Lord’s pleasure. He would always be playing Achyutananda’s Chaitanya Bhagavata tapes and doing some kind of service for Their Lordships. And it was Mukunda who was also, like the rest of us, always listening to the tapes the GBC leader recorded in Vrindaban 77 with His Divine Grace.


These tapes were being circulated all over ISKCON by the Radha Damodar Tape Ministry and Sankarshan’s service was to name each tape, duplicate it and fill whatever orders came in for them in competition with the BBT Archives. We understood it was wrong, but then I was still seeing this leader as a “Prabhupada proxy,” an opinion which I so wrongly entertained for such a long period.


Yes, Srila Prabhupada was saying someting along these lines in Vrindaban ritvik acarya trasparent to the previous acharya, but this ritvik acharya is only potent according to the quality of his surrender, which is his transparency as a representative of his Guru Maharaj. This was certainly not being seen in the leader we were accepting at the time, but we did not notice or would let it pass, even when we saw major discrepancies.


That leader from the time I knew him on Radha Damodar was always preaching the same thing, namely that he was our link to Srila Prabhupada, so he needed speical arrangements. Even when Srila Prabhupada was with us in those early days, he would demand a hotel room and a bed to sleep in. He would say, “I am a sannyasi, show me respect.”


He once told me a sannyasi carries the danda for seven years after which it is no longer necessary, as he is then considered a paramahamsa.

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<h3>The Bombay Riots of 1978 </h3>


Most people don’t know this but there were actually two riots; one when the person was killed and another when the relatives and others tried to have his funeral on the temple steps.


The first riot was after the Sunday feast and occurred when a man was caught stealing shoes. The guards put him on display with a garland of shoes. As the thief was a Christian, a call went out to the Christian community that the Hare Krishna Hindus were abusing one of their own. At this a large number of Christians along with street thugs came to free the thief and this is what started the trouble.


I was in Bombay at the time doing life membership for the temple and was rooming with my friend Janardana Das, who was the SKP leader. We were called to go to the riot but declined to do so. Here is what Janardana writes in this regard:


"Pita’s account is fairly accurate except that not every devotee went to jail. Two brahmacharis were in their room late in the evening, the night of the riot. When hostilities broke out, another devotee came running into their room and told them that a big fight was going on and that they should come right away. Both of these devotees had been active participants in SKP activities in the States and had been involved in many skirmishes and fights, none to good end. So when the devotee asked if they were going to go to the fight, they said, 'No thanks, we are just going to stay here and read Prabhupada's books.'


"After he left they discussed the situation and went to sleep. In the morning when they awoke, Brahma Das and Janardana Das heard the whole story about the riot they missed.


"Over the next few weeks, Gauranga and Janardana would visit the jail where the Godbrothers were incarcerated to deliver prasadam and words of encouragement. Janardana would think, 'There but for the grace of God go I.'


"Stay tuned next week for the story of how Janardana and Gauranga almost died at the hands of an angry, vengeful mob." (From Janardana Das)


The next day we heard that the Christian mob of perhaps a hundred or so people was held outside the temple building by the guards along with a contingent of devotees headed by the passionate and powerful Maha Buddhi Das. During the short scuffle, a relative of the shoe thief picked up a re-bar that was being used in temple construction and attacked a guard with it. The guard took the bar off his attacker and used it on him, causing the attacker to be knocked unconscious on the temple steps and die later.


(This is the story I heard from almost everyone but was not there so I can not verify the details.)


The next day all the devotees were told to go to the hotel lobby for a police lineup where witnesses were to identify those responsible for the death that occurred during the riot.


Janardana and I nodded in agreement and then returned to our room and locked the door. If we could avoid it we were not about to be involved in what we knew of Bombay justice.


Of the devotees who went to the lineup I think about twenty were randomly picked and carted off to jail. Some like Maha Buddhi were up front about being involved in the riot, but others who were not even there were also taken away.


Whoever the so-called witnesses picked, the police took off to jail. There the devotees were kept in horrible conditions for I believe about three weeks. They made the best of it by kirtan and doing imaginary arti ceremonies and deity worship. Our Godbrother Sridhar Swami was largely responsible for upholding the morale of the incarcerated devotees.


Janardana and I avoided both the riot and the lineup and were quite happy that we did. We could not however avoid the bigger riot that was yet to come when the relatives goaded by the Christian politicians wanted to hold the funeral of the victim on the temple steps. More about all this later.


Hare Krishna, Brahma



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<h3>More experiences in Houston temple</h3>


Houston temple also had many nice festivals and we would hold them in the vacant lot on the side of the temple. The temple had acquired this huge pandal tent from India and hundreds of people would attend.


One year a group of devotee came and we put on the Ramayan play, which was very well done, indeed, really well done. I went to many places in the Indian community inviting everyone to please attend the Ramayan and many persons did come.


I even went to the Sikh Gurudwar and they were very surprised that I had come and that we were having Ramayan play. "You will have Ram Lila," they told me. "If it is true, every Sikh would want to come.” And they did.


I stayed at the Gurudwar for bhajans and prasad. In India we would often stay at the Sikh Gurudwars and the ladies would make chapattis for us. We would give them the flour and after a few moments a huge stack of fresh hot chapattis would appear.


With each festival I would print a small invitation with a picture of Lord Rama or Lord Krishna if it was Janmashtami time and mail them out to all the Indian members of the community, about five hundred or so flyers. It took a long while to do. I was doing this on the floor of the prasadam room while Tripurari and his book distributors, who were in town, were taking some prasad.


Tripurari just gave me this sneer like, what a worthless waste of time you are. He was only into book distribution at the time and that was it. Dealing with the Indian community wasn’t what he saw as important.


There was this nice life member named Prem who would always come about looking for me to tell his problems, of which he had a lot. His father was the former head of defense of India, he said, and his sister was to be married to a man from another family, also from high in the Indian government. The day of the wedding, the groom took his new wife into the temple of Goddess Durga and killed her in front of the deity. It was headline news for weeks, he told me. It was then that Prem left India and came to America


Prem would also come and tell me that an important person was in town and you should go to see him. The person was Swami Satchitanand not the yoga teacher known in America but the philosopher and big mayavadi preacher who lived in Bombay. His Divine Grace had taken many morning walks with him and also met him several times in Bombay. There are many tapes of their discussions in the archives. This Swamiji was also a top adviser to Indira Gandhi as she accepted him to be her guru. He was in Houston for heart by-pass surgery and so I accepted and went with one devotee Gopal Acharya prabhu to meet him and bring His Holiness garlands and prasad from Shree Shree Nitai Chaitanya Chandra.


He was just recovering and was able to walk a bit and stand up which he was when we came to the door of his room. “Maharaja,” I said, “We have come to see you because we heard that you are here in Houston and have just had such a serious surgery. We know you had a very nice friendship with Srila Prabhupada and have heard all of the discussion you had together over tape (actually these discussion were very heated debates, not friendly conversations). He was just overwhelmed that we had cared enough to come and visit him. He was all alone a stranger in a strange land and he just praised Srila Prabhupada to us of how he did such wonderful work in America and he told us, "You were previously all mad after drugs and now you are mad after Krishna.

Much better Krishna, so much better."


I knew this had been the right action, to have visited him, and I had Prem to thank for it. Krishna is sending us service all the time this time I was able to grasp some.

Then after a few weeks he told me His Holiness the Dalai Lama is also coming please go see him. I said, "No, no interest. He's an atheist. We have no business with him."


But I should have gone. That was one I didn't grasp. Prem though did but it was only as he passed by a friendly pranams.


There was a small office on the ground floor of the temple and we used this to speak privately with people when they wanted I became like the man there on call all the time. And we always had prasad to offer all the guests a full meal if they liked.

One young couple would visit for lunch everyday and gradually they both became full time devotees and are still there today: Pandava Vijaya and his very charming and sweet wife Sakuntala.


Hridayananda Maharaja would visit often and we would usually find him at the university giving some talk and go to meet him and bring him to the temple.

The GBC leader asked one day, "What does Hridayananda Maharaja eat when he comes here?"


"Oh just temple prasad like all of us."


"Really? He only eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches everywhere else. He says the peanut is the dal, the bread is the chapatti, and the jelly is the chutney. It’s best he isn’t encouraged to come so much."


This was a new policy: there were to be no gurus in the temple when he wasn’t around. I don’t remember Hridayananda coming back after that.


In Houston I also helped Mukunda Datta with the deities and for a period was doing almost all of their service. Shree Shree Nitai Chaitanya Chandra are about four feet tall and have golden metal bodies. In the morning bathing them it was especially sweet, as we would make a paste of gopichandan clay and lemon juice to polish them. Appling the clay to their transcendental bodies was one of the sweetest memories of that time.

I learned all the prayers for waking their Lordships offering them their articles of worship and the morning puja procures.


I learned different mudras for beginning the worship and the proper purifications one performs in their worship and I preformed all of their aratis and cooked many of their offerings in between seeing guests coming to the temple.


We also met with all the new age people in Houston at the time. Elizabeth Claire Prophet was preaching in Houston in those days. Now she has a big following. We went and hear her speak and saw that she was teaching prayers to Shiva and Christ all mixed together. I felt she had some influences from Yogananda's Self Realization Fellowship group, which she seemed to be copying. All of her teachings were based on the authority of the ascended masters and very vague.


One older lady who was a regular visitor took me and asked me what are they talking about? They don’t have a clear conception because they have the wrong authorities.

I felt thankful studying Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam and to be connected to Srila Prabhupada and their Lordships.


Surabhi Swami came from India and joined our zone for a time, which I was surprised to see. I went to Austin and saw him there. The temple had opened this very nice restaurant. I asked Surabhi why he had come, remembering that his last words to the GBC were not so sweet. He told me, "I thought of who was the person I disliked the most of all my godbrothers and it was him. So I decided to come and understand why and deal with it. Maybe I can change my feelings about him."


After about a year’s time I remember seeing that our leader was also the GBC for China and Hong Kong jointly with Guru Kripa Swami, so I asked him what are you planning to do in China and Hong Kong and his statement was "absolutely nothing.” He gave me a look like he didn’t want to discuss it further.


Janardan had built him very nice rooms in the temple and he was very angry at first. "You did this without telling me? Spending so much money!" He soon liked them very much, though. He would hold his darshans in these rooms, but would complain, "Now if I want to stop talking, I can’t. It isn’t easy to get the people out when I want to stop. They would always corner Srila Prabhupada like this!"


He had his own view of Srila Prabhupada and it wasn’t the view I had. Over the years I just had to get away from him as he would always try to present his perception of Srila Prabhupada to me as the only one. I found his purport of Srila Prabhupada to be a very sour one.


"There are two versions of Srila Prabhupada," He would tell me. "The one within his books and the one I saw before me. The Srila Prabhupada within the books was a more less strict Prabhupada and the one I knew was very hard, very strict.” I would think, “On you, maybe. His Divine Grace was not hard on every one.”


Of course, I didn’t say anything aloud, as one was never able to disagree with this leader. If one had some thing to say to him, it had to be sent in a letter, to which he would always reply. Verbally, it was impossible and that’s the way he wanted it. In writing, he was very nice but in person he was hard and strict just as his perception of Srila Prabhupada had been. This was my perception of him.


"Keep them sleep-deprived; it makes them humble," was another one of his lines.

If some one challenged him, he would respect him, praise him to others, and then have him thrown out some way or other. After Surabhi left his zone, he told me that one day this person told him, "I am expert at seeing a person’s weakness and psychologically breaking that person down, bit by bit." Surabhi answered, "But the problem is, after you break them down you don’t know how to put them back together again!"


We thought then Maharaja is so strict we must be good to please him and Srila Prabhupada. Then he said to reduce the cost in the zone there should be no more flying back and forth to Houston and Dallas we were to only drive. It was a 20$ flight then. The next time he came to Houston, he had brought a mobile home for himself to travel back and forth in, not a ordinary one either, a top of the line version called a Bart which the devotees called the Mahabharata.


He then kept changing his name. I want all the devotees to call me Goswami Maharaj. That lasted six months and after that it was “Srila Goswami” for another six months and then after that it was Srila Gurudeva, which I’m sure he’s still using.


He had a photo made of himself in Jaipur on a lawn He and Bhagavan who did the same thing and from this photo he had printed hundreds of posters with his new name under it. It was to be his official guru poster.


One very well-known British devotee who had been away from temple life for a few years had come to Houston. It’s best not to mention his name. It seemed that Janardan didn’t have anything to give this person to do at the time as so he was given the same service as I was engaged in. He had been in England and was one of the first devotees there at the time. And he told me stories of meeting John Lennon and how puffed up a person he was. He was an egomaniac. He was also friends with Laxmi Shankar the sister of Ravi Shankar and he was calling her asking her to come to Houston to sing and offer the money to the temple which would be a very good help for our small place. I tried to assist him but it wasn’t working out so well so I requested Janardan to be sent up to St Louis temple after some time.


Janardan left the temple and went west before I left and without him there it wasn’t the same mood any more so I was happy to move on. After 1980, about April, I remember we did return and Ill tell that part as it comes up. What I am telling is just as I remember the time passing this is what I observed


<h3>More experiences in St Louis temple</h3>



The time that I arrived in St Louis temple I remember very well as it was 1980 we saw the new year in there. I was engaged in cooking with Chota Hari Das. I would also drive many hours alone into Kansas and Nebraska bringing books to the sankirtan devotees on the road.


We learned to cook all kinds of milk sweets as then Their Lordships Nitai Gaura Nataraja were of many, many different kinds: srea, amrita, rubbery, srikan, burfy, sandesh, rasagula, gulub daily. These milk sweets took a very long time to prepare. Chota Hari Das prabhu was expert at all of them but as time went along he taught them to me also.


The leader came to the temple New Year’s Day and the devotees all had this fear that a world war would come sooner or latter. He spoke about this to us about this when he came Its 1980 the war will come soon we must be prepared. There was this big kirtan when he arrived and we were all chanting his name as if he was His Divine Grace himself to assist in the continuing the movement into the future as if the departure of His Divine Grace hadn't slowed us down in the slightest.


In the temple there was Dasarathsuta who was president and Gopijanavallabha who was to arrive with Surabhi Swami Maha Mantra Prabhu was also there from the old Radha Damodar Party; we had been new bhaktas together. Maha Mantra was our pujari always hardly sleeping he would fall asleep as he made the Lords Offering.

"Hey Maha, wake up.He fell asleep again we would hear often. Then Maha dropped Lord Nitai today during the bathing!


Maha was the kind of a prabhu who had this baby face and he would fold his hands and hang his head low sorry Maharaja. Maha Mantra was very pure he had no sensual desires it seemed he has always remained brahmachari still I have heard he is engaged in India today I last saw him in Bombay temple.


The GBC leader and guru had the top floor of the temple for his quarters and there was this very nice brahmachari Gatpuka tending to the small Radha Damodara diets that the leader had found on Juhu beach. Gatpuka was also on our Radha Damodar TSKP and we were also new bhaktas together.


The deities he was taking care which the leader had found were just over two inches high. He was doing this in the leaders’ room. One day we heard that Gatpuka had also dropped Radharani day during Their worship and he was just gone. I mean this person just disappeared. We never saw him again. When I mentioned to the leader what had happened to Gatpuka, he would just grumble he was a fool. What happened to him and how he left we never knew.


Then this very strange philosophy was presented to us at morning class. I was within the temple kitchen making the milk sweets like every day and we were listening to the class over the loud speakers in the kitchen. Gopijanavallabha Swami was speaking.

The class went something like this:


"We all are thinking that we have some kind of relationship with Srila Prabhupada but how much actually time did we ever spend with His Divine Grace? As we really haven’t had any association directly with Srila Prabhupada, we really cannot say we have any relationship with him. This relationship is all in our imagination. Only those devotees that have spent time with Srila Prabhupada have real relationships. Here, the person who had spent the most time with Srila Prabhupada, even becoming his last secretary, is our leader. He is therefore the only one of us that has the relationship. If we want to have a relationship with Srila Prabhupada, it can only be made through the relationship we have with him.”


This class was of course a lot more detailed. It went on for forty minutes or so, but this was the subject. As I was listening to this lecture, I turned to Chota and said, “This is really bogus, really off. What kind of nonsense is this? As if the relationship to the Spiritual Master had to be physical? If this were true, then Srila Prabhupada also had no relationship with his Guru Maharaj.” As we all knew Srila Prabhupada personally only met Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati a few brief times. We were quite surprised to hear Gopijanavallabha speaking like this. Just another class, I thought, and I didn’t think much of it. My mind was on the milk sweets we were preparing.


We were still in the kitchen through prasad and as the temple geared more into their daily schedule Then Gopijanavallabha came into the kitchen. I noticed he had shaved his head very closely and had left razor marks on his scalp. He then took a van from the back parking lot behind the temple, which we could see from the kitchen windows.


Maharaja didn’t come back after that class. Most of knew what he did. After a few days, our leader told us this person wouldn’t have blooped; he must be dead. And that’s what had happened. He was found in a lake it was winter and he had shot himself. There was no inquiry from ISKCON. No one asked anyone any questions and I seem to be the only one that still remembers what happened then. It is never spoken of?


Gopi and Surabhi had been traveling together by that time. There were sales going with these records, which was a pure scam to make money and Gopi was put into leading this with Surabhi. It was said that he was waking up late and was in Maya, so he did this to himself. That was the full explanation from the older devotees about him. Now telling this story, one wonders why anyone would stay in such a situation.


First, ISKCON is Srila Prabhupada, His Divine Grace’s, body. Somehow we had to make it work.


Second, we were penniless and surrendered to making it work.


Thirdly, we depended on Krishna to intervene and help us.


Fourthly, we were still overlooking what Gopijanavallabha had been speaking about that morning, which had actually been the leaders demands. It hadn’t sunk in yet. We didn’t understand that it was the new policy.


In the next few months in Chicago, he would be sent away from his zone and asked to stay in Shree Dham Mayapur as he was also saying the same things to all of his godbrothers even his guru godbrothers.

He was the acharya whom had the relationship with Srila Prabhupada and everyone else were to follow him.


By this time I had been transferred to the Chicago temple and we helped all the older devotees coming in get places and rooms to stay in the new temple there. It was a big powwow with all the big gun devotees as they were called then. H.H. Satsvarupa, Bhavananda, Jayapataka Swami, Kirtanananda, Bhagavan and a few others.


Their meetings were all very closed, but when I brought them prasad they had finished up and were having kirtan with arms upraised. They vowed to make ISKCON the way it was when Srila Prabhupada had first begun it. They concluded that that leader could not initiate any more. Bhagavan took over his zone and the leader left. This only lasted a few weeks, though, and he and I were soon back in Houston again.


We actually liked that leader personally. He was hard but at the same time could be very gentlemanly with a wry sense of humor. He was very, very good at speaking basic Krishna Consciousness and was able to get completely new people to join the temple almost after the first meeting. No one was as expert at speaking to the Indian people as he was and for these many reasons we saw him as spiritually strong person. He is highly intelligent and can impress so many by his appearance and manners in public.


We were told that many leaders in the GM expected him to be Srila Prabhupada’s successor. He never chanted with the devotees, however, and after some time I was to understand he actually didn’t chant the holy name very much -- a few rounds, very few. He would be sitting at his desk in his room, and when we came in we would see him grab his bead bag and chant for a few moments before he started talking.


When he came back to Houston, it was to be only for a short while as the GBC had ordered him to go to China. He asked me one day, “Are you still interested in doing service in Hong Kong?”


I told him “Ever since I met you, I have always just requested that we have a very close relationship. (as I was thinking he had with Srila Prabhupada.) I would be very interested to go there.” Then he said he wasn’t sure yet. Maybe I could go to Fiji Islands or maybe to Hong Kong. Then he left, for Fiji I think, and he mailed me a letter from there, telling me to grow my hair and prepare to go to Hong Kong. I still have this letter with me.


But it would still be a few months as he would be also going to Taiwan and Korea.

I suggested that to understand the Asian people a bit, we should start free English classes in the temple for the Asian community. I also arranged by placing ads in Korean newspapers in Houston for translators to prepare some small books of Srila Prabhupada to be translated, but he rejected these translators.


There were a few Vietnamese boys visiting the temple then one nice man name Tran

With Tran’s help we had over a hundred persons all sign up for the classes and we were holding English Classes for them each night in the prasad room. When this leader returned he was really surprised that we had gotten so many Asians to come.

They were just there for the English classes and so he told me we must at least get them to chant in kirtan, which to my surprise they all agreed and very happily chanted along.


The Vietnamese people were not so much inclined to these classes and dropped out very quickly, but the Chinese all stayed and they were the ones we were trying to get to know any way so it worked out very well. With the friendships I made in these classes these friends helped us when we set up our temple in Taipei a few years later.

One lady’s husband, Mr Wu Gou Ming, was a police officer in charge of the harbor in Keelong outside of Taipei. One day he came and really helped us when we had a very dangerous situation.


Then one night, this very nice devotee Maha Shakti was visiting the temple and I was putting the deities to rest when I received a phone call. It was from an Indian lady and she told us that her husband was near to death and could we please come to the hospital to see him. Maha Shakti Prabhu agreed to assist me and I took the Tulasi leaves that had been placed on the Lord’s lotus feet and charanamrita water and a garland from their Lordships and a picture of Gopal Krishna with us to the hospital.


When we saw the man, he was in coma and had the look of a man overwhelmed with the strength of the illness and he seemed to be really just about to leave his body.

I wet the dried sandalwood paste on tulasi leaf and placed her on his head as I had seen done for His Divine Grace. Then we placed the garland from the deities around his head and poured the charanamrita water into his mouth and placed Shree Gopal Krishna’s picture over his head. As soon as this was done the nurse ran up to us and said something about infections and told us we must take off the garland.


Oh, I was thinking, this poor man is really cursed. But thankfully she didn’t have us remove the tulasi leaf from his head. The nurse made us cut our visit short and so we left commenting that we had rarely ever seen a person as close to death as he.

After about a week I was again working on the altar when another call came in and wasn’t able to take it. The message was from the same woman who told us that the man had passed away and would we please come to their home for kirtan.


This time Mukunda Datta and I went there and we had kirtan and then I spoke to the family from the second chapter of Bhagavad Gita on how the soul is eternal and we must not lament after the soul leaves the body.


They just sat and listened to me until I had preached to them for at least thirty minutes when they said, “But prabhu, our father isn’t dead yet!”


“What? I was told that he had passed away. I’m so very sorry please forgive me!"

“No. He is still in coma. We have asked you here to pray for him.” There were tears and ladies crying. I wanted to crawl under the floor. It was my life’s most embarassing moment


They then wanted us to eat the food they had prepared and they told us that they were all meat eaters but since their father’s illness the whole family had given up all meat and had vowed never to eat meat again. Knowing that there must be a lot of karma in that food I still took as much as I could for them and so did Mukunda Dutta. They then offered us new cloth and we left.


That night while putting the Lord to rest I looked at them and requested Them, "My dear Lord Nitai Chaitanya Chandra! Your Lordships know what has happened tonight. If You wish, could You please save that man.”


I left Houston a few days later and went to Hong Kong, but I heard from Mukunda Maharaja that the man very shortly recovered completely from his illness. When he awoke, he wanted to eat meat again, but the family forbad him. They told him that it was a miracle he lived and that they would never eat meat again. They then placed Shree Gopal Krishna in their home as the house deity. Mukunda placed it in the ISKCON World Review and sent me the copy in Hong Kong.


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