Was Srila Prabhupada Systematically “Positioned”?
Lokanatha Swami, Delhi, Vrndavana, Kumbamela 1976
[Interviewed by devotee with initials BVD; whose Questions & Comments are in Bold & Italic & Underlined & Blue Font.]
I had come back to Delhi and Srila Prabhupada had also come to Delhi from the West.
Once again, Gopal Krsna was there. I had no buses. So he spoke about no vehicles for me to travel with.
Prabhupada came up with this idea and invited me in to his room. He introduced me to the idea. He mentioned how depending on motor vehicles, that this mechanism is artificial: and how long one could go on with it. What about this simpler way of traveling with bullock carts? Because prior to that, devotees in Hyderabad had tried, and they had gone all the way from Hyderabad to Mayapur for the festival on bullock carts, but then they had stopped. So he gave me the whole program of traveling in a bullock cart.
“Did he give you specifics?”
He did not say how long he had the idea; but I found out that when I read the first volume of the Lilamrta. That when Prabhupada was at Jhansi, he had gone to a number of villages for preaching, and he had gotten this from them. Being India, he knows that most of the population are in villages. The cities are a modern creation. Most of the population lives in villages. So these bullock carts were good. Most of the villages do not have good roads. You can only walk or take a bullock cart. We were already preaching in the cities, but we had to get to the villages. So he had introduced this idea about the bullock carts. Then we went, I had some boys from the traveling group.
“Do you remember any particular time and place where Prabhupada just sat down with you and told you how to preach in India, or what to accomplish?”
At one stage, when I started bullock carts.
“What was that?”
That was in 1976, September.
“How did the whole thing come up?”
It came from him straight. In 1976, the Vrindavana festival. Hamsadutta Maharaja had come with two big buses from Germany, and he wanted to travel around all over India and he wanted me to join. Up until then, I was always a part of Bombay since I had joined the movement. So Gopal Krsna Maharaja was G.B.C. of Bombay, and he did not want me to go away; so there was a fight.
Both were trying to get me. I was inclined to join Hansadutta Maharaja and travel a bit. But Gopal Krsna Maharaja was saying, no, no I cannot go. I am a key man in Bombay. Ultimately, Hansadutta Maharaja won. I joined those two big buses. They were traveling all over North India. Hansadutta Maharaja was with us in the beginning. Later on, he had some court case in Germany. So he had to return, and I was put in charge. And we continued. We had very much success travelling and preaching in North India. But later on the visa of the buses, had expired as they were considered beings or something.
Yeah. So they had to go back, and it was quite expensive to take them around, and they would break, and there were no parts available. So the buses had gone back; but I had desired to continue traveling and preaching.
With this idea, we went to Vrindavana to prepare for our bullock cart sankirtan. We had four-five days before we were to leave. The bullock cart was not ready. We got Gour-Nitai Deities from Turiya, who was the pujari, he was a grhastha. He had his personal Deities. We had some small Hindi leaflets printed about our bullock cart sankirtan to pass out. We made a few banners. That was practically all we wanted. Books. Hindi books. By the time we were ready, Prabhupada had come to Vrindavana. We went to have his darshan. We brought some coconut and some gore as an offering to Prabhupada.
He gave his blessings. He encouraged us one more time.
“Now everyone is running to the cities. Now you go to the villages. Give them the taste of the holy name so that they will remain wherever they are and lead a simple God conscious life.”
So we had no bullock cart but still there was two buses left there. By this time, there was another bus. Hansadutta’s bus. So we packed up all of our things into the bus. That was 8th of September ’76.
The next morning we hired a bullock cart. First, we tried to get someone to drop us of for free; however, we had to offer some money. He took us to a village. We did kirtan and collected door to door. We then reached Agra. In Agra, we stayed at a life member’s house. We tried to collect money for buying bullocks and a cart. We stayed with Dr. Ramesh Chandra. I sent the brahmacaris back to Vrindavana and tried to get a loan from Aksayananda Maharaja.
Now we had men, books, and cart. Prabhupada’s instruction was
“You go to the village and go to the heart of the village. The heart of the village is the well. Camp there.”
We used to go there and have kirtan and people would join in the kirtan.
So like this, we were going along towards Mayapur. Very simple programs of kirtan, prasada, and book distribution. We then met Srila Prabhupada in Kumbamela. He had come from Bombay to attended that Kumbamela.