Was Srila Prabhupada Systematically “Positioned”?
Anantacarya Dasa Part 1.
I arrive at the Krishna Balarama Mandir in Vrndavana at about 9:30 am. As soon as possible, I entered Srila Prabhupada’s room. Prabhupada is lying on his back in his king-sized bed, being massaged gently by his close associates. Kirtana is in progress. Srila Prabhupada is incredibly thin. His hands and feet are swollen. His limbs are supported by pillows. There is a discussion in progress between Srila Prabhupada and his close disciples. Srila Prabhupada has expressed his wish to go on parikrama to Govardhan Hill. Upon being asked if he will ride in a minibus, his answer is. “Bullock cart”. This discussion was being recorded on tape, and Tamal Krishna is writing down on a pad what Srila Prabhupada’s desires are. Srila Prabhupada is so weak that the only parts of his body that he can move are the lower parts of his arms, and then only barely. He can at most push against a cover slightly, or raise a hand as a signal. If he wants to move a leg even slightly, he has to ask someone to do it for him. Srila Prabhupada is thinner than people who have died of starvation. It is not possible for a person to be so emaciated, but there he is, in a transcendental body that looks like a skeleton with a little skin on it. And in this unbelievable weakened condition, he is proposing to go down the road 20 miles in a bullock cart. What to speak of then circumambulate the hill, staying overnight, and then coming back the next day! Even in this unbelievable bodily condition, he remains our earless; adventurous, dauntless, devotional courageous spiritual leader. He certainly is not going to let any kind of bodily condition stop him from going to Govardhan hill for Goverdhana Puja. We, of course, are all very worried. And we started making plans for the parikrama.
Saturday, November 12, 1977:
Srila Prabhupada is resting. Swarup Damodara, one of his personal servants, is tending closely to Srila Prabhupada. Shortly after I arrive, Swarup Damodara is relieved by Bhavananda Maharaja who helps Srila Prabhupada turn over in bed. Bhavananda begins messaging Srila Prabhupada. While Srila Prabhupada rests, the room is completely silent. We chant japa under our breaths. When Bhavananda comes close to help, Srila Prabhupada asks, “Who is it?” Later on, I find out that Prabhupada’s godbrothers have talked him out of going on the parikrama. He has agreed that we will go instead. The night is chilly. Today is Govardhan Puja, and the Temple will be decorated. Kaviraja (Shastri-ji, the doctor) comes in at 8:00 am. He takes Prabhupada’s pulse and states that the pulse is perfectly normal again. Kaviraja says that he has seen many, many patients, but never one with a body like Srila Prabhupada’s. One day it will be in disorder, and the next day everything will be perfect again. Today Prabhupada does not have high blood pressure either. Kaviraja says that he will have to go to Jaipur in order to get the ingredients for a special medicine. He is sure that if Srila Prabhupada will continue to take milk, take the medicine when it becomes available, and one other thing I could not hear what it was; Srila Prabhupada will bet well. Kirtana starts quietly, and most of us leave with Shastri-ji.
I re-entered Srila Prabhupada’s room. There are about 10 devotees doing Kirtana. At about 4:10 p.m., another boy and I, begin leading the Kirtana. He is playing the harmonium, and I am playing the hand cymbals. We sing continuously until 7:00 p.m. During this time, Srila Prabhupada asks to be sat up in bed. He sits up in bed and chews on a little bit of brahman spaghetti. The portion which is left on the plate, Upendra carefully distributes to us and we gulp it down. Maha prasad, right off the plate of the pure devotee. Srila Prabhupada is always giving to us, no matter what his apparent condition.
Sunday, November 13, 1977:
I enter Prabhupada’s room and prostrate myself near his bed. The room is completely silent except for two sounds. The very faint sound of Srila Prabhupada’s breath as he sleeps, and the slight rustle of Bhavananda’s beads as he chants japa silently. There are three of us in the room: Bhavananda Maharaja, Giriraj Maharaja and myself. I chant silently. Srila Prabhupada sleeps well for a while, but then he awakens. He begins to have more trouble with his body. Bhavananda does everything he can, rearranging pillows, massaging, moving Srila Prabhupada, changing the blankets. But no matter what, Srila Prabhupada is still not doing well at all. Bhavananda gives the order to go wake up Upendra. Upendra is here in no time, and takes care of things nicely enough that Srila Prabhupada calms down, and goes back to sleep. He sleeps well from 2:00 to 3:00 am., then he wakes up again. For a while he is cold, but then the quilt, which is put on him is too heavy, and he asks that it be removed. He even pushes somewhat strongly against it. His left leg is in pain, and he asks to be helped to pass urine. Things go from bad to worse. He insists that all covers stay off. We get Upendra up again, but then in addition, we have to rush for Shastri-ji and get him up too. There are more devotees in the Prabhupada’s room now, since many are now getting up early in order to chant some rounds before mangala arati. In the middle of all this action, Srila Prabhupada erupts with a very loud and distinct
Immediately, Bhavananda starts to chant out loud. But due to the attention that he is giving Srila Prabhupada, he stops chanting a few minutes later. He must concentrate on what he is doing. After a sometime, Srila Prabhupada again erupts with,
Bhavananda now chants even louder. Five minutes later, another “Hare Krishna!” from Srila Prabhupada. At that point Upendra turns around to us and speaks.
“You may all chant japa out loud”.
Kaviraja takes Prabhupada’s pulse, looks over him, and then leaves. Srila Prabhupada becomes a little quieter. I leave at 4:15 am.