A Introductory Mix of the Last Six Months of Srila Prabhupada Being Present
I re-enter the and 20 devotees are being lead in a nice Kirtana by Satsvarupa Maharaja. Srila Prabhupada is now worse. Now he has a cold too. A cold on top of everything else. Srila Prabhupada’s sister arrives, all dressed in white, and goes to the head of the bed to see her brother. She reaches out with her hand and gives Prabhupada a long, consoling touch. Before she leaves, she proceeds to the foot of the bed, reaches under the covers, and touches Prabhupada’s feet. I leave at 8:30 am.
I re-enter Prabhupada’s room. There are 15 to 20 devotees gathered around the bed ,including the kaviraja, and one of Srila Prabhupada godbrothers or something. There is a compress being applied to one of Prabhupada’s legs. He does not seem to be doing well at all. Many devotees are staying and forsaking taking rest. Kirtana is going on quietly, and Srila Prabhupada he is on his left side, and sleeping silently.
At this time there are only four of us left in the room. Swarup Damodara, Jagadisha Prabhu, a brahmacari who is reading under a lamp in the corner, and myself. Swarup Damodara is sitting quietly in the corner keeping any eye on Prabhupada. At this point, the only sound in the room is my whispering of the Hare Krishna Mantra. The night is getting cold outside, and Swarup Damodara wants to stop a cold draft which is coming in on Srila Prabhupada by way of a French window near the bed. But it will not close. So, I go outside and push it shut while Swarup Damodara pulls from the inside. Somehow or other, we manage to get it closed without waking up Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada awakes and asks to be rolled from his left side onto his back. Swarup Damodara rolls him over to his back, then gives him his medicine, and then fixes him up with the urinal. While he is being moved to his back, Srila Prabhupada’s feet become uncovered. I quickly go over and tuck in his lotus feet under the blankets.
Monday, November 14, 1977.
Prabhupada is still sleeping soundly. Bhavananda shows up promptly at 1:00 am. He takes up his vigil and sits in a chair by the foot of the bed. I go over near the head of the bed ,and stand close to Srila Prabhupada while I chant the Maha Mantra very softly. For the next hour and a half, I stand right there, next to Prabhupada. I am looking at his lovely head and face. He is resting so nicely, and for that hour and a half, I cannot see anything else. I stand in one spot and meditate upon his lotus face and head. Bhavananda gets up and goes over and sits by the far wall with some other devotees who have now begun to arrive in the early morning hours. It is now about 2:00 am. So now I am alone at the bed with Prabhupada ,as I chant softly for him. Little do I suspect that this will be the last night that I will be able to be with Prabhupada by his bedside. All Glories to our inconceivable merciful and infinitely wonderful Prabhupada! I leave at 2:30 am.
I am passing by the windows of Prabhupada’s room, and hear a loud Kirtana going on in the room. Due to the strength of the Kirtana, I find myself hoping that now Prabhupada is feeling better. But shortly later, one of the devotees tells me that his condition is as critical as ever.
Again, I pass the windows and the Kirtana is still good and strong. Prasadam today is at 1:15 p.m. As we are taking Prasadam, a server walks into the center of the Prasadam room and speaks.
“I did not know how many of you have already heard about it, but Kaviraja has said that Srila Prabhupada has only five more hours in his body”.
Hearing that announcement, I begin to gulp down the remaining Prasadam on my plate ,and .immediately double timed it to Srila Prabhupada’s room. I am afraid the room will be so packed ,that I will be too late to get inside. Upon arriving, the room is about one third filled with 25 to 30 devotees, who are gathered close to the bed. Everyone is chanting strongly. Prabhupada is now in a coma, and he is not moving. His facial expression is like surviving evidence of a former existence. He is lying on his back, with his head tilted back and to the side. His lips are parted. Prabhupada is lying in the middle of his bed ,and it is large enough to allow plenty of room for several devotees to sit alongside of him. Upendra, Bhavananda and other close associates of Srila Prabhupada are seated on the bed. Caru das, the president of the Berkeley Temple, is seated on the floor at the foot of the bed gently massaging Srila Prabhupada. Tears are coming down his face as he gently strokes the legs and feet of Prabhupada.
Other devotees are crowding around the bed, getting as close as they can, and singing Kirtana continuously. All of Srila Prabhupada’s personal servants are in attendance, and they have worried looks on their faces. Bhakti Caru Maharaja, Upendra dasa, Bhavananda maharaja, and Swarup Damodara Dasa. The room is starting to fill up fast as the word spreads around the mandir, that the kaviraja said Prabhupada only has hours to live. Everybody is now pouring into the room to chant for Srila Prabhupada. Brahmacaris, Mataji’s, children from the gurukula, sannyasis, visitors, everybody. Hamsadutta maharaja sits on a corner of the bed down by Srila Prabhupada’s feet, and takes over the kirtana. He leads the kirtana nicely and keeps us chanting the right prayers. Pancha Tattva, Maha Mantra, Hare Krishna, Samsara Dava. He asks for a prayer book and then leads us in the complete set of Govindam prayers. We did not know all the words, but he is singing them, and then we all join in for the refrain; govindam adi purusam, tam asham bajami. The room is now getting stuffy because so many devotees are packed in. We open up all the doors and windows, and turn on the fan. More outsiders are now showing up. Srila Prabhupada’s sister is already here, seated on the floor next to the bed.
For the many hours to follow, she constantly remains close to him. No matter what happens next, she will hobble along ,to be with Srila Prabhupada. Some of Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrothers are arriving, and a bench is brought in for them to sit on. The room is jammed. Kirtana goes on without cessation as Hamsadutta leads through the afternoon hours. The afternoon is filled with devotees coming and going and chanting. Later some of Srila Prabhupada’ godbrothers decide to leave. However, the real frail short one stays on. Sitting politely on the bench ,and quietly chanting japa. A real Vaisnava, finishing up his rounds.