My last association with Srila Prabhupada started in July of 1977. I went to Vrindavana, arriving there on the 19th of July. Srila Prabhupada was very ill currently. Although he was going for darsana in the morning to see the Deities, he was not seeing anyone throughout the day. Apparently he noticed me in the temple, and he inquired about me from Tamal Krishna Gosvami.
Tamal told him that I wanted to do some business.
“What about Mayapur? What is he doing there?”
“He does not want to stay at Mayapur”.
“Of course not. What business is there at Mayapur? How he can do business? Business means in the city”.
“Yes, he wants to do business in the city”.
Prabhupada then suggested Bombay. Tamal explained that I did not feel it was safe for my wife in Mayapur. And I was concerned about that.
Srila Prabhupada said,
“Someone else can stay with her”..
“And he can do business in the city”..
Srila Prabhupada said,
“Yes, it is a good idea. Bombay is the best place for business”.
“In the world. Many poor men come, and becomes very rich”.
Srila Prabhupada was discussing with Tamal about his request for assistance in taking care of Srila Prabhupada, because of increased duties. Srila Prabhupada was not well. He was not doing much work except for some translating, and Tamal was answering all Srila Prabhupada letters. Of course, Srila Prabhupada required a lot of physical assistance, and constant attention, and this greatly taxed Upendra and Tamal.
On the morning of July 22nd Srila Prabhupada called for me. I went upstairs to the porch of his house, and he asked me if I would like to be his general secretary. I did not understand what he said, and I looked at Tamal, and Tamal explained that Srila Prabhupada needed an assistant, someone to stay in his party. So, I bowed my head on his bed, and Srila Prabhupada responded,
“This position requires a very intelligent man. You are intelligent and trustworthy. And bring your wife. She is very expert. I like her very much; She is very expert”.
Immediately on the same day I went to Delhi and I flew to Calcutta in the evening. I gathered all my possessions at Mayapur, and my wife. By the 25th we arrived back in Våndavana, and went to see Srila Prabhupada that night. At 11:30 I began my duties. I was scratching his back for about half an hour, and then he laid down and I massaged his legs and feet, for an hour. Then I had to help him to the bathroom by holding him under the arms. After he finished in the bathroom, I assisted him back to his translating seat. He was working on the 10th Canto currently.
On the 26th, I was performing different duties, secretarial duties, and correspondence and different things, and I want up again at 11:30 and Srila Prabhupada was sleeping. He stirred at 12:30 at night, and I began massaging his feet, and then again took him to the bathroom and then sat him down in his translating seat.
After the 27th of Jul, Srila Prabhupada did not translate by himself.
He would then translate with the assistance of Pradyumna. Today was an Ekadasi.
Srila Prabhupada was feeling very bad today, and he did not translate during the day. At 11:30 pm I want up to attend to him, and he was up and already translating. I heard him translate two verses regarding the mothers of the cowherd boys, whose sons were stolen by Brahma.
In the morning of the 28th, at about 12:25 in the morning, Srila Prabhupada called me to take him to bed on the back porch. He was restless, and at 1 o’clock he asked me to get the mosquitoes out of his net. He also requested me to stop the dripping of water in the garden fountain. That day Srila Prabhupada spoke to Yasomatinandana, Gopala Krishna, Tamal Krishna and myself. He spoke to us in the garden behind his house. That night at 11:30 at night, I went up to serve Prabhupada who was then sitting up talking with Tamal about going to America. Srila Prabhupada was feeling a bit discouraged, and said he was “dying slowly”. So Tamal Krishna Gosvami was encouraging him that if he went to America, he would feel inspired. Later, in bed, he asked me for my opinion.
“What is your opinion?”
“The airplane would not be a good place if there was some difficulty”.
“Difficulty means death”.
“Yes”. I said,
Then I said to Srila Prabhupada,
“Finishing your books is most important. Why takes any risks?”
“I cannot translate. What is the difference? Dying slowly here or quickly there”. Srila Prabhupada replied,
I asked him.
“Do you have a desire to go there?”
“I have all desires. None of them have decreased”, he replied.
So, then I said,
“I visited the U.S. one month ago and I found my health increasing”.
Srila Prabhupada raised his eyebrows,
“Especially when I went to the islands of my wife’s home, my health increased from the sea and the fresh air”.
Srila Prabhupada asked,
“How do you get there? From London?”
“You could go from London to Miami, and then on from Miami to Key West. But we have a good facility in Hawaii”,
Srila Prabhupada then said,
“Yes, very good facility. If I go to London, from there I can go anywhere in 6 to 8 hours”.
Currently Prabhupada was thinking like this. Then I was continuing to speak of how in India all the devotees from the U.S. experience a general decrease in health when they come to India.
I started to say.
“They always experience that their health..’..
He finished the sentence for me, and I said, “yes”.