On the 8th of August, Srila Prabhupada was sitting daily in the prasada room and taking some little lunch, which my wife was preparing. After lunch, we would come inside and hear reports, and letters written to him from Tamal Krishna. Of course, we were screening all the mail currently. There was no bad news brought to Srila Prabhupada at this time. This was Tamal Krishna’s program; just to read as much encouraging news to Srila Prabhupada as possible. Srila Prabhupada had already instructed us that he was no longer interested in managing the society’s affairs. He was in a different mood currently. So Tamal Krishna Gosvami would gather the bits of news, which were encouraging and bring them in to read to Srila Prabhupada for his pleasure. It was not that we were asking his opinion or anything like that; or to discuss business matters with him. So, it was a very nice time, compliments were read to him and prayers for his health, and it was always a very pleasant time for Srila Prabhupada. Reports of sankirtana, especially! During this period, we were getting many reports form the communist countries. Ghanashyama and another party which were there; they were having much success, and Srila Prabhupada was just thrilled. He was always waiting for the letters to come in. This was the main news currently. This day I was in the middle of passport applications for Srila Prabhupada because there were plans, to eventually leave Våndavana.
August 9th. My wife was cooking and Prabhupada was trying to take lots of juice. We were making lots of juicy, succulent preparations. Mostly different types of fruit juices. And some kheer type things with a lot of fruit in them. Very juicy type fruits. Then Srila Prabhupada was having a craving for idlis. So, he was wondering that maybe we should fly Palika Dasi in from Bombay, to teach Srutirupa how to make them. He was doubting whether she could. They are very, very difficult to prepare. Since this is a preparation from South India, it was very difficult to get the fermentation to come out exactly right without the proper climate. And Våndavana at that time, did not have the proper humidity for the fermentation. I was going back and forth to Delhi carrying on with the passport and visa work for Srila Prabhupada. During this time, he was still taking some prasada my wife was preparing. Currently, I was going back and forth to Delhi allot. Events were very uneventful as far as personal intercourse with Srila Prabhupada.
My dairy is without entry until the 26th of August. I was mostly busy with so much business. However, I was seeing him nightly and massaging him. But mostly the events during the period are just of Srila Prabhupada resting, and trying to gain his health back with hopes of traveling. I was trying to arrange for Srila Prabhupada’s green card to be extended, so that it could be honored if he traveled to the USA. So, I told Srila Prabhupada that I had a friend in Calcutta at the USA embassy. His name was Mr. O’Neal, He was a friend of our society, to a certain point. So, I called him from Delhi. Srila Prabhupada, of course, said,
“Go and see what you can do”.
I called him because the Delhi consulate was not cooperating, not willing to help at all. The Delhi consulate did not want Srila Prabhupada to get into the United States. They were not about to help him. So, I called Calcutta from Delhi, and I got Mr. O’Neal on the phone and I told him that I really needed his help, that I was coming to see him, and he said,
“No, I cannot do this. It is out of my jurisdiction; you have to go to Delhi”.
“No way. I am coming tonight; I will be there in the morning. You have to help me”.
Although he was a little perturbed, he said,
“All right, all right”.
Based on this event we had a personal friendship. Prabhupada instructed that Balavanta and I to go together. We should do this business as a team. So Balavanta and myself flew to Calcutta, and the next day we went to see Mr. O’Neal and he gave some papers and some letters, and he also gave a tourist visa in the case that they would not accept the green card extension.
In this way, there was no question, that once Srila Prabhupada arrived on the mainland, he would be cleared somehow or other, either by green card, or by his tourist visa. He had a visa, but he did not want to go in by visa; he wanted to go in by green card. On the day we arrived in Calcutta Balavanta decided.
“Well, there is no point in my being here, I cannot do anything. I am flying back”.
He wanted to go. So, we made our arrangements, and filled the vans and the cars. Upendra, Tamal Krishna Gosvami, myself, my wife, Pradyumna, his wife, Gurukåpa Svami, and many other devotees who were assisting, and coming along to see Srila Prabhupada off. The drive was smooth and straight to the airport.
So, I advised him that I did not think it was wise, I did not think that this was the way Srila Prabhupada would do things. Even though it appeared that I was doing everything, the fact remained that this endeavor had started with two people, and we should continue through with two people. However, he thought differently and he flew back.
When he arrived back in Våndavana he reported to Srila Prabhupada that he had come back, and I was going to take care of everything. Srila Prabhupada was very, very disturbed. Very upset. And everyone was very worried because he was so upset. All of us were very sensitive to his daily mental activities. He was chastising Balavanta, he was very angry. Why he had left? This is such an important matter. He quoted that phrase,
“Many a slip, can come between the cup and lip”.
Anyways, I got everything straightened out that same day with no problem. I then placed a phone call to Våndavana. Tamal went in and told Srila Prabhupada that I got a visa and an extension for his green card. Srila Prabhupada applauded; he was clapping his hands and smiling.
So, when I returned, Srila Prabhupada was very pleased, very happy, and he was eager to go. He told me,
“Immediately make arrangements”.
So again, I went to Delhi, getting his passport and exit papers, and making reservations. There was a cancellation of his departure, when Srila Prabhupada was not sure of his health. Then again the flight was on. Anyone who has traveled with Srila Prabhupada is familiar with this situation. Taking all sorts of trouble to get seats on a plane that was already overbooked, and then Srila Prabhupada canceling, and then coming back and telling your travel agent,
“We are not canceling; we want them anyway”.
That type of scene was going on.
August 26th. I drove a car back to Delhi and returned to Våndavana on the same day. I was working in the city, up until 5:30 in the afternoon, getting all the final exit papers and tickets for Srila Prabhupada and his traveling party. Then I drove back to Våndavana with the whole caravan of cars. We had a Mercedes for Srila Prabhupada that we borrowed form a life member. We loaded the cars with devotees, and we put Srila Prabhupada in the Mercedes. I placed a mattress in the back seat and laid him down so he would not feel the shock of the bumps, and he could rest nicely.
On the night before we left, Srila Prabhupada called for me. This time it was different than the previous times. He was sitting up on his bed, with his feet dangling down, and he was all wrapped in his chaddar, with his cane at his side, as if he were prepared to go, and he was taking some snuff and sitting up looking very strong, very much in control, and he was speaking in a very different voice, very strong voice, in command, and he said,
“So, everything is ready? Prepare immediately for me to go”.
Srila Prabhupada was eager to take command again. He had been nursed for a whole month, or probably longer before I came, and this was a whole change of character. Srila Prabhupada was going, he was taking command again. It was very thrilling for all the devotees to see Srila Prabhupada like this again. Even though it was too early to leave, and we would have to wait in the airport, we did not argue with Srila Prabhupada.