Was Srila Prabhupada Systematically “Positioned”?
Abhirama dasa, October 9th to 16th, 1977.
On the 9th of October we discussed his taking of liquids. He has stopped. He told me, “I am afraid of coughing”. At this point, they had already begun clearing the site for Srila For carrying the dead body, and a palanquin with handles. Currently there was constant awareness of Srila Prabhupada’s position; health-wise. So, I asked Srila Prabhupada why he had stopped taking liquids, and He said,
“I am afraid of cough”.
“Therefore, you are not taking?”
He then said,
“You all consult what you want me to do”.
“About recovery?” I inquired.
“I do not want”. Said Prabhupada.
“Recovery?” I asked.
Srila Prabhupada nodded his head, “yes”.
Then Prabhupada said to Tamal Krishna Gosvami.
“If I am to survive, I must take some food. Otherwise, without food, one cannot live. But survival means one complication after another. Therefore, I have decided to die peacefully in Våndavana. They want me to survive; I want to die peacefully. Whether I live or die, I will always be Krishna’s servant. Krishna wants me as I like. The choice is mine. Krishna has given me freedom. If I want to live, I must take care of this body. We cannot exhibit miracles, by not taking care and living. That is fanaticism. If you assure me that this movement will go on even without me,, then better to let me die”.
And the GBC’s met, and after several hours I came back to see Srila Prabhupada. Kirtananda Svami was chosen to speak on their behalf. He knelt at Srila Prabhupada’s bedside and looked at Srila Prabhupada. Kirtananda Svami broke down crying and he put his face on the bed.
Srila Prabhupada was very distant and faint, and he was not aware of who was around, and he was reaching his hand out and found Kirtanananda’s head, and he asked.
“Who is that?” very faintly.
“It is Kirtanananda Svami”. Said Tamal.
Three minutes passed. Kirtanananda was sobbing. He looked up with a face covered with tears. He choked up and said,
“Srila Prabhupada, if Krishna is giving you the choice, then live”. And he started crying again and said,
“We need you”.
Srila Prabhupada replied.
“That is your decision?”
Then Brahmananda Svami spoke, and he was crying.
“Yes, we have all met and discussed, and we feel that 50% of your work is not finished. We want you to finish the Srimad-Bhagavatam”.
There was a pause. Srila Prabhupada yawned, and in his yawning, in a most nonchalant manner, he said, “Okay”.
As he was yawning. Prabhupada said, “That is real affection”. Everyone was stunned.
Our lives were at the edge of a great abyss, but so casually Srila Prabhupada just decided to turn the table. With a yawn he said, “Okay”. We had no idea that he had so much power, so much control of his destiny. Everyone was stunned and crying.
Then a cheer rose form the assembly of devotees. Then Srila Prabhupada agreed with him, and he asked for some grape juice, and everyone said, “Jai Haribol!” I helped serve him and gave him some rinse water. Then he slept well and I massaged him. He began taking barley water in the morning. Then the doctor came and prescribed glucose and protein supplement. So, I introduced the Shaklee vitamins and protein. Srila Prabhupada agreed to start taking them. Srila Prabhupada asked for the glucose drink. I mixed grape juice, water and one teaspoon of instant protein. He drank half a glass.
He was trying to recover. He spoke to different devotees like Svarupa Damodar, Hamsadutta, etc. He was preaching to them. Atreya Rsi came in the afternoon, and Prabhupada was very pleased by his report. Srila Prabhupada later took some milk, on the Kaviraja’s advice.
On the 12th, Prabhupada developed mucus and was coughing. He had a terrible time all day with the coughing. Then Srila Prabhupada sister arrived from Calcutta. In the evening, Kirtanananda Svami offered to take charge of Srila Prabhupada health. Everyone agreed and we were all satisfied. We had hopes of keeping him on a careful program of feeding. He rested peacefully all night.
On the 13th of October, in the morning, his urine started coming out milky, and with small red particles of blood clots. I sent a sample to the laboratory, and they reported the presence of blood and pus. In the meantime, Srila Prabhupada asked his sister to make kittri. Even though Kirtanananda Svami begged him not to take, he ate about a palm full of food, including sukta and tomato chutney. We were stunned. Later some of Srila Prabhupada’s god brothers came, Puri Maharaja and others. They talked affectionately and had kirtana for about 4 hours. They were given halvah and puris, and Srila Prabhupada took a little mudhi with cream. Mudhi is puffed rice.
On October 14th Srila Prabhupada’s urine cleared up and he rested that night very well. Pishima cooked full prasada, chapatis, dahl, subji, nim bhaji. Srila Prabhupada took a small amount, then took sweet lime juice a couple of times. He told me that the oil that I put on him in the early morning had relieved the itching in his back. Today I took permission of the older devotees, Tamal, Kirtanananda, Bhagavan, Jayatirtha, etc. I asked them to request Srila Prabhupada if my duties could be turned over to Satadanya Svami. By this time, there were so many devotees there in Våndavana, that I was hardly required. I was tending him now only about an hour or two, and even then, there were so many devotees around. Satadanya Maharaja was eager to do the service, and very expert at it. Srila Prabhupada asked Pradyumna to start reading the Bhagavata from where he had stopped translating; that resulted in Srila Prabhupada making translations and comments. Sometimes he would ask Pradyumna to translate, and Srila Prabhupada would correct and approve. So, this is the 14th of October when Srila Prabhupada again began translating late in the night. He suddenly told me.
“Where is Pradyumna? Get Pradyumna”.
And Pradyumna came down and He said,
“Get the tape recorder. We are beginning translation, get the Bhagavatam”.
So, it was a very exciting event. Srila Prabhupada would sometimes translate and sometimes he would ask Pradyumna to translate, and then Srila Prabhupada would correct and approve whatever Pradyumna was translating. He did seven verses in the 10th Canto beginning in the 13th Chapter, verse 33. Then he slept very soundly.
On the 15th of October, in the early morning I was talking to Srila Prabhupada and telling him that all the devotees around the world, will feel that they have got their life back when they hear that he has begun translating again. I told him that every instruction he gives from his bed is eagerly awaited all over the world, that they are immediately communicated in so many languages. He had a big smile on his face after hearing that; which was unusual at this time. At noon he translated four more verses, and Srila Prabhupada requested a masseur. Srila Prabhupada was massaged twice, for 2 hours, with til (sesame oil), mustard, camphor, and opium. This opium was for relaxing the body. It goes through the skin. Srila Prabhupada said he felt a glimmers that Krishna was giving him a new body; meaning that he could adjust to the condition he was in, and translate. This masseur explained that the mustard and til oil, contained protein, and that the protein would be absorbed through the skin by massaging it.
“I am taking too much service from you?”
I laughed and said,
“No, otherwise our service would go to Maya. We pray to be always engaged in your service”.
Then he asked about the spelling of my name.
“What is the spelling of your name? It is Avirama? Or Abhirama? Avirama means ‘always chanting Rama,’ and Abhirama means ‘without tiresomeness.’“
I chuckled and I said,
“I should always chant?”
Srila Prabhupada then said, “yes. It is a nasty world”.
So, I asked.
“Which name is the correct name?”
Srila Prabhupada said,
“Either name”. Then he said, “Avirama is better”.
Then he translated several verses from the 10th Canto. This afternoon I requested Srila Prabhupada’s permission to turn my service over to Satadanya Svami. I explained to him that Satadanya Svami was already doing most of the duties, and that I was hardly required. Srila Prabhupada said, “I have no objection”. and that is the end of my experiences with Srila Prabhupada in this world, Våndavana India October 16, 1977.