October 9th: Prabhupada’s pulse has slowed down and has become a little weaker. In the morning he was listening to
Gurukipa Swami leading kirtana and then he said,
Gurukipa immediately broke into yasomatinandana brajabara nagara, and Prabhupada smiled. Prabhupada is now so weak that he cannot even sit on his palanquin and go for darsana of the Deities. All that he would take this morning is three spoons of caranamrta and refused anything else. When we asked him if he would drink, he said,
“Let me drink harinama amiyavIasa”.
And gave a big smile. Later. Prabhupada was speaking to Tamal Krishna Gosvami and Brahmananda and Guru Krpa Swamis. He quoted one verse, nivrtta-tarsair upagiyamanad. He said it is bhavausadhi, meaning medicine, this hare-kirtana. And caranamrta, this is diet. He smiled. Diet and medicine, let me depend on this.
Later, at about 12:30, Upendra tried to persuade Prabhupada to drink something, but he would not. Upendra explained to him that unless he drinks he will become dehydrated. Prabhupada replied,
“I feel no inconvenience”.
After he had gone out Prabhupada turned to one of his other servants,
“I am afraid of cough”.
When asked whether he wanted water, he thought for a moment and then told him,
“So, you discuss amongst yourselves and decide what you want me to do”.
“About recovery Srila Prabhupada?”
“I do not want”.
“You do not want recovery Prabhupada?”
Then at about 1:30, Prabhupada sent for Tamal Krishna Gosvami and a few of us came in and sat around his bed. Prabhupada’s voice was very weak. He said,
“If I want to survive, of course I’ll have to take something. It is not possible to survive without taking any food. But my survival means so many complications, one after another. Therefore, I have decided to die peacefully in Våndavana”.
We were all stunned and no one could say anything. Prabhupada’s voice trailed off and we all sat looking blankly at Srila Prabhupada as he lay in front of us with his eyes closed. After a few minutes Prabhupada heard one of the devotees sniffles. He turned and said,
“Why do you want me to survive?”
And then after a pause.
“If I want to die, this is the way of peaceful death”.
Some of the devotees began to cry. Then Tamal Krishna told Prabhupada that he would have to go out for a few minutes for a discussion. So Prabhupada said,
“Yes, discuss. They want me to survive. I want to die peacefully. I cannot make miracles. The physical body must be maintained if I am to survive. But without taking food, how the physical body will go on? That is fanaticism”.
After a long pause Tamal Krishna Gosvami said,
“Everything is in the hands of Krishna, Srila Prabhupada”.
Then another long pause. Prabhupada lay with his eyes closed. Occasionally he made a noise. “Mmm Mmm”. Then after two or three minutes he opened his eyes and looked towards us and spoke. “Krishna wants me as I like. Krishna is giving me full freedom”.
He said it in such a way as though he were telling us that now the choice is yours. He had already told us previously that live or die he did not mind, but now he was giving us a choice. Still at the time, no one really appreciated the significance of that. Another devotee said to Prabhupada,
“Whether you live or die you will always be with Krishna, Prabhupada, and we will be with you because we will follow your instructions”.
“Whether I live or die I will always be Krishna’s servant. If Brahmananda has assured me that this movement will go on, then better let me die peacefully”.
Prabhupada asked that one verse from the Cintamani prayers, advaitam acyutam anadhim ananta-rupam, especially be chanted along with yasomati-nanadana and Hare Krishna mantra. After a few minutes, gradually the room emptied.
Then a meeting was held of the GBC’s and sannyasis and everyone discussed about what Prabhupada had said, Up until this point everybody had become convinced that Prabhupada was going to leave and that there was no chance for his recovery. But then the mood suddenly changed.
One by one everybody began to agree that we must go in and ask Prabhupada to please stay with us. He was asking for a reason, and the reason was that he had not yet finished the Srimad-Bhagavatam and that there was still so much work to be done. Kirtanananda was asked to present everything to Srila Prabhupada and to petition him to please stay with us. So, after a few minutes we went in. Prabhupada was lying down very quietly on the bed and we all went forward and gathered around his bedside. Kirtanananda came forward to speak but as he came nearer to Prabhupada he became overcome with emotion and broke down sobbing at Prabhupada’s bedside.
No one could say anything. Everything was incredibly intense. We were all waiting for Kirtanananda to speak. Prabhupada waited for a minute or two and then he put his hand on his head and stroked it. Then Prabhupada said,
“So, what do you want?”
After another minute Kirtanananda gained a little control and raised his head and looked at Prabhupada,
“If Krishna gives you choice, do not go, we need you”.
And then again he broke down sobbing. Prabhupada listened without moving and then he raised his hand in the air and moved it from side to side to indicate all the devotees.
“So, this is your joint opinion? You have discussed?”
“We have met all together, Srila Prabhupada. We want you to remain and lead this movement and finish the Srimad-Bhagavatam. We have said you must remain at lease for another ten years. You have only done fifty percent work”. Replied Brahmananda.
Again, there was silence and Prabhupada lay very still with his eyes closed, occasionally giving a loud. “Mumm”, as if he were considering our proposal.
Everybody was held in suspension, not able to move their eyes form Srila Prabhupada’s face, and not able to speak or do anything except look very intently at him. Then still with his eyes closed, Prabhupada began to yawn. As his mouth stretched open, and his gold teeth showed, he said,
It was the most completely casual decision on life or death ever made. At that moment everyone understood Prabhupada’s supremely independent position. He can stay or go as he chooses. We had all begun to think that Prabhupada’s leaving was inevitable, but with a simple yawn, “all right”, as if it were the most unimportant thing in the world; Prabhupada was staying. Immediately everyone gave a short nervous laugh, relieved and joyful at Prabhupada’s decision, but still nervous, in case it was the wrong thing to do in such an intense situation. Then Prabhupada turned and said,
“So, give me something to drink”.
“Jaya Prabhupada!” said all the devotees.
Now it was confirmed and there was great relief everywhere. Then Prabhupada commented about our request,
“That is real affection”.
From this point on everything completely changed. The atmosphere became relaxed and happy again, and the devotees became very joyful now that Prabhupada has agreed to stay with us. He even inquired about some strawberries that had been brought by one devotee and told us that later he would eat some. After a little discussion, Prabhupada finished everything up and finally he said,
“All right, but the chanting should not be stopped. Things should go on naturally”.
Then Prabhupada took rest. Since that time Prabhupada has again begun to try to maintain his body, and improve his health, and has been regularly drinking fruit juices; like grape juice, also mixed with glucose, and he has increased his preaching.