I do not feel very qualified to explain anything, but by Krishna’s grace, and by Prabhupada’s mercy. I have been allowed to witness the most awesome event of our times. So humbly praying at the lotus feet of my spiritual master, and begging the mercy of all the Vaisnavas, I will try to narrate whatever my limited senses have perceived, and hope that Prabhupada will make me an instrument for carrying knowledge.
I arrived in Vrndavana on October 10th, 1977. The devotees had been notified of Prabhupada’s critical condition, and his desire to depart from this world. When I arrived in Delhi, most of the devotees who had come to be with Srila Prabhupada, were still there in Vrndavana. The first thing I heard, was that there was some transcendental exchange between some of the senior devotees, and Srila Prabhupada. Sri Guru had changed his desire, apparently, and expressed willingness to remain for some time. So, there was a note of optimism, and somewhat of a joyous upsurge.
When I arrived in Vrndavana that evening, I was allowed to have audience of Srila Prabhupada. At that Time, it was still very exclusive, but by the mercy of his personal servants, I was allowed to enter his presence.
Of course, I did not expect to really see what I was about to witness.
Prabhupada had externally undergone a great deal of transformation and change. It was dark, and I really could not see very well, but I saw Prabhupada was just very, very thin, and he lay motionless most of the Time. His voice was very soft and weak, and most of the Time it was difficult to hear what he was saying. After a short Time, in his presence, I became adjusted to that volume, and it was a little easier. Thereafter, I was able to follow some of the things he was saying, and the thoughts that he was expressing.
Even though I heard news of his change of will, I was still very much afflicted by the thought that he would leave any moment. All the external manifestations by Srila Prabhupada, made it difficult to understand how Prabhupada could remain in that condition, or how he could improve outside of some incredible miracle. It was simply miraculous that he was remaining now.
Some days had passed, and I found myself practically unable to think of anything, or do anything outside of going in to see him, and being with him. Since I had no service in Vrndavana, I had no other thought, except to be by his side. I had some service that I had brought with me, but at that Time I found my mind was not able to allow anything else, because of the close physical association with Prabhupada. Just like some powerful magnet, he was simple taking away all my will to be anywhere else, to talk about anything else, or to do anything else. When I would wake up in the morning, the first thing I would think of was that I must immediately go down there and just sit, chant, or do japa. Just do whatever he wanted us to do. In this way, some days went by without any seeming change in his physical condition.
Because Prabhupada had decided to stay, many of the devotees dispersed from Vrndavana and return to their different duties and posts; pressed by their desire to worship Prabhupada in that way. Many of us felt that being there did not actually contribute anything to the situation. It did not seem that things were changing one way or another, and it looked like his condition would go on for a long period of Time. Many devotees felt that they had to return due to either an emergency or pressing service at their respective temple.
And since Prabhupada had already decided and announced, that he would remain; they made that decision. Asking Prabhupada’s blessings, they departed from Vrndavana. Many devotees felt that they had to return due to either an emergency or pressing service at their respective temple. And since Prabhupada had already decided and announced, that he would remain; they made that decision. Asking Prabhupada’s blessings, they departed from Vrndavana. Kirtanananda Maharaja left after making some arrangements to have Prabhupada treated continuously, by this one doctor, Dr. Gopal, who was not an Ayur-Vedic doctor. Dr. Gopal was practicing western type of medicine. So Prabhupada agreed to be under his care.
A few days later, after everyone had departed, I happened to walk in to Prabhupada’s room. Hansadutta Maharaja was with me, and Prabhupada was sitting up. It was a very rare moment to see him sitting up, because, he had no strength to sit up. It was also very difficult for him to remain lying down for so many hours, and days, and weeks on end. Sometimes he would ask to be sat up. I came in just now when he was speaking with Upendra. Prabhupada said to Upendra.
“Everyone has now gone?”
“They have departed, most have departed, but there are some still here, some GBCs are here along with other devotees”. Replied Upendra.
At the moment I walked in Upendra said,
“Bardaraja is here, and Hansadutta Maharaja is also here”.
“I feel lonely. When I wake up and I see there is no one around me, I feel bad”. Said Prabhupada.
So, at that Time Upendra asked me to remain with Srila Prabhupada. Upendra then went out and tried to round up some devotees, and asked them to come to Prabhupada’s room. Tamal Krishna and Bhavananda Maharajas, and others had hastily come in and Prabhupada said,
“Just sit down and chant Hare Krishna”.
He asked Tamal Krishna,
“What are you doing? Why no one is here?”
“But I am taking care of so many things on your behalf, there is so much legal business to be taken care of. I am answering letters. I feel that I have to carry on my service to you, this is my service. But if you want I will stop everything and simply come in here and chant Hare Krishna, if that is what you want’. Replied Tamal.
Prabhupada did not answer at first. Then he said,
“At least you can come here and chant japa’.
So immediately many devotees came. Sannyasis and others who were there, all the devotees. We sat there for about an hour chanting japa, and Prabhupada asked for his japamala, and he was sitting up being massaged by Bhavananda Maharaja and Upendra. Prabhupada was chanting on his beads, inaudibly. Actually, you could not hear him chanting. That was the first Time that I had a realization that actually Prabhupada did not care very much about all these medicines and doctors. He wanted to be surrounded constantly by Hari-nama kirtana, either kirtana or japa. He wanted to constantly hear, he wanted to be surrounded by his devotees. He said,
“Do not leave me, but constantly keep me surrounded’.