A Introductory Mix of the Last Six Months of Srila Prabhupada Being Present
Prabhupada’s condition was slowing deteriorating, even though the doctor kept assuring that he would get better. When the doctor arrived from Calcutta, Prabhupada had already performed parikrama three or four Times, and in fact, when he did perform his parikrama, he seemed to be much more alert, and much stronger. He would be brought into the Deity room, and he would see the Deities and he would circumambulate in his palanquin, and all the devotees would perform Hari-nama sankirtana. This was very pleasing to Srila Prabhupada. He seemed to gain a little strength from it, although his physical appearance did not improve, and it was always very painful to look at him.
Then the doctor arrived, and said the parikrama should be discontinued, because it was exhausting Srila Prabhupada. The doctor said that Prabhupada was slowly losing his strength, and if his strength decreases any more, his heart would fail. The next morning, I spoke with Rameswara, and I was thinking of going away and leaving Vrndavana because I was in so much anxiety, about the way things were going on. I felt that I had to return. I personally did not feel that I was doing much good being there, although everyone was assuring me that Prabhupada was liking the kirtana very much. I was called in the middle of the night by Virahaprakash Maharaja, who could not explain anything to me. He simply was saying,
So, I ran downstairs. I walked in and all the devotees were sitting in the front room, and the doctor was talking to them. I then ran into Prabhupada’s room, and Prabhupada was laying there motionless. I did not really know what had happened, and I stayed there by his side, waiting for someone to tell me something. Then Bhavananda came out and he called me into Tamal Krishna’s office and he said,
“The doctor has lost all hope and he say that he cannot do anything more. Therefore, the only medicine we have left for Srila Prabhupada is this Hari-nama. Therefore, there is no question of you going anywhere. You have to remain here, until there is either some improvement or some decisive development’.
It was a very dark hour that followed. We remained in Prabhupada’s room for many hours and chanted. Then suddenly the doctor came running back in and he was followed by Bhavananda Maharaja, and Tamal Krishna Maharaja, and others came trailing behind him. Just prior to this, the doctor had administered some medicine, but he did not have very much hope, and he was going to go back to Calcutta. Just before leaving, he came in to examine Srila Prabhupada. He took his pulse, and we were all very intensely watching him. Suddenly as he took Prabhupada’s pulse, his eyes practically jumped out of his sockets, and he ‘. immediately started saying something in Hindi to Bhakti Caru Maharaja. We were all listening and eagerly waiting for a translation. Bhakti Caru said,
“The doctor is completely bewildered. He said Prabhupada’s pulse and heart are completely normal, just like a healthy man, just like a man of full strength and good health. He said he has no explanation for this’.
So, then they asked him.
“What about the medicine that he gave him’.
The doctor replied.
“If I had given him ten doses of that medicine, that might have been some visible improvement. It was not his medicine that was doing it. It was Prabhupada that was doing this’.
He felt that Prabhupada was completely in control and he could do anything he wanted. The doctor then became very hopefully because he thought that if Prabhupada had the will to remain, then he would remain. At that Time the doctor had some realization about Prabhupada’s position, and Prabhupada’s identity. Therefore, he decided to remain in Vrndavana and continue with his treatment.
That afternoon, after taking some prasada, I came back to Srila Prabhupada’s room and he was awake. He was just lying there in his bed. We could tell he was awake, because he was blinking slightly, and several Times it seemed that he was about to say something; but he did not. I sat by the side of his bed chanting japa, not wanting to disturb his thinking, and then all of a sudden Prabhupada began speaking. And it was as though he was speaking to no one in particular, but he wanted someone to hear. Bhavananda Maharaja was there, it was the day of Go-puja.
In a very dreamy voice Prabhupada began speaking about Go-puja. Bhavananda asked me to call Tamal Krishna. Quickly I ran and fetched him, and I returned back to a position near Prabhupada where I could hear something. Prabhupada was already in the middle of the conversation, so the first words I heard were,
He then said,
“All medical treatment has failed; I want to be freed. I have taken care of everything now and you are all intelligent and experienced men, you can go on managing. I want to be freed to travel to the holy places of India. I want to see all the holy tIrthastanas of India. Please make the arrangement. If I depart, there is no cause for lamentation. I will always be with you through my books and my orders. I will always remain with you in that way. But for the Time being and from now on, you should consider me dead. And please free me to go on a pilgrimage. If I recover. If I depart. If I die. What is the loss? There is no cause for lamentation. And if I survive, I will come back’.
What followed was pretty much a replay of any other incident where Prabhupada had announced very strongly that he wanted to do something. The devotees, in their feelings of duty, inspired by attachment and love, would try to persuade him from doing it; feeling that it would endanger his survival and his life. But Prabhupada was very strong on this point, and he refuted all arguments against him going on this pilgrimage. He wanted an arrangement where he would travel with Lokanatha Svami. Lokanatha had a bullock cart, and had been traveling all over India. Prabhupada said,
“And during the day I will travel in between the places of pilgrimages, and I will sleep in the sun. And then towards the evening, we will rest under some tree. And I will drink a little milk, and in this way I will live’.
After Prabhupada made his desire known, and followed it up with convincing arguments; and all the devotees, more or less surrendered to the idea. Then Prabhupada said,
“Now you should have a meeting and make all the arrangements necessary’.
So, we all went off and had a meeting. Again, during the meeting, some questions were raised whether we can actually allow Srila Prabhupada to go. Some felt that it was actually suicidal to let him go. Then the doctor came in and joined the meeting and said,
“Absolutely not. If Prabhupada goes on this parikrama, he will not survive even one hour. His heart will give out after one hour of beginning the journey’.
But I kept thinking that just a few hours ago the doctor said that Prabhupada’s heart was completely normal and his pulse was strong. I was confused. I really could not understand where the doctor was coming from exactly, and I voiced my opinion. But the situation could not be decided, and there were many heated arguments that developed on both sides. Some felt that Srila Prabhupada should simply be assisted in carrying out his wishes, and others insisted that since Srila Prabhupada had agreed to stay, we had to do everything possible to serve him in that way. It could not be decided. Then a message came from Srila Prabhupada requesting us to finish our deliberations. Prabhupada now wanted us to meet in his presences. So, we all came back into his room. Again, Prabhupada argued very strongly for going and refuted all other arguments. However, the doctor kept insisting.
“Well, by my experience you will not survive even one hour’.
And so on and so forth, so many arguments, professional arguments by the doctor. Prabhupada dismissed all of them. Then Prabhupada replied,
“That is material. I assure you that I will not die in one day’. In fact, Prabhupada said,
“I think this will cure me’.
This situation could not be resolved because devotees simply would not give up their view. It seemed that they were simply bewildered about exactly what was the best thing to do. Then Srila Prabhupada said,
“All right, call Niskincana Krishnadasa’.
He was an ultimate god brother
“Let him come, I will consult with him”.