A Introductory Mix of the Last Six Months of Srila Prabhupada Being Present
Once in Vrndavana towards the end of my stay, when I was the head pujari there, Srila Prabhupada came. We were having a lot of financial troubles, and he personally organized many drastic budget cuts. One of these cuts was the amount of rupees to spend on the Deity’s garlands. Actually, he said that the deity of himself, that of Bhaktisiddhanta, and those of the two gopis should not get garlands at all. So we did that, but we continued to get two nice, big garlands for Prabhupada himself while he was there. One we would put on him when he walked into the temple room, and another we would put on him, as he sat down on the vyasasana. So this went on for 3 days-the Deities getting these stringy looking garlands, and Prabhupada getting the nice ones. Then on the 3rd day, as we gave him the garlands, as he sat down on the vyasasana, he yelled to Aksayanand and Hayahaya, and said,
“Why are you giving these to me? They should be given to the Deities”.
He yelled out right in front of the Deities and everything. So we had a meeting and decided to switch it around. The next day we gave the Deities the big garlands, and Srila Prabhupada the stringy garland. So that went on for another 2 days, and then Srila Prabhupada complained that we were spending too much on the garlands. So ultimately, we just cut down on all the garlands. He appeared to be more pleased with that.
When I was in Vrndavana, due to circumstances, I was to go to Istanbul with Hayahaya prabhu, to open up a temple, so I was elected of the two of us to go, and see Srila Prabhupada; and ask for his permission to open this temple. So I went into his garden, and Harikesa Swami, and a few other devotees were sitting there. Prabhupada was looking at this big ornate fountain built by Charanaravinda prabhu, which was sprinkling water from the top. Prabhupada was saying how nice it was, and how we should take care of the garden at all times. So I waited, until there was silence, and then I swallowed, and asked Srila Prabhupada if we could go open a temple in Istanbul. He immediately slammed his hand down, slapped his knee; he was sitting on the little vyasasana built by Hayahaya for him to use in this garden. And said loudly,
“Yes! Go immediately. These two places, Istanbul and Cairo, must have temples. This is very good idea. You should go immediately”.
Therefore, I began to pay my obeisances and got ready to leave. As I was getting up, Prabhupada said,
“And when you get there, you should have kirtan, distribute prasadam, and then you will become successful”.
Then he began to speak to me for about an hour and a half. He began to say how one should not become afraid to go to foreign countries to preach. How it is all not really foreign countries. Actually, it is all Krishna’s. Everything belongs to Krishna. It is all Krishna’s back yard. There is actually a tape that is made of this conversation.
I cannot remember much of it myself. I remember I asked Prabhupada toward the end if the Turks were yavanas. He said that this was material consciousness. In reality, everyone is eternal servant of Krishna. Our business is to go there, and reestablish Him in his Eternal Position.
(Comment: I researched Srila Prabhupada VedaBase, and found the taped conversation he is talking about: Garden Conversation—September 6, 1976, Vrindavana. The following are the excerpts of that conversation.)
“Srila Prabhupada, I go tomorrow to Delhi and I’ll leave to go to Istanbul.”
“Very good. Go with the blessings of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Very good. Krishna will save you. Chant Hare Krishna, and depend on Krishna. Then everything’s all right. Do not be afraid that you are going to foreign country. There is no foreign country.”
“These Turks are yavanas? Demons and yavanas?”
“Materially there are so many divisions, but spiritual they are all servant of Krishna. Nobody is yavana, nobody is brahmana. Everyone is servant of Krishna. Panditah sama-darsinah, Bhagavad-gita. 5.18,
“The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].”
We are going there not to make the yavanas a brahmaëa. That is not our mission. Our business is… We know that he is servant of Krishna. Forgetting Krishna, he’s thinking himself as Turkish, as Muhammadan, as Jewish, as Christian. This is his disease. So let me cure his disease. Why he should be called yavana? That is artificial. He’s Krishna dasa. Jivera svarupa haya nitya-krishna-dasa, Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 20.108-109,
“It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krishna, because he is the marginal energy of Krishna and a manifestation simultaneously one with and different from the Lord, like a molecular particle of sunshine or fire. Krishna has three varieties of energy.”
Just like when a physician treats a patient, does he think that here is a Christian, here is a Muhammadan, here is a Hindu? He takes as patient. Never mind what he is. And he gives treatment. He never thinks that here is a Christian patient, here is a Muhammadan patient. He is patient. Give me this, bring him medicine. That is physician’s business. Why should we consider,
‘Here is a Christian patient. He should be treated differently than the Muhammadan.’
Does he think like that? Does he think? Does any physician honestly think that?
‘Here is a Christian patient, special care should be taken for him?’
No. If he is physician, he should give the equal treatment to everyone.”
(END of Comment)