My Srila Prabhupada a Prema Bhakta
This month on November 2, 2005 is the tirobhava of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, my Srila Prabhupada. I wanted to write something about his disappearance and some of the more obscure stories I have experienced and heard from devotees who had these direct experiences with ACBSP. I feel that if someone listens to these stories with an open heart they may be able to see the true divinity of my Srila Prabhupada. I feel that after his demise there has been a systematic reduction of ACBSP true divinity In order to make the unqualified persons who took his place appear more qualified. Hence a lot of important information concerning the truly divine attributes he was endowed with have been purposely played down or hidden from the successive generations.
The essay that follows is a series of stories I told someone who about a year ago became a traditional Gaudiya Parivar after cycling through the ISKCON/GM institutions. He told me after this conversation that he had a new found respect for my Srila Prabhupada and that he felt Krsna had sent me to tell him this. I want to thank Gaudiya Discussions for the opportunity they are giving me to make this presentation and I want thank in advance all the devotees who read this no matter what their conclusion is afterwards.
My Srila Prabhupada was hoping in the early days that he would be able to institute the conception of raganuga bhakti with the disciples he was cultivating. He knew this was an uphill battle because of the fact that he had developed an institutional structure in which to present the process. One of his early statements, and I am paraphrasing here, is that “this process does not really lend itself to being developed in an institutional setting but this is the only way you Americans seem to understand how to practice it so I have set up an institution.” Part of the reason he made this determination I feel was because the surrounding culture was so contaminating he could not imagine someone practicing Bhakti at home in America and being successful. He strongly felt and I think rightly so that a refuge was required, an island of transcendental tranquility in the midst of the storm of materiel madness for sense gratification where like minded people could live together, practice and associate.
Still he experimented from time to time with instituting the practice of Raganuga bhakti. There was a young girl around 19 who came to him with a baby doll she had bought in the store. She had painted the doll blue and decorated it to look like baby Krsna. She informed my Srila Prabhupada that she was attracted to caring for Krsna as a baby like mother Yasoda and that she wanted to care for her baby Krsna in the same way, is it alright. My Srila Prabhupada was very happy to see this spontaneity and he encouraged her giving instructions on how she should care for her baby Krsna just like a regular child and bath, dress, feed and care for the baby with love and affection at all times. Unfortunately her enthusiasm was hampered by the follow the rules crowd in the institution which eventually stifled her spontaneous growth and she gave it up to follow the crowd.
However, my Srila Prabhupada knew who he was dealing with which is revealed in a little known story from his former personal body guard. Rakshana was the perfect body guard quite and lethal. With a flick of his wrist he could send a 250 pound man to the ground in an instant. He was an ex-Vietnam Vet and a warrior’s warrior. Once late at night when my Srila Prabhupada was alone in his room Rakshana went in to ask him a very important personal question. He told our Srila Prabhupada that he was only attracted to one form of Krsna, Parthsarathi. He expressed that he only wanted to be on the battle field of Kurukshetra fighting on behalf of Krsna and Arjuna. That this was his real desire and he wanted to know if this was ok to desire this. My Srila Prabhupada smiled at him and told him you have been a warrior for many births and in fact this is your true eternal nature to fight in this battle for Krsna and Arjuna. He said most of his disciples were actually followers of Mathuresh, Dwarkadisa, Laxmi Narayana, and Lord Ramachandra. Only a few were actually devotees of Radha Krishna in Braja. By this story we can get an idea why my Srila Prabhupada laid such an emphasis on the rules of vaidhi bhakti and allowed his disciples to produce an atmosphere of opulence and grandeur in the temples. It was after all their real nature.
In his heart my Srila Prabhupada was a brajbasi and he loved that atmosphere more then anything. Another little known story shows how he loved and respected the traditional Gaudiya Parivars. On a morning walk in Vrndavan a small group of babajis was approaching from the opposite direction. Dressed in the traditional garb of short white loin cloth and chaddar wrapped around their lean bodies, their japa beads in hand chanting with rapt devotion, they almost looked like what we would imagine the six Goswamis must have looked like. When the two groups walking in opposite directions came closer to each other the babajis upon seeing my Srila Prabhupada got down on their hands and knees and placed their foreheads on the sacred dust of Vrndavan offering their most humble obeisance’s to my Srila Prabhupada. My Srila Prabhupada immediately got down on his hands and knees and also placed his head on the sacred dust of Vrndavan offering his humble obeisance’s back and his disciples followed suit. When the walk resumed he turned to his disciples and said “there are many pure devotees here in Vrndavan I can see them but you cannot.” This pastime clearly demonstrates that my Srila Prabhupada recognized the pure devotional service and transcendental position of the traditional Gaudiya Parivars in Vrndavan and that he was not just a proponent of the institutional practice of Krsna Consciousness but used it as an instrument to fulfill the mission and prophecy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the previous Acaryas like Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura.
Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was my Srila Prabhupada’s dearest disciple. If you witnessed the love they exchanged when they were together and their private communications you could understand that this relationship was uniquely special. My Srila Prabhupada spent approximately 14 days in Orissa in January and February of 1977. During that time Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja used to go into the room of Srila Prabhupada alone without anyone else and discuss privately the intimate details of pure devotional service. During this time my Srila Prabhupada gave to Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja ekadasa bhava, his form, dress, color, service, etc. and revealed to Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja his own transcendental eternal spiritual form and the relationship they had in Braja and the service that Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja rendered to my Srila Prabhupada in his eternal transcendental form. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was the only disciple to receive this because he was the only one qualified. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja has told me that Srila Prabhupada is in Madhuya Rasa not Sakhya Rasa as many of my god brothers think. More than this I cannot say.
The last story I want to relate to you is the disappearance pastimes of my Srila Prabhupada. On the fourth and final time I went to Vrndavana since my Srila Prabhupada went there for His departure I arrived at the exact moment that the Kaviraja declared that my Srila Prabhupada would leave in 5 hours. I went into the room immediately and went to the head of the bed and began to massage my Srila Prabhupada's head. I was then privileged to witness my Srila Prabhupada's display of transcendental ecstasies. While deeply absorbed in His internal transcendental consciousness my Srila Prabhupada experienced and manifested many of the different ecstatic emotions that he had described in the Nectar of Devotion and the Caitanya Caritamrta.
He rolled back and forth on the bed, his arms flailing in the air as if he were rolling on the ground moaning in ecstasy. Then he suddenly stopped and appeared stunned unable to move any limb of his body even a hairs breath and then his entire body would tremble uncontrollably. These were two other ecstatic emotions. Then tears profusely flowed from the sides of his eyes, another ecstatic emotion. I witnessed the hairs on his body stand erect, another ecstatic emotion. First arching his back and then falling back to a lying position and then raising his head slightly He roared like a lion and then he would belch heavily, two other ecstatic emotions. This display went on for over one hour.
The room was filling up with disciples and well wishers, we were all chanting and playing instruments and everyone was touching the body of Srila Prabhupada hoping to obtain some last mercy. However the entire time He remained deep in His internal consciousness and displayed the ecstatic symptoms while remaining oblivious to His external surroundings.
When Srila Prabhupada departed at 7:14 PM, I came to his bedside. Just prior to that I had been outside of the room briefly, and when we heard the devotees scream we all ran back into the room. I pushed my way to the bedside and watched as Prabhupada opened his mouth and left chanting Hare Krsna. The kirtana was roaring, the devotees began crying, and soon hysteria started to set in.
Everybody was ordered out of the room except for a few of us who stayed behind to help prepare my Srila Prabhupada for the Samadhi according to the instructions that Srila Narayana Maharaja had given us. During the preparations some extraordinary events took place that further indicated the exalted transcendental position of my Srila Prabhupada. Srila Narayana Maharaja had instructed us to remove my Srila Prabhupada’s clothing and then bath him and dress him in fresh clothes. As we removed each layer of clothing I felt the room begin to fill with the fragrance of flowers. A most aromatic fragrance emanated from the loin cloth we used to keep between Srila Prabhupada’s legs to catch the occasional oozing urine. I held the loin cloth up to my face and inhaled the most heavenly bouquet of flowers that I had ever been blessed to smell.
Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental body never showed any signs of deterioration. There was no foul odor, only a fresh flowery fragrance. No rigor mortise ever set in. His body remained soft and flexible the entire night and into the next day when we placed Him in the Samadhi. There were no signs of ganged green, mould or deterioration. There was no mottling or settling of blood in the limbs. My Srila Prabhupada actually appeared almost unchanged and His eyes remained peacefully closed as though He were in deep meditation. All of these symptoms are indicative of a greatly exalted pure devotee of the Lord whose body is sat-cid-ananda vigraha.
Two years later I witnessed Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja exhibit almost all of the same ecstatic symptoms in Sridham Mayapur in his room. I brought Srila Akinchana Krsna Das Babaji into the room to confirm what I was seeing and after he examined Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja, Babaji Maharaja simply exclaimed with a big smile on his face bhava, bhava, bhava. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja was the only one of my Srila Prabhupada’s disciples that I know of that exhibited symptoms of ecstatic love of Godhead. It is my opinion that this was yet another manifestation of my Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental glory.
Within the last year a book has come out called “Srila Prabhupada A Friend To All” in a portion of this book many of the brajabasi’s narrate their remembrances of my Srila Prabhupada during his time at Radha Damodar Mandir. There is a story of how he used to spend many nights sweeping the Samadhi of Srila Rupa Goswami and weeping and crying out just begging for Srila Rupa Goswamis mercy to fulfill the order of his guru maharaja to go to the west and preach. There is a story of how he would spend long afternoons singing and weeping in ecstasy with Srila Akinchana Krsna Das Babaji Maharaja as they would sing Sad Goswami Astakam together. Just as Krsna is known for 3 degrees of perfection, perfect, more perfect, most perfect it is this form of Srila Prabhupada in Braja that I consider most perfect. It is this form of my Srila Prabhupada, much to the disappointment of many of my godbrother’s that is considered most worshipable by me, the form which I adore and keep within my heart of hearts.
This is my Srila Prabhupada a Prema Bhakta.