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Remembering Srila Prabhupada

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Some Personal Recollections by His Disciples.

1978-05-23In October of 1971, my parents came to see me in Calcutta. Srila Prabhupada was talking with some of his disciples in his quarters. As soon as my parents entered, Srila Prabhupada greeted them. After hearing him speak for some time, they finally came to the point—they wanted me back.

Srila Prabhupada said, “I have no objection; ask your son.”

I said, “I want to stay with Srila Prabhupada.”

“We want to set up a big trust for Giriraja,” my father said. “And we want him to come home to sign the papers.”

“Yes, you can send the papers,” Srila Prabhupada replied. “He can sign.”

My parents said that they had no objection to my remaining in the movement, but they did not want my health to deteriorate. So they wanted me to be stationed near home.

Srila Prabhupada said, “Do not worry. I will take personal care of him.”

My parents were still apprehensive, so Srila Prabhupada added, “Let him stay with me in India for some more months, and I will take personal care of him. Then, when I return to America in April, he can come with me.”

With my parents somewhat relieved, I said, “Just see how intelligent Srila Prabhupada is. In the winter, when the Western countries are cold and dark, Srila Prabhupada stays in India. And in the summer, when the West is warm and sunny, Srila Prabhupada goes there.”

My father was becoming enlivened by Srila Prabhupada, and he affirmed, “Yes, he is very intelligent.”

Srila Prabhupada said, “No, your son is—he has understood my strategy.”

My father said, “No! You are intelligent, actually.”

Srila Prabhupada replied, “Yes, I have to be intelligent; otherwise how could I attract so many intelligent young men like your son?”

My mother was still thinking of my poor health and long absence from home, and she began to cry.

To cheer her, Srila Prabhupada gave her a sandesa (a milk sweet). At first my mother wouldn’t accept, but Srila Prabhupada’s kind and gentle persistence prevailed. Then he declared, “Giriraja, you must take at least two dozen of these sweets daily. Then you will become strong and healthy.”

Srila Prabhupada assured my parents, “I will personally see that he is supplied with sufficient sandesa. Do not worry.”

Everyone was thoroughly pleased and satisfied by Srila Prabhupada’s loving dealings. As my father was leaving the temple he remarked, “Your spiritual master certainly knows how to deal with people.”

Meanwhile Srila Prabhupada’s secretary marveled, “Srila Prabhupada, everybody likes you so much!”

“Yes,” he said, “because I like everybody.”

Giriraja Svami

Among many other things, Srila Prabhupada taught his disciples how to worship the Deity forms of Lord Krsna and His eternal consort Srimati Radharani. For instance, he told us that we should dress the Deities very opulently, which meant that we had to make special garments for Them. I was in Bombay in 1972 when I made my first attempt at sewing outfits.

When Srila Prabhupada walked into the temple one day to see the Deities, he smiled broadly. Even as he was prostrating himself before Radha and Krsna, he looked up at Them repeatedly and smiled. Then he arose, and he said to me, “Thank you very much. Make thousands of outfits like this. And always make Radharani more beautiful than Krsna—then Krsna will never leave.”

One other time, while Srila Prabhupada was in Los Angeles in July of 1974, he remarked how nicely the Deities were dressed and asked who had done it. The other devotees told him that it was Manjuali dasi and I. That afternoon Srila Prabhupada’s secretary told us that Srila Prabhupada wanted to speak to us in his quarters. When we got there he gave us twenty dollars for the Deities, and we said we’d buy more cloth and make more garments for Them. Srila Prabhupada was smiling beautifully. “So always engage in this way,” he told us. “Then your present life will be perfect, and your next life will be perfect. You’ll go back home, back to Godhead.”

Tungabhadra-devi dasi

One day at our Los Angeles center, Srila Prabhupada was walking behind the temple and down the narrow, sandy pathway that led to his garden. As he passed through the gateway, he glanced lovingly at every plant and flower. Then he slipped his shoes off and took his place on the cushioned platform we had made for him. Along with some other devotees, I followed him in through the gateway. Just then an older disciple told him, “Here’s Jalasayi. She’s the gardener.” And although I’d done really nothing, Srila Prabhupada folded his hands and bowed his head toward me. When he said “Thank you very much,” I realized he knew just how to encourage each of us.

Meanwhile, some of the temple pujaris (the devotees who are in charge of Deity worship) began asking Srila Prabhupada detailed questions, and he gave thoughtful, detailed answers. I simply sat there listening and watching every gracious move he made. When there were pauses between questions, Srila Prabhupada would softly chant the Hare Krsna mantra, his right hand fingering the beads in his saffron-colored bead bag. I could see his eyes still moving around the garden and taking in all the plants and flowers. Suddenly he stopped, and said, “This is just like the spiritual world.”

Jalasayi- devi dasi

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