Amogha das Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Amogha: When we had been in Perth, Hansadutta Maharaj had sent new shoes for Srila Prabhupada from Germany and Prabhupada had had Srutakirti send Hansadutta his old shoes. So, when we were in Melbourne, 1974, I wanted to bring some gifts to Prabhupada. Once in the temple room I had heard Prabhupada say, “Don’t touch the Bhagavatam to the floor,” so I had an idea to get a book cover made, and I asked one of the ladies who sewed for the Deities to make it. It had jari and tassels and a pink lining from remnants of Deity clothes. I also bought some peachy pink mangos to give to Prabhupada as a gift. One mataji had knitted a woolen scarf with brown tassels for Prabhupada. So, when Prabhupada was in his room speaking seriously to a large group of devotees, I came in, offered my obeisances and sat and listened. There was a pause in the conversation and Prabhupada looked at the box I had with me. He said, “What is this?” I thought I had some good gifts for Prabhupada. I was puffed up. I got out the book cover and I tried to explain that it was for covering Prabhupada’s Bhagavatam because the Bhagavatam shouldn’t touch the floor. In a stern and serious way, Prabhupada said, “I don’t touch my Bhagavatam to the floor.” I repeatedly tried to explain why the book cover was a good idea, but every time I started to speak, Prabhupada spoke before me, saying, “I do not keep my Bhagavatam on the floor. I keep my Bhagavatam on the shelf or table.” I tried to keep a serious face, because he was serious but all the devotees started laughing and laughing, particularly Caru. I was totally embarrassed. Prabhupada wasn’t going to let me explain, so I decided to just sit there and take whatever happened. Prabhupada said, “That book cover is for you.” Then I didn’t think I had many nice gifts. I pulled out the scarf and gave it to him. He liked that. By now I was in a humble state. Then I brought out the mangos. Prabhupada’s mood changed, and he smiled and said, “Ah, mangos, the king of fruit. This is a gift.” I put the mangos on his table, and he asked someone to make mango milk that night. He said that mango milk was very nutritious.

Once I was trying to understand the four hundred thousand species of human life. I asked Prabhupada, “Those four hundred thousand types of humans, are they on this planet? Are they divided by countries? Does it mean the Chinese, the Japanese, the Americans?” Prabhupada said, “No, you are thinking of this planet, but the Srimad-Bhagavatam is speaking of the entire universe.”

During the morning walks we would sometimes play the role of materialists. Then some time passed, and Ganesh prabhu asked a question, but it wasn’t clear that he was posing as a materialist. He said, “Srila Prabhupada, is the Bhagavad-gita 5,000 years old?” Prabhupada said, “What? The Bhagavad-gita is not 5,000 years old. Have you read Bhagavad-gita?” Ganesh said, “Yes, a little.” Prabhupada responded, “You are a student of Bhagavad-gita and you think it was written 5,000 years ago? You should know that the Bhagavad-gita was first spoken millions of years ago . . .” Ganesh was getting heavily chastised, and I said, “Maybe Ganesh was posing as a materialist, Prabhupada.” Prabhupada said, “Even so, one should know Bhagavad-gita was not written 5,000 years ago.”

On a morning walk I said to Prabhupada, “Non-devotees think Krishna consciousness is a belief, and they question why we call it a science.” Prabhupada said, “If non-devotees can call their beliefs science, then we can call our beliefs science. What they are calling science is really just belief. For example, they believe that the living entity comes from matter, from chemicals. But where is the evidence? Where is the example of a living entity coming from matter, from chemicals? It’s simply a belief, and they’re calling it science. So if they call their belief science, then we can call our belief a science.”

One day Ganesh prabhu brought his mother and his sister to meet Prabhupada. His mother was Jewish, and she was defensive. She said, “You are saying your religion is the truth, so that means you’re saying that mine’s not the truth.” Prabhupada reassured her saying, “It doesn’t matter whether one is Jewish, Christian, or Hindu. If one knows God and loves God, then that is the truth, or the proper path.” Still she was defensive, and again Prabhupada said, “It doesn’t matter—Hindu, Christian, Jew. If you know God and you love God then that is the truth. That is the path.” Then she became more comfortable. She didn’t feel challenged, and she let her defenses down. When Prabhupada had a certain mood, his eyes would be very soft and he was humble. He said, “So, can you tell me who God is?” She turned red and looked down as if to say, “Oh, I couldn’t say anything about that.” Her daughter, Ganesh’s sister, said, “God is love.” Then, Prabhupada began to explain who Krishna is, that he’s Bhagavan, that he has unlimited beauty, unlimited wealth, unlimited strength, unlimited fame, unlimited renunciation. Prabhupada explained that He is the original person and from Him unlimited other forms of Himself arise and that He is eternally young, although He is the oldest. Prabhupada was telling her who God is. It was very nice to see the way Prabhupada dealt with her feelings and then told her who Krishna was in such a way that she could listen.

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 17 - The Australian Yatra

The full Prabhupada Memories Series can be viewed here and also at

Following Srila Prabhupada

Interview DVD 04

Amogha: This is at the VIP part of the airport in Jakarta. So we had this special area booked for greeting of Srila Prabhupada, and there are representatives of the Hindu Indian community and the Hindu Bali, means the Balinese Hindu community but living in Jakarta, they call themselves Hindu Bali. So you have a selection of representatives greeting Srila Prabhupada and presenting talks. The vyasasana, we got a frame welded together which could be unbolted; and when it comes apart, you can stack it on top of a car or a vehicle. So this vyasasana appears here and also at Thakurdas Watwani’s house and at the National Administration Building lecture because we were disassembling it and moving it everywhere.

So this is at the house of Thakurdas Watwani. He had some pictures of Krishna posters that he had bought from us, in the hallway. And in this room where all the assembly is sitting, there were these big huge paintings – one of Sai Baba, maybe Shiva, but none of Krishna. Srila Prabhupada gave the lecture in Hindi. In the questions and answers session, one man got up who was from Arya Samaj. And Arya Samaj are very atheistic, they deny the Bhagavad-gita, they deny so many things, that Krishna has a form, that God has a form. So this man actually argued with Prabhupada, kept arguing. Then Prabhupada, he called him something; and I remember the whole audience was shocked, but we couldn’t really understand because it was in Hindi. As we know, devotees don’t tolerate people who blaspheme Krishna in that way. After the meeting, they wanted to invite Prabhupada into the next room to eat. I said to Srila Prabhupada, “They’d like you to come into the next room for some prasadam,” and Prabhupada said, “We can go now?” I said, “Oh, yes, Srila Prabhupada, we could go now, but actually they’d like you to go into the next room and have some prasadam.” And he said, “We can go now?” So I knew he wanted go so I said, “Yes, Srila Prabhupada, we can go.” So we went out to the car and left, and they got very upset. But then the other thing is, which is seen in other times in history, that the disciple can take some blame instead of someone blaming the guru. So everyone blamed me for escorting Prabhupada out of the situation there and said it was all my fault, that Prabhupada didn’t leave but I misdirected or misorganized. So in that way I guess it’s good because instead of criticizing a pure devotee, they just criticized myself.

The upstairs level of Gena Trading, and this is where Prabhupada would meet guests or the Minister of Hindu-Buddhist Religion and family members.

When Prabhupada arrived…he arrived and he stayed in his room, and we were outside. Then we were all resting because it was quite an event for us, and Prabhupada only rested about a half hour after an international flight. Then Prabhupada, we heard him going around the whole room, quite a large room he was in, switching all the lights on and off, testing all the latches, everything, all the switches and different things around the room. It was interesting.

Interview DVD 06

Amogha: So we used to try to think of some gift to give to Srila Prabhupada. What can we think of? So one morning in the Saint Kilda temple in Melbourne, which was quite small and all the devotees from all over Australia were crowded in there, Prabhupada entered the room and we all offered obeisances. I just heard Prabhupada say, “Don’t touch the Bhagavatam to the floor.” Somebody had touched the Bhagavatamto the floor because Prabhupada said, “Don’t touch it to the floor.” So I had this idea we could get a nice cloth made to wrap around the Bhagavatam, and I asked the ladies who do the sewing for the Deities. So they had this nice gold brocade cloth and with gold tassels at the end, and I asked her to make that. Then I went into downtown Melbourne and I found some really nice-looking mangoes. I think I bought about six. So I put these things all in a Back to Godheadbox. Then I went to the house where Prabhupada was staying, and I entered the room where Prabhupada was sitting behind his desk and talking to a whole roomful of devotees. So at one point he paused and he looked over at my box. He said, “So? What is this?” So I got the book cover cloth out. I guess you could say when I entered the room I thought, “Well, I’ve got these really good gifts to offer to Prabhupada,” thinking this is pretty good, I’ve got something. So I picked the cloth up and I said, “Srila Prabhupada, I heard this morning you said that we shouldn’t touch the Bhagavatamto the floor, so I got you this nice cloth to keep around your Bhagavatam.” Prabhupada said, “I don’t touch my Bhagavatamto the floor.” Then I wanted to explain what I meant, what led to me deciding to do this, but Prabhupada, every time I started to say something he’d interrupt me. So I’d say, “Oh, but I mean…” “No, I don’t touch my Bhagavatamto the floor.” And every time I tried to explain, he stopped me. “I’m keeping my Bhagavatamon the shelf. I don’t touch my Bhagavatamto the floor,” and he was very stern. Then all the devotees started laughing and laughing really loud. Then he said, “This is for you.” So in that way I was totally humbled. I just felt like if I could crawl in a hole and hide, I would. Everybody was laughing at me, and Prabhupada was so stern. I meant to give him a gift, but it sounded like an insult. I didn’t mean it as an insult, but I can’t explain it. I can’t describe the feeling. I just sat there and waited. Then he said, “Then?” At this stage, if I get these mangoes out, what’s going to happen if I get them out? So I picked the mangoes up and I said, “I also got you some mangoes.” Then Prabhupada looked at the mangoes, and then a big smile came on his face and he said, “Ah, this is a gift! Mango is the king of fruit.” Then his whole mood changed from stern to beaming, and I was totally relieved. But it relates to the idea that if you offer something with pride, then Krishna doesn’t like it, it’s not the right mood. But he created that mood in me, begging, “Please accept this offering.”

Interview DVD 08

Amogha: In his room, there is a chaise lounge, the French kind of seat, Prabhupada sat on. So in that room, one morning I had some duty to ask him something, I can’t remember, but he was sitting on that seat. When I came in, he was in some kind of spiritual experience with his eyes closed and he seemed to be hugging someone who I couldn’t see. He was moving his shoulders forward and feeling these really intense feelings. Then after some time, I didn’t know what to do so I was just sitting there. And then he opened his eyes and looked at me and, “Yes?” Then I…whatever question…something about doing something by a certain time, I can’t remember what it was just now. Then he answered, and then I paid my obeisances and left. That was very amazing.

The purchasing of the Melbourne temple was a very big endeavor. It was very difficult for us to come up with the money. One devotee donated 10,000 Australian dollars, and that was the first deposit. But after that, the rest of it was 180,000 Australian dollars and that was a lot of money back then. We had a very meager income, just people getting coins and notes on the street for books. In those days, we didn’t hire people to do things. So devotees, they personally renovated the whole surface of Prabhupada House. They scraped and plastered and filled on ladders and scaffolds all over the building. The large temple room floor was laid with marble and onyx, and there was a very short time and Prabhupada was coming. They actually arranged Prabhupada’s visit to Perth for 10 days because the Melbourne temple wasn’t ready to open. When Prabhupada arrived, at one stage Prabhupada actually said to Madhudvisa prabhu, “This temple is too small. Why don’t you build a bigger temple in the courtyard?” And this was a real shock at the time because it was such an endeavor, and I guess we were feeling a bit proud that we had done this. So like some other circumstances, Prabhupada would say something to make us realize, “It’s not so big what you did.”