Arjuna das Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Arjuna: In Mauritius, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, one of the Prime Minister’s right-hand men, was very friendly with the devotees. In those days, although officially there was no apartheid, the apartheid mentality of South Africa had spilled over into Mauritius and the few French families employed the rest of the population. When Ramgoolam heard that white people bowed down to Prabhupada, he was impressed and wanted Prabhupada to come to Mauritius. Ramgoolam asked the devotees, “Please draft a letter to induce your spiritual master to come and I will sign it.” The devotees wrote, “Will Your Holiness please come and bless our island, and please bring your Krishna Consciousness Movement,” and Ramgoolam signed it. At that time Prabhupada was a little reluctant to travel but since a head of state had invited him, he came. Mr. Tilak, the Secretary of Parliament for Agriculture, escorted Prabhupada off the plane and then Prabhupada attended a very nice reception in the VIP lounge, where foreign heads of state are honored. It was the first time Prabhupada had had such a reception. The first thing Prabhupada said was, “yad yad acarati sresthas tad tad evetaro janah. Whatever the leaders do, common men will follow.” Throughout his visit he was meditating on this and he gave many instructions on how to set up a perfect Krishna conscious society. Mr. Tilak brought 40 members of Parliament and heads of state to meet Prabhupada, and for about 40 minutes Prabhupada gave them a blueprint of how to set up an ideal society. In January 1976, a transcript of part of that talk was printed in Back to Godhead magazine. Srila Prabhupada said that Vedic society is based on love and a perfect society can be set up in a small place like Mauritius— it is no longer possible to do this in a highly industrialized state. And Prabhupada said, “We don’t have to invent anything new. The Vedic histories have already given examples of perfect Vedic societies. A perfect society is based on love, not on law. If the citizens love you, then they will automatically want to follow your laws. But first there must be love. So, Bhagavad-gita teaches that we must put Krishna in the center. If we govern according to Bhagavad-gita, we will get perfect society.”

When Hari Sauri prabhu was ill, a good friend of mine, Godrum das brahmachari, massaged Prabhupada. Godrum, one of Prabhupada’s bodyguards, was strong bodied and the first time he massaged Srila Prabhupada’s chest, which was soft, it made him think of a woman’s breast. Immediately Prabhupada said, “The allurement of the illusory energy takes the form of breasts of a woman.” Godrum was devastated that Prabhupada could read his mind. Godrum said, “God, I’m not qualified to do this service!”

Someone had forgotten to bring Prabhupada’s prasadam tiffin on the train and a devotee came to ask us if we had anything that Prabhupada could eat. I gave some fruit I had purchased. Then that devotee told us that when Srila Prabhupada had been informed that his prasadam tiffin was missing, he didn’t say anything but as the train pulled out of one station, a samosa-wala was going by the windows calling, “Garam samosa! Garam samosa! Garam samosa!” Prabhupada put his hand out, stole a samosa, popped it in his mouth and then said, “A sadhu never goes hungry.” One lucky samosa-wala was missing one samosa that day.

Prabhupada had a dream about an excellent kaviraj from Calcutta. This kaviraj came to Vrindavan and was treating Prabhupada. He was dhira, a sober practitioner, brahminical, and very reverential to Prabhupada. He was from the Sri Sampradaya and wore big white and red tilak. One day he said, “At first I doubted that your Guru Maharaj was a paramahamsa. But I have treated thousands of dying people, and in this condition—when there’s no more muscle and fat to cushion the nerves from being pressed against the bone—usually people are in such agony that I have to administer morphine. However, your Guru Maharaj never manifests the slightest expression of pain.” I also saw this in March-April in Bombay. At that time Srila Prabhupada’s whole jaw was swollen. When we get a toothache, we can’t tolerate it. But Prabhupada tolerated it. We never saw any difference in his mannerisms, in his way of dealing with anyone, and he never complained. In fact, when the devotees were trying to induce him to take care of his body, Prabhupada wasn’t agreeable. He transcended his body. It was very evident that Srila Prabhupada was a successful astanga-yogi, that he had totally transcended his bodily conception and was a true living saint.

In 1978, Yasodanandan Swami and I went with the gurukula boys for the Magh Mela in Allahabad, and at that time we met Devraha Baba, an 800 year-old saint who lived in a house on stilts. Usually he never came down from his house because everyone tried to touch his feet. But when we went he came down and for almost ten minutes he spoke in Sanskrit glorifying Srila Prabhupada as a saktyavesh-avatar. He was so old that even his eyebrows hung down in dreadlocks. He called some of his disciples, who were two, three, and four hundred years old. It was very significant how this great, highly respected saint of India wonderfully glorified Srila Prabhupada. When Prabhupada departed, a cyclone swept through India. I was in Vrindavan and had delayed returning to Mayapur for about two weeks because we all felt that Prabhupada was close to departing. But then I thought, “No, I have to go and do my service.” I got to Mayapur Sunday night, and around three in the morning my brahmachari roommate, Siddhartha, woke me up. He said, “Prabhupada’s here!” I immediately got up and offered my obeisances. Then Siddhartha said, “Oh, it must have been a dream.” We tried to take rest again but a cyclone swept through and a huge nim tree keeled over, wham! It woke up the whole neighborhood. Then the next morning we heard that Prabhupada had departed. We brahmacharis thought, “Wow, Prabhupada came and took his nim tree.” And the newspaper reported that a weird snap storm swept throughout India. On the front page there was a photo of a tidal wave in Madras with flames on top of it. We thought, “Wow, how a pure devotee’s departure creates inauspicious symptoms.”

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 44 - Arjuna, Bahushira, Gokularanjana, Jnanagamya, Jayapataka S Udayanand

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