BB Govinda Swami Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Following Srila Prabhupada

Interview DVD 10

BB Govinda Swami: Prabhupada spoke, and then Prabhupada went to the airport. We all went to the airport with Prabhupada, and I decided I had to get close to Prabhupada and I had to get a glimpse or something from Prabhupada. So many devotees were there, and Prabhupada was walking through the corridors up to the lounge where he would take his flight from. I remember I pushed my way through the devotees and I came right up next to Prabhupada and I was thinking, “Now here I am, the most fortunate person in the world, I’m walking next to Prabhupada.” And I remember just so casually he turned and he looked at me, and he just gave me this look that turned me into dust. It wasn’t any special effort for him. But he just looked at me and the way he looked at me, it made me realize that I was really nothing. Then something interesting happened. This one nondevotee gentleman, he pushed his way right through the crowd and he pushed himself right up in front of Prabhupada. More or less he just stood right in Prabhupada’s path, and he looked up and he said, “Swami, I’ve got a question for you.” Prabhupada smiled very charmingly and he said, “What’s your question?” The man said, “If I were to give you a million dollars right now, what would you do?” Prabhupada smiled and he said, “Oh, that’s a very easy question.” He said, “I would print books and I would build beautiful temples for Krishna.” Then the man just said, “Thank you very much, Swami,” he turned and he walked off.

Interview DVD 11

BB Govinda Swami: It’s not that you could hear anything, but I was really close to Prabhupada’s face and I was looking at him and I just noticed that his lips moved. And when his lips moved, it appeared as though Prabhupada was pronouncing Hare Krishna. And at that moment, his jaw dropped. And at that very second when he said Hare Krishna and his lips opened, I saw the color of Prabhupada’s body change. When I saw that happen, I thought, “Now my spiritual master has left his body.” And everyone else in the room, they knew that that was the moment also. They started weeping like they had lost their life because Prabhupada was our life. I was watching Pisima, and she was weeping. She just bowed down to Prabhupada’s feet, and she started taking the dust from Prabhupada’s feet and she started smearing the dust on her head and smearing the dust on her eyes. Then I decided that I should do as Pisima had done. So then I went and I took the dust from Prabhupada’s feet, and I rubbed it on my head and my eyes. Then there was a request that the devotees would step outside so that they could prepare Prabhupada, and the majority of the devotees left. I stayed behind. And Upendra, very masterfully he took control of the situation, and he brought fresh clothes and he very, very quickly dressed Prabhupada. I remember he took a cloth and he tied it around Prabhupada’s head so that Prabhupada’s mouth would remain closed, and they put Prabhupada on his palanquin. Then we were waiting for the Gaudiya Matha devotees to come over and give some instruction on what to do. They came and they offered a garland to Prabhupada. Tamal Krishna Maharaj and Bhavananda Maharaj, they consulted with the Gaudiya Matha devotees, and then it was decided to take Prabhupada for a last darshan of the Deities and then make parikrama of the temple and then place Prabhupada on his vyasasana for the Guru Puja. So I remember when they carried Prabhupada into the temple room, one of our godbrothers, his name is Puri das, he was the pujari for Gaura-Nitai. And either it was at the beginning of the arati or at the end of the arati, I’m not really sure – the last arati was the Shayan-arati – Puri was on the altar with the conch shell in his hand. I remember Puri turned and he saw Prabhupada on the palanquin, and Puri fainted right on the spot in front of Gaura-Nitai. They put the palanquin right up on Prabhupada’s vyasasana. The palanquin just fit up there quite perfectly. Bhavananda, who had been caring for Prabhupada through Prabhupada’s final pastimes and had been with him and had been giving such a strong face and such a strong appearance, I remember when they put Prabhupada on the vyasasana, Bhavananda went behind the vyasasana and he just collapsed and he started sobbing like a child. The Gaudiya Matha devotees, they were leading kirtan. And when they sang Je Anilo Prema Dhana, I remember I personally collapsed. And the devotees, practically they couldn’t sing because everyone was crying so much. There was a succession of bhajans and kirtans, and everyone offered garlands and flower petals to Prabhupada. I remember people from the city, they were coming and they were offering. Then through the course of the night the kirtans went on. And because I knew that I had to cook the next day, I sort of tuned out about midnight and I went and took rest for a couple hours. I was told that in the middle of the night they didn’t know who to ask to lead bhajan, and I was told they turned to this little man that had been there the whole time. I’d say the majority of the devotees, they didn’t know who he was, and it was Srila Akincana Krishna das Babaji Maharaj. I was told that they asked him, “Prabhu, could you sing?” And he picked up the mridanga and he started singing. And because his singing was so pure and it was so full of love for his friend, Prabhupada, and for Radha and Krishna, everyone collapsed again. Then we went for the Mangala-arati, and the Mangala-arati at Krishna Balarama Mandir that morning was led by Anand Prabhu, Prabhupada’s godbrother. Then after the Mangala-arati, they took Prabhupada for his last parikrama.

When I first met him, I looked at him and I didn’t know what to say and I said, “Srila Akincana Krishna das Babaji Maharaj.” And then he saw that I had a tape player in my hands. And so without my having to say anything, he just closed his eyes and he started tapping his hands together and he sang his Mangala Caranam before singing Sri Krishna Chaitanya. And then he started singing Hare Krishna mantra, and it was like going into another world. He was chanting so beautifully, and it was like each syllable was drenched in bhava and prema. After about 20 minutes he stopped, and then he looked at me and he said, “I would like to tell you something.” I said, “What is that?” And he said, “I am an old man, and I’ve had a lot of experience in this world. From my experience, I can honestly tell you that there has never been a greater acharya than your spiritual master.” And when he said that, I became stunned because he was a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Then he looked up and he said, “There has never been an acharya in history who has performed miracles like your spiritual master.” And then he paused and he looked at me, he said, “Do you know why?” I was so stunned, I couldn’t say anything. And he said, “Because in history there was never a greater servant of Sri Krishna’s Holy Name than your spiritual master. Because your spiritual master had so much absolute understanding of Sri Krishna’s Holy Name and so much absolute faith in Sri Krishna’s Holy Name that he personally carried Sri Krishna’s Holy Name through the length and the breadth of the world. Therefore, he is the greatest acharya who has ever existed.”