Dr Vishnu Sharma Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Dr. Vishnu: I saw Prabhupada through a friend of mine, Franks, who told me that there were public lectures being given by Prabhupada in Conway Hall. That was in 1969. I was curious to see who is this sannyasi that has come from India to preach Krishna consciousness in the West, and in particular the UK? I became aware that he was very much influenced by the English educational system. I went to Conway Hall, and when I looked at Srila Prabhupada, I thought, “He seems to be a very serious person.” Previously I had seen a number of other sannyasis that came from India. I also attended some of their meetings and lectures, but none of them impressed me. My impression of these sannyasis was that they were there just to make some followers and collect some laksmi. Prabhupada in his first meeting didn’t ask for any money from the audience. He gave a lecture that introduced Krishna consciousness, and a lot of people there were quite impressed with his explanation about material and spiritual life. I said to myself that he appears to be a genuine sannyasi from India, who has not come to collect money. He has come to give something. That something was spiritual life that most of us, and in particular the Indians, didn’t have or had forgotten.

One time in London the devotees gave out a lot of flyers advertising one of Prabhupada’s lectures. But unfortunately, the weather was so bad on that day that not many people showed up. I think it was Dhananjaya who said, “Srila Prabhupada, we have given out a lot of flyers, but not many people have come today. We are sorry.” Prabhupada said, “The hall was full, the hall was full with the devotees, and Narada Muni was there.” Then I thought to myself, “Is he really serious? Is he really a serious sannyasi?” I couldn’t see Narada Muni anywhere. I could just see all the white faces there. [chuckles] I was at that stage where I did not believe everything a person or a preacher who came from India had to say. Later on, however, I understood Prabhupada’s position was such that he could observe things that I could not. I was just an ordinary materialistic lawyer in England. [laughs] If I didn’t see it, I didn’t believe it.

After seeing Srila Prabhupada at Conway Hall, I had the opportunity to get his personal darshan. He asked me, “What is your name? We know you are a lawyer.” I said, “Yes, I am a lawyer.” “The devotees tell me that you come from a Vaishnava background.” I said, “Yes, I am a Vaishnava.” He said, “It is a good thing you are already from Sri-sampradaya. You are a devotee so you should appreciate the problem the devotees are having.” He said, “We have this temple in Bury Place, which is in the heart of London, but we have been given notice to close the temple down in twenty-eight days.” I said, “Swamiji, it is a very short time twenty-eight days.” He said, “Your law firm, Goodman and Goodman, is a bit expensive, and we are devotees, so we don’t have a lot of money. We collect donations.” I understood that Srila Prabhupada was expecting work from us either for a very low fee or no cost whatsoever. Prabhupada impressed me with his purity and sincerity, so I felt impelled to help him in this matter.

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 73 - Bhakti Caitanya Swami, and the UK Yatra.

The full Prabhupada Memories Series can be viewed here and also at www.prabhupadamemories.com