Dvaipayana das Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Following Srila Prabhupada

Interview DVD 06

Dvaipayana: Originally, my family lived in Melbourne. So I rang up my father and told him, “My spiritual master is coming to Melbourne on such-and-such a day and it would be really good if you could come and see him,” and he did. He came that day and saw Prabhupada. He came along there and merged with the crowd and listened to Prabhupada. Although he was a fairly serious Christian himself, he was very pleased to come along and he had nothing but words of praise for Prabhupada. He’d always supported me becoming a devotee, having years earlier dropped out of university and become a hippie hitchhiking around the country. And every time I’d come home I’d be onto some different kind of trip and I’d rap to him about it. But when I actually committed myself to fully participate and join the Hare Krishna movement, he was very happy and supportive of that. I found out some years after I’d been a devotee that he was involved in some inter-Pacific conference about religious toleration because I found a printout of the conference when I was a devotee in the temple. I didn’t even know about it when it was happening. But he got up in front of everyone and said, “My son has joined the Hare Krishna movement. It isn’t my beliefs, but still I fully support him to be involved in it and I think it’s a good thing.” My father was a schoolteacher. He was teaching in a grammar school, I think it was a Church of England school. But still, after the new temple was opened in Melbourne in Middle Park with the beautiful Radha-Vallabha and Gaura-Nitai and Jagannatha Deities, he organized an excursion from the school every year to come visit the temple, have darshan of the Deities and have prasadam; and he did that for many, many years.

As usual, my service was to cook a huge feast for the program. As I remember, I had to cook a huge feast, Ekadasi feast. I can’t remember exactly everything I made; but I do remember that I was busy during the program when Prabhupada was talking, organizing the food and getting it ready to be served out at the end of the program. So I couldn’t be present at the whole program. But what we did was arranged all the plates and served them all out in a room that was nearby or next to this hall where everyone was chanting and hearing Prabhupada talk. And when the program was over and Prabhupada was walking out, he walked past and saw all the plates of prasadam spread out and he looked at Madhudvisa and said, “Oh, who has done all this?” And Madhudvisa said, “Dvaipayana has done this.” And Prabhupada said, “Oh, this is very good.”

Interview DVD 08

Dvaipayana: When Prabhupada came back and they took him up to his room, and so I went up there and brought this beautiful silver bowl with these peanuts and spiced rice bubbles in it. I came in and put it down before Prabhupada and paid my obeisances. Then Prabhupada took out his Gayatri thread and started chanting his Gayatri. So all the other big brahmanas in the room brought out their Gayatri threads and sat there like this. Then after a very short time, Prabhupada finished chanting his Gayatri. Everyone else still had their sacred thread hooked around their thumbs. So Prabhupada reached into this bowl with these spiced rice bubbles, picked up a little bit and handed it to the nearest brahmana, who still had his thumb hooked around his Gayatri thread. What a dilemma. So all the devotees immediately stopped chanting their Gayatri, put their hands out and accepted what Prabhupada was offering them. I later found out from Srutakirti’s book this was a fairly common occurrence that Prabhupada chanted his Gayatri very quickly. So one by one the devotees got up and left the room, and I was still sitting there alone with Prabhupada. He asked me what my service is. I said, “Prabhupada, I do cooking and Deity worship.” He said, “Oh, that is very nice.”

That’s me playing the guitar. One thing I do remember about that particular time in 1975 is that there was that breakaway…what we call “the Haribol Group” had a fairly big following in Melbourne. And because Prabhupada was there, they would all come along to the program and the kirtan. They would try to persuade Prabhupada to come to their place, but Prabhupada said, “No, you can just come along here, do kirtan and take prasadam. What is the difficulty?” A number of times he did stress the importance of kirtan and prasadam specifically in Australia. So that’s one thing that really struck me, and I still remember it to this day and try to do it in my own small way to continue this program. Very simple but very effective. Somehow or other people can become attached to hearing and chanting the Holy Name of the Lord and partaking in the divine remnants of His beautiful vegetarian food. It certainly opens up their hearts.