Mr. P.L. Sethi Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

P. L. Sethi: The temple work was to start. This is sea area. Every building has piling. Piling goes thirty feet to thirty-five feet below the ground. So I said to Guruji, “We must put piling in this land to build the temple.” Guruji suddenly said, “No piling is required in our land.” After that we called the soil specialist who tested the soil and they also reported that piling is required. Then we called another engineer who also said piling is required. He also discussed with Guruji. But Guruji said, “No. Piling is not required in our land.” So Guruji said, “You can test the soil by using a boring machine.” So I called one boring wala. When the boring went five feet, the boring tool could not be pulled out. So then Guruji said, “You dig the land.” And we dug the land, and could see the sand and the stone melted up with very hard stone. Then I called that soil-testing engineer who said, “You can build an eight-story building here, no fear, no dangers.” When I took darshan of Radha-Rasabehari, Madhudvisa told me, “Just now Prabhupadaji came from America, so you can take darshan from him.” So he took me to Prabhupada, and Prabhupada questioned me, “What are you working?” I told him, “Yes, Prabhu, I am getting up early in the morning, taking one cup of tea, go to the bathroom and then go to my business.” And Prabhupadaji suddenly said, “What is the difference between you and a pig? He is also eating. He has his children just like you. But you are not chanting the mahamantra or Krishna’s name.” So I said, “Prabhupada, I have not got such a relation to the sat-sanga, that I don’t have a habit of this.” Then Prabhupadaji suddenly called Madhudvisa and asked me, “Where you are staying?” I said that I am staying at Gorygon. So Prabhupadaji ordered to Madhudvisa that “Every Sunday after mangal arati, all the devotees should go to the Sethi’s house and do the nagar sankirtan there. He must get association with you and he will be a devotee.” So for one year, all the devotees came to my house every Sunday and we would do nagar sankirtan there about ten miles or fifteen miles, and then back to my house. And then they would take a feast there. So by this way, I attached with ISKCON.

I was sick sitting in this chair and Guruji said, “So many Gita slokas and why are you weeping? That is nothing. That is only that the soul is changing clothes. Just like the body changes, the soul is changing the body. That is nothing. Why you are weeping for that? But you cannot die by this disease because you have to work for the temple so much.” So I said, “The doctor says that if I pull out the tubes from my neck and chest, I will die.” And Guruji said, “Pull out the tubes and throw them out the window. I will show you, you will not die.” So I pulled out the tubes and threw them out the window, and Guruji sat here about two hours and then said, “You have not died. You are alive. So you cannot die by this disease. The thing is you remember you have promised to Krishna some time ago. Remember that.” So after some minutes I got that memory that when I came here to Bombay from Pakistan, I had no house to live in. I had no money to work. So I promised to Krishna that, “Krishna, if You kindly give me one house and one lakh rupee, then I will always chant Your name.” And I said to Guruji, “Yes, I remember this promise I made to Krishna.” And Guruji said, “He has given so many lakhs of rupees, so many houses, but you have not chanted to Krishna. So Krishna slapped me. “Now you go and build the building. You cannot go to the toilet? No, you take this mala and do the japa and you will be all right.”

One day Prabhupadaji was slightly sick and Tamal Krishna was standing at the gate so that no one could enter to Prabhupadaji’s quarters. My wife and I went there to take darshan of Guruji. So I said to Tamal Krishna, “I want to take darshan of Guruji.” Tamal Krishna said that nobody was allowed to take darshan. Prabhupadaji heard my voice inside and Prabhupadaji called, “Tamal Krishna, Sethi is there?” Tamal Krishna said, “Yes.” “Yes, allow him to come here.” When I went inside, Guruji said to me, “Mr. Sethi, go see the entire flat and how the devotees have furnished my quarters.” So I went and saw the bed and carpets, and the kitchen and bathroom were all very well furnished. I came back and said, “Guruji, this is very well furnished.” And Guruji suddenly said, “You should come here and stay. I am a sannyasi. I don’t want this decoration. I will go to another room.” How kind of Guruji. Such an elevated guru was being so kind to me. I am nothing, but he loved me so much. So you see the mercy of Guruji.

Prabhupada was so merciful. I have seen that he is loving to everybody. He had so much love for the devotees. One Christian boy came to the temple, this Hare Krishna Land, and there was a tree of papita. He took some papita from the tree and as he was leaving, a devotee caught him and he brought that boy to Guruji and said, “This boy is stealing our papita.” And Guruji said, “What will he do with the papita?” The devotee said, “He will eat it.” Then Guruji said to the devotee, “If you will take that papita, what you will do?” He said, “I will also eat that papita.” “Then what is the difference? He will eat papita and you will eat papita.” From that day, this Christian boy’s parents became devotees. Prabhupada saw no difference between the devotee and the Christian. He is equal as a human being. “He will eat the papita and you will eat the papita, then what is the difference?” So Prabhupadaji said to that boy, “You want more? If you want more, take more.” So every time Guruji was always giving, saying that make more prasadam, more and more prasadam. If they will eat prasadam, they will chant Hare Krishna. Their mind will be purified if they take Krishna prasadam and they will become a devotee. So the main thing that Guruji wanted to teach everyone is that we are not different. Whether your skin is white, whether your skin is black, whether you are Hindu, whether you are Muslim, whether you are Christian, no difference. One thing in common in all of us is that we are the soul, we are the sons of Krishna and we want to return to Krishna. Simply chant Hare Krishna. No knowledge is required, no need for someone to be a professor, a spiritual master, a scientist, an engineer. Only simply you chant the mahamantra and your situation will increase and you will be with Krishna. Mrs. Nair came to my home with her lawyer and Guruji was sitting upstairs. Then Mrs. Nair told the lawyer, “You please sit here. First I will take time with Guruji to discuss the case we have put upon ISKCON and ISKCON put upon me. Then I will call you.” And Mrs. Nair went upstairs and she sat about five minutes there. Five minutes, only five minutes. She was so impressed with Prabhupada that she came back and told the solicitor, “I surrender to Guruji. Please you can go. I will pay your fees. I will pay your fees, but you go. You can go.” In the same day, we came to live in this house and Guruji said, “A sannyasi cannot live in a grihastha household, so I am going.” So Guruji went to Chataya yath where Mahatma Gandhi stayed and was built by Sumati Morarji. Around 12:00 p.m., two or three devotees came to say that “Mrs. Nair went to Guruji and he is calling to you.” So when I went there, Mrs. Nair was sitting outside the Chataya yath and she was weeping. So I went and she said, “You please ask Guruji to forgive me for the whole trouble that I have given to the ISKCON devotees.” Then I went to Guruji, and Guruji said, “If the man who forgets his own path in the morning but he comes in the evening to his house properly, he has not forgotten the path because he came at last to his place.” I went to Mrs. Nair and said, “Guruji forgives you.” And Mrs. Nair was with the registrar who registered the documents. Guruji got up from his asana, and Mrs. Nair put all the documents to this Hare Krishna Land at the feet of Guruji and said, “Please forgive me”. Guruji said, “You will not get any trouble from today.” Otherwise, she was always seeing in her dreams her husband’s soul and could not sleep the whole night. But after that she became all right.

One day I was building one story on the old building for the devotees because there was nowhere for them to live. They were staying in Chataya yath. One day I was working very hard and cement and sand were on my clothes. I thought, “I will not go to Guruji in this position.” But my mind said, “Why you are not going to Guruji? Go to Guruji. What is the problem? We’re working near and there must be some cement and sand that will be on when I’m working like this.” And I went to Guruji and all these sannyasis like Giriraj Swami and Sridhar Swami were sitting there. And Guruji said, “Mr. Sethi, you are building houses for my devotees and your house is being built in Krishnaloka.” And I said, “I am a sinful man, Prabhupada. How I can go to Krishnaloka?” Then Guruji said, “This I will see. This is not your duty. I will see that you will go to Krishnaloka.” You see how Krishna loves the devotee who serves the devotees. Guruji showed mercy upon that person who served the devotees that he allows him to enter Krishnaloka. What a big thing. What mercy of Guruji to say that, “The person who serves my devotees, he will go to Krishnaloka.” What a big thing, what a big philosophy.

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