Vedanta Krt das Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Vedanta-krt: We went to the New Orleans International airport to meet Prabhupada. A god-brother came up to me and said, “Bhakta Vic, give me your shoes.” (I hadn’t joined the temple yet.) I said, “What?” He repeated, “Give me your shoes.” I looked at him, and besides his dhoti and kurta, he was wearing red cowboy boots. I said, “I’m not giving you my shoes.” I knew I was going to get stuck with those red cowboy boots. [laughs] I also knew there was a saying that “You should see yourself a fool in front of your spiritual master, but you don’t want to look like a fool.” [laughs] Anyway, this devotee, Mahendranatha, actually led an ecstatic kirtan just as Prabhupada exited the airport with such aristocracy. The next day at New Talavan, Prabhupada gave the Bhagavatam class in the morning and in the evening, he held a darshan. As we were waiting to go up to his quarters for the darshan, Nityananda, who was the temple president, came up to me and said, “Bhakta Vic, you ask the first question.” I was shocked, I didn’t expect that. I wanted to ask Srila Prabhupada some questions, but I didn’t really want to be put on the spot. I remember Brahmananda was sitting next to me and there were a number of devotees in the room. In fact, one of the guests was my aunt who was older than us, and because she was much older, she had back problems. Because of her back issues, she sat against the wall with her legs outstretched. Prabhupada looked at her and said, “Sit properly.” Immediately her legs, almost like a machine, shot backwards and she assumed a lotus like position. After the entire darshan, my aunt said, “That was the closest I’ve felt to God in my entire life.” So, she was actually fortunate enough to get Prabhupada’s association in that one darshan. Then it was time I had to ask a question. I had been visiting the temple for three years and there was always that subtle pressure to move into the temple. I constantly got the vibe from the devotees that a college education was maya. So, I asked Prabhupada, “Prabhupada, should everyone move into the temples?” Prabhupada’s response was, “What for?” [laughs] Very pragmatic. I replied, “To live here.” He answered back, “We do not object, but who is coming?” So often as devotees have received instructions or answers from Prabhupada, they reflect on these answers for many years. After some time, I believe Prabhupada wanted me to move into the temple. I finished my education and literally went from my graduation ceremony to sleeping on a brahmacari ashram floor the same night. The next day I was out selling incense. That is basically how I came to move into the temple.

Vedanta-krt: Being brought up in Catholicism, I wanted to be certain about my salvation and make sure I wasn’t doing anything offensive toward Lord Jesus. I was going to church and then I would go to the temple. I asked Prabhupada specific questions in relation to being Catholic. I asked him about the miracle that Lord Jesus supposedly fed fish to thousands of people. He very pragmatically said, “That may be so, but,” he said pointing to a big bowl of fruit on the table, “Why do we have to eat fish?” He said, “We have so many nice fruits and vegetables. Why do we have to eat fish?” He was very pragmatic and at the same time not condemning Lord Jesus—time place and circumstance. He had to feed them something, and as there was nothing else, he fed them fish. I also asked Srila Prabhupada, because I was pursuing that consciousness of trying to help Christians become more realized, “Srila Prabhupada, how do you convince the Pope and the bishops…” and I was going to say “not to eat meat,” but before I could finish he said, “First you become convinced.” It was such a nice instruction because he could see the challenges I was having with Christianity and my inability to surrender to Krishna bhakti. As the years go by, I think of that instruction: “First you become convinced.” Srila Prabhupada was so convinced of Krishna consciousness, all of us steadily became more and more convinced of that blue boy that is God. [laughs] As the darshan went on, I distinctly remember there was someone sitting behind me who was wearing a turban. He was American, but he had a turban, so I didn’t know if he was practicing the Sikh religion or what. At one point he asked Prabhupada, “Can you speak to us of love?” Srila Prabhupada immediately responded, “Krishna is love.” As he elaborated on that statement, this gentleman stood up to leave, and Prabhupada in a loud, powerful voice said, “Why are you going!?” The gentleman explained that he had a previous engagement that he had committed to and that he had to go honor that commitment. Prabhupada’s loud, powerful, startling voice then became full of love and compassion as he turned to Nityananda and said, “Give him some prasadam.” I can’t describe it any other way, but it was filled with so much love and compassion. It moved me so much, and after all these years, I now realize that all Prabhupada wanted was to give us Krishna in some way. In fact, in his books he says no event is complete without distribution of prasadam. But from the tone of his voice, I could see he had so much love and compassion for every living entity, and he just wanted to give that to us somehow or other. And he was going to make sure that every single individual in that room got prasadam before leaving. These moments of association with the pure devotee of Krishna have sustained my Krishna consciousness this lifetime. I just want to somehow or other also help other living entities become Krishna conscious, and it is because of everything that Srila Prabhupada has given us.

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 64 - The New Talavan Clan +3

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