The following is a remembrance of Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada during his years prior to coming to the US, from the book ‘Our Srila Prabhupada – A Friend to All’, by Her Grace Mulaprakriti devi dasi, published in 2004 just after her demise in Vrindavan.
This emotionally saturated recollection by an old pujari from the house of Advaita Acharya in Shantipur epitomizes the mood and determination of Srila Prabhupada as he left the land of Bharat at the advanced age of seventy to fulfill his life’s mission to follow the order of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati to preach in the West, given to him in 1922 at their first meeting.
This year, 2022, is the 100th Anniversary of receiving that order and we have aptly named it the Paschatya Desha Tarine Centennial. To commemorate this anniversary, we will be celebrating it at the Radha Madhava Golden Jubilee Festival from March 2-5. You are invited to sponsor a specially designed Prabhupada Medallion prepared for this occasion.
One day in Mayapur an old Gaudiya Vaishnava came to the pujari room looking for someone to talk to. He was holding a Back to Godhead magazine and he said, “Is anyone here a disciple of Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj?” A few of us said, “We are.” He said, “I have to tell you something really special.” He was very excited. He said, “For many years at Advaita Acharya’s house in Shantipur, I humbly served as the pujari, doing the aratis and taking care of guests. Many years ago, when I was young, I noticed a grihastha gentleman who, in a sober and quiet way, sometimes sat at the back of the hall, chanting japa and weeping. I never disturbed him. I never asked who he was, but whenever he came my heart would fill with joy and I would give him some maha prasadam. He moved with great determination—he came in in a very determined way and he left in a very determined way. Sometimes he would chant all afternoon.
“After some time, he didn’t come anymore and one day a few years later I was doing my seva when I saw someone in saffron robes sitting and chanting in the back exactly as he had. I looked closely and recognized that it was my old friend, but now chanting even more deeply and weeping bitterly. He wept so much that I also wept. I got some maha prasadam and when that sannyasi was ready to leave I gave it to him and said, ‘I’ve seen you for many years but this time I didn’t recognize you at first. I’m so glad to see you. What is your name? Who are you?’ “He said, ‘My name is Abhaya Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj, and I am a humble and fallen disciple of my most glorious Gurudeva, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada. I’ve been coming here for many years because this is the place where Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu and Advaita Prabhu used to gather to plan the whole worldwide sankirtan movement. This is such a holy place. I have been praying in the dust of this place, the dust of Their feet, for Their mercy. Many years ago my Gurudeva gave me an impossible mission. He ordered me to go across the ocean and plant Krishna consciousness on foreign soil. I do not know how to do this and I come here to pray for Their guidance and inspiration. I am feeling Their great mercy. Tomorrow I am leaving Bharata-varsa on a ship. I have no place to turn. I don’t know what will happen. I only know that my Gurudeva has given me this order, and the personalities of this place have given me Their mercy. Would you also bestow your mercy upon me?’ That devotee said, “Of course, you have any mercy that I have to give. I pray that you will be successful.” Prabhupada said, “May we meet again,” and Prabhupada took his little bag and walked away.
So, the day before Prabhupada left India on the ship he made a visit to Mayapur—and he also went to Shantipur. That old Vaishnava said, “I often remembered him and wondered how had he done, what had happened to him. Then I noticed a strange occurrence—white Vaishnavas started coming to our little temple. I was shy of them and didn’t speak to them—I didn’t speak English. I didn’t know where they were from or how they had become devotees. But one day one of them gave me a Back to Godhead magazine with an article about Prabhupada’s life and a picture of Srila Prabhupada as a grihastha in Calcutta. And I saw that that was my old friend, and now I am looking here and I see that the Acharya is also him. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj has actually done it. I am so happy. I want everyone to know about your Gurudeva and his glories.”
TOVP NEWS AND UPDATES – STAY IN TOUCH
View at 360°: www.tovp360.org
News & Texts: https://m.tovp.org/newstexts
RSS News Feed: https://tovp.org/rss2/