Dear Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept my most humble obeisances at the dust of your divine lotus feet on this most auspicious occasion of Vyasa-pujacelebration, the 118th anniversary of your appearance.
Several of my Vyäsa-puja offerings to you over the years have been filled with the thoughts of my interactions with you. The memories of those fond exchanges inspired me to commit them to writing. Recently I
wrote and published these as a book dedicated unto you, which is titled In Conversation with Srila Prabhupäda:
Contexts and Contemplations. As my offering this year I have selected an affectionate memory from this book—a conversation in Vrindavan a few days before your departure.
Srila Prabhupäda, it is as follows:
“You Manage—Let Me Travel to All the Tértha-sthänas” (Vrindavan, 1977)
After finalizing the bullock cart arrangements, the three of us returned from Mathura. In the evening I immediately went to the Krishna-Balarama temple, where I led kirtana and then went to see Srila Prabhupada.
I had not seen him since midmorning. When I arrived in his quarters, there were a few other senior disciples with him, keeping vigil. I entered and offered obeisances. Upon seeing me, Tamal Krishna Maharaja announced, “Lokanath is here. Would you like some morekirtana,
Srila Prabhupäda? Lokanath can lead. Lokanath, you lead.”
However, Srila Prabhupäda said, “He must be tired.” I said, “Not to chant for you, Srila Prabhupäda.” Srila Prabhupäda softly said, “Hm.”
I continued, “We just had a nice kirtana, but I could chant more. I have come a long way to see you and chant for you. So if you allow, I will chant.”
Srila Prabhupada replied, “Yes.” He then asked me about the climate during my traveling. “How is the climate outside?” “There’s not much cold so far. Luckily I came today. The climate is good,” was my response.
Srila Prabhupada then went on to inquire about other parts of India. I explained, “As we go toward the Himalayas it gets cold; otherwise, up to Delhi and Chandigarh same climate as it is here now. As soon as we
go out into the mountains, it’s very cold. We were shivering there. As we came to the places, wherever we went the climate was the same. Same as Vrindavana. It’s a good climate.”
Srila Prabhupäda addressed his senior disciples, “I wish that you GBC manage very nicely, and consider that I am dead, and let me travel to all the tértha-sthänas. Bring little medicine or no medicine, little milk and
travel from one place to another, and if there is death, what is the lamentation? My age is ripe. In the open air and bullock cart or during the daytime, eh? . . . Nowadays there is in India ample sunshine. So during the daytime I shall travel, and nighttime you make a camp under a tree. In this way, let me travel to all the térthas. I am thinking this way. What is your opinion?”
Both Bhavänanda Maharaja and Jayapataka Maharaja focused on assuring him, “There’s no need to be concerned. You have trained us well to manage things in the GBC.”
Srila Prabhupada, with focused intellect, restated his original wish, “No, no you are managing, I know, but you are all important men and unnecessarily you are bound up. You cannot go. So Lokanath’s party has
got some experience, and let me go. In India the climate is now good. If I recover, it is very good. You know.
So what is the wrong? If I die, then the body will be brought either in Vrindavana or Mayapur, that’s all. And if I live, it will be a great end of a life. You are all experienced.” Jayapataka Maharaja continued to assure Srila Prabhupada that he would not be burdened by material management, to which Srila Prabhupäda responded, “No, not from that point of view. What is the use of lying down here?” Jayapataka Maharaja carefully explained that the kaviraja had given clear instructions, to which Srila Prabhupada laughingly responded, “Don’t keep me locked up. You do your duty as I have trained you and let me be free.”
There were many devotees in the room during this exchange, and almost immediately thereafter the house was divided.
The request by Srila Prabhupada remained unresolved at this point, as the disciples wrestled about whether to concede to his compelling, obvious desire or to be extremely wary about his weak condition and take a decision not to allow the fulfillment thereof. The debate of what to do and what not to do continued.
Many sided with executing Srila Prabhupada’s instruction, while many more had just the opposite opinion, and both sides had very good reasons. I remembered, however, Srila Prabhupada saying to Tamal Krishna Goswami on his last visit to London, “If I survive this time, I want to do parikramä.” Srila Prabhupada also reiterated this request in Bombay, on his return from London.
My dearest Srila Prabhupada, writing this book was a profound meditation, which allowed me to relive my moments with you and realize that you are always present. Again I dedicate this book to your lotus feet and pray that these memories keep me enlivened, enthused, and eternally motivated in my efforts to always serve you.
Your humble servant,