Prabhupada’s Palace Nectar: On the Road

Prabhupada’s Palace Nectar: On the Road

Written by Puru das and taken from the April 1983 Issue of the Brijabasi Spirit

New Vrindaban JalaKolahali Devananda Prabhupada Palace  New Vrindaban Prabhupada Palace

Pictures shows Devananda on the left and Jalakolahali on the right.

During the “off” season the Palace staff keeps engaged. Actually there is no such thing as an “off” season in Krsna Consciousness. But this refers to that time during the winter when the amount of tourists visiting Prabhupada’s Palace slows to the point that we can work on Palace maintenance and repair, and busy ourselves for the rush of visitors that will arrive in the Spring.

During the winter, three teams, consisting of Mahabuddhi, Devananda, Jalakolahali, Raghunath, Sankirtan, Jambavati devi and myself, travel all around the G.S.A. representing Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold at 30 or more Travel, Camping, Bus Marketplace and Bus Association Trade Shows. Travel is a tremendously large business in America, and literally hundreds of thousands of summer travelers attend these shows, searching for attractions and places of interest to visit.

At the shows, we set up an 8′ x 10′ booth, with a long table at the front for displaying photographs and Palace brochures. Along with our large 6′ x 8′ photo of the Palace, we also set out two other displays, three easels each, with large 16″ x 20″ color photographs of the Palace and its interior.

Just as during the earlier days of ISKCON when devotees would attend boutique shows and gift shows to market Spiritual Sky incense, we are now attending similar events to generate interest for Prabhupada’s Palace. People are very attracted by the beauty of the Palace, even in photographs, and it is quite wonderful to see their reaction.

Tourist: George, look at that! That’s just beautiful. Why, we didn’t know such a place existed in the U.S.

George: Wheeling, West Virginia, eh? Why, we go through there once a year. How come we never knew that this was there?

Devotee: Well, sir, we’ve only been open for two years to the public. That’s why we’re here at the show. To let you know about the Palace and how you can visit it. We have two large billboards on 1-70.

Wife: Well, we certainly must come and see that when we travel west this summer. We visit our daughter in Ohio once a year. We have to stop and see this!

Devotee: Please come, ma’am. It will be our pleasure to have you visit.

Couple: Well, thank you very much young man. We’re certainly glad we found out about this.

Very often, more times than we can count, the same conversation takes place during the course of a day at one of these shows. The Harrisburg Travel Show, The Columbus Travel Show, The Detroit Show, and Indianapolis Show (all of which we have attended this year) were each nine days long. During that time 300,000 to 500,000 people visited each show, and those who passed by the Palace of Gold booth were given the opportunity to start their spiritual life and make advancement in Krsna Consciousness. They may have attended the show to look at recreational vehicles, or find that perfect vacation, but when they pass our booth they are stunned by the beauty of the Palace and usually stop to take a brochure. Those that do are pretty definite about coming to visit during the next summer season.

Wife: Why Harold, we have to visit this place. Why haven’t you taken me here?

Devotee: Have him take you to our restaurant ma’am. You can dine in a very elegant atmosphere and very inexpensively at that.

Wife: Will you look at these pictures, Harold (as she pages through our photo album)?  How beautiful. When was this built?

Devotee: We started construction in 1973, and it was finished in 1979. We opened to the public about two years ago.

Wife: Well, is it a restaurant, a hotel, or what?

Devotee: No ma’am, the restaurant is in the back behind the Palace. The Palace is a memorial to our spiritual leader, Srila Prabhupada. It now serves as a museum that you can see on our guided tour.

Wife: How interesting. Who built it, anyway?

Devotee: It was built by the members of our religious community. All the work was donated, and all the laborers were previously unskilled.

Wife: I see. Prabhupada, who was he, anyway?

Devotee: He is the founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the Hare Krsna movement. He was the world’s most renowned Vedic scholar, and translated the most authoritative collection of ancient Sanskrit texts from India, called the Vedic literatures. His books are found in almost every major university in the world today.

Wife: This is really fascinating. Look at those flowers. We must come this summer when your gardens are in bloom.

Devotee: Please do. You can easily get overnight accommodations, and here is some information for you about the area.

Wife: Thank you very much. We’ll be seeing you.

Many people cannot quite believe that the Palace really exists. They ask, “Is that really real?” “Is that building really in West Virginia?” “Is it made of real gold?” Then it becomes easy to explain to them that the Palace is located in ‘Almost Heaven’ West Virginia. Since many of them are likely to travel through the state, they all become candidates for visiting the Palace.

Staying away from the Holy Dhama, New Vrindaban, and living away from the association of our God brothers is an austerity worth accepting for the sake of preaching to the conditioned souls. We feel very fortunate to be allowed to travel around the U.S. and represent the Palace and do what we can to attract everyone in America to come and visit. Of course, there are many other booths at the shows, but the people who run the booths are now old acquaintances. They have all heard a little philosophy from the different devotees, and are happy to see us when we set up our booth next to theirs. A familiar face in unfamiliar surroundings is always a pleasant experience. Now, for some of the different people that work these shows, those familiar faces are devotees.

Last winter we distributed 50,000 brochures and spoke to at least twice as many people at the various shows. We expect to see many of them at the Palace this season. Last year we had over 300 motorcoach tours visit; this year the number should double. When we attend the Bus Association shows, and the Bus Company Marketplace, the likelihood of attracting whole busloads of  visitors increases. At these shows, group leaders are always invited to attend the first part of the show, even before the general public is allowed entrance. All of these people are presidents of travel clubs, old-age groups, school groups, and travel agents that charter buses with the various companies. They are all very eager to find new and interesting places to take their groups.

The Palace of Gold is such an attractive place to visit. Once, during a show, the vice president of one large bus company in Pennsylvania was bitten by the Sankirtana bug. Although he had his own booth, he would encourage his customers to stop at our booth and to book a tour with us. “Listen,” he would tell them, “you’ve got to visit this place. Go on over and get their information.”

One time at a bus marketplace, a bus driver who had driven one group to the Palace last season remarked to several women looking at the booth, “Oh, ladies, don’t miss this place. We went there last year on our ‘mystery tour.’ Everyone just loved it. It was so beautiful.” He actually did a better job of convincing them than I could have. Wearing his official bus company driver uniform, he appeared a paragon of bus travel authority. They listened to him and all took information about the Palace.

It is certainly encouraging to see how everyone is actually attracted to the spiritual energy that the Palace generates. Even though they are so absorbed in material illusion, when they get the opportunity to engage their senses in Krsna’s service, many take advantage. They may think that they are attracted by the gold, or marble, or crystal chandeliers, but actually Krsna is in their hearts and it is their spiritual senses that are becoming enlivened. The Palace is situated on McCreary’s Ridge, but actually it is Prabhupada’s paraphernalia and is in Vaikuntha. When someone sees one of our ISKCON paintings they look at a “snapshot” of the spiritual world. The Palace is made of the same spiritual potency and has the same effect on them. They see the Palace, become attracted, and are convinced that they should visit. Their senses are enlightened by Krsna’s internal potency.

Materialists are usually not attracted to devotional life, so devotional service is the last thing from their minds. Nevertheless, by the mercy of Krsna’s devotees they become interested in some aspect of Krsna Consciousness when they visit and see the opulence of the spiritual world manifest in the hills of West Virginia. They may not become devotees in this life, but they will never lose the benefit they derive from coming in contact with a pure devotee. Krsna and Krsna’s pure devotees are all-attractive. The Palace of Gold is like a powerful magnet that draws them here for a visit. They may never engage in any other devotional service for the rest of their lives, but their spiritual bank account has begun.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada, as he is benedicting the fallen souls of Kali yuga with unlimited opportunity to engage their senses in the Lord’s service.

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