A Lectern For Srila Prabhupada

Srila Prabhupada’s remnants, Ki Jaya!
Your servant,
Somadas das

Srila Prabhupada used this lectern!


This is the story of that lectern as I remember it.

When Srila Prabhupada visited New Vrindaban at end of June, 1976, we had a new vyasasana for him. It is the one that is in the temple room now (since gold leafed), made with carved teak wood from India. We also had a new altar for Radha Vrindaban Chandra that Srila Prabhupada had not seen yet, now used for the Jagannatha deities.

When he first arrived in the afternoon, we all were excited to see him and wanted to show him the new altar and see him sit on the vyasasana. He paid full dandavats to Radha Vrindaban Chandra, then stood up and lovingly gazed at Them for a long time while there was a roaring kirtan going on. Srila Prabhupada then leaned over to Kirtanananda Swami and, still looking at the Deities, said “How much did the altar cost?” He told him the price (I forget the amount) and Srila Prabhupada nodded, smiled, and said, “It was worth it.”

Next Srila Prabhupada walked to the back of the temple room and sat on his vyasasana. I forgot to say that in 1976, 31 years ago, the main temple was in Bahulaban, about 3 miles up the road from the existing temple. It was an old farmhouse with the temple room added to the back of the house. Anyway, He looked so beautiful and regal on his new vyasasana. He gave a short talk, then went to where he was going to stay, where Sankirtan and Ruci live now.

While he was there his servants, Hari Saura and Pusta Krsna Swami asked Kirtanananda Swami if there was a book holder for the vyasasana for the next day’s Bhagavatam class. They hadn’t seen one earlier. Surprised, he had to admit he hadn’t thought of it. So he quickly left and came back to Bahulaban. We were all still in bliss after seeing his Divine Grace, but when he came back we could tell there was something urgent to be done.

At that time Batu Gopal prabhu was in charge of the woodshop. Actually, he was the only one working in the woodshop. Kirtanananda explained how Srila Prabhupada needed a book holder for the next day’s Bhagavatam class. The woodshop was in the bottom of the old barn at Bahulaban which has since been torn down. Batu Gopal had just recently come from Cleveland to work on the black walnut and stained glass doors that were being made for the palace. Black walnut is the best and most expensive of the local woods, and we were trying to offer the best of everything to Srila Prabhupada.

Batu Gopal started taking measurements and designed the lectern. He stayed up all night working on it, sanding the dark black walnut smooth by hand. At around 3 am, it was done and ready for the finish to be applied. He rubbed it down with tung oil and then gave it a coat of varnish and went to bed.

He was so tired that he didn’t wake up till he heard the kirtan in the temple. Without bathing, he ran down to the woodshop to get the lectern. To his horror, the varnish had not dried and had turned into a sticky mess. The tung oil and varnish were not compatible. What to do? Krishna inspired him from within the heart and he started scraping the sticky varnish off, while rinsing it with liberal amounts of turpentine.

I had the good fortune of performing the arotik for Guru puja that morning. I also got to put sandalwood paste on Srila Prabhupada’s lotus head. But I was wondering, “Where is Batu Gopal with the lectern?” Finally, just as Bhagavatam class was about to begin, Batu Gopal walked in and slid the new lectern in front of Srila Prabhupada. It fit perfectly.


Srila Prabhupada gave about 9 classes from that lectern. I remember on that first day he rubbed his fingers up and down the side of the lectern as he was giving class about Prahlada Maharaja. There are many pictures of Srila Prabhupada sitting on that vyasasana in the old Bahulaban temple with the morning sun shining through the stained glass windows behind Him. Srila Prabhupada looked so wonderful there.

Amazingly, this same lectern is still in use to this very day. Every morning in New Vrindaban, whoever gives class, gives it from this lectern.


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