Srila Prabhupada Visits New Vrindaban – June 21st, 1976

Srila Prabhupada at the Bahulaban Temple, 1972.

Srila Prabhupada at the Bahulaban Temple.

Srila Prabhupada Visits New Vrindaban – June 21st, 1976.

Excerpt from Hari Sauri’s Trancendental Diary.

Srila Prabhupada’s arrival caused quite a stir in the small Pittsburgh airport. Our fellow passengers looked on with obvious bemusement as Kirtanananda Swami and a group of forty or fifty devotees gathered around the boarding gate, offering him beautiful flower garlands and fanning him with peacock feathers. Happily oblivious to anything but Srila Prabhupada’s presence, the devotees chanted and danced all the way out to the waiting car. Their attire offered a hint of things to come with their dhotis, kurtas and saris matched in some cases with large rubber farm work boots.

Although it was a ninety minute drive to New Vrindaban, the ride was comfortable and as we progressed smoothly along the highway Prabhupada kept up a running conversation. He reflected on the fallen condition of modern man, telling Kirtanananda Maharaja his comparison of the dog’s running on four legs and man’s running on four wheels. He said that the only way to save them was to start with the basics and then after some time, when they become a little purified, give some philosophy. He reminded Kirtanananda that this had been his program right from the beginning. “You have all got this experience. This is the only way. I started this movement on this determination: I’ll give them prasadam, nice chanting, and they will not come? They must come. This was my determination. And I began with this. So this is the only way. Give them chance ‘No talk, please come. Chant and dance with us and take Krsna prasadam and go home.'”

Kirtanananda reflected that it was just ten years ago since he had first met Prabhupada.

Prabhupada gave one of his endearing little sideways nods of assent. “Yes. I never said that ‘You have to give up this, you have to do this.’ Never said. Then gradually ceto-darpana-marjanam. When the heart becomes cleansed, then little. There is no hopelessness. So many people have come, and they are coming. Both black, white, everyone is coming. But you cannot expect that cent percent people will come; that is not possible. But even one-fourth percent people come to this, then it will be successful. Compared to the American population, what percentage we have got? Still they have made some impression, the Hare Krsna movement. Literatures are selling, and they are appreciating, the learned circle. It takes some time, but if we stick to our principles and do not make any compromise and push on-in this way, I have given you instruction, it will never stop; it will go on. It will never stop. At least for ten thousand years it will go on.

“And this movement is meant for these fourth-class, fifth-class, tenth-class men. Not this movement is fourth-class, fifth-class. They are so fallen that they cannot be counted even third-class, fourth-class. Tenth-class of men. Deliver them. Patita-pavana-hetu tava avatara. Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s incarnation is for delivering these classes of men. Caitanya Mahaprabhu never meant to start this movement for high-class brahmanas, sages, saintly persons. No. This class of men — for the all fallen. Don’t be disappointed. Go on, go on. Stick to the principles. When there was no response, I did not know where to live, where to eat. Sometimes at Dr. Misra’s, some time with some friend somewhere. And I was going to inquire the shipping company when the next ship returning to India. Still I was renewing my visa: ‘Let us hope. Let us hope.’ In this way, we started Second Avenue in month of July, I think?”

He recalled the names of the first few young men to join him: Mukunda had been the first, then Hayagriva and Kirtanananda. And there were others who have now left — Jagannatha, Ravindra-svarupa, Carl.

As the car plied along the highway (America seems to me to be one continuous highway) Kirtanananda Maharaja told Srila Prabhupada that some devotee women selling books at the airport today, said that it had been the most demoniac day they had ever had. They were harassed as they sold books. As soon as a traveler stopped to talk to a devotee, some persons were causing problems by telling them not to buy. Maharaja said we get confused with the followers of a Korean so-called spiritual master, Reverend Moon. “It is causing a big stir, these ‘Moon’ people. He has just bought a hotel in New York for five million dollars. But the public is sometimes equating us with him and these other rascals. He claims that Jesus Christ never lived to fulfill his mission, which was to establish the perfect family. They killed him before he got married. So he [Moon] has come, and he has all these wives. At least he used to, whenever any of his disciples would get married, first he would have their wife.”
Prabhupada shook his head in mild disgust.

He settled back in his seat to chant on his beads, occasionally interspersing his soft murmur with conversation. He told Kirtanananda that he is now on the twelth chapter of the the Eight Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, exactly half way through. “There is no comparison of this literature,” he told him.

Kirtanananda Maharaja expressed his appreciation. “I think before you came, Bhagavatam was unknown.”

Prabhupada agreed. “Unknown, yes. The Ramakrishna Mission published one Bhagavatam commentary. You know that? Farce. These Ramakrishna Mission people have done the greatest harm to the Vedic culture. Of course it is not taken very seriously, Ramakrishna Mission.”

I agreed that in the West they were practically unheard of. “You made a good point about why although now thousands of American boys and girls are coming to India, no one is going to the Ramakrishna Mission, so what kind of impact has he had?”

Prabhupada said, “But they publicized in India that they have made all, everyone [followers]. In India they were doing like that. ‘Vivekananda Road,’ ‘Vivekananda Square,’ and rascals, they do not inquire even what is Vivekananda’s contribution. In Vrndavana they have got hospital and Ramakrishna temple. Who is going there? This is practical example. In our temple, thousands and thousands of foreign boys and girls are coming, and who is going there? It is because actually, if they did something, they should at least gone there out of inquisitiveness: ‘Oh, where is Vivekananda?'” Then he made us laugh. “Nobody going,” he grinned. “Not even to pass urine there.”

After a short while Kirtanananda produced some cartons of prasadam from the New Vrindaban kitchens — puris, sabjis, samosas and various milk sweets. I thought Prabhupada would just try a morsel to oblige the devotees, but to our delight he had me spread out the preparations and he took a little of each. He enjoyed them and encouraged us to take some. He praised Kirtanananda as a good cook and told us, “So this was my dream, that a place should be there where we can get all nice foods, best foods, of milk. Krsna is fulfilling our desire. Everything’s there. These rascals they do not know how to live or to eat. Intelligence is there, everything is there. Simply for want of training they have become rogues. Make them human beings, your countrymen.”

As we drove the last few miles into the New Vrindaban countryside Kirtanananda Maharaja mentioned that the local authorities, including the sheriff, were becoming very favorable. A judge who had seen Srila Prabhupada on his last visit still keeps a picture of him on his desk. He said the local television had agreed to show Yadubara prabhu’s movie, Spiritual Frontier.

Srila Prabhupada was happy to hear it but told him, “One thing you have missed: how we are preparing all these foodstuffs.”

“In the movie?” Kirtanananda asked. “It was too short how to prepare it?”

“Yes. How from milk in different stages you get this foodstuff, kachauris, singhara, sandesa, rabri.” He gave a little chuckle. “And this channa [dal], if fried, if you prepare nicely with little hing and ginger, then it will exactly taste like meat. They’ll forget. If you give them without telling them, they will think that they’re eating meat. They prepare the semiliquid meat like that. You give them little piece and they will not understand that it is not meat.”

I told him that when we were in Los Angeles Palika had made some bada and it tasted so much like fish that Pusta Krsna Maharaja wouldn’t eat it.

Prabhupada smiled. “With urad dal, you can prepare fishy taste.”

“Someone told me that your Guru Maharaja said that?” I asked.

Srila Prabhupada laughed. “Yes. ‘Anyone who is not taking urad dal, he must be taking fish silently, secretly.'”
As the car came into New Vrindaban’s precincts Kirtanananda pointed out some new buildings, including one under construction next to the existing temple which will house workshops and a large hall for festivals, big enough to hold seven or eight hundred people. Prabhupada was happy to see it. “Oh, much improvement,” he said.

ISKCON New Vrindaban, Moundsville, West Virginia

At least a hundred adults and children welcomed him at the small, beautiful, temple of Sri Sri Radha-Vrindabanchandra at Bahulaban. A marble floor, cut, polished and installed by the devotees, hand-crafted stained glass windows, and exquisitely carved wooden simhasanas, all form a perfect setting for the full moon of Vrindavan, Sri Krsna, and His eternal consort, Srimati Radharani, and in the spiritually vibrant atmosphere Prabhupada took darsana of Their Lordships, Who were resplendently decorated with local wildflowers.

Srila Prabhupada then gracefully mounted his vyasasana, the centerpiece of some exquisitely carved wooden furniture that Kirtanananda Maharaja has had specially made for Prabhupada by artisans in Bombay. It has lions on either side, a lotus-flower shaped base, and a tiered wooden canopy. The back has small peacocks along its rim, and it is luxuriously upholstered in fine, multi-hued silk. Single strands of flowers tipped with red roses hung from the front edge of the canopy, enhancing its beauty.

After a lively kirtana during which Prabhupada played a gong, he gave a short talk. With obvious affection he glanced out at his disciples. “So after two years I think, I have got the opportunity of seeing you and your Radha-Vrindabanchandra Who is so kind upon you. So real happiness is here. Radha-Vrindabanchandra is staying here, and He’s pleased with your service. This is the perfection of life. Keep Krsna always with you and serve Him sincerely, then all happiness will come, without any endeavor.”

He emphasized that economic development does not increase life’s pleasures. Dogs run and we run, but the pleasure is the same; sex on the street and sex in a luxurious apartment give the same level of enjoyment, so what is the need to make an extra endeavor to advance economically he asked. If a rich man gets typhoid it doesn’t mean that his suffering will be any less. So trying to improve one’s standard of living is not the way to happiness.

“Actually there is no improvement,” he told us, “but we think that we have improved. Rather, we have taken so much risk. That requires knowledge, but anyone can understand. Suppose I can eat some quantity of food. Even if I am millionaire, I shall eat the same quantity. Kirtanananda Maharaja gave me so much nice foodstuff but I could take only according to my appetite. One puri, two samosas, that’s all.” Everyone laughed as he went on. “It is not that Kirtanananda Maharaja has given so nice food I shall eat the whole plate; no, that is not possible. I’ll have to eat so much as I can eat. So by improving the so-called standard, I shall eat the same proportion as I am able to eat, not more, not less — and that is destined. When I came to your country I had no shelter, I had no food, no arrangement, but I was eating. And now I have got so many nice sons and daughters, but I am eating the same. So when there was nobody to help me, I was eating, and now you are so many to give me satisfaction, I am also eating. So eating is not stopped, in any condition. That is arranged by God.”

He told us that the Krsna consciousness movement is meant to give a new life to civilization — how to become a servant of Krsna. If this is done then everything will come automatically. He thus encouraged the New Vrindaban devotees to continue serving Sri Sri Radha-Vrindabanchandra, saying that would make their lives successful.

Amid the joyful tones of kirtana Srila Prabhupada departed the temple and was driven to a house that has been vacated especially for his use. It has a few basic amenities, like hot and cold running water and electricity, which are seemingly lacking in other residential buildings of the New Vrindaban community.

Information and Links

Join the fray by commenting, tracking what others have to say, or linking to it from your blog.

Write a Comment

Take a moment to comment and tell us what you think. Some basic HTML is allowed for formatting.

You must be logged in to post a comment. Click here to login.

Reader Comments

Be the first to leave a comment!