I headed out from NY on June 18 to Cleveland. The program was at one of the devotee’s houses, Dayal Nitai and his wife Tanya. I was impressed with their house, they have turned their living room into a full-on temple.

I have never been to Cleveland before but it turns out I have vicarious connection-my wife Sitala and her ex-husband, Narottamananda prabhu, were the first devotees to open a temple here in 1971. And the Deities of Radha Muralidhara I saw at the Sanctuary yesterday are also originally from here.

The program went well, with about 20 devotees attending. I gave an overview of ‘Srila Prabhupada The Living Bhagavatam’ and then took up the topic of Cleanliness, an important aspect of Vaisnava/brahminical culture.

Then without staying the night, I set off in the company of Bhakta Piyush at 10 PM to Columbus. We decided that it was better to simply shoot straight through from Cleveland so that I didn’t have to unpack and then pack again in the morning. Its one of those odd calls that you don’t really plan for when you make up your travel schedule. It does throw your body out of whack a bit but that’s one of the inconveniences one has to accept in order to preach. Srila Prabhupada was only too aware of this:

April 29, 1976 – Fiji

Pusta Krsna and Gurukrpa had a meeting with Mr. Punja to discuss the programs he has proposed for the next few days. Despite his objections they put pressure on him to cancel some involving travel to other parts of the island and to minimize most of the others, in the hope that Prabhupada can translate and rest instead. But their coercive tactics disturbed Mr. Punja, and with encouragement from myself, he went to see Prabhupada for a final decision.

Srila Prabhupada became angry and immediately called for his secretary and GBC. Pusta explained that they were only trying to avoid inconveniencing Prabhupada, but Srila Prabhupada corrected him. “For someone my age the inconvenience is there simply in traveling. But I have accepted that willingly for the sake of preaching. Now we are here for the benefit of the local men. We are in their hands, so now you make arrangements for whatever programs Deoji wants. We shall stay as long as required.”

It was a valuable lesson for Srila Prabhupada’s new secretary. This is one of the main difficulties of being part of his personal team, and Pusta Krsna Swami is now beginning to understand that Prabhupada’s servants are here to assist him. We are to see to his personal requirements and make life as easy as possible for him so that he can concentrate on his real business of spreading Krsna consciousness, especially through his book writing.

Yet at the same time, assisting Srila Prabhupada means having to make arrangements that we know bring personal inconvenience and even disruptions to his health. It is easy then to get caught in seeming contradictions. But Srila Prabhupada’s preaching strategy means that consideration of personal comfort and convenience is secondary. It is his servants’ business to understand and serve his desire to preach, not our own conception of providing protective relief.”
We arrived in Columbus sometime after midnight and Piyush dropped me off at the house of Naveen Krishna prabhu.

June 19-20

Had a fairly restful day, caught up on some much needed rest, did my puja and contemplated the one connection I have had previously with this place. It is name after the man who is said to have found America, Columbus. Srila Prabhupada once told us a story about Columbus (this will appear in TD Vol 6, which I am currently writing):

December 9, 1976 – Hyderabad farm

“In the evening a few of us were gathered in Prabhupäda’s room. A devotee presented him with a framed photo of the Deities and Prabhupäda told me to stand it up on the top of an almira. The metal cabinet was nestled against the back wall, where the sloping roof comes down to its lowest point, and somehow, try as I might, I could not seem to get the frame into the small gap between the cabinet and the roof. Çréla Prabhupäda shook his head, came over, took it from me, and in one deft movement maneuvered it into the space and made it stand. Everyone laughed, appreciating his dexterity and as he returned to his seat Prabhupäda told me, “Everything requires a little intelligence.”

“Then he told us a story. “You know that story, Columbus and friends?” he asked. I shook my head so he narrated the tale. Columbus and friends were all seated together and they were jokingly criticizing him. “You cannot claim credit for discovering America,” they told him. “After all the land was there and just by chance you happened to be the one that sailed there and found it.” But Columbus argued back, “No, it actually takes some intelligence.”“His friends would not accept this so he decided to prove it. Taking an egg he challenged them, “Now, make this egg stand on it’s end on the table.” One by one they all tried but no one could do it.

“Then Columbus boasted that he would now show them how to do it. But if he did it, then they would have to give him credit for discovering America. “Alright,” they agreed, “We shall give you.” Columbus then promptly took the egg, tapped the end until it flattened and then stood it up on the table. They all protested and chided him, “Anyone could have done that!”

“He replied, “Well, the egg and the desk were there–you could not do it but I did. Similarly America was there, the ship was there; you could not find America but I did.”

The purport, Prabhupäda told us, is that everything requires a little intelligence for success, even if all facilities are available.”


So there you go, a bit about the man who didn’t discover America.

The program went well. We have ‘Krishna House’ a nice suburban 2 story house just opposite the university. It was formerly an all-women temple but not nowadays. We have an increasingly large group of devotees, many from the India community. The small temple room was packed up as I narrated some of the pastimes of Srila Prabhupada.

As I usually do, after a brief overview I read out to the audience the list of topics I speak on, and asked them to choose which one they wanted to hear about. We took a vote and settle on Chanting. It was a pretty lengthy session. I do feel obliged to reciprocate the eagerness of the devotees to hear about Srila Prabhupada and its not unusual for me to speak for 2 hrs. or more. This evening it went for 2 hrs. 11 mins.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Footer Line
Home  |  Blog  |  Books  |  Audio  |  Video  |   Photos  |  Links  |  Contact