September 8 2008 – Mayapur

 May Srimati Radharani bless all the readers of this blog on this auspicious day

 Srimati Radharani

I was with Srila Prabhupada on two Radhastami celebrations. The first time was 1975 in the newly-opened Krishna-Balaram Mandir in Vrndavan. I was the new temple commander and the only thing I can remember about the festival was that Srila Prabhupada unveiled a marble memorial plaque and corner stone for the Vrndavana Gurukula. There was no fanfare or large crowds, just a few of us that happened to be around:

Radhastami 1975

 Gopal Krishna dasa (GBC), Srila Prabhupada, architect Saurabha dasa, Kishori dasi

The next year, I was fortunate enough to be on Srila Prabhupada’s party when he celebrated Radhastami in New Delhi. I have a lot more recollections from that year because I was keeping a daily diary;

Here are a few of the important incidences from that festival:

[TD 4]

September 1st, 1976
Today is Radhastami.

Srila Prabhupada observed the half-day fast along with the rest of us. Bhavananda Maharaja left for New York.

* * *

During the walk we noticed some men gathered around a roadside food stall eating bhel puris. Srila Prabhupada explained that the small, golf ball-sized snacks are filled with dal and are especially offered to Radha-Vallabha.
A new English devotee, Bhakta Robin, expressed his appreciation of Srila Prabhupada’s knowledge of cooking.
Prabhupada replied that right from his childhood, if somebody was preparing food, he would want to see how it was done.

Bhakta Robin observed that in India, it seems that most people can cook something, but in the West people are now practically helpless. “They buy everything it seems in packets, and you would not know how to prepare any food as much as just to cut the packet and pour it out, and even then they don’t even know how to put water into the pan.”

Prabhupada agreed with him. “They do not know how to eat on the whole. India knows how to eat. I have traveled all over the world, and this is my experience. Nobody knows how to eat. Only India. In every province they have got different dishes. Because the woman, they are trained up how to cook very nice. Woman is meant for that purpose, how to make nice palatable dishes. In Bengal there is a ceremony after marriage, bahu-bhata. The newly-married girl, she shall cook, and all the relatives, friends, are invited and they appreciate, ‘Yes, nice cook.’ Then she is accepted as member of the whole family.”

“And if not, Prabhupada?” Robin asked. “If her cooking is not…”

“Therefore she is trained up.”

“And if she’s not trained up?”

“She must be trained up,” Prabhupada replied, his tone indicating that there was no possibility of it being otherwise.

“Just like Radharani, She was trained up in sixty-four arts. Do you think to captivate Krsna is easy thing? How much qualified She must have been so that Krsna was attracted.”

* * *

Srila Prabhupada finished the Eighth Canto during the night. He added an interesting postscript:

“This commentation has been finished in our New Delhi center today, the first of September, 1976, the day of Radhastami, by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the acaryas. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura says, tandera carana sevi bhakta-sane vasa janame janame haya ei abhilasa. I am attempting to present Srimad-Bhagavatam in the English language by the order of my spiritual master, Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and by his grace the work of translation is gradually progressing, and the European and American devotees who have joined the Krsna consciousness movement are helping me considerably. Thus we have expectations of finishing the great task before my passing away. All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.”

At the end of this morning’s walk he told us that after he completes the Ninth Canto, he may do the Eleventh and Twelfth, and then go back to the Tenth because he has already done the Tenth Canto in his summary study Krsna.

* * *

While preparations went on downstairs for the abhiseka of the Deities and an initiation ceremony, Lokanatha Maharaja met with Srila Prabhupada to discuss his preaching. He and his party have come to an impasse in their travels. The two German-made buses they have been using have, like the other foreign vehicles, only a couple of weeks left remaining before their carnets expire. Once the buses leave the country, their program will grind to halt.

But Srila Prabhupada wasn’t at all perturbed. Considering Lokanatha’s rural upbringing, he had a wonderful solution. “You can purchase one bullock cart and go village to village all over India. It will be a great success.”

Village-to-village preaching in India has long been one of Srila Prabhupada’s ambitions. In the 1950s he had embarked upon a pada-yatra to the towns and villages surrounding Jhansi. It was his enthusiasm for this type of preaching during his visit to Gujarat last December that had inspired Hansaduta Swami to take it up. He now pointed out that the buses, even if they could stay in the country, were expensive to run and needed so much maintenance to keep them on the road, whereas a bullock cart and team could be utilized at practically no cost.

Lokanatha Maharaja was very happy with his new assignment. It was something he was familiar with, and it would provide unlimited engagement for him and his men, as they traveled from one village to the next throughout the sub-continent, to preach, chant and distribute prasadam.

* * *

Srila Prabhupada went down to preside over an initiation ceremony, in which he awarded first initiation to ten men, and second initiation to nine, all mainly boys from Lokanatha Swami’s party. Although they are enthusiastic in kirtana, it was apparent that they are “raw recruits” and need a lot of training. The yajna was held in the cramped temple room and Prabhupada had to twice tell them when they came forward for their beads and names not to touch the sacrificial paraphernalia with their feet, nor to step over it.

There was a man Tejiyas recommended for hari-nama. But Srila Prabhupada refused to initate him because he did not have his head shaved. Even though it was mentioned he was a businessman living outside the temple, it made no difference to Srila Prabhupada. He said he would initiate him later, when he had shaved.

Despite these minor drawbacks, the ceremony was very joyous. As each man got his new name Lokanatha Maharaja announced it to the crowd — Abhayasraya dasa; Atma-tattva dasa; Laksmisa dasa — and his men broke out in loud cheers and clapping. They are certainly an enthusiastic bunch, and Srila Prabhupada is highly pleased with Lokanatha Maharaja’s preaching efforts.

On Srila Prabhupada’s request Pradyumna prabhu gave a very good lecture on the ten offences to be avoided in chanting. Once or twice during it, Srila Prabhupada injected small points of his own. At its conclusion, Srila Prabhupada returned upstairs, leaving Pradyumna to conduct the fire sacrifice. Afterwards we all enjoyed a feast in honor of Srimati Radharani.

* * *

In the evening Srila Prabhupada recieved a variety of visitors at darsana time. He conversed mainly in Hindi, discussing philosophy and rectifying impersonal misunderstandings of Bhagavad-gita.

Included among the visitors was Mr. Surendra Kumar Saigal, the owner of Tiger Lock Company. Mr. Saigal has purchased 100 Bhagavad-gitas for distribution to his friends and workers. He has invited Srila Prabhupada to do another program at his house in Aligarh, and he suggested that Prabhupada go there first, before Vrndavana, because the road directly to Vrndavana is in bad condition and impassable in some places due to the heavy monsoons. He said that the Yamuna has risen so high this year that many asramas and temples in Mathura are flooded to a depth of four feet.

Pradyumna told him that although the Yamuna has come up as far as the back of Fogal Ashrama, which is just down the road from our temple, Krishna-Balaram Mandir is not affected. It was later decided to have Yasodanandana Swami’s bus come to pick us up rather than risk getting bogged down in a car.

Another M. P., the Defence Minister Mr. Patnaik, arrived at about 9:00 p.m. He gave similar advice as Mr. Krishna Modi [an MP that Prabhupada met with during the day], telling Srila Prabhupada that we should make a presentation of our work as this will create a favorable impression and give us good standing in the government.

His visit gave further encouragement to Srila Prabhupada that important members of the political community are taking his efforts seriously.

It was a memorable day, one of many for Srila Prabhupada in the eternal service of Srimati Radharani.

Radharani Maharani ki Jaya!

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