Wednesday, February 28, 2007

coments and articles

by Vrindavan Lila Dasi

Dear readers, you are welcome to contribute articles and coments to this site, but please note the guide lines:

- articles and coments should be signed with YOUR REAL NAME;
- the article content should be about MAYAPUR;
- your coments/articles should not be critical to any one person or group of persons

please note that from now on Anonimous coments will not be published.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Temple of Vedic Planetarium

On the 5th of March 1977 in Mayapur Srila Prabhupada had the devotees lay a corner stone for the Temple of Vedic Planetarium, about one kilometer into the fields behind Lotus bld .

Nityananda Prabhu had pointed to Srila Jiva Goswami a place where Adbhuta Mandir would come up. It just so happens that the place which Nityananda Prabhu pointed out corresponds to the place in which Srila Prabhupada had the devotees lay a corner stone.

* Srila Prabhupada did not push construction to start while He was present because He saw that it will take time to do it in the right way. So, He did established Ananta Shesha & corner stone at the place where He wanted this Temple to come up, which is totally corresponds with place pointed by Nityananda Prabhu to Jiva Goswami.
* The Adbhut Mandir seeing by Bhaktivinoda Thakura is situated on the straight line from His house in Godruma to Yoga Pitha, this line goes through the spot where Srila Prabhupada established Ananta Shesha & corner stone (ISKCON garden area does not come close to that line).
* In the eternal Mayapur this wonderful temple situated in Isodan, South-East area of Antar-dvipa, which corresponds with the area where Srila Prabhupada had corner stone established. (which still to this day remains vergine of any development)

"I was there when the corner stone was laid on the 5th of March 1977, acting as Srila Prabhupada's body guard with Akshaya Prabhu. Srila Prabhupada was too sick to come out to the pit on that day and had the GBC and us devotees do it on his behalf" Arjuna Das

In the pictures above - the corner stone is shown, presently this corner stone is on the wall in ToVP office, Chakra building (known as Long bld); the area where the corner stone was originaly established is shown - in the fields behind the Lotus-Conch bld compound, about 1 kilometre away from Lotus bld;

in the next 2 photos - the latest model of the temple is shown set in the present Mayapur gardens, where this temple is now proposed to build, fitting very tightly in between existing buildings (Lotus, Chakra and Samadhi Mandir):

Srila Prabhupada had established two Ananta Shesas in Mayapur - one in 1972 to support the whole ISKCON project in general; the second one was established in 1977 specifically for the Temple of Vedic Planetarium.

The first Ananta Shesa is in the ground where the ex-elephant house was, near Samadhi Mandir, Srila Prabhupada established this particular Ananda Sesha to support the whole ISKCON Mayapur project, in 1972.
[This place falls under present construction plans, so there is a danger of Ananta Shesa being dug out in the process of making foundation...]

Then, on the 5-th of March 1977, Srila Prabhupada established second Ananta Shesha & corner stone - about one kilometre into the fields behind Lotus bld, in the land of Antradvipa island - to support the Temple of Vedic Planetarium.
This Ananta Shesa was stolen from the ground - when asked about it, Srila Prabhupada said that it means there will be difficulties in starting this temple. He did NOT say "let's build it somewhere else".

Thus Srila Prabhupada's last instruction for location of the Temple of Vedic Planetarium (ToVP) is publicly known and clear.

Friday, February 16, 2007

GBC meetings in Mayapur

Srila Prabhupada murti in GBC conference room, on the roof of Conch bld, ISKCON Mayapur

   Kavichandra Swami is offering obeisancies to Srila Prabhupada in GBC conference room, ISKCON, Mayapur.

in photo above:  Annutama Prabhu with Bhakti Vigyana Swami

in photo above:  at the end of meeting session in GBC room

in photo above:  GBC "Open Door Day", 13-02-07

in photo above:  one of the meetings just finished

in photo above:  Jayapataka Swami, GBC room

in photo above:  Jayapataka Swami and Malati Mataji in GBC meeting

in photo above:  Radhanatha Swami in GBC meeting

in photo above:  Radhanatha Swami and Gopal Krishna Goswami in GBC meetings

in photo above:  Radhanatha Swami during GBC meeting

in photos above and below:  Gopal Bhatta Prabhu, facilitator of GBC meetings

in photo above: Paramgati Swami (left) and Lokanatha Swami (right)

in photo above:  Guruprasad Swami (left) and Ramai Swami(right)

in photos above and below: Sivarama Swami (middle), Radhanatha swami (sitting) and Praghosha Prabhu (in white)

in 2 photos above : Banu swami - the next GBC chaiman for the year 2007;
Radhanatha Swami (left) and Guruprasad swami (right)

in photos above and below:  in GBC secretariat office

in photos above and below:  Bhakti Vigyana Swami (Russian GBC)

in photos above and below:  Prabhavishnu swami, with Prahladananda Swami

in photo above: Praghosa Prabhu

in photo above: GBC secretaries - Lilasukha Prabhu (in safron) and Dina dayal Prabhu (sitting)

in photos above and below:  Laxmimoni Matajiin GBC secretariat office

in the next 4 photos below:  GBC meetings ended with Deity report

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Letter to Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura (1910)

Saraswati !

"People of this world who are proud of their own aristocratic birth cannot attain real aristocracy. Therefore they attack the pure Vaishnavas, saying, 'They have taken birth in low-class families because of their sins.' Thus they commit offenses. The solution to the problem is to establish the order of daiva-varnasrama-dharma - something you have started doing; you should know that to be the real service to the Vaishnavas. Because pure devotional conclusions are not being preached, all kinds of superstitions and bad concepts are being called devotion by such pseudo-sampradayas as sahajiya and atibari. Please always crush these anti-devotional concepts by preaching pure devotional conclusions and by setting an example through your personal conduct.

"Please make great effort so you can start parikram of Sridham Navadwip as soon as possible. It is by those actions that everyone in this world will receive Krishna-bhakti. Please try very hard to make sure that the service to Sri Mayapur will become a permanent thing and will become brighter and brighter every day. The real service to Sri Mayapur can be done by acquiring printing presses, distributing devotional books, and sankirtan - preaching. Please do not neglect to serve Sri Mayapur or to preach for the sake of your own reclusive bhajan.

"When I am not present any more, please take care to serve Sri Mayapur Dham which is so dear to you. This is my special instruction to you. People who are like animals can never attain devotion; therefore never take their suggestions. But do not let them know this directly or indirectly.

"I had a special desire to preach the significance of such books as Srimad Bhagavatam, Sat Sandarbha, and Vedanta Darshan. You have to accept that responsibility. Sri Mayapur will prosper if you establish an educational institution there. Never make any effort to collect knowledge or money for your own enjoyment. Only to serve the Lord will you collect these things. Never engage in bad association, either for money or for some self-interest."

signed   Kedarnatha Datta Bhaktivinode 

Return of the Hero


Bhakti Raghava Swami visits Mayapur, August 2006

MK: Prabhu, please say few words about Bhakti Raghava Maharaja, because many presently resident devotees don’t know him.
Jananivasa Prabhu: OK. Bhakti Raghava Maharaj, he was doing many servicies here in Mayapur and he left 16 years ago. He had a lot of problems to come back because Indian government was getting all the British commonwealth people and in fact all the foregners out, so they should come back with a visa. He did not want to go, he was fixed in his preaching, so… He collected many signatures from the local Nama Hatta devotees, but the foregn registration office did not like that – he was going to the central, he was going over their head. Anyway, they made it more difficult, they did not let him back for 16 years, and finally he came.
He was involved mostly with the Nama Hatta in beginning stages, he was the pionier of Nama Hatta. Jayapataka Maharaj founded Nama Hatta. Late 70-s it started, I can not remember… anyway, he was instrumental in pioneering the
Nama Hatta program, which Bhaktivinoda Thakur started. I think oly one person was doing it at that time in India - Sachinandan, disciple of Lalit Prasad Thakur.
So, Jayapataka Maharaj started it as part of ISKCON program.
Bhakti Raghava Maharaj was a pioneer of spreading the Nama Hatta program in all the villagers, he was very active. They would go to some far out there placies, where you can only go by bicycle, heApart from this service he was also doing Ddeity worship for sometime. He was also doing some youth preaching in Kolkata, some collage preaching, etc.
And the incident when he lost his leg was in 1980-s, I can’t remember exact year, when the temple was attact by 30 dicoits (bandits) 1 o’clock in the morning.
They came throwing hand-made bombs, axes and spheres… then they began smashing all pad-locks off the doors and coming to the temple. At that time Bhakti Raghava Maharaja came with another devotee named Ekadasi das.
Maharaj rushed in without any bodily conciderations whatsoever. He was not even armed, he was just picking up stones and throwing at them, they were armed with bombs… Everyone was terrified, no one would come to the temple from the Long bld, because the bandits were throwing bombs here and there just to let us know they were around.
where was the temple at that time?
Jnvs: The temple was at the bottom of Lotus bld, Conch bld was not there at that time. So, Bhakti Raghava Maharaja just faught on the interest of Radha-Madhava, had no concideration for his own safety. He wasjust throwing whatever he could find at them. Then one of them throw a bomb on him which hit his leg.
At that time the bandits stole Radharani – because they had contacted an astrologer and he told them that She was made of solid gold. She actually was made of asta-datu, combination of metals, where a token of gold and siver are put, but they thought that She was a solid gold, so She was their target. They took Radharani.
I think 3 or 4 were shot dead here. The official gun man run off and locked himself in the bathroom, it was devotees who managed to find the guns and started to shoot at the bandits.
Nitai Chand Maharaj was also there and recognised some of the attackers.
Actually the court case is still going on.
I went to the court about 4-5 years ago, the main person did not come to that court because he was called at another court for another dicoiting he did.
MK: How is this case still going on so many years later?
Jnvs: Well, it’s the Indian low. Everything takes a long time.
MK: Was anyone put in jail?
Jnvs: They arrested few people at the time, they went to jail. But 4-5 years ago when I spoke to the judge he said that the leader of those bandits, Ekram Shek, he came from Bangladesh across the border and when they cross back the police don’t do anything on their side. The leader was muslim, but there were some hindus too in the gan. So, once after that this Ekram Shek performed some other robbery and after that they got drunked in celebration. He got on the bysycle and was going on Krishnanagar hi-road and the state bus was going on top speed, he was not riding strait because of drunked and he went under the bus and was scraped down the Krishnanagar hi-road for about 100 yards. He just got spread out on Krishnanagar hi-road.
The lower told me that our of 30 of those dicots only 3 still living. Very dangerous game.
MK: So, Maharaj is here after 16 years, did he tell you his plans?
Jnvs: He stay here for 2 days, then he will go to Bombay.He got visa now, so that means he can come back any time now. He also spend a lot of time in Hiderabad. Most of his disciples are there, he spent a lot of time preaching there, so after being there he is just visiting Mayapur and Vrindavan.
MK: What did he do after he went from India (16 years ago)?
Jnvs: He spent a lot of time in Indonesia and he actually establishe very very big varnashrama community there. He got about 500 acres of land, they have been recognised by the government as a village. He teaches in Gurukula there.It’s under a different name, but it is same as Gurukula, which is recognised by the muslims. Muslims took over that country, before vedic system was practiced there. They more or less did not change the educational system, so it is very similar to Gurukula system. He got some degrees. There are lots of devotees there, big ashram, village. He goes to America sometimes, but most of his preaching in Indonesia.
MK: Will he be coming here more often now?
Jnvs: I think we will see him more often now, as he allowed to enter the country, he has disciples in India, they will be calling him also.


Day preaching under the tree


Interview with Nanda Krishna Prabhu

by Vrindavan Lila Dasi

Prabhu, please tell us of how and who had started this program?
Nanda Krishna: Before I joined this program, the Question & Answer Classes were held only on the main festival days in ISKCON Mayapur, eg. Christmas Day, January 1st, Rasa Purnima, Gaura Purnima, etc. This was first organized by HG Advaita Acarya Prabhu, HG Murarigupta Prabhu and HG Bhakta Janapriya Prabhu to preach to the large number of pilgrims who gathered on these holy days. Bishap Prabhu also helped with this program when no senior devotees were available.
Three years ago, I decided it would be wonderful to preach Krishna Consciousness in this way all throughout the year. Srila Prabhupada said, “When any person comes to Sri Mayapur, he should hear Hari Nama twenty-four hours a day.”
MK: Tell us how you started these programs regularly, like now - three times a week? You said that before it was only on special occasions, right?
NK: It was five or six years ago - Advaita Prabhu was speaking to the people because a large amount of pilgrims gathered, it was very easy to preach to them, what Srila Prabhupada said in Mayapur. Always we saw that people come here to Mayapur from many places, so this is an opportunity to preach to them. I sometimes joined for one hour once or twice a year. But after few years then I started alone.
MK: Did someone suggest to you that you should start?
NK: No, I remember at that time (three years back) I thought that this should be continued, so I did this after Gaura Purnima festival. In the main pandal, in front of the jagya-shalla, there were some chairs, some sitting places, so in the middle of the day I saw that all people are resting there. I started getting microphones, and I got a banner saying ‘questions and answer’.
So, I gave them a question and answer part. There was no program in the temple to help these visitors. Then I asked them, “Do you have any questions?” I gave them paper and pen. “You can write, and I can answer.”
MK: So, it was your initiative to do this. Then how did it develop?
NK: This program is going on every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 12:30 noon until 4:30 pm.
Besides the class, many people receive japa-mala so they can chant in their homes daily. 500 to 600 people attend this program daily and they derive great pleasure from chanting the holy names. When large numbers of pilgrims chant the Mahamantra loudly together it has a wonderful effect on everyone’s heart.
Some people remain chanting when they go back to their homes. Because when I am preaching, I express o them that this is for everyday, so you should chant every day. Then some young people - one, two, three, throughout the year, they communicated. After ‘question and answer’ classes, some were so much impressed that when they got back in their home, they brought their japa-mala, and chanting. They decided to take shelter in Mayapur.
MK: They come on occasion?
NK: Yes, they come. One of the managers of steel in India - he came with his wife during the festival, and he was so much impressed that he came in my house, we had personal relations and then sometimes he would come. Now he has become vegetarian and is regularly chanting every day. He is manager, but he wanted to take shelter of chanting. He’s from Calcutta.
MK: Where all these chairs came from?
NK: We had no pandal – just a tree, under the tree. During the Gaura Purnima Festival for a few days, the pandal remained -for a few days, one week, two weeks. At that time, in the middle of the day, there was no program in the temple so people suggested that I take this opportunity. And after that festival was over that year, some chairs I collected from Bhakti Purushottama Swami. I purchased 20 chairs.


In this way, under the Kadamba tree, I started three times a week. First, I announced to them: “There is no program in the temple, so please take a seat in the chair. If you have some question, I am giving you the paper,” and I had some devotee volunteers also. They distribute paper.
MK: Do you speak into a microphone?
NK: I was announcing from the microphone, that “You please sit here and if you have any type of question, I will try to answer it.” Any type of question, like: What is the meaning of ISKCON? Who am I? What is the aim of life? Who is Lord Caitanya? Why is it that throughout the world, the Western people like this movement?”
Because in the Bhagavatam it is said that Lord Caitanya had predicted that in every town and village [the movement will spread.]
Some people are more interested. Well, there is another couple. They are also now chanting from this program, chanting every day, and they’ve become vegetarian. From these classes, so many people have changed their lives and were attracted to ISKCON.
MK: And who is helping you?
NK: First, Bishal Prabhu, he was sometimes collecting all the pilgrims to sit. (Bishal is the one chanting to the people after mangal aarti -bramachari.) And now, Amrita Gopal and Ramania mataji -a Prabhupada disciple - they also help and give classes for one hour. Bhaktivinode Priya Prabhu, and Lila Madhuri Mataji also.
Now many senior devotees come forward to help with this program: HG Ramaniya Mataji, Sri Kari Mataji, Amrita Gopal Mataji, Bhakta Janapriya Das, Krishna Bahan Das, Bishap Prabhu, Syamasundara Das, etc.
It’s very much appreciated when the western devotees preach as they really catch the interest of the pilgrims. When they chant and preach about Srila Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya’s mission, the pilgrims listen attentively and ask many questions on these two subjects.
MK: What are they doing?
NK: I have given them time, and they speak for one hour or two hours…During Janmastami, up until 10:30 at night, the class continues. It was from 12:00 noon until 10:30 at night.
MK: So they speak on special days?
NK: Yes, but also every day they are coming, just because anyone interested can take part and speak.
MK: And do you continuously have speaking programs, or just continuously ‘question and answer’? No other program, like they sit and some question and answer is always there. And your wife is making juice?
NK: Now I thought, because it is summer and because people will be thirsty. She makes juice with lemons and ice. We’ve purchased some plastic glasses and we give to the people--two hundred, three hundred, or six hundred people—a hundred at least.
MK: How many people on average are there?
NK: On a normal day, four hundred to five hundred.
MK: At one time or they come in shifts?
NK: They shift. Sometimes they are sitting, sometimes they are standing, and then sometimes they are coming under the many kadamba trees and hearing and sitting. Although we have the sitting places only for one hundred, the others are sitting under the other many trees and hearing.
We’re invited among the people, (the visitors). Sometimes they invited us here and there like Mushlidabad, to Bardovan…
MK: When do you have time to do that?
NK: Sometimes they communicated that [they want us to come], then I invited some devotees to help us, and take part. Mataji also sometimes goes.
MK: How do you go, by bus…or…
NK: By Tata Sumo.
MK: Who will provide for that?
NK: Because when we are distributing the free prasadam and local preaching, before the program, there is a paperwork that we fill out that we are doing service, and give to MAC. Through one card, MAC allows us to purchase one Tata Sumo for local preaching. This is only for local preaching. Because I was engaged in this local service, now in my classes, if they invite me, I also utilize this car. And for any local preaching, MAC allows two persons to take one Tata Sumo.
MK: So you go from here by car? You are not changing transport? You go all the way to the house by that car, and you said that you purchased plastic glass and juice. And you take kitcheri.
NK: Kitcheri is outside, when I go in the village, we take outside.
MK: So you cook it right there?
NK: No, kitcheri we bring from sulob kitchen (the Big Kitchen.)
MK: You take kitcheri all the way from here? Who sponsored these free programs, you?
NK: Any of the devotees are also helping me. Some are impressed and they are giving some more donations for this, to distribute.
MK: People who live here?
NK: Ganesh Panda, of Kedampur, (one devotee from the classes,) began to chant and read the books, and he began to donate some.
MK: You have a book store. So it is not really a temple project, but you started it, and you’re developing it?
NK: Yes, from the profits, some are coming, and I can buy something.
And sometimes Lila Madhavi and Param Dham are donating for that program.
MK: You mentioned something about a drama in your paper?
NK: This is actually to Padmalochan Prabhu to make this question. Yes, you can invite anyone who wants to show some sit-drama and show it to the people in front of the classes. Like small boys and girls can come. I invited them to come one time. We welcome them, if someone will come to show this drama.
MK: So you how did you join? How did you come to Krsna Consciousness? Just more detail about your association.
NK: Yes, in the 80’s, 1988. I heard that some foreign boys, some foreign people, today had come to Mayapur. So because as a medical student, (I was an ordinary medical student,) I was interested in why Western people, rich people are coming to Mayapur? So I had some little interest to see, if I had any opportunity came.
So one day, my one doctor friend invited me very near Mayapur, very near to Krsnanagar, (because I was very near to Krsnanagar, but I went to Kalkata every day for a job). Then one day, I said, “okay.” And my friend said, “I can help you if want to see this Mayapur.” So in the Krsnanagar station I waited for him, as per his instructions, like an appointment. Then, that day I came to Mayapur and saw the very nice things which caught my heart and gradually whenever time was available, I came to the Goshala to see the cows. The Goshala, in that time, Padaranga Prabhu was in-charge. He was very attractive, a very sober devotee. He engaged me, and he was always interested to take prasadam from the restaurant. Very nice thing to eat prasadam. In this way, he purchased my heart, so I completely changed my views and then Bhakti Raghava Maharaja- well, I was more interested to talk with Western people. Then one person told me that Bhakti Ragava Swami is there, at the Nama Hatta and if you have any question, you can talk with him. Then I saw him, his leg was—one leg. I saw how he’s very strongly chanting, with a smiling face. When I went back to my home, this face was in my eye, his smiling face, very strongly chanting, smiling face . I felt very--you know--uplifted. At that time Bhakti Raghava Swami Maharaj was in Nama-hatta.
MK: At which year?
NK: 1985-86. Then I want to tell you a bit more. I was posted in Maldah, and then I got married.
MK (to his wife): You are from Maldah?
NK: (laughs) And then my first son…well, that time I came here when he was 2-3 months old. Later when I came from Maldah to Krsnanagar, I came here first, to Mayapur. In 1986, I joined in the Lord Caitanya’s 500 year anniversary. It was a very large gathering of Western people. Very nice they looked back then, I remember. Then I took initiation from His Holiness Jayapataka Swami Maharaja. In this way, from Midnapur (I was posted there) I came here every month, although I had so many difficulties like no leave, because it’s a government service.
MK: What difficulties?
NK: I had no time actually, little time. After all, the government officials knew that I am a devotee, so they were not helping me.
MK: You’re still coming?
NK: Yes, I am still there. The higher officials know me, that he is a devotee, and he has transferred to a nearer place to Mayapur. I can go easily there and back every day.
MK: So you still get some government orders to go here and there?
NK: In the Navadrip block, now someone else is in charge. Now veterinary…
MK: Veterinary hospital, what does it mean, exactly?
NK: Veterinary means an animal station, hospital.
MK: Mostly goshalla?
NK: No, mostly they come from Balmanpukur, or Svarupganj. These blocks, have many villages, hundreds and hundreds. So they have one government place, hospital, for all of the animals to bring them there and treat them every day.
MK: Where?
NK: In Svarupganj and Balmanpukur. Previously I was in Balmanpukur, then I transferred to Svarupganj.
MK: They have an animal hospital?
NK: Yes, for cows and bulls, dogs and cats. Many dogs are there also--Doberman, etc.
MK: So you are treating all kinds of animals, not just cows?
NK: Cows are the main because…
MK: They are the main animals. And chickens?
NK: Certainly because they belong to the animals. Sometimes people come to me for training: how to take care of their cow, how to take care of their animals.
MK: So what kind of animals do you heal? Cows?
NK: Horse, dog.
MK: Dogs also? People are keeping dogs?
NK: Yes! Birds, caged birds, even one person took a snake for treatment.
MK: Do you know how to treat snakes?
NK: Yes, they have some wound, so I treat them.
MK: Are they poisonous?
NK: Yes, one person in Shapuri, their business was dancing with them…
MK: They have no teeth?
NK: No teeth.
MK: So they cannot poison you?
NK: (laugh) No. Sometimes they are little, another is big. Rabbits also.
MK: And mongeese?
NK: Mongoose, yea. And cats, little cats.
MK: Do you know how to treat all of these different animals?
NK: In cows we are specialized, but if any person has a different type of animal, where can they go for treatment? So the government says we have no idea, no courses. So when I studied in the university, there were all animals. Even elephants..Different animals. Like an elephant became sick when they get stuck in the mud in the Ganga. That night, it was very serious. Then I communicated with one doctor and said it is okay, you give her the medicine but the quantity needs to be very big.
MK: Did she become better?
NK: Yes.
MK: Yes, Gulab Kali need maintenance. You do this?
NK: Yes.
MK: And peacocks?
NK: Yes, and peacocks, and cranes.
MK: So just a side question: why do the peacocks have such a small cage?
NK: Maybe according to the authorities or the money situation.
MK: So then you are still in the government service. When do you have time for all of this?
NK: From 10:00 until 3:00, I’m in the office.
MK: Every day? Now is that time.
NK: Yes. Today is Thursday. Saturday and Sunday off-- well sometimes I will leave at 12:00 and then I join at 1:00 PM in the classroom separately. Sunday and Thursday, I have the morning duty.
MK: You are a busy man! So you getting paid from the government. And your sons?
NK: They are studying. Eleven grade. And the elder son Bhaktivinode, is in Krsnanagar Academy.
MK: Are they going to follow your line, or what they will do?
NK: Yes, following. After bathing every day, I train them, what is the aim of life. And the answer: to know God, to go back to Him, back home, back to Godhead.
MK: No, I mean, for education, what are they trying to become? For education--what kind of education will they be given?
NK: Academic education.
MK: No profession?
NK: Not from the beginning. They are 11th, then graduation and then they may go to further education. But before he was in Gurukul, his foundation, I think, is very strong and when I talk with them, they give me the same answers that they have heard from the Gurukul Maharaja. This kind of education can help in the life to spread and preach Krishna Consciousness
MK: So have they already chosen, are they going for professional education?
NK: No professional education. Professional job means government service. I don’t know what will happen but as a father I give them this opportunity to learn because outside education requires help to learn about the spiritual.
MK: But they have not decided what profession they will have?
NK: No.
MK: And about your wife, how did you meet her?
NK: She is very good wife. She help me to raise the children, put the children in Krsnanagar, and every Sunday, they came to Mayapur.
MK: So how long have they been in Krsnanagar?
NK: Three years
MK: Three years now. And your wife...
NK: She makes the juice. She made village programs, and her main service is in Radha Madhav kitchen.
MK: And so how did you meet your wife first?
NK: How? (laugh) Because I wanted to get married and one maharaja said, no problem if you become married. At the time I did not totally understand what is this. But when I decided to become married and then my father’s mother she selected, because she is born in Navadvip, and lived in Navadvip. Her father’s house is in Navadwip
MK: So how many years you are married already?
NK: Twenty years.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Prabhupad's grand nephew - Sankarsan Prabhu, interview

MK: Well, we will start with your name…
Sankarsan Prabhu: Hare Krsna, my name is Sankarsan Das. I am a disciple of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and I joined ISKCON in 1970, and I took initiation in 1972 at Sridham Mayapur. From that time, I am serving in this movement. I used to serve in Calcutta temple as the public relations director.
MK: What does that mean?
S: The public relations director means that I had to go to all the newspapers. I used to cultivate all the newspapermen, all the ministers, all the VIP's, all the journalists, and all the lawyers.
This was my job, and particularly, it was the assignment given in the beginning, under the instruction of Srila Prabhupada. Since 78', I used to do all the public relations in Calcutta temple and in Sridham Mayapur.
I used to come into the temple distributing magazines with Jayapataka Maharaja, going to sankirtan, and distributing books to libraries and universities. And I was giving prasadam to needy people, like this, all the welfare work I used to do, under the instruction of Srila Prabhupada.
MK: Where were you staying?
SP: I was living in Taliganj. I was born in Taliganj, in the same house that Prabhupada was born in. In the same land my father was born, I was born, my grandfather was born, and Prabhupada's sister was born, so a long time I had a good relationship with Srila Prabhupada and his family. His family relationship to me was that he was my granduncle and I was his grandnephew, and not only that, Prabhupada instructed me in my childhood time. I used to come to Taliganj, and stay in his house. It was a very favorite place for me at that time, because it was at that time, totally village. Now we are seeing that it is Calcutta, but that that time, about 100 years back, Taliganj was totally village. It was a nice place because there were about four of Lord Krsna's temples there, and in the village Mother Ganga was flowing. So in that very auspicious place, I am talking about 100 years back, I am talking about where Prabhupada was born, in our family. So, I am also very fortunate and lucky regarding this. Among our family members, only myself and one of my sisters took initiation from Srila Prabhupada. We joined. And Prabhupada highly appreciated us, because he was very glad that of his family members, we joined in this movement. That was 1970, in the beginning of the ISKCON movement in Calcutta. So, in the beginning times, I used to distribute books under the instruction of Srila Prabhupada. And also I used to go to all the libraries and universities in Calcutta to distribute Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita. And sometimes I used to go with the sankirtan party. And also distributing prasad. This was the beginning of my service.
In 1996, the 100-year anniversary came, and then some sanyassis requested me, also Adridharan das, and Abhiram das requested to give the land where Prabhupada was born. So I told my father, Krsna Chandra das, who was occupying the land. I requested my father to give the land to ISKCON, so they could do something as a memorial for Srila Prabhupada.
It was '95 that we gave the land to ISKCON. Then '95 we shifted to Mayapur - my wife, my children, and myself. Then Jayapataka Maharaja gave me this service in Swarupganj. He told me you take charge of Swarupganj. Because here we had only the land and one house.
MK: Can you tell me more about the family relationship?
SP: Okay. This is my family relationship. Prabhupada mother's name was Rajani Devi.Rajani Devi had an elder sister, named Laksmimoni. So Laksmimoni and Rajani, they're two sisters. So, Rajani's son was A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Abhay Charan. And Laksmimoni's son was Purnachandra. So Purnachandra and Abhay Charan, they're two brothers-'cousin brothers'. They had a very good connection. So naturally when the child's birth time came, the elder sister called Rajani, Prabhupada's mother. Laksmimoni called Rajani, "Please come to my house. I will look after you." At that time, childbirth was at home, not in the hospital.
MK: Laksmimoni was living in Taliganj ?
SP: Laksmimoni used to live in Taliganj, Rajani's parent's house, [for] 300 years actually our house, was very big. So, we gave some land and some room to Rajani's parents. Very big house.
MK: But it was actually her husband's.
SP: Laksmimoni's husband's name is Tarupnath. Laksmimoni's property actually belongs to Laksmimoni's son, Purnachandra. Like Abhay Charan, Purnachandra was a very prominent son. Abhay Chandra conquered all the world and Purnachandra was a very good, very lucky businessman. Purnachandra used to do business with the foreigners, I mean at that time, British. He was a gold merchant. He used to purchase gold from the government and sell it. At that time, the British government was there. So, in that way, he made a lot of money and purchased a lot of land.
At that time, the British government was there, and so whatever you have to purchase, you had to take permission. You had to take permission from the government. Otherwise, you cannot do anything. So that way, he made a lot of money.
So, Rajani devi used to come to our house in Taliganj. She was pregnant at that time and stayed there before childbirth. Then in 1896, first September, Prabhupada was born in Taliganj, in presence of his mashi, Laksmimoni. In Bengali, we say 'mashi', mother's sister.
Mother was there. Purnachandra was there. So all the relatives were there. Purnachandra was already born…elder brother. Then about one and a half years he [Prabhupada] was at Taliganj. When he was 2 years old, he shifted to Mahatma Gandhi road.
We did not need to buy anything. We had the garden. We used to grow potato, paddy, and all vegetables. At that time, we had a big garden. We never used to purchase anything. Milk, paddy, it was all coming. And even to 100 people we used to give prasad per day, no problem.
My grandfather, Purnachandra was a very rich man.
MK: Is Purnachandra your grandfather?
SP: Yeah, yeah.
MK: You came from his son or daughter?
SP: My grandfather, Purnachandra, and then my father was Krsna Chandra, then I am his son.
MK: You are from Krsna Chandra?
SP: Yes, So, my relation is grandnephew, or grandson, same thing. But it does not matter if I am family relationship or not, but Prabhupada was born in our family, in the presence of all of our family members. And we are actually Vaishnava, which is why Prabhupada used to always like our house. We are not fish/meat eaters. Why Prabhupada liked our family? Because Laksmimoni was a pure Vaishnava. She is a very pure Vaishnava. Whenever she used to cook something, or she used to bring something, first she would offer to Lord Krsna. We have a big temple in our house, just opposite Taliganj. You'll find a big Radha Mohanji temple, which is one of our local temples. So, that is a very old temple, about 300 years, that temple.
We used to get everything from our own gardens - fruits, vegetable, and milk. I have heard from my father. First, we used to give fruits, vegetable, and milk to Madan Mohanji, so naturally we were very rich family.
MK: Is Madan Mohanji the local deity?
SP: Yes, the local deity in Taliaganj. His temple still exists and Madan Mohanji is still there - very nice, very prominent deity.
MK: How are the Malliks related to Prabhupada exactly?
SP: It is just the same caste, Mallik. We are born in Suborna-bunik. Suborna means 'gold' and 'bunik' means business. So those who are doing gold business, gold merchants, they are called Suborna-buniks. And Udaram Datta Thakur, among the Dwadus Gopa's, in the Caitanya Caritamrita, you will find that he is a Suborna-bunik. He was an associate of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and he was a very exalted devotees. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu uttered his name many times.
In Caitanya Caritamrita, many times, you will find the name of Udarama Datta. He was a very elevated Vaisnnava. He was Suborna-buniks. We have heard that all the Subornabunik family descendents came from Udaram Datta Thakur. Like if we want to know if you are Russian, or American, there must be some origin. So if you want to know how the Subornabuniks family comes, the origin is Udarama Datta Thakur. We have heard from Srila Prabhupada, and in the Caitanya Caritamrita you will find that Prabhupada gave a very nice explanation about Udarama Datta Thakur. The descent of all the Subornabuniks comes from Udarama Datta Thakur.
So in that way, Prabhupada was related to the Mullik family, who were very rich in North Calcutta. There is some connection with Mullik. They gave some accommodation to Gaur Mohan De, to do some business on their property, as well as a place to stay, in North Calcutta. Then they admitted Srila Prabhupada at Multilal Sil School. This was very near to his house, just 5 minutes by foot. He used to go to school every day by foot. Multilal Sil School, on Mahatma Gandhi Road, in North Calcutta. It is a very old school where Srila Prabhupada used to go. Gradually, after passing school, he went to the Scottish Church College.
His father had started a cloth business in Mahatma Gandhi Road. Every day he had to go to work, and every day he used to come by tram. When the child comes to the age of 8 months, we are giving the grains ceremony, first prasadam. So naturally he was 8 months there, under the care of Laksmimoni, and for 1.5 years, he was in Taliganj with Rajani devi, then sometimes he used to go to North Calcutta. After the grains ceremony, then he moved to Mahatma Gandhi Road. After he finished his school life, then he went to his college life, then he started work at Kartik Business Laboratory.
Because they have a small business, cloth business. That's why the had a house at North Calcutta, Mahatma Gandhi Road... Not so many people used to stay in Calcutta during the British times. So people at that time invited them, "Oh, I have a big house. Why don't you come stay with us?" Like that. There is no question of rent. Please, come here! The richest people in Calcutta at that time, particularly the Suborna-bunik community, they used to (to their relatives) say, why are you staying in there? Please come to our house because… well, they get some association.
Prabhupada's mother would think that 'my son will become a lawyer.' He will go abroad for the further advancement of his education and he will complete a law degree there. And the father, Gaur Mohan, used to think that my son will become a nice devotee of Radharani.
Prabhupada had two brothers. Another brother, named Krsna Charan, his own younger brother, used to stay in Taliganj, and he passed away there. So we had much nice family connection with Srila Prabhupada.
Particularly when I met with Srila Prabhupada the last time in 1977, he used to say that my health is not permitting. In 1976, he was in Calcutta temple, and he said I have to go to Bubeneswar myself. So we took him to the Howrah railway station, to drop him at evening time, on the Jagganatha Express. I was crying because his health was not permitting and some foreign devotees were there. Tamal Krsna Maharaja was there.
I asked Srila Prabhupada, "What do you think about Taliganj?" He said, "This is a very old place, my childhood place. I like it very much. When I remember your forefathers, I cry, because they used to love me like anything." In the beginning, all the family members are very much pious, so much affectionate; that's why everyone had a good connection. That's why Prabhupada had a big, good heart. He learned from mother, Rajani, his father, Gaur Mohan, and his aunt, Laksmimoni, all the big-hearted people.
When any devotees came to his house, he used to feed always. Even I saw in 1970, '71, '72, so many life members, and Prabhupada was always watching that they have nice prasad, everyone. So this is something. Even in the West, he used to call all the devotees for prasad. When any devotee comes to the temple, first he was thinking about prasad. In that way, Prabhupada conquered the heart of everyone, all the Western people. And particularly, you people that came under the banner of ISKCON, this is a miracle in the age of Kali. In the age of Kali, we have seen so many miracles, but this is a miracle to us, that particularly the Russian devotees are fully surrendered unto the Lotus Feet of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, by the blessings of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Without his mercy, nobody can come to this platform.
So then I was advised by Abhiram das and some senior godbrothers like Jayapataka Maharaja, Tamal Krsna Maharaja and Subag Swami: "Why are you not doing something at Taliganj?" Then I gave the land to ISKCON, in 1995, before the 100-year anniversary of Srila Prabhupada. They promised that they will do something to make some memorial there. My wife used to do [service] as assistant head mistress in gurukula in Mayapur. She was working with Kala's wife, Yasomati Mataji. After leaving the property at Taliganj, I used to do the same service, Public Relations Director and the assistant editor of Bhagavat Darshan, and also making some life members from the very beginning.
Bhakti Caru Maharaja was Chairman at that time. Bhakti Caru Maharaja called my wife, because she used to teach all of the foreign children nicely Bengali and English and mathematics. Then one day, Jayapataka Maharaja and Bhakti Caru Maharaja called me and said "We have some property at Svarupganj, why not you are taking charge over there?" I said Maharaja, "I am alright, I am in Mayapur. "They said, "No, no, you go over there because we want to do some medical activities over there."
Actually, Prabhupada had a desire that we do some welfare work in the surroundings of Mayapur because he told us that within these ten miles, no one should be hungry. That's why we started prasadam distribution. And similarly, we have this charitable medical service because the villagers will come and get free medical treatment, particularly we are focusing on the name of ISKCON, that ISKCON is doing this type of village, free service. This is because when some opulent king is there, naturally the neighbors expect something from the king because he has too much opulence. So, in the same way, people are thinking that ISKCON is here nearby like a king, which is why we are doing some good service for ISKCON's good name in West Bengal, with food relief, and medical relief. In the 2000 flood, 500 residents from the local neighborhood came to the temple and we gave them all rooms, shelter.
MK: How did you met Srila Prabhupada?
SN: It was 1970 that I met Prabhupada in Gaudihat Road, near Hindustan Road. So it was in the month of August, 30th of August, he came from abroad with a few of his foreign disciples like Tamal Krsna, and Jayapataka, Hamsadutta, Devamrita Swami, Bhanu swami, and one foreigner lady, Himavati, Hamsadutta's wife. So Prabhupada was on Hindustan Road, and one very prominent businessman in South Calcutta, Mr. Das Gupta was building a new house there. Prabhupada just came and was looking for a new place where he can start his organization. Somehow or other, he found a place in South Calcutta, where he started. This is before 3C Albert Road. He was at Hindustan Road about 5 or 6 months. It was a nice, new building, the ground floor he was there. From Gujarat. This place I met Srila Prabhupada first. Then I came to know through the newspaper, there was a nice article saying that one Indian monk with foreign disciples was at Hindustan park. So, I saw that news clipping, and I went to see the foreigners and that Indian. But I did not know that he is my relative and that he was my granduncle. It was my curiosity. So, I went there. Prabhupada had a very nice habit, that whenever he met some newcomer, he used to ask them their name, tomar nam ki? What is your name? Where are you coming from? He was asking like that. So, I went to see him as a visitor. I did not know that he was born in our family. But I had heard from my father a long time back that that man, Abhay Charan, (we used to call him 'Abhay Kaka') had went abroad. We knew that very well. But Prabhupada never informed us that he came back with all the foreign disciples. So, I went there, and Prabhupada asked my name. I told him my name, and he said, "Oh, you're coming from Taliganj?" My name then was Gauri Shankar. My calling name is Shankar. So when I told him my name, immediately he was very pleased. He said "very nice, very nice. I saw you when you were a child." Maybe when I was 1.5 years old, he used to visit Taliganj and he saw me at that time. I don't know, but he told me. He named all of my family members, and asked how they are and he said, do you know that I was born and brought up there? I said, No, but I have heard it from some of your brothers and other members. Then he asked me how is the Radha Mohanji temple-still that temple is existing? "Yes, still that Radha Mohanji temple is there", I told him. Then immediately he was very pleased and asked Acyutananda to kindly give me some prasadam after class. This was the first meeting with Srila Prabhupada.
Then Acyutananda Swami took me inside, to the kitchen. They had made some kitcheri on that day, so very nice kitcheri prasadam was there, and they gave us some. Then Prabhupada told me, "Please come again, and please inform your father and uncles that I am here. They should come and see me". Also, he told me, "You know my sister's house?" I said, "Yes, I know your sister's house, Tatala." Prabhupada said, "Please kindly inform Bhavatarini (Pishima) that I am here." And immediately I went to North Taltala, Bhavatarini's house and went to her son's shop. I informed them that Prabhupada is here, on Hindustan Road, so kindly send Bhavatarini di, that means Pishima, immediately. Tatala, that place is far away from Taliganj, where Pishima used to live. They have their own house, rich lady. So again, I went the next day, and I saw that Pishima had come, and she used to cook, and very many foreigners liked Pishima's cooking. Prabhupada was asking me so many things. Then I said, "Do you know your own brother, Krsna Charan?" Prabhupada said, "Yes, I know that he passed away." Krsna Charan used to stay in our house, and he left his body over there. In that way, so many family matters were discussed on that day, and it was a very nice impression when I met Prabhupada. In the beginning, it was so nice that all the foreign disciples used to visit North Calcutta, all the schools and colleges, particularly in the main square. They used to distribute books, particularly I saw Acyutananda and Jayapataka Maharaja. They used to go into all the office areas, distributing Back to Godhead. I also went there one day, with Acyutananda and Jayapataka Maharaja doing traveling kirtan, distributing prasadam and Back to Godhead. At that time, it just cost one rupee. Prabhupada had said, just whatever they can give, you take the money and give the magazine. This is the beginning. Gradually, so many places I had the chance to visit with Prabhupada, so many home programs. In that way, I am very much pleased to serve the ISKCON organization. Thank you.
He, after renouncing his life in 1950, never used to visit any relatives' houses. Even I have seen that he never used to visit any relatives' house. This I have seen in my lifetime, when his sister Pishima came, who he is fond with. Pishima took initiation from Goswami Maharaja. The first initiation was taken from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, and the second initiation from Goswami Maharaja. And from the very beginning, Pishima used to cook and she was helping. So, they were very fond of each other. So, I have seen from my family that myself, my father and my sister, and a few of us used to visit Prabhupada because only we were following Vaishnava rituals. Of our family, Prabhupada used to like us because he was born and brought up there on that land, particularly during his childhood pastimes. So many times I saw that Prabhupada didn't like any relatives. I have heard that Pishima used to say that Radharani used to come, Pishima would say this when Prabhupada was in a good mood. And then Prabhupada would become angry, and say that "I am a sanyassi, I cannot see anyone that is my relative. I will not come to Calcutta."

He said my own sons are foreigners, because they have taken this vow to preach the divine message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu all over the world. This is why they are my own sons. Because whatever they are doing, I have no words to describe this thing, Prabhupada said once upon a time. I saw myself that he is a very strict sanyassi. One of his two sons (Vrindavan and Matura Mohan), Vrindavan came. They were very eager to see their father. Prabhupada was just asking, "What about your spiritual life?" Not so many things this way or that way. He was asking as spiritual father, not as a material father. Not how is your property? How is your family? How is your health? All the time, 100% he was concerned about the spiritual life. How you are progressing? In that way, we learned that he was always conscious to serve Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

story of Sachimata Mataji

Interview by Vrindavan Lila Dasi

MK: You were born in Calcutta?
SM: I was born in Calcutta in 1954. When I was 17, I first met the devotees of ISKCON, that was Jayapataka Maharaja, actually not Jayapataka Maharaja, but Jayapataka Brahmachari and Acyutananda. Both of them were brahmachari at that time, and I was just passing by from school and they were doing kirtan on the street in the south area. There was a pretty big crowd and I was curious to see what was going on. Then I saw that two Western devotees are chanting Hare Krsna. It was very nice and amazing to me. I didn’t know what actually they were doing, these saffron people, Western. I was listening to them. After finishing kirtan, they said that they are staying in Gaudiya Math, that they are from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and their Guru Maharaja is A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, they told me that they were looking for a few rooms or a flat, for making an ashram, because their Guru Maharaja was coming. So I was just listening to them. And then some people said that there is one place in Hindustan Road, (that was the first ashram in Calcutta, on Hindustan Road), in the South part of Calcutta. And when their Guru Maharaja came, I could not come because my examination of class 10 was going on, so I waited a few days. But unfortunately I could not meet Srila Prabhupada then because he left for Bombay, but I met two of the senior devotees, Hamsadduta and Himavati Mataji. They were grihastas at that time. They were a very nice couple. Hamsadduta was German, and mataji was Russian. But they had a good grihasta life, and they told me many things about Guru Maharaja and Lord Krsna, so a few evenings I used to go to them. Unfortunately, they also had to leave for Bombay. Then there was a long gap like one year. I was totally forgetting about everything, then again, I saw their big pandal program was going on at, Deshapriya Park. I was coming from school and I met devotees. The devotees said: “Oh, tonight is our Guru Maharaja’s lecture.” I was very much curious to meet him, and I went to listen to His lecture. It was such a wonderful lecture as I have ever heard. He said that to reach Krishna, simply you need love. No money, nothing. At that time, a lot of guru worship was going on in Calcutta--you need to give such a big pranam daksina, or visit and bring some nice valuable gifts. I was from a poor family, and I could not afford this, so I was always staying away. Still I had some desire to know about Sanatana Dharma, about the Bhagavad-Gita and Krishna, because my father used to go to some temples, and he used to listen to Ram-Krsna mantra, listen to the Vedanta class, and Gita. My father and his friends always had discussions in my family, which always made me interested about God. So then Prabhupada was giving the lecture about Krsna and that only to satisfy Krsna you need “Patram puspam phalam toyam” and Krsna will come very close to you, you must only try, you just try. And these lectures gave me such a good, deep impression in my heart. So, the next day, I could not be separated from Srila Prabhupada. I was trying to meet him, so I was standing beside his car, but I never knew which one was his car. So, I saw that after the lecture, Prabhupada was gradually coming to his car, and I ran down and bowed down to His Feet. Srila Prabhupada said, “Oh, who are you? What is your name?” Then I told him. He said, “Did you like my lecture?” and I said, “Oh, yes”.
MK: What was your name?
SM: Indrani.
And then Prabhupada said, “Why don’t you come to our temple?” I inquired where it was. And the very next day, I went, and he accepted me. He said, “Well, please come every day. And then ask Kaushallia about initiation.” That mataji was one of the very-dear devotees to Srila Prahupada. He said, “You please take care of her. She is a very young devotee.” The very next day, I got another companion, who was Shumana, another Bengali girl; a little bit more aged than me. We used to go to the to the temple together. Then Prabhupada gave me first initiation in 1971 in Mayapur. In 1971, it was barren land only. There were the only hut houses. There were so many old devotees like Brahmananda Swami, Acyutananda Maharaja, Giriraj, and so many. Such a nice atmosphere, very pure atmosphere, much more than now. By the association of Srila Prabhupada, you could feel that there is something going on. When Prabhupada used to give classes, you could feel that Krsna is very near by, very close to you--maybe he is somewhere in the field in Mayapur. Such a pure atmosphere was there. The devotees were such…well, nowadays we feel something, but not that much pure than before when we joined which enchanted us our whole life to this movement. That we won’t be separated from Srila Prabhupada and this movement, like that.
MK: So you said that the first time you met Srila Prabhupada, in 1970…?
SM: 1971.
MK: You got initiated in 1971?
SM: Yes, and second initiation was in 1972 in Vrindavan.
MK: In Vrindavan?
SM: Yes, in Radha Damodar Kunj.
MK: And previously, you were talking about your family--you were supporting your family?
SM: Yeah, at that time, when I used to go to the temple, which was between ‘72 to ‘74, then my father got very sick. He was a civil engineer, and he was supporting my family, but he had a severe heart attack, a very bad type of heart attack. He was almost lying in the bed-- he was not able to do hard work. So, I was the eldest child of my family, like me and my other two brothers. So, they were all younger than me, 6 years,7 years, 12 years. They were just in the school, so that was Krsna’s test on me. Whether I would stay or not. I was bewildered. Temple devotees wouldn’t let me to do any service outside. Otherwise, I would have to leave the movement. So I wrote to Srila Prabhupada: “All this situation made me bewildered, what to do?’ All the time I wrote in English, but Prabhupada’s answer did not come to me. So then I had an idea--I wrote him in Bengali and Prabhupada got the letter. I think that someone would stop them from going to Srila Prabhupada, and maybe he was very busy at that time. So when I wrote him in Bengali, Prabhupada answered me, everything in English. Prabhupada could understand my situation, so it made the devotees understand, you know, to answer me in English. He said, “Oh you can bring your family to Hare Krsna, make them devotees, do work outside to maintain them”, so he gave me this…this letter is still there in the Third Volume in Prabhupada’s letters. So I had permission. I could do some tuition to the children and raise my family up like that.
MK: It sounds like they’re doing well?
SM: Yes. And my brothers now are well maintained. One of them has a big, big business. By Prabhupada’s mercy, he is the sole proprietor of an elevator company. He got the national prize from the prime minister. The second one is a chartered accountant, and a promoter. And the third one is working, as the second officer on a ship. Like that. And this all happened by Srila Prabhupada’s mercy.
MK: They are helping you now?
SM: (laughing) Now? Yeah, sometimes. No. I don’t need their help, because they are not devotees. They love Srila Prabhupada, but they do not follow the four rules and regulations.
MK: No, but I mean, do they help you with maintenance?
SM: Yes. One of them has become life member, and another is planning to become life member. They like the movement, they come visit Mayapur, and they take prasadam, like that.
MK: What about your marriage? How did that get arranged?
SM: That was also Prabhupada—he ordered that I should not marry a Western person. I did not know why. Once my father came and had a discussion with Srila Prabhupada, and after my father left, Prabhupada said, “Well I’m telling you that you should get married if your parents arrange. Or a devotee, a Bengali, or an Indian, but not to a Westerner.” So I said that if the person chosen from my family is not a devotee then what will happen? Srila Prabhupada said, “You make him a devotee. You follow the rules and regulations, and afterwards, he will become a devotee.”
MK: Your father was not liking the idea if you were to marry a Western person? That’s why he was talking to Srila Prabhupada first.
SM: I had an idea, but I did not hear their conversation.
MK: He did not talk to you about it, your father?
SM: Anything? No. Anyway, then Prabhupada told me, so I did not. Many offers came from the Western devotees, but I could not accept because it was ordered by Srila Prabhupada. Actually I was 17, at that time, very young in the movement, and everybody liked me. You know.
Prabhupada, I was always running about to his room, and bringing water, or flowers, and sometimes taking care of his room, cleaning, mopping. So Prabhupada could see me all the time. So I had his blessings, you know. And I could talk to him more. So even when I went to Vrindavan, I was also cleaning his room. So I had many discussions with Srila Prabhupada.
MK: So how your husband came about?
SM: Yes, that is also Prabhupada’s arrangement, I think. Because after 10 years, Prabhupada left, you know. Prabhupada left in ’77. My father left in ’87, and then the next year after, I went to temple for Sunday feast, and then my Prabhu, Sankarshan das, was giving the lecture, and then after the lecture he asked about my address, and I gave him my address, because he wanted to communicate with his sister, my god sister, Jalatala Devi, my very dear godsister at that time. So she got married, and I did not know, but prabhu wanted to give her a letter. So the next week, Prabhu’s father came to my house, and asked my mother about my marriage, and if she gives permission--then my mother got a very good chance because he was a devotee. My mother was very happy. She met the temple president of Kolkata and it was arranged.
MK: Who was the temple president then?
SM: Adridharan Prabhu. And at that time Jayapataka Maharaja asked my mother to come and the marriage was settled at that time.
MK: What year was it?
SM: That was in 1989.
MK: Up to that time you were not married?
SM: No. It was long time.
MK: Were you staying in Kolkata all that time?
SM: Yes, I was staying at home because brahmacharinis were not allowed to stay in the temple at that time.
MK: And after marriage?
SM: For first two years I stayed with my in-law’s family in Calcutta, then my prabhu decided to come to Mayapur, so we got the permission from Jayapataka Maharaja .We came to Mayapur and stayed in the kitchen building for one and half years. At that time my elder daughter was born. I was pregnant the second year and giving birth to my second daughter and I was also working in Gurukula. At that time a proposal came from the MAC. They had an idea to make a hospital and clinic and they asked my Prabhu to take charge of that – because he was always connected with the doctors. He was making life members, mostly to the doctors, and had much friendship with the doctors. So, on the upper level they arranged for him to take charge of this project. So, my Prabhu had an idea to make a temple also, because without a temple we would not like to stay there. So, we made Jagannatha temple and a clinic also. Many doctors are coming. I am looking after that with my husband.
MK: When you first came here in what kind of state did you find this property?
SM: This building was here and the land. Nothing was here. We had to make a garden and get the furniture. The hospital was nothing, but just a name – there was no instruments or any equipment. So we arranged for different people to donate. Someone donated an eye box, and one mataji from America had donated for the dental department.
MK: Who was it?
SM: Pikedas and her husband--they are life-members in America, and they are devotees. They helped us with the dental department equipment and some other equipment also. Not all, but some. We still need some help.
MK: How you support this whole situation now?
SM: It supported by Tellin Finance.
MK: How did you begin, just the two of you or was someone else helping?
SM: Yes, me and my husband and a very few devotees. They were not doing some high intellectual work, but simple work, like farming, cooking and cleaning. Like that.
MK: Do you farm somewhere else or just here?
SM: Just gardening around this property, not in any other area.
MK: How many devotees usually stay here?
SM: Sixteen.
MK: Where are these devotees coming from?
SM: Different parts of West Bengal.
MK: Did you make them devotees?
SM: No, they came from other temples, and a few we made devotees just here.
MK: How many children do you have?
SM: Two daughters – Devahuti and Devastuti.
MK: How old are they?
SM: When we first came one was 2.5 and another was 1.5. Now they are 14.5 and 13.5.
MK: What is your plan for your daughters?
SM: My desire that my daughters also will be serving the devotees and Srila Prabhupada.
MK: Do you want them to get any professional education?
SM: Yes, my elder daughter is doing computer. She wants to be a journalist or a good lawyer and help ISKCON. Some official work. This is Devahuti. In addition, Devastuti wants to be a medical expert and help to ISKCON.
MK: Do you accommodate some elder devotees to stay here in their old age?
SM: Yes, one of them is Sukamrita Prabhu -- he got first initiation from Srila Prabhupada and second he could not get from Prabhupada, because He left then, so he got second initiation from Bhavananda Prabhu.
MK: Do the elder devotees who stay here pay something? How did they end up here?
SM: We give them all kinds of medicine, clothing, food (prasadam) and room. Some little expense money they need, sometimes 150, 200, 400, not more then 500 Rupees we give them.
MK: And they do service?
SM: Yes.
MK: Can you explain more about your personal life? Maybe some memories, memories of Srila Prabhupada?
SM: I have a sweet memory of Srila Prabhupada that would be gladly accepted by the children because it is a story, you know? It is really a funny incident actually. When I went to Vrindavan to receive my second initiation, at that time I was 18. I used to love Prabhupada, to bring flowers, to arrange vases for Prabhupada’s room, to clean. So when I went to Vrindavan, I thought maybe I would easily get the service, but Yamuna Mataji was there, she would love to cook for Srila Prabhupada, so she would not allow me in the kitchen. So I went gloomily to Srila Prabhupada and I said, “Prabhupada, I have no service.” Prabhupada said, “Okay, you can clean my room like you do.” So I used to clean Prabhupada’s room every day and Prabhupada would remind me, “Close the door, okay. While you are cleaning my room, you must close the door, because of the monkeys--they are very clever.” I said, “Okay, Srila Prabhupada.” As I was young, and my movement was very fickle, I forgot what Prabhupada said. I used to say yes, but I would totally forget to close the door every day. Therefore, the day after Ekadasi, which was Dwadasi, Prabhupada said he had many laddhus in this container, and said, “Keep closed the door, and remember that the monkeys can come.” I said, “Okay, Srila Prabhupada.” Again, I forgot. At that time, Prabhupada left, and after some time, the monkey came, gradually grabbed the box and went. And I said, “Oh, there was a sound?” And I saw the monkey going. Now I thought, what to do? How will I return these? And Prabhupada will ask me, and what I will say? I was so scared. Then, I went to the roof part of the building, I saw the monkeys had climbed up to the tree, and started to eat them, one by one. My heart was beating so badly. I thought that this time maybe Prabhupada will throw me out, because I never listen to him. Then I prayed to all the demigods to get the container. That monkey would never listen to me; he ate, finished and dropped the container down. I looked down. There was one Vrajabasi mataji in the next courtyard. She was making chapattis. She just picked up the container. Then I shouted out, “Mataji, that belongs to me! How I can come to your house? I do not know the way.” She told me, “Come this way.” I went and she gave me the container, but the container was bound. I did not know what to do, so I brought the container. In the meantime, there was a bucket of water, and that naughty monkey came and dropped the water all over, and it floated.
MK: In the room?
SM: In the room. So had to clean the room again. Because I never listened to Prabhupada. So this happened. Krsna gave me a very bad lesson. Then I took the container and went down. I was just sitting there, and Prabhupada came back from his morning walk. He was talking with another Maharaja, Tamal Krsna Swami, and Brahmananda Maharaja was there, and Pishima, Prabhupada’s sister, was sitting there. I came, put down the key, and Prabhupada said, “Well, finished?” I moaned. Prabhupada said, “What happened?” My eyes were filled with tears, and I was scared. I had to say the truth. That this thing happened, that always you said to close the door, and I always forgot. Now this thing has happened. Prabhupada laughed so loud! And I could not believe myself that Prabhupada is laughing instead of scolding me. Then Prabhupada gave me a 10-rupee note, and told me to bring jalebies for everybody. And Prabhupada’s sister teased me: “Well, it may be a human monkey, not a monkey, but somebody who has grabbed the laddhus.” She was just pointing out to me. Just made a tease, you know. Everybody laughed, because Prabhupada translated it into English again. And this is the thing that happened in my life.
MK: Any other story?
SM: Another story is that Srila Prabhupada was showing me the ‘finger’ [how to chant gayatri mantra on fingers]
At that time, Srila Prabhupada’s lunch was ready, and Prabhupada would take prasadam. Prabhupada was giving everybody second initiation, a few of us. Lokanatha Maharaja was there; he also got the second initiation. Then Prabhupada called me last, called “Saci mata”. At that time I was just falling… my eyes were filled with sleep, I was sleepy at that time. Prabhupada was showing me finger, finger, how to chant. He showed me five times, I could not figure it out. Prabhupada said, “Go away, you won’t have second initiation.” Then I cried, “Oh, Prabhupada, you show me. This is the last time. I will accept it!” Then Prabhupada said, “Okay, if you do not get it, I will just go for my lunch. I won’t give you the second initiation this time. This is making wrong—you are not serious enough.” Then he showed me one last time and I was serious, and by Krsna’s mercy, I got it.
MK: So you were sleepy at that time?
SM: Yes, I don’t know why I was sleepy at that time.
MK: That was in Vrindavan?
SM: Yeah.
MK: How long did you stay in Vrindavan?
SM: With Srila Prabhupada, the first time was 10 days. And the last time was about 10 or 15 days.
MK: Did you travel anywhere else?
SM: No, only morning walks, with Srila Prabhupada. Sometimes ladies were allowed to come. That was in Raman Reti. But to Radha Damodar, not. Only the men were allowed.
MK: I mean, in your life, did you travel anywhere else?
SM: After that? No. With Prabhupada, yes, only two times in Vrindavan. But after Srila Prabhupada, yes, with my husband. I went to Vrindavan, I went to Haridwar, I went to Siliguri and Darjeeling.
To stay my last days of life in Vrindavan, that is my utmost desire.
MK: You want to go there?
SM: Yes. At that time, I want to stay, and for only a few years, only to associate with the devotees. Because I was traveling my whole life, sometimes with my family, and then with my children, with this movement, with this project that we are working on… So, I never had time to give Krsna fully. So I want to do something for my life, I do not want to miss it. I would like to stay and have association with the devotees. I would like to hear more Krsna Katha, like that, a few years. That is my utmost desire. I do not know what Krsna will decide.
MK: In Vrindavan?
SM: Yes, that’s all. Daughters married, and they will do their Krsna Consciousness and I will be right there in Vrindavan.
MK: Already are your daughters married?
SM: No, after a few years I think, now they are in gurukul, and then service, I think it will take five more years, then I would like to be there teaching them.
MK: What will happen to the ashram here?
SM: Someone else will take over then. If the MAC thinks that my daughters are really qualified to run this, then they will. Otherwise, the authorities will decide. Or Prabhu will do. (Laughing) But I won’t spend a long while over here, like five or seven years. That’s all. I’d like to stay in Vrindavan, that’s all.
MK: And your prabhu?
SM: If he likes, he’ll do [the service]. If he doesn’t then somebody else will do.