And naturally, the second time around it is all not so frightening any more, and the diagnose of cancer is not as shattering. Indeed, it feels good to get a little reminder every ten years that time is gradually running out.
In 1980-81 I was living in Calcutta, which at that time was ruled by Jyoti Basu’s communist government. Even our next-door neighbor was the Polish embassy and down the street was the Soviet embassy (the temple was in the diplomatic section of town). Though Calcutta temple was far from Moscow we were part of a team that was using every possible means that we could think of to infiltrate the USSR with Krsna Consciousness.
How? Devotees like Kirtiraja Prabhu, would smuggle phone directories of major cities out of the USSR and send them to Calcutta (not sure if other temples were involved). Then under Adridharana Prabhu’s leadership we would take addresses from the phone directories and put them on envelopes containing a Russian translation of Prabhupada’s introduction to the Bhagavad-gita. Then we would take these many thousands of “time bombs” and mail them to the USSR from many different Indian cities so that the KGB and their Indian collaborators could not figure out the source. Because India and the USSR were close allies, letters from India would not be scrutinized so closely if at all, but if thousands of letters had suddenly come from a Western country suspicions would be aroused.
Admittedly we were using a scatter-gun approach and had no idea who we were sending them to. The letter could end up at the home of pious person or the head of the KGB, we just didn’t know. Nor did we know if our endeavor was having any effect.
Revolutionary pubic program was organized in Sinhalese area in a town near Kandy in Central Province of Sri Lanka. Just a few years ago, when the civil war between Sinhalese (Buddhist) and Tamils was raging, nobody would imagine that a Hare Krishna program would be held in the heart of Buddhist culture in Kandy.
At the beginning we were little skeptical but later on when more than 500 hundred people joined our nagara-sanirtana all anxiety went away. Finally around 2500 people including devotees from Australia, India, Kuwait, Slovenia, England, Switzerland, and different parts of Sri Lanka participated in the program. The nature’s scenery there was already very beautiful and the chanting of the holy name made it fully perfect.
H.H Bhakti Vikasa Swami was the chief guest. He lectured about the suffering in this material world and the universal path of Krishna consciousness. Maharaja expertly spoke in a manner that every sincere Buddhist could accept his arguments. The lecture was translated into both Tamil and Sinhalese languages. Later Maharaja called on the stage, his “white elephant” disciple Vasudeva Datta das, who addressed the public in Tamil language and captured the hearts of the audience. The program was broadcasted by Shakthi TV- the most prominent satellite channel of Sri Lanka.
Please find below an interview in “The Nation” newspaper of Malawi, Central Africa. It was published on 5 January 2014. The questions were answered by Radhakanth Prabhu – Congregational Development Officer of ISKCON Blantyre, but the reporter mistook him to be Murari Prabhu – The Chairman of ISKCON Blantyre.
Hare Krishna. I thought you might like to know a little bit of the untold side of Nelson Mandela. He came several times to ISKCON’s Ratha Yatra in South Africa while he was president of the nation. The first time Bhakti Tirtha Swami met him, in the course of their conversation, Maharaja quoted a Gita verse. Half-way thru the verse, Mandela quoted the rest of it. BT Swami was surprised. He asked “You know the Gita?” Mandela said “Try me.”
Every Gita verse Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja knew, Nelson knew as well. Naturally, BT Swami asked “How is this?” Nelson Mandela explained that he was imprisoned on Robbins Island along with some of his fellow leaders of their political party, the ANC. One of them was an Indian-bodied lawyer. The South African government tried to break them by giving them mindless labor and routine.
Realizing that they needed to keep their minds actively engaged, the Indian lawyer taught Nelson Mandela Gita verses which they quoted and discussed back and forth to transcend their daily drudgery. Nelson Mandela told Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja that learning the Gita helped keep him sane and did much to infuse his view of the world and his strategies for bringing independence and a better future for the South African people.
This is a story which proves that the mercy of Srila Prabhupada flows like the river Ganga, reaching those souls others cannot.
A few years ago, in a small village in County Roscommon, one of the most rural parts of Ireland, there lived a man by the name of Michael Henmore. He never married and at an early life became a hermit.
He had few possessions except a cow, a horse and cart, and a small house that time had forgot. He lived without running water or electricity. Every few days he would journey to the nearest village to draw water from the well there. He spoke to no one, not even relations. He had an unkempt beard and wore old-style clothes.
Today my mother would have been 87 years old. She had suffered n struggled like anything due to severe alcoholism and drug addiction. In n out of jails, psyche wards, institutions and found helpless on the streets since I was 5 yrs old until I graduated. She also tolerated n endured her rageaholic alcoholic husband who sexually abused her n me for too many years.
Then I became a Hare Krsna at age 19 and KRSNA changed the karma of my family. When my delusional father got electrocuted at NASA in 1982, I became my mother’s legal guardian as she was determined by the Maryland Courts to be legally insane. I sued NASA for wrongful death n secured enough for her medical bills. Then I moved her to New Dwarka where I was serving as a Gurukula teacher and devotees gave her so much love for 8 years. She had quite a reputation! Eventually, the devotees in New Raman-reti continued that amazing devotee kindness for another 8 yrs. We fed her tons of PRASADAM which she easily became addicted to and she gradually gave up vodka n drugs for cauliflower pakoras, dahl , curd subjees n samosas!
Prabhupada says this can happen due to the Potency of PRASADAM cooked in ghee. When she became an invalid due to 2 strokes, I became her full-time caregiver for 5 years, changing her diapers n serving as her nurse/companion. I begged Krsna n Balarama to let her die in Vrndavana and a month after 9/11, the judge “miraculously” gave us permission to travel to Vrndavana, with her in a wheel chair! I couldn’t have done it without Caitanya Nitai! In just 13 days, during the Sacred month of Kartik in Nov 2001, Bhaktin Therese left her body in my arms in MVT, Vrndavana with Prabhupada chanting HARE KRSNA.
Dear spiritual master,
Please, accept my humble obeisences at your lotus feet.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
The son of a multimillionaire Omaha businessman long ago turned his back on materialism and took to the streets.
For four decades, he chanted a daily mantra as a robe-wearing Hare Krishna.
Father and only son endured a long estrangement, though the rift eventually eased.