By: Govinda Dasi
And Srila Prabhupada was the king of debate; he was very hard to beat!
Each day while at the Waimanalo Beach house, Srila Prabhupada would have his morning massage beneath a large, fragrant plumeria tree in the front yard. We would roll out a matt on the grass, and Srila Prabhupada would sit comfortably in the morning sunshine. This was a very special time of day, as he would talk about everything – literally everything under the sun – and all in relation to Krishna consciousness. Sometimes he would laugh and joke, sometimes he would tell stories, and often he would launch into long philosophical discussions.
He enjoyed the fresh ocean air and the morning sunshine; his golden complexion glistened with mustard oil as he received his daily Ayurvedic massage. Mustard oil with camphor chunks soaked in it was his usual treatment, prescribed by his Ayurvedic doctor in India. Srila Prabhupada would sometimes say, “Mustard oil massage in the morning sun will make the body as strong as iron!” and he would shake his clenched fist to illustrate the point.
Quite often, my husband Goursundar would massage Srila Prabhupada, as that had been his service during our year of traveling with him. Since Goursundar was very scholarly, Srila Prabhupada would enjoy debating with him, weaving long philosophical arguments into their conversations, and often playing the part of the “Devil’s Advocate.” He seemed to delight in forcing Goursundar to defend Vaishnava philosophy from the various onslaughts of atheist and Mayavada philosophical attacks. This was an ongoing mood in their relationship, and I would generally enjoy watching the sparring match. And Srila Prabhupada seemed to really enjoy this philosophical sparring with Goursundar.
Of course, Vaishnava philosophy always won out over the Mayavada impersonal schools of thought – even if the win was sometimes prompted by Srila Prabhupada. And Goursundar learned this art of debate from the best of teachers! It was great training; Srila Prabhupada was always training us how to preach – how to present the teachings of Lord Krishna in the most accurate manner. And Srila Prabhupada was the king of debate; he was very hard to beat!
On some days, we would sit more peacefully beneath the plumeria tree, and talk about Vrindaban. Srila Prabhupada would describe the wonders of the Holy Dhama, Vrindaban, and we would listen with rapt attention.
He sometimes said, “There are at least 10,000 temples in Vrindaban; every home is a temple,” and I would try to imagine such a thing. It was hard for me to imagine, since I had never been to Vrindaban. And sometimes we would read his mail to him, sitting beneath the plumeria tree. He would comment on his letters, coming from places all over the world, and tell us about so many things going on in his budding ISKCON. On one occasion, there was some discussion about George Harrison, of the world famous Beatles rock group.
Curious, I asked, “Oh, is George Harrison a devotee, Srila Prabhupada?”
His eyes lit up, and he wagged his head from side to side, a “yes gesture” in India. Then softly and expressively, he exclaimed, “Ah, George Harrison, he is more than a devotee!” He obviously had great love for George, and appreciated him more than we can imagine.
As the time for the installation drew near, Srila Prabhupada would talk about the Pancha Tattva more and more. He would describe how They should be worshipped – the mood of worship, the dress, and the way They were to be viewed. I carefully wrote down his various instructions for the worship of the Pancha Tattva Deities; after all, these were the first Pancha Tattva Deities in all of ISKCON. Each day, Srila Prabhupada seemed to add something more, and so I knew it would be an ever expanding worship. And it would begin very soon.