Madhudvisa das: The irony surrounding the whole Town Hall engagement and the Rathayatra Festival was that the people that were issuing us thousands and thousands of dollars worth of tickets for chanting, dancing in the streets and distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books in the streets were the same people that we had to go to get the permits to conduct the Rathayatra Festival.
So I remember when I first had to go there to the Melbourne City Council – big, dark oak draped council room with 30 or 40 of these City Council men sitting around the table when I walked in with my shaved head and my dhoti and had to convince them that they should allow us to have the Rathayatra Festival. So when I walked in, he had this big pile of tickets on the table. And the head of the City Council, the mayor of the city said, “What are we going to do about all these tickets here?” I convinced him or Krishna convinced him that they should not let these unpaid tickets have a bearing on their opinion whether they should give us the Rathayatra permit or not.
I remember thinking to myself, looking at the mayor’s chest and saying that “Krishna, You are in his heart. Inside his chest is his heart, and inside his heart You are there. And if You want to allow us to have this Rathayatra Festival, then You instruct him from within that he should allow us to have this.” So the mayor was very flamboyant and he said, “Just tell me one reason why I should allow you to have this festival, seeing that you have flaunted, you have snubbed us by not paying one single ticket that we have issued to you, which is thousands and thousands of dollars. Why should we give you the permission to parade through our streets?” I looked at the Council, and I knew the egalitarian sentiment of the Australians. They always wanted to give people a fair chance because the history of Australia is that they were subjugated by the Britishers, the prison colonies were started there, and they were always for the common man. So I looked at the mayor, and I used one of the Australian idiomatic expressions. I said, “Well, can you give us a fair go? That’s all we’re asking for is a fair go.” The mayor looked around, and he didn’t want to be the one to say that he wasn’t going to give someone a fair go. He looked at the members of the Council and he said, “All right, we’ll give you a fair go,” and he stamped the permit and we got the permit to have the Rathayatra.
So the same people that were giving us tickets had to give us the permits, and Krishna arranged it in such a way that they didn’t hold it against us. So the Rathayatra went on and Srila Prabhupada’s speaking engagement went on in the Melbourne City Hall, and the newspapers gave us favorable reviews.
Hari Sauri das: When Prabhupada came in for Rathayatra, it was mid-winter, June. That was partly because he had told Madhudvisa, “If you become the number one book distributors in the world, then I will come.” And so we did actually. He organized the BBT party, and Australia was consistently at the top of the book distribution ratings even though we were just a tiny yatra at that time, maybe about 50 or 60 devotees in the whole country. But Prabhupada kept his word, and he came in ’74.