Contributed by Mahavishnu Das
Udayananda: In 1976 at the Mayapur festival, my friend Pragosh helped me to get on a morning walk with Srila Prabhupada along with other bramacharis and sannyasis. Prabhupada was very grave and animated at the same time on this walk. He was talking about making vows and keeping vows. He started talking about the form of a woman as the whole entrapment of this world for a man. He was saying that the attachment to the form of a woman for enjoyment will keep one from going back to Godhead. Prabhupada went on and said, “Especially for sannyasis.” He said, “Vantashi. It’s like you vomit.
A sannyasi gives up this material world like one vomits.” Prabhupada was very graphic. He continued, “And then you lick it up. Vantashi.” No one wanted to look at Prabhupada. If he wanted he could burn you to ashes. Everyone was gulping. Prabhupada went on walking. Then he stopped and said, “If you can conquer woman, you can capture Krishna.” It obviously wasn’t a physical thing like, “We’re going to fight.” He meant that men especially sannyasis, need to conquer their attachment for enjoying a woman. Prabhupada said how vigilant one must be as a sannyasi not to have association with women. Because for a sannyasi to again take up the association of women, “vantashi”. Of course I became a grhastha after that, but I still remember that penetrating instruction, especially for sannyasis and bramacharis, no cheating because Krishna is there in our heart. And “If you conquer women, you can capture Krishna.”
Yogesvara: As the temple president in Paris I asked Prabhupada, “What should I tell people when they say to me that they don’t understand their relationship with you because they don’t always see you? You’re travelling so much and they don’t get to spend time with you. They don’t feel like you know them. They don’t get a chance to ask you their questions directly, and in the Vedic times, students would live with the guru in the ashram. There was a personal relationship.” Prabhupada said, “What do you tell them?”
I said, “I tell them they shouldn’t feel deprived of your company. You’ve invested yourself in your books and if they read your books carefully, they will find that relationship with you.” Prabhupada said, “First you should ask them if they’re chanting their sixteen rounds.” He said, “Unless you’re following the basics, where is the question of a deeper relationship with the spiritual master?” That was very telling.
Yogesvara: I remember one anecdote about Prabhupada’s humility. There was a group of French religionists who came to the Paris temple, and they were asking Prabhupada to tell them something about the mystical dimension of Krishna theology. They wanted to know what are the deep secrets of the Vaishnav religion. Prabhupada said, “Well, there’s no illicit sex, there’s no meat eating, there’s no gambling…” They said, “No, no. That’s the external.
We’d like you to go deeper and tell us something about the very deep mystical dimensions of your philosophy.” “Yes, so there’s no meat eating…” They kept saying, “This is all external. That’s on the level of the body. We want to go deeper.” The more they would push him, the more he was visibly becoming agitated because they were representing themselves as followers of Jesus Christ. He said, “You eat meat, but Jesus says, ‘Do not kill.’ Why do you do that?” They continued pushing him on this “external” point and Prabhupada became so upset by this. Finally he looked at them and said, “Do you believe that Jesus gave his life for you?” They looked at one another and said, “Well, yes.” “Do you believe that He gave His life to absolve you from your sins?” “Yes.” “Then why do you sin?” We were literally pushed back against the wall by the force of this energy coming at us from Prabhupada. And then Prabhupada started crying. He started weeping. He said, “You do not love Jesus. You do not love Jesus.”
That is one of those moments that takes forever to process. Looking back on it, I would say he knew what it was like to give your life to God. He knew the sacrifice involved in that and then to have someone brazenly misrepresent the life that Jesus had given to God, and so cavalierly dismiss the foundational principle, “Don’t kill”. How can you claim to love Jesus and avoid that elementary teaching that He gave? That moment with Prabhupada weeping and so intensely wanting these people to understand the basic teaching of Jesus, I think embedded Srila Prabhupada deeper in my heart than any other time where he gave some important point of philosophy. That experience was something that was so palpable and real.