Compiled by Mahavishnu Das
Achyutananda: Bhavananda told me an incident when he was with Srila Prabhupada at a big department store in the West. There was a revolving door in the middle and two swinging doors on either side. A man with a lot of bags got into the revolving door and Prabhupada got into the section behind the man. As they went around, the man with the bags in the next section stopped and fumbled with his bags so now Prabhupada was trapped. He was stuck in the revolving door. Bhavananda ran out the side door, came out onto the street and Prabhupada was standing there with his cane, and the man with the bags was still stuck in the revolving door. I asked Bhavananda, “How did he get out?” He exclaimed, “I don’t know!!” I understood that a mystical power was at hand.
I only saw Prabhupada relate to Sridhar Maharaj as opposed to his other God-brothers. I could say that I did meet many of the living disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta and they were all great souls. But none of them had the ability to preach in the West. They could not say to a reporter, “Enjoy”. Bhaktisiddhanta said to Sridhar Maharaj, “I’ve sent some men to England and they came back in suits. They are being converted. Now you go, and I know that you’ll keep it pure.” But he never went. He was very proud of Prabhupada and supported him. I never heard any criticism of Prabhupada’s books from his God-brothers. They were envious or they didn’t like that women were together dancing with the men. Prabhupada’s response to this was, “When you go to the West to preach, you’ll see!” But they never went. He would invite all of his God-brothers to come and join us. Some of them were living in miserable and pathetic shacks, but there would be a big sign outside their shack that read, “Krishna Chaitanya Gaudiya Institute”. The pauper is proud of his penny.
One time Prabhupada and I visited Lalitprasad, Bhaktisiddhanta’s brother, who looked exactly like their father, Bhaktivinod Thakur. In his house I saw some of the hand written books written by Bhaktivinod Thakur. At that time Prabhupada was living in Bhaktivinod Thakur’s birthplace in Birnagar. Prabhupada said, “We will take care of you. We will develop this place. It will be an international center.” Lalitprasad said, “Yes, but I must be guru. You must step down and I must be acharya.” Prabhupada said, “Okay”, and we left. Prabhupada then looked at me and said, “I didn’t believe it, that even after giving up lust, desire for prestige lingers on even to the end.” When I asked him, “What broke up the Gaudiya Math?” Prabhupada said, “They were always worried who was going to give initiation. They couldn’t wait a few years until a guru manifested?” He said, “My God-brothers were fighting over material properties and money.”
When discussing other lecturers and gurus, Prabhupada would say like he did to some of the people who had just come from a Krishnamurti lecture, “So, what did he say?” Their responses were vague. A few weeks later they would come back and he’d say, “So, what did he say in his lecture?” They would respond, “He was talking about problems.” Prabhupada said, “And?” Then they stammered trying to answer. Prabhupada said, “Just see. If it can’t be said in simple language, then it is bogus.” He would say that a lot. He could say it elaborately but he could also say it in simple terms. For example, “Krishna is the integral, the ingredient and the cause of all causes, the efficient cause of everything.” We knew what those words meant but not in this theological content. In simple terms he would say, “I see you, I see your father. Your father had a head and two arms as well as his father. Were any of your ancestors, some formless power?”
In the beginning Prabhupada would say to us, “Now stand up and say something about Krishna consciousness.” With that in mind, we were always thinking about what to say when we went out to distribute the Back to Godhead magazines. People would ask us so many different questions and we’d respond somehow. Once a sankirtan mataji told me that she met a big biker fellow and she showed him a book. He said, “What’s this?” She said to him, “You want to go to heaven or hell?” He said, “I want to go to heaven.” She then asked him, “So you think in heaven there’s a slaughter house and they eat meat with blood all over?” He said, “No.” She handed him the book which he accepted and said, “Read this.” She said to me, “I don’t know why I said that. It just came to me.” Sometimes it appears that Krishna puts words in your mouth.
Prabhupada would always ask for questions after his lectures. One time we didn’t have any and he said, “You must have some questions. Try to put some question. You know everything?” Another time he finished the lecture and he asked, “Are there any questions?” There were no questions so he said, “How can there be any questions?” He had covered everything.