We had decided to move back to the Sahyadri but were lamenting that we had been unable to do more preaching in Hampi. We prayed to Hanuman and Prabhupada to be able to return sometimes. We had packed some of our things and small Deities and decided to take a road trip to Udupi, Mookambika and Kodachadri valley via the back roads. We had planned to return within ten days to pack up everything. Prior to this, Gaura Karuna had been distributing books from a table on Car Street in Hampi and this inspired a major newspaper to do an article on her. The newspaper article led to a local TV network doing a report on her. After these reports a producer from “TV 9”, the largest news station in South India, started calling us, asking to do an interview. For various reasons I tried to put him off several times, but he was persistent. On my last day in Hampi when he showed up at our door, I finally agreed. He and his crew came the next morning at 4:30 AM and filmed our morning program. We left on our road trip right afterwards, a little later than we had planned.
Two or three days later we got a text message from TV 9 saying the program was to be aired that day three times, including a prime-time spot at 7:30 PM. We were in Sagar that day at a hotel. We were surprised to see ourselves, our Deities and Srila Prabhupada prominently portrayed in a full half-hour segment that seemed very favorable. As all programs on this station, it was in Kannada (or other south Indian languages), except the parts where my wife or I was speaking. It showed me reading Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is, it showed our arotika and kirtan and several times zoomed in on our large Radha-Krishna Deities, Giri Govardhana’s bright smiling face, and Srila Prabhupada’s, Krishna’s and Lord Chaitanya’s large pictures. The narrator mentioned Srila Prabhupada, referring to him as “Abhaya Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder of the global Hare Krishna Movement, or International Society of Krishna Consciousness”. She never mentioned the acronym “ISKCON”.
After this program aired, people from all over South India, even in a village where we had a flat tire, were recognizing us and seemed very happy to see us. In Udupi we met people from Chennai (Madras) who saw the program in Tamil Nadu. Everyone said it was very favorable, and they all expressed happiness to see us westerners embracing Krishna consciousness so devotedly. After seeing on this same news channel the expose on maya-iskcon done by ISKCON Bangalore, which fingered western upstarts who usurped Prabhupada’s institutions and temples, I worried that the program might include some negative insinuations. Instead, if anything, it exaggerated our level of devotion and also glorified and acknowledged Srila Prabhupada and his mission properly. By Srila Prabhupada’s and Sri Hanuman’s divine grace millions of people all over southern India saw this very favorable report on the mission of Krishna consciousness in Kishkindya Kshetra. Srila Prabhupada and His mission are living still in sound, particularly in South India, where many people still appreciate genuine Vedic culture and sadhana-bhakti.
Two days after my wife returned to Hampi to distribute a few more books and begin packing, our landlord, Mr. H. Pampapathi, a Hampi-vasi and the secretary of the local panchayat, called to say he urgently needed his house within three days. He had been living with his family in more austere conditions on Car Street in Hampi for many years. He had never lived in his nice new house, which we were renting. He and his family preferred living closer to the temples, the Tungabhadra and their small restaurant overlooking the divine river. But the government had just issued the absolute final notice of evictions for all residents of Hampi. This time it was serious. He refunded our last month rent money, and we of course agreed to vacate immediately. All residents, many of whom had lived in Hampi proper their whole lives, had to vacate their homes within 3 days. With nowhere else to go, many people crowded into Prakash Nagar, our adopted tiny village, to move in with friends and relatives.
I have not returned to Hampi since leaving right after the shooting of our program on TV 9. From what I have heard, Hampi, the village, is no more. Somehow my wife and I were fortunate enough to be here with these divine people during one of the most dramatic and emotional chapters of their and our lives. We had also recently been forced out of our home and business due, in part, to misguided government policies.
I already miss the most sacred Tungabhadra and the children of Prakash Nagar, like Radhika and Rama, who used to bring flowers for Krishna and teach their friends how to offer obeisance and play karatalas. I especially miss the child-like Rama Pujan Das Babaji. The people of Kishkindya have helped teach us by practical example the beauty of simplicity and detachment. I feel we all must have some greater and better connection with each other in the eternal Kishkindha under the divine shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Ramachandra, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Their great devotees.