prabhupada-in-manhattan

Jaya Gaurasundara: The second of the three good fortunes I had of spending some time with Srila Prabhupada personally was in 1975. Even though it was rather difficult in those days for a new kid on the block to be around Prabhupada, I got a chance when Prabhupada went on his inspection tour of the Manhattan temple. Although I had spearheaded construction on the building with Toshan Krishna, I wasn't invited to go on the initial inspection.

However, being familiar with the building as I was, I knew the fire doors that didn't lock. I waited until Srila Prabhupada and the entourage passed a particular fire door, opened it as quietly as I could and slipped into the back of the procession.

Tamal Krishna was there along with Adi-Keshava, Bhavananda, Sudama, Madhudvisa and maybe Sri Rama. Whoever was anybody was there at that time. Dhrstadyumna Maharaj was also there and when he saw me sneak in he said, “Hey, you know you can't be here. This was by invitation only.” I said, “No, I want to spend time with Srila Prabhupada.” Srila Prabhupada stopped and he turned around and looked right at us in the back of the procession and that was it. Boy, we fell right into line like a couple of choirboys and that was the end of it.

He just gave us a look. But what followed that was curious, and I'm still haunted by it in a way, was when Tamal Krishna suggested to Srila Prabhupada that we sell the building. Srila Prabhupada pretty much ignored him and it struck me because I had put so much blood sweat and tears into working on the building.

Then Adi-Keshava said, “And with this money we can do some other…” I guess he was going to say “project,” but Srila Prabhupada interrupted him and said, “Stop.” He said, “Do not sell this building. Where will the devotees go? Where will the deities go? If you sell this building so many devotees will fall down.” Adi-Keshava attempted to persist and said, “But, Srila Prabhupada…” Srila Prabhupada took his cane and slammed it on the floor and said, “No! No means no!” That was the end of that and we proceeded on with the inspection floor by floor.

What I took away from that experience, certainly for me personally and for all of us as Prabhupada's disciples, was realizing what the consequences are for disobeying a direct order of the spiritual master. What we saw subsequent to selling the building was a tragedy of epic proportions as we witnessed so many disciples fall away from the movement.