Contributed by Mahavishnu Dasa
Amarendra: Prabhupada was in Gainesville only for a short period of time and when we took him back to Jacksonville we had a kirtan in the airport. People started to gather around creating a sizeable crowd wanting to know what was going on. This was Jacksonville, Florida, a place where every time we did harinam, we would get arrested because of all the conservative Christian views. We were just heathen to them, these “Eastern idol worshipers” and so forth. I was sitting right at Prabhupada’s feet thinking, “I must be really special getting to sit right there at Prabhupada’s lotus feet.” But Hridayananda and Ananga Manjari, who was his wife at the time, saw the crowd and they went out and started distributing books. Prabhupada saw them do this and the entire time they were in the terminal he did not take his eyes off of them while they were handing out books. At that point I could see that if I wanted to please Prabhupada and to get his attention, it wasn’t to sing and chant but to distribute his books.
Ananga Manjari: Hridayananda and I went to Los Angeles to ask Prabhupada about Hridayananda taking sannyas. While we were there, we got to go into his room quite often and walk around with him as he toured the temple property. One time they took him to the telex office with the machine that could send messages in seconds and you could receive messages back. It predated the fax machine. Prabhupada wanted to see how it worked, so they sent a message to the New York temple. They typed, “Prabhupada is sitting right next to the telex. Please respond!” They answered back right away, “Please accept our obeisances.” Prabhupada was very impressed saying, “Yes! Utilize these things. Everything in this material world is already Krishna’s so use it for Him.” Prabhupada was big on utility. I think that is one of his legacies.
Then we went into another office where devotees were recording music. They had one recording of devotees singing with guitars and regular drums and western music and they were singing “Namaste Narasringaya”. It was really rocking as Prabhupada was standing there listening and knocking his cane to the beat with a big smile. At the end he said, “This is better than George Harrison!” I know that many devotees dismiss this kind of music, but that’s what Prabhupada said.
Another incident in L.A. was when we were in Prabhupada’s room and some devotees came in and played a tape of “The Road Show”. I felt like we were at a family gathering with our grandfather listening to something amazing. What was playing was the rock song, “You know you’re not that body” by Mangalananda Prabhu. But Prabhupada couldn’t understand the lyrics. Prabhupada asked, “What are they saying?” They said, “Oh, Prabhupada, they are saying ‘You know you’re not your body.’” He said, “Okay” and started to listen more. Then he asked, “Is that Vishnujana singing?” They responded, “Yes.” Prabhupada said, “Anyone who hears his voice will become a devotee.”
Besides the fact that Visnujana was an advanced devotee, I also think that Prabhupada was encouraging us, and emphasizing the importance of sincerity and the intention of how we do things for Krishna. Regardless of it being rock music or rap music, the intention to give Krishna will help make devotees and that’s what Prabhupada and Krishna and Lord Chaitanya’s mission wanted.
I know that Mangalananda had said when he told Prabhupada that some devotees don’t like this music, Prabhupada’s response was, “Sometimes you have to let the cows moo.” Again I thought that was a very important understanding of how we can utilize everything for Krishna.
From Tape 55 Srila Prabhupada Remembrances