Srila-Prabhupada

Prabhupada traveled by train from Bombay to Mathura. Brahmananda carried him in his arms from the train to a waiting car, and within fifteen to twenty-five minutes Prabhupada was back in Vrindavana.

The devotees at the Krishna-Balaram Mandir were upset to see that Prabhupada's condition had deteriorated so much in the one month he had been away. His room was as he had left it, except for the addition of a large double bed. He lay down, and they closed the curtains and dimmed the lights. For about five minutes he lay still, with his eyes closed.

"Now you are home, Srila Prabhupada," said Tamala Krishna.

Still Srila Prabhupada lay quietly, not moving. Then slowly he brought his hands to his chest, clasped them together, and said, "Thank you." He seemed relieved.

"Now you are in the care of Krishna-Balarama," said Tamala Krishna.

Srila Prabhupada smiled and nodded slightly. "Yes," he said. "Krishna tvadiya-pada-pankaja-panjarantam," indicating King Kulasekhara's prayer to Lord Krishna: "My dear Krishna, please help me die immediately so that the swan of my mind may be encircled by the stem of Your lotus feet. Otherwise, at the time of my final breath, how will it be possible for me to think of You?"

Although Srila Prabhupada was in a precarious state, he remained completely fixed in thought of Krishna in one way or another – Krishna's name, His form, His pastimes, or His devotional service. Prabhupada suggested going to see Krishna and Balarama at nine-thirty, just as he had done before, but his servants advised that he rest today and begin that program tomorrow. "Whatever you desire, I will do," Prabhupada said.

Tamala Krishna asked Prabhupada if he wanted the kaviraja to come.

"As you said, Prabhupada, for better or worse, some husband must be there."

Srila Prabhupada nodded. "Now manage everything," he said, "and let me think of Krishna-Balarama."

A little before four in the afternoon, while devotees were reading aloud from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Prabhupada asked if the temple bell had rung the hour. Ever since the temple opening in 1975, he had insisted that the bell at the front gate be rung every hour to signify the hour and once every half hour. At first, the temple president had been unable to get a watchman who would remain awake through the night and ring the bell regularly. But Srila Prabhupada had insisted so strongly that the temple management had finally established the bell-ringing.

For Srila Prabhupada, it was more than just a good standard; it was a symbol of the entire temple management's effectiveness. If they couldn't even arrange that the bell be rung regularly, then how could they manage everything else? Now Srila Prabhupada was saying he thought he heard the bell ring at the wrong time. Tamala Krishna explained it might have been a different bell, and the devotees continued reading Srimad-Bhagavatam. But Srila Prabhupada again asked about the bell in the temple dome. As Hari-sauri rose to go out and check, the bell began loudly ringing – one… two… three… four – properly sounding the hour.

"That is my concern," said Prabhupada, "that such a huge establishment is properly managed. If not properly managed, then everything will be finished."

"I don't think that that's going to happen," said Tamala Krishna. "We are too much indebted to you to allow what you have established to become spoiled."

"Please see to that," said Prabhupada. Nevertheless, Srila Prabhupada called for Aksayananda Swami and, as soon as he came into the room, inquired from him, "Will the bell ring or not?" Aksayananda promised to diligently see to it, taking the instruction very seriously, as perhaps his last order from his spiritual master.

The pujari entered and gave Prabhupada a large, fragrant tulasi garland from Krishna-Balarama, and Prabhupada returned to listening to the reading.

Later in the day, he confided to Tamala Krishna about the past few weeks. "I must thank you," he said, "that you took me to London and again brought me here without any difficulty. That is a great credit for you. For that I am thanking you. In this condition, a bundle of bones – still you did it. Krishna will bless you."