Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Me and Srila Prabhupada

Srila Prabhupada Center
Me, to his right playing cymbals.
"Even a moment’s association with a pure devotee cannot be compared to being transferred to heavenly planets or even merging into the Brahman effulgence in complete liberation. For living entities who are destined to give up the body and die, association with pure devotees is the highest benediction."
Srimad Bhagavatam 4.30.34

I was initiated by Srila Prabhupada (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami) in 1974, and had a few opportunities both before that time and after to have direct association with him.  Since he had originally come to the United States in 1965, by the time I came around, he already had thousands of disciplies and followers all over the world. So, getting any "quality time" or alone time, was almost impossible, unless you were one of the big "mucky-mucks", or senior disciples who had been around for some time.  Srila Prabhupada passed from this realm in November 1977, so I didn't have a lot of opportunities to be with or near him.

Over the years since his passing, I became almost obsessed with finding a photo that might have him and myself in it.  I knew of one, for sure, which was the opening of the Krsna Balaram Mandir in Vrndavana, in 1975, at which time I also received Brahminical Ordination from Srila Prabhupada. That was the ONLY time I was actually alone in a room with him, as he gave me the Gayatri mantras, placed the Brahminical thread on my shoulders, and showed me the method for chanting on my fingers. As it was the opening of the temple, there was also a group photo of the temple with Srila Prabhupada and all the devotees assembled in front.
Believe it or not, I can tell you which one I am, although, I'm not going to try to explain it here.


A few weeks earlier, before the Vrndavana temple opening, I had been at the annual Mayapur festival, which occurs at the birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, in West Bengal.  Srila Prabhupada was also there, and I was able to take a few photos with my little insta-matic camera. This photo on the left is one of the pictures that I took as Srila Prabhupada left the temple and ascended the stairs to return to his room. For what it's worth, although there are literally THOUSANDS of photos of Srila Prabhupada, this exact one, which I took, has never been seen outside of my home, where it's been sitting in a falling apart photo album for over 3 decades.

Several years ago, a Godbrother (fellow disciple of Srila Prabhupada), who had been one of the foremost photographers and videographers of Prabhupada's pastimes, started putting together a video series of Srila Prabhupada's pastimes over the 12 years, from his arrival in the United States, up until his passing. Although these videos are for sale, they can be found on Youtube.  So, of course, I downloaded them, cheap bastard that I am!   In my obsessiveness to find a shot of myself (which I found several) with Srila Prabhupada, I happened to notice a scene which looked eerily familiar - Prabhupada ascending the stairs. As I looked closer, one young bozo in the video was taking a picture of Srila Prabhupada, then turning around and running into another devotee.  That bozo, of course, was myself.  I thought it so funny and bizarre, to not only find a shot of myself, but a shot of me as I'm taking one of my cherished photos of Prabhupada, I thought I would copy that little clip and offer it for others to see.  (The elbow you can see is mine.)

I would like to point out, that although this seems to be about me, the truth is, Srila Prabhupada is the all-important one here.  I have, over the years, written down some of my few experiences with him, and may share those at some point.  I can only say, that my grasping for a photo of myself and him, is mostly because I can't believe I had the rare opportunity to actually associate, and be accepted as the disciple, of such an extremely rare and divine personality. All Glories to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada!

Enjoy!



(After publishing this, I found that sometimes the video doesn't show up. If it doesn't show up for you, here's the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXDf1_xmGxY)