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Just Hare Krsna

Kirtanananda suggested that we hold a New Year’s Eve festival and Prabhupada agreed. The news spread by word of mouth, and over one hundred people attended. Prabhupada sat on his dais and led a beautiful, candle-lit kirtana, after which the servers of prasadam set out rows of mats for the feast. During the feast, Prabhupada invited everyone to take second, third, and even fourth helpings of everything. He even called some devotees by name to come and get more. He encouraged everyone—both temple residents and guests—to chant Hare Krsna, even while we were chewing our prasadam.

“This is usually the saddest day of the whole year,” Brahmananda told us as we took our second helpings of halva. “If you’re alone, you get drunk; and if you’re with friends, you get drunk. People are usually gloomy over the past year, and hopeless for the future. But Swamiji’s giving us hope.”

The next morning while we were cleaning up the temple room, Prabhupada came in to give us a few minutes of his association. He sat on a wooden chair, crossing one leg over the other and leaning his right elbow casually over the back of the chair. We all dropped whatever we were doing and sat on the rug at his feet, as he began to speak about some of the famous impersonalists from the turn of the century. “He says he is God,” Prabhupada said, “but if somebody asks, ‘Why he has become dog?’

“‘Oh,’ he says, ‘I do not know.’

“So God says, ‘I do not know.’ He’s such a God.”

He then gestured toward the paintings on the walls: Lord Visnu in the Causal Ocean, Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana party, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, Pancatattva, all the Indian Brijbasi prints, and Jagannatha dasa’s oval painting of Radha and Krsna above the dais. He turned to me and said, “I would like you to paint Hare Krsna mantra signs to be hung under every painting. They should be similar to the one you did last month. The one used by devotees on harinama sankirtana.”

I couldn’t see the sense of so many of the same signs—surely it would be boring. So I asked, “Just Hare Krsna?”

“What else is there?” Prabhupada said. “Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has sung, ‘Other than the holy name, there is nothing to be had in all fourteen worlds.”


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