Part 3

Majestic Island

Prabhupada left Boston on May 9th. From there he went to Columbus, Ohio, and on the evening of the 12th he had an engagement at the Hitchcock Hall Auditorium in Ohio State University. That evening the campus auditorium was filled to twice its capacity, and one of the Columbus devotees called us in Boston to tell us about the event.

About two thousand students had flooded the stage and aisles, and soon after Prabhupada began the chanting they jumped from their seats, crowded the stage, and danced and chanted almost wildly to a mantra most had never heard before. Prabhupada also jumped in his own elegant way as he danced. And as he danced he threw flowers from his garland to the students, who scrambled for them and then joined arms to continue dancing. The famous "beat" poet Allen Ginsberg, who had visited Prabhupada on and off since Prabhupada was at the 26 2nd Avenue temple in 1966, was also on stage with Prabhupada now. He had personally lead thousands in chanting in previous years, but even he was amazed at the students' overwhelming response.

* * * *

A few days later I finally followed Prabhupada’s instruction for me to go to Hawaii to rest, and when I arrived there Govinda dasi and Gaurasundara gave me a warm welcome at the airport. Riding in their car to the temple, I marveled at the majestic scenery, the gorgeous mountains, the exotic shapes, colors and fragrances of the tropical flowers, and most of all, at the tremendous, animated power and beauty of the Pacific Ocean, as it crashed and surged against the giant rocks and mountains – Lord Krsna’s moving painting.

The temple, an old, traditional, two-bedroom farmhouse with a quaint windmill in the yard, sat on a hill way out in the country. When we arrived, Govinda dasi asked me what prasadam I wanted.

"Prabhupada said I should live on mangos and milk while I'm in Hawaii," I said. "I'm sorry," Govinda dasi replied, "but it's not mango season."

She cooked steamed vegetables, and while I honored the prasadam, she told me about Guru Maharaja's recent visit there. She began, "Prabhupada often asked me to prepare a raita made of puffed rice, salt and pepper, melted butter, and cucumbers. He called it his ‘puffed rice set.’ Isn't that a great name? ‘Puffed rice set.’ And he wanted it every day.

“He'd been trying to concentrate on his translating work, but he was constantly interrupted by the local roosters, whom he retaliated against by criticizing them in mock imitation: 'Cock-a-doodle-doo, come cut my throat, cock-a-doodle-doo, cut my throat.' Then he said, 'On one side of our property is a cow farm and on the other side is a chicken and rooster farm. The cows cannot leave, even if they want to; they are fenced in. The chickens can leave any time they like, but they are so attached to thinking "This is my land" that even though they see their fellow chickens being killed day after day, they will not leave." Prabhupada's wit made me laugh, and his heart made me have some compassion for the poor chickens. I was now so sorry and sad that I had not come to Hawaii when he was here.

Later, Govinda dasi took me for a tour of the temple grounds, and when we stopped for a moment by a eucalyptus tree, Govinda dasi began breaking off a few small twigs. "Prabhupada would ask me to pick twigs for him," she said. "He said three kinds are good – mango, neem, and eucalyptus – and the best is neem. He said that by repeatedly biting the end of the twig, which should ideally about a half inch wide and six inches long, it becomes a toothbrush." I tried to imitate what she was doing, but I wasn't successful at making my toothbrush. Big chunks came off and it looked more like splintered wood than a brush.

The next day Govinda dasi introduced me to a young girl named Jayasri. She had moved into the temple a week earlier and received her initiation letter the same day I arrived. "Jayasri met Prabhupada in a very interesting way," Govinda dasi said.

"It was while the devotees were on harinama at Waikiki beach," Jayasri said with a smile. "My friend and I had come to visit for the first time, and Prabhupada was the only one home. As soon as we got to the top of the driveway, Prabhupada was on the platform at the top of the stairs telling us to come up. So we went in and talked with him for two hours."

Impressed, I offered, "It sounds like he personally called for you".

Jayasri pointed to a brahmacari who was doing construction work just outside the temple. "His story is also wonderful" she said. "One day while Govinda dasi was running to radio stations and newspaper offices, she saw him sitting on the library steps, looking very sad. So she introduced herself and invited him to come to the temple to meet Prabhupada. He readily told her that he was frustrated and had no money or friends, and that he was trying to figure out who he was. He agreed to come, and during his discussions with Prabhupada he asked questions like 'Who or what is behind the play of life,' and 'Who put the fragrance in flowers?' By the end of their long talk, he was completely satisfied and became Prabhupada's disciple."

* * * *

Every morning I walked the ten minutes to the public beach park, the same park where Guru Maharaja had gone with the devotees for his morning walks in March, and where he had sat on a large rock with his back toward the ocean, leading the devotees in the singing of the Gurvastakam prayers, the eight prayers glorifying the spiritual master.

Every morning at that park, I sat and chanted my one hundred rounds. Every day, when I returned to the temple, I took prasadam and then did my favorite activity – listening to Prabhupada's tapes and repeating what I heard – until I remembered that Prabhupada had ordered me not to speak. "Oh, I just heard a great class by Prabhupada," I told Jayasri one day. "As he was beginning the class, there was a jingling ice-cream truck passing by and playing a tune in bells. Prabhupada imitated it, singing the song of maya in a flirtatious-sounding tune: 'Come on, enjoy me. Come on, enjoy me.'" I was just about to relate Prabhupada's great analogy regarding the song, when I remembered that I was supposed to be silent. "Uh, oh. Sorry. Prabhupada said that because of my weak health I'm not allowed to speak – I can only chant. Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare."

The same thing happened on the next day. I began, "Jayasri, I just heard a great class by Prabhupada. He'd just gotten news of his god-brother's disappearance from this world – Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. Prabhupada said this god-brother, his sannyasa-guru, was now in Krsna-loka and he, Prabhupada was now feeling separation from him. He wrote a formal statement of condolence to the Gaudiya Matha and passed it around for all his disciples to sign their names. Then he . . . Oh, I forgot, I can only chant." I was frustrated, as I considered speaking about Lord Krsna and His pure devotees more tasteful than chanting His holy names. I couldn’t realize that the wholly names, Hare Krsna Hare Rama, contained all Krsna’s unlimited pastimes and all of His mercy and powers. I couldn’t realize that the names themselves have the power to create and destroy universes within a moment.

* * * *

Govinda dasi was twenty-one, a year younger than me, and like me she was also having difficulties with her health. Unlike me, however, despite her condition she managed to be a dynamic preacher. She was now organizing a big sankirtana program with both preaching and on-stage kirtana at a Jimmy Hendrix concert at the Waikiki Shell, and she encouraged me to come, to chant in the kirtana.

Over twenty thousand young people attended the concert, and we chanted on stage for a few hours before it was to start. Then an announcement was made that the concert was canceled and the crowd became a little unruly. When the police came, they saw that the devotees had the crowd under control with their chanting, so they asked us to lead all the people with a kirtana to Kapiolani Park. Govinda dasi and Jayasri took the lead and I followed, along with over one thousand other happy participants.

Sudama dasa had just arrived a few days earlier from Japan and was now also there preaching. He wrote to Guru Maharaja at New Vrndavana about the event, and about a week later he showed us his reply: "All glories to Sudama dasa brahmacari and the Hawaii devotees for their excellent work. So all of you work conscientiously and jointly. You are all good souls, and you will be successful if you can transform Hawaii into New Navadvipa. Lord Caitanya will shower His blessings and you will be happy, not only in this life, but you will be promoted to Krsna-loka."

He made it sound so easy: "If you can transfer Hawaii into New Navadvipa…" And in our spiritual babyhood we thought it easy. It would not be until years later that I would begin to understand the import of that letter. In order for someone to turn a place turn into Navadvipa, he has to be a fully self-realized soul. If we would try, but not succeed due to not being self-realized premi-bhaktas, then we wouldn’t go to Krsna-loka. We would go to Krsna-loka at the moment we would become premi-bhaktas, for at that moment we would be able to transform any mundane place into the spiritual world. Prabhupada was expert in using the subtleties of language to keep us going on, so that no matter what level we were on and no matter how far we were from the goal, we'd feel encouraged by thinking the goal is right around the corner.

Prabhupada's letter continued with a beautiful analogy: "I think the roar of your sankirtana in Hawaii will soon be heard in the neighboring places, including Japan and Hong Kong. The ocean is the father-in-law of Visnu, because the Goddess of Fortune, Laksmi, was born by the churning of the ocean. Because Laksmi is the daughter of the ocean, the ocean also will help in spreading the glories of the ocean's daughter and son- in-law. So please keep me informed of your activities, and this will engladen me."

I wished I was also a healthy, carefree brahmacari and could get letters like that. Prabhupada's recent letters to me had only discussed what to eat and when to eat it. In my most recent letter, he’d told me that since it wasn't mango season yet, I should eat green vegetables, but no coconuts, because they cause constipation. He’d told me when to rest and how to cope with my feelings of separation from my husband – by being happily engaged in Krsna's service. I knew that Prabhupada’s letters to me flowed from his heart, and his heart was full of love, even for insignificant me, but Sudama's letter made me yearn to get well immediately so that I could please Prabhupada by helping others.

* * * *

The next day was another big program, the Kam Day Parade, a yearly event commemorating the reign of the Hawaiian King Kamehameha. The devotees had worked nearly all the previous night, collecting banana leaves and flowers and then decorating the temple truck as a float. Govinda dasi, Jayasri and a few assistants including myself made some trimmings and painted decorative signs.

By morning, the truck was a beautiful flower-laden Krsna-conscious float, and at noon the announcer called through his microphone, "The Hare Krsna Temple – step out". We then began our five-mile march down the main street of Honolulu, before 55,000 people and several TV cameras. Gaurasundara and other devotees danced before the float, and Jayasri, Govinda dasi, and I sat atop the float, chanting and tossing flowers to the crowd. Our procession was bewildering to most of the people there, because it had nothing to do with the holiday, nor with Hawaii, and it had no hula dancers on it. Still, many young people chanted as we passed, many adults clapped, dozens of children scrambled after the tossed flowers, and many simply gazed in awe.

By Krsna's grace, one week later there was another preaching engagement – the Pleasure Fair. On the first day, by Govinda dasis managerial arrangements with the head of the event, the devotees opened up the entire program with a beautiful kirtana performance for 12,000, on stage at the Shell, an enormous acoustical amphitheater. Some of the devotees played guitars and drums, and the rest of us played the more traditional kirtana instruments. Many people joined in the chanting, and all over the fairgrounds and outlying park, thousands more heard. Because of the giant amplifiers we could be heard for blocks.

Then, after the kirtana we opened our booth, which the men had built and the ladies decorated. It was the most opulent at the fair, as Lord Jagannatha stood there on a silk-covered altar, surrounded by flowers. Thousands of passersby got coconut laddu prasadam and we held kirtana off and on all day, took turns leading the chanting, spoke with people, and played kirtana and lecture tapes and Prabhupada's new Govinda album on our amplified tape recorder. I also preached, because the people looked so eager.

A popular charismatic yoga teacher named Sai came by our booth and offered fruit to Lord Jagannatha. Then he chanted with us and invited us over to his yoga tent to chant. So, at 9:00 p.m. Govinda dasi lead us in a Hare Krsna parade over the hill towards his tent. Once up on the hill, however, where thousands of youth were roaming, she stopped the parade and we continued the kirtana there. Within minutes, a crowd of several hundred was joyously jumping up and down, arms up-stretched, dancing and chanting Hare Krsna. Even an atomic glimpse of a shadow of Lord Caitanya's mercy brought tears to the eyes of His devotees.

Several devotees remained overnight at the Fairgrounds with Lord Jagannatha, and we returned home at about 2.00 a.m. to rest for the next day's festival. After I awoke a few hours later, groggy, and stumbling around the room, I noticed a letter to me on the dresser table. It was from Prabhupada. All my fatigue immediately left and nervous excitement took its place. I ran into Govinda dasi's room, where she was also just waking up. I told her I had written Prabhupada just after the Kam Day Parade, describing the event, and he had now replied. I read her his letter, dated June 17th: "'I thank you so much for your encouraging letter, and I am so pleased to learn that the center is doing very nice propaganda work in Hawaii. Now you send to Brahmananda as many photos as possible of the parading and other chanting engagements. It will be the policy of our paper (Back to Godhead Magazine) now to print as many photos and articles of our own activities as possible.

"'I understand from Gaurasundara's letter that there is now inconvenience in having so many people living in the house there, so I think you may immediately return to Boston. I think that you may now take part in sankirtana activities, so when you return to Boston you may go out with them sometimes on sankirtana party."

"'I am very glad to know that Govinda dasi felt cured of all her disease by hearing my words, and I am very much encouraged. Both of you chant Hare Krsna and join the sankirtana party, and there will be no disease. Maharaja Pariksit said that chanting the glories of the Lord can be executed by liberated persons. That means by chanting one becomes liberated of all material impediments. Not only does the chanting give us liberation, but even in our conditioned state we like to hear the sweet melodious sound of the chanting. Only persons who are committing suicide or who are addicted to animal killing, such as a butcher, cannot relish the sweetness of this chanting. But even if they take to the chanting, they will become liberated.'"

I went out with still more enthusiasm that day, and then made arrangements to return to Boston within the next few days.

* * * *

Developing the Press

The Boston temple devotees were poor. While I was still in Hawaii the devotees in Boston had met and discussed getting outside jobs. At that meeting, Nanda-kisora quoted a letter in which Prabhupada had written that if the devotees go out on sankirtana, all of their spiritual and material problems would be solved. Then, after a few days of trying it out, they were convinced that they should continue their new program, which was also slowly attracting people to come to the temple and even join.

By the time I returned, Murari had come from Los Angeles with his wife, Lilavati, to lead the new Boston sankirtana party. The devotees were all enthusiastic to please Prabhupada, and I was also enthusiastic to paint again. The temple president wrote to Prabhupada and asked him for permission for me to work again, and he replied at the end of June:

"Now let her join with the sankirtana party, and I am sure she will improve her health more and more. For the time being, she may not revive her painting work until she gets back more strength. Regarding your sankirtana activities, please continue this most important function. The nice pictures you have sent have been dispatched to Brahmananda for publishing in Back to Godhead. I have given instructions that in Back to Godhead the pictures of our activities and short descriptions should be more and more published.

Pleased by the letter and with faith in Prabhupada's words, I joined Murari's harinama party every day – and Prabhupada was right. My health improved.

I wrote Govinda dasi about the harinama party in Boston and she replied, describing a letter she had received from Prabhupada after he had heard of her strong preaching to a large group of impersonalists at the Fair. He’d written her: “I am proud that a little young girl like you is so much spirited in preaching Krsna consciousness". In his letter he told her that he was going to have the Back to Godhead devotees publish her article under the heading of "Heroine Govinda dasi." I also appreciated her spirit and wanted to emulate her.

In the meantime, Prabhupada was in Los Angeles supervising his book and Back to Godhead magazine publication, which was still being printed by the Japanese company Dai Nippon. He was also beginning to organize foreign language publications, and he continued to manage his disciples' activities around the world. What amazed me most was that he was doing everything by mail, and he was managing the production of the Krsna book by mail – by regularly mailed tapes to Satsvarupa to type and edit. And now, on July 11th, he told me by mail that I could start painting again, encouraging me to read his transcribed manuscripts so I would know exactly what to paint. This time he did not give his own list of suggested paintings, but wanted me to make my own. He wrote: "Draw pictures as many as possible. Each picture should be very much attractive, colorful and nice, so that people will appreciate these paintings also. Our standard size will be like Teachings of Lord Caitanya, and you can make the pictures proportionate to 8 1/2" x 11". The style of the book will be like Teachings of Lord Caitanya as far as paper, print and binding are concerned."

I was so happy that I began jumping and chanting and dancing around my room. By getting strength from sankirtana, I could now work again. I didn’t consider it work; it was the mercy of service to Sri Guru.

Nanda-kisora didn't agree with my reasoning about my health improving through sankirtana. After reading my July 11th letter he told his wife, Jahnava, "Srila Prabhupada wished her good health, and therefore she got better and could begin painting.” I agreed with Prabhupada, but I also agreed with Nanda-kisora.

Titanium white, cadmium yellow medium, vermillion, rose matter, cobalt blue, and emerald green – the choices of color were not at all a matter of habit. We like sympathy; we like company; but with art we have to sit alone and labor hard. Sitting and painting, I now prayed that my Krsna book service would cure my heart disease known as a 'Krsna-less heart,' an even more painful condition than any physical disease.

Besides reading the newly typed manuscripts, fantastic worlds in themselves, I copied Prabhupada's dictaphone tapes onto regular cassette tapes and listened to them over and over while I painted—I could not bear to see them disappear into oblivion. In the meantime Satsvarupa, after transcribing them, sent the original dictaphone tapes back to Prabhupada, who erased them, dictated new chapters on them, wrapped them in simple business-sized envelopes, folded the envelopes in half, stapled them closed around all the edges, and sent them back to Boston.

On July 29th he wrote Satsvarupa, reiterating his desire: "Jadurani can pick up the ideas for pictures from the transcriptions of the tapes. In this way, when the book and pictures are ready, we shall arrange for publication. As soon as five hundred pages are ready by your typewriter, we shall print the first part immediately. Both you and your wife have got very good opportunity for serving Krsna. Make both of your lives sublime and teach others also how to live by your exemplary life."

Here it was again. Again I misunderstood an instruction to be a confirmation. It would not be until years later that I would understand his meaning. He was ordering us to become exemplary, and when I first read the letter I thought he was saying I was already exemplary and I should simply teach others how to follow my example.

The Glenville Avenue temple lease would be up in a week, and a few devotees had been looking for a bigger and better building. At the very last minute they found a mansion at 38-40 North Beacon Street – a large, bright blue, seventy-year-old wooden frame house, which had previously served as a funeral parlor. This house was not for rent. We would have to buy it, and if we did, it would be the first property of Prabhupada's mission in the West. Prabhupada immediately agreed that we buy it.

All the temple devotees felt the purchase of the new house to be Krsna's will, because a few days later, Prabhupada wrote us that now that we had the big house, he wanted to set up "our printing department in Boston immediately." He wrote that one of the building’s big halls would be nice for setting up a printing machine, and requested Advaita and Vaikunthanatha to leave New York and come to Boston to begin printing operations. It looked like the Boston Temple was about to greatly expand, and Prabhupada made it clear by his letters that we were not the causes of the expansion. Rather, we would be his instruments.
Many of the Press devotees were aware that book publishing and distribution were important in the historic chronology of the expansion of Krsna consciousness. We had learned from Prabhupada that one of the twenty-six qualities of pure devotees is "poetic," and that this does not necessarily mean rhyming poetry. He had said, "Poetic means literary man. They must give good literature."

In Lord Caitanya's time, that is, 500 years before, His associates wrote scriptures on palm leaves, which were not only their manuscript pages but their final book as well, and they wrote in Sanskrit or Bengali handwriting. In this way, the six Gosvamis, Lord Caitanya's direct disciples, as well as other Vaisnavas of Vrndavana, wrote boatloads of books, and these books were hand-copied by scribes for distribution. A few years later, Srila Jiva Gosvami inspired Srinivasa Acarya, Narottama dasa Thakura and Syamananda prabhu, his students, to take as many manuscripts as could be collected, and bring them to Bengal for mass preaching of Krsna consciousness. Somehow, after many months of travel the three devotees’ worst nightmare came to pass. Despite having ten armed guards, the manuscripts were plundered near Visnupura in Bengal. As Srinivasa was writing his letter to Jiva Gosvami about the incident, some miles away, King Birhambit was rummaging through the treasures stolen from various travelers. Just then, his servants appeared with the court's most recent find. The king immediately removed the cloth covering and opened the trunk to reveal "mere manuscripts." Dismayed that there were no "priceless treasures", he lifted out the top manuscript. He saw the signature, "Sri Rupa Gosvami" written on a palm leaf, and when he examined further, he felt something change deep within himself. Srinivasa later approached the king during his search for the books, and after some discussion about Krsna consciousness the king became Srinivasa's disciple. Such was the potency of these books by the Gosvamis.

We remembered Prabhupada’s statement: "the elaboration's and expositions on the philosophy taught by Lord Caitanya are, in fact, most voluminous, exacting and consistent, due to the unbreakable system of disciplic succession, of any religious culture in the world." Lord Caitanya therefore "instructed His disciples to write books on the science of Krsna, a task which those who followed Him have continued to carry out down to the present day."

In 1896, seventy-three years before Prabhupada started the Press in Boston, when Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sent his small book Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: His Life and Precepts, to McGill University in Montreal, the seed of Krsna consciousness was planted here in the West. Besides this book, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura had written and printed about one hundred other authorized spiritual books in three Indian languages, and also, like his predecessors Srila Narottama dasa Thakura and Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, he wrote hundreds of poems and songs, full of spiritual sentiments and scriptural conclusions. His writings made the sacred teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu fully available to every modern reader of India.

Then his son, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, our Prabhupada’s spiritual master, expanded upon the same work and adapted it to his time period. He adjusted ancient traditions to conform to technological and social conditions of the twentieth century, and considered the printing press a most effective means of spreading the transcendental message throughout the world. He himself was the author of many important translations, commentaries, and philosophical essays. Through preaching, kirtana, and books he succeeded in re-establishing Gaudiya Vaisnavism as the leading force in Indian spiritual life. His prominent and sincere disciples in India continued in the publication work and of particular note was Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. Srila Bhaktiprajnana Kesava Maharaja was not only Prabhupada’s god-brother, but Prabhupada had also chosen him as his sannyasa-guru, and he took sannyasa from him in 1959, in Mathura, India. [VASANTI –FIND OUT]

The wave of multi-lingual translations of the ancient Vedic texts occured when Srila Prabhupada came to the West and planted the eternal Krsna consciousness movement here. At that time there began a very wide and rapid dissemination of knowledge that had for so long been contained within the very discrete walls of India's Vedic culture.

* * * *

However, Prabhupada’s endeavors in the field of publishing and distributing transcendental literature did not begin when he came to the West. It began over two decades earlier.

During World War II, the British had arranged that many Indians were without food – and children would fight with dogs over discarded food. Prabhupada knew this was the result of greed and mismanagement, yet he also knew that the situation was a result of a lack of Krsna consciousness. To give people the right message and true remedy, he started his Back to Godhead magazine. In it, he discussed the world's crisis through the eyes of the scriptures. Despite the paper shortage, he convinced government officials to grant him the use of paper to print.

In 1947, despite India's new independence from Britain, there was still dissatisfaction. There were many small wars between India and Pakistan, resulting in the death of hundreds and thousands. Prabhupada knew that fighting would continue as long as people wanted to gratify their senses. He wrote about this in his new Back to Godhead. With his idea of a spiritual United Nations, though he was financially very poor, he kept publishing Back to Godhead and he also wrote letters to the country’s leaders. When he was 56 years old he renounced family life, moved to Delhi and lived as a mendicant, staying from week to week in temples or in homes of pious people. He spent his time writing and approaching donors, to whom he preached Bhagavad-gita. Printing and selling Back to Godhead in Delhi, he later resided in Vrndavana, at the Vamsi-gopalaji temple near the sacred Yamuna River – and regularly commuted to Delhi. He translated and printed the first canto of Srimad-bhagavatam in three hardback volumes, and he continued to produce Back to Godhead. Even when he ran out of money he kept writing.

Now, in America in 1969, Prabhupada increased the print run of Back to Godhead from the two thousand per month, which it had been in the previous couple of years, to twenty thousand per month. Each of his twelve temples were requested by him to take a quota of magazines for distribution, and Boston's quota became two thousand per month, or seventy per day. Excited and somewhat nervous, the devotees organized a new distribution system, where those who were out on harinama would take turns distributing. Although it was difficult at first for many of us to approach people on the streets and in the parks with the magazine, we gradually gave up our fear.

Sometimes we went to Boylston Street or Harvard Square, but Boston Common and Cambridge Common was our main place of sankirtana, especially on Sundays. Now it was July, and the magnificent summer weather arrived. The birds increased their singing, the flower-bearing trees blossomed, the air was aromatic, and the students were off from school. Thousands of tourists from all over the country were visiting "The Freedom Trail," the series of historical landmarks from the days of the American Revolution, when the American colonies revolted against England and became an independent nation. That Freedom Trail, the place where Paul Revere rode and the Boston Tea Party unfolded, had its hub in Boston Common.

During the American Revolution, the Boston Common had been a sorry sight, covered with tents, mess buildings and latrines, and swarming with foreign soldiers wearing red coats. These days the Common was a delightful expanse of trees, grass and statuary, unsurpassed, perhaps, by any other urban park in the country. While chanting harinama we passed by its baseball diamonds, graveyards, underground parking garages, bandstands, flowerbeds, and cow paths. On one end of the Common was the State Capital Building, and on the other end, the swan boats and public gardens where the tourists fed the ducks, and the ball parks for family outings. Just around the park were thousands of business offices, which released their office workers every day for lunch break.

The beautiful, balmy weather called out to one and all, "Come on; enjoy me. This is the time for youthful pleasure. Taste and feel my inviting warmth."

The sky was so bright during that mid-day time that it hurt my eyes, but we who had gone there from the Boston temple were all so enthused. We felt that Prabhupada had given us a special sensation of knowing something of how the people were thinking, and how they are plagued by the call to their six senses, as a man who has six wives goes home to one of them and finds all of them at the same house – calling, "Come on; enjoy me." One wife pulls on one arm, another pulls on another arm, another wife pulls on one leg, another rips at his ear, another at his tongue, another at his skin, and another at his eyeballs. In his insanity he thinks he is happy.

Krsna Himself, in the form of Lord Caitanya, had come to this world to spread love of God through nama sankirtana and transcendental knowledge. Excited, we prayed to Prabhupada and the pure devotees in his disciple-succession, up to Srimati Radharani and Lord Krsna, to please tell us what to say to convince the people to read Prabhupada's books. Because it was Sunday, various rock bands had come to the Common to perform, and thousands of young people had come to hear, dance, picnic, wander around, mingle, or just sit. We sometimes chanted and danced in a circle, or in a line, and hundreds of young people joined in. We also took turns wandering around the crowd to distribute books and Back to Godhead magazines.

I remained enthusiastic by thinking of myself as one of Prabhupada's secret agents on the strange planet Earth, meeting others who ultimately also had nothing to do with the bizarre world of birth and death. "Here," I told them, "You didn't get one yet. This magazine will tell you about your eternal life of bliss and knowledge." As soon as I offered people Back to Godhead, I felt that they were no longer strangers. They seemed like old friends who, like myself, had somehow become covered by peculiar shells called bodies. Sankirtana was the prime benediction for the age of Kali-yuga.

In mid-August Prabhupada wrote another letter, saying that since I had resumed painting, Jahnava could go out on the sankirtana full-time. A part of me had thought that Prabhupada would appreciate me more if he saw that I was doing all the paintings – and so I had been reluctant to share my painting service. Not understanding the obvious fact that any credit for the manifestation of the paintings was Prabhupada's, I was glad when I first read Prabhupada's letter. At first I thought, “Now I will once again be the only painter. But when I re-read the letter, particularly the last two sentences, I changed my mind. He'd written:

"Since Jadurani has resumed her painting work, I think Jahnava may be engaged in joining the sankirtana party, because she is a good salesgirl of Back to Godhead. Anyway do things in good sense, without any disturbance. We have to make progress very soberly, and I am always at your service whenever required."

This time I cringed. Prabhupada was subtle, but he had made his point. He knew exactly who I was – an infinitesimal spirit soul covered by huge layers of pride, and he also knew how tolerant Jahnava was. He would help us both make advancement according to our sincerity, not according to who did what painting.

* * * *

On Sept 14th Srila Prabhupada was still in Los Angeles, and now he sent test questions on Bhagavad-gita to the devotees in all his temples. It was the first bhakti-sastri examination, meant to see how deeply we had been absorbed in studying the philosophy in Bhagavad-gita. It was an open-book exam and we could select any 10 of the 15 questions listed: 1) Who is Krsna? 2) What is your relationship with Krsna? 3) What are you expected to do with your relationship to Krsna? 4) What is the aim of Krsna consciousness? 5) What do you mean by religion? 6) Is Krsna consciousness a type of religion or religious faith? 7) How do you distinguish between changeable and eternal religion? 9) What are the different types of religious faiths? 10) Can religion be manufactured by philosophical speculations? 11) Who created religion first? 12) What is the greatest common engagement of religious men? 13) Do you believe that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead? 14) If you believe, how do you substantiate? 15) If no, what is your reason?

The test was a good way to make us study.

Also on September 14th, Prabhupada wrote to the Boston devotees separately, reiterating his interest in his book publication. Desiring that sankirtana and book publication to go hand in hand, he wrote: "I am pleased that the press arrangement is proceeding nicely, and you will be pleased to know that my Guru Maharaja drew a picture in which he gave great importance to the symbolic representation of the press next to the mrdanga. Press means publication of various types of books and literatures, and the mrdanga means the sankirtana party. So now your center will have both facilities, and organize in such a way that you will become the living example to the other centers. When the press is fixed up, I shall go to Boston and see personally how things are being done."

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