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1968 Part One

Ecstasy of Separation

Snow and ice typified our Boston winter. Freezing winds raged through the city, the snow was sometimes knee deep—and the cold and depressing weather mirrored my own feelings of depression. Despite the assignment Prabhupada had given me, a third painting of Lord Nrsimhadeva, I was unhappy. I could not understand where these feelings came from, and so I tried to forget them by applying myself to more and more service.

I envied Satsvarupa's satisfaction with his life. He worked an office job in order to maintain the temple economically, but his special spiritual assignment was to type and edit Prabhupada's Srimad-Bhagavatam dictation tapes. Having first begun this service in New York in 1966, he continued it even when Prabhupada traveled to San Francisco early in 1967. Later that year, when Prabhupada became ill, he had stopped using his dictaphone machine, but now that he was back from India and again dictating, Satsvarupa resumed typing. He had rented a transcribing machine, and would beam whenever one of Prabhupada's hand-addressed business envelopes, containing another Grundig dictation tape, arrived. Early in the morning, before anyone else was awake, he would sit on the kitchen floor and type, happily absorbed in Prabhupada's Third Canto translations and purports.

Pradyumna also had an 'outside' job to help support the temple, although his love was Sanskrit. Pleased by Pradyumna's eagerness, Prabhupada had encouraged him to provide English synonyms for the Sanskrit Brahma-samhita verses. Pradyumna worked diligently at this, and was thrilled when one day he received a letter from Prabhupada saying that he could soon do the same for the Bhagavatam.

And I was also busy. Since I alone remained back at the temple most of the day, I greeted whatever guests visited, and I was responsible for cooking Krsna's lunch prasadam. I also painted for the six Iskcon temples—New York, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Montreal, Los Angeles and Boston. But something was missing. Wondering and wondering what was the problem, I eventually realized the cause. Since I had not seen Prabhupada for several months, I wasn't feeling his spiritual presence, and I was feeling lonely for him. In the first week in January, I decided to write him.
I recalled how, whenever he had spoken about pure devotees in his lectures or books, the topic of separation seemed to come up; but it was always in the context of the 'happiness of separation'. In one lecture he had said that the gopis, the cowherd maidens of Krsna's village of Vrndavana, were so attached to Him that when He was out of their sight, even for a short time, their every moment seemed like millions of years and the entire world appeared vacant. He'd explained that because Krsna is non-different from remembrance of Him, the gopis enjoyed the transcendental pleasure of His association at every moment by these intense feelings of separation. He'd often quoted Lord Caitanya—that feeling constant separation, while engaged in the service of the Lord, is the perfection of Krsna consciousness. I had no idea what that meant, since I was certainly not happy being separated from him.

I was not very clear on how to formulate my question, and I ended up asking a question that far exceeded my own level of spiritual realization: "Swamiji, you write that the ecstasy of the separation of the gopis for Krsna was higher than that of meeting Him. Is this also true in relation to the spiritual master?"

Though so busy, Prabhupada remained prompt at answering letters. I received his reply on January 13, barely a week after I had sent my letter: "Yes, the ecstasy of separation from the spiritual master is even greater than meeting with him."

I knew I was light years away from that experience. Still, by Prabhupada's concise yet potent words, I understood that gradually, as I would become spiritually purified, my unhappiness could turn into the ecstasy of separation. Yes, surely there were separation feelings in the spiritual world, and there were separation feelings here. Because Krsna is the center of everyone's life breath there, even His separation is the cause of a certain type of unlimited happiness, whereas here, because I am the center of my life, and because I see everything in relation to my mundane senses, I feel unhappy.

Prabhupada's letter reminded me of what he'd told me just before leaving for San Francisco a year earlier: "Do you think I would ever leave you? Don't think like that. I am always with you and you are always with me."

* * * *

Following the Brijbasis
While I was waiting for Prabhupada's reply, I continued painting Lord Nrsimhadeva. As in the two previous paintings, I portrayed the Lord seated upon Lord Anantadeva, His expansion as the thousand-headed serpent who serves as His bed, seat and umbrella, and whose hoods were decorated with gold and jeweled helmets. In the original Brijbasi print, Ananta's hoods seemed overly cute, almost smiley, and in the previous paintings I had copied them exactly from the print. Now, considering that since Lord Nrsimhadeva exhibits divine ferocity, perhaps Ananta should as well, in my letter I had also asked Prabhupada if I was correct.

Prabhupada replied in his same letter, "As long as we have got a materialistic view, the serpent is fierce. When Prahlada Maharaja saw Lord Nrsimhadeva, he was not at all afraid of the fierce features of the Lord. The big jaws and nails of Lord Nrsimhadeva, the fiery tongue of the Lord, and the gigantic lion's head, did not create any fierce havoc before Prahlada Maharaja. He said, 'My dear Lord, I am not afraid of this fierceful feature of yours, but I am afraid of the repeated cycle of birth and death in material existence.'

"That instruction is very valuable. In our material existence, we are always in dangerous and fierceful condition, but by the spell of maya we do not take it very seriously.

"The serpent-like feature of the Lord is another expansion of the Lord, to provide His place on the ocean. He is not at all fierceful to the devotees."

I could not immediately catch Prabhupada's point about Ananta. First I thought he meant that my material conception of fierceness was wrong, and that the Brijbasi print was correct. But re-reading the letter I understood that Lord Nrsimhadeva, though fierce looking and the cause of terror to materialists, does not cause any fear in the hearts of His devotees. So Lord Ananta should also look fierce in my painting.

The decision to change Anantadeva provoked another dilemma. Since I now saw the Brijbasi version of Ananta as incorrect, I began to question the propriety of Brijbasi prints in general. Over the past year devotees had occasionally given me Brijbasi prints, knowing that I used them as references for my paintings. Several devotees even hung these prints on their walls as worshipable. Although I also liked them, I now began to wonder whether I should continue using them as references.

I wrote to Prabhupada: "Your Divine Grace has said that the Hare Krsna mantra should be only heard from pure devotees. In fact, you have said that one should not hear anything about Krsna from a non-devotee. As milk touched by the lips of a serpent has poisonous effects, similarly talks about Krsna given by a non-Vaisnava are also poisonous. The hearer would become adversely affected by the material misunderstandings of that non-devotee."

Thinking that the only real devotees were in Prabhupada's Iskcon, I'd concluded my letter by asking, "Since the people in the Brijbasi Company are not devotees, is it wrong to look at their pictures?" His reply, witten in the same letter, surprised me:
"Brijbasi Company persons are not ordinary businessmen. They are devotees, and therefore their pictures are not poisonous. Even if their pictures were to be poison, because we are paying for their goods, if poison is there, it becomes ineffective. We are buying many things at the market which are not fit for offering to Krsna, but because we are purchasing them, we can offer."

I realized more certainly now that I could indeed learn from those more familiar with the Vedic traditions. In fact, I would not have known how to illustrate anything of Krsna, or His incarnations and devotees, were it not for these Indian prints. Some prints would be bona fide and some not, it was true, but it was Prabhupada who could distinguish between the two. He had previously said not to display any of the Brijbasi pictures of the demigods, because he did not want us worshipping the demigods on the same level as Krsna. At the same time, he'd more than approved the Brijbasi pictures of Krsna with the cows and gopis, as well as those of Krsna's expansions. He'd even had them hung on the temple room walls.

Prabhupada's letter contained more than just technical information; it also reminded me that I could not cause Lord Nrsimhadeva to manifest His personal presence on the strength of my brushes and paints. His letter brought to mind the time he taught us to pray to Lord Nrsimhadeva for his health. Then, after recovering from his heart attack, had told us, "I was supposed to die, but because of the devotees' sincere prayers to Lord Nrsimhadeva, the Lord said, 'All right, let him live and do his nonsense.'" I was dumbstruck, both then and now, by Prabhupada's prefect humility. I prayed to Lord Anantadeva and Lord Nrsimhadeva that they might please bless me with a drop of such sincere humility.

* * * *


In the third week of February, Rayarama sent Satsvarupa and me a copy of his recent letter from Prabhupada, along with a copy of Jaya Govinda's latest comic strip. Because I'd drawn such a strip myself, I was keen to read Prabhupada's comment on this first published comic:

"I thank you very much for sending me the latest copy of Back to Godhead, which is so nicely decorated and painted. My special thanks are due to Jaya Govinda who has so nicely sketched the story of the Grand Procession. I think in each and every issue a similar story-sketch may be printed, and it will be very interesting for the American reading public. It is interesting and thought provoking. Therefore, the more we print such sketch-stories, it will be greater in appreciation."

"'Sketch-stories.' That's a great name," I mused. "It sounds much more descriptive than 'comics'.

Several months earlier, while working in Bhaktijana's asrama, I had watched Jaya Govinda meticulously draw in the details of the storyline—a retelling of a query by one of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura's disciples as to why some students make spiritual advancement and others do not, even though appearing to be engaged in the very same devotional activities. Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had answered with a story of a groom and his family members who journeyed by boat to the wedding site on the other side of the river. They slept on the boat during the night while the boatman rowed, but they were dismayed to discover in the morning that they were still at their original mooring site. They had forgotten to raise the anchor! Srila Sarasvati Thakura had explained that if one does not lift the anchor of sense gratification, it becomes very difficult to make real advancement in Krsna consciousness, despite one's apparent performance of devotional activities.

Although I didn't particularly like Jaya Govinda's crosshatching technique, I recognized that the comic strip approach was potentially a very strong preaching medium. Even though his attempt was not as slick as more professional comic art, its transcendental message made it infinitely more valuable and even more beautiful. The message had empowered the medium. I felt encouraged to continue the Mahajana series.

Satsvarupa also showed me the letter Prabhupada had just written to him, wherein he wrote, "Yes, the anchor, as told in the sketch-story 'The Grand Procession', is sex life, and we are 50% liberated if we can make it nil."

This convinced us—this was an easy and palatable way for people to appreciate the very weighty and strict philosophy of Krsna consciousness.

* * * *

After reading the letters I walked downstairs to the basement, turned on the dim light, and sat at a small table, strewn with pencils, erasers, a ruler, and a sketch pad, to begin my second sketch-story. I would be illustrating the pastime of "Narada and the Hunter," which Rayarama had adapted from Prabhupada's soon to be published Teachings of Lord Caitanya manuscript. With great difficulty I drew and inked scenes that had only a slightly better sense of proportion than my previous attempt. I had no more knowledge of anatomy than I had during my rendition of my first attempt, and I was no further talented artistically. All I could do was pray to be lead through the darkness of my lacking. Even some of the most famous artists of the world described the experience of drawing the path traced by their pencil on their sheet of paper as a person groping his way through the darkness, what to speak of myself. But at least I had the process for contacting the supreme source of all light.

In the pastime, Narada met a hunter in the forest who habitually injured animals and left them to suffer, half-dead. Even the hunter's name belied his cruelty—it was Mrgari, 'the enemy of animals'. Freeing the animals by his yogic power, Narada informed the hunter of the horrible karmic reactions such dreadful sinful activities would bring him. He described a hell where the hunter would be tortured by the very animals he was now mutilating. Convinced by Narada's stark and dramatic arguments, the hunter immediately stoped wounding animals and took up the great saint's advice to chant Hare Krsna and worship tulasi-devi, the plant so dear to Krsna. By Narada's grace, Mrgari became so compassionate that on Narada's second visit, he carefully brushed aside the ants on the walkways so that he would not step on them or hurt them in any way.

The information was fairly straightforward—except for what hell actually looked like. "Was it the fire and brimstone place described in the Judaic-Christian tradition," I wondered. "Or was the Vedic conception of hell different?" I wrote to Prabhupada, who was still in Los Angeles, and his reply was dated February

"It is only the devotee who can save the living entities from falling down into hellish conditions, and by the grace of Narada Muni, the hunter was awakened to Krsna consciousness and was saved.

"Yes, the general principle is that one is sent to the particular type of hell, and when he is practiced to suffer the hellish condition, he is given a similar body as reaction. These hellish planets are described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Five."

"More than one hell?!" Pradyumna began as I read the letter aloud, "Up until I met Prabhupada, I didn't even consider the possibility of life on other planets, what to speak of a real place that was hell."

I added, "I'm the same. When I was doing my first sankirtana painting in Swamiji's quarter, he called out to me from the window between our rooms, 'You know, there is a hellish planet 200,000 miles distant from this earthly planet.' Kirtanananda was there too, and when he showed some disbelief Prabhupada said to him, 'Why are you so surprised? There are hellish situations even on this planet, are there not? The Jews in German concentration camps were forced to eat their own stool. They were gassed on the pretext of showering, and their skins were used to make lamp-shades.' Then he said 'Animals, they already endure hellish bodies. Cockroachs, for example. Are they not always getting stepped on? And what do they eat? Dirt and dust. If this is not hell, what is hell then?'"

Pradyumna agreed, and said in his usual scholarly fashion, "Certainly. How could anyone not believe in it?

Without having Canto 5, I was still in the dark, and I just did the best I could. Soon after the next issue of Back to Godhead came out, I was happily surprised when I played a taped lecture from Prabhupada and heard him talking about the Narada sketch story. As I listened, I grinned like a child being talked about by her father in public:

"Those who have seen our Krsna pictures . . . Have you got Back to Godhead here? You can show. You see? The story and the picture you will find in Back to Godhead recently published. Because he is Vaisnava, Narada is lover of Krsna. . . . When he saw that the many half-dead animals were being tortured, flapping, he was very kind and said, 'Oh, who has done this mischief to these poor animals?' He traced out the hunter, and went there.

"The hunter asked him, 'Oh, why you are disturbing my business?'

"Narada said, 'My dear hunter, I have come to beg something from you.'

"The hunter thought, 'This mendicant is a beggar. He might have come to me to beg some skin or deer skin or tiger skin.' So he said, 'All right, please let me do my business. I shall give you skin; whatever you like.'

"Narada said, 'No, no'…

* * * *


In early February, Brahmananda phoned me from New York. The group of girls we had met at the 'Be-In'* in Central Park that previous summer had now been regularly visiting the 26 Second Avenue center. Although they were mostly still studying at school and living at home with their families, Prabhupada had initiated them by mail in December. Brahmananda told me that Balai, the oldest of them, had become indispensable to him because she was an expert typist who now typed all his temple correspondence and legal documents.

"Where does she work?"

"I've made the back part of the storefront into my office, and she has a manual typewriter there."

"Does she have a desk?"

"No desk," Brahmananda said. "Just like with the rest of the devotees, the floor's her desk. And there's also Kancanbala, Indira, Lilasuka and Sudarsana. They're especially interested in painting. Prabhupada even wrote them. He asked them to keep going to school and at the same time do paintings for the temples."

Brahmananda asked me to visit New York to meet with them. Balai, had an apartment just two blocks from the temple, and she had invited all of us to stay with her over the weekend. Excited, I made the bus journey to New York that next weekend, and after meeting them we talked practically nonstop about Prabhupada and his philosophical teachings, and I taught them some painting techniques. I was so happy to have other unmarried devotee women to relate to.

I returned to Boston on Monday and immediately wrote Prabhupada about my trip. He replied on February 15, explaining how he now wanted to establish a brahmacarini-asrama. In Vedic culture only the men were brahmacaris and lived in an asrama. Indian girls were often married by fifteen or sixteen years old, or even younger. And their culture arranged for them to be always protected at home—in their childhood by their fathers, in youth by their husbands, and in old age by their grown sons. But our Western culture was diametrically different. We had grown up with the concept that girls and boys should both take their place in the workforce. There was no question of 'protection,' and often no desire on the part of girls to get married at all—certainly not at such a young age. Now that more women were joining, Prabhupada was making accommodation for women to be trained in the principles of Krsna conscious life with the same facilities as he had giving the men—and to gradually introduce the Indian Vedic culture.

Prabhupada's letter stated, "I am so pleased that you are guiding your god-sisters in New York so nicely. But some of your god-sisters in San Francisco want you for two months. I have asked them to write to you directly, and if you can spare yourself for that time to organize a brahmacarini asrama in San Francisco, please think it over.

"My present plan is that I will have to go to San Francisco most probably to open a center in Berkeley, during the Advent Ceremony of Lord Caitanya, and from San Francisco I may go to New York. So if you come to San Francisco at least for a few days, then we can meet there and see how the brahmacarini asrama is going there."

Prabhupada also commented on a news clipping Satsvarupa had sent him several weeks earlier. The article had reported on our center and included an interview with me, complete with a photo. Despite the fact that the photo showed me wearing jeans and a turtleneck instead of a sari, Prabhupada wrote:

"I have seen the article put in the Boston newspaper about your activities there, and I am so glad to see your picture, just a brahmacarini. The picture was very attractive for me, and I pray to Krsna that you may make further progress in Krsna consciousness so that your spiritual beauty may come out more and more. The article was very nice. And also, I am thinking if you go to San Francisco, then work in Boston may suffer for want of you. Because you are only three in Boston, under these circumstances I cannot advise you directly to go to San Francisco. But, if you think it is possible, then try to help them."
I was excited to think that he was actually inviting me to be with him—even if it would only be for a few days. I didn't consider whether or not I was qualified to train anyone else. I only considered that Prabhupada seemed to have faith in me, and that gave me the confidence to believe I could accomplish whatever he asked of me. At the same time I had to laugh, remembering the story Kancanbala had shared in New York. As a new devotee she'd been offering unofferable items, like catttails and acorns, to Krsna on her alter, and she wrote to Prabhupada about it. He'd written back, "Whatever you are doing at the present moment is approved by me and I think on account of your becoming a sincere soul, Krsna is dictating from within and you are doing things nicely." He'd been encouraging her, his newborn baby, and this newborn one—myself.

On the following week, Prabhupada wrote another, similarly encouraging letter:

"I am happy to hear all the good news from our fine art department. I think I have already given you instructions in this regard. In my opinion your guiding the girls working under you for painting is very important, and if this business does not suffer, you can think of going to San Francisco for organizing the asrama. If all the brahmacarinis gather together and work under your guidance, at any place, I will prefer this proposition. If the majority of the girls are in New York, why not have the other brahmacarinis from San Francisco go there and work under your direction, either in New York or in Boston, as it is best.

"PS. For the time being, drop the idea of going to San Francisco. Better concentrate your energy in organizing the artist girls under your care. The brahmacarinis in San Francisco may be called to New York, or Boston."

I was a bit disappointed. I imagined that maybe Prabhupada never really wanted me to go in the first place. Perhaps he was just writing me to make me want to become responsible. I found out a few days later that he'd actually written to Brahmananda, to ask his opinion about whether or not I should leave the East Coast. As a pure devotee, Prabhupada knew everything though he sometimes pretended not to. Knowing that I would somehow see Brahmananda's letter, Prabhupada wrote him,

"In San Francisco, everyone is desiring Jadurani for at least two months for consolidating a brahmacarini asrama. If I ask her to come, she will surely come here, but I am seeking your opinion, if her coming here may hamper the cause there she is now conducting."

Brahmananda replied that it was not an opportune time for me to go because of all the brahmacarini artists who were now in New York, and two weeks later Prabhupada again wrote me:

"Please continue to help all the young girls, both in New York and San Francisco as well. If they take to following your example of sincere service, they will all be advanced in Krsna consciousness very rapidly. Your example is very nice, using your artistic abilities to serve Krsna, and they may all follow in your footsteps. I think there is no need for coming to San Francisco. Most of the girls are there, and recently Annapurna has left for Boston, also. She is very nice young girl, and with artistic abilities. . . Please keep me informed of the progress of your fine arts department; I am always anxious to hear how they are doing nicely."

One month later, Balai sent me a copy of the letter she had just received from Prabhupada: "I am so pleased to hear of the activities of Jadurani and her artist assistants. We require this service as we require so many pictures. Pictures, books, etc.—all we shall sell on our world tour with our sankirtana party. So we require a lot of pictures in stock; and wherever we open our centers, we must have at least Panca-tattva picture, Visnu picture, sankirtana painting, spiritual masters picture, and Radha-Krsna painting. They are all required, and therefore Krsna has sent so many devotees to work in the painting department. We have to utilize them fully, so their service is fully utilized for advancing in Krsna consciousness.

It was clear. Prabhupada not only wanted many paintings, but also a large art department. I was honored to be given the responsibility of guiding and assisting fellow devotee artists, and at the same time I knew Prabhupada was just encouraging his one- year-old baby, who didn't know how to guide. If any success would come, it would be his doing, and if I would think it mine, I would be ruined.

* * * *

The Boar Incarnation

After transcribing the dictation tapes Prabhupada sent each week, Satsvarupa mailed them back to Prabhupada, who then erased those tapes and reused them to dictate the next set of translated texts and purports. Usually I listened to the tapes before he returned them, and sometimes I even copied the dictaphone tapes onto cassette tapes so that we could listen to them later.

The subject was Prabhupada's translation of the Bhagavatam's Third Canto description of Lord Varaha, Krsna's incarnation as the transcendental boar. A powerful demon named Hiranyaksa had stolen the earth planet, and Lord Varaha rescued it with His huge tusks. It was an incredible story. Prabhupada dictated:

"The appearance of the Lord as the first boar incarnation occurred during the time of Svayambhuva Manu, whereas the present age is in the period of Vaisvasvata Manu. Each Manu's period lasts seventy-two times the cycle of four ages, and one cycle of ages equals 4,320,000 solar years. Thus 4,320,000 x 72 solar years is the reign of one Manu." As one tape after another arrived, they would enchant us with the unfolding of the story. I especially enjoyed Chapter Thirteen:

"While Brahma was engaged in thinking, a small form of a boar came out of his nostril. The measurement of the creature was not more than the upper portion of a thumb. O descendant of Bharata, while Brahma was observing Him, that boar became situated in the sky in a wonderful manifestation as gigantic as a great elephant. . . .

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Visnu, roared tumultuously like a great mountain . . . With His uncommon voice, which echoed in all directions. . . .

"Before entering the water to rescue the earth, Lord Boar flew in the sky, slashing His tail, His hard hairs quivering. His very glance was luminous, and He scattered the clouds in the sky with His hooves and His glittering white tusks. He was personally the Supreme Lord Visnu and was therefore transcendental, yet because He had the body of a hog, He searched after the earth by smell. . . .

"Lord Boar penetrated the water with His hooves, which were like sharp arrows, and found the limits of the ocean, although it was unlimited. He saw the earth, the resting place for all living entities, as it was in the beginning of creation, and He personally lifted it. Lord Boar very easily took the earth on His tusks and got it out of the water. Thus He appeared very splendid."

I'd previously read something about the demon Hiranyaksa in the First Canto, and now reread it to get refreshed in the details. In his quest for gold below the earth's surface, Hiranyaksa had created a disturbance that upset the planet's stability, causing it to fall out of the sky and into the ocean called Garbodaka, which lies at the bottom of the universe. Krsna then had to perform the extraordinary feat of rescuing the earth. It made sense that a boar form was chosen by the Lord when He did this task, for Lord Varaha picked up the earth with His snout and adeptly held it on His tusks. I appreciated the ease with which Prabhupada's clear purports made these divine and inconceivable activities eminently believable—at least to those who had the impressions on the heart (samskaras) from previous births' devotional activities and association with pure devotees.

Receiving these tapes felt almost like watching a TV serial. After coming to the end of each tape, we were left in suspense, waiting for the next. Now, when this next tape arrived, we heard the details of the fight between Lord Varaha and Hiranyaksa:

"The Lord, who had appeared from the nostril of Brahma, sprang and aimed His mace at the chin of His enemy, the Hiranyaksa demon, who was stalking fearlessly before Him. Struck by the demon's mace, however, the Lord's mace slipped from His hand and looked splendid as it fell down whirling. This was miraculous, for the mace was blazing wonderfully. . . .

"While His enemy looked on, the Lord in His boar form, the enjoyer of all sacrificial offerings, playfully knocked down the demon's mace with His left foot, even as it came upon Him with the force of a tempest. The Lord then said, "Take up your weapon and try again; eager as you are to conquer me." Challenged in these words, the demon aimed his mace at the Lord and once more loudly roared. When the Lord saw the mace flying toward Him, He stood firmly where He was and caught it with the same ease as Garuda, the king of birds would seize a serpent."

Amazed to hear that the fight ended when the Lord merely slapped the demon, I wrote to Prabhupada to ask if I could paint this scene.

"Yes," he replied, "try at your convenience to paint pictures from the Bhagavata statement, in terms of the purport and explanation."

Encouraged, I began to paint 'from the Bhagavata statement,' but I quickly found myself at sea. How could a hog be a beautiful form of God? Perhaps Krsna could exhibit incarnations that were not beautiful? Or perhaps, because Lord Boar had a spiritual body, He didn't look like a hog? I had seen the form of Lord Varaha depicted as half-human- half-boar in a few Indian sculptures and prints, so I asked Prabhupada if this was how I should depict Him.

Prabhupada replied in his February 15 letter from Los Angeles: "Yes, Varaha is beautiful. Generally the boar is depicted as half-human and as half-boar, but in the Bhagavatam it is stated that He is full boar. You can make the first two legs as two hands and the rear legs as legs, and make him as beautiful as possible."

I had other technical questions which I'd included in my letter: "How could a small demon fight with the Lord, who Himself took a form many times larger than the earth? And how could a demon become so powerful as to fight with Him in the first place?"

Prabhupada answered these questions as well: "The demons could assume any gigantic shape they liked. They could play jugglery; they were not ordinary human beings. You must know that a person with whom God had to fight is not an ordinary person. He could play almost equally with the Lord, but nobody could excel the Lord. Therefore, he was killed. To expand and to reduce the body is sometimes performed by a successful yogi."

Satisfied by Prabhupada's answers but still puzzled how to portray the Lord as gorgeous, I made a preliminary sketch of Lord Varaha before starting the painting. However, because there were too many new and unfamiliar elements for me, the painting would not come out right, no matter how hard I tried. I had never before created my own painting compositions. I had always copied them from a print or at least obtained a basic idea from a print—except when I had drawn the comics. But comics were simple line drawings that did not require the detail and realism of a painting. I put my canvas aside for the time being, and later, when I saw Kancanbala in New York, I gave her a copy of the manuscript and encouraged her to try doing a painting from it.

* * * *

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All Rights Reserved.