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Part 1


While I worked in Boston on the Krsna book paintings, Srila Prabhupada was creating a new structure of organization at the Los Angeles temple. He was creating that temple as the model for standards in Deity worship, management and preaching, and somehow he also found time to work regularly on his translation summary of Srila Rupa Gosvami’s Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. His summary would be called The Nectar of Devotion.

Because Prabhupada was always thinking of Krsna, the Supreme Source of the entire creation, it was natural for him to think of the entire world's welfare. With that in mind, he found the time to write me in mid-January with a second list of paintings for the Krsna book. I had no manuscript to work from, for there was no manuscript yet, and therefore only Prabhupada knew what he wanted illustrated. I was always excited to receive a letter from him; and now, as my hand was almost trembling due to that excitement, I opened his envelope and read:

"I have noted with pleasure that you are almost done with the first five Krsna pictures which I suggested to you. I think that you may immediately send these pictures to me in Los Angeles. Regarding photographing these pictures for the book, I think it is essential that these pictures be with bright attractive colors. So please do them in this way. I am enclosing herewith the instructions for the next four paintings:
"1. Nanda Maharaja (an old man of not less than 50 years) is observing a celebration. Many cowherd boys are coming with milk and curd on a balancing stick on their backs (see enclosed picture). Nanda Maharaja, who is chief amongst the cowherd men, is giving them presentations of cloth, ornaments, fruits etc.; and there is feasting going on. Some of them are enjoying by throwing butter upon their friends' bodies.

"2. The demonic Putana witch has come to Yasoda, looking just like a very nice young woman, and she is congratulating Yasoda for her beautiful child. She said to her, "You have such a nice baby. Kindly let me hold Him." Yasoda was very simple and allowed this, but when Krsna sucked the woman's breast, the demon showed her true gigantic form that was actually miles long, and she died. In the picture, Krsna is playing on the breast of this gigantic demon.

"3. Krsna was lying underneath a cart, which was actually a demon who had taken the shape of a cart so that Krsna would not suspect danger. Krsna was lying underneath the cart, but then He kicked it while playing and a great giant came out and died.

"4. One asura, Trnavarta the Whirlwind demon, took baby Krsna into the sky and fought with Him. The idea was to take Krsna into the sky and drop Him. But once in the sky, Krsna fought with the whirlwind, and the demon fell down dead while Krsna was lying happily on the ground. Yasoda prayed in thanks that, 'God has saved my boy.'

"Regarding your question about placing effulgence around Krsna's head in all of these pictures, yes this should be done. I hope to be receiving the previous paintings you have done soon."

I looked at the “enclosed picture”. A sketch drawn by Srila Prabhupada himself, it was a stick figure sketch of a boy carrying a stick across his back shoulders, with a basket full of food hung on either end of the stick. The sketch showed the traditional way in which people in India carry large bundles, and it was beautiful because it was Prabhupada’s.

I was overjoyed to receive the new assignment and worked hard on the final details of the previous five canvases – to get them ready to send to Los Angeles. As work was in progress, there was a knock on the door. It was Joy, one of the three new bhaktins now living in our Boston apartment.

About two weeks earlier she had arrived from Seattle, Washington, sent by Prabhupada himself. She was the “nice artist” he had written me about in late December, when he suggested that she could come and help paint for the Krsna book. Since her arrival I had found her always eager to help, and I had been glad that she didn't mind that we sat on the floor and used milk crates for easels.

Now, after I showed her the letter I'd just received, she confided that she had wanted to come to Boston to learn art from me for some time, but Prabhupada had discouraged her at first. She showed me his letter to her, also written in late December:

"I know that you are very nice artist even without the guidance of Jadurani, so for the time being you should remain in Seattle and paint independently. You should try to paint very quickly and very beautifully, because we have need of such talented artists. When Jadurani first began to paint she was slow, but now that she has practiced she has become very expert and quick. So this practice is what will improve all areas of your already very nice art work."

I had to smile. I'd thought he had always seen me as an expert – because he'd always told me I was. And he had always given me a lot of attention and responsibility. Humbled and amused, I now got a slight glimpse of how Prabhupada had “spoon-fed” me.

Joy had come just in time to help with some touch-ups of the first five Krsna book paintings, so she seemed as thrilled as I was to read aloud the end of his next letter, dated January 21. "I was very gratified to see your expert touch in these paintings, and also convey my thanks to Joy Fulcher for her nice efforts."

Although I had been painting almost full-time for three years, my artistic style was actually still quite unrefined. In my painting, the demigods who mystically appeared in pregnant Devaki's room were supposed to look like powerful warriors; but both Devaki and the demigods look like ten-year-old children. Prabhupada could certainly see these discrepancies, but still he was non-judgmental and so encouraging. He obviously wanted the world to have the Krsna book immediately, and he didn't want to wait until we became more adept and expert.

I had already read in the First Canto Srimad-bhagavatam that a person of Prabhupada’s caliber has the power to do anything: "A person who is cent-percent engaged in the service of the Lord is the emblem of all knowledge. Such a devotee of the Lord in full perfection of devotional service is also perfect by the qualification of the Personality of Godhead. As such, the eightfold perfections of mystic power (asta-siddhi) constitute very little of his godly opulence." (SB 1.5.6)
He could have gotten expert artists, but he didn't.

* * * *


Chant and be Healthy

We in Boston always shared our letters from Prabhupada with devotees in other temples; and they also shared their letters with us. In mid-February Brahmananda sent us one such letter, which particularly affected me. Prabhupada had written about his Back to Godhead magazine – and its art:

"Our Vaisnava religion is so vast that we can supply millions of pictures and hundreds and thousands of literary contributions in this paper. In the Christian religion they have got pictures like the crucifixion and a few others. In the Buddhist religion they have got the picture of Lord Buddha. In the Mohammedan religion they have got pictures of Mecca Medina, and I do not know what the picture is in the Jewish religion. But as far as our Krsna consciousness is concerned, we can supply millions of pictures of Krsna, Visnu, Their multi-incarnations and Their transcendental pastimes. So we have to create a unique position for this paper, at least in the Western world."

For us, a letter from Prabhupada was a letter from Prabhupada; it didn't matter who personally received it. Now, reading this letter, I began thinking, “These other religions don’t know that Krsna was God. What a great opportunity for service this is.” I was now inspired to work even harder, to fill up Prabhupada's books and magazines with millions of pictures of Krsna and His multi-incarnations. Although living in a remote corner of the world called Boston, I felt so alive with this sense of mission and purpose.

A few days later, the swirling snow and ice made cosmopolitan Boston look like a frozen white desert. The heat in our apartment left us – as though it were afraid of the angry winds and looking for friendlier horizons. That heat left for a weekend vacation, and I caught the flu and became too sick to move. Still, I had my service to Prabhupada to inspire me. As the workaholic I was, I continued breathing the paint fumes, hoping that all of a sudden I would be able to transcend all the difficulties. Sure enough, however, because I did not have the credits of vast amounts of devotional service accumulated over millions of lives to be transcendental, as the illness worsened I became more and more miserable. “How could I have gotten sick at such a crucial time?”, I lamented.

Prabhupada wrote to the temple president that I should suspend all my work and take complete rest, and he even gave me a specific diet: "Purchase pearl barley from the market, and the recipe is 1 cup of barley and four cups of water to be boiled for at least half an hour. That liquid preparation may be mixed with milk and sugar. No work, complete rest, and chant Hare Krsna. When she next wants to begin work, she must take my permission." Two weeks later he wrote again, with more instructions about diet and rest. "I am concerned about her health condition. Does she have any fever? If she has a feverish condition, she should lie down and do no work."

By now, Joy had been initiated by mail as Jahnava. She was kind enough to take care of me; and Arundhati was also there, just recently transformed from being bhaktin Arlene. She also tried to help; but still I didn't get better.

I had a perfect father and I was now resting under his order, but still I was completely frustrated. I increased my chanting, but I still had no taste for the holy name. Fortunately I remembered the letter I had received from Upendra in Los Angeles, in which he had shared with me his recent experiences with Prabhupada regarding chanting. Before he joined Prabhupada, he had committed a crime for which he later had to go to jail. Just before going to the jail, however, he had gone to see Prabhupada. He told Prabhupada that he wanted to chant one round with him, because he had heard it was auspicious to chant with a pure devotee. Prabhupada then told him that he was always chanting with him. Upendra became encouraged at that time; and now, remembering his anecdote, I also became encouraged.

Unfortunately, however, the encouragement was short-lived. Without being engaged in constant activity – painting, sankirtana, or preaching – I tended to meditate more on mundane topics. I envied my husband for floating in the nectar of editing Prabhupada's Third Canto, and I envied the other devotees, because they were able to continue their services. Though I was attached to the idea that Krsna book was my painting service, Prabhupada was not only detached from that idea, he was also detached from the idea that I finish the paintings I had begun. He wanted his books to be published for the world's benefit as soon as possible. With this in mind he wrote to Ekayani that she should practice developing her good painting skills very thoroughly, and if she was ready, he would send her many Bhagavatam pictures to do. He told her I was now sick for some time, and that there were some paintings lying in Boston, perhaps unfinished. If time permitted, he suggested, she could come to Boston to see them, and if I liked, she could complete them. His letter concluded, "Picture painting is one of our important departments, so please try to become expert. You should at least become as expert as Jadurani, and that will be a great pleasure for me. Rukmini is also becoming very much expert in her artistic works." He also wrote to Rayarama that his new assistant Rohini Kumara, along with the young girls, like Indira, could do the Back to Godhead comics.

Worried about my spiritual future, and having heard from Prabhupada that envy was the main cause of the soul's coming into this world in the first place, I asked one of the devotees to write Prabhupada on my behalf and ask him how I could be free from it. Prabhupada replied on February 20:

“As far as envy is concerned, it can be used only upon the non-devotees. In the transcendental world a devotee is never envious of another devotee on account of some excellence. On the contrary, if a devotee finds some excellence in other devotees he eulogizes the devotee, admitting his own subordinate position. Although in the spiritual world there is no such concept of subordination, still, on account of being very humble and meek, devotees think that way.


"In the material world the same thing is expressed in a perverted form. But in the spiritual world to accept one's inferior position does not mean envious mentality upon the other. Unhappiness experienced by the devotee on account of feeling himself inferior is not unusual. Rather, such mentality is an impetus to further development of devotional service."

Again I was encouraged. The part I liked best about the letter was when Prabhupada said the feelings that other devotees were greater is natural, and eternal, and in our natural state such feelings are the cause of happiness. Because I still identified with the body, and all material feelings are processed through the bodily machine, my admiration would be the same unreal emotion as my jealously and unhappiness, but at least it would at least be a positive start in the right direction. We are tiny souls, and it is for our own purification that we need to serve our Guru – not because we are important. Prabhupada was inviting all of us lost souls to the wonderful realm of full freedom and love.

* * * *

On March 5th Prabhupada went to Hawaii, where he continued with his translation work, preaching and collecting lost souls. He wrote to me from there and personally invited me to come and experience the healthy Hawaiian climate.

I should have been euphoric that he was actually calling me to be with him, and part of me knew that I should have jumped on the first plane. But instead I wrote him that I wanted to stay in Boston so I could get back to work as soon as possible. Prabhupada replied in his next letter:
"I am glad to learn that you are feeling somewhat healthier. Now you have requested to begin working, but I think you should just suspend your activities at least for one month more. By that time I shall be in Boston, and I shall examine you personally. Then I shall do the needful. In the meantime you can sit down silently, and increase your number of chanting. That is your work for the time being. And now, as you have the Deity in the temple, you can rise very early in the morning for mangala-arati. I hope you are following all the Deity worship rulings. That is necessary. I hope you are feeling stronger day by day.

"Please convey my blessings to all your god-brothers and god-sisters."
Feeling resentful and envious as a reaction to offenses and sins from past lives, not having sufficient spiritual pious credits from the past, and without deserving the full mercy of Srila Prabhupada, I was without the power to change myself. I asked my husband to apologize to Prabhupada on my behalf, in his next letter. Prabhupada replied:

"Regarding her offenses, I do not remember when she committed offenses; and even though she might have done so, I excuse her one hundred times without any hesitation. So she should have nothing to bother about it. I have given her instruction not to work in her last letter, and we shall discuss it further when I shall arrive there."

Again he invited me to Hawaii, assuring me of the ample opportunity for Krsna– kirtana on the beach, plenty of fresh ocean air, and warm, nourishing sunshine. "Who is that great person?" I murmured to myself as I read his letter with wonder and gratitude.

A week later he again wrote me, and then again the next week, in his own handwriting: "I hope you arrive before I leave this place on the 31st of March, 1969." Again, Lord Krsna was making full arrangements for me to go to Hawaii and be with Prabhupada in person. Not grateful enough, however, not realizing my rare fortune, and thinking I would very soon be better and able to work again, I did not accept his invitation. Rather, I requested my husband to write him again for me, and ask what I should think about while chanting now that it was my full-time service. I asked, "You are now sending your Krsna book tapes, full with Krsna's pastimes, to Boston for typing and editing. And I am regularly reading the manuscript. Should I meditate on those pastimes about which I'd just been reading? Or should I meditate on your instructions? Or should I think of Krsna's form? Or on His instructions to Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita? Or, should I just try to blank out all thoughts and just hear? Prabhupada replied in mid-April:

"Regarding Jadurani's question, hearing the vibration of Hare Krsna automatically reminds one of Krsna's pastimes. Both of them arise simultaneously in the mind when one is sincerely chanting. You cannot make any distinction between listening to the sound and thinking of the pastimes. But the process is to hear, and then Krsna's pastimes, form, qualities, etc., will automatically come to mind. That is very nice."

* * * *


A Rubbish Hell – Turned into Vaikuntha

After leaving Hawaii and spending ten days in New York, Prabhupada went to Buffalo. Rupanuga had been teaching an accredited bhakt-yoga course at Buffalo's New York State University. At least sixty students were enrolled and regularly chanting japa, and now Prabhupada lectured at that college and initiated new disciples. Then after leaving Buffalo, he again came to Boston.

On April 23, Jahnava and I rode with Prabhupada and his traveling companion and servant, Purusottama, from the airport to his old classic Boston-style apartment about five buildings from the Glenville Avenue storefront temple. His sublet apartment belonged to a university student who was away on holiday for a month, and because it was left in a very unclean state, the devotees had to scrub every inch of it before he arrived. Even as Prabhupada walked in the door several devotees were still cleaning. Prabhupada walked around each room, watched the cleaners, and examined the sky-blue walls and the gold enamel baseboards, which had somehow or other become the new standard for painting his quarters. "When you clean Krsna's temple," he told the cleaners and scrubbers, "your heart becomes cleansed." The cleaners responded with broad smiles.

Prabhupada then sat down on a cushion behind his new, low desk. He looked to his left at the large windows leading out to the material world, as though sending his glance over many fallen souls who would, by his mercy, sooner or later come to Krsna consciousness. I remembered Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who had written a bhajana saying that simply by the glance of the pure devotee all sins go far away, even more so than by bathing repeatedly in the holy Ganges River.

At least forty devotees crowded into the room for darsana. Purusottama brought in Prabhupada's exquisite 6" brass Radha-Krsna Deities and set Them on Their new altar, a cloth-covered table in the tiny closet that faced Prabhupada's desk. Motioning towards the closet, Prabhupada proudly announced, "This closet used to be a rubbish hell – and now it is Vaikuntha." Noticing that some of us were sitting with our backs toward the Deities as we happily faced him, he then motioned with his hands that we should all move towards the two sides of the “Vaikuntha' door”, and not ignore Sri Sri Radha and Krsna.

After engaging in some friendly hellos, Prabhupada asked Purusottama to play a cassette tape of Visnujana Svami singing the mangala-carana prayers and Hare Krsna kirtana. Besides playing mrdanga on the tape itself, Prabhupada now picked up a mrdanga and played along with the tape. As we all chanted responsively, he closed his eyes and let his head fall backwards, and the two mrdangas playing together sounded like what I considered might have been an ancient mystical symphony. After the tape stopped, he said, "Visnujana is a very good singer."

He then noticed my large painting of Krsna and mother Yasoda. It was the one I'd copied from the 5"x7" print he had previously mailed me – which he wanted as the standard for all our Krsna book paintings. In the painting Krsna had His hair combed back and tied at the nape of His neck, His topknot was decorated with a peacock feather, and also with gold and jeweled ornaments. He was running to Mother Yasoda with outstretched arms and His garland, cape, dhoti and jewels were all moving with the breeze in the opposite direction. Mother Yasoda, her sari and veil blowing in the breeze created by her own movements, was running with her arms outstretched towards Krsna. Balarama and the cowherd boys and calves were also running into Krsna's courtyard, and some were jumping over the low courtyard wall. One blew a bugle as another waved his cadar. The gopis, headed by Radharani, stood on the palace steps, holding plates of prasadam and paraphernalia for worship.
"Asamaurdha." Prabhupada said with obvious appreciation. "God means, 'No one is equal to Him and He has nothing to do. He is simply enjoying.' There is one story of an Englishman who went to India. There he visited many temples of gods like Durga, Siva and Kali. When he finally saw the Krsna Deity he said, 'Here is God. He has no work. He is simply enjoying.’ He is simply enjoying with His friends, with Radharani, with the cowherd boys, and with the gopis. That is greatness. He does not have to think, 'How to provide?'" Prabhupada laughed as though proud of Krsna, and continued, "That is greatness. He is taking the cows out to graze as a sporting. You see?"

* * * *

The next day I made an appointment with Purusottama to talk to Prabhupada about my going to Hawaii, and about my health. When I arrived he was alone, standing near his desk and holding onto his back in different ways, acting as though he were in pain. "I have so many aches," he said to me, "This ache, backache, that ache." Then he stopped holding his back and continued, "Still, before we leave this body, we have to become fully Krsna conscious." By the end of his statement I understood he didn't really have any pain; he was just trying to teach me not to give the body as much importance as my Krsna consciousness.


He then began to ridicule the artificiality of Western civilization and Western medicine; and he glorified Vedic culture – and milk. He said, "Real advancement of civilization is when there is so much butter and yogurt that you can give it to the monkeys. And milk is so nice that even if you come in from a snowstorm, if you have a glass of warm milk, you feel refreshed. Powdered milk is nonsense, and the best milk is buttermilk."

Finally he brought up the subject of Hawaii, and said he wanted me to go as soon as possible. "When you go there, you should live on mangos and milk. Govinda dasi is there and she will help you." He looked down at his desk, at a newspaper article Govinda dasi had just sent him about his March visit. Controlled by my competitive spirit, and despite all the personal and preaching services Govinda dasi had rendered him, the thought ran through my mind that she was not as advanced as I was in Krsna consciousness. Prabhupada slowly lifted his head, turned to me and said – calmly, but as though he really wanted me to get the point – "She is as good as you are."

* * * *

At his darsana the next day, Prabhupada once again played a tape of himself, this time in conversation with some students during his very recent visit to Buffalo.

He had us all laughing, right from the beginning, because the students on the tape were out of their minds. One of them blurted out, "If you sit down and you look very closely into his eyes, and you get closer and closer and closer and closer. . . " As he spoke, his voice got progressively louder and louder, and he sounded as though possessed by a few ghosts.

Prabhupada sounded grave in the tape and asked, "What is their doubt?"

The student answered in the same crazy voice: "You can go all the way, all the way, all the way . . . and what do you find?" Again we all laughed.
Prabhupada still sounded grave. He replied on the tape, "You can find. I cannot find."

After hearing a few more insane comments, Prabhupada finally said, "Yes, I am prepared to tell you, and this center has opened for telling you. Our books are there. It is not a paltry subject that you can understand immediately, but I can give you one instance. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, 'Within this body there is soul, and the body is changing at every moment.' That is a fact. We say, 'The child is growing.' Growing or changing is practically the same thing. Actually, it is changing because the former body is no longer to be found. The soul has accepted another body. This is going on from babyhood to childhood, from childhood to boyhood, boyhood to youth-hood, and then old age."

After another ten minutes the tape was finished, and after a few more minutes of informal talk with us, our darsana was over. We didn't feel like we had been cheated out of a personal darsana. We felt like we had been there in Buffalo.

As Prabhupada now spoke informally with the devotees, he handed out prasadam. I put out my left hand, but Prabhupada would not give me the prasadam. "Right hand," he said. "It is an insult to accept anything with your left hand. There are two energies of Krsna, the superior spiritual energy and the inferior material energy, just as there are two hands, the right hand and the left hand. Although they are both part of the same body, the right hand is superior and the left hand is inferior." I smiled, switched hands, and accepted the prasadam from Prabhupada's right hand.

* * * *

On April 27, a group of about fifty of us saw Prabhupada again, and I felt so much joy being with him that I forgot I was sick.

Arundhati was sitting next to me. Shyly she nudged me, to remind me to ask her question. "Prabhupada," I said, "Arundhati wants to know if you can hear Krsna's flute."

Prabhupada tilted his head slightly, as Indians do when they want to say "yes," and then he half-closed his eyes and said, "Why not?" He then quoted a prayer about the six Gosvamis: "The six Gosvamis were always engaged in worshipping Sri Sri Radha-Krsna in the transcendental land of Vrndavana, where there are beautiful trees full of fruits and flowers, which have under their roots all valuable jewels." It appeared that he wanted our attention off himself as he directed it to the six Gosvamis. At the same time, in a humble way, he was admitting his own position clearly. He was a pure devotee in the line of the Gosvamis, sharing the same activities as them and with the same opportunities and moods.

Satisfied, I thought, “My own Prabhupada can hear Krsna's flute.” Prabhupada, she also asked me to ask you about cooking. Last year you wrote me that when we are cooking, if something already cooked falls on the ground, it can't be offered. But if raw food falls and it can be properly washed, it can be offered. So the question is, regarding cleanliness, if we touch our clothing while we're cooking, do we then have to wash our hands before touching any food or utensils again?"

"If your clothes are clean," Prabhupada answered, "you don't have to wash your hands. If they are not clean, you should not even be in the kitchen."

Then, seeing our surprise and raised eyebrows, he continued, "Yes, there are so many rules that you cannot even follow all of them. In the meantime, until you are more equipped to hear of them and follow them, you can make up the balance by chanting Hare Krsna."
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It didn't sound like he was minimizing the rules, but rather that he was maximizing the importance of chanting Hare Krsna. Because of maya or lack of knowledge we can't follow fully, but we try our best, as long as we sincerely continue to chant, then he and the holy names will gradually give us the spiritual strength and intelligence to do everything properly.

Saradiya then asked about people who criticize Krsna's conjugal activities with the gopis as immoral. Since 1966 Prabhupada had been lecturing that Krsna's incarnations descended to execute a particular purpose, but they did not manifest the full power of God. Because Krsna manifested the full power, He is the Supreme Godhead. He is above all rules and regulations and all laws, and He cannot do anything wrong. Therefore, in dancing with the young married gopis in rasa dance there was no fault on His part; the gopis are manifestations of His internal energy. Still, Saradiya asked for more arguments – for preaching to critics.

Prabhupada then entered his debating mood, ready as always to meet the challenges of offenders to Lord Krsna. He told us about some Indians he had recently met, who criticized the rasa dance. "They say that Krsna stole other men's wives," he remarked, "but actually they have stolen Krsna's wives. All women, all living entities, are like Krsna's wives and belong to Him. These people are the ones committing adultery."

I mentally applauded and then nudged Arundhati. Just before this darsana, Arundhati and I had discussed something that had been confusing us ever since we joined – two and half years for me, and six months for her. In fact, most devotees we knew were also confused. Since our relationship with Lord Krsna is eternal, how is it that we are not with Him now? And since His associates are His eternal associates, how can any of them fall down? Or, since we're fallen, is it that we never acted in our capacity as eternal associates before? Do we become eternal associates later? The time seemed right to ask, now that Prabhupada had just mentioned Lord Krsna's pastimes.

A year earlier at 26 Second Avenue he had said that when a person is drowning in the ocean, it is impossible to be peaceful enough to think about how he got there. But once he is on land, he can think about all things clearly. Similarly, in our conditioned state of material existence we cannot clearly understand our origin and how we ended up in this world. Still, Arundhati and I thought that if we just worded the question carefully, we'd understand his answer. Since I had asked her previous questions Arundhati agreed to ask this one, but the point was so confusing that she could barely even utter the question. She asked, "If we've never been with Krsna, if we've never been in Krsna-loka, then how can we start 'remembering' His pastimes and His form?"

"You remember Krsna's pastimes by hearing Srimad-bhagavatam," Prabhupada said matter-of-factly, "You can hear Krsna's pastimes. That you can remember."

"But how can we 'remember' if we've never known them before?"

"How you can remember?"

"If we haven't known it."

"You can know it by hearing from Srimad-bhagavatam. Why we are citing so many scriptures, like Srimad-bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita? Just to remember."

"Just to remember?"

"Something you forget, but I tell you repeatedly; you hear; you remember. Is it not? Here something you have forgotten completely, and I remind you constantly. Then don't you remember?"

"Yes. But I don't understand how it is that we ‘forgot it’ . . . How can we ‘remember’ since we’ve never been there in the first place?" she asked.
By this time Prabhupada and Arundhati were practically speaking at the same time, and some of their words simply overlapped.

"Forgot, you forgot." Prabhupada continued to explain patiently, "That is your nature. You forget so many things. You cannot remember what you were doing exactly at this time yesterday. Can you remember immediately? Forgetfulness is our nature. We are very minute. We are subjected to the quality of forgetfulness.

“Just like Arjuna. Arjuna was asking Krsna, 'How can I believe that you told this philosophy of Bhagavad-gita to Vivasvan?' "And in reply to that question, Krsna said, 'Both you and I had many, many births before, but you have forgotten, I remember.' That is the difference between the Supreme Lord and us. He does not forget. He remembers everything, past, present, future; all. But we forget. That is the difference between God and living entity. We are subjected to forgetfulness. So we forget. Again, if it is reminded, we remember. That is our nature. At the present moment we are forgetful of our eternal relationship with Krsna. Then, by good association, by constant chanting, hearing and remembering, we again invoke our old consciousness. That is called Krsna consciousness."

I recalled one devotee asking Prabhupada if it rains on Krsna-loka, and he had answered, "If I told you it rains, still you would not understand. You would simply think of the rain you know." Prabhupada's analogy of the moon appearing in between the tree branches also came to mind. We may point in the direction of the moon and say to a friend, “Look, there is the moon, sitting on that branch over there”. Of course it would be impossible for that large moon, larger and further away than the sun, to be sitting on this small branch, but still we may point, to give our friend an indication of direction.

Similarly, hearing Prabhupada’s words I realized that whether these spiritual truths were understood intellectually – or not understood at all, not in any way – we were just getting a hint. How we could 'remember' something we never experienced before was still a puzzle. But at least I understood that language itself is a barrier. 'Forget', in the sense of the souls’ forgetting Krsna wasn’t totally synonymous with my forgetting what I did yesterday. I remembered Prabhupada’s letter to Rupanuga, in which he’d written that, just as the tree is present in potency, in its seed, so our form is present in a dormant state in our soul. It is not that the seed forgot its previous experience as the tree. Rather the tree is there in potency, and by the correct process it develops.

There was no perfect word in our mundane language. “Old” didn’t mean that we were with Lord Krsna in Goloka Vrndavana in the old days and then left and forgot that. It simply meant that our eternal relationship with Krsna is lying dormant, as almond-oil is dormant in the almond. By the proper pressing process, performed by an expert in the field, that almond-oil would come out. Similarly, our dormant relationship with Krsna would awaken by following the process of devotional service as given by Srila Prabhupada and the predecessor spiritual masters.

We were happy to talk with Prabhupada, we took the topic as one of those inconceivable things that would become clearer – a little later.

Feeling happy, I asked a question about temple management, but Prabhupada did not answer. Rather, he reminded me of his previous instruction when I had first become sick. He said, "That's all right. For the time being you don't touch management or work. You chant and everything will be all right. Soon you will be in good health. Then you will again work. Yes."

Prabhupada turned to Saradiya and asked, "Saradiya, you are painting? No? All right, you finish your school. You are going to school?"

"Yes."

"That's nice. You are painting?" She nodded and he continued. "That's nice. Practice painting nicely. We'll require so many pictures. We shall publish so many pictures in books."

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Copyright 2001-2002 Jadurani/Syamarani dasi.
All Rights Reserved.