tisdag 20 april 2010

En dag med Srila Prabhupada

  • Hari Sauri das var Srila Prabhupadas personlige tjänare under en period på 70-talet. Han har publicerat sin dagbok från den tiden, med en detaljerad skildring hur det var att leva nära Srila Prabhupada. Det är en fascinerade läsning som jag rekommenderar alla som är intresserade av vedisk filosofi, Krishnarörelsen eller religion i allmänhet.

    Här skildras en vanlig dag i Srila Prabhupadas liv, vid det här tillfället befann han sig i Vrindavana, en pilgrimsort i Indien.

    December 5th, 1975

    Srila Prabhupada's typical routine goes something like today.

    After his all-night translation work he stopped att mangala arati time and lay back against the bolsters with his feet up. He slept lightly for a short time.

    At six o´clock he went into the bath room to wash, brush his teeth, and freshen up. He came back and sat for a few minutes as he put on tilaka. When that was completed, he took a reddish Ayurvedic medicinal pellet called Yogendra-rasa. After I had crushed it with a large, roasted cardamom seed and then mixed it with honey in a small oval mortar, he added a little water. He drank the mixture straight from the mortar, scraping up the residue with the pestle, which he then deposited on his tongue with an elegant twist of his fingers.

    Then Prabhupada prepared to leave for his morning walk. Getting up from his desk he stood patiently as I helped him on first with his uttariya (the saffron top-piece tradtionally worn by all sannyasis) then with his heavy, saffron-colored coat and his woollen hat. I finally hung his bead bag around his neck. All the while he conversed with Hansaduta, Aksayananda Swami, and Gopala Krishna.

    As he walked toward the door, I rushed ahead to place his cane directly into his hand. I then positioned his shoes so that he could step into them and out of his slippers in one easy movement, all while I was holding the door open. It is somewhat of an art to manage all this without delaying or interrupting Prabhupada´s steady progress out.

    The expectant devotees waiting outside enthusiastically shouted, "Jaya SrilaPrabhupada!" as he appeard, offering their obeisances and a garland.

Smiling and modest, he returned their greeting with "Jaya! Hare Krishna!" The privileged few who went on the day's walk gathered closely around him as he made his way up the side of the temple and out the front gate onto Chattikara Road.

Heading west into the countryside beyond the boundary of Vrindavana village we walked for exactly half an hour, as far as a solitary house named "Moda Place", and then back. Prabhupada´s gait is surprisingly swift and strong, and by the end we were struggling to keep up.

At precisely seven thirty he entered the temple from the side door and waited patiently as the pujaris strained to swing back the immense wooden doors on each of the three altars. The conch shells trumpeted their call to the faithful, announcing the imminent appearance of the Deities. The curtains drew back, and the Govindam prayers boomed over the loudspeaker. Srila Prabhupada, followed by all the devotees, offered his prostrate obeisances first to his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, and Their Lordships Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, then to the two moonlike brothers Sri Sri Krishna-Balarama, and finally to the brilliant forms of Sri Sri Radha-Syamasundara.

After taking a little caranamrita, Prabhupada walked across the black-and-white checkered marble floor and mounted the steps to his carved marble Vyasasana. As he sat flanked by ornamental lions, the devotees offered guru-puja. Chanting the prayer "sri guru carana padma...", each devotee came forward to offer a flower to his lotus feet and bow before him. Everyone relished this opportunity to glorify Srila Prabhupada in person. It is a daily act of humble submission, an affirmation of our full commitment to his service and a reminder to our flickering minds that without him we are nothing.

As the kirtana ended, Harikesa moved forward to swing the microphone around in front of Prabhupada's mouth. Prabhupada's voice rang out over the loudspeakers, "Jaya om visnupada paramahamsa parivrajakacarya astottara-sata Sri Srimad bhaktisiddhanta sarasvati gosvami maharaja prabhupada ki jaya!"

The devotees bowed their heads to the ground in obeisance to the disciplic succession, the Panca-tattva, the holy dhamas, the Vaisnavas, and all the assembled devotees.

Then Harikesa passed Prabhupada his karatalas. We sat down to listen and respond to Prabhupada's sweet and melodious voice as he glorified Sri Sri Radha-Madhava. /.../

Harikesa jumped up again, removed Prabhupada's karatalas, and quickly hung a small microphone around his neck, the other end of which he connected via a two-way switch to the large reel-to-reel Uher tape recorder that he had carried since the morning walk. He handed Srila Prabhupada the Bhagavatam, an Indian Sanskrit edition containing the commentaries of different acaryas that Prabhupada uses for his evening translation work, already opened to the proper page. He carefully slipped Prabhupada's spectacles onto him.

Then he sat to lead the devotees in responsive chanting of the Sanskrit verse, loudly reciting the translation before Srila Prabhupada began his lecture. /..../


Prabhupada read out the verse: "Sukham aindriyakam daitya deha-yogena dehinam, sarvatra labhyate daivad yatha duhkham ayatnatah."

Sometimes speaking with his eyes closed in complete concentration and sometimes opening them, surveying his audience, he propounded the ancient philosophy of the Srimad-Bhagavatam in the modern context. He quoted other Sanskrit verse profusely, cross-referencing each point with other works, such as the Bhagavad-gita and the Puranas or the Upanisads. His explanations are always clear and potent. Prabhupada is amazingly skilled at conveying the most profound and complex philosophical concepts in a way anyone can easily understand and apply. Having grasped the very essence of life, its meaning and purpose, he can present it for the understanding of both ordinary people and intellectuals. /.../

After half an hour he brought the class to an end. The devotees shouted, "Jaya Srila Prabhupada! Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!"

Again Harikesa sprng into action, deftly removing Prabhupada's spectacles, the Bhagavatam, and the micorphone from his neck and handing him his cane, all as he stepped down from the vyasasana to go out the door.

At the top of the steps leading out onto the path, I waited with his shoes. Slipping into them, Srila Prabhupada walked the hundred yards past the temple, toward the Guest House. The devotees followed, dancing and chanting, "Jaya Prabhu-pada, jaya Prabhu-pada, jaya Prabhu-pada, jaya Prabhu-pada!"

Srila Prabhupada passed through the open veranda into the small secretary's room. This is the room that Prabhupada uses for both giving darsana and working. He propped his cane in the corner next to the door and then slipped out of his outdoor shoes inte his slippers. (Prabhupada never walks barefoot, even inside.) I helped to remove his coat and hat.

Prabhupada sat for a few minutes looking outside, through the three tall, narrow windows barred with ornamental grill work, into the small tulasi garden with the solitary tree. Surveying his room, Prabhupada glanced appreciatively at the large shelves displaying copies of his translations of Srimad-Bhagavatam and Caitanya-caritamrita. He requested that we hang his flower garlands on the various beautiful original oil paintings or the photos of Deities and devotees adorning the walls. The garlands were to be left hanging until dry and then removed. He has complained that in the past the devotees cleaning his room have unnecessarily removed the garlands while still fresh.

As soon as his breakfast was served he walked through the other door to his prasadam room. He sat on a seat behind one of the two low wooden tables called chonkis. On his chonki was a silver watertumbler, a packet of toothpicks, and a small hand bell to summon his servant, should he want anything else. From this seat Prabhupada can look over the small back veranda into his enclosed garden. The original painting of Krishna taking prasadam in the company of His friends, used for the cover of the first Hare Krishna Cookbook, smiled down on Prabhupada as he took his meal.

Kisori dasi and other ladies prepared Prabhupada's breakfast. It consisted of various cut fruits: seedless grapes, guava, banana, orange, pomegranate, and whatever else was freshly available at the market. With this he had a small bowl of fried chira (flattened rice mixed with peas), another of fried cashew nuts, and a small piece of sandesa milk seeet. One item is vital to Prabhupada's breakfast: ginger soaked in lemon juice. He won't start breakfast without it, as it stimulates his digestion.

Srila Prabhupada ate little and very slowly, as an act of devotion: prasada-seva, service, rather than indulging the tongue. When he finished, I cleared his plate and wiped the table as he sat and cleaned his teeth. It surprised me to see that his teeth moved apart when he inserted the wooden pick, but Prabhupada just laughed about it. /.../

Sometimes, Prabpada sits in his darsana room after breakfast and chats with his servants for a few minutes, usually commenting on the present state of the world. These moments are especially sweet - to be with Prabhupada as he sits, relaxed and casual, basking in the warmth of his intimate association. /.../

It was an entrancing moment, and it occurred to me that Srila Prabhupada must have many friends in the spiritual world with whom he can eternally enjoy happy and carefree days. Yet being extraordinarily merciful he chooses to be here among us. Although the most exalted personality, he appears to like nothing better than to be with his disciples, foolish and neophyte as we are. He gives the impression there is no one in the world he would rather be with and nothing he would rather be doing than sharing whatever he has with us, although we have nothing to give him in return that could possibly be of interest to him. It seems a lopsided relationship, but Prabhupada doesn't mind. He is not looking for anything for himself, only to see what he can give us. As a result, we have obtained more than any of us can ever have hope for.

After chatting with us, Prabhpada took rest upstairs on a mattress in the sun for about an hour.

He reserved the time from 10:00 until 11:15 a.m. for special guests and discussed management of the temple with senior devotees. Sometimes he replies his mail during this period also. Today he dealt with a wide range of people and projects. He is negotiating the offer of a go-sala near Mathura, the opening of a post office in our future gurukula building, and the establishment af a bank branch in the Guest House. These arrangements will provide better facilities for the devotees and guests, which will result in the temple becoming a greater focus of local community activity. When more people come, more preaching can go on, the net result being that Krishna consciousness will futher increase and more souls will be saved form the clutches of material existence.

Prabhupada confronted a variety of topics in today's mail, from orchestrating the worldwide production and distribution of his books through the efforts of enthusiastic followers to sovling the personal problems of a disciple struggling with maya to encouraging the newly interested a university teacher in Copenhagen and a distressed young man in Australia. Everyone received his close personal guidance and attention.

Despite his workload, Prabhupada always adheres to his schedule. At 11:30 a.m. he took his massage, followed by a bath and lunch an then an hour's rest. I've never seen anyone sleep as little as Srila Prabhupada, about three to four hours total, yet he never shows any sign of fatigue.

When he woke around 4:00 p.m. Kisori dasi placed a freshly made garland around his neck, dabbed some freshly ground sandalwood paste on his forehead and temples, and offered him some fresh fruit juice. He then sat at his desk to receive visitors.

At 5:00 p.m. his doors opened for darsana. A steady flow of curious and respectful people, fifty or sixty at at time, continuously packed his room either to sit and watch or to ask questions. he sometimes talked specifically with a particular visitor, not minding if the other fifty listened in, and at other times he spoke generally to all.

I was posted at the door to give out pera, a milk sweet that is a Vrindavana specialty. Prabhupada is particularly insistent that all visitors receive some Krishna prasadam, a tangible offering for their spiritual advancement. A discussion of philosophy may be easily forgotten, but prasadam will always act to purify. Prasadam distrbution is also in accordance with Vedic etiquette that a guest must always be offered a place to sit and a little refreshment, no matter who he may be. Thus, as always, Srila Prabhupada was the perfect host.

At 6:30 p.m. the temple conch and bells announced evening arati. Darsana concluded, and Srila Prabhupada sent the devotees and guests over to the temple to chant and see the Deities. Relaxing for a while, he spent the rest of the evening discussing philosophy and matters of practical management, giving advice to his mangaers and sometimes sitting quitely chanting.

Srila Prabhupada drinks a glass of hot milk every evening just before taking rest, sometimes supplementing it with a savory, like kachori, paratha, or fried chira. He gave the cooks clear instructions how to make each preparation. His milk has to be exactly the right temperature - very hot, so that it can be easily digested, but not so hot that it burns. /.../

The evening massage took more than half an hour. Lately the weather has been cold throughout the night until sunrise. Thus Prabhupada's circulation and joints need more attention. I took rest about eleven o'clock.

As we disciples slept, Prabhupada arose around 11:30 or midnight to begin his most improtant work of the day, the translation of the Srimad-Bhagavatam and the writing of his transcendental purports. /.../

Sitting at his desk Prabhupada chanted japa for an hour or so in complete concentration on the holy names. He prayed to Krishna for the ability to serve Him nicely and to present the eternal words of the Srimad-Bhagavatam in a manner just suitable for the understanding of the entire world.

Putting aside his japa-mala he donned his spectacles and clicked on the desk light. He opened the Bhagavatams at the book marks - the green Varanasi edition with the Sanskrit commentaries of previous acaryas and the red Bengali one with commentaries by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura - leaned forward, and studied them intently. The microphone close to his mouth, he flicked on the tape and began his dictation: "Srimad-Bhagavatam, Seventh Canto, Seventh Chapter, vers twenty-five, purport continued..."

Hari Sauri das: A Transcendental Diary; Travels with His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. November 1975 - April 1976

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