The Prabhupada Story–Part 7
Srila Prabhupada would preach at every opportunity, and there was no way his disciples could slow him down.
Strenuous Preaching Takes its Toll…
Srila Prabhupada could have safely lived out his days in Vrindavana in India but he had chosen strenuous international preaching instead.
On the occasions when his followers had tried to restrain Srila Prabhupada, their concern for his physical welfare was no match for his determination to give Krishna consciousness away at all costs.
Srila Prabhupada had another heart attack and he needed to go to India to receive Ayurvedic medical treatment.
Srila Prabhupada would preach at every opportunity, and there was no way his disciples could slow him down. Here he is preaching at a late night program in the Greenwich East Village Theatre.
Before leaving for India Srila Prabhupada flew to San Francisco to oversee the arrangements for his first Ratha Yatra in the West. “The Ratha Yatra festival was performed with great pomp. More than five hundred people followed the procession to the beach, and there were about two dozen cars. They distributed thousands of chapattis and at last Sri Jagannatha, Subhadra and Baladeva, kindly came to stay in our house.” — Srila Prabhupada (in a letter)
Their Lordships Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balaram aboard a bright yellow Hertz Rent-a-truck for the first ever Ratha Yatra in the western world. Within the next ten years, Srila Prabhupada held Ratha Yatra festivals in major cites around the world.
A Touching Farewell
Srila Prabhupada preached so selflessly to benefit everyone with Krishna consciousness that it was common for comparative newcomers to become very attached to him.
Out of love for him, his disciples were giving up sinful life and accepting Lord Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and had even opened new centers in San Francisco and Montreal.
So it was with great feeling that the devotees waited for Srila Prabhupada to board his flight to India to recover from his heart attack.
“The kirtana was getting heavier and heavier and so was the crying. And in the middle of it Srila Prabhupada was completely relaxed, as if this were his place and this was the normal thing to do.”
Janaki dasi mischievously stole the ticket and passport from Srila Prabhupada’s hand “Now you can’t leave!” she said “That’s all right” Srila Prabhupada smiled I already have my boarding ticket I am Indian. They will lei me into my own country.”
Srila Prabhupada flew back to India on July 23rd 1967, and while regaining his health he preached with his accompanying disciples.
But his disciples in America were never out of his mind:
“As you say that my absence in America is being felt now surely more that ever, so I feel to start immediately without delay.”
Return to America
On November 24th 1967, Srila Prabhupada returned to America and a new spirit, the impetus to spread Krishna consciousness, appeared within ISKCON.
When Srila Prabhupada had first arrived in America he had been alone and had experienced difficulty finding even one sincere person. Now, to the contrary, he was surrounded by sincere followers eager to learn from him and enthusiastic to serve him. He did not want followers for his personal benefit but in order to fulfill the desire of his predecessor spiritual masters, that Krishna consciousness spread throughout the world, he was willing to accept the service of many disciples.
An Unchanged Routine
Srila Prabhupada preached at every opportunity while supervising his ISKCON movement and at night instead of collapsing for eight hours of hard-earned rest he would lie down for a few hours and then rise and execute his most important duty, translating and commenting on the Sanskrit verses of the Srimad Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada translating in the early morning hours.