Memories (#116)
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Each morning, after Srila Prabhupada’s breakfast and nap, he was escorted by Hamsaduta to a small room that had been converted into a recording studio. It was connected by a sliding window to the adjacent room, where Uthala had installed a mixing console and a pair of two-track Revox tape recorders. Prabhupada had readily agreed to Hamsaduta’s request to spend half an hour each morning in the studio singing his favorite Vaisnava songs. He played a Laxmi Flute harmonium made in Agra. Hamsaduta accompanied him on mrdanga, and Himavati, Cakravarti, Purujita, and Vedavyasa played karatalas.

After each session, Prabhupada entered the control room and heard the recording. With closed eyes, he sat silently and listened in deep meditation. Harernamananda came in a few times and took photographs. Two close-ups of Srila Prabhupada listening to the recordings were later used as the cover pictures on the double album, Krsna Meditation.

Cakravarti Dasa: "Prabhupada selected the songs himself. He had a small Vaisnava songbook in Bengali, and Akrura turned the pages at his indication, a nod. Before each recording, Prabhupada spent a few minutes on the harmonium warming up and creating the particular mood for the song he was about to sing."

Vedavyasa Dasa: "There was no comparison to usual recording sessions. Srila Prabhupada was not at all concerned with rehearsals, to ensure a technically perfect result. Neither did he care whether extraneous sounds made it onto the tape, such as clearing his throat or his voice cracking. He would simply begin singing, and whatever spontaneously came out-that was it.

"During one song, Srila Prabhupada suddenly stopped. He turned to Hamsaduta and asked, ‘You do not know how to play mrdanga?’ With a movement of his hand, he indicated to his flustered disciple that he wanted the drum, and then he showed him how he wanted him to play it. He played the classic combination of the beats that he had taught everyone in the beginning: ta ti, ri-ti-ri-ti ta, ka-ti-ta, ka-ti-ta, ge, dhin dha, dhin ta, ge-ta. ‘Like that,’ he said, and handed the drum back to his disciple.

"This incident taught me a lesson. Hamsaduta had not played wrong, technically speaking; he was an expert musician and played mrdanga better than any of us. But when he invented his own beats, Prabhupada didn’t like it. Prabhupada made it clear that he preferred the standard way, even though it was simple, to flamboyant mrdanga fireworks."
Vedavyasa dasa
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