PIONEERING THE WAY
Srila Prabhupada Impacts Mexico (Part 14)
SRILA PRABHUPADA IN PUERTO VALLARTA
Puerto Vallarta is a small city on the pacific coast of Mexico's folkloric state of Jalisco. Its beaches, pleasant weather and relaxed atmosphere make it a favourite leisure destiny for both natives and foreigners. Daniel Partida had been in Mexico City for Srila Prabhupada's
visit and was now travelling with His Divine Grace to Puerto Vallarta escorting him to his countryside property there. Daniel has been a friend of the movement since these early years. He was the movement's main sponsor for Srila Prabhupada's trip to Mexico City and driver for the trip to Cuernavaca. He was receiving His Divine Grace as his guest in his ashram in Puerto Vallarta. The plane landed at Puerto Vallarta airport after a short trip. People were waiting with a car to bring Srila Prabhupada and his group of devotees to the countryside property El Palomar.
Haihaya das: To insure that everything was in order when Srila Prabhupada arrived I left to Puerto Vallarta in advance. I prepared the quarters to be used by Srila Prabhupada and admired that beautiful place. It was like a paradise. On the way to El Palomar Srila Prabhupada could admire the constantly flowering lush foliage of the place. The road on the way was lined with a variety of exotic flowering trees and generous fruit tree like mango and papaya, guanavana and coconut trees among others. The earth's exuberant radiation of colours, smells, forms and tastes exhibited a celestial beauty. As if trying to make him feel at home the weather and tropical environment reminded Srila Prabhupada of India.
Daniel Partida: I make special facilities for Srila Prabhupada nice simple rooms, in reciprocation to his kindness toward myself by accepting the invitation to spend a day or so in my countryside ashram, making time for me in his busy schedule.
Srila Prabhupada and his group arrived at the El Palomar. Nanda Kumar das, his personal servant, set up Srila Prabhupada's belongings in His Divine Grace's room and everyone else also got nice rooms for the night. Next morning Srila Prabhupada got up following his schedule but no one else did. Therefore he sent his personal servant to wake up everybody.
Pushta Krishna das: Srila Prabhupada scolded us in the morning because we woke up late. Srila Prabhupada was displeased and was showing us that we had to follow the regulations regardless of slight in our circumstances.
Chitsukhananda: The next morning we got up around quarter to six, just before sunrise, and Prabhupada came into the little temple room in that rustic house. When Srila Prabhupada realized that we had arisen late he was very serious, almost angry. He began the class without revealing his mind, but we could tell that something was wrong. Shyamasundar made some mistakes reading the Sanskrit, and Prabhupada said, "You are travelling with me for so many months, and you do not know these verses?"
Towards the end of the lecture Prabhupada said, "Why are you getting up late?" I know you are travelling and that you are tired. But you must be up in the morning no matter what. You can rest later but you must be up in the morning. Then he said, "Chitsukhananda, is this getting up at six in the morning going on in your temple?" I said, "No, Srila Prabhupada." He said, "Hmmm. You must be very careful. You may travel, but you must rise and chant no matter what." We all felt bad, especially me since I was the primary in these places. I thought, "We have had five days of ecstasy, but now we are getting the nectar of a little chastisement." Then I thought, "Oh, my God. Now that he is unhappy and has seen how fallen we are, maybe I have ruined is trip."
After the class he went outside to go to his quarters, and I ran behind him. As I went I picked some jasmine flowers to offer to him. I said, "Srila Prabhupada, please take these flowers." He turned to me and said, "thank you," and smiled brightly. I said, "Srila Prabhupada, your appearance like an angry lion has gone." He said, "I am never angry with any of you." This was after we had felt his thunderbolts for an hour. He said, "When you fall from the path, my duty is to put you back on. Thats all. Otherwise there is no anger." I said, "Thank you, Prabhupada." His anger is displayed only for the care of the child, just as a parent may say, "Dont do that," so Prabhupada was the same way with us. We were his young children.
Somehow they held a program, but they found out there were no kartals or any kind of instruments to play. Somehow the devotees were resourceful and organized the kirtan.
Haihaya das: On one occasion we started to sing but we didnt have instruments. Srila Prabhupada smiled; then the rest of us got something to make noise with and in this way we had a kirtan.
Srila Prabhupada liked very much the facilities in El Palomar, so much so, that they bring to His Divine Grace the remembrances of the appearance place of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the pioneer preacher of the Hare Krishna movement.
Pushta Krishna das: I remember Srila Prabhupada softly pacing around in the patio outside his room as he looked out at the surrounding mountains and said that this was the second most beautiful place on earth. The first most beautiful place is Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura's appearance place and the second most beautiful place is Puerto Vallarta, Srila Prabhupada continued.
Chitsusukhananda das: In a tropical place like Puerto Vallarta, it rains very beautifully and hard in the afternoons, then the sun sets. Srila Prabhupada was on a plateau watching the sunset, and I was sitting next to him. Mosquitoes were starting to buzz around a bit. I thought, Oh, no. They are going to bite Prabhupada. I said, "Srila Prabhupada, are the mosquitos biting you?" He looked at me and said, "No." I thought of something very wise to say: "Srila Prabhupada, it must be because you are pure devotee and therefore they respect you. I am impure so they are biting me. They know the difference." He said, "but in Calcutta they make no distinction."
Srila Prabhupada held two days of initiation ceremonies in the Mexico City temple of the Hare Krishna movement. One Spanish-speaking devotee from Argentina came to reinforce the pioneer Spanish-speaking preachers. He was sent to make sure everything was alright for Srila Prabhupada's visit to El Palomar. He missed the initiation; for his austerity, he got the initiation only by himself:
Haihaya das: I missed the initiation ceremonies in Mexico City to prepare Daniel's ashrama for Srila Prabhupada's visit. After we had our improvised pot and pan kirtan, and Srila Prabhupada gave us a class, my second initiation took place in a very intimate fashion. Having the place on my side, Srila Prabhupada personally taught me how to chant the mantras that make up our Gayatri, and then placed the sacred thread on my body. To have received such an intimate initiation was, to me, a special mercy I was awarded for having accepted the austerity of going there alone while Srila Prabhupada was at the temple in Mexico City.
Srila Prabhupada spent most of the day translating accompanied by his personal servant and then went on an outing with his host who showed him the surroundings. In the last few days Daniel had had ample personal contact with His Divine Grace and the experience proved to be intense. Srila Prabhupada's upright personality and genuine devotion deeply impressed Daniel up to the point that he offered to donate his beautiful El Palomar to ISKCON.
In the afternoon Srila Prabhupada prepared for his trip back to Los Angeles and to end his visit there. When everything was ready Daniel Partida took Srila Prabhupada and his disciples to the airport. Thus, Srila Prabhupada sealed his visit to Mexico by reciprocating Daniel's thoughtful generosity. From Srila Prabhupada's behaviour in this instance we can see that a devotee is always kind to those who help him in his service to the Lord.
The visit to Puerto Vallarta was a short one but Srila Prabhupada left very pleased. Daniel's promise and the good impression that Srila Prabhupada had of Puerto Vallarta still echoed weeks later, when he wrote in a letter to Chitsukananda das reminding him about the place:
"I also want that you take that place at Puerto Vallarta from our Daniel. I like that place very much. Everywhere wherever Krishna Katha is spoken, that is Vaikuntha. And wherever I got my branches, you my good devotees turn it into Vaikuntha and I wish to be there where my disciples are." (Letter, 29 July 1972)
Daniel Partida stayed in contact with Srila Prabhupada. After this visit, he wrote a few letters to His Divine Grace. Srila Prabhupada wrote to Chitsukananda and mentioned about one of the reports from Daniel:
"I have received one happy report from Daniel that he is living with you and he has not complaints, he is very happy. So give Daniel all cooperation for expanding this movement in Mexico. He has got good energy and he is very good soul."
Srila Prabhupada was a very smart preacher. He knew very well how to encourage people according to the abilities and intelligence of the person. Daniel helped in so many ways the Hare Krishna Movement. Then His Divine Grace mentioned about the ashram in Puerto Vallarta:
"So far his ashram in Puerto Vallarta, we are not taking that place on lease or rent, only if he gives it to us we can manage. It is very nice place, and I want to come there for spending some time, but he has told me it is our ISKCON place so he should make good his promise and give it to Krishna, otherwise we shall not take it." (Letter, 8 August, 1972)
Srila Prabhupada contemplated the possibility of El Palomar belonging to ISKCON on Daniel's promise. Although he obviously thought it was worthwhile Srila Prabhupada was not willing to invest more of his new movement's scarce resources than would be necessary to maintain the place. In this way Srila Prabhupada continued to guide the toddling advance of the Hare Krishna Movement in a fresh new scene.
Thus ends the description of the first visit of Srila Prabhupada to Mexico City temple.
Offering my humble prostrations at the dust of the Lotus Feet of my Divine Spiritual Master Srila Prabhupada His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja.
Pioneering the Way
Srila Prabhupada Impacts Mexico
The Beginning of the Hare Krishna Movement in Mexico
His lowly servant
Rama Govinda das
(R.G. Bhakti Prapana Parvata Maharaja)