PIONEERING THE WAY
Srila Prabhupada Impacts Mexico (Part 17)
SRILA PRABHUPADA CANCELS HIS VISIT TO THE TEMPLE IN MEXICO CITY
Only weeks after Srila Prabhupada's visit Chitsukananda das was again asking Srila Prabhupada to visit them again. Srila Prabhupada answered him later:
“I am also eager to come there but immediately I am in Europe but I promise I will go again, and will let you know when I can come…. Everywhere wherever Krsna Katha is spoken, that is Vaikuntha. And wherever I go to my branches, you my good devotees turn it into Vaikuntha and also I wish to be there where my disciples are.” (Letter July 29, 1972)
Srila Prabhupada's reply gives us a hint of his humility which is one of the qualities that decorate pure Vaishnavas and was the key to his success in becoming empowered by Shri Nityananda Prabhu.
Chitsukananda das continued to inform Srila Prabhupada about the activities and progress made in the temple. Having heard about the nectarean response from the Mexican public to Krsna conscious preaching a few devotees from the United States and Canada joined the Mexico City temple. Srila Prabhupada happily encouraged them:
“I am very glad to hear those boys have joined you “ (Letter August 8, 1972)
Chitsukananda das continued to insist on another visit. Months later, while Srila Prabhupada was in Los Angeles and he reported on the temple’s programs to him. He asked Srila Prabhupada to visit them again. Srila Prabhupada replied:
“I would have liked to go to Mexico City but I have already gone this year and too much travelling now for me is a strain. Therefore I am going directly from Los Angeles to India, but when I return next year then I shall certainly come again to Mexico and visit all of my nice disciples there." (Letter September 13, 1972)
His report on a price of land the temple had recently acquired pleased Srila Prabhupada:
“And I am very much pleased that you have purchased some land ashrama and that you will be having cows there on six acres. I shall be anxious to see that place when I come back from India.”
Afterwards, Chitsukananda das left for South America on another preaching assignment and the temple continued to successfully expand. Haihaya das took charge of the temple’s presidency and during the first months of 1973 new books were translated and printed for the yatra including a Spanish edition of Back to Godhead magazine. Local and foreign devotees inundated the city with that transcendental literature. A seminar on the second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita was introduced which many people gladly attended. A house for married couples in the temple vicinity was secured and devotees like the prominent painter Jai Ram das and his wife came from other parts of the world attracted by the effervescent preaching progress. Haihaya das arranged to invite him with the help of Karandhar das, the GBC for Los Angeles and Mexico, and Srila Prabupada agreed to visit by the end of 1973.
His Divine Grace wrote:
“I am leaving early this week for Mexico City etc., but I will be returning to Los Angeles within three weeks." (Letter 8.12.73)
With the good news, Turya das, Narmada devi dasi and Haihaya das began to refurbish the same rooms Srila Prabhupada had used during his first visit while other devotees gave the whole temple a fresh coat of paint.
With the awaited day arrived everything and everyone was ready to receive Srila Prabhupada. The temple walls and ceilings were covered with flower arrangements and a nice car was rented, cleaned, and decorated to drive Srila Prabhupada from the airport. And this time the temple president would make sure he was on time to welcome him when he arrived.
Rohini Kumar das: A great reception had been arranged. Local newspapers would cover his arrival and interview him. Meetings with government officials were planned. We decorated the temple with hundreds of flowers and baskets full of rose petals to make a carpet as he passed by. We also had garlands made of aromatic flowers, and a clean and profusely decorated limousine would be waiting for him at the airport. Personally, I cooked a great prasadam feast for the hundreds of people that we were expecting to show up for Srila Prabhupada's welcoming party.
Nanda Nandana das: I was living in the Los Angeles temple when I heard that Srila Prabhupada would visit the Mexico City temple but, somehow or other he canceled the visit. Karandhara das, the local GBC, called in to give the bad news, and I heard that when Haihaya das told the devotees that Srila Prabhupda had canceled his visit they could scarcely believe or accept it.
Chandi das: We were waiting for Srila Prabhupada to arrive and when we were told that he had canceled his visit, exclamations of disenchantment and frustration rippled among the devotees.
Ojasvina devi dasi: I was assisting to the temple as a guest at that time. Some devotees had told me when Srila Prabhupada would be arriving, so on that day I did not go to school but went to the temple instead. When I arrived, my friends, Nidarhara devi dasi, and Nrilepa devi dasi, who are sisters, very sadly told me that they would not have the opportunity to meet Srila Prabhupada.
Ram Govinda das: Just as everyone else I was very disappointed. The fact that I was supposed to have had second initiation added to my unhappiness, and I did not know much longer I would have to wait.
"FESTIVAL IN SEPARATION"
dukha-madhye kona dukha haya gurutara
kanea-bhakta-viraha vina dukha nahi dekhi para
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asked, “Of all kinds of distress, what is the most painful?” Sri Ramananda Raya replied, “Apart from separation from the devotee of Krishna, I know of no unbearable unhappiness.” (Cc. Madhya-lila 8.248)
After the devotees had recovered a bit from the shock of the unexpected news, Haihaya das asked Rohini Kumar das to start a kirtan to mitigate the confusion and sadness the devotees felt.
Rohini Kumara das: Haihaya das told me that it was a good time to chant Hare Krishna because the atmosphere in the temple was pathetic. Devotees were walking around like zombies from one place to another. I took some kartals and began to play and sing. Bahulasva das joined in and slowly we lifted our spirits by chanting the holy names. After a while we were all singing to the top of our lungs, “Jaya Srila Prabhupada, Jaya Srila Prabhupada! Jaya Srila Prabhupada!" as we jumped up and down.
There is also the following statement in the Brhad-bhagavatamrta (1.5.44):
vichedena ksanam catra
na sukhamsam labhamanhe
“Out of all kinds of desirable things experienced in the life of a living entity, association with the devotees of the Lord is the greatest. When we are separated from a devotee even for a moment, we cannot enjoy happiness.” (Cc. Madhya 8.248, Purport)
After the kirtan had been going on for a while, a devotee threw some flowers at someone and another one took some halava and slung it at Haihaya das, but since he ducked in time the halava hit someone else who in return threw something back. Soon this strange behaviour spread and flowers, fruits, pakoras, samosas etc. were cruising in the air while devotees ran around, from here to there. Some devotees ran outside into the garden where there was a small swimming pool and started to throw each other in. Another went up to the first floor balcony and started to throw rose petals on everyone while somebody else sprayed water with the hose. Our feelings of frustration were thus appeased. Everything was cleaned up and we returned to normality.
Nanda Nandana das: When Srila Prabhupada heard of what happened in Mexico, he just smiled, and maybe satisfied by the attachment the devotees had for him.
Rama Govinda das
(R.G. Bhakti Prapana Parvata Maharaja)