Location: Travelling with Srila Acaryapada 29th December 1997 till January 1 1998
Travelling with Srila Acaryapada
29th December 1997 till January 1 1998
Enroute to Murwillumbah Australia
By the mercy of Srila Acaryapada, we got the opportunity to travel with Srila Acaryapada to Murwillumbah and to serve him during his stay there. Here, we are attempting to share our experiences had while serving him from 29.12.97 till 01.01.98. The whole thing was possible by the kind and generous help of HG Srivas Nimai prabhu who kindly sponsored my air ticket travel to Murwillumbah and back to Adelaide. Through we may have some desire unless the blessings of the senior Vaisnavas are there we cannot do anything. So I would like to thank all the devotees of Melbourne, especially my Godbrothers and Godsisters who gave their blessings to be with my spiritual master and render some menial service at his lotus feet.
Srivas prabhu took H.G. Mahavaraha prabhu and Srila Acaryapada’s check-in luggage to the Airport ahead of time. Srila Acaryapada and his hand baggage (computer bag & shoulder bag) was taken to the airport by H.G. Aniruddha prabhu, we arrived at the airport by 5.40am where many brightly faced devotees were already waiting to see Srila Acaryapada off to the plane and get his last minute special blessings. Srila Acaryapada asked me where I had packed the clothes to be washed and when he came to know that they are packed in Mahavaraha prabhus bag, he seemed to be satisfied.
When Srivas prabhu informed that he could not buy the camera in duty free shop as he didn’t have Srila Acaryapada’s ticket and passport but he was willing to pay the normal price and send it later, Srila Acaryapada asked him what is the difference of $ and when he realized that we can save $40, he immediately took his passport and ticket and gave it to Srivas prabhu and asked him to save the $ and send the camera through me who was scheduled to leave 3 hours later.
We all walked to the Qantas Departure lounge and waited for the last boarding call. Srila Acaryapada mercifully gave his blessings to all the devotees present and thanked everyone for their service and after hearing that he was the last one to board the aircraft, finally entered the plane waving at all the devotees, who were all there with a mixture of feelings.
After Srila Acaryapada’s departure we all walked back and I went to Srivas Prabhu's car to get my luggage as I have to board Ansett Airlines. After saying Haribol to all the wonderful devotees of Melbourne, I left towards Ansett terminal to collect my ticket and board the plane.
As we still have some time before my departure, we sat in the Ansett departure lounge and churned some nectar of Srila Acaryapada’s visit highlights. In the meantime, Srivas prabhu and Karunanidhi Krsna prabhu brought the camera from the duty free shop which I have to carry with me to Murwillumbah. After spending those sweet moments in Melbourne, finally at 9.20am I left for the Gold Coast. During the flight I honored the breakfast prasadam given by H.G. Kamala Sree mataji. We landed at the Gold Coast at 11.20am but due to some communication gap, I could not get to the New Govardhana farm till 3.00 pm. Anyway, this extra time allowed me to catch up on my japa from the previous day. And did a little reading while sitting outside at the Gold Coast Airport. But I missed the wonderful seminar Srila Acaryapada gave on the farm about the love and trust and taking care of the devotees, which I heard was something extraordinary. I am still trying to get a copy of that tape. (This is because of my offences to devotees; I was deprived of the association of Srila Acaryapada and his seminar.)
Finally, H.G. Aravind prabhu brought me to the farm and after unloading my luggage at H.G Saranya Mataji’s place, I came to know that Srila Acaryapada hadn’t taken his lunch prasadam yet. So we went to the temple where Srila Acaryapada had finished the seminar but was still talking to the devotees about topics discussed in the seminar. Finally, around 4.00pm Srila Acaryapada arrived at the house and prepared to take prasadam. Prasadam was ok but not up to the standard of Srila Acaryapada’s diet requirement.
Somehow the cooks were informed that, no spices, no salt and no ghee. But Srila Acaryapada corrected this, he takes spices, ¼ amount of salt and 3 tablespoons of ghee for the whole meal. When I mentioned that, we are sorry that in spite of so many instructions and directions we are still not able to give prasadam to your requirements. When I suggested that only in a few places like Mayapur and Bangalore, are they serving you properly, Srila Acaryapada added “Melbourne also.” So, All glories to Melbourne Cooks! All glories to Melbourne devotees! You are all so dear to Srila Acaryapada!
After prasadam Srila Acaryapada thanked Murugesan Prabhu's wife for the nice prasadam. Srila Acaryapada commented “you prepared the prasadam so nicely without spices which is filled with so much bhakti.” Srila Acaryapada teaches us at every step. Here he’s just seeing the devotional mood of this mataji and instructing us to follow his footsteps, which will liberate us from the evil effects of Kali Yuga. Murugesan and his wife Suddha live in Brisbane with 3 nice children. They come from Singapore and are aspiring to take diksha from Srila Acaryapada. Mataji’s sister is already a disciple in Malaysia.
After taking a little rest, Srila Acaryapada was preparing to go to the temple to meet with devotees and discuss a few more points on love and trust among devotees. Then HG Rasaullasa Radha Damodara prabhu and HG Syama Manjari Mataji came to see Srila Acaryapada and discuss some important matters. So Srila Acaryapada saw these devotees and discussed in length on various important issues to clarify many points. After the meeting both Radha Damodara prabhu and mataji acknowledged that they were very happy that Srila Acaryapada gave so much time which they haven’t had for a long time.
Around 8.45pm we went to the temple in Murugesan prabhus car. The Vaisnava youth band was playing some rock music, in which young Kesava prabhu - a Gurukula student was singing and our Godbrother Deva Gaura Hari prabhu was playing an instrument. After spending a few moments there Srila Acaryapada walked towards the temple and talked to many devotees asking them how he can help them. Everyone was saying how nice the seminar was and how important that issue is and how hardly anyone is giving any importance to this serious issue in our society.
After returning to the house Srila Acaryapada honored puffies prasadam kindly and thoughtfully given by Karunanidhi prabhu and co. After that Srila Acaryapada attended to some important mail on the COM and finally took rest at 11.45pm only. Next day is a big day, Ratha Yatra day.
Srila Acaryapada woke up at 4.15am, got ready and was prepared to go to the temple by 4.50am. HG Saranya mataji kindly gave me the car keys to drive Srila Acaryapada to the temple, we reached in time for Tulasi arati. After Tulasi arati Srila Acaryapada saw his dear Godbrothers H.H. Bhakti Tirtha Swami. H.H. Prahladananda Swami and H.H. Ramai Swami. Srila Acaryapada sat for chanting japa along with other devotees and intensely chanted his japa thus enthusing the devotees there. We were informed that Srila Acaryapada is scheduled to give Srimad Bhagavatam class and Ratha Yatra class. Srila Acaryapada asked for the programme of the day, after consultation with the local authorities, we prepared and showed him the daily programme, which Srila Acaryapada approved. When we brought the lemon and honey Srila Acaryapada was talking to H.H. Bhakti Tirtha maharaja so by the time we gave the drink to Srila Acaryapada, it was not that warm which was pointed out by Srila Acaryapada. When the day will come when we will be able to serve our beloved spiritual master properly. This is again possible only by his causeless mercy.
Ecstatic Kirtan with His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja
After a short walk during which Srila Acaryapada talked with and thanked so many devotees, Srila Acaryapada returned to the temple room just in time to Greet Their Lordships Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, Sri Sri Radha Govardhanadhari, Sri Sri Krsna Balarama, Sri Sri Jagannatha, Baladeva and Lady Subhadra and Sri Giriraja. After garlanding HDG Srila Prabhupada and offering flowers, Srila Acaryapada came to the microphone and lead the Gurupuja kirtan much to the delight of the assembled Vaisnavas who all felt so much happiness seeing him leading the kirtan. (I tried to record the kirtan, but not lucky enough again. Couldn’t make it, maybe Ashok prabhu was successful.) The kirtan took us to a different world and when H.H. Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja started dancing and other Maharaja’s started chanting and dancing the place was indescribable. Everyone was sweating and finally after an uproar of kirtan it finished at 8.15 am.
Serious Srimad Bhagavatam Class
The organizers then made a few announcements about the Ratha Yatra. Srila Acaryapada gave the Srimad Bhagavatam class on 7.15.36. Today's class was on how serious is to keep the vows. (Please refer to the verse, and the tape.) It was another amazing lecture delivered by Srila Acaryapada, in which he spoke on various serious issues we are facing at the moment, how to keep away from all nonsense, how loyal we have to be to Srila Prabhupada. Srila Acaryapada touched on so many issues. You really have to get a copy of the tape. At the end, Srila Acaryapada asked if the other Maharajas would like to add a few things. Both Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja and Prahladananda Maharaja added a few more points. Then, Srila Acaryapada answered the questions very expertly. The class finished at 9.30am.
Meeting With The Devotees - Devotee Care
After the class Srila Acaryapada had a discussion with H.H. Ramai Swami after which Srila Acaryapada came out of the temple and started walking towards the area where the devotees are honoring breakfast prasadam, on the way, Bhaktin Harriett wanted to introduce her mother who is a barrister in Brisbane to Srila Acaryapada. Srila Acaryapada was very happy to meet with her and asked whether she was happy about her daughter and he mentioned that Bhaktin Harriett wanted Srila Acaryapada to be her spiritual guide, if this is ok. Which the mother replied that she was very glad about it. After that Srila Acaryapada surprised the devotees taking prasadam and asked them if it was ok.
Then Srila Acaryapada started talking to one mataji who wrote to him on com. He was very concerned of her situation and gave some very nice instructions about her spiritual life and how to look after her physical body as she was bringing a new soul in to this world. H.G. Krsnamati mataji, a disciple of H.H. Hridayananda Maharaja and who knows Srila Acaryapada’s diet requirements was waiting for Srila Acaryapada to come to her stall where she prepared some prasadam with whole meal, after Srila Acaryapada finished his talk with the mataji, he went to Krsnamati Mataji and she happily offered some nice preparations which Srila Acaryapada gladly accepted.
Finally, we left for the house of H.G. Saranya mataji where Srila Acaryapada was going to take breakfast prasadam. Srila Acaryapada honored the prasadam cooked by Suddha Mataji who made some nice upma and chutney, and cut some mangos, cherries and elachies. While taking prasadam Srila Acaryapada instructed the mataji about a few preparations like tamarind rice, lemon rice, yoghurt rice and tomato rice to be taken for a picnic after the Ratha Yatra.
After the prasadam Srila Acaryapada started working on his computer to reply to some important letters. We were told that we have to leave by 12 noon to get to the parade spot in the holiday traffic at Byron Bay. As Srila Acaryapada was busy in replying to the letters, we could leave for the Ratha Yatra Parade at 1.30pm only in HG Murugesan Prabhu's Volvo.
Joining the Ratha Yatra of Lord Jagannatha
Murugesan prabhu very attentively drove Srila Acaryapada to the spot where the parade was already on, as we were slightly late we had to catch up with the Ratha cart half way through the parade. When the devotees saw Srila Acaryapada they were all very happy, when Srila Acaryapada saw the devotees and Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra on the cart, he immediately offered obeisances and quickly jumped into the parade by pulling the cart and chanting.
When the cart arrived at the final point, Srila Acaryapada demonstrated how to carry Their Lordships and walk with Them in the rocking way as the Jagannatha was actually walking from the cart to the tent. Only the pure devotee can visualize it. When Lord Jagannatha was seated on the altar along with His brother Lord Balarama and sister, Subhadra the kirtan really took off with Srila Acaryapada playing on his whompers, this kirtan you really have to hear it. It is not part of this world, some of it was relayed to Melbourne by Ashok prabhu through his Nokia mobile phone, thus distributing the mercy to some devotees in Melbourne. The kirtan went for more than 45 minutes with HH Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja playing on his special African made drum and HH Prahladananda Swami chanting so ecstatically. The kirtan had to be brought to a close eventually on the request of the organizers so that the rest of the programs can go ahead without any further delay.
Srila Acaryapada was asked to give the special class to the guests and devotees assembled. Srila Acaryapada spoke on the importance of chanting the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra and how it can make everyone happy, about Lord Jagannatha and the significance of Ratha Yatra, then Srila Acaryapada went on to explain the glories of maha prasadam, how Mother Parvati took a vow to distribute the maha prasad of the Lord to all the living entities who do not have any qualifications at all and as a result the prasad is now available to all the visitors at Byron Bay!
After the lecture Srila Acaryapada went on a tour around the pandal inquiring from different devotees, how he can help them in the spiritual life, which everyone really appreciated. In the middle of his meetings, Srila Acaryapada had to correct someone who was singing the glories of Ganesh on the PA System in front of Lord Jagannatha. Srila Acaryapada said it is not quite appropriate, which the organizers immediately acknowledged and started the maha mantra in a melodious way.
As the time was already past 6.00pm Srila Acaryapada thought it was a bit late to go for a swim in the ocean, but when he saw so many enthusiastic bramacharis mostly from Brisbane, headed by Ajita prabhu and Deva Gaura Hari prabhu were waiting to join him for a swim, he could not deny their request and just to keep them happy Srila Acaryapada went for a swim with the devotees despite his personal inconvenience. So unthoughtful as we are, we could not arrange for the headpieces to separate the two teams to play the Haribol game, so the game could not be played. After taking the
association of Varunadev and giving his association the enthusiastic bramacharis Srila Acaryapada returned to the shore. After taking a shower with the fresh water Srila Acaryapada agreed to take prasadam at 7.00pm
While Srila Acaryapada was in the ocean, Murugesan prabhu and his wife thoughtfully went to the restaurant run by a devotee and heated the prasadam as it was made at 12 noon for this picnic. As I started serving the dal, sabjis, papads and curd rice, which I thought were all the items, Srila Acaryapada immediately took the plain rice container and served himself to my surprise. He chastised me by saying “what part of South India are you from where they eat curd rice in the beginning?” for which everyone laughed at his humor. From this we can see how Srila Acaryapada was correcting us at every step but so lightly that we can easily take up. While taking prasadam Srila Acaryapada made Bhaktin Harriett to sit near and asked her to take prasadam, so fortunate she is. After honoring prasadam, he mercifully distributed his remnants to all the devotees present who also have been waiting all this time without taking any prasadam.
After the prasadam, Srila Acaryapada sat on the grass and all the devotees sat around him in a circle and he gave many instructions to help one advance in spiritual life and many of the them wanted to keep in touch with Srila Acaryapada by filling in the forms. Finally, we left for the farm around 8.45pm and reached the house around 10.30pm. As soon as we arrived, a message was given to us that a devotee from Melbourne was trying to get in touch with Srila Acaryapada, immediately Srila Acaryapada called the devotee on the phone and answered the queries and the doubts. After the phone call Srila Acaryapada had to reply to a few letters on COM after having a cup of hot milk and puffies, though it was late, he mercifully accepted our service. Srila Acaryapada finally took rest just after midnight. What an intense day for us. It is only for a day for those serving but for Srila Acaryapada it is an everyday affair. May Lord Nrsimhadev protect him.
The alarm started ringing at 4.45am, we couldn’t dare to touch it, as I was told mercifully by Srila Acaryapada that I don’t have any right to touch his alarm clock. Eventually Srila Acaryapada woke up (as HDG mentioned it during the day.) and got ready to go to the temple. Mother Saranya kindly gave her car for our use as Murugesan prabhu had to go back to Brisbane to be in his house for New Years eve.
We went to the temple and Srila Acaryapada started chanting his japa along with his Godbrothers and other devotees. At 6.00am Srila Acaryapada came out of the temple and started walking around meeting the devotees and asking their welfare. At 6.45am Srila Acaryapada took his lemon and honey drink and Srila Acaryapada said that this morning he would take breakfast prasadam with the devotees much to the delight of all the devotees, so that after prasadam he can have a follow up meeting of the seminar he gave the day before.
At 7.00am Srila Acaryapada entered the temple room and after the darshan arati to Their Lordships Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, Sri Sri Radha Govardhanadhari, Sri Sri Krishna Balarama and Sri Sri Giriraja, Srila Acaryapada offered garland and flowers to Srila Prabhupada. Then Srila Acaryapada started leading the Gurupuja kirtan bringing the spirits of the assembled devotees to the peak. After the roaring kirtan and the announcements about the Ratha Yatra, HH Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj gave the Srimad Bhagavatam class on 7.15.37. Srila Acaryapada sat thru the whole class and very attentively and listened the whole lecture which was very interesting, as Maharaja reiterated so many points on simple life and how one has to be content in spiritual life to serve Srila Prabhupada and Sri Krishna peacefully and happily.
After the Srimad Bhagavatam class Srila Acaryapada sat with all other devotees and his God brothers. This morning Candrika Mataji and Pushpa Mataji prepared upma with vegetables and Chutney. They also offered some fruits like mango, cherries and leechies(?). When we served the dates dipped in carob and ginger, Srila Acaryapada liked them and said that the Swamis would like them indicating that we should serve them later at lunch time when all the sannyasis are supposed to take prasadam together. He then indicated that we should serve these dates to his god brothers who were taking prasadam at a little distance. These dates were prepared by Bh. Ria mataji and given to us by H G Palahari prabhu in Melbourne, looks like an interesting preparation and is liked by Srila Acaryapada. So we should get the recipe from Palahari prabhu. All glories to his service!
After the prasadam many matajis surrounded Srila Acaryapada and started asking questions on various issues.
Soon it was time for the seminar and today's topic is ISKCON - Srila Prabhupada's body, past, present and future. The devotees attentively listened to the seminar which was spoken by Srila Acaryapada and Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja, who stressed how carefully we have to follow Srila Prabhupada's instructions and keep ourselves protected from all the nonsense going on outside and how we all have a big responsibility in carrying out Srila Prabhupada's instructions and protect ISKCON from any tricks of maya and her agents. After the speeches, both Srila Acaryapada and Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja answered the questions by different devotees. After the seminar and question and answer session Srila Acaryapada gave instructions to both the grhasta men and Bramacharis how they have to take responsibility and to be serious in whatever position they are in and serve Krsna happily.
Then it was time for lunch prasadam which was to be served to all the sannyasis at mother Saranya’s house, as other Maharajas are busy they couldn’t join Srila Acaryapada. So Srila Acaryapada then walked to the house and gave darshan to all the matajis who had so many questions(as usual!!!) on various issues. At the end of the darshan which was at 4pm, everyone was so relieved and happy. In fact one mataji thanked Srila Acaryapada and said that “No one before spoke to them so caringly like a father and everyone was relieved to their anxiety”. Many devotees received the prasadam from the lotus hands of Srila Acaryapada.
Finally, at 4.15pm Srila Acaryapada got up to take lunch prasadam. Today's prasadam was cooked by HG Jagat Priya Mataji, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada and wife if HG Mandapa Prabhu, BBT Australia in-charge. In fact it is maha prasadam from Radha Govardhanadhari, chapattis were made by Chandrika mataji and Pushpa mataji, Maha Varaha Prabhu also helped them to bring them to the closest standard of Srila Acaryapada’s diet requirement.
After the lunch prasadam Srila Acaryapada had to meet with HG Deva Dharma prabhu, another Godbrother who has been waiting from 3.00pm to discuss some of the critical issues of the New Govardhana Community. At the end of the meeting he seems to be so relieved of his anxieties as Srila Acaryapada encouraged him about his service and gave some special solutions to his concerns and Srila Acaryapada encouraged him to take some prasadam which he gladly accepted.
Later on Srila Acaryapada started work on his computer which kept him busy till 7.00pm after a little rest for1/2 hour Srila Acaryapada started getting ready to go for the Ratha Yatra, which starts at 9.00pm in the Main Street of Byron Bay town which takes to the New Years Eve. HG Antardvipa prabhu was waiting from 6.00pm onwards to take us to the Parade and bring us back.