Memories associated with the photo.
Govinda Dasi: In 1969, though Srila Prabhupada's manuscript for Bhagavad-gita As It Is had already been completed and had been given his final stamp of approval at that time, and even personally handed over to MacMillan for printing - for financial reasons MacMillan chose to edit it severely, removing hundreds of pages of text.
Since finances were limited, Srila Prabhupada accepted this severely chopped manuscript, saying, "A blind uncle is better than no uncle," a Bengali proverb that means, "something is better than nothing." Srila Prabhupada often quoted this proverb when he accepted something that was less desirable. But Srila Prabhupada was not at all satisfied with this severely edited Bhagavad-gita. He wanted his full manuscript printed.
MacMillan complained of repetition in the text, which meant more cost; Srila Prabhupada's argument was that repetition was necessary for teaching his students, and the world, this philosophy of Krishna consciousness. He was not very happy with their cutting edits, as he had completed his Gita as he wanted it printed in 1969, and did not want it changed. So as soon as he was financially able to do so, he printed his complete and approved edition of Bhagavad-gita As It Is in 1972, along with his forward dated May of 1971.
For Srila Prabhupada, this was the crown jewel of success. And this was indeed the beginning of mass book distribution. People were attracted to the mystical message of the Gita, with Srila Prabhupada's colorful painting on the front cover, a painting of Lord Krishna, carrying his mystic conch, Panchajanya, into battle, and driving the chariot of Arjuna. This painting was designed by Srila Prabhupada, and executed by his apprentices, Jadurani and Baradvaj. This new unabridged and completely approved Bhagavad-gita As It Is was a great landmark in his preaching success!
Srila Prabhupada was very happy with it. He proudly showed it to guests whenever he could, and was often seen sitting in his room, reading it. He would comment with amazement, "Krishna has written these books! I have not written. Krishna Himself has dictated!"
Reference: A Transcendental Art - Govinda Dasi
Ameyatma Dasa: It was about 2 days before his arrival. A devotee had been working for weeks on making a new asana (seat) for the garden, but the seat wasn't going to be done by the time Prabhupada arrived. Nara Narayan was in charge of the art department in L.A. He called me over and said, "Hey, Ameyatma, you have been asking to be allowed to do some art work for a long time, well, here is your chance. Prabhupada will be arriving in 2 days and his asana in the garden isn't complete yet." Nara Narayan had another devotee put together a large 3' foot square by about 18" high wooden box. He showed me the box that was being painted white and told me, "Here, paint something 'artistic' on it." He said that Prabhupada will sit on that box for a few days until the asana is completed. "What should I paint?" Nara Narayan had lots to do, so he said, "You want to be an artist, you figure out something artistic." So, he handed me a box of acrylic artists paints, which I had never used before. After some thought I decided to paint a cow surrounded by flowers. I don't know if it was proper to have Srila Prabhupada sitting on a cow, since the cow is one's mother. But, Prabhupada didn't object.
The cow I painted was sitting and I put flowers along the sides. I left the top white thinking it would be covered. Nara Narayan liked the cow and told me to add something to the top since they would put just a small pillow on top for him to sit on. I had been studying the Vedas for years before I joined the temple and I had previously seen and drawn lotus mandalas - a mechanical looking depiction of the lotus. So, I painted a lotus mandala on the top. I completed it the day Srila Prabhupada arrived and only hours before he was to go out to the garden to meet with some devotees. The paint had just dried. Nara Narayan came in to take it to the garden and saw the design on top for the first time. He starred down at it and loudly asked, "What is that???" "It's a lotus design." I said. Nara Narayan said it was horrible. He said it didn't look like any lotus flower he had ever seen. He said he could not have Prabhupada see it. He knew Srila Prabhupada would not like it. There was no time to repaint it, so he ordered a devotee to run and find a cloth to cover it over.
They took the seat away and I went off to do my other duties. A few hours later, Nara Narayan came looking for me. With big eyes and lots of excitement he said, "Ameyatma, you won't believe what just happened in the garden. Srila Prabhupada has given you his mercy." He told me that when Srila Prabhupada first walked into the garden and saw the cow on the box he was very pleased. Then he went to sit down, but just before he did he lifted the cloth that was covering the top. Nara Narayan told me at that point he was thinking that Prabhupada would object to the painting of the lotus mandala I made and would make some complaint. But to Nara Narayan's great surprise, Srila Prabhupada said, "Oh, very nice, why have they covered this?" Then he sat down. Nara Narayan said that again Prabhupada lifted his knee and lifted the cloth and looked at the top very approvingly. Then he asked Nara Narayan, "Who has painted this?" Nara Narayan told him a new devotee named Ameyatma Das. Prabhupada said, "Oh very nice, tell him he has done very nicely." So as soon as their meeting was over, Nara Narayan came running to tell me what had happened and what Prabhupada said. Even though I never got to have Prabhupada's darshan in the garden personally, he did give me his mercy there. Srila Prabhupada was so kind.
Reference: Facebook post of Amerendra Dasa
Damodara Dasa: I considered myself a film maker from 1961 to 1966. In addition to school projects and commercial jobs, I made several experimental shorts. Then I met Srila Prabhupada and my self-concept changed. I became his disciple. So for three years I trained my 8mm "home movie" camera on him. Vaishnavas in 1967 was my first effort. Photo is a local health food shop owner known as "Mother Nature" offers a bouquet of flowers to His Divine Grace.
Reference: Damodara Dasa Website