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Memories associated with the photo.

Srila Prabhupada's reading The Star newspaper

Riddha Dasa: On October 16th, 1975, Johannesburg. Srila Prabhupada sat reading a center-spread article featuring himself in The Star newspaper with evident relish. The Star reporter had followed-up the interview with Srila Prabhupada four days previously, with what amounted to a glowing testimony to His Divine Grace and his mission to help people understand the science of God.

The laudatory article, which appeared in The Star on the morning of 20th October, served as a fitting introduction to Prabhupada's lecture, which was due to take place that evening at Witwatersrand University.

Reference: Mission in the service of His Divine Grace - Riddha Dasa Adhikari

The first Western connection with Vrindavan

Brahmananda Dasa: This painting, which was done by Jadurani, is a painting of Vrindavan. It's the Madan-Mohan Temple. This is one of the first paintings that Jadurani did and it's Madan-Mohan, Madan-Mohan Temple that Sanatan Goswami erected for the first Deity in Lord Chaitanya's movement. Prabhupada would give her a picture, and she would copy that into a painting. Prabhupada...he hung it right above his head, he sat underneath this. So it's the first Western connection, you might say, with Vrindavan, and here's the personification of Vrindavan sitting there.

Reference: Following Srila Prabhupada - Yadubara Dasa

The West End Superette

The West End Superette Prabhupada frequented. Sometimes Prabhupada would walk in Riverside Park. Still careful for the condition of his heart, he liked the long stretches of flat walking area. Sometimes he would walk from Dr. Mishra's studio down Seventy-second Street to Amsterdam Avenue, to the West End Superette, where he would buy produce and spices for his cooking. Sometimes he would wander through Manhattan, without any fixed direction, and sometimes he would take buses to different areas of the city.

Reference: Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta Volume 2 - Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami

The First Vyasa Puja book offered by devotees

The next day was Vyasa-puja day, the celebration of Prabhupada's seventy-fourth birthday. That morning a package arrived from New York containing several copies of the Vyasa-puja booklet, a twenty-five-page paperback filled with homages from Prabhupada's disciples.

Months before, one of the devotees had discovered an old issue of a magazine published by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati; the magazine contained a Vyasa-puja homage Prabhupada had written commemorating the appearance day of his own spiritual master. When the article had been brought to Prabhupada's attention, he said that his disciples could also write their own appreciations, just as he had done forty years before. So the devotees in New York had gathered offerings from seventeen different temples and had printed them all in a Vyasa-puja booklet.

Prabhupada was very pleased to receive the little booklet, and he had one of the devotees read it aloud in the temple. When all the readings were finished, he explained how service and prayers were accepted by Krishna through the medium of the disciplic succession. Although outsiders might think that, "This man is becoming flattered in hearing his own eulogy," the real meaning of Vyasa-puja homage is that it is a test of how well the disciples were understanding Krishna consciousness and serving the spiritual master. Their praises were all going to the Supreme Personality of Godhead through the disciplic succession. And such praises were required training for the disciple, just as officers train soldiers in the military.

Reference: Prabhupada Lila – Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami

Prabhupada arrived at Jan Smuts Airport, Johannesburg

Riddha Dasa : On October 14th, 1975, Prabhupada arrived at Jan Smuts Airport, Johannesburg, at midday. The welcome at the airport was much more relaxed than on his arrival in Durban. Prabhupada flew from Durban on a domestic flight with South African Airways, accompanied by Pushta Krishna Swami on one side and Harikesa on the other. A proud Mr Rasikbhai Parekh and friend greeted Prabhupada with a beautiful garland and walked by his side. Ramanujacarya led a chanting party that included Rocani, Bhaktin Gail and Bhakta Mike, while I scattered flower petals before Srila Prabhupada’s path.

As Srila Prabhupada was walking through the terminal, two young hippies appeared and prostrated themselves on the floor before His Divine Grace. Although I had no idea who they were, they evidently acted in all humility. Most likely they had read some of Prabhupada’s books and knew us from our former ISKCON center in Cape Town years before.

Reference: Mission in the service of His Divine Grace – Riddha Dasa Adhikari

Posters announcing Prabhupada's arrival in South Africa

Riddha Dasa: Srila Prabhupada always intended to visit South Africa. Since the very beginning of the Hare Krishna movement in South Africa, seemingly insurmountable obstacles had blocked the path for his intended visit. The situation differed from that in the rest of the world because the whole country was politically isolated.

Nevertheless, by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, I could feel his presence quite strongly, regardless of his physical absence. When we knew that Srila Prabhupada was finalising his travel arrangements, the devotees shifted into top gear. Vishnudatta prepared the artwork for the posters announcing his arrival. Plans were made to take Srila Prabhupada on tour in South Africa. Everyone was very excited. The finished posters were beautiful. In a photograph chosen by Pushta Krishna Swami, Prabhupada had the look of one deep in trance. He seemed to be completely absorbed in love of Krishna. 

Since there were no computer graphics in those days, Vishnudatta did the artwork manually using Letraset rub on typographic lettering, which was then sent for printing. However, as it turned out, Srila Prabhupada would not be setting foot on South African soil until several months later. 

Reference: Mission in the service of His Divine Grace - Riddha Dasa Adhikari

Srila Prabhupada was interviewed by The Star

Riddha Dasa: On October 16th, 1975, Johannesburg, Srila Prabhupada was interviewed by Mr. Lambert Pringle, a religion reporter on The Star, a Johannesburg newspaper, on the subject of a misdirected society.

Reference: Mission in the service of His Divine Grace - Riddha Dasa Adhikari

Prabhupada lectured at Laudium Civic Centre hall in Pretoria

Riddha Dasa : On October 18th, 1975, at Pretoria, South Africa, Srila Prabhupada lectured partly to the Indian community. The Indian townships of the Transvaal such as in Lenasia and Laudium were quite extensive. An ecstatic lecture was given at Laudium Civic Centre hall in Pretoria.

Like the devotees back at the temple, many of the Krishna bhaktas, such as Mr. N. Patel and friends, were overwhelmed by the fact that a pure devotee of the Lord should come and grace their presence. Some of Mr. Patel's family had prepared all the free prasadam for distribution and many of those bhaktas prepared the hall throughout that day. 

Although the guests were familiar with pictures of Srila Prabhupada from his books, they had never seen him in person and, because of the congregation of Mr. N. Patel's Hare Krishna Bhajan Group, many of them knew that Srila Prabhupada was no ordinary man. The Hindus asked challenging questions, but were satisfied by the answers that Srila Prabhupada gave. 

As Srila Prabhupada left, he was surrounded by people trying to get his blessing. The devotees had to protect him as the crowd queued up to touch Srila Prabhupada's lotus feet. Three fortunate souls managed to do this: Mr. N. Patel, his wife and their niece. As Srila Prabhupada went to his car, many of the crowd followed. He had simultaneously touched their hearts and sown the seeds of Krishna bhakti. Still, to this day, the community in Laudium is favourably disposed towards the devotees.

Reference: Mission in the service of His Divine Grace - Riddha Dasa Adhikari

A bright yellow Mercedes

Riddha Dasa : On October 14th, 1975, Prabhupada arrived at Jan Smuts Airport, Johannesburg. He flew from Durban on a domestic flight with South African Airways, accompanied by Pushta Krishna Swami and Harikesa. On the forecourt outside, apparently unnoticed, our hired car was parked in the area reserved for dignitaries.

It was a bright yellow Mercedes - ideal for chauffeuring Prabhupada during his stay. It was not like Durban where they were very particular about such things. As soon as His Divine Grace stepped onto the forecourt, a white police officer saluted and respectfully opened the car door for him. It was all quite impromptu. 

Carrying the authority of an emperor, Srila Prabhupada's auspicious presence went beyond race and bigotry. It was apparent that this was something that even the police officer could understand, and in doing so he became blessed. Gokulendra then chauffeured Prabhupada to the temple.

Reference: Mission in the service of His Divine Grace - Riddha Dasa Adhikari

Srila Prabhupada's departure from South Africa

Riddha Dasa: October 24th, 1975, Johannesburg, Jan Smuts Airport. In the airport departures area, the devotees were seated in front of Srila Prabhupada, soaking up the last precious moments of his association. As it was still quite early in the morning, we sang the sweet guru-puja prayers (sri guru-vandana) softly and with devotion at his lotus feet.

It was a very intimate experience, and when the time came for Srila Prabhupada to leave us, Bhakta Johnny, a Greek devotee, broke down and sobbed his heart out. He was utterly devastated by the imminent separation from his beloved spiritual master. For my part, I was only able to control my emotions with difficulty, knowing that I still had duties to perform. 

I went up to the passport control and handed in Srila Prabhupada's passport and document of financial security, which needed to be stamped in order to get back the five-hundred-rand deposit. It was a guarantee that Indian visitors would not overstay their agreed time for visiting. I returned with the passport and documents, and then Harikesa slowly accompanied Srila Prabhupada to the passport control. 

It was a sad time. It was clear that His Divine Grace was in a reflective mood. His South African tour had been a wonderful success. 

Harikesa handed in the passport for Srila Prabhupada out of respect, but the bigoted Afrikaner officer refused to accept the passport from Harikesa and demanded that Srila Prabhupada handle his own documents. So it was done. We were put in mind of the fact that we were still in a racist country. 

On that discordant note, we waved farewell for the last time. The devotees were very upset. Bhakta Johnny was still crying, and as we watched Srila Prabhupada's plane taking off and flying into the sky, it all seemed like a dream.

Reference: Mission in the service of His Divine Grace - Riddha Dasa Adhikari