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Photo Pastimes

Memories associated with the photo.

That's how "Spiritual Sky" was born

Swarup: In '69 at 61 (2nd Ave) Gargamuni and I were trying to develop an incense business. First we asked Srila Prabhupada for permission; i.e. would it be authorized activity or maya. Srila Prabhupada said he wanted to think about it for a few days. Then he called us to his room and said that the Rama Krishna Mission in India does it, so we could also. (There is a historical connection between RKM in Calcutta and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta's Gaudiya Math of the 1930's, which is a story unto itself.)

New York Yellow Pages directed us where to get the scented oils, but we couldn't figure out where to get the sticks for dipping. Then someone recalled how as kids we lit our July 4th firecrackers with these slow burning "punks." The crackers were Chinese and so were the punks. Down in Chinatown, we found tons of punks, cheap as anything. All that was left was a brand name.

We debated over "Krishna", "Hare Krishna", "Lord Chaitanya", etc. but none seemed right. Finally, I reverted back to my pre-devotee days when I used to make major decisions by consulting the I Ching Book of Changes. You ask the book a question, open the book randomly, point to text on the page, and start reading. And the book always answered your question. So, I took out a copy of the first volume of the Indian Srimad Bhagavatam, opened it and here's what I read. "In the spiritual sky, the effulgence of Brahman is spread all round and the whole system is dazzling in spiritual light. The Mahat Tattva is assembled in some corner of that vast unlimited spiritual sky and the part which is thus covered by the Mahat Tattva is called the material sky. This part of the spiritual sky, called the Mahat Tatwa, is only an insignificant portion of the whole spiritual sky, and within this Mahat Tattva there are innumerable universes." And, that's how "Spiritual Sky" was born, straight from Srila Prabhupada's purport.

Reference: Facebook post of Swarup Hebel

Devotees doing kirtan on a flight

Satsvarupa: On February 22, 1976, three hundred fifty devotees arrived on a Boeing 747 Air-India jet at Dumdum Airport in Calcutta. The special flight, all devotees, had flown from Los Angeles to New York to London, picking up more devotees at each stop. As it was the first landing of a 747 in Calcutta, the mayor, local militia, leading Air-India dignitaries, and media people were on hand to greet the historic flight. One of the devotees told a reporter that the Boeing 747's coming from the West to Calcutta was the mercy of Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada. Ten busloads of devotees then rode to Mayapur. This is the picture inside Boeing 747 with devotees doing kirtan on a flight.

Reference: Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta Volume 6 – Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami

Morning walk conversation in Potomac

Anuttama Dasa: This photo is taken during morning walk conversation in Potomac, at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal in July 1976. Srila Prabhupada explaining the philosophy of Krishna consciousness and it is recorded by his personal servant Hari Sauri, behind Srila Prabhupada is Pusta Krishna and in front of Srila Prabhupada is scientist disciple of Srila Prabhupada Swarup Damodara.

Reference: Facebook post of Anuttama Dasa

At Magic Island, Ala Moana Park, Honolulu, Hawaii

Babhru Dasa: This Picture is at Magic Island, Ala Moana Park, Honolulu, Hawaii, January 1974, and it is interesting that the water at the shore is below their knees, and at the horizon above the waist. In the picture, Srila Prabhupada in the center, right to him is Bali Mardan Dasa, and left to Srila Prabhupada is Satsvarupa, the personal secretary of Srila Prabhupada. In front of Srila Prabhupada is Sudama standing with his danda. Next to Srila Prabhupada is Nitai and rear behind is Jayasri Dasi.

Reference: Facebook post of Babhru Dasa

Srila Prabhupada was interviewed by Village Voice newspaper

Gauracandra Dasa: The photo of Srila Prabhupada that appeared in the Village Voice in June 1966. Journalist Howard Smith interviewed Srila Prabhupada for the Village Voice newspaper in June of 1966. Mr. Smith was famous for interviewing 1960's counterculture icons such as John Lennon, George Harrison, Mick Jagger, Jerry Garcia, Jim Morrison, Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman, etc. He interviewed Srila Prabhupada on the Lower East Side before the Hare Krishna movement took hold in the West, and unwittingly landed a very special interview.

Reference: Facebook post of Gauracandra Dasa

Srila Prabhupada singing the Vaishnava bhajans

Gargamuni: This photo was taken in ISKCON Calcutta at Srila Prabhupada's room when Srila Prabhupada singing transcendentally the Vaishnava bhajans using his Harmonium.

Reference: Facebook post of Gargamuni Dasa

This should be planted all around our Mayapur complex

Rukmini: In 1973, one morning while he was walking in New York, Prabhupada picked a flower from a vine and brought it back to the temple. It was a fragrant white flower. When he picked it and smelled it, he said, "This should be planted all around our Mayapur complex." Later I took that flower and found out that the name of it was Silver Lace Vine, or Fleece Vine.

Reference: SPL 7-9: Zurich and New York; Photo Courtesy:

Prabhupada's morning walk reached the Sydney Opera House

Kurma Dasa: Sydney's picturesque Botanic Gardens ranked amongst the world's oldest, and encompassed an area of over 30 hectares. The Lower Gardens adjoined the Sydney Harbour. Their ponds, shaded groves, flower beds and extensive lawns dotted with exotic palms seemed an ideal venue for Prabhupada's morning walk.

The lights of the North Shore twinkled in the distance. A slight, chill breeze blew, and the occasional light of a silent ferry could be seen gliding across the bay. Magpies warbled their morning melody - a discordant pan-pipe tune. Kookaburras laughed on a distant tree; early morning commuter traffic rumbled in the distance. A white ibis stood silhouetted against the water as the tangerine-colored sky reflected on the smooth dark gloss of the Harbour.

Prabhupada reached the Sydney Opera House, nearing completion for its gala opening. The building - with its striking design resembling the white sails of a ship or the shell of an exotic marine creature perched by the harbor - reflected the morning light. Prabhupada and the devotees followed the path as it turned back on itself, past Government House and the towering Sydney Harbour Bridge. Prabhupada stopped, pointing at the bridge. "This is a famous bridge."

"Yes, Srila Prabhupada," a devotee answered. "When it was built it was famous for being the world's largest steel arch." Prabhupada appeared not so impressed. "Hmm. I have seen bigger," he said and resumed walking.

Reference: A Great Transcendental Adventure - Kurma Dasa, Chapter - 6 and Picture:

Srila Prabhupada handing the cookies to Chandramukhi

Malati: This photo was taken in Dallas, Gurukula. Srila Prabhupada in his room after a darshan handing over the cookies to Gurukula Children, here Srila Prabhupada handing the cookies to Chandramukhi, the daughter of Dayananda and Nandarani. Nandarani is standing with pranams.

Reference: Facebook post of Malati Dasi

Srila Prabhupada arriving in the  Krasnapolski Hotel Hall

Vedavyasa Dasa: For Friday evening and Saturday evening, the devotees had rented a hall in the Krasnapolski Hotel, near the Dam, the central square in Amsterdam. In the photo, Srila Prabhupada arriving in the  Krasnapolski Hotel Hall, behind Srila Prabhupada is his personal secretary Shyamasundara Dasa and Revatinandana Dasa.

Prthu Dasa: To attract people to Srila Prabhupada's lecture, Hamsaduta and Revatinandana Swami led a huge harinama through the center of Amsterdam and around Dam Square, and when they arrived at the hall, an immense crowd of hippies was following them. The kirtana continued onstage for a good while, until Prabhupada came and sat on the vyasasana. He took his karatalas and chanted Jaya Radha-Madhava, but after the pranama prayers he called over Hamsaduta, exchanged a few words with him, and got up and left.

Hamsaduta told us that Srila Prabhupada had said these people were useless. Best was just to have kirtana and give them prasadam; there was no use discussing philosophy - they were all intoxicated. So we had a festival program with nonstop kirtana and distributed hundreds of plates of prasadam.

Reference: Srila Prabhupada and his Disciples in Germany, Chapter 10: The Amsterdam Mess