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1966 - ISKCON - 1976

Hari Sauri: In Washington D.C., July of 1976, at seven o'clock in the night it was time for a special anniversary celebration of our own. It is ten years to the day since His Divine Grace drew up the aims of the Society and registered the name, International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

Brishakapi, with several others, walked in carrying a huge circular cake, about three feet in diameter and eight inches thick. To the cheers and chanting of the assembly, they set it before Srila Prabhupada and presented him with a large silver knife with which to make the first cut. It was a beautiful product of devotion, colorfully decorated with icing to look like the face of a coin. In the center the design resembled a lotus flower, and around the outer edge it read "1966 ISKCON 1976."

Srila Prabhupada smiled and looked it over. He took the knife in his hand and hesitated a moment, apparently not quite sure what he was expected to do. He glanced at Rupanuga who indicated that he should cut the cake. With that, he deftly sliced into the mango and fruit-filled transcendental gateaux, carving out a square from the outer edge. He placed it on his silver thali and let it sit, untasted, by his side.

Reference: A Transcendental Diary - Volume 3 - Hari Sauri Dasa

A Damn Fool

Hari Sauri: On March 27, 1976, Srila Prabhupada held an excellent press conference in New Delhi wherein he spoke strongly to the reporters about the necessity of accepting the Bhagavad-gita. He emphasized how unfortunate the people of India have become. Although they have access to a wonderful spiritual culture, they are avoiding Sri Krishna's instructions, seeking material enjoyment instead. This, he said, is due to the influence of bad leaders, which they themselves have selected.
 
The reporters asked intelligent, philosophical questions and appreciated his forthright answers and analysis. One of them asked if a disciple had ever disagreed with him on a spiritual matter. Laughing, Prabhupada replied, "Not unless he is a fool, a damn fool!" 

Reference: A Transcendental Diary – Volume 1 - Hari Sauri Dasa

A brief visit to Caitanya Matha

Hari Sauri: On March 6, 1976, about 6:30 a.m. Prabhupada went with his senior sannyasis to the Caitanya Gaudiya Matha to visit Govinda Maharaja. He was received cordially in the darsana-mandap, or viewing area, at the samadhi, or tomb, of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. After offering his obeisances to his Guru Maharaja, he sat on the spacious marble floor as many members of the ashrama gathered around.
 
As Govinda Maharaja and Prabhupada talked, delicious gulab jamuns were passed around to the visitors. After about twenty-five minutes, Prabhupada returned to Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir. He was in time to greet the Deities and give his lecture.

Reference: A Transcendental Diary – Volume 1 - Hari Sauri Dasa

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

A long cherished dream

Hari Sauri: In New York, July of 1976, Accepting Tamal Krishna Maharaja's invitation, Prabhupada decided to spend a day at the Pennsylvania farm, a five-hour drive away. Fulfilling what he said was "a long cherished dream," Prabhupada traveled there on one of the Radha-Damodara buses. Devotees set up the seat from his sitting room in the center of the open floor, against the wall to the right of the altar.
 
Tamal Krishna Goswami, Pushta Krishna Swami, Bali-mardana, Adi-kesava Swami, Tripurari Swami and Chayavana Swami gathered at his feet. Bus manager Mahamuni dasa and driver Vakresvara Pandita dasa sat in the front cab. We sped down the highway at seventy miles per hour, while Prabhupada held his usual morning program. Everyone took out their song books and turned to page eighty-six, and as we sat before the Deities of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai, Srila Prabhupada sang one of his favorite bhajanas, Locana dasa Thakura's Sri Sri Gaura Nityanandera Daya: The Mercy of Sri Gaura and Nityananda.

Reference: A Transcendental Diary – Volume 3 - Hari Sauri Dasa

A momentary scare into the flight

Hari Sauri : In 1976, Detroit, we had a momentary scare about an hour into the flight. The plane suddenly lost altitude, causing a dramatic change in cabin pressure. Passengers gasped in shock. My eyes whirled around in my head as I became dizzy and a little alarmed. I instinctively looked to Prabhupada, but he simply smiled at me, somewhat amused by it all.

Apart from this, the trip was uneventful and our plane touched down after a four-hour flight. Fifty or sixty devotees led by Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, Madhavananda dasa, the temple president, and Srutakirti dasa, Prabhupada's former personal servant, greeted Srila Prabhupada at the airport. 

Reference: A Transcendental Diary Volume 2 - Hari Sauri Dasa

A momentous occasion

Umapati Swami : On the first day that we went to Tompkins Square Park with Srila Prabhupada, he had me dance holding up the picture of Lord Vishnu's sankirtana. But after a while I put it down. Prabhupada said, "Why did you put it down?" I said, "I got tired." I had no idea what an honor it was to be holding that picture on the first kirtana with Prabhupada in the Western world and what a momentous occasion it was. Of course, we didn't see this as a momentous occasion. Prabhupada did, but we didn't.

Reference: Following Srila Prabhupada - Yadubara Dasa

After few drops of caranamrita...

Hari Sauri: In 1976, Detriot, Froma airport Srila Prabhupada went straight into the temple room to have darsana of the Deities. As we walked across the marble floor I marveled at the opulence of the place. One could hardly have custom-built a more beautiful residence for the Deities, so fitting are its appointments.

As the curtains opened Srila Prabhupada lay prostrate before the exquisite spiritual forms of Sri Sri Radha-Kunjavihari and their lordships Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra. After accepting a few drops of caranamrita he walked to the back of the temple and mounted his vyasasana.

Reference: A Transcendental Diary – Volume 2 - Hari Sauri Dasa

Agitated and Violent...

Revatinandana Dasa: Once, we had a program in Vondel park the whole day. Prabhupada told us, "Just have kirtana, because these people are very degraded. Don't speak much, because if you say the wrong thing, they might become agitated and even violent." I told him that I had experience with these kinds of people and that after ten or fifteen minutes they would often become restless. "Yes," Prabhupada said, "ten, fifteen minutes maximum, and no questions."

Reference: ISKCON Amsterdam

All devotees must have deities...

Janaspriha das: The year 1973, I was in Mexico City temple. Udharana das and I wanted to have Sri Sri Gaura Nitai Deities. Around that year Srila Prabhupada had requested that devotee artists were sent to Mayapura to learn how to make dolls in Mayapura. Madan Manohara das was sent to India. When Madan Manohara das came back he brought back with him a small Sri Gaura Deity alone without Sri Nityananda. So we made a few copies of Sri Gauranga out of clay and Udharana das painted them very, very beautifully. Some were yellow, some were pink.

Out of the Gauranga Deity we made a set of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai pairs. Their Lordships were almost the same; the only difference was that Sri Gauranga's base was a little bigger than Sri Nitai’s. I went to Los Angeles temple to get my second initiation (because Srila Prabhupada canceled his visit to Mexico City temple in November 1973).

So I got the idea to bring a set of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai Deities. In the Los Angeles temple I wanted to personally present them to Srila Prabhupada, but Srila Prabhupada’s servant, Sruta Kirti das told me that it was better to present the Deities to Srila Prabhupada himself. I would have preferred to deliver them personally, but anyway I delivered Their Lordships Sri Sri Gaura Nitai to him. I was waiting outside of Srila Prabhupada’s room when I delivered the Deities to Sruta Kirti das. I told him that the devotees wanted to know if they can have a set at home to worship them.

Sruta Kirti das came back with a big smile on his face and he told me that when Srila Prabhupada saw the Deities he opened his eyes very big and said with a low voice, "Jai Gaura Nitai!" Sruta Kirti das asked Srila Prabhupada if the devotees can keep Sri Sri Gaura Nitai Deities at home to worship them. Srila Prabhupada said that all the devotees must have Sri Sri Gaura Nitai Deities.

Srila Prabhupada was very mercifully allowing me to give him a small present in the form of Sri Sri Gaura Nitai Deities. I was the messenger to present and deliver the Deities to Srila Prabhupada and he very kindly accepted them and kept them on His Divine Grace's altar at his darsan room in New Dvaraka in Los Angeles.

I would like to mention and thank Madan Manohara das, who allowed me to make copies out of his Deities Sri Gauranga. Also, I would like to thank Udharana das Prabhuji who made the copies and painted them, along with some other helpful devotees (who I'm sorry that I don't remember their names at present). All Glories to Srila Prabhupada. All glories to Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, Mexico Yatra 1973 Ki jaya!

Reference: Facebook post of Janaspriha Dasa