EXCERPTS FROM CONVERSATIONS WITH LEADERS - PART 4

(Interview with HH Giriraj Swami Maharaj on "Srila Prabhupada Personifies Devotee Care")

On Srila Prabhupada’s care for Devotees Physical Health

There are a number of instances, some involving me and some involving others. One notable pastime I recollect is of Yamuna Devi being taken care personally by Srila Prabhupada when she was suffering from severe jaundice, he personally arranged all the required facilities for her better care to the extent that he arranged an Ayurvedic doctor. In other incidences he asked me to dress properly & at one time he personally told me to take grapes when I was tired & feeling weak. So Srila Prabhupada was very much caring physically.

On Srila Prabhupada’s care for Devotees Spiritual Health

Srila Prabhupada always emphasized on attaining Mangal Arati everyday, I remember at Kumbha Mela in 1971 Srila Prabhupada personally shown by his own example by taking cold water bath although he was not feeling well, since then all devotees started attending Magal Arati regularly. During the same incident our Pujari Nanda Kumar prabhu could not light up the ghee lamps while worshiping the Deities & he urged him to execute the task because Prabhupada was very strict about Deity Worship.

On Srila Prabhupada’s care for Deities

Srila Prabhupada was very attentive & careful in instructing devotees how to take care of deities. He was very determined in fulfilling his promise to Sri Sri Radha Rasabihari that he would build a temple for Them at Juhu. At one particular incident the jewelry of the Deities had been stolen so Prabhupada heavily chastised me for not caring for the deities since then I was very careful in taking care of all the needs of Their Lordships. And Prabhupada gave detailed instructions on how to protect the Deities & Their Paraphernalia.

On Srila Prabhupada’s care for Devotees Mental & Emotional Health

As far as emotional care I would translate into how Srila Prabhupada cared for us & protected us from not getting discouraged. To give an example Srila Prabhupada was very much determined in getting the permission for building temple at Hare Krishna Land, Juhu so much so that one evening during the program he announced from Vyasasana “You must always dance in kirtan—even if you don’t get the permission.” So every day I would go to meet people for getting permission & on one particular day not even a single person had contributed in any way & Prabhupada said “Don’t be discouraged. If you sincerely try your best to please Krishna, Krishna will be satisfied—even if others are not.” So, I would say that a very important part of Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual protection was that he always encouraged us, no matter what was happening.

On Srila Prabhupada’s care for Grihastha Ashrama

Prabhupada very much emphasized that couples should not separate. In general, Prabhupada insisted that there was no divorce in Krishna consciousness, and he was concerned that the householders were able to maintain themselves. During Prabhupada’s time most of the devotees were temple devotees meaning they lived in temple & were maintained by the temple but he had a concern that they shouldn’t take advantage of the temple rather he wanted them to be responsible & maintain themselves. As Srila Prabhupada said—of course it’s in context—first best is to live in the temple, second best is to live near the temple and come to the temple every day, and next best is to turn your home into a temple. He definitely wanted the householders to have their spiritual programs in the temple or at home.

At the same time Prabhupada would encourage others who are already having their own business by contributing to the mission in whatever way possible according to their capacity.

On Srila Prabhupada’s vision with respect to caring for children’s

Prabhupada envisioned establishing our own proper Krishna conscious school for all the children’s of Grihastha devotees & he considered this program very very important. In one incident Srila Prabhupada wrote to a new mother who was engaged in Deity worship, “For you, child-worship is more important than Deity-worship. If you cannot spend time with him, then stop the duties of pujari. At least you must take good care of your son until he is four years old . . . These children are given to us by Krishna. They are Vaishnavas, and we must be very careful to protect them. These are not ordinary children, they are Vaikuntha children, and we are very fortunate we can give them the chance to advance further in Krishna consciousness. That is a very great responsibility, do not neglect it or be confused. Your duty is very clear.” So Srila Prabhupada expressed care for devotee children’s by envisioning the Gurukulas in our movement.

On Srila Prabhupada’s care for devotees Education, Employment & Career

Prabhupada always encouraged to utilize once skills, talent in the service of Krishna. In fact Prabhupada personally wrote to me stating that I can go for post-graduation by which Krishna Conscious Philosophy can be represented as a post-graduation of all theological theses. But since Prabhupada had given me choice so I thought to continue with my services & attain perfection & Prabhupada also encouraged me to do so. In my opinion if one wants to, it is certainly a valid course of action to pursue one’s studies and then a career as long as one is able to maintain Krishna consciousness. So, yes, of course that’s fine, but we shouldn’t get so carried away with our studies and our careers that we neglect our Krishna consciousness.