Monday, August 31, 2009

His Secretary In Calcutta

One of Prabhupada's dreams was to establish a World Headquarters of the Krishna Consciousness Movement in Mayapur, the birthplace of Lord Chaitanya. Mayapur is located approximately 90 miles north of Calcutta along the sacred Ganges River. Negotiations had been going on to purchase the first piece of land there-this was governed at every step by Prabhupada's personal direction. In Mayapur, Jayapataka prabhu (my Godbrother) was living in a hut on the land we were attempting to purchase. We were getting legal advise from a lawyer, one Mr. Das, and Tamal Krishna prabhu was trying to get this deal finalized. Somehow I became involved, and Prabhupada asked me to accompany Tamal Krishna to Mayapur to finalize the purchase and see that the land was formally registered with the government in the name of ISKCON. In preparation, we visited Mr. Das's house in Calcutta to review legalities involved in transferring title of the land. While we were there, the family priest also visited and proceeded to light up a waterpipe he had brought with him. As the room filled up with a smell reminiscent of Haight-Ashbury, Tamal Krishna and I looked at each, shocked to find ourselves in this situation. Eager to leave the intoxicating fumes from the Hookah, we made our excuses to our host and walked a little unsteadily back to the temple.

We were to travel to Mayapur by train with thousands of rupees for the land purchase stuffed in moneybelts under our clothing. At this time, traveling in Bengal was not considered safe. Bands of Naxalites roamed the countryside, killing, robbing, and burning their victims. We were confident of Divine Protection, however, and so leaving the congestion of Calcutta we were soon in rural Bengal, a most beautiful sight. Bright green paddy fields interspersed with flowing ponds and lush forest. When we arrived in the current city of Nabadwip, we stayed at the family home of Mr. Das, our lawyer. We made arrangements for prasadam from one of the temples. Our morning meal consisted of flattened rice mixed with fresh mango and misthi dahi, a sweet beige yogurt that, once tasted, can never be forgotten. We traveled by boat to the island of Mayapur to meet the Muslim farmer from which the land was being purchased. Seeing the spires of temples rising from the landscape was quite inspiring, as was the Yoga Pith (the actual site of Lord Chaitanya's birth). At our prospective land, we met Jayapataka, who showed us his hut and the surrounding land.

Negotiations were soon completed, papers signed, and the final activity involved registering the deed at the district capital at Krishnanagar. Due to the dacoit danger, we were transported in an army truck surrounded by armed soldiers. We paid the money and saw that all our papers received all the proper stamps, seals and signatures. Deed in hand we became eager to return to Calcutta to bring Srila Prabhupada the good news.

Returning to Calcutta, the train was packed and people kept trying to force their way into our compartment. One of the passengers feigned a contagious disease to persuade others to look for another compartment to barge into. Very late at night we arrived at the Calcutta temple. We were filthy from our journey and exhausted and it appeared everyone was asleep. Then we noticed a light emanating from Srila Prabhupada's room and we could understand that he was awaiting our return. Entering his room, we fell down at his feet to offer our obeisances. Under Prabhupada's questioning gaze, we explained the successful outcome of our journey and produced the legal papers. ISKCON's Mayapur plans had now become a reality. Prabhupada's anxious demeanor gave way first to relief and then to a broad smile of unabashed joy. It was an ecstatic moment that will never be forgotten. The whole room was spiritually energized. Glowing with the pleasure of seeing his dreams become reality, Prabhupada ushered us off to take rest. Our mission completed, my Guru Maharaj pleased, I lay down on the floor to take rest, still basking in the golden glow of Srila Prabhupada's merciful glance.