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Kolhapur, Maharastra
18 January 2003

Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta Ch 17 takes us to the Bowery in New York City, where in 1966 Srila Prabhupada shared a loft with a young man named David Allen. Prabhupada hoped David would become his first initiated disciple. Unfortunately he continued to take drugs even while being trained by His Divine Grace. At last he went mad. David's madness prompted Srila Prabhupada to vacate the loft. From there, with the help of Carl Yeargens (Karlapati dasa) and Michael Grant (Mukunda dasa), Prabhupada moved to Second Avenue, where his kirtans and classes in the Matchless Gifts storefront began.

I got to know David Allen when he visited the Boston temple sometime in the winter of either late '70 or early '71. Why do I remember this? Yesterday's journal entry alluded to the falldowns of senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada. In a way, David's case is the first such story in the history of ISKCON.

I recall the great respect the devotees of Boston temple showed him. He wasn't initiated, but he was the first candidate for initiation. For a time he was the only person in whom Srila Prabhupada found a potential for serious spiritual life. He was special.

Nowadays my older Godbrothers and -sisters who spent a lot of personal time with Srila Prabhupada, who did great service to His Divine Grace, and who may have been sannyasis or even gurus, but who suffered setbacks in their spiritual life, are treated (or should be treated) with the same kind of respect that I saw the Boston devotees show to David.

David was a simple fellow, no pretensions. But because he'd been touched so early on by Srila Prabhupada, there was something different about him, something I found appealing. I just had to talk to him. He didn't have a great deal to say, really. No amazing revelations, like I'd hoped. But Srila Prabhupada had clearly made a deep impression on his life. He was in awe of His Divine Grace. I could see that David would never forget him. And that's what made David so special.

There was another person whose birth name I've forgotten. He finally joined ISKCON after Srila Prabhupada's nitya-lila pravishtha, and was initiated as Prabhupada dasa. I think he serves at present in South America. Anyway, this young man ran a second-hand shop not far from the Boston temple. But during the Matchless Gifts days he lived in New York and used to visit with Srila Prabhupada.

I found his association very appealing also. In those early Boston days of my memory he kept long hair and beard (David was more clean-cut), but he told funny stories of his times with Prabhupada. He said he had a lot of trouble with his wife and used to go to Prabhupada to lament. Prabhupada would listen for a while, then reach for one of his folded saffron sannyasi lungis that were stacked on a shelf. This he would hold out to the young man as an invitation that he ought to renounce his marriage and take the sannyasa order. The young man said, "Oh no, Swamiji! Not that!" Srila Prabhupada returned the lungi to the shelf and remarked something like, "So then you must continue suffering. "

As a new devotee I felt it was my great fortune to associate with David and the future Prabhupada dasa. Now in ISKCON, by default, I am a "senior disciple" of Srila Prabhupada. But I still feel very fortunate whenever I can associate with anyone who carries with him or her the oceanic mercy of extended personal association of Krsna's pure devotee during the beginning days of his mission. Such fortunate persons may appear before our imperfect eyes as "fallen" in some way, as "not up to standard. " But if they carry Srila Prabhupada in the core of their heart then in my opinion they are not of this world. They are of the spiritual world, Prabhupada's world. As soon as they start talking about Srila Prabhupada, their eternal identities as his servants birth after birth become apparent.

Here in Kolhapur I was asked, "Why did they fall down?" Well, how do we know they fell down? I see that internally, in their hearts, they continue to mediate upon their service to Srila Prabhupada. And I see that if Srila Prabhupada returned, they would instantly resume all the external formalities of service to him. They are Prabhupada conscious. They are rasa-graha: they cannot forget the nectar of his association. No matter the external situation or activities, if one is rasa-graha, or retaining consciousness of the nectar of the lotus feet of the Lord (which means the nectar of the pure devotee who is always situated at those lotus feet), one's spiritual identity is established.

na vai jano jatu kathancanavrajen
mukunda-sevy anyavad anga samsrtim
smaran mukundanghry-upaguhanam punar
vihatum icchen na rasa-graho janah

My dear Vyasa, even though a devotee of Lord Krsna sometimes fall down somehow or other, he certainly does not undergo material existence like others [fruitive workers, etc. ] because a person who has once relished the taste of the lotus feet of the Lord can do nothing but remember that ecstasy again and again. (SB 1. 5. 19)

Someone may ask, "Well, why don't such fortunate persons just come back to ISKCON and serve in the institution like the rest of us?"

Often the sad answer is that they are very sensitive about the minimization of His Divine Grace that they find in ISKCON after Prabhupada's departure from this world. If you think that Srila Prabhupada is always glorified and never minimized in today's ISKCON, you are overlooking certain unhappy developments.

For example, the BBT recently published a book for distribution to the public in the USA. It is a very pretty book written in an up to date style. But it associates Srila Prabhupada in a favorable way with Vivekananda, a Mayavadi whom Srila Prabhupada severely condemned. It associates His Divine Grace favorably with a host of other mundane persons, one of whom is still alive and taking active part in criticizing Srila Prabhupada on the Internet.

I've noticed that many of our present-day ISKCON devotees are able to shrug this off: "Anyway, the book sells, and who among the karmis is gonna take notice of those details?" Well, for one thing, Prabhu, this is the Internet age. Anybody can get on the Net and type this list of mundane names into their favorite search engine. Voila! Mayavada missionizing and Prabhupada minimizing right there on your home computer screen. But apart from that, the main thing is the book is an offense to Srila Prabhupada. If the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust would have ever printed a favorable mention of the name Vivekananda during the years of Prabhupada's physical presence on this planet, a bomb blast would have gone off that we would still be talking about now. Just because Prabhupada is not physically visible to us now does not mean he does not know about this book and is not unhappy with it.

My Godbrothers and Godsisters who gave their youthful lives to Srila Prabhupada and who still love him in the core of their hearts are deeply pained by this new BBT book. I know, I talk to them. So why should they take part in a movement that produces and distributes offenses to their spiritual master?

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

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