(The following report was originally written in Bengali by Srimad Bhakti Viveka Bharati Maharaja in 1930 for The Gaudiya, 9th Volume, 5th Issue)
The grand celebrations of Sri Janmasthami and Sri Nandotsava have come to an end at Sri Gaudiya Matha. Devotees that came from various places felt great content and were satisfied by the incessant hari-katha that they heard from Prabhupada (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura) for several days.
Prabhupada is the personification of krsna-kirtana. He cannot remain for a moment without kirtana. He himself remains continuously unsatisfied after performing kirtana – his thirst for kirtana is still not quenched even after preaching at the doors of his sheltered devotees with hundreds and hundreds of mouths. It is for this reason that he immediately called for his venerable sannyasis.
After instructing his preachers on the methods of propagation, he determined the direction and place of preaching for all of them. Those devotees, taking their Master’s order as their mission, went out with great enthusiasm to extol the victory of Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga, spreading the word of their Lord and Master.
Thursday, August 21st: In the morning the word spread that Prabhupada would go to Prayaga today. Devotees were elated upon hearing this. Yet two types of happiness could be seen – those who were travelling with Prabhupada were immersed in joy in one way, while those who would stay back at the matha were also joyous, but in a different way. Prabhupada, the best of rupanugas, arrived at Howrah Station with a few other devotees in the evening at seven o’clock to strongly preach the teachings of Sri Rupa in Prayaga. Many devotees arrived with flowers and garlands. Prabhupada, who was everything to them, was glorified by each one of them according to their individual realisations. Prabhupada also satisfied them by distributing hari-kathamrita (nectarean instructions about Krishna). When the last bell rang for the train to start, everyone hurriedly paid their prostrated obeisance and the train started moving immediately.
Thus, the Bombay Mail started with Prabhupada, Aprakrta Bhakti Saranga Gosvami Prabhu, Vasudeva Prabhu, Sundarananda Prabhu, Jagadananda Prabhu and Sajjanananda Brahmachari. The train began slowly at first, but eventually started picking up speed and went faster and faster. It appeared as though it was chanting in its own way while moving towards its specific location.
And so the train went on. Overwhelming every other sound outside, one could only hear the sound of the running train while everyone was sitting or lying in their own compartments listening to that noise. But Prabhupada’s compartment was different. The sound of krishna-kirtana overwhelmed even the sound of the train. Devotees were fully focused on drinking the nectar of hari-katha through their ears.
Friday, August 22nd: In the early morning the train reached Mogul Serai. Many of the passengers were sleeping and some of them were half asleep. Among those that remained, many of them were changing trains to go to other destinations and all of them were moving here and there to wash their hands and feet, to have tea, pan, food etc. But all devotees were hearing hari-katha from Prabhupada’s lotus mouth after paying him prostrated obeisances. After a short time the train started moving and after an hour we reached Chheoki Station.
Devotees were already there to welcome Prabhupada before the train arrived. As soon as the train stopped the place echoed with cries of “Sri Guru Gauranga ki jaya!” As Prabhupada got down from the train many people surrounded him to have a glimpse of his divine form. A little later the bell rang for the train to start and everyone quickly moved to their own compartments. We started towards Prayaga in a different train. Here also many dignified residents of Prayaga came to welcome Prabhupada.
A famous lawyer in that locality, Sriyukta Hari-mohana Raya, sent his motorcar and other motor vehicles to the station to welcome Prabhupada. Without any delay those vehicles took Prabhupada and the devotees to Judge Town where the bungalow of the previous Session Judge, Sriyukta Mano-mohana Sanyal, was located. Sriyukta Mano-mohana had come with us from the Chheoki Station. Along with his able sons he heartily welcomed Prabhupada.
A little later Prabhupada ordered devotees to have darshana and glorify Sri Sri Vinoda-kishora Jiu at Sri Rupa Gaudiya Matha in Daraganj while he focused on his own bhajana. Devotees at once followed Prabhupada’s order and immediately went to Sri Rupa Gaudiya Matha. After having darshana during bhoga-arati, performing kirtana and after honouring maha-prasada, they again returned to the feet of Prabhupada.
In the afternoon Prabhupada and the devotees went to see Dasasvamedha Ghat, the meeting place of the worshippable Lord. Hr first went to Sri Rupa Gaudiya Matha, then Sri Rupa-siksasthali at Dasasvamedha Ghat and then to the temple of Sri Beni Madhava to take darshana of these places and also to distribute to the fortunate public the nectar of his own darshana. It was evening by the time he returned to his place of rest.
There were many who came before Prabhupada arrived in Prayaga to have his darshana. The High Court advocate Sriyukta Hari-mohana Raya, his son Sriyukta Nila-Madhava Raya, the High Court lawyer, the excise commissioner of Allahabad Sriyukta Umanath Mukherjee, Sriyukta Ganeshchandra Deva who was in the agricultural department of Uttar Pradesh etc. were all present. When Prabhupada arrived all of them stood up, and with great joy they glorified Prabhupada. Prabhupada requested all of them to sit down. Pandita-pravara Ananta Vasudeva Paravidyabhusana Prabhu sang the song, Bhajahu-re mana sri Nanda-nandana abhaya-caranaravinda-re. After this Jagadananda Prabhu sang the song from Saranagati.
Immediately after the kirtana had ended Hari-mohana Babu anxiously said, “You have mercifully come to our place. To see all of you is a very rare fortune for the jiva. The day that all of you arrive at the door of a living entity gives rise to a great fortune for him. Yesterday when I was reading the Eleventh Canto of the Bhagavata, I saw that Sri Bhagavan was saying, ‘Only the sadhu is like the sun who drives away darkness from the heart of the living entity. The sadhu is our real friend and the worshippable lord of all living beings.’ Therefore please give us some advice and guidance.”
Prabhupada replied, “Kirtana is my only duty.” Then he said, “ The song that you heard, Bhajahu-re mana sri Nanda-nandana abhaya-caranaravinda-re, explains that the service of Nanda-nandana is the best amongst all types of sadhana and sadhya (practice and goal).” During the conversation that followed, Prabhupada explained how various eastern and western philosophies and even the object of worship within other bona-fide sampradayas achieve perfection and fulfillment through the teachings of Mahaprabhu. The pinnacle of worship is the service of Nandanandana.
Prabhupada also said that if the opulence of Parameshvara is taken away from Him, then the concept of svakiya becomes significantly affected. If the aisvarya (opulence) of Parameshvara, which impressed Rukmini-devi to accept Dwarkesha as her husband, is hidden away by Dwarkesha, then the position of Rukmini-devi as Parameshvari becomes hidden and the marital relationship in the mood of aisvarya looses its vitality. The cowherd maidens have not accepted Nanda-nandana as the Lord of their heart by being impressed by His aisvarya. No opulence whatsoever of Krishna attracted the damsels of Vraja. The love they have for Krishna is natural and spontaneous. Their only intention is to satisfy the senses of Krishna and it is this causeless desire that has made them accept Krishna as their worshippable and beloved Lord.
Later Prabhupada said, “There are very few people who are actually interested in such topics. Depending on the extent to which a living entity is fortunate, he becomes eligible to accept this conception. Someone may accept one birth; someone may take two births; someone, even after hundreds or millions of lifetimes, may not develop a taste for it. But there should never be any reason, argument or thinking existing at anytime in this world that opposes this practical truth and reality.”
Saturday Morning, August 23rd: In the local English daily newspapers Leader and Pioneer, the news of the auspicious arrival of Prabhupada in Prayaga had been published. In the Leader there was a photo of Prabhupada’s divine form. While we were busy discussing it, we suddenly saw many motorcars arrive. Mano-mohana Babu hurriedly went there and warmly welcomed the gentlemen who arrived. One by one all of them came and sat down.
Vasudeva Prabhu informed Prabhupada about the arrival of the gentlemen and the supremely merciful Prabhupada then came to the outside room and sat down. Sriyukta Mano-mohana Babu then introduced those gentlemen to us. They were the very able judge of Allahabad High Court, Dr Surendranath Sen, Sriyukta Mahendranath Sen, the retired senior professor of mathematics, Allahabad Msc. college Mr Umesh-chandra Ghosh, M.A, the famous senior educationist and the founder of Kasi’s Anglo Bengali school Mr Chintamani Mukherjee, the writer of many books Jatindranath Sen, M.A., the retired assistant superintendent of U.P. board of revenue Sriyukta Narayana-chandra Ghosal, the retired headmaster of Hardoi Government English High School, Mr. Barat etc. All these very respectable gentlemen had arrived.
Professor Sriyukta Umesh-chandra Ghosh, M.A. humbly asked Prabhupada, “For people whose mind have become disturbed due to being engrossed in household affairs for a long time, is there any simple way to calm the mind?”
Prabhupada said, “Sarve Mano-nigraha laksanantah – all sadhana and bhajana aims to calm the mind which is by nature restless and it is meant to establish us on the platform of atma-dharma (the soul’s eternal occupation). Only krishna-kirtana can control and discipline the mind. The paths of karma, jnana and yoga give momentary calmness to the mind as a repetitive reactionary result, but they lead us on to fall into an ocean of even more restlessness. Such sense-enjoyers always wish to serve gold (hiranya) and soft beds (kashipu) and are represented by Hiranyakashipu. Therefore the advice of Prahlada Maharaja is the only means them.”
For almost two and a half hours Prabhupada spoke citing various scriptural explanations. Hearing topics about kirtana from Prabhupada cleared the doubts existing amongst the seekers of truth and gave them great joy. I observed that the listeners were hearing very attentively whatever Prabhupada said from start to the end. While leaving, the judge Dr. Sen, with gratitude, said to Prabhupada, “We came here poverty-stricken, but we are leaving here as rich men!”
Sunday August 24th: This evening Sriyukta Mano-mohana Babu arranged for hari-katha in his home. From the afternoon preparations began. Kirtana started as soon as it was evening. Invited guests arrived one by one and took their seat. For almost half and hour there was kirtana and after that Prabhupada came and sat down. Dr. P.K. Acharya MA, PhD, D.Lit, with great reverence and respect, asked Prabhupada about his general well being.
During the course of the lecture Prabhupada said, “Rejecting bad association – this is the conclusion of the Bhagavata. This is the way of achieving the Supreme Lord for a sadhaka.
But when we begin to compete against other sections of sense-enjoyers in order to enjoy the temporary pleasures of our gross senses and leave aside the Supreme, then we are given the opportunity to become an atheistic enjoyer life after life by making ourselves more and more averse to the Lord.”