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First Association

Dear Prabhus.
Please accept my respectful obeisances. All glories to our self effulgent
jagat guru Srila Prabhupada !!!
Good topic! The first time I saw Srila Prabhupada was very special for me
and many others also. It was at the 1974 San Francisco Rathayatra. As
typical it was an overcast day and we were worried that it might rain on
Lord Jaganatha's parade. Hundreds maybe thousands of devotees and all
assembled for the start of the parade and we were anxiously awaiting the
arrival of Srila Prabhupada. When he arrived he got onto Lady Subhadra's
cart. As soon as he sat down an opening appeared in the thick clouds right
where the sun was sending a spotlight of light onto the self effulgent
acharya. I was new to Krsna Consciousness at the time and didn't know
much but that was like a divine revelation to me and many others. At that
moment I made up my mind to accept Srila Prabhupada as my guru.
Srila Prabhupada was amazing as usual at the Rathayatra. There is that
famous picture of him with his arms raised up dancing with that bright smile.
When he spoke he said that if the Americans took to Krsna consciousness
the whole world would follow. The whole crowd of about 10,000 roared with
approval. Where are they now?

The feast was served to everyone sitting down. It was awesome. Chanting
dancing and feasting with the Lord and Srila Prabhupada; life couldn't be
better. So I joined up with Visnujana Maharaja's traveling Sankirtan party,
and it was that! We got to meet Srila Prabhupada in his room the day after
Rathayatra. As it was my turn to enter his room and hand him a rose and
offer my obeisance's I proceeded nervously. Srila Prabhupada appeared
serene sitting behind a low table. He smiled when I handed him the rose.
When his lotus soft finger touched my hand I started to get shivers that
continued as I offered my full dandavats. Finally I found my guru; the best
guru in the world who would save me and countless others by his divine

Srila Prabhupada started to speak, "So you are all very bright-faced and
fortunate to come to Lord Chaitanya's movement. Now that you are
fortunate, make others fortunate. Preach this message of Lord Chaitnya's all
over the world." He went on preaching to us for about 20 minutes and it
was sweet. Srila Prabhupada was always the charming host who enlivened
everyone who was fortunate to get his darshan. Of course we can get it
again if we follow his instructions so nicely laid out in his books.
Hoping this meets you all well and advancing in Krsna Consciousness!
Your servant,
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa

Jaya Gaura Dasa: "When I saw Srila Prabhupada for the first time at the
Paris airport I didn't see anything special right away, but as he approached,
I noticed tears in his eyes. And when I bowed down to offer obeisances,
tears also welled up in my eyes.
I found out that many devotees had a similar experience, so my conclusion
is that Prabhupada displayed spiritual emotions and thereby moved us. He
was seeing that we had become devotees only by Krsna's mercy.
Transmitting a mood of intense humility and gratitude, he was just like the
rays of sunshine illuminating darkness."

Bharata Dasa: "My first encounter with Srila Prabhupada at Orly was a big
surprise for me. I had been initiated by mail only two months earlier, and
my conception of Prabhupada was that of a peaceful yogi. But he was so
much different from what I had imagined. As soon as Prabhupada appeared,
half of the devotees began to cry. The atmosphere suddenly became
surcharged with an intense feeling of love of God and endless mercy toward
all the fallen souls-truly overwhelming."
Prthu Dasa: "After arriving at the airport, the devotees began kirtana. Along
with some others, I went ahead to the customs area. As the sliding doors
opened and closed and travelers came through one by one, I peeked
through the doors and saw Srila Prabhupada twenty meters away. When he
noticed us, he smiled and waved. I was so overwhelmed seeing Prabhupada
in person for the first time that I immediately fell to the ground and offered
obeisances. I laughed and cried simultaneously. My body trembled, and
within a few seconds I experienced all kinds of contradictory emotions. That
was my first experience upon seeing Srila Prabhupada."

Krsna-ksetra Dasa: "My first direct sight of Srila Prabhupada was at the
airport. Some seventy devotees had converged in the arrival hall and were
receiving Srila Prabhupada with a roaring kirtana. At the moment Srila
Prabhupada became visible to us, he smiled broadly and waved to the
devotees ... Srila Prabhupada Memories "I AM LIVING PROOF"

India can be an austere place to be at certain times of the year. The winter's are cold and the summers are
hot depending on where you're at. I prefer to be in Vrindavan. I especially enjoyed the time in 1977 that I
got to personally serve Srila Prabhupada for four months. Upendra Prabhu was one of Srila Prabhupada's
servants. He massaged him and cooked. Upendra and I observed Nirjala Ekadasi in Sri Vrindavan Dhama.
That's when you fast all day and night from everything, even water. Nirjala means without water. This was
in June of 1977. The temperature was over 100 degrees.

One of my services in that summer was to spray the grass mat screens on the windows every hour to keep
Srila Prabhupada's house cool inside. Even though I was only 23, and pretty healthy, after fasting all day I
was feeling weak since I was fasting from even water in that extreme heat.

Srila Prabhupada's health had been declining since the beginning of 1977 and he went to Vrindavan
specifically to leave his body as he himself said. Before going to Vrindavan we were in Hrisikesh trying to
improve Srila Prabhupada's health. It was great for awhile in Hrsikesh until Srila Prabhupada announced
one stormy night that, "Tomorrow we will go to Vrindavan, better to die in Vrindavan." We were shocked
to hear that from Srila Prabhupada. After arriving in Vrindavan Srila Prabhupada first greeted the Deities,
then he asked for all the devotees to come to his room and began to speak. "So I cannot speak. I am
feeling very weak. I was to go to other places like Chandigarh program, but I cancelled the
program because the condition of my health is very deteriorating. So I preferred to come
to Vṛindāvan. If death takes place, let it take here." (Arrival Address 5/17/77) Even though Upendra
worked so hard to prepare the foods he liked, Srila Prabhupada had been declining to eat due to his loss of
appetite and declining health. For the previous few weeks when the food was brought to Srila Prabhupada
he didn't eat and said to distribute the Prasadam to the devotees.

After fasting the day before on Nirjala Ekadasi and becoming so weak Upendra got frustrated when Srila
Prabhupada declined to take Prasadam again. Upendra asked Srila Prabhupada how it was that we young
boys could barely survive one day of fasting in the Vrindavan heat and he had been fasting for weeks now.
Upendra asked him how he did it. Srila Prabhupada replied, "I am living proof that the soul is not
dependant on the body for subsistance; but rather the body is dependant on the soul"! Srila Prabhupada
always amazed us. He was 'Living Proof' of what it means to be Krsna Conscious!
Srila Prabhupada was totally Krsna conscious and above the bodily concept of life. He always showed his
total love and devotion to Krsna. He showed us how to perfect our lives by taking full shelter of Krsna.
Although his body was old he was so Krsna Conscious he was still full of energy. He always showed us
how to act on the spiritual platform and rise above the material body.

Srila Prabhupada started his worldwide nonstop preaching tour at the advanced age of 69 when most people
are retired! Although he had a few heart attacks, Krsna always protected him and guided Srila Prabhupada
at every step. Krsna appeared to Srila Prabhupada in his dreams and let him know everything would be
alright. Srila Prabhupada could see Krsna in the Deities. He gazed at the Deities with tears of love. He saw
Krsna in his books and told us in the garden that actually Krsna wrote the books. He said Krsna used him as
His instrument. That's Krsna! Srila Prabhupada also said the books were his highest ecstasies.

To personally serve Srila Prabhupada in Sri Vrindavan Dhama was a dream come true for me. I counted my
blessings as I gazed out my window overlooking Srila Prabhupada's rooftop where he was translating his
books all night long. He would translate and compose his purports most of the night, then sleep only two or
three hours. I could hardly sleep at times anxious for the next morning when I could start my daily services
for Srila Prabhupada, first getting his garden ready for him and fanning him all the while he was there, then
in the Temple courtyard as he sat in his rocking chair under the Tamal tree. He was always such a pleasure
and inspiration to be around and the devotees were always excited to be in his presence. George Harrison
said that Srila Prabhupada was the best musician he ever heard. That is a great compliment coming from a
world famous Beatle. He and John listened to Srila Prabhupada's recordings for two years before meeting
him. George met Srila Prabhupada often and took his teachings to heart. He even donated the London
Bhaktivedanta Manor and paid for the first printing of the Krsna book. George wrote a very nice
introduction to the Krsna book that made me buy the book and become a devotee of Krsna. Srila
Prabhupada was expert at everything he did. Krsna always guided Srila Prabhupada every step of the way.
All glories to our Jagat Guru Srila Prabhupada, our LIVING PROOF!
"He lives forever by his divine instructions and the follower lives with him"
Your servant,
Gauridasa Pandita Dasa