Excerpts from Q & A session at the Durban Ratha Yatra ’09, South Africa

I think that many people who would have known me 40 years ago (I’m getting old now, so I can speak- 40 years ago!), they would have never believed that I would be sitting here today as a sannyasi! ‘Him? Nah, nah not possible. Cannot be!’ but somehow or other it came to pass. How? Not by my credit, not at all; but I read Prabhupada’s books and I was impressed and I came to Vrndavana. There was Srila Prabhupada’s Samadhi; at that time it was very small, just a little shed and I liked it, it was very intimate, very close. We would every morning be there at 10 past 4 and I wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world and we would circumambulate Srila Prabhupada’s Samadhi. His body was there and I knew, this place, this Samadhi, is so potent, so extraordinarily potent. Just like walking around this; with each step my faith in Prabhupada is growing and growing and growing; with each step Prabhupada is becoming more and more important in my life. And I was in Vrndavana and then I would chant my japa in Prabhupada’s house- where his seating place is, his bed is there and many paraphernalia that he used. And just being there in that house impressed upon me how much Srila Prabhupada carried this whole movement.

And then in Vrndavana there was Prabhupada’s bell, and that bell had to be rung by the security guards strictly on the whole hour- on the hour- and on the half hour- once- so seven times for seven ‘o clock and so on. And the security had do it on the right hour. And Prabhupada said, “I’ll judge the management by the ringing of the bell.” So it’s very difficult and very tricky also because the security of course is always sleeping and always late and spaced out. So it’s very difficult for the management to keep them on time. So the management has to be completely alert and all the time- 24 hours. So the management has to be very alert all the time. And then I became in charge of Prabhupada’s bell; for many years I was in charge of the ringing of Prabhupada’s bell, and even today I am still on the executive board for Vrndavana and that means I’m still responsible for Prabhupada’s bell! And I pray that I remain responsible for the ringing of Prabhupada’s bell for as long as I’m on this planet because this bell…Srila Prabhupada had said it is so important. And just by having that service Srila Prabhupada became more and more important to me and my faith in him grew. Although I never met him in person but that doesn’t really matter because he took over my life- he became the main inspiration in my life. Of course my spiritual master, who is still present on this planet, is much deeper in his relationship with Srila Prabhupada than me and thus he also helps me in going deeper in that relationship. So it works well…!
So let us understand the power of circumambulating Prabhupada’s samadhi. Let us understand the power of falling before the Deity of Lord Caitanya and pray, ‘O Lord Caitanya, please help!’ He’s very merciful. Then we can do it, then we can keep our vows and we can take vows and then anybody can do it- anybody- and we should do it, because it’s very powerful, it’s a great powerful tool for taking us back to the spiritual world.

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