(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 20 June 2014, Stockholm, Sweden, Caitanya Caritamrta Madhya 22.75)
I will tell you the story of André. Some of you may have heard it… There was a devotee in Holland who was always very eager to preach. He was the kind of person who was very friendly to everyone and with strangers, he would always be friendly. So, he was quite a bold preacher but he had one problem: with principle number four! That principle was a little difficult for him sometimes.
Anyway, one day he went to the director of a big, big warehouse store. You know, a multi-multi-storey thing which has branches all over the country and he said, “In your book department, you are missing the books of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and you should take a full set of these books to make it complete.”
The director told him, “Young man, no one has ever walked to my office like that and sort of treated me the way you did. I must say, you have guts. I will do it.” So, he got (Prabhupada’s) books into all the stores, all over the country. That was very big! So like that, he was a powerful preacher.
Then due to the weakness he had with the principles, in a city like Amsterdam it can be dangerous. At one point, I was no longer in Holland but I heard about it, I heard that he had AIDS. You know, what to do? Anyway such is, such is life.
Then some time later, I was coming through the Netherlands for a few days and someone said, “Did you remember André?”
I said, “Yeah, sure.”
He said, “Well, he is really very close-by in some sort of hospital and he is in his final days. You want to go?”
I said, “Okay, let us go.”
So we went there and he was in this hospital bed and then he coughed. He started coughing and a ball of mucus as big as a tennis ball came out of his mouth and I was like, “Whoa! Some kind of pneumonia that only parrots get and AIDS patients.” It was intense.
So then we were speaking a bit and then he said, “Can you…” He said, “You know, could you do me a favour?”
I said, “Sure.” You know, dying man, right.
So he said, “I am just right now organizing my funeral and I like your singing. Could you sing at my funeral?”
So what can you say when somebody asks. So I said, “Yes.” Then I was thinking, “Gosh, I may have to come back for this…” You know what I mean! “Or should I stay here?” It is like what do I do it? I promised him now.
Anyway, he left his body within days after that and then it was the funeral. So, we went for the funeral. It was a cremation and they had like an amphitheater, and a stage and on the stage, the box was standing there.
So, first a letter was read out and the letter said, “I know that most of you think that I am dead and gone but I have news for you: I am still alive. I am still here but no longer in the same body in which you knew. I have moved on but certainly alive. All of you are my friends and all of you are from very different backgrounds but today, for my sake, I am asking that you appreciate each other. Within a few moments from now, a devotee of the Hare Krsna movement will come forward and he will start singing that Hare Krsna song and I want you all to sing along and not just a little bit but with full enthusiasm, for my sake, today. After that, you are invited to go to the temple and have some prasadam there.”
Then it was my turn and I chanted Hare Krsna and I chanted a basic tune, you know, “Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare…” Prabhupada’s tune. Then the people got into because he told them to. There was this big lady (high pitched voice), “Hare Krsna!” You know, like the opera. Then at the very end they gave me a signal to stop and then they turned on the Govindam tape and then slowly the box was going down the stage. The people cracked. I mean, that music was very powerful. They cracked. They just fell in each other’s arms and were crying. Everyone said, “I have never seen a funeral like this.” Well, what can I say? I am sure he got some mercy for that. What do you think? If I could organize my funeral like that, it would be pretty good.