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The Journey of Srila Prabhupada in America

Following is an excerpt from the lecture on the The Journey of Srila Prabhupada in America by HG Vraj Bihari Prabhu.

Srila Prabhupada’s life is the right example for “Failure is the stepping stone to Success”. All his businesses, family life, spiritual institution set by his spiritual master everything crumbled. Despite of his failures, he aimed for an impossible goal of preaching in the America as his master’s wished. Finally, he got a ticket from Smiti Morarjee on her company’s cargo ship. Even though he was aged more than 70 years by then, no knowledge of America, no support in America, no money in hand, no strategy to approach people and no place to stay in America, he was determined to go and spread Krishna consciousness as his master told. At that time, anti-cultural movements and drug addiction were in uphill. But Srila Prabhupada started preaching sex restrain and sense control to the people at that atmosphere. And what happened then was history, of unimaginable nature. Dr. Thomas Hopkins says that Srila Prabhupada’s founding of ISKCON and coming to America were proofs for spiritual power that cannot be pinned down with logic.

Srila Prabhupada left India in 13th August 1965 and reached Boston, America on 13th September 1965. He faced so many problems like sea sickness, fever, heart attacks in the journey. But Krishna had saved him from all and ensured that he safely reached America. On the journey, Prabhupada had wrote a diary mentioning his remembrance of Krishna, his pain of separation from Vrindavan and his only solace – Chaitanya Charitamrita. He reached New York finally and then went to Butler, Pennsylvania to meet his sponsor Gopal Agarwal. Everything there was big and crazy for him as his life at Vrindavan was totally different. Agarwal made arrangement at YMCA for Prabhupada’s stay. Wife of Agarwal, Sally said that Prabhupada was the easiest guest she had received throughout her life. Even though he had 3 months of stay, he left after one month to New York.

Srila Prabhupada had one contact Dr. Ram Murti Mishra in New York. Dr. Mishra was also a Yoga teacher and dramatic person, exactly opposite in character to Prabhupada. Mishra had seen him as threat to his business and never allowed Prabhupada to give class or lectures. Even though they were philosophically different, they were good friends. He had no support there and wrote to many people at India for help. But he had not received any reply or help. His visa was extended for another three months as he asked. At last he wrote to Padampa Singhania for help. Singhania assured to help but questioned about how foreign exchange can be arranged and the building must be only in Indian architecture. After a lot of discussion, Singhania left the idea down. Even he wrote to then President Dr. Radhakrishnan and Mrs. Indira Gandhi for help. But he got no help. At last he wrote to Smiti Morarjee saying that even if you did not help now, in future when we have lots of followers in America and when they want to see India, please give them free passage to India in your company ship.

Even though he was in America, he was always in Vrindavan Consciousness. He did three things daily – reading Chaitanya Charitamrita and writing Srimad Bhagavatam, cooking Prasad and giving it to Krishna and Talking about Krishna consciousness to everyone he met. Finally he left Mishra and took a room for preaching, even though he did not have any income. The room was not clean and initially no one came. So he started recording his preaching lectures initially. A few students of Mishra came. At a class, Prabhupada realized that no one in the class have ever heard of Krishna. He felt sad and told that he will be happy only if he reached Vrindavan. Suddenly he told “But I will not return and will continue to preach as told my spiritual master”.
One boy called Robert came to help but he had no means to support. Prabhupada accommodated him and gave him Krishna consciousness. Robert called him to Bowri, a worse place than the room he was staying at that time. Crime rate at Bowri is five times greater than the national average. Later when he was writing a letter to his friend, Prabhupada wrote that everywhere is my home because I am remembering Krishna here. He wants to convert Bowri to a spiritual place. David Allen, a boy who came to Prabhupada’s class went mad and attacked him. Prabhupada left the place and was standing alone. Another boy called Michael Grant helped him. Prabhupada stayed at the room of Carl and Eva. He left their room also and started classes again at another place, sixth place he stayed since reaching America. At that place, he got many disciples like Steve, Howard etc. These western disciples helped him spread Indian culture.

Prabhupada had desperately started preaching. He worked hard and gave classes continuously for whole day. He cooked Prasad daily for those who came to class. One day Bruce took Prabhupada to a studio to record. For the whole day they recorded everything. After that day, Prabhupada got a heart pain and the devotees felt sad about his health. But Prabhupada thought about spreading Krishna consciousness to all other places in America. His disciples made arrangements and he went to San Francisco and did Mantra Rock Dance Concert. First Public Sankirtan of New York was done in Washington Square Park. Nobody had performed this before. He went and sat on the park and started the Kirtan. After that Kirtan, lot of people started following him.

This is very beautifully explained in this Video, please play this video and listen to this video.

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