Vishakha: In those times, our Calcutta temple had many problems. For instance, the temple was not very clean. The city of Calcutta itself is not clean, and unfortunately that uncleanliness infiltrated into the temple. Also, the prasadam was substandard, the devotees' health was not good, and there was tension between the men and the women. Besides all that, there was a sannyasi in the Calcutta temple that was very particular about how the various instruments were played during kirtan. If he didn't like the way an instrument was being played, he would walk up to the devotee playing it and say "Give me that thing," and forcibly take it away from the person. Perhaps because of these problems and because of being away from their own culture, the Western devotees fought amongst themselves regularly, which was yet another problem.

In those days to go from the temple office to the prasadam area, which was on the veranda, one had to walk through the temple room. One of my early memories is of the GBC and the temple president walking through the temple room arguing with each other. Such was the temple atmosphere.

During my stay at this time I was regularly thinking, "I don't need this in my life. I have other things to do. I have a life to live." What stopped me from leaving the temple for good was a mantra. Not the maha-mantra, but the mantra, "Prabhupada is coming. Prabhupada is coming. You can't leave now. He will be here very soon." Day by day I was hanging on by a thin thread. Then finally in October 1971, Prabhupada came.

Prabhupada immediately assessed the situation and called for an istagosthi. Everyone in the temple went to his room. To this day when I go into Prabhupada's room in the Calcutta temple – it's now the office of the temple president – I still remember that istagosthi and where Prabhupada sat and where all the devotees sat and where I sat. Prabhupada gave a most deeply inspiring talk. I'd never been so affected by someone's talk as I was on that day. It wasn't taped, and I didn't take notes, but basically he spoke about tolerance, friendship among devotees, enthusiasm, patience, and transcending problems. At one point he gave an example from his own life. He said that when he came to New York, he was staying with someone who kept meat in his refrigerator. He said the word meat with such disgust that it made me realize for the first time how austere that must have been for him, for a person of such caliber. When I walked out of the room after the istagosthi was over, I felt physically lighter, as if a burden had been lifted from me. By his transcendental words, Prabhupada transformed my consciousness.

 

 

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare