On Srila Prabhupad's Disappearance
(Transcribed from an informal conversation
In his last days, Srila Prabhupad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur has been showing to us for some time that his heart was going to be damaged. Doctors had administered some sort of treatment, allopathic treatment was also used, but gradually he felt that he was becoming weaker and weaker.
In October of 1936 Srila Prabhupad went to Puri along with some of us. There is Purushottam Math at Chatak Parvat (a sand hillock), this is where his bungalow was and where he lived. He was very font of hearing the sloka of Srila Raghunath Das Goswami,
pramada-madana-lilah kandare kandare te
"O Govardhan, the Divine Couple liberally enact Pastimes of mad love in your caves. Please grant me a dwelling beside you so I can see Their Pastimes."
This was sung in front of him every day, and also, Jajavar Maharaj would also sing "Sri Rupa-manjari-pada, sei mora sampada" to him every day.
One month later, Srila Prabhupad came back to Kolkata leaving a party in Cuttack for some collection (I was among them). When we got the information that his health was deteriorating day by day, we also came to Kolkata.
When Srila Prabhupad went to Puri, at that time Goswami Maharaj who was Aprakrita Prabhu at that time, was sent to London. Srila Prabhupad came to Khurda station and put his own garland on his neck saying, "Go there, and if anyone desires to take Harinam, I allow you to give it."
Then, when we got the news in Cuttack and came back to Kolkata, we found that it was a stinging cold winter. The treatment was going on, but in spite of that his health did not improve. We rendered duty at his sickbed, and I was also among those rendering duty—my duty was from two o'clock at night to four o'clock in the morning.
Just twenty-four hours before his departure, Srila Prabhupad called for me and asked me to sing "Sri Rupa-manjari-pada sei mora sampada," this famous song which is supposed to be the highest realisation of any Gaudiya Vaishnav devotee. After that, twenty-four hours later, it was 1 January, early in the morning he left the world. He was lying down, then he jerked slightly thrice and everything was calm...
We carried his holy body from Bagbazaar Gaudiya Math to the Sealdah train station (Kolkata) where a special train was arranged to Krishna Nagar. From Krishna Nagar we came to Svarup Ganj ghat on the roof of a bus, crossed the Saraswati River, and again carried him on our shoulders to Chaitanya Math, the place where his samadhi mandir is now.
It took us the whole day to reach Chaitanya Math from Kolkata. We started in the morning and reach Chaitanya Math at about 7-8 o'clock in the evening. Then, the digging of the grave begun—we engaged ourselves in that. After that, early in the morning, Srila Prabhupad was placed there. I still remember his dignified figure. He sat in a very dignified position. His complexion was fair, and when he was seated on the asan after twenty-four hours, he sat in a dignified postion of an acharya—his body was tall, fair, thin and very soft... Then, of course, salt was given around, and after that soil. When the soil reached to his head, I came out—I could not stand to see his head being covered. I went away. When I returned after a while, everything was covered and a Tulasi plant was put there. We all circumambulated him with some chanting. After that, there was reading of Bhagavatam, and I specially requested the gentleman who was chanting to read the concluding poem Srila Prabhupad wrote at the end of his commentary to Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita. Srila Prabhupad wrote this poem in a very sweet and very lamenting temperament. I asked them to read that poem of his, and it was read. Then, Haridas Thakur's niryan (disappearance) was read from Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita. One gentleman requested me to chant the same "Sri Rupa-manjari-pada" that I had sung two days before that. I sang it. Then everything finished.
We all had been fasting—Srila Prabhupad disappeared one or two hours before the sunrise, then it took us the whole Friday to take him to Chaitanya Math, and everybody fasted, we did not take even a drop of water. Then, the next day, it was Saturday, at about nine or ten o'clock we took some prasadam. After that, we again had some engagement in Kolkata and we had to go back to Kolkata to attend some meeting. The whole body was so tired that it could not move. Still, we had to go to Kolkata. So many disciples from all over India flocked then, everybody came in pain and weeping mood. The whole small area of the samadhi was full, everybody was crying and weeping. In this way 1936 went away and 1937 began. It happened at the meeting point between the two years. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna. Gaura Hari bol. Gaura Hari bol...
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