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Prabhupada built a home in Vrindavan for all of us to live.

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Srila Prabhupada didn't come directly from Mayapur to Vrindavan. He was scheduled to go to Hyderabad first for a program there. But we were sent directly to Vrindavan to get Srila Prabhupada’s house ready before the festival began. Construction and preparations were still in full swing in the temple and guesthouse, and Prabhupada’s house was being used for everything imaginable since it was the only completed building.

We thought we had a good two weeks to get everything in order before Prabhupada arrived in Vrindavan, but the day after we arrived, just after Mangal Arati, Bhavananda announced that a telegram had just come and that Srila Prabhupada would be arriving at 7:00 pm that very evening. This put us all into complete shock. We thought we had many days to prepare everything, and suddenly we had only half a day.

First and foremost, Their Lordships Sri Sri Krishna-Balaram, Gaura-Nitai and Radha-Shyamasundar had to be brought to the temple from Their temporary home in Prabhupada’s house. The men thoroughly washed the altars in the temple, and then one by one, with two devotees carrying each murti very carefully, Their Lordships were brought out of Prabhupada’s house and onto the altars in the temple to remain there until the installation.

Then we closed up Prabhupada’s house and cleaned the whole place, starting from the furthest back corner through to the front door. Just as everything was completed, Prabhupada arrived at the gate and all the devotees welcomed him ecstatically.

This time the temple was positively going to open. In 1974, Srila Prabhupada had been disappointed when he arrived, but this year everything was just about ready for the grand opening. Srila Prabhupada entered his quarters, and from that moment on a whirlwind of activities centered around His Divine Grace. All day and night there was so much going on in Prabhupada’s house, with a never ending stream of guests and devotees coming to see him. Prasadam was required for the guests perpetually, and also Prabhupada’s meals needed to be cooked. For the few days before the installation, Prabupada’s cooking went on in the future Deity kitchen. Then, when the kitchen had to be set up to prepare for Their Lordships' service, the cooking shifted to the pujari room. Then one day some strangers came to the pujari room and pushed the door open.

These were the brahmanas who had come to prepare for the installation ceremony. Again the cooking was going to have to move, but we had nowhere to go. Prabhupada then gave permission to start cooking in his small, unfinished kitchen below the temple kitchen. With makeshift doors and no windows we set up the kitchen and practically remained in there throughout the entire festival.

The demand for prasadam was endless, as was Prabhupada’s preaching during that week… Around the clock Prabhupada greeted guests, and he was serving halavah and pakoras to everyone who came to his room. When he went out of his house for a walk or to the temple, we used the time to clean his house, especially his darshan room, which would be full of prasadam from all the guests. Even during the installation ceremony the cooking was going on, and during the procession Prabhupada wanted his asana covers and curtains changed, so we had to stay back. When the maha photo was taken in front of the temple, Prabhupada’s breakfast needed to be prepared. But just being able to serve Prabhupada was worth missing all the excitement.

Prabhupada hardly rested or ate, there was too much to do, and Lord Krishna was giving him unlimited strength to carry on. Though we were exhausted, Prabhupada kept preaching and meeting all the guests. One day I was ready to quit in the kitchen because I was so tired and hungry. But then I remembered how much Prabhupada was doing, and we were only helping him a very little bit.

When the festival ended and Prabhupada left we had three months to complete whatever hadn't been ready in time for the opening. My task was to get the garden planted and to finish up everything in Prabhupada’s house. Prabhupada’s upstairs quarters were constructed then. In all departments of the temple, the devotees had to struggle to reach the standard Prabhupada wanted. It was very austere living in Vrindavan in those days. There was a jaundice epidemic amongst the pujaris, which made the Deity worship extremely difficult.

The twenty-four hour kirtan was everyone's responsibility. We each had to sing at least one hour a day. All of the matajis were expected to make garlands and help roll chapatis in the devotee kitchen. Matajis were allowed to cook for Their Lordships in the Deity kitchen up until 1977.

There are so many devotees to thank for giving their lives to Srila Prabhupada, and specifically for helping to open the Krishna Balaram Mandir in Vrindavan. Prabhupada built a home in Vrindavan for all of us to live. He expanded this home throughout the world, and invited everyone to come back home, back to Godhead here in Sri Vrindavan Dhama, to the Krishna Balaram Mandir.

Reference from – Memories of Daivisakti devi dasi

 Compiled by Mahavishnu dasa.

 


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