by Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
JANUARY 17, 2008
I had an afternoon talk with Radhanatha Swami. Radhanatha Maharaja said it’s not such a black and white thing that I have lost my reputation, but that it has changed. I’m no longer the spotless sannyasi, but I’m still a loved one, at least to my friends and disciples and to many people, with just as much love as before. He was very kind to me. He attended a meeting of ISKCON Indian managers and spoke up strongly in my favor. The managers are protesting the GBC’s closure of my case. But he thinks it may quiet down.
He also told me about the incredible pain Syamasundara Prabhu went through, and the final miraculous cure of his liver transplant.
Last night, a hundred and fifty or two hundred congregational members gathered to hear me in the big hall. I told them I was known mostly in Chowpatty from my books, and so I would read from my books tonight. I mixed in readings with memories. I told the story of how I was anxious about going to work one morning at the welfare office because there was a strike on, and I had to pass through the picket lines. But on my walk down Second Avenue to the office building, I met Swamiji and his servant on their morning walk. I bowed down on the street just before Prabhupada’s feet, and when I arose, he lightly touched me. He had already known about the strike because he had crossed them on the opposite side of the street, and they had yelled at him for sending me to work. I was not about to lose months of pay just to secure a higher wage. We needed money every day for Swamiji’s storefront. The devotees here loved those stories, and I loved telling them. Then I read lots of poems. After it was over, Sastra asked me, “Was it exhilarating or exhausting?”
“Both,” I said.
For twenty years here, at lunch, Radhanatha Swami sits with the devotees, and they have a reading of Prabhupada-lilamrta. They read the book again and again, and no one talks during the meals or falls asleep. So they were happy to have me here in their presence while they read it again. Many people come up to me and express their gratitude for my writing the books. It’s a unique place in ISKCON for me.
I’m losing track of how many classes I’m giving here. Chowpatty is alive with bhakti. The devotees here are very intelligent and are in the service mood. I had two programs yesterday, in which I read a lot from my books, including poetry. Radhanatha Maharaja said he could fill the hall for me anytime I wanted, two hundred people. He invited me to accompany him to a program at the Birla’s house last night but said there would be fifteen hundred people there, and I thought it was too much for me. But the devotees expect another class from me here. Instead, I spoke to about six of the Back to Godhead staff, who are doing wonderful things translating in three different languages, although against some typical indifference to the importane of Back to Godhead magazine.
I don’t have a clock with big digits to see the passing of the time during the night, and I woke almost every half hour. Finally got up at one thirty. I hope I’ll be able to get through the day without too much sleepiness. Tonight’s another grand program, a Saturday night congregation. I think instead of reading from my books as usual, I will ask for questions and try to give answers to relevant topics on their minds. Nitai-Gauranga asked if I was actually “into” taking part in the programs or whether I’m just doing them. I said I liked doing them. The devotees here actually like me!