12/14/97 - 1358
My Account of Prabhupad's Passing
USA (VNN) - Raghunatha Anudas - This is my account of Prabhupad's
This morning, I had breakfast with a leading devotee. We talked
of guru-kulis today and our childhood's past. We happened upon
my days in Vrindavan from `76 to 82. She asked if I had been there
at the time of Prabhupada's passing. I had. I relayed how I had
been there at the foot of Prabhupad's bed during the entire afternoon
until his passing at 7:20 pm. I was 12 years old at the time.
There are a great many things I remember from that day but there
are two things that stood out in my mind. After discussing it,
we thought the community of devotees would also appreciate my
The first has to do with the massages devotees were giving Prabhupad.
I clearly remember them because I too had massaged Prabhupad repeated
throughout that afternoon. His lotus feet. I debated this carefully.
Should I ask someone or just reach under the sheets and begin.
I did. Many devotees were taking Prabhupad's hands and massaging
them. None asked. But they were all leading devotees. Upendra,
Prabhupada's servant, for a time. He brought his boy to join him.
There were others. Manihara - maybe. After rubbing Prabhupad's
feet on and off over the course of several hours, I stopped. Not
because of boredom or philosophical concerns but something so
much more dreadful. Was this painful to Srila Prabhupada?
In both my experience of touching Prabhupad and seeing his reaction
to others, it seemed as if Prabhupad was pulling away every time
someone tried to massage him. This was very significant for besides
this, Prabhupad had been motionless. It was so obvious, that Narayan
Maharaj had even commented upon it. He said something to the effect
that Prabhupad was "dancing with the gopis." I did not have such
transcendental vision. My reaction both then and now was, is,
that these massages were causing a great deal discomfort to Prabhupada.
Prabhupada's dance with the gopis seemed to coincide - exclusively
- with these massages. Many devotees may recall the reports that
Prabhupad had no fat left on his bones. It was nothing more then
skin lying directly on nerves and muscles. Prabhupad's skin was
therefore extremely sensitive. I stopped massaging Prabhupad when
I saw Upendra restraining Prabhupada's hand after Prabhupad had
pulled away from him. Not once. Nor twice. But several times.
It made such an impression upon me that I decided then: I would
give specific directions for my own passing. Do not massage me.
I remember -vividly - to this day.
Not surprisingly, the most dramatic incident of the day was the
moment of Prabhupad's passing. This too appeared to me quite different
then other official accounts. Once again, it concerns the "service"
the devotees were offering to Srila Prabhupad. There was a long
spouted container (but quite small) that held holy water taken
from the sacred rivers and kunda's from around India. This container
would poor less then a small teaspoon of water at a time. The
devotees would do so when Prabhupada opened his mouth as he did
every so often in 20 minute to couple hour intervals. Again, this
too was looked upon as quite eventful. This was the only other
interaction the devotees saw from Prabhupada.
The last devotee to share in this, a sannyasi, was administrating
the water. (He remains a leading sannyasi today and so I will
not use his name.) But this time, Prabhupada was opening his mouth
much more frequently. Instead of opening every 20 minutes or so,
Prabhupad was opening every few, then every couple. This created
something of a stir from the devotees. Prabhupad was once again
accepting some service. Prabhupad was taking water. This devotee
continued with a sense that Prabhupad was thirsty and almost requesting
more water. For a moment there, it seemed as if Prabhupad was
coming to. But suddenly, another devotee, Manihar, also standing
there at the head of Prabhupada's bed, grabbed the devotee's hand.
"Stop! Prabhupada can't breath." This poor sannyasi looked to
Manihara. Mortified. "What?" He asked. Again Manihara said. "Prabhupad
can't breath!" Was Prabhupad trying to speak or breath or chant
Hare Krsna? What ever the case, it was my impression as it was
for this sannyasi and Manihara's that they were drowning Prabhupad
with this water.
It was this very incident that marked Srila Prabhupada's passing.
This is what caused the commotion among the devotees sitting in
the back of the room to now rush forward. It was this that brought
the devotees from the next room. This is when the chanting went
from gentle singing, to resounding kirtan, to screaming with all
their heart and all their soul, as loud as they could: "Hare Krishna!!"
"Hare Krishna!!" Bhardaraj was leading the Hare Krishna Kirtan.
Hansadutta suddenly jumped in to lead Jai Prabhupada! The devotees
split in responding to both until there was no leader. All sang
in unison. Hare Krsna! Jai Prabhupad! Most cried. Uncontrollably.
This is the setting in which Prabhupad passed from this world.
I was there at the foot of Prabhupad's bed during all of this
just as I appear in Yadubar's filming of this day. I could see
everything clearly. I have heard that Prabhupad was `dancing'
prior to his passing. Others - who were not there, reported that
Prabhupad was chanting Hare Krsna at the time of his passing.
Devotees can draw their own conclusion. I am simply stating my
first hand experience and observations. Again, I was just a boy
of 12. One who was initiated. 16 rounds a day. And twice up for
brahmin initiation. (Canceled with all other initiations after
Prabhupad's health turned for the worse.) In other words, I was
a mature 12 year old much as India often does to most. I was at
my best with Prabhupada. More so than most of my peers as all
my teachers from those days will attest. I had the same adoration
as any 12 year old Catholic boy would if told he were in the company
of Christ himself. I was diligent and attentive. I loved Prabhupad,
as I do today. This is my account of this unique event. It serves
as one more voice of the many who were fortunate enough to have
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