PIONEERING THE WAY
Srila Prabhupada Impacts Mexico (Part 11)
SRILA PRABHUPADA PREACHING IN MEXICO CITY'S NATIONAL UNIVERSITY
After the successful preaching programs in Cuernavaca Srila Prabhupada returned to Mexico City where the devotees had more engagements lined up for him. The first would be at La Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico's national university. It was the country's biggest and most important. Srila Prabhupada emphasized preaching in universities all over
the world since the intelligent class of any country can be found there. And if intelligent people are given the opportunity to come in contact with the Krishna consciousness philosophy through the books that Srila Prabhupada presented, then upper class people would be pleased to listen to Srila Prabhupada.
The intense preaching program was constantly engaging Srila Prabhupada outside the temple. In the early mornings he followed his usual schedule, but during the day it would vary. On this particular morning he was able to answer a letter from a lady disciple of his. She was living in India, helping with the new project at Juhu beach, Bombay.
"I am in due receipt of your letter from Bombay along with the very nice article, 'Prabhupada: India's National Hero.' I am very grateful to you for your kind words about me, but I do not think that I have done anything, but I am only delivering the best message as it is. Actually anyone who is a sincere devotee of Krishna and who is rendering service by preaching His
message is to be considered as hero."
In these words Srila Prabhupada exhibits the natural humility of a pure devotee. This was the key to his successful preaching. He never thought of himself as the author, but always as the instrument in the hands of Sri Guru and Krishna. He revealed this same humble mood long before this, when he wrote a poem upon arriving to America about his first feelings and
impressions of being there. And now that his preaching was successfully expanding all over the world, he still maintained the same humble attitude.
The letter continued:
"So you are all heroes of your country and your humanity. Hero means someone who others want to follow as example of the best type of person. So you all become like that, perfect examples of Krishna consciousness heroes and heroines, and preach the message exactly as I have taught it to you very seriously and being fully convinced, and others will automatically come forward and join us. We shall all be like one great army of heroes for Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu." (Letter 6.06.72)
After dictating this letter to his secretary Shyamasundar das, they prepared for their next program, which was to be in the university. Since their arrival, one of the places the devotees always visited when going out to chant in public was the national university and they did so with great success. As the sankirtan party danced through campus many students joined in, chanting and dancing.
Devotee: We would regularly visit the university, and were very well accepted by the students, who joined us, chanting and dancing without inhibitions or prejudice. They would listen to us after the kirtan and take books and incense; some would even accompany us back to the temple. Many of those students attended the Bhagavad-Gita classes in the evenings, went to the Sunday feasts, and offered service in different ways.
Srila Prabhupada liked the university preaching and gave advice how to do it, also as a good source of making new devotees:
"Your program for the university students is very, very nice, try to do it seriously and with scholarly approach. Yes, your chief weapon will be prasadam, because everyone likes to eat nice foodstuffs and philosophy and other things will come gradually. In this way try to make many devotees, just like so many of your top-grade disciples came from Buffalo University." (Letter 10.23.72)
Srila Prabhupada's words came true. Some students from the university joined the temple just weeks before Srila Prabhupada's visit and had already received initiation from him, a few days before his lecture at the university; and others helped by getting permission to use the school of architecture's auditorium on the university campus. His Divine Grace encouraged the university programs also as good fields for preaching and book distribution:
"So Krishna will give you all intelligence, how to push on this movement. Already you have a program for preaching at the university and you should continue this program more and more. The Universities are always good field for preaching and distribute our literatures also. So work very hard and just depend on Krishna and surely you will be successful." (Letter 09.25.71)
Early in the morning on the day of the lecture a group of devotees left for the university. On that day the sankirtan group would be directly guided by Srila Prabhupada himself, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement. They brought with them a vyasasana seat, placard with the maha-mantra, instruments, and for the first time, Spanish books that Haihaya das presented to Srila Prabhupada the day before in Cuernavaca.
The advanced party arrived and immediately headed to the auditorium were Srila Prabhupada would deliver a speech. In some parts of the university campus the saffron dress, the shaved heads, and the colorful saris of the ladies were already familiar; but in other sides of the same university campus they had hardly seen the devotees.
That morning the devotees awoke the curiosity of many wanting to know what was going on, and what those garments meant. When the devotees arrived at the Architecture School, a few radicals, sensing there was something religious, started to tease and jest at the devotees. When they saw the vyasasana, which seemed like a throne, they make a lot of noises. In any case the devotees did not pay much attention to them and continued towards the auditorium. They reached the stage and placed the vyasasana in the middle of it, and behind the vyasasana, the maha-mantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
In this way no one could miss it.
After some time Srila Prabhupada arrived along with his group, secretary, personal servant, swamis, and devotees. At that moment the noisy array of sounds made by the scandalous extremists intensified. To this, Srila Prabhupada not only carried on undisturbed, but the rumble of the kirtan's mridangas, kartals, and the chanting of the maha-mantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
intensified and muffled the extremists incoherent rave.
Srila Prabhupada began his lecture by explaining that Krishna consciousness is the highest form of education. He emphasized that a materialistic education simply promoted a civilization aimed blindly at sense pleasure and thus shared the basic quality of animal consciousness; and that by accepting such a concept of civilization one ran the risk of
descending into lower species of life such as cats and dogs. Srila Prabhupada ended his lecture by allowing the students to ask questions.
Nanda Nandana das: During the question and answer period a student asked Srila Prabhupada if he could see God. Because of the searing nature of the question a silence of expectation followed and the audience became very attentive to Srila Prabhupada's answer:
Srila Prabhupada: "If I told you yes, would you believe me?" he asked the student. To which the student answered "yes." Srila Prabhupada then continued, "Yes I can see God." Many mouths in the audience seemed to fall in surprise at the answer and the crowd's rustle echoed though the hall. We the devotees were of course very satisfied with this answer to
which he added, "You can also see God if you so desire," and then he quoted a verse from Brahma Samhita:
santah sadaiva hrdayesu-vilokayanti
yam syamasundaram acintya-guna-svarupam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
explaining that to see God one must first have pure love for God; and only then can He be seen at every moment.
Anantacarya das: At UNAM (Mexican National University) Srila Prabhupada conducted a standard preaching program including a lecture. Insofar as the audience consisted of students from the elite, educated upper class of Mexican Society, every one of them spoke
perfect English. Prabhupada's lecture was basic Bhagavad Gita, changing bodies transmigration, etc.
Pusta Krishna das: Srila Prabhupada was explaining that human life was not meant for living like cats and dogs when a student got up and interrupted him saying that he did not think that to be a dog was so bad. Srila Prabhupada then asked this student if he would like to be a dog in his next life; to which the student answered, "Sure, why not?" Srila Prabhupada then said in a stern voice, "You have my blessings then, be a dog!"
Anantacarya das: At that point A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada swiftly extended his right arm, and pointing his arm and index finger straight at the student, said in a very
firm and strong voice. "All right then. Be a dog." And instantly he began leading a Hare Krishna mantra and shifted the program back to kirtan. No more philosophy for the so-called educated students. Lord Chaitanya himself also had trouble with the student class of society which tends to suffer from intellectual arrogance."
The question and answer section finished and the devotees started another kirtan. Srila Prabhupada got off the vyasasana and a devotee put on his shoes and he left the auditorium to board his car. A group of singing devotees and students followed him up to the car; the
cheerful devotees kept singing as he got in and left for the temple.
Rama Govinda das
(R.G. Bhakti Prapanna Parvata Maharaja)