PIONEERING THE WAY
Srila Prabhupada Impacts Mexico (Part 12)
SRILA PRABHUPADA PREACHING AT THE MASONIC LODGE
After the University program Srila Prabhupada returned to the temple. He was very pleased by the Mexican public's attitude of listening. Because Srila Prabhupada's message was spiritual it seemed to go beyond the limitation of language directly to the soul that constantly suffers from the forgetfulness of his loving relationship with the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. Srila Prabhupada noticed the natural tendency in the local people to respect saintly persons and listen to spiritual messages.
The preaching at the Masonic Lodge was set up for this day, but before that Srila Prabhupada would get the visit of two sannyasims. There was a lady who regularly visited the temple and had invited devotees to her home for preaching engagements regularly. Her nature was charitably disposed toward spiritual personalities and yogis; at that time she brought to the temple two sannyasims that she was sponsoring. Their names were Swami Joti and Swami Tilaka; they were renunciant monks traveling the world together. Taking advantage of Srila Prabhupada visiting the temple, she brought them to the temple to meet with His Divine Grace.
Srila Prabhupada received them with warm affection. They were extremely pleased by the kind words and conversation they had with His Divine Grace while he offered them prasadam and showed them around the temple and asramas. They left being pleasantly impressed by the experience of meeting Srila Prabhupada.
The next program was the Masonic lodge situated by the monument to the Mother in downtown Mexico City. The advance party arrived they brought the vyasasana and books to the Masonic lodge auditorium they were received by the lodge members who instructed them to place the vyasasana in an area conveniently at the front and center of the audience.
Anantacarya das: At the Masonic lodge auditorium in Mexico City, one entered the door and then walked down a very long ramp to the stage.
Accompanied by his personal servant, secretary, Sanskrit pandit, swamis and a group of devotees Srila Prabhupada arrived at the lodge. His Divine Grace was received by lodge members at the door. They show the way to Srila Prabhupada. His Divine Grace walked down the long ramp up to the stage were the vyasasana was situated. And he got up to sit there while a garland of fresh flowers was offered to him around his neck.
Anatacarya das: All Prabhupada's disciples except me were with him down on the stage, putting on a preaching program. I was up by the door, manning a book table, but all the books were in English; we still (at that point) had no book in Spanish.
Srila Prabhupada took the garland and placed it on his lap, and asked for his kartals. H.H. Hanuman das Goswami lead the kirtan for some time and shortly after Srila Prabhupada ended it, the masons started a series of rituals.
Rama Govinda das: I was near by Srila Prabhupada's vyasasana when our host began some rituals. I remember Chitsukananda das asking them to perform slowly in order to translate to Srila Prabhupada, but His Divine Grace told him it was not necessary.
The audience at the Masonic lodge seemed to be formed mostly by respectable people with important jobs like government officials, politicians, and other types of professionals. Srila Prabhupada explained the objectives of the Krishna consciousness movement and its basic philosophy.
Anantacarya das: So there I was, all by myself, far away from where I wanted to be, down. Nobody would buy even one book because all the books were in English. (This particular audience wanted something in Spanish. They were not so much inclined toward English). So I was feeling morose, sorry for myself, and wanting to be down there with Srila Prabhupada. Finally I thought, If I could distribute just one book, then maybe Srila Prabhupada would be pleased, and being stuck here at this table would be worth it. I so much wanted to distribute at least one book, I had very strong desire.
And all of a sudden practically out of nowhere, in walks a delightful, charming, young maiden, splendidly dressed who walks immediately up to the table, points directly at our biggest (and most expensive) book, and says, "I want that book. How much do I owe you?" -- in perfect American English!
So I took the money, started to hand her the book -- but I took it back -- because Srila Prabhupada wasn't looking. (He was chanting with his eyes closed).
I started to hand it to her a second time, and took it back. Srila Prabhupada wasn't looking. I wanted him to see the book going out very slowly. For the third time, I began to hand her the book, and then let her take it. But Prabhupada wouldn't look. He was busy leading kirtan. However, when he came up the ramp later on, he stopped right in front of me, gave me a big, radiant, beautiful smile, and while smiling he soundly tapped his cane on the floor three times: "Bam! Bam! Bam!" And that way he let me know that the spiritual master is pleased even if only one book is distributed.
The audience enthusiastically asked intelligent questions and was visibly satisfied with Srila Prabhupada's exposition, so much so that at the end of the session there was loud applause.
Nanda Nandana das: I remember that the man who hosted Srila Prabhupada's presentation had trouble pronouncing his name when introducing him to the audience. But at the end he kindly and clearly made public know that Srila Prabhupada was a renunciant, traveling throughout the world preaching and that their collaboration by offering to Srila Prabhupada donations for his trips was welcome and appreciated. An American girl who was visiting the temple walked through the assembly with straw basket collecting the donations. Many people were generous with their offerings to help Srila Prabhupada. After collecting the donations the girl presented them to Srila Prabhupada as he chatted with the lodge directors before returning to the temple.
Rama Govinda das
(R.G. Bhakti Prapanna Parvata Maharaja)