The Hare Krishna Explosion
by Hayagriva das
Part III: New Vrindaban, 1968-1969
Enter, Srila Prabhupada
In his long absence, Swamiji’s words haunt me: “Although I am practically on the path of death, still I cannot forget my publications. I wish that if I live or die, you will take very serious care for my publications.“
We are bewildered trying to keep the ISKCON ship afloat, subsisting on the only supplies left—the holy names, the words, the taped lectures, the few books and pamphlets, the memories and photographs.
“Although I am practically on the path of death….”
(Swamiji always said “practically” for “actually.”)
His publications! The Word in English! Before me sits the first complete draft of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, ready for final English revision. “It must be published at once,” he told us repeatedly. “Either get some publisher, or we print it ourselves. Complete it quickly.”
Leaving San Francisco, even revising the manuscript on the plane, I return to New York to work with Brahmananda, who is still hounding publishers.
In Matchless Gifts, we carry on, keeping silent vigil for reports on Swamiji’s condition. Every day, we wait for a letter from Swamiji himself, signed in a large, firm hand, “Your ever well-wisher, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.”
Soon letters from Kirtanananda begin to arrive. Word spreads. Swamiji and Kirtanananda were detained overnight in London because someone on the plane was infected with smallpox. A twenty-four hour quarantine. They were accomodated in a hotel by the airline. In the morning, Swamiji was feeling much better, and they were in Moscow in three hours.
Swamiji was not impressed by the stark silence of the Moscow airport. Nor by the peasant women mopping the floor, nor by the Marxist tracts. Women should be protected, and in every society there exists the four castes. How can the sudras, the working class be expected to dominate government? The four castes were proclaimed eternal by Krishna Himself. Mr. Marx cannot arbitrarily abolish them. Such is the illusion of demons.
“We stayed in Moscow about an hour,” Kirtanananda writes, then reboarded and were in Delhi by midnight. We arrived in the middle of the monsoons, so when we got off the plane, the hot and humid Indian air hit us. It was like walking into a scorching brick wall.”