Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Prabhupada Arrives in Istanbul!


Please accept my humble obeisances, all glories to Srila Prabhupada.
How can Prabhupada arrive in Istanbul, I hear some of you say? Let me have the pleasure of sharing this wonderful pastime with you.

It started around winter 2006 when one of the local devotees wanted to have Srila Prabhupada here so much that she offered to pay half of the cost. So jumping at the chance of seeing this along awaited desire manifest into a reality, I immediately sent out a message on the net explaining that we wanted Srila Prabhupada and if devotees could help us get Prabhupada here. Soon there was a reply from a devotee in America explaining that he could send Prabhupada to us for about 2,000 dollars. Just as we started thinking how we could get this kind of laxmi together, we were saved by a real devotee who informed us that this devotee was a fake and had already cheated the Scottish yatra when in fact he didn’t have Prabhupada at all!!

Sadness was soon lifted by a letter from Bhaktisiddhanta prabhu, based in Vrindavan, offering us Prabhupada for a reduced price of 1700 dollars. High price? But, can you put a price on having Prabhupada with you in any form? The price for us was too big but still we wanted him here so much! What could Krsna do for us? Bhaktisiddhanta prabhu could not reduce his price at all but he did say something which continues to stick in my mind to this day: “Wherever Prabhupada goes, he increases the sankirtana mission of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu! With so much laxmi needed to get our new center here ready and open as soon as possible, it took a lot of consideration to spend laxmi on getting the temple ready or getting Prabhupada here? Again the desire of one particular devotee to have Prabhupada here, together with me feeling more and more that actually nothing would be successful without the presence of Srila Prabhupada firmly seated as the captan of his transcendental ship, we decided to go for it and have faith that Krishna would help us get it all done.

With great joy we informed Bhaktisiddhanta prabhu that “YES” he could go ahead and prepare Prabhupada to leave his eternal home of Vrindavan. But! There was the question of the 1700 dollar payment for Prabhupada? Well Bhaktisiddhanta prabhu understanding our strong desire to have Prabhupada here and the fact that Prabhupada was going to reside in a Muslim country, gave us some mercy and allowed us to pay in installments. Dharma got together 500 dollars & I put 200 dollars to make a 700 dollar down payment. Prabhupada was ready to leave Vrindavan packed with 3 changes of sannyasi dress, japa beads, an imprint of his lotus foot together with a tiny deity form of Tulasi Devi made by the same devotee in Vrindavan who had made our Gaura Nitai deities.

Almost immediately an msn friend of mine, who I still haven’t actually met even till today said, he could easily bring our box to our door for free as he had shipments coming from India almost every month. So you can imagine how excited we were that Prabhupada was going to be here very soon!

Oh my Krishna! But our place was still a mess, where would Prabhupada stay? There was no nice clean comfortable place yet, it was like a small building site here! I didn’t feel comfortable about this, but as usual an answer soon came. I regularly listen to these super super cds with devotees talking about their personal exchanges with Srila Prabhupada ( you simply must have these as part of your Prabhupada collection, absolutely essential and super tasty, so much instructions from different angles and strong clear association with Prabhupada, my hairs stand on end most of the time :) I soon heard devotees talking about the situation in Bombay and London. How Prabhupada was so eager to see it all done and ready as soon as possible that he even came to live there among all the noise and mess just to inspire the work to get done sooner.

Prabhupada was delivered to the shipping agent and soon we had our first block! There were constant e-mails back & forth with this agent, me and friend here. The shipping agent made it absolutely clear that he would ship the box as it contained some very dangerous substance? My friend here was so confused, feeling I was an honest person with honest intensions but at the same time he had worked with this agent for so long and as expected trusted him more than me. This shipping agent had told my friend that there was drugs inside thus couldn’t send the box. The simple solution is of course to take out whatever drugs were inside & send just Prabhupada. But of course things were not so simple. We later understood that this person knowing who Prabhupada was, his position as the Acarya and the preacher of the Hare Krishna movement, was afraid to send Prabhupada to a Muslim country fearing he could lose his business connection here.

Sadness dawned on us yet again, of course our service always continued here but we could have felt better with better news. By now it was coming up to Gaurapurnim 2007. For the first time since joining Prabhupada’s mission in 1995 I had to decide to stay in Turkey, use the time and laxmi to complete the work here. I even considered flying just to Delhi airport, pick up Prabhupada and bring him back as my own personal allowable weight. That was not possible! Next hope was local Turkish devotees were going to Mayapur then back via Vrindavan and Delhi. They also begged & pleaded with flight officials and tried very hard to bring Prabhupada back with them but just was not possible! Krishna was not allowing it, did He have another plan?

So about two months later, we had another friend of a friend based in Delhi trying to help us get Prabhupada here. Prabhupada had been taken back to Vrindavan. So again he was taken from Vrindavan back to Delhi to our 2nd shipping agent. They looked at ways to get Prabhupada here but for one reason or another, the outcome was negative. There seemed to be a block among other things from Bhaktisiddhanta’s accountant or someone like that saying the full bill hadn’t been paid so Prabhupada couldn’t be released. There was a lot of e-mails between me, Vrindavan and Bhaktisiddhanta prabhu who was now in America. Anway the result was Prabhupada was heading back to Vrindavan again!

This was something from Bhaktisiddhanta prabhu: “In spite of all the difficulty Srila Prabhupada will be landing in Turkey soon to change the life of that country”. Ys. Bhaktisiddhanta das.

We began to realize that having Prabhupada come to your center and stay with you was not such a cheap thing, we had to really desire it and really pray for it. Actually, we began to feel a bit hopeless, we had a strong heart felt desire to associate with Prabhupada here and serve him daily in his personal manifest form, but Krishna just was not allowing it. Maybe He didn’t want it, we thought?

Then we got some uplifting news from my spiritual birth place, Mayapur Dhama. A devotee agreed to loan us 500 dollars which was delivered by hand to Vrindavan which seem to solve the problem with the accountant.

By the time another friend of a friend came into the picture to help us get Prabhupada here, it was about 3 or 4 weeks before “Janmastami 2007”. This shipping agent said we could send Prabhupada by ship which would be cheap but long or by air which would be very expensive but quick. He went on to inform us that actually both of these paths had the same problem, customs clearance at our end here. We might end up with Prabhupada in Turkey but stuck in customs and have to be returned due to being a religious figure. So “just tell us, how we could get Prabhupada here” we stressed again and again! Finally a ray of hope opened up. There was a way to get Prabhupada here and somehow avoid the usual customs clearance stuff by using a cargo company like DHL.

By now there was just 2 weeks left till “Janmastami” and so many things needed to be done to have the place somewhat ready. In the past “Janmastami” was kept as a private celebration for just a few local devotees who would come after work, fasting till midnight. But for no apparent reason we decided to make it a public thing and invite any friends that would like to watch an Indian celebration, soon the ball got rolling and many people came forward, some just to attend and some to do a performance for Krishna’s pleasure. I had a deep feeling that none of this would be successful or right with out Prabhupada being present to watch it all and it all done as an offering to him, my life had been given to me by him so he simply had to be here for this! But how?? 2 weeks left, Prabhupada back in Vrindavana, our new shipping friend was in Mumbai and DHL would charge 1000 dollars to bring Prabhupada to our door!! Absolutely an impossible situation, no way!!

Our friend in Mumbai says “anyway lets bring Prabhupada to Mumbai first then take it from there”. 2 days later the previous shipping agent offers to help with a 250 dollar donation which is super but still left a huge 750 dollars to drop from the sky. Then 3 days later that almost happens, 2 local Indian friends offer to give something to help get Prabhupada here. Prabhupada arrives in Mumbai and feeling the sincere desire we have to get Prabhupada here, our shipping friend in Mumbai offers to donate the remaining laxmi needed to pay for the shipping.

I pushed my luck and stressed “we simply have to have Prabhupada here for Janmastami, can not be without him, he coolly replied, no way! I pleaded with him, “ok, you just send as quick as possible!”

When you send a parcel by DHL, they have this tracking system so you can follow the movement of your package. This is what we followed, every 3 or 4 hours we were checking the latest position on the internet. Absolutely excited, hearts in our mouths, paint brushes in our hands and running around like crazy to get things ready. As most of you know Prabhupada asks: “why is it that everywhere I go seems to smell of fresh paint”

This is the print out from DHL:

August 31, 2007 00:21 Mumbai (Bombay) - India Shipment picked up = EXCITED

August 31, 2007 20:07 Mumbai (Bombay) - India Departed from DHL facility in Mumbai (Bombay) – India = SUPER EXCITED!

September 03, 2007 12:01 London-Heathrow - UK Departed from DHL facility in London-Heathrow – UK = FURIOUS!! WHAT WAS PRABHUPADA DOING IN LONDON, HE WAS SUPPOSE TO COME TO TURKEY! (Maybe visiting my most loved deities, Sri Sri Radha London-Isvara)

September 03, 2007 23:11 East Midlands - UK Departed from DHL facility in East Midlands – UK = MORE DELAY, MORE FURIOUS!!


September 04, 2007 03:27 Brussels - Belgium Departed from DHL facility in Brussels – Belgium = 3:27AM SO SHOULD ARRIVE HERE JUST IN TIME FOR JANMASTAMI BUT PRABHUPDA DOES NOT ARRIVE HERE ALL DAY, ALL NIGHT!!

The next day, it’s Wednesday, a working day so just me and Dharma are here. We are preparing to make an offering to Srila Prabhupada in his photo from, check what happens next:

September 05, 2007 10:26 Istanbul - Turkey Departed from DHL facility in Istanbul - Turkey

September 05, 2007 10:54 Istanbul - Turkey Arrived at DHL Facility

September 05, 2007 12:11 Istanbul - Turkey With delivery courier

September 05, 2007 13:35 Istanbul - Turkey Shipment delivered

Srila Prabhupada kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii jayaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!

Look at the date & time Prabhupada appeared here!! YES! Prabhupada arrived on his own appearance day at exactly 13:35, Vyasa puja time!!

There was a knock at the door, and we opened it and were shocked to see 2 men carring a big box and they said “this is for you” Yes! Yes!! we replied with jumping heart beats. “bring it in”. They left, me and Dharma almost had a heart attack. For what seemed to be a very long time but was about 30 seconds, we just looked at each other and looked at the box knowing that Srila Prabhupada was inside. Then we burst into joy, Srila Prabhupada kiiiiii jayaaaaaaaa!!!!

We screamed and immediately started openning the box. Very carefully removing layer by layer of protective covering, forgetting to breath sometimes, Srila Prabhupada revealed himself. Wowowo! Srila Prabhupada kiiii jayaaa! We melted in owe and reverence and brought our heads to ground with folded hands offered obeisances. Srila Prabhupada and Krishna really had their own plan, Prabhupada showed so much mercy upon us. We wanted to get Prabhupada here anytime before but he waited just to give us more faith in him. He mercifully kept us waiting to personally appear on his own birthday to increase our faith in him, accept our service and encourage us. We gently carried Prabhupada, gave him a shower, dressed him in new clothes, put his neck beads on together with his japa beads and japa bag. Lovingly placed him on his vyasasana and worshipped him with tears in our eyes.

This was the most beautifully intense 3 hours of my life and we had the most sublime Vyasa puja I had ever experienced. Full focus on Prabhupada and we sang the song we sing to him every morning “Sri guru caranaa padma......” not even a second when the mind wondered else where. So so beautiful!! What can I say...simply ecstacy.

This is a historical part of our Krsna conscousness history, Prabhupada arrives in Istanbul to continue his desire and pastimes to give conditioned souls shelter, guidence and the chance to go back home.

My realisation: As Srila Prabhupada says: to the degree that you are with Krishna, He is with you. So to the degree that you are with Srila Prabhupada, to that degree, he is with you. I realise that my service to Srila Prabhupada is so simple. Simply to bring lost souls to Srila Prabhupada’s sheltering lotus feet, eternal association and guidance by his Vapu & vani forms. Like himself says:

" Therefore I am stressing on this point: "Where is book? Where is book? Where is book?" So kindly help me. This is my request. Print as many books in as many languages and distribute throughout the whole world. Then Krsna consciousness movement will automatically increase.

>>> Ref. VedaBase => Arrival Address -- Los Angeles, June 20, 1975

Here are some interesting facts on our way to receiving Srila Prabhupada here in his new center:

1. Contract signed and down payment made unknowingly on Radhastami 2006
(Radharani herself giving her thumbs up for this project)

2. Officially registered our place on the 10th of August 2006.
(Prabhupada registered Iskcon on the 7th of August)

3. Prabhupada left India for Turkey on 31 of August.
(Prabhupada left India on the Galaduta boat for America 29th of August!)

4. Janmastami 2007 was first offical day with guests.

5. Prabhupada appeared here the next day!! YES! Prabhupada arrived on his own appearance day at 13:35, just in time to accept our tiny offering!! Jayaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Now that Srila Prabhupada is seated here at the helm of his new temple and we would like to extend an invitation to all Vaisnavas to drop in on Istanbul, Turkey. You can contact me 
Balarama das via: Any interested Turkish friends can be directed to
I hope you enjoyed this as much as I really enjoyed re-living it for you. Take care, let's all pray that we stay under the complete shelter and protection of our beloved Srila Prabhupada no matter what happens! If Krishna could give me one wish, it would be that no one should ever lose faith in Srila Prabhupada, always remain faithful to him and his instructions. The only way to end this is of course with a quote from Srila Prabhupada:

Reporter: Who will succeed You when you die?   
Srila Prabhupada: I will never die!
Devo: Jaya! Haribol!   
Srila Prabhupada: I will live forever from my books and you will utilise!

Dear Vaisnavas, you have a great jewel among us, without which this world is almost empty. I am begging you all to continue to flood the surface of this planet with Srila Prabhupada’s association. To some degree we have placed Prabhupada in the past. Please Bring Prabhupada back to life and fully into a living relationship with every soul starting with yourself. No more Prabhupada isnt here! Prabhupada has gone! Prabhupada is in the past! Prabhupada is dead! He is very much well, living, present, protecting and guiding!
Ys Balarama das

No comments:

Post a Comment