This year, as we celebrate the 125th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s appearance in 1896, an excellent way to become absorbed in the pastimes and teachings of the ISKCON Founder-Acharya is the latest, fifth volume of Memories: Anecdotes of a Modern Day Saint.
The series all began back in 1991 when Siddhanta Das, the devotee behind the project, was working with ISKCON Television (ITV) and tested out some new video cameras by taping Srutakirti Das, who had served as Srila Prabhupada’s servant, telling Prabhupada stories.
Inspired, Siddhanta began traveling around the world filming interviews with Prabhupada disciples. Over the past thirty-one years, he has amassed over 400 interviews, featuring over 2,500 separate unique stories about Srila Prabhupada. These were first presented on VHS, then on DVDs; today, Siddhanta has made 85 videos, each one-and-a-half hour long, available on one 512GB flash drive, for 140 hours worth of transcendental viewing pleasure.
“Krishna also gave me the thought that it might be beneficial to archive these videos in the form of books – for those who don’t have the ability to plug in at a particular time, at least they’ll have the opportunity to read the stories,” he says.
Taking time to faithfully transcribe and edit the stories for publication, Siddhanta has released five volumes of Prabhupada Memories books, each of which cover fifteen videos. which are also available for Kindle, iPad or iPhone.
The latest book, Volume 5, was five years in the making and is the longest and most packed with nectar yet. Covering twenty videos in the Memories series, it runs 520 pages, and contains over 700 anecdotes from 109 disciples.
Included in the book are stories about Srila Prabhupada from Mukunda Goswami, Srutakirti Das, Gopal Krsna Goswami, Bhakti Caitanya Swami, Cinmayi Dasi, Jananivas Das, Bhaktimarga Swami, Manjuali Dasi, Mohanasini Dasi, Swarup Das, Ranchor Das, Sripati Das, Mondakini Dasi, Bhurijana Das, Janaki Dasi, Janananda Swami, Bhakta Das, Jagannathesvari Dasi, Krsna Bhamini Dasi, Sikhi Mahiti Das, Keshava Bharati Das Goswami, and many, many more.
In his interviewees, Siddhanta has focused on stories that contain a learning lesson, or exhibit one of Srila Prabhupada’s qualities, so that the reader can imbibe the lesson and practice it in their own life.
“The stories are educational and inspiring, showing qualities of Prabhupada that will help newer generations of devotees, as they come along, to understand his uniqueness,” Siddhanta says. “In these accounts, Prabhupada shows his wit, his compassion, his determination, his humility, and all the twenty-six qualities of a pure devotee.”
In one anecdote from the book depicting Prabhupada’s compassion, Swarup Das recalls how he was going to attend a talk by Srila Prabhupada with a childhood friend, but his friend did not want to go and mix with the devotees, because he felt ashamed for having smoked a cigarette that morning. The discussion caused somewhat of a commotion.
“Finally, Srila Prabhupada said, ‘What’s the commotion? What’s going on? What is the difficulty?’” Swarupa recalls. “Someone tried to explain saying, ‘Well, Jimmy is feeling ashamed.’ Jimmy said, “I’m not worthy of being in the association of Prabhupada.” Srila Prabhupada said, “Whatever you have done, I forgive you. Now come in and join us. Sit down!” I remember hearing everybody in the apartment let out a loud “Haribol!” It was a wonderful exchange, which resulted in Jimmy entering the apartment…”
In an account of Prabhupada’s devotion, Brajendranandana Das recalls,“Prabhupada was once explaining that Krishna doesn’t need our offerings of fruits and flowers and bhoga. What He wants is our feelings, and then Prabhupada recited some words, and while he spoke, he started weeping. He said, ‘I am most fallen and rotten, but I have brought these things for you. Please accept.’ He just started weeping and weeping, teaching us the proper mood of worship, the ideal mood of worship.”
Krishnarupa Dasi remembers how encouraging Prabhupada was: “This is a story that doesn’t directly involve me although I was there. It shows me how Prabhupada desired to encourage the devotees when they needed encouragement. It was during the Bhagavatam class when Srila Prabhupada said, “Oh, who has dressed Radha-Govinda?” Narayani, who was the head pujari and extremely shy, didn’t want to put her hand up. Again, Prabhupada said, “Who has dressed Radha-Govinda?” All the devotees were turning to her and eventually she very shyly put her hand up. Srila Prabhupada gave her a beautiful smile and said, “Thank you very much.” It was such a lovely show of kindness and compassion, and she was very excited about that because she was a very devoted pujari for Radha-Govinda.”
Absolutely packed with stories like these, Memories Volume 5 has received rave reviews from devotees all over the world.
“My husband just gave me your latest book, number five, for my birthday,” Karuna Dharini Dasi wrote to Siddhanta. “I could not get a better present. Thank you very much… Prabhupada memories capture the essence of scripture by describing scripture personified. They may well be scripture.”
“The Prabhupada memories series is more than a good view of His Divine Grace,” said Mukunda Goswami. “It is an essential feature for any devotee to understand Srila Prabhupada’s qualities and life lessons, and is not to be missed. It is a rare treasure.”
To purchase the Memories books, DVDs and more please visit: https://prabhupadamemories.com/index.html
Watch Prabhupada Memories on the official Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-Ajeil3NjKKgeN9-fxeWwQ/videos
Jan 22, 2022
Sunanda Das, tovp.org