This week, Gopal Agarwal, who resides in USA, and his son Brij spent a couple of days in Mumbai. One of their first trips in the city was to ISKCON’s Juhu Center to see the presiding deities Sri Sri Radha Rasabihari.
In September of 1965, when Srila Prabhupada had arrived for the first time in the USA and exited the Jaladuta steamship at the Brooklyn pier, one of his contacts in the new land was Gopal Agarwal, the son of a Mathura businessman who had requested his son to host Prabhupada in America. Since Gopal was unable to go to New York to personally receive Prabhupada, he arranged for a Travelers Aid representative to meet him and put him on a bus to Pittsburgh. Gopal met Prabhupada in Pittsburgh and thereafter took him to his home in Butler, Pennsylvania.
During his visit to the Sri Sri Radha Rasabihari Temple, Gopal Agarwal fondly spoke of how Prabhupada happily lived on the couch his family offered him in their two bedroom apartment. At his wife Sally’s request he would cook lunch for the entire family. He mentioned, “At that time we didn’t realize what a great personality he was. Now hundreds are ready to cook for him but at a certain time he lovingly cooked for us.”
Mr. Agarwal explained that after a few days Prabhupada moved to the nearby YMCA where he stayed at night and visited the Agarwals’ home during the day. During his stay in Butler, Gopal Agarwal arranged for his friends to come every evening to his apartment and hear spiritual discourse from Prabhupada. He recollects how Prabhupada would remember the names of every guest at the program and would not forget a face.
Gopal Agarwal revealed that occasionally he visits New Vrindavan temple along with his friends and relatives. Brij remarked that he doesn’t have any memories of Prabhupada visiting his house since he was only 6-7 months old, but his mother informed him that he teethed mostly on Prabhupada’s shoes. Gopal Agarwal mentioned that he had never imagined that Prabhupada’s vision to spread the Holy Name would actually take shape and culminate into the international movement that ISKCON is today. He expressed, “I feel fortunate that I could be helpful to Srila Prabhupada in a small way. I’m being honored for doing something simple. I’ve not done anything big but it feels great to know Prabhupada”.
Gopal Agarwal and his son Brij were in Mumbai to visit their extended family. Sally Agarwal was to join them for the India trip but couldn’t make it due to health reasons. Incidentally, Gopal Agarwal’s grand nephew studies at the Bhaktivedanta Swami Mission School located within the complex of ISKCON Juhu.
Srila Prabhupada encouraged young Brij to take his first steps in 1965.
For more pictures of Gopal Agarwal and Brij’s visit to the temple visit here.
Jun 19, 2022
Nrsimhananda das, Devotee Care Committee Member NA
Jun 19, 2022
Sunanda Das, Temple of the Vedic Planetarium