ISKCON is officially observing Srila Prabhupada’s coming to America and forming his society at 26 Second Avenue, in the year 2016. But 50th anniversary events have already occurred in 2015 and two major festivals have been celebrated. The observance of the day Prabhupada left India on board the Jaladuta on August 13, 1965 was celebrated in grand fashion in an indoor stadium in Calcutta on August 13, 2015. On September 17, 1965, after a thirty-five day voyage, the Jaladuta arrived in Boston U.S.A. Prabhupada took a walk in the City and wrote his magnificent poem “Markine Bhagavata-dharma”. The devotees in Boston observed the 50th anniversary of this event with an elaborate three-day festival in which they hired a ship that held nine hundred persons and re-enacted the Jaladuta’s arrival at Commonwealth Pier.
I have been asked by the Fiftieth Anniversary Committee to write a daily meditation on Prabhupada from now until the end of 2016. I am very honored by the invitation, but feel humbled and daunted to carry it out. I intend to keep an approximate diary of Prabhupada’s activities during the weeks and months of the remainder of 2015 and 2016. I cannot be responsible for a daily calendar of his life as no such record exists. I will consult the Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta and other early memoirs for outstanding events, but I will rely on my own realizations to construct the daily “meditations”, not focusing solely on the external acts of each day, but Prabhupada’s prevailing mood and my praise and worship of his presence in America in his mission on behalf of his Spiritual Master and Lord Krishna.
By October 9th, Prabhupada was scheduled in his routine of residing at the YMCA and visiting the apartment of his sponsors, Gopal and Sally Agarwal in Butler, Pennsylvania. Every morning he would rise early at the Y and write on his Srimad-Bhagavatam translations and purports. One of his few possessions was a small, manual typewriter and he would type out his “emotional ecstasies” on the Second Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. He would then walk the seven blocks to the home of the Agarwal’s apartment and arrive there at 7:00 and prepare his breakfast. Gopal left for work at 7:45 and Prabhupada began preparing lunch at 9:00. He rolled capatis and cooked rice and vegetables in his three-tier brass burner. He worked alone for two hours while Sally did housework and took care of her two young children. He would finish cooking and take prasadam at 11:30. At noon, Gopal came home for lunch and Sally would prepare a sandwich for him, but after a few days he abandoned his sandwiches and Prabhupada prepared enough prasadam for the whole family. “Oh, and we enjoyed it so much!” remembers Sally.
Tomorrow I will tell of Prabhupada’s relationship with the Agarwals and how he “fit in” with their conservative, middle class, suburban, American milieu.[ meditations ]