After a simple foot-bathing ceremony and guru-puja Srila
Prabhupada retired to his room. Harikesha informed the devotees
that Prabhupada was not feeling well. His health being fragile,
no outside engagements were taken. Prabhupada would be lecturing
every evening at the house in Pointe-aux-Sables. The only major
public engagement would be on October 4th when a meeting with
VIPs was scheduled. Invitations were launched based on the official
Government VIP list.
The next day Prabhupada was ready at six a.m. for his first morning
walk on Mauritian soil. He didn't talk much, but while standing
on the beach and observing the scenery, he remarked that Hawaii
Morning walk: (left to right) Sriniketana, Chayavana, Harikesha,
Srila Prabhupada, Pusta Krishna and Brahmananda.
remark was somewhat of a shock to the local devotees. In their
illusion they thought that this must be the nicest place on earth
and were actually very proud to show Prabhupada Pointe-aux-Sables’s
Chayavana Swami: '' Prabhupada, there
was a huge cyclone a few months ago and it broke down all the
coconut trees. Therefore the place looks devastated.'' But Prabhupada
wouldn't have it, he preferred Hawaii. The devotee's dream of
having Prabhupada stay here and translate for a few months was
around 5 p.m. Srila Prabhupada would receive visitors. Many people
came and he would talk with them and try to infuse them with spirit
of Krishna consciousness. One afternoon he met with Pandit Jagadish
Sharma, a well-known and highly respected Hindu priest. The two
conversed for over half an hour… in Sanskrit. The Pandit
was very favorable to ISKCON and would let the devotees participate
in his Bhagavat katha discourses.
Another day Swami Venkatesananda, from the Divine Life Mission
in Rose Hill came with all his disciples. To the surprise of everyone,
he, along with his followers bowed at Prabhupada's feet and then
listened attentively and respectfully to the lecture. Afterwards
Prabhupada met with the group in his private quarters. Even though
philosophically opposed to the Vaisnava siddhanta, the Swami was
very impressed by the meeting with Srila Prabhupada.
The programmed meeting with the PM never materialized. Sir Sewoosagur
was busy and his secretaries promised the devotees that they would
try their best to arrange something for Prabhupada.
As the time went by, Prabhupada became more and more enlivened
by the preaching potential in the island. Several enthusiastic
young boys regularly assisted his lectures, spent the night and
then accompanied Prabhupada and his party on the morning walks.
After that they listened to the Bhagavatam class and then went
One young man named Ramoo from Rose Belle especially impressed
Prabhupada. Ramoo had been in touch with the devotees and had
arranged different preaching programs before. He had a keen preaching
spirit and wanted to help ISKCON uplift his spiritually fallen
Srila Prabhupada became so enlivened by the conversation with
Ramoo and his friends that after a morning walk something very
unusual took place. No one had ever seen anything like it before.
As the party entered the temple room, Prabhupada proceeded directly
to his Vyasasana, where a disciple would normally perform the
guru puja. But instead of accepting guru puja, Prabhupada continued
the morning walk conversation with the boys who were questioning
him more and more. This conversation went on and on and Prabhupada
became more and more enlivened. All the devotees were also getting
drawn into this most extraordinary exchange. Even the cook preparing
the breakfast came out of the kitchen and forgot all about his
service. Prabhupada came to a point where he told the boys, ''Yes,
organize and I can come personally and stay with you for one month
and organize. Now I have to go to Johannesburg, but if you want
me to come back, I can come back within one week and be with you.''
the full talk between Srila Prabhupada and Ramoo, please click
Prabhupada in Mauritius – A Very Good Program!)
Srila Prabhupada on his morning walk with Ramoo in the blue
& white shirt.
next day Prabhupada wrote to the leaders of the flourishing branch
of ISKCON in France:
…. Here in Mauritius there is a very good potency
for introducing Krishna consciousness on a wide scale… Yesterday
we had one meeting and all big Government officers, ministers
and ambassadors came to hear me speak. And they all appreciated.
Most important the local boys are coming, and now they want to
do something. They are convinced that this is a good movement.
They are making a program to get boys from the villages for me
to instruct them. So I am prepared to personally take up this
program and remain here. The boys are educated and intelligent
and speak English and especially French.
What are required immediately are some French-speaking devotees
to come here for preaching. You kindly arrange for this….
a couple days some members of the press corps came to interview
Srila Prabhupada. The questions were rather superficial and didn't
show much understanding of the philosophy. '' Is it necessary
to be vegetarian?'' '' Is the soul locked in third eye?'' '' Why
do shave your head?'' Yet Prabhupada sat with the reporters for
a long time, replying to all questions with patience.
4th October was the day the VIP program took place. The devotees
arranged a buffet-style reception for the guests. Prabhupada's
lecture started at 2 p.m. He selected to speak from the famous
Srimad-Bhagavatam verse 1.2.6:
The supreme occupation (dharma) for all humanity is that
by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the
transcendent Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated
and uninterrupted in order to completely satisfy the self.
VIP program, Saturday 4th October, 1975
was the ideal verse for the occasion. The audience comprised of
Hindu swamis and pandits, Muslim imams and Christian priests,
High Commissioners (British and Indian), Government ministers
and officials, pious businessmen, lawyers and just simple devotees
of Lord Krishna. They all appreciated the learned talk. The British
High Commissioner remarked at the end of the question time:
''Sir, I have listened to your talk with great interest.
You are very clear and lucid…. Your philosophy seems very
Prabhupada: Thank you very much (laughter). Therefore
it appeals more to the Western countries.
After the lecture the devotees served all the guests a delicious
feast. Srila Prabhupada was highly satisfied with the function.
It was not every day that an audience of such highly posted people
listened to Srimad Bhagavatam, heard the chanting of the holy
names and accepted Krishna prasadam.
For the devotees it was definitely the highlight of Prabhupada's
stay in Mauritius.
Prabhupada left the next afternoon for Durban. Because he was
unable to meet the PM he promised to come back to Mauritius as
soon as there would be another positive sign from the Sir Sewoosagur's
On the way to the airport Prabhupada stopped at the Rose Belle
Shivala. About 100 villagers had gathered for the occasion in
the courtyard of the temple. In his short message Srila Prabhupada
outlined how modern society, by following the instructions of
Lord Krishna, can easily become Krishna conscious and thus perfect
the rarely obtained human form of life.
at Rose Belle Shivala
Swami, Mr.Khemraj Gangah, Brahmananda Swami, Srila Prabhupada
and Chaitya Guru das.
Prabhupada's South African visit lasted up to October 24th. In
the meantime devotees in Mauritius were given hope that the PM
was now ready to meet Srila Prabhupada. Upon his arrival in the
country Prabhupada was taken to a bungalow on the beach in Pointe
d'Esny, near the airport. Prabhupada had returned to meet with
the prime minister. This time, as a friendly gesture, the Government
put two VIP cars, including drivers, at ISKCON's disposal.
Srila Prabhupada in Pointe d'Esny.
The day after his arrival, his secretary, Pusta Krishna Swami,
suggested that Prabhupada take a drive along the scenic east coast
of the country. As he was about to enter the car on the right
side, Pusta Krishna suggested, “Srila Prabhupada, come to
the other side. It's safer." And Prabhupada complied. For
half an hour they rode through the beautiful countryside, past
sugarcane fields, mountains, and the ocean. At one point, they
stopped and walked along a cliff beside the sea. When they returned
to the car, Brahmananda Swami opened the right-side door and Prabhupada
said, “No, the other side is safer," just as Pusta
Krishna had previously suggested.
As the government car, black Citroen, negotiated a narrow curve
while driving along the southwest coastal road of the island,
a Volkswagen suddenly appeared heading towards Prabhupada's car
in the same lane. Prabhupada was seated behind Pusta Krishna,
and Brahmananda was seated behind the driver. The moment before
the Volkswagen had appeared, Srila Prabhupada had sat up, cross-legged,
planting his cane against the floor of the car to support himself.
The chauffeur braked, swerving to the other lane, but the Volkswagen
swerved in the same direction. There was a head-on collision.
Pusta Krishna's head hit the windshield, cracking the glass. The
driver's head also slammed against the glass, and his face was
covered with blood.
In the back seat Prabhupada remained sitting, his face set gravely.
Brahmananda, in shock, suddenly embraced Prabhupada, as if to
protect him, although the danger had already passed. Brahmananda
then jumped out of the car to try and flag down a motorist, and
Pusta Krishna got out and opened the back door, where he found
Srila Prabhupada with his face bruised, his leg bleeding and pieces
of glass scattered at his feet. Prabhupada didn't speak or indicate
how he felt. Suddenly Pusta Krishna realized that the car, disabled
on a curve, was in a dangerous position, so he joined Brahmananda
in the road to caution motorists and to try to get someone to
stop. Both the Citroen and the Volkswagen were totaled, and the
Volkswagen's occupants were also injured. Motorists soon stopped,
and when the injured persons had received help, Prabhupada and
the devotees got into a car and rode back to the temple.
was waiting anxiously, wondering why Srila Prabhupada was so late,
when suddenly Prabhupada entered, walking very stiffly, saying
nothing. When Harikesh saw all three were injured, he cried out,
“My God! What happened? What happened?" But Srila Prabhupada
just walked to his quarters and sat down, silent. A devotee brought
bandages for the obvious injuries: Prabhupada's chin, hand, and
leg, and Pusta Krishna's and Brahmananda's heads. Srila Prabhupada
had said nothing since the accident. Finally he spoke: “Asann
api klesha-da asa dehah." And he translated: “As soon
as you accept this material body, there are so many difficulties.
We were sitting peacefully in the car, and the next moment—crash."
He talked briefly about the collision, and Brahmananda Swami told
how just before the accident Prabhupada had braced himself with
his cane, preventing perhaps more serious injuries.
“Get some resin and turmeric," Prabhupada said. “Mix
it together with a bit of lye, and heat it. Then you apply the
mix to the bruises.” Prabhupada was again speaking—Bhagavata
philosophy and practical medical remedies. It remained a frightening
event, however, and Prabhupada asked the devotees to have kirtana.
Krishna had saved them, he said. Considering that both cars had
been destroyed, the injuries were negligible. Sitting
on the sofa, Prabhupada looked like a battle hero, anointed in
three places with the yellow poultice, while Harikesh read aloud
from Chaitanya Charitamrita – ''The Disappearance
of Haridas Thakur''.
Teelock (right) and Mr.M.Varjanbhay listening to Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada began talking about the dangers of traveling,
questioning the advisability of his extensive touring. His mission
of translating Srimad-Bhagavatam and other Vaishnava literature
was too important for him to be risking his life traveling in
automobiles. He had been considering a visit to Nairobi before
returning to Bombay, but now he said he would cancel his visit.
He said he had never wanted to leave Bombay, but because they
had made so many arrangements in Africa, he had come. Perhaps
the accident was a sign that he should go back to India.
The next morning, with Brahmananda Swami and Pusta Krishna Swami
hobbling along, Prabhupada went on his morning walk as usual,
although he favored his injured knee. Again he discussed with
his disciples whether he should go on to Nairobi or return to
India. Chayavana, the president of ISKCON Nairobi, argued that
Prabhupada should go to Nairobi. The devotees there were expecting
it, he said, and they had made arrangements. If Prabhupada canceled
now, he would probably not come back for a long time. Others,
however, argued that there was no question of asking Srila Prabhupada
to keep going now, after this traumatic accident; he should go
directly to Bombay.
Prabhupada heard both opinions, but he was more affected by the
consideration of disappointing the devotees in Nairobi than of
recuperating after the accident. He decided to go to Nairobi.
To the great disappointment of everyone, the PM's secretaries
informed the devotees that Sir Sewoosagur had to take the plane
the same day to fly to New York for the General assembly of the
United Nations. A meeting with Prabhupada was therefore out of
Prabhupada took everything as Krishna's arrangement. The car accident
had been an inauspicious sign. And now this. He had come back
here just on the promise that he could meet the PM. Without any
further ado, Prabhupada had his secretary book his ticket to Nairobi,
his next stop.
after only a few days in Nairobi, Prabhupada became anxious to
return to India. Reports were reaching him about mismanagement
in Bombay and about building materials being stolen from the property
through a conspiracy involving the workers, the storekeeper, and
the chaukidars. When Srila Prabhupada heard this, he became so
morose he stopped translating. He even stopped eating. Although
thousands of miles from Bombay, he was feeling the pain more than
any of the devotees there. Many of them, in fact, were not even
aware that the theft was taking place. When Brahmananda Swami
asked Prabhupada why he wasn't eating, he replied, “How
can I eat when my money is being stolen?"
November 1st, 1975.
Srila Prabhupada's plane from Nairobi arrived in Bombay at one
A.M., yet even at such an early hour he was greeted at the temple
by a gathering of intimate life members, disciples, and even some
of the tenants on the land. When the group followed him to his
room, he confided that he had had a serious accident, and he even
showed them the scar on his knee. He said he was relieved to be
back. In a letter from Bombay he wrote,
“The accident was very disastrous, but still Krishna saved…
Perhaps I may stay here for some time for finishing our temple
construction on this land.”
"Prabhupada went to Mauritius – we had some
devotees who were preaching there. More then 50% of the population
in Mauritius are Hindu; originally from India – mostly from
Bihar. The British had brought them there mostly to cultivate
sugar cane. Prabhupada was to meet with the Prime Minister of
Mauritius, but when Prabhupada arrived the Prime Minister was
busy with some affairs, and he gave Prabhupada one of his personal
limousines, which was a very nice Citroen - which are very special
cars made of aluminum instead of steel and they have this suspension
system that makes you feel like you’re floating –
anyway he gave this police officer who was the chauffeur. Prabhupada
was there for only a few days – primarily he had come to
see the Prime Minister.
On one occasion I had to make an international phone call and
went to somebody’s house to make the call and while I was
there I was watching TV and saw the Prime Minister cutting a ribbon
to inaugurate a big project which was a chicken processing plant.
It showed how the chickens were hung on these machines by the
neck and there was a knife cutting them, feathers flying and the
outcome was chickens ready for cooking. It was shocking seeing
this all on TV. This was a gift from the French government to
the people of Mauritius. So the French were going to sell fertilizers
and chicken feed to Mauritius – all these foreign aid projects
are all tied in with business. So I mentioned to Prabhupada that
I saw the Prime Minister and what he was doing and Prabhupada
said, 'Oh, he’s a Hindu and doing like that – then
I cannot meet him.' So Prabhupada decided not to meet him, because
it meant the man had no principles. As there were some days where
no programs had been scheduled so Prabhupada said, 'Let us go
for a ride,' as we had this big limousine. Mauritius is a very
beautiful, scenic place – a kind of pristine island –
so Prabhupada was sitting in the back and I was sitting next to
him and Pusta Krishna was sitting in the front seat next to the
with Brahmananda and Pusta Krishna.
were driving - whizzing along the coast line and it was very pleasant,
with sea breezes, the ocean and blue sky, sugar cane growing and
everything was very nice. Prabhupada was enjoying it very much,
with the window down and the fresh air blowing in and he was sitting
crossed-legged on the back seat and beside him was his cane (walking
stick). Then at a certain point - I didn’t realize it then
but later on – Prabhupada just took the cane and propped
against the floor and was holding it with his two hands, and just
after that we were making a turn around a sharp bend and boom!
– there was not a second to react – it happened so
fast – a head on collision. What it was, afterwards we found
out, a white tourist from South Africa was driving on the wrong
side of the road, and that was it, we just hit - head on collision.
Everyone was in shock, the driver was full of blood, the glass
had shattered and Pusta Krishna was also wounded. My arm was gashed
and Prabhupada had blood on his dhoti and a cut on his knee and
we were all shocked. My first reaction, which was maybe a little
naïve, I just put my arms around Prabhupada and just held
him – it was just so shocking. Prabhupada didn’t say
anything. As Pusta Krishna and the driver were out of it and I
was the only one who could function, somehow I just got out of
the car. The other car was a Volkswagen with a man and a woman
– she was unconscious, and the man was getting out of his
car. I realized I had to get Prabhupada out of there – I
didn’t even know where we were – I didn’t know
where our house was or anything. After a while a car comes by
– now Mauritius has mostly Indians and there are very few
western or white people – so the car coming by also had
white people in it and when I tried to stop them they just went
right by, they didn’t want to stop. Then another car came
by, this time I stood in the middle of the road and the car stopped.
I went up to the people in the car and said, 'We need help. My
grandfather is injured, he’s an old man. Please you have
to take us to the nearest hospital.' So they said, 'OK.' Then
they also saw the other car had a woman – she’s unconscious,
full of blood – and they saw Prabhupada, he’s an Indian
with just a little bit of blood – but she was really in
a bad way and the Volkswagen driver wanted attention for his wife,
so we were competing and the stopped car said, 'Maybe we should
take her first,' because they didn’t have much room in their
car. I said, 'No,no, you take us!' The other man said, 'No, we
want to go.' I just slapped the car and said 'You’re taking
us and you’re taking us right now. Let’s go!' So they
said, 'OK, OK.'
I took Prabhupada out of the Citroen. Prabhupada was absolutely
silent, never said a word, and I put him the in the car and we
started driving. The only reason the people were taking us was
because I had forced them. They said, 'Well, we don’t know
where the hospital is and we are going over here to our hotel
and you can go there…,' and I said, 'No, no, we want to
go to the hospital right now!' Prabhupada didn’t say anything
so I knew that whatever I was doing he was agreeing to, but then
I could see that these people weren’t helping us and they
didn’t want to take us to the hospital – they just
wanted to go to their hotel. I realized that being with these
people, this was not good. They didn’t want to help us so
I said, 'Stop the car.' They stopped and I took Prabhupada and
we got out of the car and they left and there we are standing
in the middle of nowhere – lost – not knowing where
to go. Then another car comes along and I stopped that car, but
this time it had three Indian guys in it. When they saw Prabhupada
they were offering respects, 'Oh, Swamiji,' and I said, 'Take
us to the nearest hospital.' Then Prabhupada said, 'No. Take us
home. No hospital.' I didn’t even know where our home was.
Eventually they understood where our home was and they were very
happy to take us immediately home, all on the other side of the
island as it was quite a long drive. When the car pulls in to
our home, where Harikesh was, as he had stayed back typing Prabhupada’s
daily Srimad Bhagavatam translations. He had seen us drive off
in a limousine, so when he sees us come back in a junky old car
with three Indian boys, and Prabhupada gets out of the car with
blood on him, he’s shocked. Prabhupada is not speaking anything,
just goes into the house and sits down in his place. He had us
dress his wound, clean it, then he said he wanted to go back to
Bombay. Prabhupada had never wanted to leave Bombay as he had
been very much concerned with the ISKCON Bombay project, getting
the land, fighting all the municipality, local politicians, the
seller of the land and its residents who were causing obstructions
– getting the land was a battle that needed his constant
supervision. So he said, 'Let us immediately go back to Bombay.'
And Prabhupada never spoke about the accident."