Gargamuni prabhu, who has been recently speaking out on various topics surrounding the movement, particularly the guru issue, says Srila Prabhupada wasn’t poisoned, that Brahmananda wouldn’t have allowed it to happen. The below story seems to show us how whipped into place Tamal had all the disciples that were there at the time, including Brahmananda. Tamal was the manager/secretary. He was basically in control of the entire scene, at least superficially (Krishna is in control). No disciples could be around Srila Prabhupada for long without Tamal’s sanctioning it. He could send you away in a second if he wanted to. He would get very angry if anybody didn’t do what he wanted, regardless of what Srila Prabhupada wanted. Not to mention the main co-conspirators that were there to assist him in the ruthless drive to usurp the assets of the acharya.
Aside from this perspective, isn’t it wonderful how dedicated Srila Prabhupada was to saving each and every fallen soul who he came in contact with, to the very last moment leading up to his voluntary disappearance? Srila Prabhupada took the time and energy to show special mercy to Sri Nathji, and this had a profound result. For the record, Srila Prabhupada still is dedicated to saving each and every soul who takes up his discipline as outlined in his transcendental books. Srila Prabhupada lives through his teachings, and is present wherever his teachings are being followed. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
A story told by Sri Nathji Prabhu :_*
*””If Prabhupada wants me to drive faster, I will drive faster.”*
Sri Nathji: The twenty-eighth of September 1977 was a very sad day. At about 4:30 in the morning I got a phone call from Giriraj Swami.
Crying, he said, “I want you to bring your big Dodge car.” I had a huge American car with a back seat long enough to lie down in.
Giriraj Swami said, “Prabhupada wants to leave his body.” I said, “What?” I had never heard anybody say that someone “wanted to leave his body.”
It sounded as if he wanted to commit suicide. I said, “What do you mean, ‘Prabhupada wants to leave his body?’ Where does he want to leave his body?”
He said, “He wants to go to Vrindavan, and he’s leaving his body. He’s going away, and we have to take him to the train station.”
By that time Prabhupada hadn’t eaten for nearly six months. He was living only on juice and charanamrita, and his body was depleted.
He had hardly any muscles, and his veins were pressing on his bones. It was very painful to see him. Here was the person with whom I had fought and argued.
Here was the person who was such a fine debater that he was like a lion. He could defeat anyone philosophically.
But that morning, when I saw how very thin Prabhupada was, it reminded me of Krishna’s description in the Bhagavad-gita of a person withdrawing himself like a tortoise withdraws himself within his shell.
So in Bombay, on the twenty-eighth of September 1977, Srila Prabhupada decided to leave, and for the first time I cleaned my car.
I didn’t want Prabhupada to sleep in an unclean car. My wife arranged nice silk bedding, flowers, and incense in it, and I drove to the temple.
There, Prabhupada was brought down from his quarters in a big basket. It reminded me of stories of Moses and Karna who were both put in baskets.
Devotees were crying. They were devastated. They were intensely feeling imminent separation from Prabhupada.
I was supposed to drive, and I felt like Akrura, the cruel person who took Krishna from the gopis. I was taking Prabhupada away from the devotees. But that was my duty. I had to do that.
I drove, and next to me was big Brahmananda Swami, and next to him was Tamal Krishna Goswami, who was Prabhupada’s last secretary, and finally there was Giriraj Maharaj.
It was such a huge car that four people could sit in the front. Prabhupada was lying on the back seat, and Upendra, his servant, was sitting on the floor of the car next to Prabhupada.
Prabhupada’s luggage was behind. Like a schoolteacher, Tamal Krishna Maharaj told me, “Don’t drive fast. Drive very slowly.”
The Bombay roads have potholes, and Prabhupada would be uncomfortable if I drove fast. I said, “Fine.” We were going to Bombay Central Station, and I asked, “Which train are we going to catch?”
Someone said, “Prabhupada’s taking the Mathura Express to Vrindavan. It leaves at 11:00 a.m.” I started to drive very slowly. From the back Upendra told me, “Prabhupada wants you to drive faster.”
So I said, “Okay, if Prabhupada wants me to drive faster, I will drive faster,” and I picked up speed. My huge car could really move, but the moment I pressed the accelerator, Tamal Krishna Maharaj got very upset.
He said, “I told you to go slowly. What are you doing?” I said, “Upendra just told me that Prabhupada wants me to drive fast.
Tamal Krishna Maharaj said, “No, no, no. Go slowly.” So I slowed down. Within a minute, Upendra again said, “Prabhupada says go faster. Why aren’t you going faster?”
I thought, “The person I have to serve is Prabhupada, so I will drive faster.” I said to Tamal Krishna Maharaj, “You sort this out with Upendra and allow me to drive.”
We thought we had reached the Bombay Central Station too early. Rama Tulasi, another devotee there, and I went to the station-master to get a wheelchair for Prabhupada to transport him from my car to his special cabin on the train.
In my usual style, I asked the station-master, “Is the Mathura Express going at 11:00 a.m.?” He said, “Didn’t you read today’s newspaper? It leaves at 10:30 a.m.”
The timing had changed that very day. I looked at my watch and said, “There are five minutes left. The train is leaving in five minutes.” Rama Tulasi and I ran with the wheelchair.
I told that stationmaster, “I will pay you anything, but stop that train. Don’t start it until I tell you.” He said, “What? I’ve never heard such a request.”
I’m I said, “There is a big team coming. A very holy person is going to leave his body in Vrindavan, and he has to be on that train.”
The stationmaster said, “Leave his body? What do you mean?” I said, “Just run with me.” So we ran. This happened twenty years ago when I was thirty-seven.
I told Giriraj Maharaj, “The train is going a half-hour early today.” He said, “No, according to the timetable it leaves at 11:00 a.m.”
I said, “Whatever it says there doesn’t matter. The stationmaster is going to blow his whistle, and the train is going to go.” We ran.
Some of the devotees got Prabhupada’s special cabin ready. It should have been an air-conditioned one, but for some reason the devotees had booked a non-air-conditioned cabin.
We took Prabhupada into his compartment just a few minutes before the train was about to leave.
From 4:30 until 10:30 that morning I had not had any water or food, and I was very thirsty. I bought a soda from a stand at the station, when Upendra came and said, “Prabhupada wants to see you.”
I left the soda and went in the cabin, wondering, “Why is Prabhupada calling me?” Prabhupada said, “Come closer.” I went very close to him, and he said, “Thank you for driving me.”
I was very touched. Prabhupada was just about to give up his body, and except for this small service I had done nothing much.
So in the train, in front of everyone, I offered my obeisances and caught Prabhupada’s lotus feet. Tamal Krishna Maharaj and others said to me “Don’t touch his feet.”
I said, “No. This is it. This is the last moment I’ll ever get.” I said, “Prabhupada, I surrender to you. You are my spiritual master.”
He put his hand in my hair and blessed me. He put pressure on his elbow and got up a little. He was smiling sweetly.
The train started, and some of the devotees said, “Look, the train started, and you better jump off, otherwise the next station is quite far away.”
Reluctantly, I jumped off the moving train, and I watched it go until the last car had left. I wasn’t thirsty anymore. I didn’t care for the soda.
With tears in my eyes I got into my car, and lo and behold, there was Prabhupada’s garland on the steering wheel. He’d not forgotten me.
That was the last time I saw Prabhupada. From 1971 through 1977, my memories are of fighting with him, debating with him, arguing with him. Finally, at the end I surrendered.