Two members of Gargamuni Maharaja's Indian Library Party, Satyanarayana and Vaiyasaki prabhus, have arrived, just back from a trip to the far north. They had heard that Srila Prabhupada was in Vrindavana and drove here with the hope they might see him. Their hopes were more than fulfilled when quite unexpectedly they got a private darsana with His Divine Grace in mid-morning. They both know Jagadisa prabhu from America, and they approached him with the news of their preaching and a tentative request to personally tell Srila Prabhupada. Thinking that Srila Prabhupada would be interested to hear about their book distribution, Jagadisa immediately informed him about their arrival. Even though Prabhupada was meeting with Gopala Krishna Prabhu and a guest, he agreed straight away to see them. As they entered, Jagadisa introduced them by name. "Srila Prabhupada, this is Satyanarayana and Vyasaki."
Prabhupada didn't catch Vaiyasaki's name because of Jagadisa's American accent. "What is that?"
"Vyasaki," he repeated.
Again Prabhupada didn't catch it, nor when he repeated it a third time. "All right; it doesn't matter," he said.
By this time, Vaiyasaki was feeling a bit low, thinking he wasn't making a connection with his spiritual master. But that soon altered as Prabhupada smiled and for the next fifteen minutes gave them his undivided attention as they eagerly told him of their exploits in selling his books. They had all good news about their efforts to sell standing orders of full sets to the libraries and universities, telling Srila Prabhupada that they had been well received wherever they went. Living out of one of the large Mercedes Benz vans that the party had driven overland into India from Germany last March, they traveled up into the highlands through Harayana, Punjab, Jammu, and finally to Kashmir.
At the mention of Kashmir, Prabhupada perked up considerably and took interest in all the details of their trip. He asked them if they had gone through the tunnel that leads through the mountains from Jammu into the Kashmir Valley. Realizing that Srila Prabhupada knew the place, they grinned and described vividly the awe of driving through the long, dark passage and coming out suddenly into the light to see the splendorous Kashmir Valley spread out panoramically before them. Srila Prabhupada's eyes lit up, and he added his own description of the journey to theirs, glorifying the natural beauty of the place.
Feeling excited by a now-growing rapport between themselves and their spiritual master, Satyanarayana asked Prabhupada how he knew about it.
"Oh, I have also been to Kashmir," he told them, "and I had to pass through that tunnel."
He talked happily about his visit, telling them that he had gone there in the 1960s to sell his books.
That was a good cue for Vaiyasaki. They were in fact already aware that Prabhupada had been to Kashmir, because of a chance meeting Vaiyasaki had had. He enthusiastically told Srila Prabhupada that in the course of his sales work he had gone to the Oriental Library, a small private Indology collection. When he approached the owner and showed him Prabhupada's books, the man reacted with great pleasure and immediately brought out copies of the three original Indian prints of Srimad Bhagavatam First Canto. He had purchased them directly from Srila Prabhupada more than a decade before and was only too happy to make a standing order for the rest.
Prabhupada remembered the man with appreciation and was gratified that he had ordered all his new publications.
With a large Muslim population in Kashmir, the men had especially anticipated the prospect of selling Prabhupada's books to the Muslim colleges there, thinking they would gain some extra mercy. And indeed this was the case. Satyanarayana informed Prabhupada that by his grace, he had gotten his books into Anantnagar, a Muslim university in Srinagar. The moment he said the word 'Muslim,' Prabhupada's demeanour transformed. His face lit up, his eyes widened with pleasure, and his teeth shone white in one of his oceanic smiles. "Oh, that is very good!" he said. The two of them were happily amazed at his reaction. It was clear to them that getting his books accepted into the Muslim world held a special place in his heart, and they bathed in the warmth of his appreciation.
Prabhupada was greatly pleased with their efforts. They and the other members of the Library Party were breaking new ground in a field of preaching that he holds dear. He infused in them the importance of spreading Krishna consciousness and told them to keep on perfecting their lives by following the order of Lord Caitanya?yare dekha, tare kaha 'krishna' upadesa/ amara ajnaya guru hana tara' ei desa (Cc. Madhya 7.128). "Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Sri Krishna as they are given in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.
In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land."
On the way back, the men had stopped at an apiary and purchased a full liter of pure Himalayan honey, which they eagerly presented to Srila Prabhupada. He was sincerely touched by their thoughtfulness and called Arundhati, asking her to keep the honey in his kitchen so that he could take some each day.
Srila Prabhupada considers the work of the Library Party to be of primary importance, and he is fully conscious of the efforts his disciples are making on his behalf. Having done the preliminary work himself, he knows the sacrifice they are making and values their efforts highly. Thus he gave them their impromptu personal darsana. At the end of their meeting the two of them offered their humble obeisances and left, grinning from ear to ear, feeling that they had connected with Srila Prabhupada in a personal and intimate way via their shared experiences in distributing his books.
As a footnote, Vaiyasaki and Satyanarayana told me that they happened to meet Prabhupada's missing gardener, Caranaravindam while driving up into the Himalayas. He was hitchhiking and they stopped and gave him a ride. Although he quit the temple in September after an argument with Akshayananda Maharaja, it seems that he has not given up on his personal service to Prabhupada. He told them all about his redevelopment of Prabhupada's garden and how pleased Srila Prabhupada was with it. Informing them that he had previously brought lotus Flowers for it from Kurukshetra, he said that he was on his way to Kashmir to find lotus and other types of Flowers to continue beautifying it. He was even talking about going to the Tibetan cities of Ladakh and Lei.