"Yes, I know, that is why I am going there, to save him."
We landed in Hong Kong very late at night. Coming through the immigration and customs area, we saw Bhurijana and his wife Jagattarini standing with a big garland for Srila Prabhupada. Bhurijana wore a dhoti and his wife a sari, and they both wore Chinese mandarin jackets. Their greeting for Srila Prabhupada was more emotional than Gopala Swami's had been in Tokyo, but they seemed frightened. Prabhupada's greeting to them was rather stern and grave. After putting the garland around Srila Prabhupada, Bhurijana stood by in a trance of confusion until I butted in, "What should we do with the luggage, Bhurijana Prabhu?" Prabhupada was looking at them intensely, and Bhurijana and his wife looked like they were almost ready to faint. I had to repeat, "What should we do with the luggage, Bhurijana Prabhu?" And only then did he move into action.
They had hired a black Rolls Royce limousine that pulled up, headlights blazing, outside the airport building. Bhurijana and his wife asked me to get in the front with Panditji, while they rode in the back with Srila Prabhupada. As we drove off and they began to talk, Jagattarini reached forward and closed the glass partition dividing the front and back of the limousine. They didn't want me to hear, but I caught the gist of what was being said. They were another case of devotees who had abandoned the standard ISKCON programs, influenced by Anandaji. In Hawaii, Sudama had mentioned to Srila Prabhupada that Bhurijana was also under Anandaji's influence, and Prabhupada had replied, "Yes, I know, that is why I am going there, to save him."
Before Jagattarini had closed the partition, I had heard Prabhupada ask, "Who is your spiritual master?" and Bhurijana replied, "You are, Srila Prabhupada." Then Prabhupada asked, "So why did you close the temple?" and Bhurijana began replying, "Well, Prabhupada actually we haven't been having any morning program." After that, although I couldn't hear everything, I heard Prabhupada shout, "They are rascals!" I guessed that he was referring to whoever told Bhurijana not to have a regular temple program. I also guessed that Prabhupada was asking them what did they do as his representatives in Hong Kong?did they worship a Deity, did they distribute books? Since Anandaji discouraged much distribution of books, they probably weren't doing it. One thing was clear from a glance at the back seat?Srila Prabhupada was blasting Bhurijana, and Bhurijana and his wife were taking it as best they could, trembling and stunned. Srila Prabhupada was strongly concerned, confronting the issue, and completely involved with his disciples. It was one in the morning as we drove through dark, deserted streets. I knew that Srila Prabhupada must be straightening them out as only he could do, and I marveled in appreciation from my front, baggage-filled seat alongside a dozing Panditji and a silent chauffeur. Prabhupada made everything clear wherever he went. He was never wishy-washy or himself confused by meeting a confused person. By the time the ride was over, as we pulled into the entrance of the Hong Kong Hilton Hotel, I was thinking that Srila Prabhupada had possibly already accomplished the purpose of his visit, the rescuing of Bhurijana and Jagattarini.
Prabhupada had not asked for any special accommodations, but Bhurijana had rented the ultra-expensive Tibetan Suite, a top-floor apartment usually reserved by the highest ranking V.I.P's. At least Bhurijana wasn't guilty of minimizing Prabhupada's importance as a great personality worthy of the highest honor.
The suite consisted of four large rooms, including a huge living and reception room with a liquor bar and several plush couches and easy chairs. On the walls were thick tapestries, and large brass and marble sculptures stood in the hallways and in corners of some of the rooms. The motif was Tibetan art and included almost Hindu-like depictions of godly-looking persons with tall helmets as well as paintings of ascetic meditators and of gorgeous natural scenes, with high mountains and temples.
Prabhupada's bedroom contained an enormous four-poster bed with a canopy and drapes. Every room had extra-thick rugs, and there were several televisions and a number of phones for both instantaneous room service and outside calls. The only thing missing was a kitchen. I immediately asked Bhurijana what to do about this. He said cooking in the rooms was not allowed, but that he would try to smuggle in an electric burner.
About a dozen Chinese people waited in the reception room, invited by Bhurijana, and Prabhupada immediately took a seat among them and began to give a lecture introducing Krishna consciousness. The unusual early morning hour didn't seem to affect anyone except me and Panditji. Everyone else was attentive and interested in the arrival of the spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada. In his lecture, Srila Prabhupada said that if one is himself a rascal then he cannot help anyone. It would be like a blind man leading another blind man. He praised the Krishna consciousness way of life and then turned to Bhurijana's wife, and asked, "Well, Jagattarini, what do you think of our way of life?" She was still totally confused and upset. Prabhupada had just completely changed her attitude about spiritual life and told her that she was following deviants, and now she wasn't sure what was right or wrong.
"I don't know," she answered.
Prabhupada seemed angry. "You don't know and you are preaching? Then you are a cheater! You are supposed to be leading these people? What is this nonsense!"
Prabhupada continued lecturing while the Chinese guests looked on, apparently unperturbed by his sharp exchange with his disciple. Prabhupada referred to the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and asked Bhurijana to bring him a copy of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, but Bhurijana didn't have one. This serious omission also displeased Srila Prabhupada. Bhurijana started to "explain" why he had no books with him, but Prabhupada didn't want to hear it. He ended his reception lecture and retired to the back room.
I thought Srila Prabhupada would now want to take rest after his long journey, but he sat up in the rocker in his bedroom, and Bhurijana and Jagattarini went in and sat down before him while he continued purifying their hearts. Since they had been so secretive about their talks in the car, I stayed outside the room and didn't dare suggest to Prabhupada or to them that they should leave and let Prabhupada take rest. I was exhausted and wanted to unpack and rest, but that didn't mean that Prabhupada was tired.
After an hour Bhurijana and Jagattarini came out, and Prabhupada finally took rest. I stayed up awhile talking with Bhurijana about cooking and morning walk arrangements. And we also talked about Prabhupada. Bhurijana was feeling very grateful for the mercy Prabhupada was giving him, even though it was coming more in the form of hot sauce than sweet nectar. There were still some lingering doubts on his mind. He had grown critical of Prabhupada's basic programs almost without noticing what he was doing, so subtly had he had been advised, mostly by followers of Anandaji.
As Bhurijana spoke with me, I could better understand the craziness they had gotten themselves into. One of the cornerstones of their concocted philosophy was that among Prabhupada's disciples only Anandaji was an advanced or pure devotee. But Prabhupada had now thoroughly smashed that illusion for Bhurijana. My guess had been right as to whom Prabhupada was addressing when he had shouted, "They are rascals!" in the back of the limousine. Bhurijana confessed that he had gripes against some of the ISKCON leaders. I could agree with some of his complaints, but they should not have been the basis for his giving up his own Krishna conscious practices and abandoning ISKCON. Bhurijana said that in the limousine Prabhupada had drilled him with question after question, asking, "Why did you give up the Deity worship?" and "Why have you given up book distribution?" and even "Why are you not reading my books?" In each case they had been guilty, but only when face to face with Prabhupada had they realized that the programs they had abandoned were actually his heart and soul.
"Why did you give up reading Prabhupada's books?" I asked.
"We stopped reading the books," said Bhurijana, "because Prabhupada's teachings were so much backing up what ISKCON was doing. We felt ISKCON was "off, " and it became painful to read Prabhupada's books"
"How is ISKCON ?Off'?" I asked.
"Well, some of the techniques that devotees use to distribute books," said Bhurijana. "But Prabhupada was explaining about book distribution. He said that devotees may be doing things wrong in book distribution, but because they are sincerely trying to follow the order of the spiritual master they are not wrong. He said I should not try to be a better moralist than the spiritual master."
"What else was Prabhupada saying?" I asked.
"He was very angry about how some devotees want to be ?gurus' immaturely. He was real angry about the devotee who was temple president in Hawaii, that he wanted to be known as spiritually advanced, and yet took money from the temple and wouldn't come and see Prabhupada."
"But couldn't you see that by criticizing ISKCON you are criticizing Prabhupada?" I asked.
"Yes, now I can see," said Bhurijana. I was into that anti-ISKCON mood, but factually we were criticizing Prabhupada. That's the automatic step, although you may take it unknowingly, because it's Prabhupada's movement and he's backing it so much."
Hearing Bhurijana speak, it seemed to me that Prabhupada had cleared out most of the poison from his heart. His wife, who stood nearby still looked like she was in a state of shock. She kept saying how heavy Prabhupada had been in the limousine asking them the whole way, "Who is your spiritual master? What is your morning program? What time do you get up in the morning? Why did you do this? Why did you do that?" She said that after so many heavy questions he had asked her in his more usual, affectionate way, "How is your mother and father?" But by then she was unable to even speak.
"We thought they were like pure devotees," said Jagattarini, "and Prabhupada said, ?They are rascals.' That's what really shocked me."
After being with Prabhupada, the two seemed to be completely in accord with whatever he had told them. But he had turned them so much around that they were still trying to grasp it with their minds and emotions. I suggested that we not stay up all night but take rest and then come back and see Prabhupada in the morning. I said I was sure that Srila Prabhupada would want to see them and talk about this more.
"I think he has come just to see you both," I said.
Although they were devastated, they had passed Prabhupada's test: their attachment for him had outweighed their attachments to everything else. But Prabhupada had had to personally, physically re-enter their lives to awaken that attachment, and therefore he had come to Hong Kong.