One day the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears to Malati in a very unique way.
Malati devi dasi: I had gone to this import store, Cost Plus Imports, down on the pier in San Francisco. At that time we were so young and naive, enough to be completely entranced by anything that was made in India. Anything that said "Made in India" became immediately attractive. I was going past the check out cashier and I saw this barrel full of little objects. I glanced at them because they were curious looking. I picked one up and on the bottom of it was that magic sticker, "Made in India." So I was immediately delighted. I was fascinated by those big eyes, so I took it home and put it on my mantelpiece.
Later, Mukunda and Syamasundara notice the three-inch doll sitting on the mantelpiece. Intrigued by the little personality with big round eyes and smiling face, they bring the little figure up to Swamiji. Instantly, Prabhupada gets down and pays his obeisances. They are astounded.
"Where did you get this? Who has brought?"
"Bring her." They hurry out to tell Malati that Swamiji wants to see her immediately.
"Are there any more?" Prabhupada says as soon as she enters the room.
"Well, yeah, lots of them," she replies, thinking of the barrel filled with the little figures.
"No. I mean different." He holds up his fingers. "Two. Two."
He turns to Syamasundara, "Can you carve?" He indicates a three foot size. Syamasundara confirms that he can carve. Actually he is a wood sculptor. Prabhupada tells the whole story of Lord Jagannath and the Ratha-yatra festival held annually in Puri.
Malati returns to the shop for the other two figures. Prabhupada had wanted to introduce Deity worship, and now Lord Jagannath makes His own appearance to speed up the process. Lord Jagannath's advent is undoubtedly an auspicious omen. Prabhupada had come to the West to introduce Lord Caitanya's movement, and the Deities that Lord Caitanya worshipped for twenty-four years in Jagannath Puri manifest in this way. Devotees do not consider this a mere coincidence.
Malati devi dasi: He told us the story of the log floating up from the ocean, so Syamasundara got the idea of this salvage yard down on the wharf where all kinds of wood comes floating in from the ocean. So we went to the salvage yard and a funny thing happened. The guy said, "Well, you can look around." So we looked around and found a beautiful piece of redwood. So we put the wood into our old panel truck. We looked and looked but the guy wasn't around, so we finally just drove away with it.
That was the beginning of Lord Jagannath in San Francisco. Somehow He chose a very unlikely person, such as myself, to manifest Himself and make Himself apparent to Srila Prabhupada's vision. Prabhupada brought Him in a larger manifestation, of course.
Under Srila Prabhupada's guidance, Syamasundara takes up the service of carving Jagannath Deities in his apartment. He has not yet given up smoking and occasionally lights up while he works. When Prabhupada comes in to inspect the work one day, he notices the cigarette pack on top of Lord Jagannath. He compliments Syamasundara on how nicely the work is coming along without making a comment about the cigarettes. After a brief visit, Malati escorts him to the door. Prabhupada motions to the cigarette pack and quietly mentions, "Such a small thing that is separating us from Krishna."
A week later a letter arrives from India with news about Radha-Damodara. Sadly, the standard of seva at Radha-Damodara Temple has deteriorated to alarming proportions. Although far from the holy land of the Six Goswamis, Prabhupada is always thinking of Radha-Damodara where he spent so much time preparing for his preaching abroad. He always considered his Radha-Damodara rooms as "the hub of the wheel of the spiritual universe." (Vrindaban Days by Hayagriva Swami, page 57) Deeply concerned, Prabhupada urges his friend to "immediately go to Vrindavana and make things alright."
Please try to save the temple of Jiva Goswami because in very near future many people from all parts of the world will come to see the temple and Samadhi of Jiva Goswami and Rupa Goswami. As you are going to restore order in the temple I am always with you because Srila Jiva Goswami's temple is my heart and soul?If Radha Damodara desires, many Americans will go to see the holy place of Jiva Goswami in the very near future.
?Letter to Nripen Babu, March 18, 1967
This bold prediction concerning Radha-Damodara will soon come to pass. Radha-Damodara's desire to honor the word of Their pure devotee is so strong that They will soon travel to America Themselves to help Prabhupada fulfill the mission of Lord Caitanya.