By Shyamasundara Dasa
Dear Maharaja, Prabhus and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisance. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
In 1995 the year before Srila Prabhupadaâ€™s centennial there was some controversy about what Srila Prabhupadaâ€™s actual birth time and horoscope were. In order to address that I did extensive research and compiled a book entitled â€śThe Transcendental Horoscope of Srila Prabhupadaâ€ť http://krishnascience.info/Vaisnava%20Library/Astrology/Horoscope%20of%20Srila%20Prabhupada.htm. The research included interviews of several devotees who were close to Srila Prabhupada. In memory of Her Grace Srimati Yamuna Devi Dasi I am providing below the transcription of our conversation from the above book in which she gives us a glimpse into her relationship with Srila Prabhupada.
Your humble servant
Shyamasundara Dasa ACBSP
Transcript of Conversation With
Yamuna Devi Dasi on September 18th, 1995
[Comments. This conversation suggests that Srila Prabhupada was sufficiently conversant with astrology and palmistry from his householder days to know the importance of an accurate time of birth. It also indicates that Srila Prabhupada had an amazing memory.]
Yamuna Dasi (YD): [referring to her memoirs] From October 4, 1970 to May 1971, that time frame, there was one woman in our Sankirtana party. . .loosely we were a party of twenty devotees. There was one devotee, a female disciple, who was very keen on going to astrologers and consulting with astrologers on a regular basis. Her name was Himavati.
Shyamasundara Dasa (SD): Oh yes, she was the famous Hemavati [wife of Hansadutta].
YD: Hemavati, yes, thatâ€™s it. And unfortunately when she got a report that she didnâ€™t like she would become depressed and when she got one that she liked she would become elated and that would be obvious to all of us. Whether she gave us the details of it or not. And at one point Srila Prabhupada more or less said no more astrology because of that. Because he could see that it was affecting her and her ability to…
SD: To function?
YD: Yes, and in relation to the whole group, it was definitely something that she was too much affected by. However there was the one past time that I remember very clearly was in Indore. And it was at a Bhagavad Gita Sammelan there, it was about 4:00 PM in the afternoon, I have the date exactly in my diary. It was at an afternoon darshan, and a gentleman came, this was the day before ekadasi, and he was a palmist an astrologer and a barber.
SD: And a barber!
YD: And a barber.
SD: Thatâ€™s an unusual combination.
YD: Well perhaps it was his humble. . .
SD: He was not a Brahmana?
YD: He was a Brahmana but his humble occupation was doing that and he asked if he could shave Prabhupadaâ€™s head and he [Prabhupada] said yes. And in the course of that. I remember it carefully because I was cooking for Prabhupada that day, and he had his massage while I was doing the cooking. And he was kind of within range so I was able to occasionally peek out and look. I do recall watching the man do that service and he and Srila Prabhupada were alone. And at that time he gave Srila Prabhupada a head massage that I watched in quite a bit of amazement. Iâ€™d never seen anyoneâ€™s hands work like his. And after it Srila Prabhupada said it was the best head massage that he had â€śeverâ€ť had in his life. He was so impressed by it. So he invited the gentleman to a darshan and at that darshan he revealed to Prabhupada that he was a palmist and asked if he could do Prabhupadaâ€™s astrology [sic]. We were all sitting. He also brought some alu-chidva and Prabhupada commented that it was his spiritual masterâ€™s favorite snack
SD: Oh really!
YD: Then, Prabhupada said â€śNo, Iâ€™ve had this done many times but you can do my disciples.â€ť So I remember . . .
SD: I thought you mentioned [from earlier unrecorded conversation] that he didnâ€™t have the readings done because he knew basically what was going on. [Many readings in householder days.] Right?
YD: Yes. Thatâ€™s what he said. So in the course of that he spoke. He and Srila Prabhupada spoke astrology talk back and forth. And unless you were an astrologer or knowledgeable about astrology you wouldnâ€™t know at all what they were speaking about. So in a sense he was reporting to Prabhupada his findings on the disciples rather than to us.
YD: And in a way Srila Prabhupada was translating what it was to us.
SD: So he read each of your palms?
SD: So he read your palm also I suppose?
YD: And I remember that Revatinandana was in front of me. Revatinandana was a Brahmacari then. Umm, he was definitely a Swami then. And he [palmist] revealed at that time that he [Revatinandana] would have some spiritual difficulties and possibly a fall-down from his sannyas ashrama. I remember his reaction. He was so. He was so disturbed that he jumped out of his chair and said â€śI wont hear such a thingâ€ť. And then. . .
SD: What did Prabhupada say?
YD: Ahh, well he didnâ€™t, he didnâ€™t, I donâ€™t, he didnâ€™t stop because of Revatiâ€™s out burst at the time. And then I remember mine quite clearly. He was talking about the mount of Venus, I remember the words â€śVenus.â€ť But I donâ€™t remember the terms they used. I remember Prabhupada said at that time something that I couldnâ€™t relate to at all. I noted that down in my diary at the time. Something to the effect that, â€śah yes, she will become more recognized than the Yamuna River. She will become more recognized than Mirabai.â€ť And he said â€śall of my women disciples they are very outstanding.â€ť And it was very, I wont say exactly, something that, a rasa between, sometimes Srila Prabhupada would flatter his disciples or give his disciples praise in the most loving way. And you would look at him in puzzlementâ€”why are you doing this? But sometimes he would treat us like children, sometimes like parents. And at this time when they were talking in this way, I, of course couldnâ€™t relate exactly what, why they were speaking the way they were. And why he was playing with me in front of him. But it was a very. . .
SD: So far some of that has come true. You have become quite a world acclaimed author, cook and stuff like that.
YD: There was an exchange at John Lennonâ€™s estate in 1969. A man came for the evening darshan, he was an astrologer. But I must say that I donâ€™t recall any chartsâ€”Prabhupada dealing with them personallyâ€”they just talked shop. On the three occasions I have faint memories of [she had previously briefly described some exchange with an astrologer at the Bombay pandal] Prabhupada spoke in astrological terms in such a way that I couldnâ€™t understand them.
SD: So youâ€™re implying that he knew something about the subject?
YD: Very clearly, yes. Thatâ€™s definitely what I would glean from this.
SD: Did he ever discuss about his own horoscope in your presence?
YD: In my presence. Not exactly horoscope.
SD: Or Palmistry?
YD: No. There was definitely a pastime with Purusottama and I. Again at John Lennonâ€™s in an afternoon darshan. Where Prabhupada spoke on a very intimate; he started telling what we thought were very intimate pastimes of his very very early childhood. And he remembered them with such clarity that it, at the time, it blew our minds. It just was stunning to us. He recalled being a child and he was wrapped up, so much a baby, that he was wrapped up in blankets. And they were in a bullock cart, traveling in a bullock cart. And he described that the bulls were immense white bulls and they were, the bullock cart wasnâ€™t moving as our bullock carts, as we observe bullock carts in India. But they were running. He said in previous times that bullocks, bulls could run and indicated that they were moving at a very fast speed. And the bullock cart hit a stone and Srila Prabhupada said he could remember, he could remember, flying through the air. And landing in some soft grasses, and the wheel of the cart collapsed and the two people inside were hurt. And he remembered that incident. And we were so surprised, we said â€śSrila Prabhupada.â€ť Or â€śSwamiji,â€ť we called him Swamiji, â€ścould you tell us more pastimes like that?â€ť And he said â€śAt a later time I will tell you. Not now. I remember all these things.â€ť And he never did. We asked him on a couple of different occasions and he never picked up from there. But we were thinking that he must have great awareness of not only this life but previous lives.
SD: This seems to indicate that he had a good memory then; right?
YD: More than good. Because the clarity he remembered, that was unusual. It was unusual. And when we heard him tell the story we knew it was unusual.
SD: Because some people have suggested that Prabhupada was a little bit ambiguous about [things]. Because his memory. He said he was born on Harrison Road but actually he was born in Tolleygunge and this indicates that his memory wasnâ€™t always so good and casts doubt on his birth time and things like that. So I was doubtful about that [the claims of Prabhupadaâ€™s poor memory].
YD: Aha. Never, no. And he never discussed his birth time. Then again I donâ€™t know anybody who knows…
SD: Thereâ€™s a letter, if you look on Folio, thereâ€™s a letter that says, â€śI was born about 4 PM.â€ť
YD: Well, wouldnâ€™t that be true that most of us would be told when we were born? That. . .
YD: That we wouldnâ€™t remember our birth.
SD: But you would remember being told though.
YD: You would remember being told. But ah…
SD: Plus, if he had his horoscope done, as it appears. That he had done many times as a youth, as when he was younger. He must have been telling them [the astrologers] his birth time.
YD: Thatâ€™s true. That is interesting. However, I donâ€™t know, you are a Vedic astrologer, whether that moment [of birth] is required?
SD: The time is pretty much required.
YD: The minute is required?
SD: Even up to the minute; the closer the better.
YD: Ok. Because we donâ€™t even know, say when we are registered at birth in a hospital. Whether that silly person that recorded it. Or its possible; Prabhupada would always give the example that if the mother, hopefully, her senses…
SD: Well the mother, she is probably not the one who is doing it. Rupavilasa Prabhu, the one who did the biography of Bhaktisiddanta, he said that he read in one place that Bhaktivinode stood with a stopwatch recording when Bhaktisiddhanta was born.
YD: Nice, nice. But we would expect such from him. But whether a woman in labor knows or a nurse.
SD: The woman has probably got a few other things on her mind.
YD: However it depends again on how conscious she is of the importance of that.
SD: Also its, there are times…
YD: You never know. I never heard Prabhupada contradict himself in that regard, neither did I ever hear him personally discuss that subject matter so Iâ€™m afraid Iâ€™m not very much help.
SD: No, no youâ€™ve been helpful. Especially talking about Srila Prabhupadaâ€™s memory, and how you said he had his horoscope and palm read on many occasions.
YD: All I can say is that he spoke the language of an astrologer.
The whole book â€śThe Transcendental Horoscope of Srila Prabhupadaâ€ť can be accessed at: