Can I get out of here?
I sent a telegram to Prabhupada saying, “Can I get out of here?”
Brahmananda: In 1971 Prabhupada was having big public programs in India, and one evening an Arya Samajist challenged Prabhupada. He said, “Oh, Swamiji, you have come to India with your western chelas, but we know all these things. This is our culture. Better you go to the other places and do your work there. All right, you have been to the West, but what about the Muslim countries? What about Pakistan?
You should go to Pakistan and preach there. Make them devotees.” This was in a public pandal with thousands of people. Prabhupada said, “You are challenging us to go?” The man said, “Yes. I challenge you. You must go to Pakistan.” Prabhupada said, “All right. We will go.”
Prabhupada wrote a letter to me, “Immediately go to West Pakistan.” He also wrote to Gargamuni, “Immediately go to East Pakistan.” We got these letters and we left the next day. I didn’t have any money. Somebody paid for the bus from Florida to New York. Gargamuni had money so he flew. I had to go by overland to India— hitchhiking, buses, trains, whatever way I could go.
At that time a war was starting. Prabhupada found out about the war and the hostilities between Pakistan and India afterwards and then wrote a second letter saying, “I don’t advise you to go at this time.”
But we never got that letter. We had already left. We walked right into a war situation. It was difficult, but we were preaching and trying to do something. I was in Karachi. North of Karachi is the Singh Desert, the hottest place in the world, averaging 125 degrees. It was May, the hottest month, and I was sick with dysentery.
I had no books, people were spitting on me on the street, threatening to put a knife in my back. When we had kirtan, people would rub off our tilak and spit. What a situation!
Then a report appeared in the Pakistani and Indian newspapers saying, “Four Hare Krishna Missionaries Shot.” In Bombay, Karandhar showed Prabhupada the newspaper report. It didn’t give any names.
Gargamuni was with Pusta in the east, and I was with Jagannivas in the west. There were four of us. Prabhupada was very disturbed. He thought that we had been shot.
I sent a telegram to Prabhupada saying, “Can I get out of here?” Prabhupada sent a telegram back, “Come immediately, Bhaktivedanta Swami.” Four words. Those were the best four words. To get out of the country was a big thing. Somehow we were able to get out. I came to Bombay and went to the Akash Ganga Building where Prabhupada was staying.
When I walked into his room, Prabhupada immediately got up, came over, put his arms around me and hugged me to his chest. He was putting his hands all over me just like a mother would touch her child if she thinks that he has been hurt. The mother wants to see that the child is still intact.