BY MATHURALILESVARI DEVI DASI
KUALA LUMPUR - When Srila Prabhupada arrived at the Commonwealth Pier in Boston fifty years ago in 1965, he did not know if he should turn left or right. With only forty Rupees and a trunk containing Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagvatam, Srila Prabhupada carried the instructions of his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur close to his heart. In a poem that he penned upon his arrival in America he said, ”O Lord, I am just like a puppet in Your hands. So if You have brought me here to dance, then make me dance, make me dance, O Lord, make me dance as You like.”
2015 marks the 50th year of Srila Prabhupada’s historic arrival in United States of America. His arrival in the USA created a world-wide revolution. Hare Krishna became a household name. Malaysia, a small country often referred to as the country between Thailand and Singapore was not excluded from receiving Srila Prabhupada’s mercy. In 1971, Srila Prabhupada made his maiden trip to Malaysia on his way to Sydney, Australia.
To commemorate this most historic occasion, the devotees in Malaysia put together a two-day festival to celebrate and remember Srila Prabhupada’s contribution to this world and at the same time further distribute Srila Prabhupada’s mercy to all those who are yet to receive it.
On the first day of the celebration, Gokula Lakshmi Dasi opened the event by rendering a poem written by Srila Prabhupada on Jaladutta ship on the way to USA in a beautiful melodious song capturing the hearts of the audience. The festival was then inaugurated by HH Bhakti Vrajendranandana Swami - President of ISKCON Malaysia, Gopal Dasa - Srila Prabhupada’s disciple who visited Malaysia in the early days with Srila Prabhupada and Loka Bandhu Gauranga Dasa - a disciple of HH Jayapataka Swami and Deputy Minister in the Federal Territories Ministry of Malaysia. Simhesvara Dasa, the Regional Secretary of ISKCON Malaysia delivered the opening speech and spoke about the various achievements of ISKCON Malaysia since its inception in 1979.
Kripa Sindhu Dasa, the Temple President of Sri Jagannatha Mandir Kuala Lumpur and Param Brahma Dasa, Temple President of ISKCON Ipoh were instrumental in organizing this festival.
The festival continued with a Mahabharata quiz for school children. More than 250 school children from the vernacular Tamil schools took part enthusiastically in this quiz. Every student that attended was presented with a Bhagavad Gita. Everyone went home a winner in their own way.
A food and fun fair with devotees selling delicious prasadam was indeed a crowd puller. Malaysia is known for its spread of delicacies due to its multi cultural society. It was such a hit that the stalls ran out of supply earlier than expected.
On second day of the celebration, the festival started with a Harinam in the city center. Devotees gathered in a Krishna Temple in Brickfields and danced their way through the busy streets of Kuala Lumpur singing the holy names. Upon arrival at the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in Kuala Lumpur everyone was soaked with Srila Prabhupada katha by Gopal Dasa and HH Bhakti Vrajendranandana Swami. Gopal Dasa described how he volunteered himself to come to Malaysia when Srila Prabhupada asked who could preach in this part of Asia. Gopal Dasa was visibly in tears as he recalled how wide Krishna Consciousness has spread from just a handful of devotees when he first came in the 70s to a hall packed with devotees, with more than 30 centres nationwide and 34 ratha yatras annually. Both pioneers travelled through time in their speeches to enlighten the audience with the glorious yesteryears on how ISKCON was established in Malaysia. The wonderful and inspiring pastimes that made the younger generation realize how much they owe to the earlier generation of devotees for paving the path to enable them to slide through the path of bhakti with lesser obstacles. Every youth felt eternally indebted to these pioneers.
A senior member of the ISKCON Malaysia congregation, Tyaga Caitanya Dasa and his team then presented a multimedia video which traversed through time of Srila Prabhupada’s remarkable journey in introducing Krishna Consciousness to the world and the many success events Srila Prabhupada had achieved in the following years up till now. The festival for the day continued with a maha abhishek for Srila Prabhupada followed by Guru Puja.
The devotees and guests felt an immense appreciation for Srila Prabhupada and a stronger desire to further assist in his mission after this wonderful event.
Malaysia is definitely a success story. As a matter of fact when it comes to ISKCON, every country is a success story, every devotee is a success story. Such is the mercy and potency of Srila Prabhupada.