In 1973 Srila Prabhupada had promised to attend the Melbourne Rathayatra. We had built two new rathas, but the main factor in attracting him to come was the prominence of the small Australian yatra in the book distribution listings. Inspired by Buddhimanta prabhu, (seen in this photo from NY July 1976 on the right holding the mrdunga)

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the Australians were leading the world in their attempts to spread Krsna consciousness and Srila Prabhupada therefore promised to attend the 1973 Rathayatra. Unfortunately he got sick in India and had to cancel:

My Dear Madhudvisa,
Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated May 29, 1973 and have noted the contents carefully.
So, everything is going on so nicely there. So many books are being distributed. There are good prospects for a new temple. You are going to introduce three rathas this year for Rathayatra. This is all very pleasing and inspiring to me. I would very much like to come there for Rathayatra, but now I am not in very good health, and it is the opinion of Tamal Krsna Maharaja, Bhavananda Maharaja, Jayapataka Maharaja and Jagadisa that it is best for me if I stay here for now so that I may get my health back. However, you may again invite me next year and, if Krsna wants, I will surely come there. Thank you very much.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Letter to: Madhudvisa  –  Mayapur 12 June, 1973

Letter to: Madhudvisa  –  Mayapur 12 June, 1973

My Dear Madhudvisa,

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated May 29, 1973 and have noted the contents carefully.

So, everything is going on so nicely there. So many books are being distributed. There are good prospects for a new temple. You are going to introduce three rathas this year for Rathayatra. This is all very pleasing and inspiring to me. I would very much like to come there for Rathayatra, but now I am not in very good health, and it is the opinion of Tamal Krsna Maharaja, Bhavananda Maharaja, Jayapataka Maharaja and Jagadisa that it is best for me if I stay here for now so that I may get my health back. However, you may again invite me next year and, if Krsna wants, I will surely come there. Thank you very much.”

Srila Prabhupada kept his promise the following year:

Letter to: Madhudvisa  –  Bombay 6 April, 1974

“I am presently fixing a traveling schedule for visiting Paris, France in the second week of May. Then I will visit, Geneva, Rome, Stockholm, and three or four cities in Germany, each place for no more than four or five days. So since I will not have to return to India until August, after Europe I can go to Australia for your Rathayatra if you can purchase our tickets. You can reply to me here in Bombay until the second week of May, when we shall go to Paris.”

Letter to: Jayatirtha  –  Bombay 5 May, 1974

“Regarding your invitation that I attend the Rathayatra festival in San Francisco, on July 7th, it is possible that I may attend depending on when I finish my European tour. I am due to arrive in Rome on May 23, then after a week Geneva, the Paris and possible Stockholm, Germany and England. If there is time I can fly directly from Europe to Los Angeles and go to the festival, then as you suggest, go to Australia Rathayatra via Hawaii. This is known as jet-age parivrajakacarya.”

He flew into Melbourne on June 25 1974 for his fourth trip to Australia with his secretary Satsvarupa Das Goswami. This time he only visited Melbourne whereas for his first three trips he had visited Sydney as well.

The Rathayatra on June 29 was glorious and Srila Prabhupada, after joining up with the rathas in the main city square, walked the whole route, terminating at the Royal Exhibition Gardens.

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above: Srila Prabhupada dances before the 15′ high murti of Lord Caitanya; Gopinatha Acarya plays kartalas

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on the parade: Buddhimanta’s forehead; Bhakta “Greek” George; Srila Prabhupada with secretary Satsvarupa das Goswami behind; my first wife Mohini-sakti dasi

The full glorious account of the parade, and Srila Prabhupada’s visit, is narrated by Kurma prabhu in his excellent book “The Great Transcendental Adventure.”

The rathas were taken right inside the main hall and Srila Prabhupada delivered his address from his vyasasana on the ratha.

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Satsvarupa Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada and Madhudvisa Swami


Apart from the Rathayatra, Srila Prabhupada followed his normal routine during his visit, going on walks in the Botanical Gardens

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Madhudvisa Swami; Sabhapati dasa; ?; Antaratma dasa; Srila Prabhupada

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Bhutanatha dasa; Srila Prabhupada; Satya dasi

and lecturing each morning at the temple at 14 Burnett Street, St. Kilda

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He also gave some wonderful lectures at several outside venues, such as this one at Ormond Hall Prahran

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Srila Prabhupada; Ugrasrava dasa

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I particularly remember the Ormond Hall engagement, which was held the day after the Rathayatra because the string broke on Srila Prabhupada’s karatals. Madhudvisa Swami, who was leading the kirtana, noticed and immediately handed Prabhupada his own kartals. He took a set of ‘whompers’ from me and gave me Srila Prabhupada’s karatals to re-string, all the while keeping the kirtana going. Srila Prabhupada noted his smooth management and mentioned it in a subsequent letter:

Letter to: Madhudvisa  –  Vrindaban 18 September, 1974

My Dear Madhudvisa Swami

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated August 3rd, 1974 and have noted the contents. I have also received the enclosed pictures of the proposed house. I am thinking that you are a very sincere devotee. I am remembering that during my recent visit there in Australia how during the kirtana you were seeing to my personal and not letting anybody come forward and still leading the kirtana. When you begin the chanting, everybody becomes captivated, and you can go on without stopping. I feel happy that even after my departure, things will go on. I am happy that I have got so many sincere devotees who will carry on. That is my happiness.

I like Australia very much because of your book distribution. So sell books and secure money and purchase the house and pay BBT conveniently. …”

As for my own service, I was so spaced out that I failed to re-string Srila Prabhupada’s karatals and instead I simply kept them in my locker at the temple, procrastinating about the matter. One or two days later Srila Prabhupada was still waiting for his karatals to be returned and I had to ignominiously hand them back, the job still not done.



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