Here’s the last of my unpublished pics. (unless I find some more!) from Melbourne 1975. Srila Prabhupada came in mid-May and installed what were then the largest brass Deities in ISKCON and in fact, the largest brass Deities ever cast in Bengal–Sri Sri Nitai Gaura. It was a brilliant event because along with Their Lordships’ appearance, ISKCON Australia also revealed to the world its new headquarters at 197 Danks St. Albert Park. A beautiful 2 acre property that started off as a stately home, became a Christian Brother’s college and then a Heritage-listed monument, and finally a Hare Krishna temple.

Here’s Srila Prabhupada arriving at the Melbourne airport with his servant Sruta Kirti prabhu and his secretary Paramahamsa Swami. They had just flown in after spending ten days in Perth, a city with no official ISKCON temple.

Kurma prabhu writes about it in his book “The Great Transcendental Adventure [TGTA]“:

Saturday May 17, 1975

After the long delay at Perth airport, and four hours in the air, Prabhupada’s TAA flight finally touched down at Melbourne a little before 7.45pm. Srila Prabhupada and his party of five disembarked and proceeded towards the arrivals lounge. All appeared quiet; but suddenly, they heard the distinct roar of an approaching kirtana, like a giant locomotive engine. Within seconds the lounge was filled with a huge band of chanting devotees rhythmically beating on drums and gongs, and blowing on conch shells with an exuberant Madhudvisa Swami at their head, chanting “Jaya Prabhupada, Jaya Prabhupada!” Prabhupada smiled as he was engulfed in a sea of loving disciples, who garlanded him, threw flower petals, and sprinkled rosewater in his path. He entered their midst as a beloved father enters and reciprocates the embrace of his loving children. After a short press conference, Prabhupada, now covered in garlands, was escorted to his waiting Ford LTD limousine.

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left to right: Madhudvisa Swami; Hari-sauri dasa; Sruta Kirti dasa; Srila Prabhupada; Paramahamsa Swami; Rama dasa (with dark glasses); Gopikanta dasa; Bhutanatha dasa

This was the first time Sruta Kirti and I appeared in a photo together. At that time I had not even in my wildest dreams imagined that I would occupy his service, one of the most privileged services in ISKCON, that of His Divine Grace’s personal servant. Sruta Kirti was one of the most well known and envied devotees in the Society.

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left to rt: Gopikanta dasa; Paramahamsa Swami; Srila Prabhupada; Sruta Kirti dasa; Mandapa dasa (half hidden with glasses; ?; ?; Kurma dasa (in back with glasses); Hari-sauri dasa

Airport greetings and departures in those days were great events. There was hardly any airport security and you could go right up to the plane door to receive or send someone off. My remembrance of this particular arrival was of Srila Prabhupada suddenly appearing off the plane and Madhudvisa Swami going up and draping an opulent garland around his neck and then bowing down in front of Prabhupada and touching his head to his feet.

I had been handed a garland to give to my spiritual master and when I saw Madhudvisa Maharaja do that, I thought, “Great! That’s exactly what I will do too!” And I did. It was the first time I think I had touched Srila Prabhupada’s feet.

While in Melbourne Srila Prabhupada always liked to walk in the Botancial Gardens which he said were one of the best in the world. Everyday a small crew of devotees would be picked to go on the walk, although if you were a book distributor you had the privilege of going out every day (I wasn’t, and didn’t):

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left to right: Yasomatinandan dasa; Cittahari dasa; Sruta Kirti with recorder; Gopikanta dasa; Big Mark (at the back with his mouth open–long story!); Srila Prabhupada; Setu Krita dasa (half hidden); ?; Amogha dasa (with tape recorder); Hari-sauri dasa; Sabhapati dasa

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left to rt at the back: Charugupta dasa; Rsabhadevi dasi (half hidden by camera); Visvahetu dasa;

front: Hari-sauri dasa; Srila Prabhupada

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lt to rt: Amogha dasa; Srila Prabhupada; ?; ?; Hari-sauri dasa

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lt to rt: Hari-sauri dasa; ?; Srila Prabhupada; Visvahetu dasa; Vidyapati dasa; Amogha dasa (nose and face)

Sunday May 18 1975 was the auspicious day of the installation and opening of the new temple:

The conchshells blew, and the doors to the altar were opened. The devotees, seeing the Deities for the very first time were struck with wonder and began chanting Hare Krsna exuberantly. The group of devotees assigned to chant the Purusa-sukta sat down on the perimeter of the Deity room, and began to chant the ancient hymns as best they could. Prabhupada began the proceedings by gracefully pouring ladles of auspicious bathing liquids over the head of Lord Nityananda. After a few moments he indicated to Madhudvisa that he should assist him by bathing Lord Caitanya.
The kirtana became more intense. The liquids glided down the golden forms of the two Lords to Their lotus feet. Prabhupada and Madhudvisa next poured warm water for rinsing. Hot movie lights blazed as William Kerr, once again behind the camera for another visit, recorded the sacred event for posterity. After bathing, Prabhupada asked Madhudvisa to mop up. Prabhupada stood erect, and slightly tilted his head to the side, indicating that the doors be closed so the Deities could be dressed.

[From TGTA] The conchshells blew, and the doors to the altar were opened. The devotees, seeing the Deities for the very first time were struck with wonder and began chanting Hare Krsna exuberantly. The group of devotees assigned to chant the Purusa-sukta sat down on the perimeter of the Deity room, and began to chant the ancient hymns as best they could. Prabhupada began the proceedings by gracefully pouring ladles of auspicious bathing liquids over the head of Lord Nityananda. After a few moments he indicated to Madhudvisa that he should assist him by bathing Lord Caitanya.

The kirtana became more intense. The liquids glided down the golden forms of the two Lords to Their lotus feet. Prabhupada and Madhudvisa next poured warm water for rinsing. Hot movie lights blazed as William Kerr, once again behind the camera for another visit, recorded the sacred event for posterity. After bathing, Prabhupada asked Madhudvisa to mop up. Prabhupada stood erect, and slightly tilted his head to the side, indicating that the doors be closed so the Deities could be dressed.

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Srila Prabhupada offered the first arati to Their Lordships Sri Sri Gaura Nitai

After that time, in April 1976, Srila Prabhupada gave a new name to the Melbourne Hare Krishna temple– Melbourne Mahaprabhu Mandira.



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