Srila Prabhupada and His Lady Disciples.
Sydney, April 1, 1972. Srila Prabhupada returned to the temple that evening to attend the 7 o’clock arati and kirtana, and to give a class on Bhagavad Gita. As he entered the small temple room, he was pleased to see it packed with guests and devotees. The vyasasana had been moved, so he could now sit with his left side to the altar. He nodded approvingly.
The pujari blew a big pink and white conchshell. The red velvet curtain swished open, revealing the Deities. After offering prostrated obeisances, Srila Prabhupada stood. Powerfully built Nanda Kumara picked up a clay mrdanga and began to sing the evening arati prayer. Srila Prabhupada remained standing and glanced at Syamasundara, who opened a small velvet bag and passed Srila Prabhupada a highly-polished pair of karatals. Prabhupada played deftly, head slightly to one side, as he stood, looking lovingly and attentively at Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha on Their beautiful new altar. After continuing like that for a few minutes, Srila Prabhupada sat down on his vyasasana and chanted with the kirtana.
After forty minutes, the jubilant kirtana drew to a close. Srila Prabhupada opened up his Bhagavad Gita set on a simple wooden bookstand balanced atop two red velvet covered steps in front of him. Wally, sitting on his right, set up the heavy reel-to-reel tape equipment, ready to record the class. Prabhupada again picked up his shiny karatals, wrapping the red straps deftly around his fingers, closing his eyes and striking the shiny brass cymbals in the familiar one-two-three, one-two-three fashion. Seated amongst the crowd of devotees, Jagattarini was feeling completely satisfied after the joyous kirtana. She had almost forgotten a secret desire that she had been maintaining for a long time: considering herself a good singer, she had hoped one day to sing for Srila Prabhupada.
Nanda Kumara, seated next to Prabhupada on the floor, had scarcely placed the heavy clay mrdanga on his lap when Srila Prabhupada suddenly stopped playing his karatals and opened his eyes. Scanning the silent crowd for a brief few seconds, his eyes fell on Jagattarini seated close by.
“You lead,” Srila Prabhupada said. Mohanananda looked at Syamasundara in amazement. Jagattarini could hardly believe it; she swallowed and sang ‘Jaya Radha Madhava Kunja Vihari’ as loudly and nicely as she could. Srila Prabhupada and the devotees sang the response. Srila Prabhupada’s karatals chimed sweetly as Nanda Kumara increased the tempo with his rhythmic mrdanga beats. The song reached its climax and stopped. Jagattarini, her desire fulfilled, opened her eyes to see Srila Prabhupada staring at her intently. “Krsna has been so merciful to you,” Srila Prabhupada said, and began his evening class.
After the discourse, Srila Prabhupada again glanced lovingly at the altar. Radha and Krsna were wearing impressive handcrafted crowns of soft blue and pink stones, the whole effect reminiscent of mother-of-pearl. He looked around the room, “Who has made these crowns?”
Rasarani flushed and slightly raised her hand. Srila Prabhupada smiled and Srila Prabhupada said, “Very nice”.
(from The Great Transcendental Adventure, by Kurma dasa)