Srila Prabhupada in Jhansi
Srila Prabhupada Lila
Satsvarupa: On May 16, 1953, Srila Prabhupada held a grand-opening celebration for the League of Devotees, with continuous readings, kirtana, and prasadam distribution from early morning until night. In the evening, when attendance was the greatest, Srila Prabhupada lectured from the Ninth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita on “Raja-guhya Yoga.” Prabhakar Misra conducted a fire sacrifice, and several brahmanas chanted mantras from Brahma-samhita. Guests received a sixteen-page prospectus containing Srila Prabhupada’s essay on the need for the League and an excerpt from the charter explaining its goals. It was signed, “OM… TAT… SAT, Abhay Charanaravindo Bhaktivedanta, Founder and Secretary.”
The opening was a pleasant, auspicious event for the people of Jhansi, and hundreds gathered in the evening for Srila Prabhupada’s lecture. Dr. Sharma, a charter member of the League and editor of the Jhansi daily newspaper, had already publicized the event and was planning a write-up for the following day. The Gaudiya Patrika also reported on the opening:
The editor of the local Theosophical Society, Sri Laksminarayan Rajapali, was also present; although he holds different philosophical opinions from Bhaktivedanta Prabhu, he is very sympathetic with this movement… The inauguration and establishing of Deities will be done soon… Their center has been registered by the Societies Registration Act. Sri Bharati Bhavan is the name of the League’s building, in which they have a lecture hall and a temple that resembles a palace. The assembly has many activities at the center, and there are also facilities for members to live there.
Srila Prabhupada felt confident that the Bharati Bhavan would now be established and recognized as the home of the League of Devotees. He was happy to see that the opening day was not merely his private affair but an event celebrated by the most important citizens of Jhansi.
Reference: Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta Volume 1 – Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
A Hard Struggle in the Beginning
Prabhupāda: … Prabhākāra was first-initiated by me.
Devotee: Your first disciple.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Hari-nāma-mantra he was given.
Devotee (2): What year was that?
Prabhupāda: Nineteen fifty-four, I think. He did some service. In Jhansi…
Devotee (2): You had that League. I saw photos of that. That League of Devotees.
Prabhupāda: Hmm. A very nice building.
Devotee (2): Yeah. That was nice.
Prabhupāda: Very nice building.
Devotee (2): With front wall, and you had painted “League of Devotees.”
Prabhupāda: Oh, you have seen.
Devotee (2): I have seen the photo. Big place.
Devotee: That is still existing?
Prabhupāda: Very big place. That you have seen this Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha in Mathurā? No. There is Caitanya Mahāprabhu Deity. That Deity was there. When I closed that, I brought, that big, big sannyāsī, and delivered Them. They will show.
Devotee: One man cheated you there? Some land? No.
Prabhupāda: The building belonged to a big zamindar. So Prabhākāra arranged. So it was to be given to me, and I wanted to start the League of Devotees from there.
Devotee (2): Yes, big institution.
Prabhupāda: So I spent some money, whatever money I had, and it was going on. But in the meantime, this Lilavati Munshi…
Devotee (2): Oh, that Mr. Munshi.
Prabhupāda: Mrs. At that time she was wife of the governor. Her husband, K. M. Munshi. She had some organization of foreign women. So somehow or other she got imagination that “This house is very nice.” She was governor’s wife. So it was not given to me rightly, but I was using. So she wanted that house. So through collector and through all government officials’ pressure. She wrote me later on, that “Bhaktivedantajī, you wanted to organize, but you could not. But I have got this institution. Why not give it to me?” So, of course, there were many lawyer friends. They advised me that “You do not give up. You should litigate.” So I thought, “Who is going to litigate? Let me go to Vṛndāvana.” So I left. So at Mathurā I delivered the Deity to this Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha, and I made my place in Vṛndāvana.
Devotee (2): You had such a hard struggle in the beginning.
Prabhupāda: Oh, yes.
Devotee (2): Because that place, I saw in the photo, everything was there. Nice big sign.
Prabhupāda: It was a very good place. This Prabhākāra helped me. Ninety percent was… But if I did not leave, nobody could drive me, that was a fact. But I thought, “Who is going to…, for litigation? She is the governor’s wife, and she is pressing through collectors, through…” The manager who was in charge, he had some cinema house. So they had to renew the license, cinema house. And the collector pressed him, that “Unless you arrange for this house, we are not going to renew your license.” So I thought, “Unnecessarily this man will be in trouble. I’ll have to pay so many rupees, and she is governor’s wife.” And that lady came to me in Bombay several times: “You take my press. You have got so many publications.” So I said, “I can take your press. I have got money. But what shall I do with it? It is letterpress. Now printing is done by offset.” That press, Associated Press, it is very good press. It was… They got so many government contracts. The whole telephone guides were printed there. But because it is letterset press, it is costly. The government got offset press, cheaper price. So that contract was cancelled. So for her nefarious activity she is punished. Her husband died. She has no more importance, and she was one of the trustees of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. So she was exempted. Now she’s an ordinary woman. Press is not working.
Devotee (2): All they have is that Bhavan’s Journal.
Devotee (2): Nobody reads that.
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, Hyderabad, August 21, 1976)