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Chapter 103: Paris Deity Installation

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 103
Paris Deity Installation

August 1973, ISKCON Paris

When Śrīla Prabhupāda first arrived at the Paris temple, the devotees anxiously waited on a verandah high above the front entrance. Like demigods, they showered flower petals onto His Divine Grace. Śrīla Prabhupāda responded with a beautiful smile, reciprocating the love and affection his disciples exhibited.

One of the highlights of Śrīla Prabhupāda's tour of France was the installation of Radha Kṛṣṇa Deities. The devotees were very excited to have Śrīla Prabhupāda presiding over the festivities. His Divine Grace carefully observed his Sanskrit editor, Pradyumna Dāsa, as he prepared the fire sacrifice. As Pradyumna commenced, Śrīla Prabhupāda occasionally motioned to him saying, "Do it like this, not like that."

The devotees ecstatically watched Śrīla Prabhupāda as he attentively orchestrated every nuance of the ceremony like a transcendental conductor. Śrīla Prabhupāda's attention to detail was immaculate. He wanted everything to be done in a first-class fashion. After all, his worshipable Radha and Kṛṣṇa were being installed. Overwhelmed with love, Śrīla Prabhupāda decided to take the situation into his own hands.

He climbed down from the Vyasasana and took over the fire yajna. All of the disciples present were overjoyed, watching their spiritual master artfully prepare the arena for this most auspicious event. With Śrīla Prabhupāda in charge, everything was perfect. The Deities were bathed with Panchamrita (five various liquids), rinsed with warm water, dried, and wrapped in lush, new towels. Upon completion, Sri Sri Radha Kṛṣṇa were brought into the Deity room and opulently dressed. Then Śrīla Prabhupāda personally offered Their Lordships' first arotika. With extreme care, he offered each item to Sri Sri Radha Kṛṣṇa as the devotees blissfully chanted the Lord's Holy Names and danced in ecstasy. All the devotees' eyes were fixed on Śrīla Prabhupāda's graceful motion as he ecstatically performed arotika. His eyes glistened with the ointment of love of Godhead and were fixed on his Deities throughout the offering.

Three months later in his room in Vrindaban, Śrīla Prabhupāda was given the latest copy of Back to Godhead magazine. Śrīla Prabhupāda was always excited to receive new issues of Back to Godhead. He enthusiastically poured over each page of this new issue, focusing on the large, beautiful, colored pictures of his Radha Kṛṣṇa Deities recently installed at the Paris-yatra. His concentrated vision halted as he gazed lovingly at a particular photograph. This individual photo captured a special moment as His Divine Grace performed arotika. His arm was gracefully stretched overhead, offering the camara (Yak tail) fan to Their Lordships. Śrīla Prabhupāda looked at the picture in a meditative gaze as if entering into it for just a fraction of a second. In the next moment, he returned to us and with twinkling eyes and a broad smile, he innocently revealed, "Just see! Kṛṣṇa is looking at me and I am looking at Kṛṣṇa!"

Śrīla Prabhupāda, I have no idea what it would be like to gaze upon the Supreme Lord and have Him return that glance. I have been fortunate, however, to have you mercifully glance upon this unworthy soul. I pray to see you again, by never losing sight of your instructions. In this way, by your mercy, I may be allowed to follow in your footsteps.