Two days back, Sriman Gopal Agarwal, husband of Sally and father of two daughters, left his body due to old age afflictions. One of the daughters called New Vrindaban requesting one of our temple Brahmans to attend and offer rites prior to cremation. Due to the efforts of one young devotee (Nitai Das_rns, who himself was killed in an auto crash with a semi some years back) a nice relationship was established between New Vrindaban this couple who aided Srila Prabhupada to get his original Visa to USA and provided accomodation upon his initial arrival. Sally visited New Vrindaban a few times and also participated in Prabhupada Memories sessions at the Festival of Inspiration, delighting the devotee audience. They both attended a Butler, PA Prabhupada Festival and during the kirtan, Gopal spontaneously joined in the dancing. There was a sweet fatherly daughter relationship between Sally and Srila Prabhupada and several letters were exchanged between them.
Please offer your prayers for Gopal’s onward journey and for Sally and their family members.
Malati devi dasi
In September of 1965, when Srila Prabhupada had arrived for the first time in the USA and exited the Jaladuta steamship at the Brooklyn pier, one of his contacts in the new land was Gopal Agarwal, the son of a Mathura businessman who had requested his son to host Prabhupada in America. Since Gopal was unable to go to New York to personally receive Prabhupada, he arranged for a Travelers Aid representative to meet him and put him on a bus to Pittsburgh. Gopal met Prabhupada in Pittsburgh and thereafter took him to his home in Butler, Pennsylvania.
During his visit to the Sri Sri Radha Rasabihari Temple, Gopal Agarwal fondly spoke of how Prabhupada happily lived on the couch his family offered him in their two bedroom apartment. At his wife Sally’s request he would cook lunch for the entire family. He mentioned, “At that time we didn’t realize what a great personality he was. Now hundreds are ready to cook for him but at a certain time he lovingly cooked for us.”
Mr. Agarwal explained that after a few days Prabhupada moved to the nearby YMCA where he stayed at night and visited the Agarwals’ home during the day. During his stay in Butler, Gopal Agarwal arranged for his friends to come every evening to his apartment and hear spiritual discourse from Prabhupada. He recollects how Prabhupada would remember the names of every guest at the program and would not forget a face.
Gopal Agarwal revealed that occasionally he visits New Vrindavan temple along with his friends and relatives. Brij remarked that he doesn’t have any memories of Prabhupada visiting his house since he was only 6-7 months old, but his mother informed him that he teethed mostly on Prabhupada’s shoes. Gopal Agarwal mentioned that he had never imagined that Prabhupada’s vision to spread the Holy Name would actually take shape and culminate into the international movement that ISKCON is today. He expressed, “I feel fortunate that I could be helpful to Srila Prabhupada in a small way. I’m being honored for doing something simple. I’ve not done anything big but it feels great to know Prabhupada”.
Gopal Agarwal and his son Brij were in Mumbai to visit their extended family. Sally Agarwal was to join them for the India trip but couldn’t make it due to health reasons. Incidentally, Gopal Agarwal’s grand nephew studies at the Bhaktivedanta Swami Mission School located within the complex of ISKCON Juhu.