Srila Prabhupada's visits to Mauritius

In 1974, western devotees who were establishing ISKCON in Africa looked towards Mauritius for potential preaching opportunities. A few of them were sent to see how receptive people on this beautiful island were. It was not long before the pious Mauritians appreciated the association of the devotees and the latter quickly gathered a group of followers. However, for the western devotees, life was austere and they did not have many funds.

Only a year later, the Prime Minister of Mauritius invited Srila Prabhupada to come and meet him in Mauritius. This was the first official invitation Srila Prabhupada had received from a head of state, so he postponed all his other engagements and arrived in Mauritius on the 30th of September 1975. Although the devotees were new to Mauritius and lacked adequate finances, Krishna made all the necessary arrangements for Srila Prabhupada’s comfortable stay. Srila Prabhupada stayed in the villa of a life member at Pointe-aux-sables and travelled in a Mercedes car provided by the Mauritian Prime Minister.

During his visit, Srila Prabhupada would take regular morning walks along the beach and in the evening he would receive visitors. He met with several dignitaries, leaders of other spiritual groups, journalists and very interested, enthusiastic young people. The highlight of his visit was a successful VIP programme. The guests included Hindu Swamis and priests, Muslim Imams, Christian priests, the British and Indian High Commissioners, Government ministers and officials, businessmen, lawyers and some devotees. Srila Prabhupada spoke on the famous Srimad-Bhagavatam verse 1.2.5 “The supreme occupation (dharma) for all humanity is that by which men can attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendental Lord. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted in order to completely satisfy the self.” The audience was enraptured and showed their appreciation for Srila Prabhupada’s presentation.

Although his meeting with the Prime Minister never materialized, Srila Prabhupada was enlivened by the potential for preaching in Mauritius and was ready to return if there was any future sign that he could meet the Prime Minister. On the 5th of October of the same year, Srila Prabhupada left for Durban but returned on the 24th of October, hoping for the promised meeting.

This time Srila Prabhupada was hosted in a bungalow at Point d’Esny, near the airport. The visit was unfortunately marked by a car accident where Srila Prabhupada and the devotees were “saved by Krishna”. Although the two vehicles were completely destroyed in a head-on collision, Srila Prabhupada and the devotees were not seriously injured. When the Prime Minister’s secretary informed the devotees that the head of state was leaving for an important meeting, Srila Prabhupada left Mauritius.

Srila Prabhupada’s vision was that Mauritius should become self-sufficient. He stressed on this point through his visit. Plantations of sugarcane and tea should be replaced by crops. In one lecture he said that Mauritius could become an ideal Vedic state. Mauritian devotees often quote Srila Prabhupada as having predicted that Mauritius would become the first Krishna conscious country in the world. Nothing written, recorded or remembered by those present at that time confirms this but the idea will surely enthuse generations of devotees to come!

Adapted from an article written by Arjuna Das ACBSP

You may also like to read:
Detailed History Part 2
Detailed History Part 3
Lectures Srila Prabhupada gave in Mauritius
Srila Prabhupada's Arrival Address (History part 1)
The Illusions of Enjoyment
A Very good Programme