(Click to enlarge photo of Saradiya devi dasi, Back to Godhead magazine, 1970)
Saradiya: When Prabhupada came in December he married Jivananda and Harsharani and initiated my brother. Some devotee said to me, "Why don’t you get initiated?"
I thought, "I’m not qualified. A person has to be very elevated to get initiated. It’s a very special thing." The devotee said, "Just ask Swamiji." At that time we called him "Swamiji."
So after Prabhupada’s lecture one day, I raised my hand and said, "Can I get initiated?" Prabhupada looked at me and said, "Will you follow the four principles?" I said, "Yes."
Then he nodded his head, "Okay." Immediately four other people shot up their hands and said, "Can I get initiated?" "Can I get initiated?" Prabhupada said "Yes" to all of them.
Shortly after that, my brother Krishna das told me I should go to Prabhupada’s room, which was down the street on Willard.
I went there one evening and said, "Swamiji, my brother Krishna das told me that you came back in this life because in your past life you killed a snake."
Prabhupada said, "Oh, your brother has told you that?" I said, "Yes." I didn’t think of anything else to say to him.
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday we would have kirtan in the temple room, and on alternate days we would go to Prabhupada’s room for darshan.
Once we were sitting in Prabhupada’s room, and Prabhupada said, "Oh, Saradiya has very nice tilak. Krishna das has no tilak."
He went around to each and every devotee, pointing out whether they had tilak or not. It was very important to Prabhupada that we wear tilak.
Once Gurudas was making a videotape of the Deities, the kirtan, and Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada indicated to Gurudas that he should take a videotape of my friend and me.
She and I were wearing matching nylon saris, hers' pink and mine green, and we were dancing in step together. It was very kind of Prabhupada to notice us.
Srila Prabhupada treated me like a daughter. I joined the temple with my brother, Krishna das, and we were the youngest devotees.
Sometimes Prabhupada would ask me or tell me certain things that showed his concern for me.
For instance, he told the brahmacharis to tell me that I should finish high school and I should not have any boyfriends.
Prabhupada said that when I finished high school he would find a suitable husband for me.
Once on a walk he asked me, "Are you sufficiently covered?" He was very concerned about how I felt.
It was these little things that Prabhupada said to me that strengthened my connection with him. I wasn’t too interested in philosophy.
I liked to chant, but it was Prabhupada’s personal interest in me that encouraged me and kept me enlivened to continue devotional service for many years.
Once I asked Prabhupada, "Are there senses in the spiritual world?" Prabhupada looked at the audience and said, "Look at this little girl. She wants to go back to Godhead."
And in the course of the answer, Prabhupada said, "One day, Krishna may kiss you." At that, everyone in the audience laughed.
—Saradiya devi dasi