(Srila Prabhupada foreground, Tribhuvanatha holding book)
When Prabhupada came though the doors of the lounge, his smile was oceanic. He was beaming. I was supposed to put a garland on him, but I froze. I thought, "This person is not in this dimension." I was only 18, but I could tell that he was not of this world. Other devotees were garlanding him, but I didn't even pay my obeisances. Prabhupada walked straight past me as I was standing there looking at him and holding a big garland. Then I ran up to him and slipped the garland on him. It was funny because I was obviously the reception committee, but I was motionless. Prabhupada's smile had knocked me out. The other devotees were practically crying, and that made me more amazed at this person's potency, that he could walk through a door and cause everyone to cry. It was fascinating.
At the initiation Prabhupada was very grave when he chanted on his beads. I was sitting just below the vyasasana when a boy came up and Prabhupada said to him, "What are the four regulative principles? The boy said, "No intoxication, no gambling, no meat eating, no illicit sex." Prabhupada shot back, "So which one do you like the best?" The boy went bright red. I thought it was funny, because Prabhupada had been so grave. It was a serious occasion, yet he talked like that.
In St. James Park Prabhupada would constantly point out different things. Once he saw some bird droppings and asked, "What is this?" Everyone was looking at the bird droppings and thinking, "Maybe Prabhupada reads tea leaf formations and sees it esoterically." Prabhupada said "What does this tell you?" Everyone was bewildered. "This tells you that the same bird is sleeping on the same branch every night. Even the bird becomes attached to his residence. So be careful."
One time we were driving past Buckingham Palace in a taxi with Prabhupada, feeling proud that one boy who was part of the Queen's guard, those soldiers who wear the big furry hats, had become a devotee. We said, "Prabhupada, one of the Queen's personal guards has joined." Prabhupada said, "Oh, so how about the Queen?"
On morning walks Prabhupada would regularly comment about the state of society. He noticed people sleeping in the parks in their sleeping bags or on a newspaper and explained, "Karma is so stringent that even though these people live in such an advanced society, they still cannot avoid their karma." Prabhupada said, "Even though they are living in a very civilized country, they are still suffering, sleeping in an abominable condition." Once we asked Prabhupada about advancement, and he very determinedly stopped walking. He took one step forward, pointed to his leg, and said, "When one leg is firmly fixed, then one moves the next leg. In that way one can make advancement. But if one runs, one will simply fall."
Once Prabhupada was so weak and ill that late one night he called out to Shyamasundar, who rushed into Prabhupada's room in time to catch him as he fell. Shyamasundar said Prabhupada was incredibly light. That morning we stayed in bed because we didn't want to disturb Prabhupada. When we finally got up, we had a 24-hour kirtan in the temple. About three days later, Prabhupada suddenly got well and went on a morning walk. One devotee asked, "Srila Prabhupada, how is it that a pure devotee gets sick?" Prabhupada stopped and became emotional. His eyes got really big, and he said in a loving way, "It is just like lovers. Sometimes lovers fight." The devotee said, "Oh, a love fight, Prabhupada." Prabhupada said, "Yes. Similarly, Krishna has His love fights. Sometimes He fights the devotee." Then he smiled. It was very deep and ecstatic.
Once Prabhupada was taking prasadam in his room. Yamuna had cooked for him, and Malati was running up and down with fresh puris. I heard her shuffling up and down the stairs, and I was fascinated, so I popped my head around the corner, and there was Malati saying, "Prabhupada, how many puris can you eat?" She had brought a lot of puris while Prabhupada was respecting prasadam. Prabhupada's eyes got big, and he said, "More than you can make," and laughed. He seemed ecstatic.