Drops of Nectar
After Srila Prabhupada got out of the hospital I spent three weeks with him. Those three weeks changed my life and I wanted to continue serving him in that way. So, during the six months Prabhupada was in India, everyday I prayed to Lord Jagannath, "If he comes back, please let me be his servant. Let me cook for him. Let me clean his room. Let me do anything, just let me serve and be near him. This is my strong desire." One of the first letters Srila Prabhupada ever sent me was when he was in India and the last statement in the letter was, "I know your mind."
Every afternoon we would have Krishna book readings and I, fortunately, was the designated reader. Sometimes Prabhupada would make comments during the readings, sometimes he would just sit very quietly, and sometimes he would laugh. I would always try to find stories about demons because Prabhupada would react to these stories more than others. He would usually laugh when Krishna was killing the demons. One day while I was searching for a story to read, he said, "Just read from anywhere. Krishna is like a sweet ball. Wherever you bite, it's sweet." Then I quickly went to the next page and began reading.
I was always amazed at how Prabhupada tuned right in and related to you and whoever was with you. I was a brahmachari for many years, but my real propensity wasn't to be a brahmachari. That kind of advancement and detachment was wishful thinking for me. But in those days, if you expressed the idea that, "Maybe I should be married," then you had someone talking you out of it. When I went to see Prabhupada, more than once he said, "Oh Keshavaji, where is your wife?" I said, "Prabhupada, I don't have a wife." He could see that I wasn't a first class brahmachari. He was saying to me, "You'd better think about things a little bit."
We went to the Golden Temple, which is the Sikh's most holy temple. One of the temple people there showed us around. Prabhupada really liked it and was very impressed. They had a huge chapati-maker, like an upside down wok, with about ten men around it flipping chapatis with big, long spatulas. They were feeding poor people. We went to the inner sanctum of the Golden Temple and walked around. When we left they asked Prabhupada, "Would you sign our guest book, Swamiji?" He said, "Yes," and signed the guest book. In the place that said, "What are your impressions of the temple?" Prabhupada wrote, "Very spiritual," and he made sure that we all knew what he wrote, because he told us while he was writing it. Under religion he wrote, "Krishnite." It was very funny -- Not Hindu, Krishnite.
Prabhupada said, "Bill prabhu come forward. Your name is Bhakta Das," He handed me my beads and said, "This name means that you are the servant of the devotees. The more you think of yourself as a servant, the more you will advance in spiritual life. The more you think you're becoming a master, the faster you will go to hell."
He said, "In this way, my Guru Maharaj pulled me out of this material world." When he said "pulled", his voice got thick and two tears suddenly shot out of his eyes, as if they were squeezed out by a shudder of ecstasy, and went running down his cheeks. Everybody in the room was speechless. I was impressed with the intense feeling he had when his Guru Maharaj called him to take sannyas.
On a morning walk in Toronto, perhaps in 1976, Vishvakarma, the temple president, said, "Prabhupada, lately the brahmacharis are agitated and are having difficulty maintaining their brahmachari mood. How should we deal with this?" Prabhupada said, "If they're agitated, tell them to get married. What's the problem?" Vishvakarma said, "But Prabhupada all of the big devotees, the sannyasis, tell them that it's a fall down to get married." Prabhupada said, "Fall down from where? How can you fall, when you're already fallen?"
At the fire yajna for our marriage, we didn't have enough money to buy butter, so we used margarine. When Srila Prabhupada tried to start the fire, he dipped a piece of wood into the margarine. Prabhupada's hands were magnificent with long fingers. He held the wood over the flame, but it wouldn't light. He dipped it and held it over the flame again, no action. He looked up gravely and said, "Oh, this marriage will have a very slow start." I was mortified. I thought, "Oh, Oh. What have I gotten into now?"
Prabhupada said, "The Goswamis never thought about being published. That's their attitude." That was a shock to me, but if you look at all the Goswami books, in the beginning there's a line, "For my friend Sanatana Goswami or Rupa Goswami." The Goswamis would write for friends and afterwards their works were sent to Bengal to be copied. That was the way books were published in those days. But in the beginning, they were writing for the pleasure of a few friends. Prabhupada said, "That's the Goswami ideal. They weren't thinking, 'I'm an author, I've been published.'"
When my son, Aniruddha, was one and a half or two years old, we lived in Coconut Grove, Florida, and I started doing full time Deity service while some other devotees took care of Aniruddha. I thought, "Here's my chance to do a really important service." In a letter I mentioned my service to Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada wrote back, "Taking care of the children is just as important as doing Deity worship. One service is not more important than another. These children aren't ordinary children. They are Vaikuntha children. They have been sent by Krishna Himself." He told me to stop doing Deity worship and to take care of Aniruddha.
When Prabhupada first came to New York he was living in the Bowery. Once Prabhupada said, "Even if a drunk man in the Bowery sips wine with the attitude, 'O Krishna makes the nice taste in this wine,' he will eventually achieve perfection."
Moksa Laksmi dasi:
Another time, on Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's appearance day, we cooked 108 preparations for the Deities, Radha-Rasabehari. In those days in Bombay, we cooked feasts on all the appearance and disappearance days. We cooked a lot. Hamsadutta told us, "Oh, you should show the feast to Prabhupada." So Sarvamangala and I got big pot lids, put all the preparations on them and carried them across Hare Krishna Land, up the stairs, and into Prabhupada's room. Later Prabhupada sent us a message, "This movement is nothing without its feasts."
Prabhupada said to me, "Everything is so nice in the Western countries; if they would simply stop eating the cow. Isn't there any other kind of meat they can eat besides the cow?"
A former sannyasi got married and already had a child when he came to see Srila Prabhupada in Mexico City. I believe he was the first sannyasi to fall down and he was afraid to see Srila Prabhupada. He offered his obeisances and mentioned how, in the Caitanya-caritamrita, Lord Caitanya told Chota Haridas to leave His association after Chota Haridas had glanced at a woman. This former sannyasi asked, "Srila Prabhupada, do I have to leave too?" Prabhupada said, "Lord Caitanya could make the whole world Krishna conscious in a second. But I can't do that. I need all the help I can get. Do whatever service you can do in the householder ashram, just be content." It was incredible. A sannyasi falls down and Prabhupada said, "Now be a content grihasta. Become peaceful and do service." Whatever it took, Prabhupada wanted to follow the orders of his spiritual master to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. Srila Prabhupada burned up our impurities and offered our service to his Guru Maharaj.
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.
One morning I was sitting on a landing, chanting and waiting for Prabhupada to come. It was dark so I couldn't see very well and Prabhupada came very softly so I couldn't hear him either. As he passed right in front of me, less than an arm's reach away, he said in a baritone voice and with complete gravity, "Thank you very much." All I was doing was chanting japa. Prabhupada was so appreciative and encouraging of the smallest effort.
Nanda Kumar dasa:
It's embarrassing to say this, but once Prabhupada told me that I was the king of faultfinders. When I tried to share with the other devotees what Prabhupada had taught me, due to my ego it sounded like I was finding fault with them. And there was some of that there. So one of Prabhupada's instructions to me was to give up faultfinding, to accept and apply all his instructions and not worry about what anybody else was doing.
One reporter asked, "What will happen to the movement in the United States when you die?" Srila Prabhupada immediately said, "I will never die. I live in my books." Another reporter asked, "What is the purpose of these large carts?" Prabhupada's eyes got big and he said, "Large car means God is very great, He requires a very great car. Why should He go in a small car?"