December 8, 1976 -- Hyderabad farm
I went into Prabhupada's bathroom this evening about 9 p.m., not long before Srila Prabhupada usually goes in for his evening ablution. It's a simple affair with a small entry passage and two concrete stalls, one for passing, one for washing. There is no running water in the building and Prabhupada bathes from buckets. I went in to check that the twenty gallon drum used for water storage was full. I stepped into the washing stall and reached for the bucket -- and quickly recoiled in shock. A snake, its scaly, limbless form about two feet long, was lurking right behind it. I swiftly retreated. Luckily it was a bit lethargic and didn't make any move, although it eyed me warily through its semi-fused lids. I had horrors thinking what might have happened if Srila Prabhupada had gone in there in the evening gloom. I called for Acyutagraja prabhu to dispense with it. He confirmed my suspicions. It was a highly venomous species, although he didn't know the exact type. He has an air rifle which he keeps for such occasions and, stealthily edging through the door, he took aim and hit it first time in the back of the head. It was finished without need for a second. Acyutagraja took the corpse out on the end of the barrel, built a small fire on the empty ground just in front of the rooms, and burnt it. Srila Prabhupada came out to go to the bathroom and seeing the flames, asked what was going on. I told him about the snake, and, peering at the burning torso, he tipped his head in approval. "Very good," he smiled, and went off to the bathroom. It reminded me of the story he told us last February in Mayapur, how he was bathing at the Caitanya Gaudiya Matha in 1933, and big cobra came out in front of him. Noone knew what to do but his Guru Maharaja was in residence and from his balcony he saw the snake and ordered some brahmacaris to kill it. At the time, Prabhupada said, he was a new comer and had difficulty understanding how such as saintly person as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati could give such an instruction. But later on, he read Srimad-Bhagavatam verse 7.9.14: modeta sadhur api vrscika-sarpa-hatya -- even saintly persons become happy to see an envious creature like a snake or scorpion killed; and then he felt very happy.
Acyutagraja poked among the ashes as the flames consumed the carcass. He called me over and showed me the only distinguishable remnant, a small sac, about half an inch long, as big as a jelly bean. "This is the venom," he told me. It had swollen in the fire but it was still intact. "Just see, it is so virulent that even the fire cannot destroy it!" He collected it into a bag. "Tomorrow I will take this to the local hospital. They will buy it and use it in their anti-venom medicines."
* * *
Later in the night, after I had finished giving Srila Prabhupada his massage and he was still resting, I went passed his door on my way to take rest. Srila Prabhupada, who was sleeping in his room, suddenly called out incoherently. It was a disturbed cry, and caused me some concern. I waited a few moments to see if he called again, but there was only silence. It brought to mind his purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.4.15: "Because of sinful activities, at night we have bad dreams, which are very troublesome. Indeed, Maharaja Yudhisthira was obliged to see hell because of a slight deviation from devotional service to the Lord. Therefore, duhsvapna -- bad dreams -- occur because of sinful activities. A devotee sometimes accepts a sinful person as his disciple, and to counteract the sinful reactions he accepts from the disciple, he has to see a bad dream. Nonetheless, the spiritual master is so kind that in spite of having bad dreams due to the sinful disciple, he accepts this troublesome business for the deliverance of the victims of Kali-yuga. After initiation, therefore, a disciple should be extremely careful not to commit again any sinful act that might cause difficulties for himself and the spiritual master. Before the Deity, before the fire, before the spiritual master and before the Vaisnavas, the honest disciple promises to refrain from all sinful activity. Therefore he must not again commit sinful acts and thus create a troublesome situation."
We can only be thankful we have such a benevolent shelter as Srila Prabhupada who has taken the sinful reactions of thousands of Kali's victims just to clear the way for us back home, back to Godhead. It is hardly surprising that he suffers from so many ailments, including bad dreams, yet he does so willingly and without complaint, for our benefit. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Hari Sauri Dasa