One of Srila Prabhupada's sannyasis, Hanuman Goswami, arrived at the temple about a week before Gurudeva. Hanuman Goswami recommended that only one person be initiated by Srila Prabhupada. But the temple president recommended a total of seventeen persons. Prabhupada accepted for initiation all of the seventeen.
At my initiation I stated, of course, all of the regulative principles, and when I finished Prabhupada said, “and what are the forms of intoxication?”
I gave a complete rendering of all the different kinds of intoxication; but purposely omitted smoking, because for my entire life (39 years at that point) I had never smoked anything at all, not even a regular cigarette. So I assumed that it was certainly not necessary to include something like that in my case.
Prabhupada said, “anything else?”
He then with one hand formed his fingers as if he were holding a cigarette, and moved those fingers up to his mouth.
I then, of course, added smoking to the list.
At the time he did that, I could not understand why he insisted on that item for me.
What he actually was doing was making sure that in the future I would preach strongly on that subject when surrounded by marijuana smokers on the big island of Hawaii.
For our initiations, we did not have dhotis, kurtas, or neck beads. We went to a textile factory in Mexico City and purchased a bolt of orange polyester fabric from which we fashioned some home-made dhotis and brahmacari tops. But neck beads were lacking for the initiations.
When the initiations were completed, Srila Prabhupada said to the temple president “Chitsukananda, without neck beads, it is not a ceremony."
Zocalo: In the Cuernavaca zocalo, Prabhupada sat on the vyasasana that we transported from the Mexico City Temple. He spoke to visitors who sat in bleacher seats set up in the zocalo.
After our initiations, each of us went out into the streets of Mexico and begged Guru-daksina from the local population. Seventeen devotees begging in the city produced a medium sized basketful of Mexican money, consisting of a hodge-podge of big heavy coins, small coins, and currency. Almost all Mexican coins at that time were big and thick.
Srila Prabhupada was leaving the next day. On that morning two devotees walked into my office with this basket of coins and bills, and asked me if I would please take the basket of Guru-daksina upstairs to Srila Prabhupada.
I went upstairs with the basket, and knocked on his door. A devotee opened it, and the room was packed with devotees just sitting there, entranced with watching Prabhupada take his breakfast prasadam.
Somehow or other I managed to work my way up to Srila Prabhupada, and sat down right next to him at his left side. As I am arranging my dhoti, Srila Prabhupada scooped up off his plate with his right hand a whole handful of prasadam, swung it over in front of my nose, and with a twinkle in his eye, said, “take prasadam?”
I honored the prasadam and then told him that here is the Guru-daksina. Nanda-Kumara Dasa looked at this clumsy, unwieldy pile of Mexican money and said, “Srila Prabhupada, what do we do with this?” And Prabhupada, between mouthfuls, says, “Take it."
So, as usual, Srila Prabhupada figured out a way to give me something before I could give him something. He was always giving to me first.
At UNAM (Mexican National University), Srila Prabhupada conducted a standard preaching program including a lecture. Insofar as the audience consisted of students from the elite, educated upper class of Mexican Society, every one of them spoke perfect English. Prabhupada's lecture was basic Bhagavad Gita, changing bodies, transmigration, etc. During the lecture, a student interrupted him and said:
Student: I don`t see what's wrong with being a bird.
Prabhupada: You think it's alright to be a bird?
Student: I don't see anything wrong with that.
Prabhupada: You wouldn't care if you became a bird?
Student: Yes, that would be all right.
Prabhupada: You really don't mind being a bird?
Student: I wouldn`t mind being a bird.
At that point, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada swiftly extended his right arm, and pointing his arm and index finger straight at the student, said in a very firm and strong voice:
“All right then. Be a bird!”
And instantly he began leading the Hare Krishna mantra, shifting the program back to kirtan. No more philosophy for the so-called educated students.
(As you will recall, Lord Caitanya Himself also had trouble with the student class of society).