Krsna Kumari devi dasi Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Krsna Kumari: I met Prabhupada indirectly first before I was a devotee. I had been searching for a guru but I was disappointed. At one point I bought a Mother Earth magazine and started corresponding with a guy from Gainesville, Florida, who wrote in the back of the magazine, and I shared with him my search for a guru. He wrote back and said, “Well, I’ve found a real guru. You should come right away and meet this person. He’s not like the others.” I wrote back, “Well, I’ve seen some pretty bad things in my search for a guru. Does this person go on a water bed with his female disciples and eat chocolate bars and soda pop?” He’d write me back, “No, this person is very grave and he doesn’t have any sex connection with his young disciples. He doesn’t sleep on a waterbed. When he was in India he didn’t even have a bed.” I’d write back, “Well, does he smoke marijuana and have his disciples smoke marijuana?” He’d write me back, “No, he follows the four regulative principles and he teaches his disciples to do so. He just kept saying, “You have to come, you have to come!” So finally I did. I literally gave up everything including my car. I had a little backpack and hitchhiked from New England down to Gainesville. Of course by the time I got there, Prabhupada had left. I went to the address of the guy with whom I had been corresponding and the landlady answered the door, “What do you want?” I told her who I was looking for and she said, “Oh, I threw him out two weeks ago. He’s a no good for nothin’ and he ‘aint paid me rent for six months. I threw him out.” I told her that I had come all the way from New England to visit him.” She said, “Well, I know where he is” and she took me by the hand and pointed up the street. “See that, up the street there? Them’s the Hair Krishnas. That’s where he went. They take anybody.” So I showed up at the temple and later in the conversations there, they asked, “How did you find us?” I told them the name of the young man who had been writing to me, and they all laughed. “Oh, yeah. He does that all the time. He’s not really very serious about our movement. He entices people to get interested and they show up but he never stays.” Amarendra Prabhu was in charge of the temple at the time, and he gave us four classes every day, one of which was the Teachings of Lord Chaitanya. One day we were reading from the chapter called “The Devotee”. The first or second paragraph listed exactly all the things the guy, who had written to me, described about Prabhupada. I said to Amarendra, “Well that’s not fair. This guy just copied stuff out of the book!” Amarendra looked at me gravely and said, “Why do you care where this information came from if it’s true?” When I finally met Prabhupada later and became serious as a devotee, I saw it was true. All these qualities are full in Prabhupada. Some people came by getting a book, some by getting prasadam, but I came from hearing about Prabhupada’s qualities. Not even by a sincere, devoted, committed follower, but just by someone that was impressed by Prabhupada.

Because Gayatri dasi had impressed upon me that service to Srila Prabhupada was more important than seeing him, I elected to help her in the kitchen pretty much the whole time during the New Vrindavan festival instead of attending all the amazing events on the hill with the lectures and the kirtans. One thing that she asked me to do was to help her make Prabhupada’s banana birthday cake. When we were finished, it was our chance to take the cake up to Prabhupada. We sat somewhere in back of Prabhupada’s vyasasana with the cake hidden down low. We were cutting the cake when Prabhupada’s servant came with a plate and he said, “Give me a piece for Srila Prabhupada.” I took a nice big eight-inch corner piece and put it on the plate. Literally the second I put that piece of cake on the plate and he turned around to take it to Prabhupada, I was crushed by a tsunami of devotees as they all grabbed for the remaining cake. My face was down in the cake and I was running out of breath. I thought, “I’m going to die here. But this is great. I’m going to die on Srila Prabhupada’s birthday cake.” I couldn’t breathe. Finally when all the cake was pretty much gone, I could get up and inhale. Since that day, I’ve heard so many renditions of that story. Some devotees would say the cake was chocolate, some would say vanilla, some would say strawberry, but it was banana. Every person I have ever talked to about that incident said the cake was a different flavor. It seemed to me this cake became a “kalpavriksha” (wish fulfilling) cake touched by Prabhupada and immediately it became the favorite flavor of every devotee who had a chance to grab and eat it. It appeared to be Prabhupada’s wonderful gift to everybody and they fought over it like anything.

I was determined to get some personal service for Srila Prabhupada, and somehow or other in Dallas, I was given some clothes of Srila Prabhupada’s to iron. I had to wash and iron many different sets of clothes besides Prabhupada’s so it was very late at night when I finished this service. Every time I went back and forth from the laundry area to go to my classroom where I was ironing, I would take a little detour, go out into the parking lot, and look up at Prabhupada’s window. I don’t know what I was thinking, but there was a light on in Prabhupada’s room and it pacified me meditating on the fact that he was translating his books. On my way out with the last big load of laundry, the door slammed shut. When I got out in the parking lot, I looked up and Prabhupada’s face was there in the window. At first I was startled and realized, “Oh my God, I slammed the door and it probably disturbed him.” But his look wasn’t like, “Hmm, who’s disturbing me?” His look was as if he were just looking to see who was there. Then he saw it was me with my arms full of laundry, and he immediately folded his palms and lowered his head. I was shocked. I froze at first. Then I realized, “Oh, my God. I’ve got to pay obeisances to Prabhupada. I got down and paid obeisances and of course by the time I got up he had left the window and gone back to his work. But for him to recognize my insignificant self like that meant so much to me. Here he is receiving my service personally. He was thankful for anyone who did any little thing in his mission, and he wanted us to know that.

I had a large class of about fifty young children from three to five years of age. They had acquired a small lot near the Dallas temple that they were using as a playground for the children. Prabhupada told us to do cowherd pastimes with the kids to engage them. It was my idea to dress them up like cows and cowherd boys and they liked it. One time Prabhupada was visiting and getting a massage in his garden that was on the other side of the parking lot where the kids performed these Krishna past times. That day I dressed most of them with ears like cow ears, and a tail pinned on, and then there was Krishna and Balaram with Their flutes. Krishna and Balaram would lead and play the flutes and then the cows would walk on all fours going “Mooo”. Prabhupada obviously heard them because he came to the gate door to look out. As soon as he saw the kids, he smiled which was oceanic. He watched the whole scene. I didn’t know what to do so I just called out, “It’s Prabhupada! Pay obeisances!” The children turned around and saw Prabhupada. Krishna and Balaram did not pay obeisances. They stood and posed like Krishna and Balaram. The cows turned around and went “Moooo” as they all paid obeisances. Then they got up and continued playing with Krishna and Balaram Who were regally leading the cows. Prabhupada ran toward the last cow and started pulling the little tail on the cow. The child was totally playing with Prabhupada, “Mooo, mooo, mooo”, trying to get away from Prabhupada. Prabhupada was having such fun pulling the tail while the kids cried, “Mooo, mooo,” following his lead and playing their parts perfectly. I felt like we were all transported at that moment to Vrindavan. Prabhupada could bring you immediately to Vrindavan just by being with him.

I’d only been in the movement eight or nine months when I was told to go to Dallas. All of the children there were born in the movement and they had been there about five years. These kids practically speaking brought me up in Krishna consciousness. All the children were taught to chant Bhagavad-gita slokas. They were chanting the verses and would hear the meaning but Prabhupada said the young children didn’t have to understand the purport completely but to have some idea. I drew large cards with a picture that would give the children something to remember about each verse. I’d hold the card and they’d chant the verse. Then Prabhupada wanted us to bring the children to the temple room on Sunday and have them chant the entire Bhagavad-gita together, all eighteen chapters. I was thinking, “This is really going to be a lot for three and four year old kids to do. Do we really have to?” But Prabhupada mentioned one important reason why he wanted the children to memorize these verses and be able to rattle them off, chapter after chapter. He said that these verses are impressed forever on the subtle body. If these children don’t go back to Godhead in this lifetime, it goes with them to their next birth. They will have the entire Bhagavad-gita already there with them, to help them. So that lesson pacified me. Not only did we chant the verses in class with cards, but on the way to the playground. I had fifty kids and I thought, “How am I going to tie fifty shoes and keep all these kids sitting down and engaged?” We chanted the slokas while we tied their shoes, while we were at the laundromat, and the kids liked it. It kept them engaged and I remembered that Prabhupada said it would go with them forever.

At one point Srila Prabhupada wasn’t feeling well. He actually had to be helped up onto the vyasasana, but he still came to give the class. After the class they had to help him off the vyasasana and hold him while Srutakirti put his shoes on. Upon walking back to his room, he came along the hallway, looked in a classroom and wanted to go in. Now during that class, I had all these little kids, and one of them had started crying. I had taken her out and put her in my classroom and she had cried herself to sleep behind the door. When Prabhupada opened that door to go in the classroom, it bumped into the child who immediately woke up and started crying all over again. When Prabhupada entered, the child saw Prabhupada and stopped crying immediately. She fell down and paid her obeisances. I’m not sure why he decided to go into the room or whether he sensed she was there, but his intention was completely focused on her. He reached out and touched her head gently. Then his eyes moved over to me. His glance pierced me with the message, “You’ve got to treat these children nicely, gently, kindly.” I had been told that we were to be really strict with the children until they turn sixteen years old. He once said we could keep a stick, but only show the stick. He said, “Don’t ever use the stick.” However, this look of Prabhupada was admonishing me to the core. From that day on I changed completely. I realized these children are the future of our movement and they have to have positive impressions to develop nicely. My heart changed from that moment to a more loving mood because I saw Prabhupada’s love.

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 59 - Sravanananda, Krsna Kumari dd, Sandamini dd

The full Prabhupada Memories Series can be viewed here and also at

Following Srila Prabhupada

Interview DVD 04

Krsna Kumari: One thing that really made an impression on me at that festival was the loving concern by the sannyasis and senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada for all of us, preaching to us lovingly. We all sat together and ate prasadam. You could walk up to anyone and ask a question, and they would take the time to answer you and give you association. The feeling that we were a family and there was Srila Prabhupada, he was our father. We all felt sheltered, we all felt protected. It was like a resurgence of energy and rededication. We all went back to our temples completely refreshed and rejuvenated and ready for whatever austerities we had to perform.

Interview DVD 07

Krsna Kumari: Because I had some educational background, I was sent to Dallas. I had the unique situation of being drop loaded as a new devotee into a situation as a teacher. So while I was taking care of the children, they actually taught me Krishna consciousness. They were my bhakta leaders. Their Krishna consciousness was completely genuine. So those principles that I learned from them, like full dependence on Krishna and turning to Krishna at every moment, are what have kept me in service to Srila Prabhupada’s movement all these years.

One time when we had a big ceremony in the temple, the little girls that you see here…I had many of them, over 20, and they all had to behave properly and it was a bit of a chore to do it. One of them started crying, and I actually had to take her out of the temple room and put her in a classroom. Then later after Srila Prabhupada finished his program in the temple room, he was headed to his own quarters and usually he went directly to his quarters. But instead he stopped in front of one classroom, the classroom that I’d put the child in, and there was no way that he could see through the door to see that there was anyone in the classroom. It was a solid door. But he opened that door particularly; and when he opened it, it bumped right into the child who had fallen asleep in back of the door. Then she quickly got up and paid her obeisances, and I’ll never forget that compassionate look on his face seeing this child’s tear-streaked face and rumpled clothing from laying on the floor. She sat up with her hands folded, and he touched her head. And that one gesture of Srila Prabhupada giving love to this child who I’d had to have removed because of her behavior taught me more than anything because Srila Prabhupada was so warm and so personal. Then I realized that if I’m following in his footsteps, I better at least try to become a little like that myself.