Lakshminatha das Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Laksminatha: We drove down from Canada to New Vrindavan to see Prabhupada when I was a seventeen-year-old bhakta. When Prabhupada came to the outdoor setting to give a class, we all offered obeisances. At that point, maybe because I had long hair as a hippie, Prabhupada looked at me in a way that many devotees have described. Prabhupada saw right through me, and I was inspired because I felt Prabhupada was not judgmental. He wasn’t condemning me. He could see where I was coming from. He understood that I was not the body but rather a fallen soul in this treacherous material world. I could understand that this person knows me. He’s the one who can cure me just like a doctor has to know the disease before he can cure the patient. I really felt secure with Prabhupada, although previously I had met people affiliated with Guru Maharaji who were saying, “Oh, Maharaji can give you the light.” I had expressed that to a devotee and he said, “Well, what is your qualification for anything to be revealed to you?” I was impressed with the devotee’s grasp of the philosophy, and then meeting Prabhupada was even more impressive.

In 1975 there was a Ratha-yatra in Philadelphia that Prabhupada attended. On the morning of the Ratha-yatra, Prabhupada was giving class and, of course, it was packed. During his lecture there was a lot of noise in the hallway so someone decided to close the doors of the temple room. Immediately Prabhupada noticed it and said, “Why are the doors closed?” “Oh, Prabhupada there is noise out here.” Prabhupada said, “No, keep open the doors. They need to hear.” It was impressive to see how Prabhupada was not wrapped up in himself that he might have demanded complete silence while he preached. He didn’t mind the disturbance so long as people could hear. It was extraordinary to see the sensitivity that Prabhupada had and it revealed the depth of his compassion.

One morning when we were greeting the Deities in Vrindavan and paying our obeisances with Prabhupada, someone touched Prabhupada’s feet. When Prabhupada got up, he told that devotee, “Don’t touch my feet.” Then he continued on to the other altars, took caranamrita and then he sat on the vyasasan. At this point guru puja began to honor Prabhupada, the spiritual master. As we were chanting and offering Prabhupada garlands, I observed some devotees were touching his feet without Prabhupada objecting. I reflected on this seemingly diametrical behavior, and I realized that when he is in front of the Deities and offering his obeisances, he’s in the role of a devotee before the Lord. In other words, he didn’t want to take the position of someone who is worshiped, which touching one’s feet would indicate, while he is worshiping Krishna. However, after praying to Krishna at the altar and when he takes the seat of Vyasadeva, he is being the ambassador of Krishna in the role of the guru where it would be appropriate to accept the worship from his disciples. Prabhupada always knew the proper spiritual etiquette. He was never confused in any situation. It was reassuring in one sense to have a person who always behaved in a black and white manner. There was no confusion with Prabhupada. He always had the perfect answer. When someone asked him a question, he immediately had the answer. He never said, “Let me think about it,” and he never speculated about the answer. To be present to see these things in Prabhupada’s presence afforded me the opportunity to learn so many things, including the subtleties of Krishna consciousness. It was a beautiful experience.

The quality that impressed me the most about Prabhupada was how he was down to earth. When I first became a devotee, I heard Prabhupada say in a lecture, “Don’t make friends with a fool. Better to make an intelligent person your enemy than make friends with a fool.” It was so clear that he was giving very practical advice. Upon hearing that I thought, “This is a very practical person. He is someone who is going to guide me. He is down to earth.” I found inspiration in Prabhupada’s ability to deliver on all platforms, in the abstract space of spirituality and in the practical day-to-day affairs. Of course, Prabhupada had so many qualities, but this was something that from day one impressed me.

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 72 - Canadian Yatra

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