Moksa Laksmi devi dasi Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Moksa Laksmi: The first time I met Srila Prabhupada was at the 1973 London Ratha-yatra. I had been associating with Prabhupada’s devotees since 1969, when they were number one or two on the Hit Parade, but it was four years later when I personally saw Srila Prabhupada. I was in a big crowd distributing Ratha-yatra magazines. Earlier in the day, in a rushed way, I had seen Prabhupada getting out of a big car, and all the hairs on my body had stood on end. I had felt an incredible surge of energy. Then, during the procession, while I was distributing those magazines, I looked over my shoulder, and right behind me was a sannyasi, and next to him was Srila Prabhupada jumping up and down and dancing the swami step with his arms raised. It was incredible because I felt Prabhupada’s presence before I saw him. To this day, I remember the amazing joy that went through my body at the sight of Prabhupada dancing and chanting.

Before I took gayatri initiation, I cleaned Prabhupada’s rooms in Bombay, which were up two flights of stairs. Once I was halfway down the stairs when Prabhupada was coming up the stairs. I jumped into somebody’s kitchen and offered my obeisances. Prabhupada stopped, looked at me, and said, “So, you are chanting Hare Krishna?” I said, “Yes, Srila Prabhupada.” He said, “Jaya!” and then continued upstairs. On thinking about this, I realized that all Prabhupada wanted was for us to chant Hare Krishna. Another time, on Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s Appearance Day, we cooked 108 preparations for the Deities, Radha-Rasabihari. 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.”

Once when I was cleaning Prabhupada’s room in Bombay, Prabhupada was just a minute away. I put the light on as I left the room so that he wouldn’t have to put it on when he came in. Prabhupada said, “Who has left the light on?” He was very concerned about lights being left on. He didn’t want to waste Krishna’s money. Even though I had done it as a service, Prabhupada didn’t want the lights left on. He was perfectly capable of switching the light on himself.

Prabhupada regularly came to Hare Krishna Land in Bombay, and each time all the devotees would go to the airport, which was very near Hare Krishna Land, greet him with a huge kirtan, then jump into taxis and go back with Prabhupada to his room. Once I was in Prabhupada’s room after he had just arrived, holding Yasomatinandana’s and Radha-Kund’s baby daughter. Prabhupada knew who was who because he asked me, “Where’s the mother?” I said, “She’s cooking.” Prabhupada took a personal interest in each devotee.

In Bombay I used to run a gurukula for the local poor children, and we would have rip-roaring kirtans. One day Prabhupada heard our kirtan and asked, “Who is chanting?” A devotee told him, “It’s the gurukula children.” So the next day I took the children to meet Prabhupada. We had a stack of pictures of Radha and Krishna that the children had done, and after we went into the room we handed Prabhupada the pictures and then sat down. Prabhupada looked through the pictures the children had done, smiled, and distributed sweets to everyone. Then he tilted his head to the side, indicating that we could go now. It was very personal. Practically these were little beggar kids, but Prabhupada took the time to have them in his room and look at their pictures. Prabhupada is so magnanimous.

Once some devotees from Bombay and the little brass Radha- Rasabahari Deities from the Bombay temple met Prabhupada in Ahmedabad for some preaching engagements. Prabhupada had come from Vrindavan. In Ahmedabad, Prabhupada was speaking in a fairly big room full of important people, when he said, “To be born as a Bengali or a Gujarati is a special birth. Krishna’s father was a Gujarati.” All the ladies and gentlemen were smiling happily. Prabhupada was able to charm everyone. Also in Ahmedabad, Prabhupada told Yasomatinandana to give class because Yasomatinandana was Gujarati, and he spoke Gujarati, although the gentlemen there all spoke English. Prabhupada was ready to delegate important duties to his devotees. He wanted his devotees to take responsibility for this movement. It was not that he was going to sit there and do everything. He wanted us all to push on this Movement together.

In early 1976 I went to work with the children in Vrindavan, and at that time I started helping Sruti Rupa clean Prabhupada’s rooms. One day Sruti Rupa said to me, “Moksa, I’m going. You’re in charge.” I was ecstatic that I was left to look after Prabhupada’s rooms, and every morning after mangal-arati and before tulasi puja, I’d leave the temple, go past the fountain, and enter Prabhupada’s rooms through his back door. When I went in, I could see that Prabhupada had walked from his bedroom into his room. I’d sneak in, trying to make as little noise as possible, because he would be sitting in his darshan room translating. Even though I was as quiet as possible, he always looked up. I’d close the door, pay my obeisances, and then start cleaning his bathroom, toilet, and bedroom, which were in the back of the house. Sruti Rupa told me that Prabhupada had complained that the marble floor in his bathroom was stained from the mustard oil of his massages. So I started systematically getting rid of those stains by sprinkling white scouring powder all over the floor and scrubbing it. I’d squat down with my sari wrapped around my knees and scrub away. One day, I was there, scrub, scrub, scrub, and the bathroom door started to open. I thought, “Oh, my God. It can’t be Prabhupada. No!” Prabhupada opened the door a little way and peeked around it. He said, “May I come in?” I thought, “He has such perfect manners.” I was flabbergasted because Prabhupada never went in the back of his house at that time of day. That was time he spent at his desk. I babbled, “Yes, Prabhupada, of course, Srila Prabhupada. Come in,” and I scurried out. I paid my obeisances in the bedroom, which had a black floor, and I left a huge mess there because the scouring powder, which had been on my feet, went on the floor. But Prabhupada sailed right over this mess and didn’t say a thing. I could understand that he was pleased that the stains were going, but I always remember Prabhupada’s perfect manners. “May I come in?” he asked. It was his house, not mine. He didn’t need my permission.

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 28 - Abhirama, Satyanarayana, Mangalananda, Vaiyasaki, Moksa Laksmi dd

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

Following Srila Prabhupada

Interview DVD 04

Moksa Laksmi: During the parade itself, I was in the crowd distributing some of these magazines and suddenly all the hairs on my body just stood on end. I felt so different. I turned around to look behind me, and right behind me was Srila Prabhupada dancing. So I felt Srila Prabhupada before I saw him. That’s how strong of a personality he was.

Interview DVD 07

Moksa Laksmi: Rathayatra 1974, London. In one way it was very different to most Rathayatras because there were three palanquins instead of what we previously had, one large chariot. There was some problem in the 1973 Rathayatra with health and safety. So we had these three palanquins, which in one sense was a little disappointing because the 1973 Rathayatra was such an exceptional occurrence because Srila Prabhupada had come to that Rathayatra and he danced all the way from Marble Arch down Park Avenue right down to Trafalgar Square. And I’m talking dancing here, arms raised, jumping up and down. To watch Prabhupada doing that was just the most amazing spectacle you could ever see. It was truly wonderful. So 1974 wasn’t quite of that caliber in that we didn’t have the large cart, we had the three palanquins which were carried shoulder height, and Srila Prabhupada wasn’t there. But it was very ecstatic because it was Rathayatra and Lord Jagannatha was out wandering in the streets of London. We took the same route so we could remember when Prabhupada was with us, which was really nice. And, of course, the kirtan was ecstatic. You can see in the video Revatinandan Swami is leading some fantastic kirtan as he’d been doing in the ’73 one when Prabhupada was dancing. So in that way, some really wonderful memories. That’s me in the blue sari with the yellow cardigan, just to prove I was there. And look, the hair’s beautifully tied back. I’ve had the same hairstyle for almost 40 years now because that’s what Prabhupada wanted and that’s what we’ve done, we’ve always tried to do what Prabhupada wanted.

Interview DVD 08

Moksa Laksmi: There is one part towards the end of the aratik, he’s offering Them the peacock fan. And as he looks out to offer it to the devotees, the smile on his face is unbelievable. It was like one who had conquered the earth. He’d done it, he’d installed Krishna and Balarama in Vrindavan, and you could just read his face – it was full of bliss, full of happiness.

The other thing I’ll never forget is the quantity of pink rose petals, and there was this abundance of pink rose petals that were actually up to our ankles on the floor. It was so special. After Mangala-aratik, we were all making garlands for Krishna and Balarama; and one day there were lots of broken flowers left that couldn’t be used for the garlands. So I had them all in this sheet that we’d been using on top of the floor to make them in, and I took them and I showered them over Srila Prabhupada from the balcony in the guesthouse. Then he gave this instruction that we shouldn’t waste the flowers. Srila Prabhupada was very conscious, in India particularly, of wasting the money. He knew how to protect the flowers so they’d stay fresh for longer. He told us to wrap them in damp cloths and hang them in a cold place. He knew everything about flowers it seemed to us. But also he didn’t want us to waste. Even though practically speaking the flowers couldn’t be used, he still wanted to teach us not to waste; and he considered that showering flowers on him like the demigods in the heavenly planets was a waste of flowers. So I never did that again.

Interview DVD 11

Moksa Laksmi: The most dramatic thing I remember of that period is when Srila Prabhupada left for London. He left at midnight. So all the devotees stayed up to say goodbye to Prabhupada because he was going off to the West to preach. As the car pulled off, it suddenly stopped; and it stopped in such a position that I was looking down at Srila Prabhupada and Prabhupada was looking up at me. He was on…at least one guesthouse mattress had been placed in the back of the Ambassador car, and he was lying on it. And I’ll never forget looking down at Prabhupada and Prabhupada looking at me because obviously his body was flesh and bones, but there he was going off to London to preach. And I was so shocked because he didn’t look like he should be going anywhere, but still his determination to preach and to please his devotees was far bigger than his desire to look after his own body. And that picture of Prabhupada has stayed in my mind all these years, Prabhupada’s determination.