Naikatma das Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Naikatma: I saw Srila Prabhupada in 1974 in San Francisco at the Ratha-yatra. The most moving thing for me at that time was how Srila Prabhupada chanted “Jaya Radha-Madhava” in the temple room. He was chanting so deeply. It was the most emotional chanting I had ever heard. I was standing about midway toward the back of the temple room, and I was fixated on watching Srila Prabhupada as tears were coming from his eyes. I learned from that experience how sincere a devotee has to be to really appreciate Krishna consciousness. It also helped me to appreciate Srila Prabhupada as the exalted Vaishnava he was and is.

One morning we got a chance to go on a walk with Prabhupada to a park with a golf course. At one point a golfer came by and Prabhupada greeted him by saying, “Good morning,” and the gentleman replied, “Good morning,” and he went off on his way with his golf cart. Prabhupada turned and said, “What is he doing?” One of the devotees explained to him, “Oh, he’s playing golf, Srila Prabhupada. They take a stick and they hit a ball into a hole.” Prabhupada stood there for a moment and then turned to the devotees and said, “Just see how they’re wasting their valuable lives.”

I had the good fortune to be with Srila Prabhupada in Chicago. I remember very vividly he was facing the Deities, Kishore-Kishori, and leading a kirtan from his vyasasan. The devotees were dancing really wildly, back and forth, bumping into each other, before Srila Prabhupada finally stopped it. He said, “We don’t dance like that. We dance back and forth. Do the ‘Swami step’ in a very proper and gentlemanly way.” A similar thing happened in Mayapur. A year later, when the devotees were also a little too enthusiastic, Srila Prabhupada wanted us to dance in a very respectful and reverential way and not just carelessly jumping around like in a hard-core mosh pit. After Prabhupada spoke, some prasadam was offered to Prabhupada. He tasted one of the items and said, “Who has put salt in the halava? Where is the cook?” The cook had to come before Srila Prabhupada. I felt sorry for that devotee. [laughs] Prabhupada asked, “What is this? You have put salt in the halava.” I won’t mention the cook’s name, but she said, “Oh, Krishna’s mercy.” That was the wrong thing to say. Then Prabhupada said, “No! It is your foolishness.” What I understood from that experience was that we should be very attentive with everything we do in Krishna consciousness, even to the smallest detail. Krishna is in the heart, and He is aware of what we are doing, as is the spiritual master. It’s an important practice; otherwise, how do we expect to advance?

In Vrindavan Prabhupada would have darshan in the evening. Most of the time we were able to squeeze into the crowded room where often Srila Prabhupada was preaching in Hindi to the local Brijbasis. The Brijbasis were fascinated by Prabhupada and thankful and respectful to him because he went to the West and brought back so many Westerners who were enthusiastic to chant and read and take up the Vaishnava culture. Every one of the locals were also impressed that Srila Prabhupada had created such a wonderful sacred place as the Krishna-Balaram Mandir. It was very special to witness their interaction with Prabhupada.

The quality of Srila Prabhupada that has impacted me the most is his kindness. My realization about the material world is that it’s a very harsh place. And to find a friend is very, very difficult. When I had the opportunity to meet Srila Prabhupada, I thought, “Here is a real friend. This is a genuine and kind person who is here to help us through whatever challenges there are and bring us closer to Krishna.” I think that is what stands out the most for me: how kind and loving he was to his followers and everyone he met.

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 74 - Janananda Swami, Naikatma, Jnana das:Nemi Maharaj, Bhaktisiddhanta

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