Niranjan das Remembers Srila Prabhupada

Prabhupada Memories

Interview 01

Niranjana: In Benares there were three important questions. First, I asked Srila Prabhupada about guru-daksina. He said, “It is just a formality. It shows that you have become the servant of your guru. You just go one door to two doors and beg with your relatives, whatever you can get.” Second question was, “How can I wear tilak? I am a student and my colleagues and teachers will laugh at me.” Prabhupada said, “You are a soldier of Krishna. A soldier fights gallantly, bravely in the battlefield, and then the government gives him a gallantry award. In India we have Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra medals. On behalf of Krishna, if you face criticism and laughing from your friends, Krishna will be more pleased, so don’t worry.” The third question was, “How can I shave off my hair?” Prabhupada replied, “It is a Vedic custom to make brahman first and then give initiation. You can shave once and then you can keep short hair.” I said, “Okay, I’m taking initiation.” Prabhupada said, “Okay, go take bath, shave off your hair, and bring your new dhoti.” At noon he gave me initiation without any fire sacrifice, as there was only one person in the temple. Then he asked me, “Do you have any questions?” I asked Srila Prabhupada, “What should our relationship be with Krishna? Is it neutral, servitude, friendship, conjugal?” He said, “Common platform is neutrality when you begin your chanting or service, and from that level you go on to make advancement.” But, he said, “Don’t jump. Just chant Hare Krishna and all your doubts will be cleared up.”

Srila Prabhupada came to the Bhaktivedanta Manor, so we were able to consult with him about our Hindi translation work. He asked us, “Why you are translating like this? I didn’t do.” I said, “No, Srila Prabhupada, [laughs] you have done like that.” He said, “Okay, read.” I was completely scared as my legs were trembling, but I read out the original slokas from Chapter 13.

ksetrajsam capi mam viddhi
sarva-ksetresu bharata
(BG 13.3)

I stopped reading. Prabhupada said, “No, tell me the translation and the word meaning.” I did and then I stopped again. He said, “You’re not going to stop unless I tell you to stop.” [laughs] I continued reading for about twenty minutes from the purport that mentioned how the guru is the via media. That was the main position. Srila Prabhupada quoted in English as well; just like glass, the glass doesn’t see. Through the glass we are seeing, so in the same way, through the spiritual master we are serving Krishna.

I have never seen a person like Srila Prabhupada in my life—so humble. Whatever credit he did, he gave it to his Guru Maharaj. And that is why I loved his concluding words of Caitanya-caritamrta. He said there are two ways of association, vani and vapu. I still have the feeling that Srila Prabhupada is guiding me. I’m not qualified to receive his mercy, but he is still giving. He was so humble and so affectionate. One time Prabhupada met my parents in Vrindavan. He said, “Give your son to me.” My father said, “He’s already yours. Utilize him.” After his disappearance it’s true, vani and vapu are the same. But somehow or other we are not able to console ourselves. Now no one is there to chastise and no one is there to guide and love. So that is his humbleness and his eternal affection for us that we enjoy, and we pray to him somehow or other to engage in his service.

guru-sebaya bastu mile
jībana sarthak jadi hoy
(The Jaladuta Diary, 1965)

It is a Bengali poem meaning that the only perfection of life is to serve the guru. And Prabhupada had that confidence even though he hadn’t reached the States.

pṛthivite nagaradi asamudra nada nadi
sakalei loy krsna nam
(The Jaladuta Diary, 1965)
Every town and village will chant the name of Krishna. This was his realization and his faith in his Guru Maharaj. He is unparalleled in his service to his spiritual master. And he is also a great acharya who is not only giving Krishna bhakti, he is giving Gaura Krishna: Caitanya as well as Krishna.

To view the entire unedited video go to Memories 63 - Atitaguna dasi, Krsnarupa dasi, Mishra Bhagavan, Niranjan, Pancharatn

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