December 5, 1975
SRILA PRABHUPADA would sometimes sit in his darsana room after breakfast and chat with his servants for a while, usually commenting on the state of the world in the present day. These moments were especially sweet to be with Prabhupada as he sat, relaxed and casual, and bathe in the warmth of his intimate association.
This morning was particularly memorable. The sun was shining brightly through the tall, narrow windows, casting patches of dazzling light on the clean white sheets on the floor. He sat comfortably in the middle of the floor, his legs crossed, right ankle resting on the left knee. His fingers loosely intertwined, he closed his eyes briefly and enjoyed the warmth of the sun as it danced upon his golden form. Seeing the opportunity, Hamsaduta and I sat on either side of him, just happy to be with him in a quiet moment.
He began to reflect on the unfortunate state of the world's inhabitants. Due to a lack of knowledge about the Supreme Lord, he said, people are suffering. Under the false impression of being independent, they commit all kinds of sinful acts, not knowing and not caring for the results, foolishly thinking they are free to do as they like. But when the volume of sinful life becomes too great, they suffer the consequences in the form of pestilence or war. They think that by politics and meetings they can avoid such things, but that is not possible. They are helpless to prevent them, and therefore they receive their punishment through the threefold miseries of life. At just the right moment, nature brings the demons together and engages them in war.
To illustrate the point, Prabhupada gave an amusing but striking example of how maya works.
"In my young days we had one teacher. Whenever there was any misbehavior between the boys, the teacher would stop them and bring them out to the front of the class. He would make them stand face-to-face and each take hold of the ears of the other and on his order make them pull. So the one, he is pulling, and the other is hurting, so he pulls back even harder, and each one is pulling and crying. But they cannot let go because the teacher is ordering, 'No, you cannot stop. You must go on pulling!' Similarly, maya brings together one Churchill and one Hitler 'Now, rascal, pull!' And neither can stop. And the foolish people glorify them."
Hari Sauri Dasa
Los Angeles, California
* * *
IN EARLY 1968 I FLEW with Srila Prabhupada and a few of his other disciples from Los Angeles to San Francisco. We were taken to what had been the brahmacari asrama, an apartment on Willard St. The brahmacaris had moved to the temple, a few blocks away. Srila Prabhupada and his personal servants would now live in the apartment.
Since I wasn't one of the servants, I was going to stay at the temple, but in the meantime I decided to spend a few more minutes with Srila Prabhupada. It was almost time for the evening program, and Srila Prabhupada told one of his servants to send word that he would not be going to the temple that evening.
Then, while we were all talking with Srila Prabhupada, he changed his mind and decided to go to the evening program, so we all set out for the temple.
In those days, the evening program was kirtana followed by a lecture and then more kirtana. Evening arati had not yet been introduced into ISKCON. When we arrived at the temple, the first kirtana had just ended, and the devotees were bowing their heads to the floor, reciting prayers. None of them expected to see their spiritual master, and none of them saw him come in and sit on the vyasasana. When they looked up, there was Prabhupada.
Suddenly the room was filled with smiles and cries of "Jai!" and "Hari bol!" Prabhupada lectured and then led a sweet, mellow kirtana. The disciples were all on their feet, chanting, swaying, hands in the air or clasped and pressed against their chests. Prabhupada was here.
The next morning, Srila Prabhupada and a few disciples were walking in Golden Gate Park. "Were you chanting last night?" he asked a disciple.
"Oh yes," he answered.
Prabhupada asked another, "Were you chanting?"
"Yes. It was wonderful."
To another, "Were you dancing?"
"I wanted to, but there were so many people, I couldn't move."
Prabhupada turned to another. "Were you chanting?"
"No. I was afraid I would cry."
"When you are with ordinary people, you should not cry," said Prabhupada, "because they will not understand. But when you are with devotees, you can cry because they will know that you are crying for Krsna."
San Diego, California