Srila Prabhupada

IN BOMBAY, every morning for a week or two a life member used to take Srila Prabhupada and a small group of his disciples for a walk on a pleasant open walkway near the sea. One morning, after the stroll, we were sitting in the car about to leave when a woman walked up to us. She held an infant in her arms, and by her side were three other young children. She spoke in Hindi and was obviously begging. Srila Prabhupada passed some coins out the window, giving a few to the woman and each of the children.

While we were driving back, I mustered all my courage and asked, "Why do we give Krsna's money to beggars?" I had read in the Bhagavad-gita that giving charity to spiritually unworthy recipients was not transcendental but was under the influence of the modes of material nature.

After I asked the question there was a long silence, and I felt that my worst fear was realized: I had offended Srila Prabhupada. I waited and still Srila Prabhupada didn't reply. So finally I offered, "Is it because the money isprasadam?"

And Srila Prabhupada at once said, "Yes, it is Krsna prasadam."

This answer relieved me immeasurably because not only did it eradicate my doubts about Srila Prabhupada's act, but it also allowed me to rectify my own offensive mentality.

However, I never took it that I should give money to beggars, thinking it was prasadam, but rather from Srila Prabhupada's hand those coins were sanctified and would purify anyone who received them.

Visakha Devi Dasi
Alachua, Florida

SRILA PRABHUPADA had just arrived in Paris from Moscow. It was his first visit to the French capital. I was excited because I had never seen my spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada had initiated me by letter. He was more wonderful than I had ever dared to imagine. His soothing saffron robes were dazzling in the late-afternoon sunshine.

We fledgling devotees had just opened a new temple in a Paris suburb. We'd done it with sheer enthusiasm and very little money. We were poor, yet madly inspired by Srila Prabhupada's mercy.

We didn't even have a car for Srila Prabhupada, so we called a taxi to take him from downtown Paris to the temple.

Srila Prabhupada sat in the back seat, his servant Aravinda was next to him, and I snuggled as close as possible to Aravinda.

We got caught in a traffic jam in the prestigious Place de la Concord. The noise of the traffic was disturbing yet I ventured a question, reading from the Gita I always carried with me.

"Srila Prabhupada, what does this verse mean: 'What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage.' "

I wasn't sure he'd heard me.

"Four o'clock," he said. "Our devotees wake up at four o'clock."

Aravinda interjected that I was asking about a verse from the Bhagavad-gita. I read the verse again in a louder voice.

Srila Prabhupada began to laugh.

"Yes," he said. "This verse means that when the karmis [materialists] see us they are laughing. And when we see them we are laughing. But we know we are right. Therefore, our laugh is best. The materialists think we are wasting our time in spiritual life. We know they are wasting their time in material life. Therefore, our laugh is best."

Hari Vilasa Dasa
Berkeley, California