I was back at Prabhupad’s quarters. Now I knew my way around. There had been an announcement in the morning, that in the evening, guests are invited to come and listen to the experiences of senior devotee’s recollection of their days with Prabhupad. Aaah, yes. Time for some motivation.
Hours later, as I ventured into the room, I noticed that I was one of the first ones there. Eager beaver. A slide show was being arranged by a devotee. Against the wall was a huge wooden shelf with glass doors and inside were many of Srila Prabhupad’s book. I couldn’t figure out if it was the library or the first copies of the books ever published. After about 15 minutes or so, a number of devotees took their seat on the floor. Over the next 2 hrs or so, senior devotees would recollect their days gone by with Prabhupad.
One devotee, Radha Kunda mataji had a very nice story to say. Infact she had narrated this story in the morning Vyasa puja lecture. Before she began her story she advised the importance of serving one’s guru as one of the most serious step to take to progress in Krishna Consciousness as well as book distribution. “He spent all night, sitting and translating…for us…..for the whole world…how many of us are seriously reading his books?”, she asked. Then she started her story.
“By the entrance to this temple, over there, I used to have a book stall. One day, some sadhu came and started talking to me. He convinced me that I should take up residence at Radha Kunda and go deeper into the ocean of bhakti. I was inspired. I decided that I was going to relocate there. That night I had a dream. I was at Radha Kunda.
In its waters was a table full of books. And there was Srila Prabhupad. He was busy. He was distributing books to many people who had gathered there!! Then he looked towards me and yelled out, “Bring more books ! Bring more books!! I need more !”
Radha Kunda mataji stopped her story. She said, “There is a lesson to be learnt here. When we distribute Srila Prabhupad’s books, we are in Radha Kunda. And we can be in Her waters every single day of our lives !”
Another mataji recollected how this one temple in USA had a tree in the garden that never bloomed. But few days before Prabhupad’s arrival, it began to blossom. And the flowers it produced were absolutely beautiful. Infact after Prabhupad’s arrival, he stood in front of this tree for a photo shoot. And once the shoot was over, it seems Prabhupad took the long and large garland from his neck and gave it to the tree !
And there were several other stories. Another devotee from Israel recollected how he accidentally came across the Hare Krishna’s there and how it changed his life forever. Another devotee from Africa recollected how he came across Prabhupad’s books during a challenging part of his life. An Indian devotee from the USA mentioned how he just missed seeing Prabhupad by a few hours. Then suddenly, a mataji put a microphone in front of me.
Mataji : Would you like to say something too, prabhu?
Me : Me?
Mataji : Yes…you can tell us about your experiences…what you learned etc
Me : Ummmmm….actually…I…
I was so nervous. Everybody in the room were looking at me. My dhoti and tilaka was well placed on me that day. I must have looked like a serious devotee. But I had nothing to say. What could I say? I have never seen Prabhupad. I am yet to make a significant contribution in ISKCON. And the room was full of senior devotees. Many had seen Prabhupad face to face ! I am yet to see enough senior devotees face to face ! Oh god. I looked at the microphone. It seemed to get larger and larger. Looked like a bee hive on a steel stick. I was feeling hot. I wanted to run. My first ever talk in Sri Vrindhavan dham…how would it turn out?
Me : Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisance. All glories to Srila Prabhupad. As you might have guessed by now, I haven’t prepared anything to say and I am not sure what I should be telling you all. I never saw Prabhupad. I wish I did and I have thought about this many times. But I have seen him in books, temples, DVDs and websites. A story comes to my mind. A story that I was informed was true and narrated to me by someone. I wish to narrate that to you now.
It seems there was this man who lived in one of the deserts at Oklahoma. He had a huge desert to himself that he called home. But he was incredibly depressed. He had no money and poverty was engulfing him very quickly. Not knowing how to get out of the mess, he decided to end his life and was contemplating how to go about doing this. Just at that time, a few sharp looking businessmen stepped out of their car and approached the man. After some rapport building, one of them said to the him, “Look…lemme tell you why we are here. We have found that this land of yours is a potential oil field. We would like to buy it from you. Soon.”
Many weeks later, the public on the streets stopped their activities and looked at the man they knew was in deep money trouble. There he was, all happy and dressed lavishly. And in his own Cadillac. It was large, spotless and had white leather seats. The car moved through the streets slowly. Everyone stopped what they were doing and gazed at the car and its proud driver. Not because of their curiosity on how he could get so rich quickly or how lucky he was of all the people there. But because, right in front of his Cadillac were two horses. And they were pulling the car.
Me : The poor man did not know that right under the steering wheel was the ignition key. Had he turned it on, there were hundred’s of horse powers within the car that was willing and raring to go. Instead he was relying on just two horses to take him to his destination. This is how most of the people are. Pulling their lives with 2 horses. Whenever I see those videos of Prabhupad with devotees, I think that perhaps he was the one person who taught them how to turn on the ignition keys within oneself, and inspiring people to progress quickly not only in God consciousness but also on living successfully in this world of miseries. And you all in turn, are turning on the ignition keys in all of us.
I would like to thank you all for the efforts and patience you have put in to assist Srila Prabhupad in his mission. And we, young people are trying our best to make you all proud. Please know that we are extremely proud of what you had done during your younger days and continue to do today. For us, you are our motivation and inspiration as well. Not only in photos and books, I see Prabhupad in all of you too. Thank you. And thank you for letting me speak. That’s all. Hare Krishna.
I moved away from the microphone. There was silence. There were few smiles around the room. Someone patted me on the back. “Thank you“, said some matajis. But I was looking around for more assurance around the room. And my eyes fell on top of the wooden shelf. I think he was happy too. And that still mattered the most.