Prabhupada was sitting outside surrounded by a large group of devotees and he glanced in my direction. It seemed like he was looking at me and looking through me. I’ll never forget that look. I thought, “Oh, my God, he’s seeing what I don’t want him to see.” The fact that he noticed me was a nice experience but the other half of it was, “I’m afraid of what he’s seeing.”
Before the class, Ambarish das, a New Vrindavan cowherd boy, led gurupuja. When he finished singing, Pusta Krishna Maharaj, Prabhupada’s servant, picked up the mridanga and started to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. We wondered why he did that because it seemed like Ambarish had already ended the kirtan. Later we learned that Srila Prabhupada never liked to be worshiped without Krishna also being worshiped in the same kirtan. In other words, even in his gurupuja kirtans, we had to chant Hare Krishna because Prabhupada felt that worship of the spiritual master must include worship of Krishna. This experience taught us something important.
On a morning walk in Central Park I was way in the back when Prabhupada was talking about how, in this materialistic civilization, everybody rushes around in different ways. He said, “The man is running on four tires and the dog is running on four legs. So what is the difference? No difference. They are both doing the same business, running. Running for what, sense gratification?”
Prabhupada said that out of the four bodily activities— eating, sleeping, mating and defending—the most dangerous one for a devotee is oversleeping because it leads to the others. He said, “First of all, if you sleep too much you’re wasting time that should be used for Krishna’s service. And secondly, too much sleep enhances the attraction for eating and for mating.” That shocked me. I thought another one of the bodily activities was the most dangerous.
In New Vrindavan a devotee asked, “Prabhupada, what happens if we have no determination?” Prabhupada said, “Then you are an animal. An animal cannot be determined. As soon as they hear a little sound, they run in fear. So no determination means animal life. You must have determination otherwise you can’t execute Krishna consciousness.” He made a strong and clear statement: “You are an animal if you can’t become determined.”
The qualities in Srila Prabhupada that stand out in my mind are assuredness, certainty and conviction. Prabhupada didn’t hypothesize or theorize. He spoke the truth with such conviction that you could understand that what he said was true. His purity came through with his message and his message could not be argued. I was convinced by Srila Prabhupada’s conviction and purity. When he said something with that conviction and that purity, there was nothing else to say. You were convinced. That’s the outstanding quality that attracted me to Prabhupada. Generally when philosophers speak, there’s a sense of uncertainty. Or if they’re not uncertain, then they’re trying to convince themselves while they try to convince you. Prabhupada wasn’t like that. When he spoke it was, “This is the way it is. This is it.” I liked that. I’m impressed and attracted when someone speaks like that. And when Prabhupada spoke, it was powerful. Therefore I had no problem with anything he did or said. I never questioned anything because I could see that he was a unique personality.
Prabhupada talked about his eternal bodily color. He said, “My color is golden with a tinge of red.” If we search the scriptures we will find that Lord Nityananda is gold with a red tint. I don’t want to say anything beyond that, but Prabhupada said that was his color. It was one of those moments.